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Post 100

Friday, June 30, 2006 - 1:24pmSanction this postReply
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Ed Wrote:

Here is evidence that you can alter who you "are" (genes aren't even half the issue, environment predominates above them) ...
You offer evidence that powerful drugs can alter learning (of rats in one case) as evidence of what now???? I'd suggest putting down that crack pipe.

Bob

 


Post 101

Friday, June 30, 2006 - 1:24pmSanction this postReply
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Bob,

I've already been around the block several times with other fellows on the slippery dictionary crew. I'm not interested in doing it again. I'm also not interested in letting you pretend to be having an honest discourse. Feel free to ignore my posts, there for my own amusement.

Ethan


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Post 102

Friday, June 30, 2006 - 1:37pmSanction this postReply
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Cal Wrote:

 What I observe in Objectivist circles however, is cramped attempts to keep the canon unchanged at all costs, as if any modification might bring down the whole structure.

This observation is accurate, but the implications of an admission of error though are profound.  I say this because these obvious errors appear very early in the chain of reasoning - as early as supposedly "self-evident" concepts. 

I honestly find it fascinating that such obvious errors are evaded so consistently.  The positions are weakly and fallaciously argued, but folks remain remarkably steadfast in the face of very clear errors and no way to wiggle around them.  It's an emotional, intellectual-investment thing supplanting almighty reason.  But I find it stimulating nonetheless.

Bob


Post 103

Friday, June 30, 2006 - 1:45pmSanction this postReply
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but folks remain remarkably steadfast in the face of very clear errors and no way to wiggle around them
This is a great line. I find it to be very accurate. Readers should find the many examples in Bob Mac's own posts :-)


Post 104

Friday, June 30, 2006 - 1:57pmSanction this postReply
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Brilliant Ethan...

I haven't had a good "I know you are, but what am I?" since 1974.

Bob


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Post 105

Friday, June 30, 2006 - 2:05pmSanction this postReply
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Bob,

After reading your exchanges with Bill Dwyer I envision you as the "Black Knight" in Monty Python and the Holy Grail:

King Arthur: [after Arthur's cut off both of the Black Knight's arms] Look, you stupid Bastard. You've got no arms left.
Black Knight: Yes I have.
King Arthur: *Look*!
Black Knight: It's just a flesh wound.

(Thanks to imdb.com quotes!)

(Edited by Ethan Dawe on 6/30, 2:27pm)


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Post 106

Friday, June 30, 2006 - 2:22pmSanction this postReply
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Ethan,
Save your strength.  You're dueling with an un-armed man. : )


Post 107

Friday, June 30, 2006 - 2:26pmSanction this postReply
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Good one Glenn!

[King Arthur has just cut the Black Knight's last leg off]
Black Knight: Okay, we'll call it a draw.
King Arthur: [Preparing to leave] Come, Patsy.
[King Arthur and Patsy ride off]
Black Knight: [calling after King Arthur] Oh! Had enough, eh? Come back and take what's coming to you, you yellow bastards! Come back here and take what's coming to you! I'll bite your legs off!

(Thanks to imdb.com quotes!) 



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Post 108

Friday, June 30, 2006 - 2:32pmSanction this postReply
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Well, my obviously intellectually superior friends, if a limbless and mentally challenged, semi-literate moron like myself can point out huge errors in your foolish arguments what does that tell you?

And thanks for being quality contributors to this discussion....

Bob


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Post 109

Friday, June 30, 2006 - 3:39pmSanction this postReply
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Jon L. writes in post 89:

"I recall Peikoff saying in an interview that she demanded she was no smarter than other philosophers. When asked how she accounted for all of her discoveries, as opposed to all their blunders throughout historyóshe insisted that it was her unyielding honesty. (He said he respectfully disagreed with her because he was certainly honest growing up, yet he didnít discover anything.)"

I don't know if LP said that in an interview, but he talked about this in a speech titled "My Thirty Years with Ayn Rand: An Intellectual Memoir" which he gave on April 26, 1987, at the Ford Hall Forum. The speech was then reprinted in *The Objectivist Forum* for June 1987, pp. 13-14 (copyright 1987 by TOF Publications, Inc.).



---Excerpt---

Her basic error [he's talking about what he describes as Rand's tendency to be taken in by dishonest people who seemed enthused by her ideas] was that she took herself as the human standard or norm (as in a sense we all must do, since we have no direct contact with any human consciousness but our own). So if she saw all the outward signs of philosophical enthusiasm and activity, she took it to mean that the individual was, in effect, an intellectual equal of hers, who regarded ideas in the same way she did. After a long while, I came to understand this error. I realized how extraordinary her mind really was, and I tried to explain to her her many disappointments with people.

"You are suffering the fate of a genius trapped in a rotten culture," I would begin. "My distinctive attribute," she would retort, "is not genius, but intellectual honesty." "That is part of it," I would concede, "but after all I am intellectually honest, too, and it doesn't make me the kind of epochal mind who can write *Atlas Shrugged* or discover Objectivism." "One can't look at oneself that way," she would answer me. "No one can say, 'Ah me! the genius of the ages.' My perspective as a creator has to be not 'How great I am' but 'How true this idea is and how clear, if only men were honest enough to face the truth.'" So, for understandable reasons, we reached an impasse. She kept hoping to meet an equal; I knew that she never would. For once, I felt, I had the broad historical perspective, the perspective on her, that in the nature of the case she could not have.

---End Excerpt---


Nathaniel tells a similar story in (both versions of) his memoirs about her saying that "honesty" was her fundamental characteristic and not being willing to ascribe any of her abilities to "genius." Sorry, I don't recall off-hand where in the respective books the passage appears and haven't time to search.

Re the begging the question indicated in Bob Mac's post 91, sure does look like question begging to me.

Ellen

___

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Post 110

Friday, June 30, 2006 - 3:55pmSanction this postReply
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Ellen,
In order to show that "Character is not inherited", Bill makes the following argument:
P1   Character depends on morals
P2   Morals are not inherited
Therefore, Character is not inherited.
Now, how is that begging the question?  It is a valid argument.  If the premises are true, it is a sound argument.  If you disagree with either premise, you don't accept the conclusion.  But, it is not begging the question.


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Post 111

Friday, June 30, 2006 - 7:38pmSanction this postReply
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Hi Ellen,

I dug it up. It was a taped interview with Raymond Newman in December 1982.

They discuss the hierarchy of the branches of Objectivism, emphasizing reason, then,

RN: Let me ask you a personal question about Miss Rand, it may be a naÔve oneÖIíve often thought there must be three or four Ayn Rands, Öwhat was it about her, if you could say in a few words, that enabled her to accomplish so much, to make such discoveries?

LP: Well, that is a question really outside my realm of competence. I think she was definitely a genius of a kind that comes about very rarely in human history, although Iíll tell you, rather than give you my answer, Iíll give you her answer for what itís worth because I asked her that question and she said that she thought the only difference between her and most people was a question of honesty. She did not think she had an intelligence beyond that of most people. She thought the only difference was she would never be satisfied with an answer to a question until she had taken account of all the facts and faced everything squarely and followed the argument wherever it lead. And that it was therefore, in effect, her ruthless honesty that was her particular asset.

I have to respectfully differ with that because I think I was honest growing up, but I certainly never reached the ideas she did, but nevertheless thatís what she often said.

RN: And of course the question arises: what was it that made her so honest, I mean most people donít pursue knowledge the way sheÖ

LP: Well, she would say thereís a certain point at which you have to take free will as a given. She did not believe it determinism. She didnít think you could ask why all the way back, forever. She thought man had the capacity to choose his own destiny and that the essence of his free will was his desire to choose to think or not.

RN: Was that the essence of her theory of free will?

LP: Yes, the essence of her theory of free will was that freedom to choose is the freedom to exercise your mind or not, all the rest is a consequenceówhat particular things you think are a consequence of the evidence, and so on. What actions you take are a consequence of what conclusions you come to. But the one primary choice is: do you use your mind to look, or do you turn it off, so she would say basically about that question: You canít ask why. Man has to decide every moment and thereís no answer beyond, Ďthatís his choice.í


Then they discuss terms she coined, such as ĎAge of Envy.í


Post 112

Friday, June 30, 2006 - 8:14pmSanction this postReply
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Bob,

=================
You offer evidence that powerful drugs can alter learning (of rats in one case) as evidence of what now???? I'd suggest putting down that crack pipe.
=================

Good one, Bob! But seriously now, I offered 3 studies saying the same thing -- and one was a review (of several other studies). I'd suggest picking up that crack pipe, Bob -- YOU may benefit from that.

:-)

Ed

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Post 113

Friday, June 30, 2006 - 9:15pmSanction this postReply
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Glenn, as I understand what Bill is trying to demonstrate, it's that Rand's view of tabula rasa is correct, including that no aspects of character come from genetic disposition. But Bob Mac is saying that instead of demonstrating this, Bill has presumed it. Judging from the quotes juxtaposed in post 91, I'd say that Bob Mac is right.

The first quote accepts a particular definition of "character."

--"Yes, given the Objectivist view of 'character' as that aspect of a person's nature or identity that is shaped by his moral values." ("Shaped," btw, is tricky there; what does it mean?)

The second asserts that pre-determined character is false "because a person enters the world tabula rasa."

--"Rand points out that this is false[pre-determined character], because a person enters the world tabula rasa, and because his convictions, values, moral character and achievements are determined by his choices and acquired knowledge rather than by his genetic lineage [...]."

But whether or not a person "enters the world tabula rasa" is just the question at issue, is it not? The respect in which he's begging the question is that you can't demonstrate Rand is correct in her view by presuming that she is.

Ellen

___
(Edited by Ellen Stuttle
on 6/30, 9:25pm)


Post 114

Friday, June 30, 2006 - 9:21pmSanction this postReply
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Hi, Jon.

Thanks for the quotes from Leonard Peikoff's December 1982 interview with Raymond Newman. I've never heard that. It was within a year of her death; probably included some fairly poignant memories.

Ellen

___

Post 115

Sunday, July 2, 2006 - 8:12amSanction this postReply
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Ellen,

I have demonstrated (not presumed) that some aspects of character are environmentally established. What do you have to say about that?

Ed

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Post 116

Sunday, July 2, 2006 - 10:34amSanction this postReply
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ES wrote:

"Nathaniel tells a similar story in (both versions of) his memoirs about her saying that 'honesty' was her fundamental characteristic and not being willing to ascribe any of her abilities to 'genius.' Sorry, I don't recall off-hand where in the respective books the passage appears and haven't time to search."

I'm fairly certain that this is the passage to which Ellen was referring.

*My Years with Ayn Rand*, Nathaniel Branden
Page 184

"'The difference between me and other people,' Ayn liked to say, 'is that I am more honest.' She was speaking of intellectual honesty. I would laugh and ask her if she thought anyone else we knew, if completely honest, could have produced *Atlas Shrugged*. She resisted the idea that her powerful intelligence was as important as her honesty. In retrospect, it seems clear that she not only lacked insight about her faults but also often lacked insight about her strengths."




RCR

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Post 117

Sunday, July 2, 2006 - 11:12amSanction this postReply
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Ed:
I have demonstrated (not presumed) that some aspects of character are environmentally established
You have done no such thing. You have just quoted some studies that show that certain drugs may change the brain and thereby influence the behavior. Well, duh. There's no need to quote some exotic studies for that, everyone knows for example what drinking a lot of alcohol can do to you. That is completely beside the point, however. No one will deny that environmental factors will influence the development of your character. However, the point is that Rand claims that there is no such thing as an inborn character. You can't prove that by showing that the environment does have some influence, that is the fallacy of the false dichotomy: "if something is not 100% genetically determined, it must be not at all determined by genetic factors." That is of course nonsense.

The phenotype is always the result of the interaction of the genotype with the environment. If we say that some trait is 50% genetically determined, we mean that 50% of the variation of that trait (the phenotype) can be explained by the variation in the genotype and 50% by variation in the environment. Now Rand claims that a person's character is only determined by the environment (which includes the person himself, apart from his genes). However, the evidence is overwhelming that this is not true, for example it has been established beyond any doubt that a significant percentage of intelligence (as measured by the IQ) is genetically determined (much to the chagrin of many leftists and liberals). The same is true for other traits like introversion or extraversion.

So you can put a million babies in an environment that is optimal for the development of musical abilities, and still get no second Mozart. A certain percentage of them will no doubt become good or even excellent musicians, but a large percentage will fail already at the most elementary level, no matter how hard they might try. It's just that they are not musical.



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Post 118

Sunday, July 2, 2006 - 11:31amSanction this postReply
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Are ye suggesting that a scoundrel is inborn?

Post 119

Sunday, July 2, 2006 - 12:03pmSanction this postReply
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From looking at the evidence submitted, I believe that you would have to make a strong case for what Cal stated when he wrote:

 She doesn't seem to know the difference between "talent" and "skill". Of course "talent" is that what you're born with, and using that talent you can develop the skill. But she literally believes in the tabula rasa, so Mozart had no talent, it was just a question of hard work and everyone who does the same work can achieve the same results as Mozart. Yeah, sure.




I base this on the post made by Jon in  #111 where Peikoff  is credited with saying:

 LP: Well, that is a question really outside my realm of competence. I think she was definitely a genius of a kind that comes about very rarely in human history, although Iíll tell you, rather than give you my answer, Iíll give you her answer for what itís worth because I asked her that question and she said that she thought the only difference between her and most people was a question of honesty. She did not think she had an intelligence beyond that of most people. She thought the only difference was she would never be satisfied with an answer to a question until she had taken account of all the facts and faced everything squarely and followed the argument wherever it lead. And that it was therefore, in effect, her ruthless honesty that was her particular asset.

I have to respectfully differ with that because I think I was honest growing up, but I certainly never reached the ideas she did, but nevertheless thatís what she often said.


And again in the post by Christian in #116 where NB states:

 "'The difference between me and other people,' Ayn liked to say, 'is that I am more honest.' She was speaking of intellectual honesty. I would laugh and ask her if she thought anyone else we knew, if completely honest, could have produced *Atlas Shrugged*. She resisted the idea that her powerful intelligence was as important as her honesty. In retrospect, it seems clear that she not only lacked insight about her faults but also often lacked insight about her strengths."



It would seem in reading the above that Rand had a hard time grasping that which we could call innate.

 I would fall into the category of those who believe that nurture alone is not going to produce a Mozart no matter how much one tries, there is just more to the mixture than learning by itself or we would be producing more of these people due to their being subjected to music from an early age.

L W



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