Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Deception of the Senses

This is a really cool illusion! I stole this from Todd's blog, and I hope he doesn't mind. :) If Descartes were alive and were he to see this, he would go; "See, I told you so! I cannot trust anything from my senses. They could be deceiving me at any given moment. Thus, there should exist a God, because a true and honest God would never deceive me. This is the proof that God exists. And I think, therefore I exist, too." [ha! Any Cartesians reading this, know that I am being facetious. I know there is a whole lot more to Descartes than that. I do respect his mind, to some extent. But then, according to him, I wouldn't really be respecting him as such, only his mind... anyway... I digress.]

Monday, February 27, 2006

People-Watching

Some interesting psychological observations: Some people like to be asked so they can have the satisfaction of refusing (I noticed this being used by Rand in her fiction) Some people like to avoid others so their absence is conspicuous – it is a way of making their presence felt. Some people have an urgent need to be liked and loved by all, and so they go around claiming they like and love everyone else too. Some people like holding novel, avant garde, minority positions because they feel they are expressing their uniqueness. Many of them have no clue or legitimate reason for holding such ideas. Some people like going against the mainstream – it gives them a sense of direction in their life. Without the mainstream to oppose, they would be lost. Some people try to garner sympathy (or praise) for themselves by showering it upon another person. Similarly, the other person feels obligated to return the “favor”, i.e. praise, even when there is nothing worth praising. Some people escape the guilt of lying by cloaking it as euphemistic criticisms. Some people own things so that they can despise them. Others despise things that they do not own. Dishonest people share a unique comraderie amongst themselves - they are all "in" on the secret. People who are steadfast in holding consistent truths are dismissed as obstinate little minds who simply need to grow up and appreciate the complexity of this world - and complexity almost always means contradictions and confusions.

Freedom as Non-Value

Since I’ve been reading Sartre for a while now, I’ve been chewing on this issue: Sartre’s notion of freedom is ontological – in that it is unavoidably fundamental in the nature and identity of a human being, i.e. being-for-itself. So in that sense, freedom cannot be gained or lost because it is inseparable from the entity. Therefore, freedom is not a value – because value is something one strives to attain and keep. Therefore, there cannot be any such notion as a “loss of freedom” according to Sartre’s conception of the concept. Therefore, none of us could complain about lack of freedom as such, nor could anyone strive to live in a “free society” as opposed to an oppressive society. However, Sartre still argues for the concept of individual responsibility because he argues that responsibility is inseparable from freedom (despite the fact that freedom itself is not a matter of choice). Sartre says that even at the point of a gun, when you are being forced to do something or be killed, you fundamentally have the freedom to either choose to do it or die. This is because freedom is unavoidable. Therefore, he argues, if you commit the act by convincing yourself that you had no choice in the matter because it was life versus death, you have acted on bad-faith. The action is insincere because you have not conceded that your act was in fact a choice, because you could very well have chosen to die. Such a concept of freedom is at the very least, meaningless, and at most, a grotesque, dangerous, adulteration of the concept. In Sartre’s notion, an entity does not have freedom, but more precisely, an entity is free, and can never be “un-free”. So, once freedom is rendered meaningless, and more importantly, valueless, then it seems understandable to think of freedom as a “burden” and live a life rife with guilt for alleged acts of “bad-faith” because really, no matter what you do in whatever contexts, one could never act sincerely. Sartre in fact sees this problem of inescapable bad-faith as a logical outgrowth of his metaphysics and therefore, struggles with convoluted arguments at trying to define a sound ethical theory. The only statement Sartre makes regarding this issue is that good-faith acts are possible. Yet, nowhere in the entire corpus of his philosophy does he exactly state what could be good-faith acts and how they could be possible.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

"Don't be a Gay Swan"

So, last night I went to see a beautiful and powerful performance of The Swan Lake by Matthew Bourne, also dubbed as the "gay swan lake" as all the "swan" characters are played by men (gay or not, I don't know). I'm at a loss for words to describe my experience, except to briefly say that I enjoyed it immensely. Tchaikovsky's music in this ballet is among the most inspiring and moving pieces of music I have heard in my entire life. I first heard the score to the ballet many years ago as a young boy - ofcourse, at the time being fully naive about any details or history surrounding it. But I remember being struck by its uplifting power, by the strength of its crescendo, by its awe-inspiring sense of life. I remember dancing around my bedroom to the music, as a psychologically self-appointed melodramatic dancer. The ballet performance itself was pretty strong - though I had a problem with the bare chested swan sweating so profusely that his wet, soaked chest glistened under the theater lights. I wished somebody would just get on stage and wipe the sweat off the poor swan. Anyway. Since I am finding myself quite incapable of reviewing the performance, I shall let the following excerpts speak for me. This part review is from NewsPlanet staff at PlanetOut.com -
When the first news of Bourne's London staging of "Swan Lake" -- with the swans played by men, it's bare-chested corps de ballet wearing feather-covered shorts -- people dubbed it the "gay Swan Lake" and no one expected to receive it as serious art. (Actually, a gay "Swan Lake" would be perfectly reasonable, since its composer, Tschaikovsky, was himself a gay man, albeit deeply troubled by his orientation through nearly all his life.) However, the flash of insight he says led him to realize that the size, power and violence of swans was more suggestive of male dancers than females seems to have paid off. He also tampered at length with the story, characters and setting, turning it into a 20th century tale with plenty of palace intrigue, humor and satire, designed to appeal to film fans more than a traditional ballet audience. The original music and the most basic love triangle tragedy remains, with the Prince who meets Swan and falls in love, only to fall under the spell of another, wicked Swan, climaxing in the suicides of the Prince and his first-loved Swan. As for just how gay the all-male show really is, Bourne wants people to find their own meanings in the production, and says many have discovered things he never imagined.
And this one by David Roberts from Theater Reviews Limited:
Matthew Bourne has created an intense psychological drama. His choice of male swans is exactly what Tchaikovsy's music requires. These beautiful bare chested dancers (and the black leathered version of The Swan at the party) are the perfect medium for the Prince to discover and celebrate his sexuality. And although the Prince is unashamedly gay, "Swan Lake" is universal in its appeal and accessible to all persons who know what it means to be misunderstood, confused about sexuality and love, and long for intimacy and relationship.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Further Evidence of Collectivism and Religion

This news report provides further evidence for, and therefore corroborating my argument that religious doctrine by itself is not a sufficient motivator for mass violence and mob riots that happens to take on a particularly religious tone. There needs to be a reciprocal synergy between a prevailing culture's collectivist mind-set and their religious beliefs. The former without the latter has absolutely no moral grounds to stand on (not even a mystical moral ground), whereas the latter without the former is impotent to incite large scale violence that can sustain any significant period of time. According to this AP news report, the bloody violence in Nigeria is between Christians and Muslims, and their religious tensions have been dire since 2000. Apparently, the Christians were retaliating against the Muslims after some Churches had been razed and some Christians had been initially attacked. The report says: "Residents said soldiers had opened fire on a mob of ethnic Igbo Christians that tried to enter the military barracks after reports ethnic Hausa Muslims sheltering in the barracks had attacked a nearby primary school, killing a number of children. The claims could not be verified and it was not clear if the soldiers killed anyone in the mob. The deaths brought to at least 96 the number of people killed in Nigeria since sectarian violence first erupted Saturday in the northern city of Maiduguri, where Muslim protests against cartoons caricaturing the Prophet Muhammad turned violent, razing 30 churches and claiming the lives of 18 people, mostly Christians." Mob violence - regardless of what religious garb it disguises under - is mostly fueled by a collectivist mind-set. Religion importantly plays a role in legitimizing the patently evil acts of a collectivist mob by giving them self-redeeming philosophical and psychological ammunition such as: martyrdom, heavenly reward, after-life, sin, evil, moral, God's command, army of God, etc. Tag:

Mom Made me Gay

At least going by this little report on a scientific study, my being gay might have to do with my mom's gene's acting sort of queer (pardon the pun!) Well, it seems like science is finding increasingly persuasive evidence suggesting that sexual orientation might be biological. Its implications in ethics and other spheres of our lives are quite clear: that which is beyond our choice (i.e. physiologically determined) cannot be subject to moral judgment and cannot on its basis be discriminated against. However, it's important to note that scienctists have yet to settle this issue; they have not yet firmly established homosexuality as indeed biological or entirely biological. It is not enough that homosexuality be genetically determined to innoculate it from moral scrutiny - it has to be demonstrated as being entirely and unequivocally biological, like having green-colored eyes. There are many things that have some genetic basis but are still subject to our human volitional control, and hence should conform to moral principles. For example, it has been shown that some people might have some genetic predisposition that easily accesses their emotion for anger, or sentimentality, or introversion, etc. However, the rational control or indulgence of these tendencies are possible and expected regardless of the fact that they have some genetic basis. A genetic tendency does not rule out human volition. Thus, having a gay genetic tendency would still require that gays demonstrate their rational indulgence in their sexual orientation as being fully and perfectly moral, and consistent with objective principles of morality. On the other hand, a complete genetic determination would infact rule out human volition - like skin color, muscle mass, etc. - and therefore, homosexual genetic determinism would not be a matter of moral or ethical speculation. I have always stated my position on homosexuality as such: if it is fully biological then it is morally a non-issue. End of story. If it is only partly biological, or fully non-genetic, then it can still be established beyond argument as a choice of sexuality that is completely moral. As an interesting side note: it seems to me that this rule applies in all cases - that which is biologically determined in an individual if it is elevated to a matter of volitional choice it will still remain either amoral or fully moral, but never immoral. It applies to homosexuality just as it would apply to skin color, for example. There used to be a Christian religious sect that actually believed that Blacks had dark skins as manifestations of their sins or the sins of their ancestors. We all know, I don't need to demonstrate, how terribly and horribly wrong they were - and not just wrong, those Christians were immensely evil themselves for believing and advocating such a heinous idea. Say at some point in the future, human technology permits the choice of one's skin color on a routine basis, whatever choice is made, as long as it is made selfishly without coercion, the choice itself could not be immoral.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Dervishes in Words: Nature's Song

Dervishes in Words: Nature's Song I wrote this poem after watching "Brokeback Mountain", a movie which I liked very much (thought not as much as to garner its induction into my 'favorite movies' category). It's a beautiful, sincere movie that depicts a tragic imminence of death and despair of two gay characters set against a backdrop of luscious life, nature, action, and dynamic energy. I thought that the contrasts of the character's lives losing their souls into the currents of the river ("river" for me symbolized the culture of their times, akin to "mainstream", and having to "go with the flow", having to drown in the strength of the dominant current in the river) evoked the images in my poem of the "sad river", "torrent of tears", "soul sinking", and finally the last line of peaceful redemption symbolized in the line "the river stops a moment to sigh with me" -- conveying the death and the stillness of what was earlier dynamic, the opposite of movement in culture and society, etc.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Meaningful Value and Evaluation

Today was the last day of my boss in my company. We had a little gathering in the conference room where everybody brought in little somethings to eat and share, and express our immense appreciation to her for being a great person to work for. I brought in tasty tasty samosas that everybody loved and devoured eagerly! So, just a few minutes ago, as I was saying my last goodbye's to her privately, I was almost moved to tears by the imminence of the fact; the fact that she will not be here when I get back to work on Monday. She and I had shared a great working and friendly relationship. Somehow she just "got" me. She was also a woman of ideas. We spoke of Emerson and philosophies and our concept of what life and living should be. Over her brief time at the company, she had endeared herself to almost everybody that she came in contact with. She had the loudest and free-est laughter I have heard from anybody - let alone from a lady in the upper echelons of a Corporation. Her sense of life is truly benevolent. I was not the only one shocked and deeply saddened to hear the news of her leaving. Even the VP of the company, who is an ardent Cubs fan and even has his email address referencing his loyalty to the team, while my boss is an exuberant South-sider Sox fan, attempted to bribe her to not leave by saying he would convert into a fan for her team if she decided to stay! Needless to say, I deeply valued our work relationship because it fueled my work ethic and integrity - it was my obligation to offer the best of my efforts to someone who recognized the best in me. One of the last things she said to me in our parting conversation was: "Jerry, I know that you will have a very interesting and rewarding life. You are very passionate and unique person. You will definitely succeed in life, but I wish I could see how you do it, because I know it will be different." That was it. I was quiet, because I was afraid if I said anything, a tear might escape my eyes. After a moment, I said thank you for saying that, and I hope you have fun working where you go. Then we said our goodbyes and I walked out. Felt like a funeral! Ugh. My own reaction surprises me. I didn;t expect to be so affected by it. I guess, this is what it means to deem someone or something so valuable that losing it necessarily should be hard and difficult. This is what it means to value with discretion because only then will the valuation have any meaning. This is why I don't bother with niceties... don't bother being "nice" to people I really don't care about or people I actually despise. Because then that which I value or those that I do like and value, their estimation in my eyes and the praises I offer them retains some meaning and worth. Praises are meaningless if the grotesque is esteemed on an equal level as that which is truly beautiful. Be generous with your condemnation and disdain for that which deserves it, and be equally generous with your praise and upliftment for that which is good, moral, benevolent and beautiful. Toleration of mediocrity or the downright evil is no different from sanctioning it. In practical life, no private business with the motive to compete and succeed will tolerate the mediocre - that would hasten the demise of the company and everyone else who works there. The same attitude should apply to relatiships. This Monday will be strange.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Marriage of Collectivism and Religion

Collectivism is the mind-set of a group. It is the lack of strong or coherent identify of the self. Many philosophers believe it is even impossible to know, let alone define, what the “self” really is. They argue that identity is only derivable from the Other-than-self. Sartre, among others, held that belief as the crux of his philosophy and his formulation of the Being-for-itself. In fact, according to Sartre, a person would be acting on bad faith and would be insincere in making any claims of “I am” because not only is one’s consciousness always changing and never static, but also there isn’t any concept of self-consciousness that is unamendable to objectification by the Other. Sartre’s entire metaphysics of the human being places individuals in a state of constant conflict against each other. According to Christine Daigle who discusses Sartre’s key concepts in Philosophy Now, Issue 53, “Sartre made such a good case for this conflictual relationship [that] he had made it impossible for him to elaborate a workable ethics…. Sartre is struggling to establish an ethics that rests on reciprocity and authenticity.” My own view is that a metaphysic that does not recognize the identity of the individual is a metaphysic of Collectivism. And any such metaphysic that is based on collectivism simply does not allow or permit any coherent and consistent ethical or moral principle to be formulated and that which can be applicable universally. Hence, every attempt to extrapolate an ethics from such a metaphysic will inevitably run into problems and dangerous inconsistencies. Collectivism, by definition, has to mean the suppression of the individual – the repression of a minority voice or opinion, the lack of self-determinate autonomy. Any mob mentality has to smother individual mentality. Every and all human beings do not think alike, behave the same way, and have similar tastes or opinions. Thus, the concept of majoritarianism, mob mentality, sacrifice of the one for the many, has interpersonal conflict inseparably built-in to the system. A universally applicable ethics cannot ever arise from such a system unless it is accompanied by force or dogma. People can gather in groups and be affiliated with collective bodies based upon their chosen values. However, the attempt to spread those values upon an entire population by force, law, or by doctrine without accepting or recognizing the right of the other to choose their values is the essence of ideologies based on collectivism – at their very fundamental root, they begin by the violation of the rights of the individual, thus they cannot possibly sustain any ethical principle that can be universally applied to all individuals. This is where religion comes into play. An alliance of religion and collectivism necessarily leads to gross, widespread, and unspeakably evil violations of human rights in all cases. As I said, collectivism as an ideology simply cannot support any ethics that could even fake a veneer of benevolent morality. Religion, however, comes in easily and paints a layer of morality on the ethics of a collectivist ideology. For example, if the collectivists wish to get rid of a race of people, or subjugate them for their own arbitrary whims and purposes, the ideology of collectivism will simply not be able to justify such an act on any ethical principle that can be defended and upheld as being a moral principle. In this case, the collectivists can take recourse to religion and spin the collectivist ethic into the religious ethic. Jews should be exterminated because they are responsible for the death of Christ. Christians should be exterminated because we are obligated to establish the supremacy of Islam. Blacks should be shunned because their dark skin colors are expressions of sin and evil in the human race. Muslims should be expelled from India because India is Hindu country. In the above examples, regardless of how many voices speak out in dissent of those activities, if that is in the mind-set of the collective majority, all they need is for religion to paint a veneer of a high-minded moral principle in order for them to feel justified in not only suppressing the minority dissent, but also in carrying out their dastardly evil acts. Collectivism is not only just a philosophical ideology; it is an incredible evil in itself. As Rand said, it is not enough to just study a philosophical ideology as abstract principles, but think of the ramifications in concrete reality if those principles were to be put into practice. That is philosophical detection, according to Rand, and therefore her philosophy of Objectivism is primarily a philosophy of living life on Earth, not just a rich system of principles to be held abstractly. Tag:

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

God

[Warning - please leave your rational faculties on the chair next to you. You will not need to use any reason or logic in this case] Why are we here? Why did God create us? Why did God create anything at all?? If God is understood to be outside of time and existence, transcending this Universe, then God must have brought existence into existence and thus created a "beginning" of time and Universe. So, before the "bringing into existence of existence", God must have existed in and among non-existence. So, existing in non-existence and being the sole existent must feel awfully lonely. But that cannot be the case because God is Supremely satisfied, content, and exists in an infinite state of perfection and completeness. So, God cannot be lonely. So, having some companionship could not be the reason God created existence. Maybe God wanted His ego to be stroked? Maybe God needed some supernatural creatures like Angels and some lowly creatures like Humans and animals to recognize Him as Almighty and worship His magnanimity? But does it make any sense to think that God "needed" something? Anything? Does God ever "need"? Maybe God needs love. We all need some lovin' at some point in our lives. Maybe God wants (needs?) someone to love and love Him back, so he created us and all the creatures of the heavens. I think it could also be argued that God does not just "need" us to love Him, but demands that we love Him - or else we will suffer eternal damnation in hell for scorning Him. Certainly, just like anyone else, even God does not wish to be a scorned lover; and He takes it very personally if He is scorned by anyone. So, it seems like because we exist, and because Existence exists, and because creation of Existence implies a beginning of time, God must have had some reason/need/motive to bring existence into existence and begin the flow of time. Well, that raises another question: what was God doing "before" He got the impluse to create time and existence? Furthermore, in His infinite Intelligence, what was His Divine purpose to bring Human Beings INTO existence as mortal beings, and then bestow upon us immortality AFTER fatality, to be spent either in eternal suffering or eternal bliss? (In light of this point, read my previous post "God's Original Plan for Humanity" for further interesting insights into God's behavior). Some believe that we have never gone "in and out" of existence - that we have always existed with God forever in eternity. I suppose that makes us all the "Alpha and Omega" the "immortal, eternal spirit" - terms usually reserved only for God. In that case, what is God's Intelligent design behind forcing our immortal selves to take on the garb of mortality, live on this earth, suffer disease and disaster, experience anguish, pain, joy and exuberance, only in the end of it all to "die" and return back to our immortal selves and then be banished into hell for eternity or taken up into heaven? What's all this drama about? Is all the world a stage and our lives a play for God's voyeuristic pleasure? There is another way to look at all this: because we exist, because Existence exists, and because creation of Existence implies a beginning of time while acting outside of time and existence, God can not exist and must necessarily not exist. In other words, the fact that we exist proves that God cannot exist. Either that is true, or the God-concept will need to undergo inherently drastic, almost diametrically opposite, changes in its meaning - God will need to be understood as frail, jealous, bored, lonely, egotistic, evil, voyeuristic, capable of sinning, angry, etc.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Sartre: A Philosopher of Freedom?

In one of my earlier posts, I criticized Sartre's conception of freedom as a human "burden". At that time, I was not really and fully clear on Sartre's ideas, but I knew there had to be something wrong about it because "freedom" viewed as a burden that people try to shun and flee from seemed horribly wrong if it were one's real outlook on life in this world. Since then, I have been reading more about Sartre and his theories. The recent "Philosophy Now" Issue 53 was dedicated mostly to Sartre in observance of his 100th birthday. In the editorial of the magazine briefly sketched Sartre's life that I excerpted as such: "[Sartre's] intake of coffee, nicotine, and harder drugs was prodigious, and may have contributed to his one-time delusion that he was being stalked by a giant lobster. Sartre, having constructed an uncompromising philosophy of personal freedom,... spent many years entangled to varying degrees with the French Communist Party - stalwart defenders of Stalin's gulags." To me, Sartre's confused and decadent life seems to be just the logical and practical consequence of the philosophy that he himself formulated. Quite consistently, Communism would be the only ideological system compatible with a concept such as "freedom is a burden" and that "humans are condemned to be free". "The validity and efficacy of ideas are most evident in the actions they generate" - that is the credo of my blog.

Godel and Reason

Something that Godel said may well have been said by Rand, and it would be no different: "Every error is due to extraneous factors (such as emotion and education); reason itself does not err." - 1972 It might seem strange on the surface that Godel makes a claim about the infallibility of Reason when infact he is most famous for a proof that many have considered a huge contradiction at the very core of mathematical and logical systems (the exemplars of Reason at its purest). Ofcourse, Godel is equating Reason in this context with the purely logical and deductive. Rand did not have such a narrow understanding of Reason, and she further accepted the feedback of one's emotions to the loop of cognition and decision making.

Monday, February 13, 2006

New Boy Band Artist Makes Trip to India

So, the next big thing in the boy band music scene could most likely be "Dormant Light", an awesome group of boys with some good alternative/hardrock music. I believe they even have a crazy fan-following, with groupies et al at their performances. Dormant Light is the brainchild of my good old friend Curtis Bard who I went to college with me in Hanover, Indiana. Knowing Curtis for many years and having listened to his music firsthand - from development stages to completed works - I can attest to the superb quality of his creations. I think he makes a good-faith effort to add layers of complexities to his music and challenge his artistic capabilities. That might probably be the reason why he dislikes minimalist music. His music reveals his penchant to experiment with unusual musical combinations, eastern and mediterranean sounds, and a variety of musical instruments. He was also a member of an a capella singing group while in college. Certainly, the ladies of Hanover flocked in droves to this crooning hunk! ;) Well, recently, Curtis made a trip to India, and he had amassed close to a 100 pictures from the trip. In his email to me, he described the trip as: "- wow - it was AWESOME!!!! I loved it!!! really blew me away!" I intended to coax him into writing with a little more detail about his experiences in India and why he "loved it". Hopefully, I will be able to post his little essay on here. So check out Dormant Light. Buy one of their CD's to sample their music. Once they shoot to stardom, you might be able to say that you are a proud owner of one of their earliest works! Also, check our Curtis' pictures from his trip to India. (note: Curtis is a musician, not a photographer. So, pardon some of his more awkward and uncomposed pictures ;-)

Thursday, February 09, 2006

For Readers in Colorado

... or even for those of you with the means and motivation to travel to Denver, Colorado: Diana from Noodlefood wishes to notify all about "Front Range Objectivism's upcoming "Weekend Conference on Law, Individual Rights and the Judicial System." It will be held from March 4th-5th in Denver, Colorado. The speakers will include Tara Smith, Amy Peikoff, Eric Daniels, and Dana Berliner. For all the details, plus online registration, visit: http://www.frontrangeobjectivism.com/2006-law.html "Early registration for Front Range Objectivism's Weekend Conference on Law, Individual Rights and the Judicial System (to be held March 4-5, 2006 in Denver, Colorado) is this Saturday, February 11, 2006. Don't miss this fantantic conference! And register now to save $75!" - Another Reminder Tag:

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Describing the Muhammad Cartoons

This is a great article in the BBC that seeks to explain the context that gave rise to this whole Muhammad cartoon fiasco. It also gives some interesting interpretations of the artists' message in those cartoons. Here's an excerpt: "The paper chose as its central image a visual joke about the Prophet among other turban-wearing figures in a police line-up and the witness saying: "I don't know which one he is". It is presumably an ironic appeal for calm over the issue, the suggestion being that, if a Danish illustrator were to portray the Prophet, it is not known what he looks like and therefore a harmless gesture. " Tag:

The Perils of the Collectivist Mind-Set

In my opinion, the mind-set that has led so many Muslims to react violently and in complete disregard to human rights in response to the cartoons may not be an exclusive characteristic of the Islamic religion per se, but might be in a broader sense, a symptom of the diabolic synergy that I think exists between their cultural collectivism and their religious faith. These rioters happen to be Muslims – but I argue that it might as well have been Christians or Hindus – any large world religion. I think there is a specific interplay of influences that we might be missing. The fact the Islam is a religion of large following is a huge factor in generating the collectivist groundwork. That religious collectivism is further bolstered by the cultural collectivism that forms the identity of these societies in the middle-east, Africa, and Asia. These societies are inculcated with the collectivist identity, and hence they have very vague (if any) concepts of human rights – because fundamental human rights can be recognized only in the context of human beings understood as unitary, individual entities. The collectivist tribalism observed among Africans engaged in looting, plundering, rape, and chaos reflect the interplay between their faith and their culture. Many of these Africans are Christians, and many of them are Muslims. Yet they all equally enjoy their depraved existence in violence. The Hindus of India have incited many riots over religious, political, cultural, and social issues, just as the Muslims in India have done. The tendency of these cultures to quickly take up arms and tear the limbs off of other people or destroy someone else’s property reflect not directly a zealous practice of their doctrinal beliefs in religion, but their mind-set of non-identity drowned in a mass of collectivism that recognizes no individual body nor individual property. Their religion merely veils their tribalism and irrefutable evilness in glossy euphemisms of “unity”, “community”, “sacred tradition”, “ sacrifice”, “martyrdom” and “heavenly reward”. Their religion provides them with the psychological and spiritual justification for their violent actions that their cultural collectivism can possibly not provide. This is my very brief and quick observation and thoughts on the matter. I believe I am capturing something accurate. I might need to flesh out the full implication and extent of this collectivist-religious interplay. Tag:

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Godel's Insight

So, when Kurt Godel formulated the proof that there are true but unprovable statements, was he talking about axiomatic statements??? Say, for example, would the axiom that "existence exists" be the kind of statement that are unprovable but true? Also, take another example: the validity of logic that cannot be proved, but it can be validated. Would that make the validity of the logical method an example of the unprovable but true? It seems to me that it would. I've just started reading Incompleteness: The proof and paradox of Kurt Godel. I'm excited to read more!

French Philosophers

I found this article on a very cool site, Arts & Letters Daily. It's a very interesting article that comments upon the interplay between Sartre and Heidegger's existentialism on French intellectual thought. I was particularly interested in this passage I quote below, and I am amused by how Sartre decimates Heidegger's mysticism only to propose in replacement a humanist, man-centered perspective - that in essence is the primacy of the consciousness in Subjectivism. It is strange however, given that Sartre was an Existentialist, that his essential approach was the subjective primacy of the consciousness. I think Rand observes correctly that at their root, these philosophies are simply the two sides of the same metaphysical coin. Anyway, I believe the article is a good read, and the excerpt below is interesting for what it reveals about these philosophers: "Heidegger's philosophy is predicated on a radical criticism of reason and metaphysics. He once observed that "Reason, glorified for centuries, is the most stiff-necked adversary of thought." But by rejecting reason, Heidegger and his French followers simultaneously severed the pivotal link between insight and emancipation. Socrates famously claimed that "knowledge is virtue." In other words: Insight and reflection are the keys to a life well lived. As Socrates declared, "The unexamined life is not worth living." Without the association between insight and emancipation, neither the doctrine of Marx nor of Freud would be possible. For, like that of Socrates, their theories are predicated on the idea that knowledge and human freedom are intrinsically related. As a recovering Heideggerian, Sartre understood the problem better than anyone. He realized that a philosophy like Heidegger's, which demands unquestioning obedience to nameless, higher powers such as Being, the gods, fate and so forth, is a warrant for human bondage. By preaching submission, it is latently authoritarian. As Sartre astutely observed, a philosophy that "subordinates the human to what is Other than man...has hatred of man as both its basis and its consequence.... Either man is primarily himself, or he is primarily Other than himself. Choosing the second doctrine simply makes one a victim and accomplice of real alienation." Further down, the article discusses Emmanuel Levinas, another philosopher, who argued for "Ethics as first philosophy". Levinas argued that western philosophy had predominantly focused on the "Being", metaphysics, or ontology at the detriment and expense of the study of ethics and human relationships. The article goes on to state Levinas' argument: "The basic problem was that, from time immemorial, metaphysics had privileged "ontology"--the study of Being, or of what things essentially "are"--over ethics. In other words, our most intimate and valued philosophical traditions have cared more about "beings" and how to define them than about our ethical dealings with fellow humans." Therefore, Levinas had "sought to redress this pervasive and debilitating imbalance" by reinstating the centrality of human relationships and interactions in a philosophical discourse. In his pursuit of understanding and discovering an ethical theory of humans, he found himself emphasizing the moral and ethical derivative of the "Other" as having primacy over the self or the ego. Levinas criticizes "reason" as leading to totalitarianism. According to him, the rigid requirements of reason, and the "rational approach" can lead to totalitism and "ego-centrism" in its apparent voice of logical authority. Hence, Levinas rejected the approach of "reason" to ethics, and focused more on the "spiritual power of "love", or caritas." I would agree with Levinas that western philosophy has, to a larger extent, given more time and study to the questions of Being and ontology. However, his position on the other end of the spectrum - of jumping to ethics while leaving an undefined, unidentified metaphysics or epistemology - is just the same kind of mistake that he is railing against. The hierarchical nature of knowledge requires that for any attempts at reaching an explicit philosophy of ethics (which is essentially the study of morality in relation to men), one must have an explicit formulation of metaphysics (what is man) and epistemology (how can man know, or gain knowledge). Rand had consistently emphasized that jumping to ethics without a strong philosophical foundation in metaphysics and epistemology was futile and mystical. She observed that ethics flows from epistemology and ultimately from metaphysics. One of the reasons why Rand argued against and eschewed Libertarianism is because Libertarians use moral and ethical concepts like "rights" and "freedom" as their starting point while ignoring the fundamental philosophical foundations. Moreover, Rand emphasized Reason as the only epistemic faculty. Sciabarra had noted correctly that despite, and maybe because of her emphasis of Reason, Rand had constructed a full system of philosophy that had freedom and individualism at every level of its hierarchy. He admired Rand for having constructed such a system without letting Objectivism descend into a totalism or authoritarianism that many of its critics argue Reason invariably leads to. Sciabarra says that Rand may be the only one philosopher yet to have constructed a full system of philosophy that cannot be totalitarian because it is intricately fused with freedom at its very core.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Homosexuality and Pedophilia

Dateline recently ran a series of stories that busted child-predators and pedophiles on national TV. They did that with the help of perverted-justice.com, an online watchdog of child-sex offenders. I must applaud the amazing achievements of private enterprises like Dateline, Perverted-Justice and Oprah in their agenda against pedophiles. They have done a lot more in much less time than government and law-enforcement agencies. Many people rightfully condemn pedophilia with the harshest of words. It is certainly a very heinous crime specifically because of its nature of creating life-long victims of very young minds. However, I will state this quite emphatically: Pedophilia is not an illness. It cannot be treated with psychological rehabilitation. Pedophilia is the same thing as homosexuality in that they are both expressions of an alternative sexual attraction besides the majority behavior of heterosexuality. The crucial difference between the two is that pedophilia is a CRIME because it willfully and ruthlessly exploits the persona and psyche of an individual who is incapable – psychologically and, in many cases, physically – of assenting to a mutually acceptable behavior. It is a physical and psychological rape of an individual who cannot yet assent to the manner of an activity he or she is being forced (seduced) to engage in. This applies equally to children and adults who are mentally incapacitated. Homosexuality was also at one point considered an illness (and many still do), and homosexuals were subjected to all forms of “treatments” in utter futility, and sometimes to destructive ends. Now, having recognized that homosexuality is merely another kind of expression under the complex diversity noticed in human sexuality, we understand that homosexual behavior is not only moral, but its free and proper expression among consenting adults is also perfectly healthy. Pedophilia is similar in that it is also a form of sexual expression that is borne out of the immensely complicated patterns of human sexuality observed among the 6 billion humans on this planet. It cannot be treated as an illness because doing so – as in the case of homosexual treatments – invariably backfires, is futile, and could be very destructive to the self and to others. Therefore, we should simply reject the so-called “benevolent” notion of “treating” the psyche of pedophiles to cure them of this 'illness'. It is incurable precisely because it is not an illness to begin with! We cannot risk having another child molested because we hoped we had treated the pedophile’s psychological illness. Moreover, it is only when we recognize that pedophilia is not an illness that we can morally condemn the actions of a pedophile as being criminal. The sexual urge is too strong to argue that pedophiles can be forced into abstinence and be taught to live among people and children. Forcing abstinence on a pedophile is similar to forcing abstinence of homosexuals – the consequence of that we notice with some frequency now among homosexual Catholic priests – in a majority of cases, it just does not work. I have some degree of sympathy for pedophiles simply because their sexual urges are motivated by their sexual orientation. I cannot say if it is entirely biological or entirely environmental; that is for science to decide. I lean toward the opinion that it is an intricate interaction between the biological and the environmental. Nonetheless, knowing that Human Beings are not helplessly subjected to biological instincts like barn-yard animals, knowing that we have free-will and volition to understand morals and rights and boundaries, there can be no arguable excuse for a crime against a child by saying that it is determined by one’s nature. Similarly, some homosexuals find it hard to morally defend homosexuality if it is understood to be a choice, and therefore, they hastily try to force their opinion that homosexuality is genetic and biological. I don’t think science has yet come to a conclusive decision on that issue, but the philosophical defense of homosexuality is not affected by any latest discovery of science. The fundamental principles of philosophy are already set, and allow proper guidance to the conclusion that homosexuality – as chosen or unchosen – is fully moral. Actually, to be more precise, the state of being a homosexual is really amoral if it is biological. It is the proper expression of homosexuality among adults that I regard as being subject to moral scrutiny. And in the event that science discovers that homosexuality is infact a choice or an influence, even in that case choosing to be homosexual can be a fully moral and ethical choice. And so, understanding that the sexual motive is strong, and understanding that pedophilia is not an illness, and understanding that demanding abstinence from them while placing them fully within a surrounding of young children is futile and dangerous, I believe that it is best for society – and pedophiles – that they be isolated from society altogether.

Forcing Morality Upon God

In the context of all this violence that some Islamists justify as “holy” war, I am compelled to think from where do religious people get their morality? It seems to me that instead of making at least a pretense at claiming that their morality is derived from Divine revelation, these religious fundamentalists blatantly force upon their own God their very own concept of morality. As if claiming an Omniscient knowledge*, they openly claim that "Allah is with them" or "God hates fags" or "God likes this but does not like that", etc. etc. Instead of the “top-down” approach, they are engaged in a “bottom-up” approach. What they consider and deem as moral and good is what their God is now forced to accept. There is clearly no consenses among members of the same religion as to what their stance is on, say, abortion, gays, free speech, holy killing, capital punishement, etc. All these arbitrary dictats on religious morality is why, some time ago, I had made the argument that an Atheist can (and does in many cases) have a higher sense of morality than even the most "moral" religious person. I had argued that:
“a righteous and moral atheist has no supernatural or superphysical reason to be moral and righteous. He or she is moral because s/he CHOSE to be moral out of their own free will. The entire locus of morality is situated within their own beings and arises from within themselves.”
*Omniscience is the problem also with Pascal's wager argument that I hear so many people throw around... like as if believing in God is an insurance policy!

Mohammed Cartoons

If the crazy muslims are going to kill each other and destroy their own communities over these cartoons of Muhammed, then we should publish more of them with more regularity! There is no better cure for this Islamic fundamentalist disease than to have them eradicate each other in their quest for heaven. If Christian fundamentalists of America (who are also a crazy bunch of people) can stop short of actual large scale riots when Hollywood releases movies like "The Last Temptation of Jesus Christ" or "Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic" and voice their protests legitimately, then I find no ounce of legitimacy or understanding in the violent behavior of the muslim fundamentalists. This is not an example of muslims having a more intense sense of religiosity than Christians, but an inherent difference in the concept of what it means to be a human being. Now, to be fair, yes I certainly agree that the cartoons are irreverant. Furthermore, I would support an apology and a retraction of the images IF those muslim thugs would have not descended into riots, and instead demanded an apology through legitimate means (voicing opinions through the media, peaceful protests, etc.). But the fact that they have descended into violence as their first and immediate resort just goes to show that they care less about the actual irreverance of their prophet and more about the simple excuse to use their newly smuggled guns out on the streets. Their idle, animalistic minds are tormented with boredom and incompetence. They pounce at any excuse to drown in a collectivist glob to hide their worthlessness and seek the brutish power in a pack of like-minded animals. The pictures of these rioters show that some of them are not even a self-righteously angry bunch of men, but thugs who gleefully enjoy the chaos, noise, and violence of their acts. And so, in solidarity with everyone who believes in expression without physical violence, I post these pictures too. Tag:

Friday, February 03, 2006

Week of January 30th

Glad this week is over.
I am so upset. My favorite boss is leaving in a couple weeks. This comes as a total shock to me. And I'm very very deeply saddened by it. It has been such a great working experience with her around. When I first heard the announcement at this morning's department meeting, I wondered if its time for me to leave too. This is sad. She is leaving to go to one of our competitors.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

"Arrival" by John Enright

"Arrival" is a beautiful, short poem written by John Enright about about Ayn Rand. He has more poems, essays and other works on his website. I believe he has also published a book.... all that info is on his site. It's certainly worth bookmarking!

Axioms and Irrational Numbers: Philosophy vs Science

The other day, in my History of Philosophy class, we talked about Irrational numbers. Such a peculiar name for numbers as such, isn’t it? I suppose it’s to reflect our disposition toward these numbers, in that they make no sense to us, hence irrational. Anyway, the discussion about Irrational numbers arose because the professor was trying to argue about the duality of things – at least some things – duality in their nature, as having properties of one and many at the same time, or of being and non-being at the same time. I suppose this discussion was apt in the context of Plato’s Theaetetus that we were reading that tackled the perennial question of “what is knowledge?” Is knowledge wisdom? Is wisdom that by which the wise become wise? So, Irrational numbers – according to their nature – exhibit a certain duality of sorts. They can never be expressed numerically as a distinct and discrete quantity. Yet, one can illustrate an Irrational number in figures and diagrams with discrete boundaries and measurements. Hence, the apparently confounding nature of these numbers that render themselves entirely distinct in one feature, but utterly boundless in another form is, to say the least, very puzzling, and very interesting. In class, I thought of how interesting a parallel these Irrational numbers have with newer discoveries about the nature of Quantum particles. Based upon latest scientific knowledge (which may or may not be changed in the future), it seems like quantum particles exhibit similar “irrational” dualities of have different natures of "being" in different situations. To the novitiate Objectivist, this new revelation of duality in existence comes as a shock and repudiation of some deeply held convictions. Does this mean that the Aristotelian principle of non-contradiction and the Objectivist axiom of Identity have been invalidated? On the surface, that is what it seems. However, these doubts and hasty conclusions typically have at their root, a fundamental misunderstanding – or maybe a complete lack of understanding – of the nature of axioms and the role of philosophy. Take water for example: The atomic elements that constitute what we call "water" remains the same regardless of what state of "being" we observe it in - water can be solid, liquid, or vaporous. The apparent existence of discrete boundaries when water is ice and the lack of it when water is liquid or vaporous has no bearing on the fact that water exists with an identity. One of the most illuminating insights of Objectivism is that causality is an expression of an existent's identity, i.e. an existent's identity determines its actions; the law of causality is not attempting to explain the action of one existent over another but of the existent's nature and its actions/manifestations. So, regardless of what new scientific discoveries tell us, we must understand that once we have a set of valid axiomatic principles, they cannot be disproven, changed, or modified by any new bits of knowledge. In fact, all knowledge should consistently conform to the fundamental axioms, and that is one good way of fact-checking. The role of philosophy is not to constantly change and adapt its principles with every new wave of scientific knowledge. This has been a great error committed by many philosophers of the past. They have seeked to have their philosophical theories corroborated by Science, rather than observe the dynamic and reciprocal relationship between the two fields. Philosophy certainly provides the most expansive ground of principles for Science to build upon, but above that, Philosophy relies on Science for inductive principles and Science relies on Philosophy for logical methodology, insights into nature and identity, etc. As Rand said, Philosophy says that things exist and that they have specific natures; it is now the job of Science to discover the specific identities of these existents, classify and categorize them, and build a hierarchy of information. In his book, the Russian Radical, Sciabarra explains Rand as seeking a "reconciliation of philosophy and science." Rand had argued that "Philosophy cannot depend on a changing physics for its ontological foundations... [but] genuine science must depend on philosophy to validate its modes of inquiry." Quoting further from the Russian Radical:
"...cosmological speculation depends on an imaginary omniscient standpoint. As Peikoff emphasizes, Rand's Objectivism makes a distinction between metaphysics and fantasy. There can be no purely deductive attempt to reveal the ultimate substances of reality."
When Einstein broke out with this theory of Relativity in Science, there was a flurry of activity in non-scientific circles to emulate Einstein's brilliant theory in their respective fields - thus, a culture of relativism gained influence in the Arts, in philosophy, in anthropology, etc. Before that, Newtonian physics and possibly also Darwinian theories of evolution influenced philosophers into rigid reductionism, atomism, and determinism. In Evidence of the Senses, David Kelley makes the argument that there are also Galilean influences in Cartesian, Kantian and Lockean theories. According to Kelley, the subjectivist and representationalist theories of consciousness borrowed their credibility from the scientific discoveries Galileo made in studies of perceptions of color and temperature. So, going back to my philosophy class, the professor discussed the "problem" of Irrational numbers in such a way that I think left an impression in the minds of the students that reality is in a state of flux. Things are neither this nor that but can be both and not both. Contradictions are a part of reality. It is easy to see then how mysticism and supernaturalism can easily creep in under such an unruly and chaotic epistemology.
>>but, I just got home from work, it's 3 am, my head is no longer on straight, and needs sleep.

One kwik note on sartre--i'm not sure because i'm operating on second hand knowledge of his philosophy; but, was his focus on the burdensome nature of freedom? I was under the impression that it was a bi-polar evaluation of freedom, a burden because it requires responsibility, and a treasure because freedom with responsibility (and from) rewards the individual both physically and (metaphysically?) emotionally and/or spiritually. As in, freedom is not A value, but is to be valued, for it is perpetual existence, whether we like it or not, and to accept it, to say yes to it, is to say yes to all existence, to become one with existence, to empower self with existence and free will, that kind of stuff...

good nite (morning ; )

peace out,

sean3/02/2006 09:40:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Kelly|W|P|I like illusions because people sometimes say that they don't trust what they don't see, but illusions show us that maybe what we see isn't reliable either.

Where do you stand on ghosts? Just curious.3/02/2006 09:41:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Ergo Sum|W|P|Sean,

I am also, like you, just only realizing the full scope of the insights in Objectivism. And specifically, I'm beginning to realize that there are some fundamental problems with the TOC's understanding of basic Objectivist principles and their application of it.

For example, the TOC/Kelly heirarchy of central Objectivist values are different in a significant sense from the hierarchy of values that Rand herself postulated.

As regards Sartre, my knowledge of his philosophy is probably as limited (if not more) than yours. However, given what I've read so far, a few things are clear:

For Sartre, freedom was inescapable, in that it was the very character of Being-for-itself, i.e. human consciousness. I suspect that Sartre misuses the concept of "freedom" to signify human volition, or free will.
Rand said that we have no choice about the fact that we are volitional beings, beings with free will - which (among other things) gives rise to the need for a moral code.

Sartre abstractly mentioned that good-faith acts are possible.Yet, none of his examples in 'Being and Nothingness' comes to show just practically *how* it can be possible, since according to Sartre, we can never know our selves, we are constantly changing, and therefore to even say "I am..." is committing an act of bad-faith because it is insincere... and because often times we are insincere even without *knowing* that we are insincere (his eg. waiter being a very good waiter, yet not knowing that he is insincere because he is not really a waiter).

You said, "freedom is not A value but is to be valued". That statement is intrinsicist. Nothing *needs* to be valued unless it is deliberately *chosen* by a volitional agent as a value. Value is agent-specific. Thus, an irrational man can have irrational values like self-destructive behaviors, hedonistic behaviors, etc.
Freedom is not to be valued unless a rational man understands that freedom is necessary for his rational existence and therefore *chooses* to value it (i.e. strive to gain or keep freedom).

To make the statement that "freedom is to be valued" is to say that freedom has value regardless of whether anyone likes it or not, and that everybody MUST value freedom, that it IS TO BE valued by all. That is nothing short of a corruption of so many concepts: freedom, value, reason and volition.

You said: "say yes to all existence, to become one with existence"

I may be misinterpreting you here, but I think that statement sounds too Buddhist, mystical, to me. How does man - who is part of the sum of existence already - say "yes" to existence and become "one" with existence, as if we are not already?
Just because one does not *recognize* the objectivity of existence (and of their own existence) does not mean it is not so. Similarly, just because someone decides that existence exists and accepts it does not suddenly bring existence into existence. Negation or affirmation of the axiom of existence is pointless and self-defeating.3/02/2006 09:42:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Ergo Sum|W|P|Kelly,

Where do you stand on unicorns? Or Batman?
That's where I stand on ghosts.2/27/2006 04:30:00 PM|W|P|Ergo Sum|W|P|Some interesting psychological observations: Some people like to be asked so they can have the satisfaction of refusing (I noticed this being used by Rand in her fiction) Some people like to avoid others so their absence is conspicuous – it is a way of making their presence felt. Some people have an urgent need to be liked and loved by all, and so they go around claiming they like and love everyone else too. Some people like holding novel, avant garde, minority positions because they feel they are expressing their uniqueness. Many of them have no clue or legitimate reason for holding such ideas. Some people like going against the mainstream – it gives them a sense of direction in their life. Without the mainstream to oppose, they would be lost. Some people try to garner sympathy (or praise) for themselves by showering it upon another person. Similarly, the other person feels obligated to return the “favor”, i.e. praise, even when there is nothing worth praising. Some people escape the guilt of lying by cloaking it as euphemistic criticisms. Some people own things so that they can despise them. Others despise things that they do not own. Dishonest people share a unique comraderie amongst themselves - they are all "in" on the secret. People who are steadfast in holding consistent truths are dismissed as obstinate little minds who simply need to grow up and appreciate the complexity of this world - and complexity almost always means contradictions and confusions.|W|P|114107951132416089|W|P|People-Watching|W|P|2/27/2006 08:03:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Jason Hughes|W|P|So how many people do you know in my family? Were you at the last reunion? :D

Sadly, I'm sure I fit in one of those categories...2/27/2006 11:12:00 AM|W|P|Ergo Sum|W|P|Since I’ve been reading Sartre for a while now, I’ve been chewing on this issue: Sartre’s notion of freedom is ontological – in that it is unavoidably fundamental in the nature and identity of a human being, i.e. being-for-itself. So in that sense, freedom cannot be gained or lost because it is inseparable from the entity. Therefore, freedom is not a value – because value is something one strives to attain and keep. Therefore, there cannot be any such notion as a “loss of freedom” according to Sartre’s conception of the concept. Therefore, none of us could complain about lack of freedom as such, nor could anyone strive to live in a “free society” as opposed to an oppressive society. However, Sartre still argues for the concept of individual responsibility because he argues that responsibility is inseparable from freedom (despite the fact that freedom itself is not a matter of choice). Sartre says that even at the point of a gun, when you are being forced to do something or be killed, you fundamentally have the freedom to either choose to do it or die. This is because freedom is unavoidable. Therefore, he argues, if you commit the act by convincing yourself that you had no choice in the matter because it was life versus death, you have acted on bad-faith. The action is insincere because you have not conceded that your act was in fact a choice, because you could very well have chosen to die. Such a concept of freedom is at the very least, meaningless, and at most, a grotesque, dangerous, adulteration of the concept. In Sartre’s notion, an entity does not have freedom, but more precisely, an entity is free, and can never be “un-free”. So, once freedom is rendered meaningless, and more importantly, valueless, then it seems understandable to think of freedom as a “burden” and live a life rife with guilt for alleged acts of “bad-faith” because really, no matter what you do in whatever contexts, one could never act sincerely. Sartre in fact sees this problem of inescapable bad-faith as a logical outgrowth of his metaphysics and therefore, struggles with convoluted arguments at trying to define a sound ethical theory. The only statement Sartre makes regarding this issue is that good-faith acts are possible. Yet, nowhere in the entire corpus of his philosophy does he exactly state what could be good-faith acts and how they could be possible.|W|P|114106043040470645|W|P|Freedom as Non-Value|W|P|2/23/2006 10:56:00 AM|W|P|Ergo Sum|W|P|So, last night I went to see a beautiful and powerful performance of The Swan Lake by Matthew Bourne, also dubbed as the "gay swan lake" as all the "swan" characters are played by men (gay or not, I don't know). I'm at a loss for words to describe my experience, except to briefly say that I enjoyed it immensely. Tchaikovsky's music in this ballet is among the most inspiring and moving pieces of music I have heard in my entire life. I first heard the score to the ballet many years ago as a young boy - ofcourse, at the time being fully naive about any details or history surrounding it. But I remember being struck by its uplifting power, by the strength of its crescendo, by its awe-inspiring sense of life. I remember dancing around my bedroom to the music, as a psychologically self-appointed melodramatic dancer. The ballet performance itself was pretty strong - though I had a problem with the bare chested swan sweating so profusely that his wet, soaked chest glistened under the theater lights. I wished somebody would just get on stage and wipe the sweat off the poor swan. Anyway. Since I am finding myself quite incapable of reviewing the performance, I shall let the following excerpts speak for me. This part review is from NewsPlanet staff at PlanetOut.com -
When the first news of Bourne's London staging of "Swan Lake" -- with the swans played by men, it's bare-chested corps de ballet wearing feather-covered shorts -- people dubbed it the "gay Swan Lake" and no one expected to receive it as serious art. (Actually, a gay "Swan Lake" would be perfectly reasonable, since its composer, Tschaikovsky, was himself a gay man, albeit deeply troubled by his orientation through nearly all his life.) However, the flash of insight he says led him to realize that the size, power and violence of swans was more suggestive of male dancers than females seems to have paid off. He also tampered at length with the story, characters and setting, turning it into a 20th century tale with plenty of palace intrigue, humor and satire, designed to appeal to film fans more than a traditional ballet audience. The original music and the most basic love triangle tragedy remains, with the Prince who meets Swan and falls in love, only to fall under the spell of another, wicked Swan, climaxing in the suicides of the Prince and his first-loved Swan. As for just how gay the all-male show really is, Bourne wants people to find their own meanings in the production, and says many have discovered things he never imagined.
And this one by David Roberts from Theater Reviews Limited:
Matthew Bourne has created an intense psychological drama. His choice of male swans is exactly what Tchaikovsy's music requires. These beautiful bare chested dancers (and the black leathered version of The Swan at the party) are the perfect medium for the Prince to discover and celebrate his sexuality. And although the Prince is unashamedly gay, "Swan Lake" is universal in its appeal and accessible to all persons who know what it means to be misunderstood, confused about sexuality and love, and long for intimacy and relationship.
|W|P|114071656161215868|W|P|"Don't be a Gay Swan"|W|P|2/24/2006 06:54:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Aethlos|W|P|omg... isn't this the same thing my friend BLANK RUNES saw? i thought i was confusing your blog entries at first, but you guys must have seen the same show. synchronicity.2/22/2006 03:08:00 PM|W|P|Ergo Sum|W|P|This news report provides further evidence for, and therefore corroborating my argument that religious doctrine by itself is not a sufficient motivator for mass violence and mob riots that happens to take on a particularly religious tone. There needs to be a reciprocal synergy between a prevailing culture's collectivist mind-set and their religious beliefs. The former without the latter has absolutely no moral grounds to stand on (not even a mystical moral ground), whereas the latter without the former is impotent to incite large scale violence that can sustain any significant period of time. According to this AP news report, the bloody violence in Nigeria is between Christians and Muslims, and their religious tensions have been dire since 2000. Apparently, the Christians were retaliating against the Muslims after some Churches had been razed and some Christians had been initially attacked. The report says: "Residents said soldiers had opened fire on a mob of ethnic Igbo Christians that tried to enter the military barracks after reports ethnic Hausa Muslims sheltering in the barracks had attacked a nearby primary school, killing a number of children. The claims could not be verified and it was not clear if the soldiers killed anyone in the mob. The deaths brought to at least 96 the number of people killed in Nigeria since sectarian violence first erupted Saturday in the northern city of Maiduguri, where Muslim protests against cartoons caricaturing the Prophet Muhammad turned violent, razing 30 churches and claiming the lives of 18 people, mostly Christians." Mob violence - regardless of what religious garb it disguises under - is mostly fueled by a collectivist mind-set. Religion importantly plays a role in legitimizing the patently evil acts of a collectivist mob by giving them self-redeeming philosophical and psychological ammunition such as: martyrdom, heavenly reward, after-life, sin, evil, moral, God's command, army of God, etc. Tag: |W|P|114064335129836244|W|P|Further Evidence of Collectivism and Religion|W|P|2/22/2006 09:51:00 AM|W|P|Ergo Sum|W|P|At least going by this little report on a scientific study, my being gay might have to do with my mom's gene's acting sort of queer (pardon the pun!) Well, it seems like science is finding increasingly persuasive evidence suggesting that sexual orientation might be biological. Its implications in ethics and other spheres of our lives are quite clear: that which is beyond our choice (i.e. physiologically determined) cannot be subject to moral judgment and cannot on its basis be discriminated against. However, it's important to note that scienctists have yet to settle this issue; they have not yet firmly established homosexuality as indeed biological or entirely biological. It is not enough that homosexuality be genetically determined to innoculate it from moral scrutiny - it has to be demonstrated as being entirely and unequivocally biological, like having green-colored eyes. There are many things that have some genetic basis but are still subject to our human volitional control, and hence should conform to moral principles. For example, it has been shown that some people might have some genetic predisposition that easily accesses their emotion for anger, or sentimentality, or introversion, etc. However, the rational control or indulgence of these tendencies are possible and expected regardless of the fact that they have some genetic basis. A genetic tendency does not rule out human volition. Thus, having a gay genetic tendency would still require that gays demonstrate their rational indulgence in their sexual orientation as being fully and perfectly moral, and consistent with objective principles of morality. On the other hand, a complete genetic determination would infact rule out human volition - like skin color, muscle mass, etc. - and therefore, homosexual genetic determinism would not be a matter of moral or ethical speculation. I have always stated my position on homosexuality as such: if it is fully biological then it is morally a non-issue. End of story. If it is only partly biological, or fully non-genetic, then it can still be established beyond argument as a choice of sexuality that is completely moral. As an interesting side note: it seems to me that this rule applies in all cases - that which is biologically determined in an individual if it is elevated to a matter of volitional choice it will still remain either amoral or fully moral, but never immoral. It applies to homosexuality just as it would apply to skin color, for example. There used to be a Christian religious sect that actually believed that Blacks had dark skins as manifestations of their sins or the sins of their ancestors. We all know, I don't need to demonstrate, how terribly and horribly wrong they were - and not just wrong, those Christians were immensely evil themselves for believing and advocating such a heinous idea. Say at some point in the future, human technology permits the choice of one's skin color on a routine basis, whatever choice is made, as long as it is made selfishly without coercion, the choice itself could not be immoral. |W|P|114062434220620964|W|P|Mom Made me Gay|W|P|2/23/2006 04:04:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Rubicund Y. Logorrhea|W|P|Hmm... I dunno... my skin certainly empinkens to a degree dependant on my sins; and I notice that each time I see you your skin tone seems slightly different, no doubt corresponding neatly as an indication of your commission or expiation.

What a neat idea.

On an unrelated note, dear, I have to chastize you for posting too much. I simply cannot keep up. Do you need more work to do? Would you like to take some of my load? I suppose I could spare a bit of per-diem for a lighter burden...2/26/2006 08:53:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Ergo Sum|W|P|Actually, upon thinking about this further.. I know I'm wrong. I am wrong about saying that *all* genetically determined aspects of our nature, if it were to be elevated to a matter of choice would never be immoral.
I can think of atleast one example to proove me wrong: that of pedophilia. Regardless of whether it might be genetic or not, acting on pedophilic urges is fully immoral because it impinges violently upon another person who is incapable of defending or consenting.2/26/2006 10:05:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Aethlos|W|P|so what's the scoop on this 'cautiously'??? are you in the closet? are you married? are you coming on thursday??? :P2/27/2006 09:04:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Ergo Sum|W|P|Ha! Yea.. I'm married... with grown-up kids. That's right! Cautiously cuz, I'm not sure if that's the kinda group/event/thing I wish to be involved in... I'll most likely not have much in common with most there.... except you, I suppose... again, cautiously! ;)3/07/2006 09:38:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Aethlos|W|P|sure, some homosexuality might be psychological and bio/psy combinations, but plenty of it is PURELY BIOLOGICAL. You really need to read this book: "BIOLOGICAL EXUBERANCE" It's very dense zoological stuff, but it's necessary to the argument you've made here... BIOLOGICAL EXUBERANCE... probably on amazon.com
:)3/07/2006 09:39:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Aethlos|W|P|and how can you have grown-up kids if you're only 24? even if you had them at 14 they would only be ten! :P3/07/2006 10:46:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Ergo Sum|W|P|Damn! Smart guy, eh? Okay, next time I'll make it a point to say I have kids... not grown-up... just little kids.4/03/2006 01:55:00 AM|W|P|Blogger GayReason|W|P|Dear Ergo,

A "genetically determined aspect of our nature" (which in my terms is simply a genetic manifestation like blue eyes) cannot be "elevated" to a matter of choice. It simply exists as the raw material for an action that utilises that genetic manifestion.

Blue eyes is a good example. A man who possesses and uses his blue eyes is not treating his blue eyes as a fator of volition. Yet a man who uses his blue eyes in order to attract another man or woman who is aroused by that trait, by flashing them, is indeed "elevating" this genetic aspect into the realm of volitional, moral action. (It is good moral action!)

A mutual sexual attraction between fully grown males, and between fully grown females, whether it is expressed in action or not, seems to be truly ordered by genetics, as sexual pleasure seems to be rooted and felt more in physiological areas than are other forms of happiness.

That is simply a statement that says nothing about the "volitionality" of sexuality, and leads to no moral conclusions.

The morality of sexual intercourse/behavior begins where EVERY ethical question begins: the question of, "was anyone's rights violated?"

If consent to an act, understanding of the act's nature, and understanding of the benefits of that act, are all present, then sex is moral.

My premises being stated, I do take issue with you on your statement that "acting on pedophiliac urges is fully immoral because it impinges violently upon another person who is incapable of defending or consenting." Violently? Are people in late adolescence ipso facto never capable of understanding what a sexual act might mean to them? Abstract reasoning seems to begin at a much younger age anyway. Part of the reason I bring this up is because cultural hysteria (not rational and unique thinking) over this issue seems to always influence a hastily identified use of this (hastily formed?) concept.

Thank you.

GayReason2/20/2006 12:08:00 PM|W|P|Ergo Sum|W|P|Dervishes in Words: Nature's Song I wrote this poem after watching "Brokeback Mountain", a movie which I liked very much (thought not as much as to garner its induction into my 'favorite movies' category). It's a beautiful, sincere movie that depicts a tragic imminence of death and despair of two gay characters set against a backdrop of luscious life, nature, action, and dynamic energy. I thought that the contrasts of the character's lives losing their souls into the currents of the river ("river" for me symbolized the culture of their times, akin to "mainstream", and having to "go with the flow", having to drown in the strength of the dominant current in the river) evoked the images in my poem of the "sad river", "torrent of tears", "soul sinking", and finally the last line of peaceful redemption symbolized in the line "the river stops a moment to sigh with me" -- conveying the death and the stillness of what was earlier dynamic, the opposite of movement in culture and society, etc.|W|P|114045892971948069|W|P|Dervishes in Words: Nature's Song|W|P|3/03/2006 05:38:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Aethlos|W|P|i was disappointed you didn't join us! here's a pic though: aethlos.com/welt2/17/2006 05:56:00 PM|W|P|Ergo Sum|W|P|Today was the last day of my boss in my company. We had a little gathering in the conference room where everybody brought in little somethings to eat and share, and express our immense appreciation to her for being a great person to work for. I brought in tasty tasty samosas that everybody loved and devoured eagerly! So, just a few minutes ago, as I was saying my last goodbye's to her privately, I was almost moved to tears by the imminence of the fact; the fact that she will not be here when I get back to work on Monday. She and I had shared a great working and friendly relationship. Somehow she just "got" me. She was also a woman of ideas. We spoke of Emerson and philosophies and our concept of what life and living should be. Over her brief time at the company, she had endeared herself to almost everybody that she came in contact with. She had the loudest and free-est laughter I have heard from anybody - let alone from a lady in the upper echelons of a Corporation. Her sense of life is truly benevolent. I was not the only one shocked and deeply saddened to hear the news of her leaving. Even the VP of the company, who is an ardent Cubs fan and even has his email address referencing his loyalty to the team, while my boss is an exuberant South-sider Sox fan, attempted to bribe her to not leave by saying he would convert into a fan for her team if she decided to stay! Needless to say, I deeply valued our work relationship because it fueled my work ethic and integrity - it was my obligation to offer the best of my efforts to someone who recognized the best in me. One of the last things she said to me in our parting conversation was: "Jerry, I know that you will have a very interesting and rewarding life. You are very passionate and unique person. You will definitely succeed in life, but I wish I could see how you do it, because I know it will be different." That was it. I was quiet, because I was afraid if I said anything, a tear might escape my eyes. After a moment, I said thank you for saying that, and I hope you have fun working where you go. Then we said our goodbyes and I walked out. Felt like a funeral! Ugh. My own reaction surprises me. I didn;t expect to be so affected by it. I guess, this is what it means to deem someone or something so valuable that losing it necessarily should be hard and difficult. This is what it means to value with discretion because only then will the valuation have any meaning. This is why I don't bother with niceties... don't bother being "nice" to people I really don't care about or people I actually despise. Because then that which I value or those that I do like and value, their estimation in my eyes and the praises I offer them retains some meaning and worth. Praises are meaningless if the grotesque is esteemed on an equal level as that which is truly beautiful. Be generous with your condemnation and disdain for that which deserves it, and be equally generous with your praise and upliftment for that which is good, moral, benevolent and beautiful. Toleration of mediocrity or the downright evil is no different from sanctioning it. In practical life, no private business with the motive to compete and succeed will tolerate the mediocre - that would hasten the demise of the company and everyone else who works there. The same attitude should apply to relatiships. This Monday will be strange.|W|P|114022218800818479|W|P|Meaningful Value and Evaluation|W|P|2/18/2006 08:53:00 PM|W|P|Blogger PhoenixAtlantis|W|P|This was a beautifully written post. Working for a boss that you truly admire makes coming to work a joy. Couldn't agree more about giving as much praise as possible when a person has deserved it. Too often, especially in the corporate world, nothing is said when a person does a good job, but they are criticised heavily when a mistake is made.2/20/2006 09:30:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Ergo Sum|W|P|Yes, thanks Phoenix for the nice words. Today, I'm at work.. and it's awfully silent. It just so happens that my ex-boss's office is directly in front of my cube, and it's so unmotivating to watch an empty, dark office there.

Oh well.. gotta move on.2/16/2006 12:28:00 PM|W|P|Ergo Sum|W|P|Collectivism is the mind-set of a group. It is the lack of strong or coherent identify of the self. Many philosophers believe it is even impossible to know, let alone define, what the “self” really is. They argue that identity is only derivable from the Other-than-self. Sartre, among others, held that belief as the crux of his philosophy and his formulation of the Being-for-itself. In fact, according to Sartre, a person would be acting on bad faith and would be insincere in making any claims of “I am” because not only is one’s consciousness always changing and never static, but also there isn’t any concept of self-consciousness that is unamendable to objectification by the Other. Sartre’s entire metaphysics of the human being places individuals in a state of constant conflict against each other. According to Christine Daigle who discusses Sartre’s key concepts in Philosophy Now, Issue 53, “Sartre made such a good case for this conflictual relationship [that] he had made it impossible for him to elaborate a workable ethics…. Sartre is struggling to establish an ethics that rests on reciprocity and authenticity.” My own view is that a metaphysic that does not recognize the identity of the individual is a metaphysic of Collectivism. And any such metaphysic that is based on collectivism simply does not allow or permit any coherent and consistent ethical or moral principle to be formulated and that which can be applicable universally. Hence, every attempt to extrapolate an ethics from such a metaphysic will inevitably run into problems and dangerous inconsistencies. Collectivism, by definition, has to mean the suppression of the individual – the repression of a minority voice or opinion, the lack of self-determinate autonomy. Any mob mentality has to smother individual mentality. Every and all human beings do not think alike, behave the same way, and have similar tastes or opinions. Thus, the concept of majoritarianism, mob mentality, sacrifice of the one for the many, has interpersonal conflict inseparably built-in to the system. A universally applicable ethics cannot ever arise from such a system unless it is accompanied by force or dogma. People can gather in groups and be affiliated with collective bodies based upon their chosen values. However, the attempt to spread those values upon an entire population by force, law, or by doctrine without accepting or recognizing the right of the other to choose their values is the essence of ideologies based on collectivism – at their very fundamental root, they begin by the violation of the rights of the individual, thus they cannot possibly sustain any ethical principle that can be universally applied to all individuals. This is where religion comes into play. An alliance of religion and collectivism necessarily leads to gross, widespread, and unspeakably evil violations of human rights in all cases. As I said, collectivism as an ideology simply cannot support any ethics that could even fake a veneer of benevolent morality. Religion, however, comes in easily and paints a layer of morality on the ethics of a collectivist ideology. For example, if the collectivists wish to get rid of a race of people, or subjugate them for their own arbitrary whims and purposes, the ideology of collectivism will simply not be able to justify such an act on any ethical principle that can be defended and upheld as being a moral principle. In this case, the collectivists can take recourse to religion and spin the collectivist ethic into the religious ethic. Jews should be exterminated because they are responsible for the death of Christ. Christians should be exterminated because we are obligated to establish the supremacy of Islam. Blacks should be shunned because their dark skin colors are expressions of sin and evil in the human race. Muslims should be expelled from India because India is Hindu country. In the above examples, regardless of how many voices speak out in dissent of those activities, if that is in the mind-set of the collective majority, all they need is for religion to paint a veneer of a high-minded moral principle in order for them to feel justified in not only suppressing the minority dissent, but also in carrying out their dastardly evil acts. Collectivism is not only just a philosophical ideology; it is an incredible evil in itself. As Rand said, it is not enough to just study a philosophical ideology as abstract principles, but think of the ramifications in concrete reality if those principles were to be put into practice. That is philosophical detection, according to Rand, and therefore her philosophy of Objectivism is primarily a philosophy of living life on Earth, not just a rich system of principles to be held abstractly. Tag: |W|P|114011508457575518|W|P|Marriage of Collectivism and Religion|W|P|7/11/2006 05:57:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Mark|W|P|A very coherent posting. Collectivism, or rather, moral relatavism is destoying the world.

Your calling out of the implicit involvement of religion in this destruction is courageous, correct and necessary.

Always good to read a clear-thinking objectivist voice.11/14/2007 08:23:00 PM|W|P|Anonymous Anonymous|W|P|nobody gives a fuck what you think you twat
go back to your sweatshop2/15/2006 01:06:00 PM|W|P|Ergo Sum|W|P| [Warning - please leave your rational faculties on the chair next to you. You will not need to use any reason or logic in this case] Why are we here? Why did God create us? Why did God create anything at all?? If God is understood to be outside of time and existence, transcending this Universe, then God must have brought existence into existence and thus created a "beginning" of time and Universe. So, before the "bringing into existence of existence", God must have existed in and among non-existence. So, existing in non-existence and being the sole existent must feel awfully lonely. But that cannot be the case because God is Supremely satisfied, content, and exists in an infinite state of perfection and completeness. So, God cannot be lonely. So, having some companionship could not be the reason God created existence. Maybe God wanted His ego to be stroked? Maybe God needed some supernatural creatures like Angels and some lowly creatures like Humans and animals to recognize Him as Almighty and worship His magnanimity? But does it make any sense to think that God "needed" something? Anything? Does God ever "need"? Maybe God needs love. We all need some lovin' at some point in our lives. Maybe God wants (needs?) someone to love and love Him back, so he created us and all the creatures of the heavens. I think it could also be argued that God does not just "need" us to love Him, but demands that we love Him - or else we will suffer eternal damnation in hell for scorning Him. Certainly, just like anyone else, even God does not wish to be a scorned lover; and He takes it very personally if He is scorned by anyone. So, it seems like because we exist, and because Existence exists, and because creation of Existence implies a beginning of time, God must have had some reason/need/motive to bring existence into existence and begin the flow of time. Well, that raises another question: what was God doing "before" He got the impluse to create time and existence? Furthermore, in His infinite Intelligence, what was His Divine purpose to bring Human Beings INTO existence as mortal beings, and then bestow upon us immortality AFTER fatality, to be spent either in eternal suffering or eternal bliss? (In light of this point, read my previous post "God's Original Plan for Humanity" for further interesting insights into God's behavior). Some believe that we have never gone "in and out" of existence - that we have always existed with God forever in eternity. I suppose that makes us all the "Alpha and Omega" the "immortal, eternal spirit" - terms usually reserved only for God. In that case, what is God's Intelligent design behind forcing our immortal selves to take on the garb of mortality, live on this earth, suffer disease and disaster, experience anguish, pain, joy and exuberance, only in the end of it all to "die" and return back to our immortal selves and then be banished into hell for eternity or taken up into heaven? What's all this drama about? Is all the world a stage and our lives a play for God's voyeuristic pleasure? There is another way to look at all this: because we exist, because Existence exists, and because creation of Existence implies a beginning of time while acting outside of time and existence, God can not exist and must necessarily not exist. In other words, the fact that we exist proves that God cannot exist. Either that is true, or the God-concept will need to undergo inherently drastic, almost diametrically opposite, changes in its meaning - God will need to be understood as frail, jealous, bored, lonely, egotistic, evil, voyeuristic, capable of sinning, angry, etc.|W|P|114003221131541962|W|P|God|W|P|2/17/2006 10:34:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Jason Hughes|W|P|I love it! I wish my brain worked like yours soemtimes.... But hence, individualism...

:D2/17/2006 10:56:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Ergo Sum|W|P|Thanks, JT! :)9/14/2007 09:48:00 PM|W|P|Anonymous Anonymous|W|P|Ergosum's blog
Is God Bored and Lonely?
By Ergosum - Posted on May 2nd, 2006
Tagged: Opinion • Personal freedom • Better future
[From my personal blog at http://ergosum.blogspot.com]

I just Googled your subject line and found a link to your blog. It’s nice to know that there are others that think about the same things I think about.

I’ve noted my thoughts below. Perhaps you will find them interesting or thought-provoking

Why are we here? Why did God create us? Why did God create anything at all?? If God is understood to be outside of time and existence, transcending this Universe, then God must have brought existence into existence and thus created a "beginning" of time and Universe.

Perhaps G_D is existence? If so, existence didn’t have to be brought – it simply existed.
I’m not sure that time began at the same time as existence if it’s possible to exist outside of time, which I believe it is. Perhaps the universe and time began together, which would have to be at the beginning of time but possibly after the beginning of existence, if there was such a thing as the “beginning of existence”, which I don’t believe there is.

So, before the "bringing into existence of existence", God must have existed in and among non-existence.

I don’t believe anyone or anything can exist before existence, by definition?

So, existing in non-existence and being the sole existent must feel awfully lonely.

I believe that even existing alone IN existence can feel awfully lonely.

But that cannot be the case because God is Supremely satisfied, content, and exists in an infinite state of perfection and completeness. Loneliness implies imperfection, a desire, a need for company or stimulation. God cannot ever "need" anything. So, God cannot be lonely. So, having some companionship could not be the reason God created existence.

G_D may be supremely satisfied, etc. now, but it may be that this is an evolved state, since G_D may have evolved to this state before the beginning of time. As such, there may have been a pre-evolved state where G_D was indeed lonely and bored. As such, it may also be true that companionship was one of many reasons G_D created the universe.

Maybe God wanted His ego to be stroked? Maybe God needed some supernatural creatures like Angels and some lowly creatures like Humans and animals to recognize Him as Almighty and worship His magnanimity?

I believe that ego is strictly a human thing. I don’t believe this is an attribute of G_D.

But does it make any sense to think that God "needed" something? Anything? Does God ever "need"? Maybe God needs love. We all need some lovin' at some point in our lives. Maybe God wants (needs?) someone to love and love Him back, so he created us and all the creatures of the heavens.

It does seem that love is magnified if shared, although self-love can exist alone. I do believe that the opportunity to share love was at least one of the reasons for creating the universe.

I think it could also be argued that God does not just "need" us to love Him, but demands that we love Him - or else we will suffer eternal damnation in hell for scorning Him.

I’m pretty sure that G_D knows that love can’t be demanded in the same way that obedience can.

Certainly, just like anyone else, even God does not wish to be a scorned lover; and He takes it very personally if He is scorned by anyone. The only judgment passed upon a MORTAL human who chooses to despise and scorn God all his life is ETERNAL, IMMORTAL damnation in the burning fires of hell. Such is God's perfect sense of justice.

Again, scorn is a human thing. We have to be careful not to create G_D in our own image.

FYI – I don’t believe that hell exists, except from time to time on earth.

So, it seems like because we exist, and because Existence exists, and because creation of Existence implies a beginning of time, God must have had some reason/need/motive to bring existence into existence and begin the flow of time. Well, that raises another question: what was God doing "before" He got the impluse to create us and bring us into existence, thus starting us on a linear path of birth and death? Furthermore, in His infinite Intelligence, what was His Divine purpose to bring Human Beings INTO existence as mortal beings, and then bestow upon us immortality AFTER fatality, to be spent either in eternal suffering or eternal bliss? (In light of this point, read my previous post "God's Original Plan for Humanity" at http://www.progressiveu.org/000243-gods-original-plan-for-humanity).
Some believe that we have never gone "in and out" of existence - that we have always existed with God forever in eternity. I suppose that makes us all the "Alpha and Omega" the "immortal, eternal spirit" - terms usually reserved only for God.

Or maybe we are one component of the Alpha and Omega. The created but not the Creator.

In that case, what is God's Intelligent design behind forcing our immortal selves to take on the garb of mortality, live on this earth, suffer disease and disaster, experience anguish, pain, joy and exuberance, only in the end of it all to "die" and return back to our immortal selves and then be banished into hell for eternity or taken up into heaven? What's all this drama about?

Why do you think you are forced to live on earth. If you were lonely and bored for 50 trillion years wouldn’t you eventually volunteer? I’m pretty sure I would. And I would consider the opportunity to have that choice a blessing, not a curse.

Is all the world a stage and our lives a freakish play for God's voyeuristic pleasure?

I always figured we are here to participate in the process of perfecting the universe.

There is another way to look at all this: because we exist, because Existence exists, and because creation of Existence implies a beginning of time while acting outside of time and existence, God can not exist and must necessarily not exist. In other words, the fact that we exist proves that God cannot exist.

I actually don’t understand the logic whereby the created can exist without the presence of a creator.

Either that is true, or the God-concept will need to undergo inherently drastic, almost diametrically opposite, changes in its meaning - God will need to be understood as frail, jealous, bored, lonely, egotistic, evil, voyeuristic, capable of sinning, angry, etc.

Sorry – I don’t follow this logic either. But, that’s OK – you probably don’t understand all of mine either

Best regards…Steve2/14/2006 04:49:00 PM|W|P|Ergo Sum|W|P|In one of my earlier posts, I criticized Sartre's conception of freedom as a human "burden". At that time, I was not really and fully clear on Sartre's ideas, but I knew there had to be something wrong about it because "freedom" viewed as a burden that people try to shun and flee from seemed horribly wrong if it were one's real outlook on life in this world. Since then, I have been reading more about Sartre and his theories. The recent "Philosophy Now" Issue 53 was dedicated mostly to Sartre in observance of his 100th birthday. In the editorial of the magazine briefly sketched Sartre's life that I excerpted as such: "[Sartre's] intake of coffee, nicotine, and harder drugs was prodigious, and may have contributed to his one-time delusion that he was being stalked by a giant lobster. Sartre, having constructed an uncompromising philosophy of personal freedom,... spent many years entangled to varying degrees with the French Communist Party - stalwart defenders of Stalin's gulags." To me, Sartre's confused and decadent life seems to be just the logical and practical consequence of the philosophy that he himself formulated. Quite consistently, Communism would be the only ideological system compatible with a concept such as "freedom is a burden" and that "humans are condemned to be free". "The validity and efficacy of ideas are most evident in the actions they generate" - that is the credo of my blog.|W|P|113995799332490516|W|P|Sartre: A Philosopher of Freedom?|W|P|2/14/2006 02:18:00 PM|W|P|Ergo Sum|W|P|Something that Godel said may well have been said by Rand, and it would be no different: "Every error is due to extraneous factors (such as emotion and education); reason itself does not err." - 1972 It might seem strange on the surface that Godel makes a claim about the infallibility of Reason when infact he is most famous for a proof that many have considered a huge contradiction at the very core of mathematical and logical systems (the exemplars of Reason at its purest). Ofcourse, Godel is equating Reason in this context with the purely logical and deductive. Rand did not have such a narrow understanding of Reason, and she further accepted the feedback of one's emotions to the loop of cognition and decision making.|W|P|113994933305323420|W|P|Godel and Reason|W|P|2/13/2006 08:49:00 AM|W|P|Ergo Sum|W|P|So, the next big thing in the boy band music scene could most likely be "Dormant Light", an awesome group of boys with some good alternative/hardrock music. I believe they even have a crazy fan-following, with groupies et al at their performances. Dormant Light is the brainchild of my good old friend Curtis Bard who I went to college with me in Hanover, Indiana. Knowing Curtis for many years and having listened to his music firsthand - from development stages to completed works - I can attest to the superb quality of his creations. I think he makes a good-faith effort to add layers of complexities to his music and challenge his artistic capabilities. That might probably be the reason why he dislikes minimalist music. His music reveals his penchant to experiment with unusual musical combinations, eastern and mediterranean sounds, and a variety of musical instruments. He was also a member of an a capella singing group while in college. Certainly, the ladies of Hanover flocked in droves to this crooning hunk! ;) Well, recently, Curtis made a trip to India, and he had amassed close to a 100 pictures from the trip. In his email to me, he described the trip as: "- wow - it was AWESOME!!!! I loved it!!! really blew me away!" I intended to coax him into writing with a little more detail about his experiences in India and why he "loved it". Hopefully, I will be able to post his little essay on here. So check out Dormant Light. Buy one of their CD's to sample their music. Once they shoot to stardom, you might be able to say that you are a proud owner of one of their earliest works! Also, check our Curtis' pictures from his trip to India. (note: Curtis is a musician, not a photographer. So, pardon some of his more awkward and uncomposed pictures ;-)|W|P|113984402740180168|W|P|New Boy Band Artist Makes Trip to India|W|P|2/09/2006 12:19:00 PM|W|P|Ergo Sum|W|P|... or even for those of you with the means and motivation to travel to Denver, Colorado: Diana from Noodlefood wishes to notify all about "Front Range Objectivism's upcoming "Weekend Conference on Law, Individual Rights and the Judicial System." It will be held from March 4th-5th in Denver, Colorado. The speakers will include Tara Smith, Amy Peikoff, Eric Daniels, and Dana Berliner. For all the details, plus online registration, visit: http://www.frontrangeobjectivism.com/2006-law.html "Early registration for Front Range Objectivism's Weekend Conference on Law, Individual Rights and the Judicial System (to be held March 4-5, 2006 in Denver, Colorado) is this Saturday, February 11, 2006. Don't miss this fantantic conference! And register now to save $75!" - Another Reminder Tag:|W|P|113950943447640849|W|P|For Readers in Colorado|W|P|2/08/2006 10:50:00 AM|W|P|Ergo Sum|W|P|This is a great article in the BBC that seeks to explain the context that gave rise to this whole Muhammad cartoon fiasco. It also gives some interesting interpretations of the artists' message in those cartoons. Here's an excerpt: "The paper chose as its central image a visual joke about the Prophet among other turban-wearing figures in a police line-up and the witness saying: "I don't know which one he is". It is presumably an ironic appeal for calm over the issue, the suggestion being that, if a Danish illustrator were to portray the Prophet, it is not known what he looks like and therefore a harmless gesture. " Tag: |W|P|113941760469875221|W|P|Describing the Muhammad Cartoons|W|P|2/08/2006 10:04:00 AM|W|P|Ergo Sum|W|P|In my opinion, the mind-set that has led so many Muslims to react violently and in complete disregard to human rights in response to the cartoons may not be an exclusive characteristic of the Islamic religion per se, but might be in a broader sense, a symptom of the diabolic synergy that I think exists between their cultural collectivism and their religious faith. These rioters happen to be Muslims – but I argue that it might as well have been Christians or Hindus – any large world religion. I think there is a specific interplay of influences that we might be missing. The fact the Islam is a religion of large following is a huge factor in generating the collectivist groundwork. That religious collectivism is further bolstered by the cultural collectivism that forms the identity of these societies in the middle-east, Africa, and Asia. These societies are inculcated with the collectivist identity, and hence they have very vague (if any) concepts of human rights – because fundamental human rights can be recognized only in the context of human beings understood as unitary, individual entities. The collectivist tribalism observed among Africans engaged in looting, plundering, rape, and chaos reflect the interplay between their faith and their culture. Many of these Africans are Christians, and many of them are Muslims. Yet they all equally enjoy their depraved existence in violence. The Hindus of India have incited many riots over religious, political, cultural, and social issues, just as the Muslims in India have done. The tendency of these cultures to quickly take up arms and tear the limbs off of other people or destroy someone else’s property reflect not directly a zealous practice of their doctrinal beliefs in religion, but their mind-set of non-identity drowned in a mass of collectivism that recognizes no individual body nor individual property. Their religion merely veils their tribalism and irrefutable evilness in glossy euphemisms of “unity”, “community”, “sacred tradition”, “ sacrifice”, “martyrdom” and “heavenly reward”. Their religion provides them with the psychological and spiritual justification for their violent actions that their cultural collectivism can possibly not provide. This is my very brief and quick observation and thoughts on the matter. I believe I am capturing something accurate. I might need to flesh out the full implication and extent of this collectivist-religious interplay. Tag: |W|P|113941483559296829|W|P|The Perils of the Collectivist Mind-Set|W|P|2/08/2006 11:18:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Jason Hughes|W|P|Very well put. I thank you for the insight you put into your posts.2/12/2006 03:18:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Ergo Sum|W|P|My comment on John's blog adds slightly more insight to my original argument: http://www.blogger.com/publish-comment.do?blogID=12606710&postID=113977089377898505&r=ok


"I think what's "unholy", and truly evil, is the union of Collectivism and Religion. Note that these instances of violence are not exclusive to any one religion in partiular - like Islam.. but it is certainly a characteristic observed repeatedly among collectivist societies... whether they are the crazy protestant christians in Africa rioting and raping.. or the muslims of the middle-east.. or the hindus of India...
Violence and violation of human rights comes most easily to those societies that have no concept of Individualism - hence no idea of individual human rights... they don't respect privacy rights, intellectual rights (piracy is rampant in these societies), property rights..."2/07/2006 05:14:00 PM|W|P|Ergo Sum|W|P|So, when Kurt Godel formulated the proof that there are true but unprovable statements, was he talking about axiomatic statements??? Say, for example, would the axiom that "existence exists" be the kind of statement that are unprovable but true? Also, take another example: the validity of logic that cannot be proved, but it can be validated. Would that make the validity of the logical method an example of the unprovable but true? It seems to me that it would. I've just started reading Incompleteness: The proof and paradox of Kurt Godel. I'm excited to read more!|W|P|113935415071585057|W|P|Godel's Insight|W|P|2/07/2006 11:20:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Mark G.|W|P|" So, when Kurt Godel formulated the proof that there are true but unprovable statements, was he talking about axiomatic statements???"

No. There is even an implication that if you were to take a statements that is true and couldn't be proven and force them to be axioms, no matter how many times, then you would still have a system with true statements that couldn't be proven.

At least that's what I remember from college so many years ago!2/08/2006 08:59:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Ergo Sum|W|P|"force them to be axioms, no matter how many times"

How can one "force" a statement to be axioms? Aren't axioms by their very definition, self-evidentiary and irreducible?

How do you "force" the statement "Existence exists" to be an axiom... because any attempt to begin to "prove" its axiomatic nature will have to begin at a point assuming that it is NOT an axiom... which is impossible for these axiomatic statements. Any proof/attempt to validate or refute axioms must have to depend implicitly atleast on the axiom itself.2/08/2006 09:46:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Mark G.|W|P|How can one "force" a statement to be axioms?

That may have been poor wording on my part. My experience with Godel is with mathematics. The math example that is most often cited is Number Theory which is repleat with statements that seem to be true, but can't be proven and no counter examples can be found. If we take a statement such as "all even numbers can be written as the sum of two primes," a very simple statement that mathematicians believe to be true but can't prove, and then say O.K. let's make that an axiom, then you end up with a new system of Number Theory with the added axioim. This new system in turn will have statements that can't be proven true and no counter example can be found. Its been such a long time since I've read anything on Godel, but what I remember is the problem isn't with mathematics itself. Statements in math are either true or false. Period. The problem is with the logic proving the statements.

Thanks for bringing up the subject. It makes me want to go and brush up on Godel!2/08/2006 10:26:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Ergo Sum|W|P|Very interesting. I'm absolutely stupid when it comes to mathematics... so the only way I can work with Godel's argument is by applying it to non-mathetical statements... like philosophical axioms.

Yea... so far Godel comes across as an amazing, eccentric, genuis. I'm sure there's something we're missing... you are right that in Math things are either true or false (atleast that's what I think, given my meager exposure to mathematics).

So, given a statement, according to Godel, one could know it is true but not be able to prove it. Sounds to me like it's not really a problem of logic, either.

For example, "All bachelors are unmarried men". Well, yeah... certainly, that's true enough. But the statement is really self-referential... in that, it is a circular argument because it depends on the definition of the subject to conclude the predicate. Hence, it does not render itself to proof... but we still know its true.
How is that a problem with logic? I see that as a matter of the identity of self-referential statements.
And NO, I would not categorize that "bachelor" statement as an AXIOM. They are different things.2/14/2006 11:43:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Adrian Hester|W|P|You write, "So, when Kurt Godel formulated the proof that there are true but unprovable statements, was he talking about axiomatic statements???" No, he was talking about nonaxiomatic statements in a logical system (and it applies only to systems rich enough to include number theory). It's an interesting fact about pure mathematics, but it doesn't have much importance for human knowledge in general (contrary to the fashionable claims of many members of the intelligentsia), for which there are other criteria of truth than pure deduction from axioms.2/14/2006 12:02:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Adrian Hester|W|P|You write, "So, given a statement, according to Godel, one could know it is true but not be able to prove it. Sounds to me like it's not really a problem of logic, either." Uh, no, because it applies to deductive logical systems, not empirical sciences; it applies precisely to statements which you can't know to be true unless they're actually proved, such as statements of number theory. One could suspect a mathematical statement is true but not be able to prove it from a given set of axioms. More precisely, if you have a consistent set of axioms able to express arithmetic, there will be true statements that can't be proved or disproved from those axioms. That means you can't come up with an automatic, infallible algorithm or decision procedure that will produce all and only the true statements in arithmetic from a finite set of axioms (such as Peano's axioms for defining the basic operations of arithmetic). (This is actually the gist of Church's theorem, which is closely related to the work of Godel and which is of basic importance in theoretical computer science.) For example, it is undecidable in this sense whether a finite sequence of digits is truly random (in the strict sense of randomness used in computer science). You can't prove that it's truly random, but you can strongly suspect it.2/14/2006 02:16:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Ergo Sum|W|P|Here is the exact words of Godel's argument as he presented it:

"One can (assuming the consistency of classical mathematics) even give examples of propositions (and indeed of such a type as Goldbach and Fermat) which are really contextually true but unprovable in the formal system of classical mathematics."

Godel's proof is known as the "Incompleteness" proof. Now, I suspect that you seem to have missed the point of his proof because you say his proof applies *only* to logical (mathematical) systems rich enough to include number theory.

But, the point I think you're missing is the epistemological point: How can Godel *PROVE* that there are some propositions that are both unprovable and true at the same time? To say that Godel *proves* that which turns out to be true but *unprovable* is not merely an issue of mathematics to grapple with, but a broader philosophical issue of the nature of proof and truth.

My argument is that Godel's insight is perfectly valid, but just like the propositions he describes as unprovable but true, I believe his theorem itself falls under that category of unprovable but true. I believe his theorem is *validated* by his mathematical logic, but not *proved*. There is a difference between showing validation and demonstrating proof.

Furthermore, Godel is explicit in his qualification of "contextual" truths. That is infact also the Objectivist's position on truth or certainty - that it can be arrived at only contextually.2/14/2006 05:54:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Adrian Hester|W|P|You write, "There is a difference between showing validation and demonstrating proof." NO, NOT IN MATHEMATICS! As I pointed out in my recent comment about irrational numbers, mathematics proves theorems precisely by showing that they follow validly from a given set of consistent axioms and definitions; methodologically it is purely deductive, and in a deductive system validation IS proof. By the same token, Godel's theorem is highly complex but valid for all mathematical systems rich enough to contain arithmetic, but to argue from that that it has any importance for other systems that do not rely exclusively on deduction for proof is invalid.

You further write, "But, the point I think you're missing is the epistemological point: How can Godel *PROVE* that there are some propositions that are both unprovable and true at the same time?" In short, by showing that if you start with a mathematical model of deductive logic that represents logical elements and functions as numerals (prime factors of an integer taken to represent the statement as a whole), you can model all forms of valid deduction in arithmetic; then he showed in essence that the statement "This statement is not decidable in this system" leads to a contradiction. It's simply reductio ad absurdum at a very abstract level.

"To say that Godel *proves* that which turns out to be true but *unprovable* is not merely an issue of mathematics to grapple with, but a broader philosophical issue of the nature of proof and truth." Only if you assume that mathematical truth is just truth writ large, and mathematical proof is just like scientific proof. They're not. You should read the following thread carefully:

http://forums.4aynrandfans.com/index.php?showtopic=1732

I'll just quote Stephen Speicher's comment from that thread, "Now, why should you care about all this? In normal life, not the least. As Goedel himself admitted, his work placed certain restrictions on the pure formalism of mathematics and had nothing to do with the ordinary reasoning power of the human mind."11/24/2008 12:55:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Ian Maxwell|W|P|An axiom is not necessarily a statement that is "self-evidently true." An axiom, in a formal deductive system, is just a statement to which we agree to apply the meaningless label 'true', as a starting point.

We then have rules of inference which say, essentially, that given a certain group of statements labeled 'true' (like, say, "P implies Q" and "P"), we may label another statement 'true' as well (like, say, "Q").

Gödel proved that, in any formal deductive system (that is, collection of axioms and collection of rules of inference) which is capable of modeling natural number arithmetic (and therefore mathematical), there are statements which cannot be labeled 'true' and whose negation cannot be labeled 'true' either.

Gödel did not say "There are true but unprovable statements," or "There are things we can never know," or "We can't prove the axioms," any more than Einstein said, "Everything is just relative, dude, it's just a matter of how you look at it." He proved a specific technical fact about arithmetic. If you're interested in the epistemology of mathematics then it's pretty deep; otherwise it's pretty irrelevant.11/21/2009 11:42:00 PM|W|P|Anonymous Anonymous|W|P|Who knows where to download XRumer 5.0 Palladium?
Help, please. All recommend this program to effectively advertise on the Internet, this is the best program!2/07/2006 10:21:00 AM|W|P|Ergo Sum|W|P|I found this article on a very cool site, Arts & Letters Daily. It's a very interesting article that comments upon the interplay between Sartre and Heidegger's existentialism on French intellectual thought. I was particularly interested in this passage I quote below, and I am amused by how Sartre decimates Heidegger's mysticism only to propose in replacement a humanist, man-centered perspective - that in essence is the primacy of the consciousness in Subjectivism. It is strange however, given that Sartre was an Existentialist, that his essential approach was the subjective primacy of the consciousness. I think Rand observes correctly that at their root, these philosophies are simply the two sides of the same metaphysical coin. Anyway, I believe the article is a good read, and the excerpt below is interesting for what it reveals about these philosophers: "Heidegger's philosophy is predicated on a radical criticism of reason and metaphysics. He once observed that "Reason, glorified for centuries, is the most stiff-necked adversary of thought." But by rejecting reason, Heidegger and his French followers simultaneously severed the pivotal link between insight and emancipation. Socrates famously claimed that "knowledge is virtue." In other words: Insight and reflection are the keys to a life well lived. As Socrates declared, "The unexamined life is not worth living." Without the association between insight and emancipation, neither the doctrine of Marx nor of Freud would be possible. For, like that of Socrates, their theories are predicated on the idea that knowledge and human freedom are intrinsically related. As a recovering Heideggerian, Sartre understood the problem better than anyone. He realized that a philosophy like Heidegger's, which demands unquestioning obedience to nameless, higher powers such as Being, the gods, fate and so forth, is a warrant for human bondage. By preaching submission, it is latently authoritarian. As Sartre astutely observed, a philosophy that "subordinates the human to what is Other than man...has hatred of man as both its basis and its consequence.... Either man is primarily himself, or he is primarily Other than himself. Choosing the second doctrine simply makes one a victim and accomplice of real alienation." Further down, the article discusses Emmanuel Levinas, another philosopher, who argued for "Ethics as first philosophy". Levinas argued that western philosophy had predominantly focused on the "Being", metaphysics, or ontology at the detriment and expense of the study of ethics and human relationships. The article goes on to state Levinas' argument: "The basic problem was that, from time immemorial, metaphysics had privileged "ontology"--the study of Being, or of what things essentially "are"--over ethics. In other words, our most intimate and valued philosophical traditions have cared more about "beings" and how to define them than about our ethical dealings with fellow humans." Therefore, Levinas had "sought to redress this pervasive and debilitating imbalance" by reinstating the centrality of human relationships and interactions in a philosophical discourse. In his pursuit of understanding and discovering an ethical theory of humans, he found himself emphasizing the moral and ethical derivative of the "Other" as having primacy over the self or the ego. Levinas criticizes "reason" as leading to totalitarianism. According to him, the rigid requirements of reason, and the "rational approach" can lead to totalitism and "ego-centrism" in its apparent voice of logical authority. Hence, Levinas rejected the approach of "reason" to ethics, and focused more on the "spiritual power of "love", or caritas." I would agree with Levinas that western philosophy has, to a larger extent, given more time and study to the questions of Being and ontology. However, his position on the other end of the spectrum - of jumping to ethics while leaving an undefined, unidentified metaphysics or epistemology - is just the same kind of mistake that he is railing against. The hierarchical nature of knowledge requires that for any attempts at reaching an explicit philosophy of ethics (which is essentially the study of morality in relation to men), one must have an explicit formulation of metaphysics (what is man) and epistemology (how can man know, or gain knowledge). Rand had consistently emphasized that jumping to ethics without a strong philosophical foundation in metaphysics and epistemology was futile and mystical. She observed that ethics flows from epistemology and ultimately from metaphysics. One of the reasons why Rand argued against and eschewed Libertarianism is because Libertarians use moral and ethical concepts like "rights" and "freedom" as their starting point while ignoring the fundamental philosophical foundations. Moreover, Rand emphasized Reason as the only epistemic faculty. Sciabarra had noted correctly that despite, and maybe because of her emphasis of Reason, Rand had constructed a full system of philosophy that had freedom and individualism at every level of its hierarchy. He admired Rand for having constructed such a system without letting Objectivism descend into a totalism or authoritarianism that many of its critics argue Reason invariably leads to. Sciabarra says that Rand may be the only one philosopher yet to have constructed a full system of philosophy that cannot be totalitarian because it is intricately fused with freedom at its very core.|W|P|113933031341803346|W|P|French Philosophers|W|P|2/06/2006 05:42:00 PM|W|P|Ergo Sum|W|P|Dateline recently ran a series of stories that busted child-predators and pedophiles on national TV. They did that with the help of perverted-justice.com, an online watchdog of child-sex offenders. I must applaud the amazing achievements of private enterprises like Dateline, Perverted-Justice and Oprah in their agenda against pedophiles. They have done a lot more in much less time than government and law-enforcement agencies. Many people rightfully condemn pedophilia with the harshest of words. It is certainly a very heinous crime specifically because of its nature of creating life-long victims of very young minds. However, I will state this quite emphatically: Pedophilia is not an illness. It cannot be treated with psychological rehabilitation. Pedophilia is the same thing as homosexuality in that they are both expressions of an alternative sexual attraction besides the majority behavior of heterosexuality. The crucial difference between the two is that pedophilia is a CRIME because it willfully and ruthlessly exploits the persona and psyche of an individual who is incapable – psychologically and, in many cases, physically – of assenting to a mutually acceptable behavior. It is a physical and psychological rape of an individual who cannot yet assent to the manner of an activity he or she is being forced (seduced) to engage in. This applies equally to children and adults who are mentally incapacitated. Homosexuality was also at one point considered an illness (and many still do), and homosexuals were subjected to all forms of “treatments” in utter futility, and sometimes to destructive ends. Now, having recognized that homosexuality is merely another kind of expression under the complex diversity noticed in human sexuality, we understand that homosexual behavior is not only moral, but its free and proper expression among consenting adults is also perfectly healthy. Pedophilia is similar in that it is also a form of sexual expression that is borne out of the immensely complicated patterns of human sexuality observed among the 6 billion humans on this planet. It cannot be treated as an illness because doing so – as in the case of homosexual treatments – invariably backfires, is futile, and could be very destructive to the self and to others. Therefore, we should simply reject the so-called “benevolent” notion of “treating” the psyche of pedophiles to cure them of this 'illness'. It is incurable precisely because it is not an illness to begin with! We cannot risk having another child molested because we hoped we had treated the pedophile’s psychological illness. Moreover, it is only when we recognize that pedophilia is not an illness that we can morally condemn the actions of a pedophile as being criminal. The sexual urge is too strong to argue that pedophiles can be forced into abstinence and be taught to live among people and children. Forcing abstinence on a pedophile is similar to forcing abstinence of homosexuals – the consequence of that we notice with some frequency now among homosexual Catholic priests – in a majority of cases, it just does not work. I have some degree of sympathy for pedophiles simply because their sexual urges are motivated by their sexual orientation. I cannot say if it is entirely biological or entirely environmental; that is for science to decide. I lean toward the opinion that it is an intricate interaction between the biological and the environmental. Nonetheless, knowing that Human Beings are not helplessly subjected to biological instincts like barn-yard animals, knowing that we have free-will and volition to understand morals and rights and boundaries, there can be no arguable excuse for a crime against a child by saying that it is determined by one’s nature. Similarly, some homosexuals find it hard to morally defend homosexuality if it is understood to be a choice, and therefore, they hastily try to force their opinion that homosexuality is genetic and biological. I don’t think science has yet come to a conclusive decision on that issue, but the philosophical defense of homosexuality is not affected by any latest discovery of science. The fundamental principles of philosophy are already set, and allow proper guidance to the conclusion that homosexuality – as chosen or unchosen – is fully moral. Actually, to be more precise, the state of being a homosexual is really amoral if it is biological. It is the proper expression of homosexuality among adults that I regard as being subject to moral scrutiny. And in the event that science discovers that homosexuality is infact a choice or an influence, even in that case choosing to be homosexual can be a fully moral and ethical choice. And so, understanding that the sexual motive is strong, and understanding that pedophilia is not an illness, and understanding that demanding abstinence from them while placing them fully within a surrounding of young children is futile and dangerous, I believe that it is best for society – and pedophiles – that they be isolated from society altogether. |W|P|113926987594154431|W|P|Homosexuality and Pedophilia|W|P|2/06/2006 05:54:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Ergo Sum|W|P|As an after-thought: I'm sure there are many peripheral aspects of pedophilia that can be psychologically treated, for example, their addiction to the internet, their addiction to sex, their issues with self-esteem or self-worth, their own issues with repression or molestation, etc.
But, notice that these treatable issues could be common among any group of people... not just pedophiles. In terms of the actual sexual attraction to young children, I don't believe it is an illness that should or could be treated.2/06/2006 10:43:00 PM|W|P|Blogger JohnJEnright|W|P|I wonder if it's possible to be a pedophile but limit one's expression to fantasy. I don't know. I don't think it's good for them to take jobs where they deal with kids, but naturally they are atrtracted to those job.2/07/2006 09:21:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Ergo Sum|W|P|It probably could work for some, but I doubt that many (or all) pedophiles could be restrained only in fantasies... at some point, the urge to manifest fantasy into reality does take over. In light of this, it is interesting to put Rand's formulation of psycho-epistemology in our understanding of such people. Pedophiles, in that they have an alternative sexuality, are not really that different from homosexuals... though the most crucial and moral difference lies in their actions (not states of being).
Rand had suggested a strong connection between one's sense of life, one's psycho-epistemology, and one's explicit philosophy on life. Peikoff and Sciabarra seperately explore the implications of Rand's theories on sex and fantasies (fetishes, etc.)2/06/2006 02:50:00 PM|W|P|Ergo Sum|W|P| In the context of all this violence that some Islamists justify as “holy” war, I am compelled to think from where do religious people get their morality? It seems to me that instead of making at least a pretense at claiming that their morality is derived from Divine revelation, these religious fundamentalists blatantly force upon their own God their very own concept of morality. As if claiming an Omniscient knowledge*, they openly claim that "Allah is with them" or "God hates fags" or "God likes this but does not like that", etc. etc. Instead of the “top-down” approach, they are engaged in a “bottom-up” approach. What they consider and deem as moral and good is what their God is now forced to accept. There is clearly no consenses among members of the same religion as to what their stance is on, say, abortion, gays, free speech, holy killing, capital punishement, etc. All these arbitrary dictats on religious morality is why, some time ago, I had made the argument that an Atheist can (and does in many cases) have a higher sense of morality than even the most "moral" religious person. I had argued that:
“a righteous and moral atheist has no supernatural or superphysical reason to be moral and righteous. He or she is moral because s/he CHOSE to be moral out of their own free will. The entire locus of morality is situated within their own beings and arises from within themselves.”
*Omniscience is the problem also with Pascal's wager argument that I hear so many people throw around... like as if believing in God is an insurance policy!|W|P|113925956727425081|W|P|Forcing Morality Upon God|W|P|2/06/2006 09:33:00 AM|W|P|Ergo Sum|W|P| If the crazy muslims are going to kill each other and destroy their own communities over these cartoons of Muhammed, then we should publish more of them with more regularity! There is no better cure for this Islamic fundamentalist disease than to have them eradicate each other in their quest for heaven. If Christian fundamentalists of America (who are also a crazy bunch of people) can stop short of actual large scale riots when Hollywood releases movies like "The Last Temptation of Jesus Christ" or "Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic" and voice their protests legitimately, then I find no ounce of legitimacy or understanding in the violent behavior of the muslim fundamentalists. This is not an example of muslims having a more intense sense of religiosity than Christians, but an inherent difference in the concept of what it means to be a human being. Now, to be fair, yes I certainly agree that the cartoons are irreverant. Furthermore, I would support an apology and a retraction of the images IF those muslim thugs would have not descended into riots, and instead demanded an apology through legitimate means (voicing opinions through the media, peaceful protests, etc.). But the fact that they have descended into violence as their first and immediate resort just goes to show that they care less about the actual irreverance of their prophet and more about the simple excuse to use their newly smuggled guns out on the streets. Their idle, animalistic minds are tormented with boredom and incompetence. They pounce at any excuse to drown in a collectivist glob to hide their worthlessness and seek the brutish power in a pack of like-minded animals. The pictures of these rioters show that some of them are not even a self-righteously angry bunch of men, but thugs who gleefully enjoy the chaos, noise, and violence of their acts. And so, in solidarity with everyone who believes in expression without physical violence, I post these pictures too. Tag: |W|P|113924554010028800|W|P|Mohammed Cartoons|W|P|2/06/2006 12:19:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Ergo Sum|W|P|On a lighter note, I personally think that the cartoons are hilarious! I was laughing out loud when I first saw them! :D2/03/2006 05:15:00 PM|W|P|Ergo Sum|W|P|Glad this week is over.|W|P|113900860416680851|W|P|Week of January 30th|W|P|2/03/2006 01:31:00 PM|W|P|Ergo Sum|W|P|I am so upset. My favorite boss is leaving in a couple weeks. This comes as a total shock to me. And I'm very very deeply saddened by it. It has been such a great working experience with her around. When I first heard the announcement at this morning's department meeting, I wondered if its time for me to leave too. This is sad. She is leaving to go to one of our competitors.|W|P|113899532545886414|W|P||W|P|2/04/2006 12:24:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Aethlos|W|P|sorry to hear that... hope there are some other cool people left.
:)2/06/2006 12:22:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Ergo Sum|W|P|Actually, very few people that I can really be comfortable working with... I wouldn't be surprised if they got up and left soon too. It's a strange culture here... this corporate thing -- such a thick facade, it's incredible.2/01/2006 05:34:00 PM|W|P|Ergo Sum|W|P|"Arrival" is a beautiful, short poem written by John Enright about about Ayn Rand. He has more poems, essays and other works on his website. I believe he has also published a book.... all that info is on his site. It's certainly worth bookmarking!|W|P|113883727759033516|W|P|"Arrival" by John Enright|W|P|2/01/2006 07:03:00 PM|W|P|Blogger JohnJEnright|W|P|Thanks for your appreciative words and the link.2/01/2006 03:45:00 PM|W|P|Ergo Sum|W|P|The other day, in my History of Philosophy class, we talked about Irrational numbers. Such a peculiar name for numbers as such, isn’t it? I suppose it’s to reflect our disposition toward these numbers, in that they make no sense to us, hence irrational. Anyway, the discussion about Irrational numbers arose because the professor was trying to argue about the duality of things – at least some things – duality in their nature, as having properties of one and many at the same time, or of being and non-being at the same time. I suppose this discussion was apt in the context of Plato’s Theaetetus that we were reading that tackled the perennial question of “what is knowledge?” Is knowledge wisdom? Is wisdom that by which the wise become wise? So, Irrational numbers – according to their nature – exhibit a certain duality of sorts. They can never be expressed numerically as a distinct and discrete quantity. Yet, one can illustrate an Irrational number in figures and diagrams with discrete boundaries and measurements. Hence, the apparently confounding nature of these numbers that render themselves entirely distinct in one feature, but utterly boundless in another form is, to say the least, very puzzling, and very interesting. In class, I thought of how interesting a parallel these Irrational numbers have with newer discoveries about the nature of Quantum particles. Based upon latest scientific knowledge (which may or may not be changed in the future), it seems like quantum particles exhibit similar “irrational” dualities of have different natures of "being" in different situations. To the novitiate Objectivist, this new revelation of duality in existence comes as a shock and repudiation of some deeply held convictions. Does this mean that the Aristotelian principle of non-contradiction and the Objectivist axiom of Identity have been invalidated? On the surface, that is what it seems. However, these doubts and hasty conclusions typically have at their root, a fundamental misunderstanding – or maybe a complete lack of understanding – of the nature of axioms and the role of philosophy. Take water for example: The atomic elements that constitute what we call "water" remains the same regardless of what state of "being" we observe it in - water can be solid, liquid, or vaporous. The apparent existence of discrete boundaries when water is ice and the lack of it when water is liquid or vaporous has no bearing on the fact that water exists with an identity. One of the most illuminating insights of Objectivism is that causality is an expression of an existent's identity, i.e. an existent's identity determines its actions; the law of causality is not attempting to explain the action of one existent over another but of the existent's nature and its actions/manifestations. So, regardless of what new scientific discoveries tell us, we must understand that once we have a set of valid axiomatic principles, they cannot be disproven, changed, or modified by any new bits of knowledge. In fact, all knowledge should consistently conform to the fundamental axioms, and that is one good way of fact-checking. The role of philosophy is not to constantly change and adapt its principles with every new wave of scientific knowledge. This has been a great error committed by many philosophers of the past. They have seeked to have their philosophical theories corroborated by Science, rather than observe the dynamic and reciprocal relationship between the two fields. Philosophy certainly provides the most expansive ground of principles for Science to build upon, but above that, Philosophy relies on Science for inductive principles and Science relies on Philosophy for logical methodology, insights into nature and identity, etc. As Rand said, Philosophy says that things exist and that they have specific natures; it is now the job of Science to discover the specific identities of these existents, classify and categorize them, and build a hierarchy of information. In his book, the Russian Radical, Sciabarra explains Rand as seeking a "reconciliation of philosophy and science." Rand had argued that "Philosophy cannot depend on a changing physics for its ontological foundations... [but] genuine science must depend on philosophy to validate its modes of inquiry." Quoting further from the Russian Radical:
"...cosmological speculation depends on an imaginary omniscient standpoint. As Peikoff emphasizes, Rand's Objectivism makes a distinction between metaphysics and fantasy. There can be no purely deductive attempt to reveal the ultimate substances of reality."
When Einstein broke out with this theory of Relativity in Science, there was a flurry of activity in non-scientific circles to emulate Einstein's brilliant theory in their respective fields - thus, a culture of relativism gained influence in the Arts, in philosophy, in anthropology, etc. Before that, Newtonian physics and possibly also Darwinian theories of evolution influenced philosophers into rigid reductionism, atomism, and determinism. In Evidence of the Senses, David Kelley makes the argument that there are also Galilean influences in Cartesian, Kantian and Lockean theories. According to Kelley, the subjectivist and representationalist theories of consciousness borrowed their credibility from the scientific discoveries Galileo made in studies of perceptions of color and temperature. So, going back to my philosophy class, the professor discussed the "problem" of Irrational numbers in such a way that I think left an impression in the minds of the students that reality is in a state of flux. Things are neither this nor that but can be both and not both. Contradictions are a part of reality. It is easy to see then how mysticism and supernaturalism can easily creep in under such an unruly and chaotic epistemology.|W|P|113883033481718960|W|P|Axioms and Irrational Numbers: Philosophy vs Science|W|P|2/14/2006 12:17:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Adrian Hester|W|P|Well, since I didn't hear what your professor actually said, I can't comment on that, but there's nothing particularly odd about irrational numbers. They're called irrational simply because they can't be written as a ratio of integers. The proof that there are irrational numbers (specifically the square root of two) was a great blow to the Pythagoreans, who saw the integers as the essence of reality; specifically, it meant that there was no finite geometrical procedure for measuring an arbitrarily chosen length. (You can get ever closer, but with only a finite number of geometrical constructions you can't get better than an approximation to the length of the diagonal of a square in terms of one of its sides, for example.) But that's really no more significant than the fact that you can't trisect an arbitrary angle with compass and straight-edge alone in a finite number of steps, which is a blow to a certain type of approach to pure mathematics but has no major implication for practical activities--you can measure it as close as you need for your purposes, and it doesn't matter whether the length you measure is a rational or an irrational multiple of your measuring unit. What it means for arithmetic in a decimal system is that not all numbers can be named or specified in a finite or closed form. They can still be handled just like any other number, they just can't be easily named in a decimal system.2/14/2006 04:41:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Ergo Sum|W|P|From your comments on my "Godel's Insight" post and this one, it seems to me that you subscribe to the idea that the mathematical realm of pure reason, pure ideas, pure logic, is separate and have little or no impact on actual, practical, or concrete realities and events. I suppose it could be characterized as a Platonistic dissection of the Ideal realm and the realm of real concretes (what Plato would have called "shadows").

I'm trying to understand why and how this is possible, or if it infact is possible -- this separation of pure mathematics from concretes. I wish knew more about math.2/14/2006 05:35:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Adrian Hester|W|P|No. Mathematics is the study of abstract relations, and mathematical statements are taken as true or valid when they can be shown to follow by deduction from other valid statements, and ultimately from axioms. However, it's an empirical question whether a given mathematical model applies usefully to a given part of reality, whether the axioms actually express something significant enough about that part of reality that it's worth following up the consequences of the model by experimentation and observation. The Pythagoreans took a rationalistic approach to mathematics, considering integers to be the source from which all else flows; the existence of rational numbers shows that this approach is inadequate--the integers are simply too sparse a set of tools for all numbers arising naturally in the process of measurement. This doesn't invalidate number theory concerned largely with numbers; it certainly doesn't mean that mathematics is in some way logically detached from reality; it means that integers aren't enough for all the things you might want to do with them, and it certainly means that a Pythagorean integer-mysticism, which heavily influenced Plato, doesn't even succeed on its own terms (legend has it that the Pythagorean adept who discovered the proof that the square root of two is irrational was put to death as a consequence).

Furthermore, you write, "it seems to me that you subscribe to the idea that the mathematical realm of pure reason, pure ideas, pure logic, is separate and have little or no impact on actual, practical, or concrete realities and events." Hardly. It's a simple matter of fact that the existence of irrational numbers doesn't pose insurmountable difficulties for such things as measurement. Many mathematical statements have great significance for practical actions, and many others do not, as most any scientist can attest with a wealth of examples; the point is that the existence of irrational numbers doesn't matter much for day-to-day life, though they have great mathematical significance.2/14/2006 09:31:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Ergo Sum|W|P|You said:

"The Pythagoreans took a rationalistic approach to mathematics, considering integers to be the source from which all else flows"

AND:

"Pythagorean integer-mysticism, which heavily influenced Plato"

You are completely wrong in both, your characterization of Pythagorean metaphysics and the alleged "influence" on Plato.

Pythagorean metaphysics DID NOT stipulate "integers" as the ontological substance of Being, but "QUANTIFICATION". According to the Geometers, all of reality and Being are extensions and are therefore QUANTIFIABLE. Ofcourse, because they are quantifiable, it does not matter if the expressions of quantity are Rational numbers, integers, or Irrational numbers.

Secondly, Plato was definitely *NOT* influenced by Pythagorean metaphysics... atleast not positively. Plato - in many of his dialogues - rails AGAINST this quantifiable metaphysics and harshly criticizes the geometers. In the Platonic dialogues, Socrates explicitly argues against and laughs at the Pythagorean formulation that "man is the measure of all things"... ofcourse, knowing fully well that "measure" meant a literal usage of quantification.

In regards to your position that "validation" and "proof" is the same thing - atleast in Mathematics - I couldn't disagree with you more.
Mathematics is no different from a philosophical system so long as both paradigms use classical, symbolic logic in its methodology. In that respect, there are statements in Philosophy that can also be reduced to simple logical symbolism and stated identically to, say, a mathematical formulation.
In both cases then, you can have instances where certain statements will be valid but cannot be proven.
Reducing axiomatic statements to its symbolic expressions give you those instances where the statements cannot be proved.
For example (from Godel's book that I am currently reading), take the statement "all valid arguments are valid" - this is a tautology therefore it is valid, but it does not render itself to proof. You cannot prove that it is true... it remains self-evident due to the nature of the statement.
Now, reduce that statement to symbolic logic, and you'll get:
For any given x if P(x) and Q(x) then x has the property of Q.2/15/2006 03:04:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Adrian Hester|W|P|I don't think you actually know what you're talking about. First and most pitifully, "Man is the measure of all things" was said by the Sophist Protagoras of Abdera, not Pythagoras.

Second, the Pythagoreans (or at least many of them) did indeed consider everything material to start with number. That they considered quantity to be more basic is irrelevant to my point. As Aristotle wrote in his Metaphysics, "The Pythagoreans say that there is but one number, the mathematical, but things of sense are not separated from this, for they are composed of it; indeed, they construct the whole heaven out of numbers, but not out of unit numbers, for they assume that the unities have quantity; but how the first unity was so constituted as to have quantity, they seem at a loss to say." A consequence of this view among the earlier Pythagoreans was that all measures are commensurable, and thus that the world was built out of the integers; the proof that the square root of two is irrational knocked this belief into a cocked hat, hence the legend that Pythagoras sentenced its discoverer, Hippasus, to death by drowning.

Third, Plato certainly was influenced by the Pythagoreans. Again quoting Aristotle, "And Plato only changed the name, for the Pythagoreans say that things exist by imitation of numbers, but Plato, by sharing the nature of numbers." And further, "But that the one is the real essence of things, and not something else with unity as an attribute, he affirms, agreeing with the Pythagoreans; and in harmony with them he affirms that numbers are the principles of being for other things." All this is very well known.2/15/2006 03:28:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Adrian Hester|W|P|You write, "In regards to your position that "validation" and "proof" is the same thing - atleast in Mathematics - I couldn't disagree with you more.
Mathematics is no different from a philosophical system so long as both paradigms use classical, symbolic logic in its methodology."

Nonsense. Philosophy is centrally concerned with induction; mathematics proper is purely deductive, and any induction involved is outside the scope of mathematics--induction provides the statements you want to prove and the axioms you accept, but it is not used in proving anything. Note that classical symbolic logic does not allow for valid inductions--therefore, it must be different from a philosophical system, and so must mathematics (since you take classical symbolic logic as the sine qua non of mathematics).

"In both cases then, you can have instances where certain statements will be valid but cannot be proven.
Reducing axiomatic statements to its symbolic expressions give you those instances where the statements cannot be proved."

In other words, you didn't even understand the point of what I was saying! In mathematics, axioms aren't proved, they are not something to be validated in the system itself, they are irreducible primaries. Mathematics is concerned with proving by valid deduction the consequences of those axioms, and in that view, validity equals proof. (Which shows one of the limits of mathematics as a tool for the search for truth.) The validity of the axioms is a matter outside of mathematics. They are not a matter for proof within the system and thus the question of their validity is not mathematical and not a concern of mathematicians. (Of philosophers and mathematical scientists, yes, certainly it's a central question. You might think that mathematicians should be concerned with that, but they aren't, and if you claim that they should be then you simply misunderstand the whole thrust of contemporary mathematics, whether for good or for ill.) For example, if you apply mathematics to the physical world, the axioms (even if stated in pure mathematics) are chosen by non-mathematical criteria (abstraction from the properties of the part of the world being studied) and their application must be validated by experiment. However, in mathematics proper, that is irrelevant, since it is the system of relationships built on their basis that is important. This is precisely why you are dead wrong when you say that mathematics is just the same as a philosophical system--it is not, any more than any other science is, with the difference that other sciences rely on induction in their methodology. (This is one reason many mathematicians argue that mathematics is not a science.)2/15/2006 05:37:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Ergo Sum|W|P|It seems like your narrow-vision goggles simply do not allow you to grasp the entirety of any argument beyond your little insipid points.
Protagoras, Theodorus, Theaetetus were all part of the SAME SCHOOL of mystical doctrinaire that Pythagoras was part of! They were all geometers who shared the SAME METAPHYSICAL philosophy formulated by PYTHAGORAS that man is the measure of all things.
Plato explicitly argues AGAINST that philosophy - the fact that his eventual metaphysic of Idealism shared some fundamental similarities with the geometers is not what I am arguing against.

For the sake of your lousy attempt at argumentation, you pick my sentence out of its context and base your entire refutation on that sentence. I said:
"Mathematics is no different from a philosophical system SO LONG AS both paradigms use classical, SYMBOLIC LOGIC in its methodology."

Your entire argument is saying the same thing I said, except you also expend tremendous effort at trying to manipulate what I said into what you WISH I had said.
It is a ridiculous point to say that philosophy is ALL its systems is the same as mathematics because I am well aware that philosophy is not pure deduction. Hence, MY VERY EXPLICIT QUALIFICATION: Philosophy is the same as mathematics SO LONG AS BOTH are functioning in the paradigm of symbolic logic! Infact, it is BEYOND ARGUMENTATION that "Logic" was not even represented academically in a University's Mathematics department but was always a part of the Philosophy department. It was only recently (around 1940s) that Mathematics dept. in Universities began recruiting professors of LOGIC (or logicians) to be represented.
It goes to show that so far as both fields are functioning with interchangeable symbols arranged in a system of rules - both fields are the same.

I'm not interested in such petty and juvenile arguments with someone who doesn't even have the sense to read carefully the points he is attempting to refute. Get out of this blog.... I'll leave your posts on here, but if you post another thing anywhere here, I will delete everything that you've expended so much effort at writing. Have atleast the decency to have your own blog, and there you can engage in plentiful sophistry!-->