April 26, 2006
Oh but anyway, "dialectics."
I read in a book that I picked up in Borders that said that dialectics is the denial of identity. That was enough to tell me that, if the statement were true, no rational person would accept it as a method of philosophical inspection.
I couldn't understand most of the rest of what I read because it was full of specialized philosophy terms that I don't know and because it involved saying things like "dialectics is the denial of identity" or something to that effect.
Before I continue, those who've not given much thought to the fundamentals of logic or even existence, a denial of identity is a denial of existence. There isn't anything in existence that does not have its own specific identity. This is part of what makes Identity an axiomatic concept. One must always use it in referring to anything. For this reason any method that begins with denying identity begins from an untenable position of meaninglessness.
That is pretty much the extent of my exposure to the term "dialect" and its variants.
Well, Diana has written a lengthy post on her blog about betrayals she has suffered at the hands of Chris Sciabarra. It is a devastating indictment of his character. Unless you're familiar with Sciabarra, I don't know that I would recommend a read of the full post since it is very, very long.
Personally, my only direct exposure to Sciabarra is his monograph on Objectivism and Homosexuality, which I read in its early, online format. Even in my early education around Objectivism, I found that work to be entirely too casual to be of significant value, although I did appreciate the attempt to provide support for homosexuality within the context of an Objectivist life even if it fell short of that end.
As an aside, I think it is stupid that a gay porn star took Jon Galt as his stage name. The character of John Galt in Atlas Shrugged is anti-thetical to that of a porn star and the inclusion of his existence near the end of the monograph was, I think, gratuitous and counter-productive. But that's getting on a tangent.
So, I am more anxious to hear Diana's thoughts on Sciabarra's work.
So, her post made me want to look again at the term "dialectic."
In classical philosophy, dialectic (Greek: διαλεκτική) is an exchange of propositions (theses) and counter-propositions (antitheses) resulting in a synthesis of the opposing assertions, or at least a qualitative transformation in the direction of the dialogue.
That made no sense to me.
Unfortunately, I don't have time to complete this post right now so I'm going to wander off and do something else. I will have to think about this "dialectic method" more at another time.
April 21, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Public schools can bar clothing with slogans that are hurtful, a U.S. appeals court ruled Thursday in the case of a student who wore a T-shirt saying "Homosexuality is shameful."
The 2-1 decision by a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals backed a San Diego-area high school's argument that it was entitled to tell a student to remove a T-shirt with that message.
The officials were concerned the slogan could raise tension at the school, where there had been conflict between gay and straight students.
What if someone had a t-shirt that said, "Christianity is shameful?" Or what if someone had a t-shirt that said, "Yo mama?" Oh, what if, I dunno, someone made a t-shirt with Mohammed wearing a turban containing a bomb?
There is an important mitigating factor in this case, however: we're talking about what children wear to school. Unfortunately, the fact that it is a "public" school renders this question effectively unanswerable because while no one's rights are being violated in the act of wearing the shirt, it does create a situation in which some children may not be getting a proper education. If they were paying tuition, then they could vote on the issue by leaving the school. Since they aren't we are left with a court decision that pleases no one.
April 18, 2006
I'm not saying that scale or dimension are of no concern in all contexts. Of course not, that would be silly.
But when it comes to planning the ideal business or government, size doesn't matter. Although, the two do seem to be opposites in that larger businesses usually make more money while larger governments spend more.
If I had my druthers and no other information to go by, I would certainly choose to have a small government and a large business. This is because when the right principles are put into practice, the best, most profitable and enjoyable situations arise such that good governments tend to be small and good businesses tend to be large.
The principle that guides the idea government is the protection of individual rights. The further away you get from that principle, the larger governments do tend to get -- bloated with bureaucracy, taxes, and regulations. If a government were restricted to just that one function, it could still contain a large number of officers performing various functions or it may contain a small number. The size or number of government employees itself is irrelevant here because the principle of the ideal government is in place.
The same is true for business. Some people complain about big business. Why? The principles that guide big business are the same for small businesses: business is for making money. Larger businesses may have a little slack when it comes to making bad decisions because they can afford a certain amount of error that would destroy a small business. But business is business. The size of the business does not tell you how much you will pay for goods, how honest the clerks are, how much you would get paid working there, or anything, really. Even big businesses were small businesses once.
I just wanted to say that in these contexts, business and government, size isn't the essential aspect to consider. So, put down your crazy anarchist ice-cream truck for a second and understand that when you opposed big business, you oppose all business and when you oppose business, you oppose productivity and when you oppose productivity, you oppose life.
The letter includes a summary of events and a very strong, clear condemnation of NYU's actions.
Instead, by failing to live up to your principles in this case, you have opened a Pandora’s box of censorship for future students who would like to control what others see, hear, read, or discuss. Unless you address NYU’s failure to defend the fundamental principles of a free university in this case, you will be haunted by the legacy of this incident for years to come. NYU’s students deserve better.
April 15, 2006
Pentecostalism is a protestant denomination that plays up the "Gifts of the Spirit" mentioned in the book of Acts and in 1 Corinthians.
1Cr 12:8 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
1Cr 12:8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
1Cr 12:9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
1Cr 12:10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another [divers] kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
1Cr 12:11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
Mostly when people think about the Pentecostals they think about people standing up in church wailing and shouting gibberish. That gibberish is what the Pentecostals call Speaking in Tongues, it is more specifically supposed to be the tongues of angels. Not surprisingly, speaking in the tongues of men (this is when a person speaks and are understood in the native language of anyone present) is an undocumented phenomenon. But the gibberish is quite common.
According to the church I went to as a child, one did not receive one's gifts until one was baptised. Althought, the actual baptism process is really symbolic because I understood it to be possible to be baptised in the spirit without water, which basically amounts to having some sort of ecstatic spiritural experience.
Sometimes the Pentecostals turn up on the news because they handle rattlesnakes. To the clear: the snake thing (which is often accompanied by drinking poison and touching fire) is not really part of the "mainstream" Pentecostal movement.
When I was little, the Pentecostal church was a lot more interesting than it is these days. These days, the Pentecostal church is pretty much indistinguishable to the casual observer from a Baptist church, although clearly less ritualized than Methodist churches. If you met a modern Pentecostal woman, you probably wouldn't know she was that way unless she told you.
But when I was little, it was scandalous if a woman was seen wearing pants or make-up. Short hair was absolutely out of the question for women, too. By contrast, men were to always wear long pants, long sleeves, and short hair.
Often those women you see in Wal-mart in the South who are wearing ankle-length denim skirts, plain shirts, and their very long hair pulled into a bun are Pentecostals. They might be one of the more fundamentalist Baptists as well.
When I was little, I didn't really think anything of the weird behavior at my church. When people spent the night and went to church with me on Sunday, however, the look of terror in their eyes was my sign that something wasn't quite right.
In highschool, I was forced to attend church by my father during one of his religious fits and so I haven't been back since. Besides, they're crazy people.
April 12, 2006
Diana, blessed be her name, has recently posted an excellent and direct article about the continuing evils of The Objectivist Center or whatever it's being called these days.
I love these posts. I don't consider myself to be very well-versed in Objectivism or very sophisticated in my philosophical analysis. And even though I've read nearly all of Ayn Rand's work at least once, I do consider myself still a youngster to Objectivism. (I converted in April of 2001.) So, Diana's well-tuned remarks are very helpful for uncovering important fundamentals in ideas that may still be a bit cloudy to me.
When I was very new to Objectivism, I was not aware of any schisms in the movement and I didn't know there was a difference between ARI and TOC. I didn't really read either of the sites with any regularity, but the TOC site's information architecture was so difficult to navigate (What? I'm a web head by trade.) that I rarely spent much time reading over there.
Anyway, over the years I have become more knowledgeable about various ideas and concepts, and the TOC and the Brandens have become more obviously corrupt in my eyes. Even still, I don't have time (or inclination) to filter through every statement made by purported Objectivists to see if they hold true to my understanding.
But if TOC is so blatantly wrong and everyone knows it, some commentors over on Diana's site have asked, why do we keep going over it? Why does Diana spend so much time fisking, debunking, and mocking those fools? Why beat a dead horse.
First of all, it's Diana's perogative. She doesn't like backseat bloggers any more than I do, so mind your manners.
Second, and more importantly in my mind, this horse ain't dead. There are people around the world who are just now being exposed to Ayn Rand's ideas and they are set afire with a desire for more truth. If they seek out, innocently, sources for more knowledge and deeper understanding they will inevitably hit upon the TOC. They may not be savvy enough to recognize the lies and misleading statements that lace their public comments. Coming from the context of contemporary philosophy, they may be lulled into trusting David Kelly's ideas about toleration or Ed Hudgin's image of open, accepting Objectivists, or Barbara Branden's shuddering against "rage."
These are people who are wrong on such a fundamental level about Objectivism that we cannot reasonably refer to them as Objectivists. Some have entertained attempts to reconcile Objectivism with Christianity and even Satanism. Associates of the TOC have been, at times, openly hostile to Objectivism. I don't think it's overstating things to say that it is downright deceptive for that organization to call itself Objectivist.
used to work for the TOC lectured at the TOC Summer Seminars and had a long-time association with many people there and many who have since left. She has educated herself, weighed the ideas, considered the arguments, and researched the issues and now completely rejects them.
It is not, as some have rudely implied, some psychological defect or deception that drives her to consistently and repeatedly lambast this evil. From her selfish perspective, Diana may pursue the task of unraveling TOC for many reasons. It may be a personal exercize of her intellect to find new arguments against TOC. It may be part of a quest to propagate good ideas and, therefore, she must destroy the bad ones. She may want to blast them out of a sense of justice for the wrongs they do.
There are numerous good and virtuous reasons Diana may choose to go after TOC. And if you don't like it, well, we come back to point number 1; it's her blog and she can do as she pleases. If you don't like what she does with it, you can go somewhere else.
Personally, if I don't care about something she's writing, I go to the next post. I find the wide-ranging subject matter to be entertaining and it's why she is the blog I visit most... apart from my own.
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