Open Thread #387

 Posted by on 24 March 2013 at 12:00 pm  Open Thread
Mar 242013


For anyone wishing to ask a question, make a observation, or share a link with other NoodleFood readers, I hereby open up the comments on this post to any respectable topic. As always, please refrain from posting inappropriate comments such as personal attacks, pornographic material, copyrighted material, and commercial solicitations.

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  • mike miller

    I’m wondering why so many objectivists don’t think that intelligence is a matter of genetics and that the races likely differ in iq because of genes.

  • Katarina G. Carpenter

    I came across this quotation in Mike Duncan’s “History of Rome” podcasts: “Human life was cheap and everything else was expensive.” I forget the exact context, but it must be about the worst parts of the Third Century Crisis the Roman Empire bumbled itself into. Besides being clever, it’s very much illustrative of the state of affairs at that time. But it also serves to illustrate the progress achieved by the West since then: human life is no longer cheap, and almost everything else is no longer expensive.

  • Matthew Moore

    Tonight I read the introduction to George Berkeley’s “The Principles of Human Knowledge”, and even though he seems to be a nominalist I was shocked to find the following two quotes which I think are quite similar to Ayn Rand’s views:

    “And a little attention will discover that it is not necessary (even in the strictest reasonings) significant names which stand for ideas should, every time they are used, excite in the understanding the ideas they are made to stand for- in reading and discoursing, names being for the most part used as letters are in Algebra, in which, though a particular quantity be marked by each letter, yet to proceed right it is not requisite that in every step each letter suggest to your thoughts that particular quantity it was appointed to stand for.”

    That quote immediately reminded me of the following quote from ITOE: “The basic principle of concept-formation (which states that the omitted measurements must exist in some quantity, but may exist in any quantity) is the equivalent of the basic principle of algebra, which states that algebraic symbols must be given some numerical value, but may be given any value.”

    Also of note is this other quote from Berkeley: “But here it will be demanded, how we can know any proposition to be true of all particular triangles, except we have first seen it demonstrated of the abstract idea of a triangle which equally agrees to all? For, because a property may be demonstrated to agree to some one particular triangle, it will not thence follow that it equally belongs to any other triangle, which in all respects is not the same with it. For example, having demonstrated that the three angles of an isosceles rectangular triangle are equal to two right ones, I cannot therefore conclude this affection agrees to all other triangles which have neither a right angle nor two equal sides. It seems therefore that, to be certain this proposition is universally true, we must either make a particular demonstration for every particular triangle, which is impossible, or once for all demonstrate it of the abstract idea of a triangle, in which all the particulars do indifferently partake and by which they are all equally represented. To which I answer, that, though the idea I have in view whilst I make the demonstration be, for instance, that of an isosceles rectangular triangle whose sides are of a determinate length, I may nevertheless be certain it extends to all other rectilinear triangles, of what sort or bigness soever. And that because neither the right angle, nor the equality, nor determinate length of the sides are at all concerned in the demonstration. It is true the diagram I have in view includes all these particulars, but then there is not the least mention made of them in the proof of the proposition. It is not said the three angles are equal to two right ones, because one of them is a right angle, or because the sides comprehending it are of the same length. Which sufficiently shows that the right angle might have been oblique, and the sides unequal, and for all that the demonstration have held good. And for this reason it is that I conclude that to be true of any obliquangular or scalenon which I had demonstrated of a particular right-angled equicrural triangle, and not because I demonstrated the proposition of the abstract idea of a triangle And here it must be acknowledged that a man may consider a figure merely as triangular, without attending to the particular qualities of the angles, or relations of the sides. So far he may abstract; but this will never prove that he can frame an abstract, general, inconsistent idea of a triangle. In like manner we may consider Peter so far forth as man, or so far forth as animal without framing the fore-mentioned abstract idea, either of man or of animal, inasmuch as all that is perceived is not considered.”

    • mimike miller

      Most professional philosophers who have commented on ITOE have concluded that Rand was a nominalist.

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