Gold and Philosophy

image

Courtesy of David van der Linden @ New Austrian.org:

A recent article one came across presented an interesting analogy. It was stated that “unconscious thought is like fluid gold, streaming down the side of a mountain towards a deep chasm”[1]. Placing moulds along the mountain saves the gold from flowing into the chasm, just as increasing one’s vocabulary allows one to capture thought and express ideas. The conclusion of the analogist was that the study of philosophy is of value, since one learns to explicate unconscious thoughts, just as capturing gold on the side of the mountain allows one to capture value.

The analogy as it stands is of limited use. Rather than to view gold merely as an object of value, one might learn more by heeding the unparalleled marketability of coined gold. To state that simply capturing gold is a useful endeavour seems to be an objectification. Gold is not valuable in and of itself, rather it is valued by individuals. Capturing gold in moulds does not directly imply one is capturing value, unless one first assumes gold is a valuable substance in and of itself. The minting of gold into coin on the other hand, is useful since one increases the marketability of the substance. To return to the analogy, one can say that broadening one’s vocabulary -the goal of which is to be able to explicate thought- may increase the marketability (or exchangeability) of one’s ideas. Thoughts and ideas are not valuable of themselves, yet it is useful to increase the exchangeability of the same so as to be able to debate, discuss and develop them. Continue reading

The Benefits and Hazards of the Philosophy of Ayn Rand: A Personal Statement

Courtesy of Nathaniel Branden @ Redbarn:

Abstract: For eighteen years I was a close associate of novelist-philosopher Ayn Rand whose books, notably The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, inspired a philosophical movement known as objectivism. This philosophy places its central emphasis on reason, individualism, enlightened self-interest, political freedom — and a heroic vision of life’s possibilities. Following an explosive parting of the ways with Ayn Rand in 1968, I have been asked many times about the nature of our differences. This article is my first public answer to that question. Although agreeing with many of the values of the objectivist philosophy and vision, I discuss the consequences of the absence of an adequate psychology to support this intellectual structure — focusing in particular on the destructive moralism of Rand and many of her followers, a moralism that subtly encourages repression, self-alienation, and guilt. I offer an explanation of the immense appeal of Ayn Rand’s philosophy, particularly to the young, and suggest some cautionary observations concerning its adaptation to one’s own life.

Background

I was fourteen years old when I read Ayn Rand’s novel The Fountainhead for the first time. It was the most thrilling and emotionally powerful reading experience of my life. The only rival to that event might be the experience, some years later, of reading Atlas Shrugged in manuscript.

I wrote Miss Rand a letter in 1949 when I was studying psychology at UCLA and she was living in San Fernando Valley and was writing Atlas Shrugged The purpose of my letter was to ask her a number of philosophical questions suggested to me by The Fountainhead and by her earlier novel, We The Living. The letter intrigued her; I was invited to her home for a personal meeting in March, 1950, a month before I turned twenty.

By that time anyone could read any sentence in The Fountainhead and I could recite the essence of the sentence immediately preceding as well as the sentence immediately following. I had absorbed that book more completely than anything else in my life. Continue reading

What it is to be Human

Courtesy of Sandeep Jaitly @ NASOE:

The body is socially constructed; and in this paper we explore the various and ever-changing constructions of the body, and thus of the embodied self……The one word, body, may therefore signify very different realities and perceptions of reality…..(Synnot 1992, 43)

It has been said that in order to understand life and society, we as people must first understand ourselves. Who are we as a people? Who are we as individuals? Who are we as humans? These questions all present themselves when discussing a topic such as this. I believe that it is indeed important to ask questions such as these, and also as important to answer them. All of this assuming of course, that there is one specific answer. My problem begins here, in that I do not believe that there is one defined answer to these questions. As you will see, many “great philosophic minds” have different views and beliefs relating to these questions, and it is my job to sort through these different beliefs and discover…… What it is to be human

It seems that for ages the human body has been studied and inspected. However, literal “inspection” only takes us so far. As humans, we all know that there are parts of our “being” that are intangible. Take thoughts, dreams, and things of the like. We know they exist, yet they are unable to be inspected scientifically (to any valuable degree at least). The distinction between beliefs begins here. How one views this intangible side of life with respect to the tangible, is the factor that defines one’s beliefs.

There are several ways in which one may view the body. A dualist is one who views the body and mind, or tangible and intangible, as two separate intities existing together to form one being. The principle of “Cogito, ergo sum,” or in english, “I think, therefore I am.” The “I” meaning the mind, and “I am” meaning the body. (Synnott 1992, 92) The tangible side of the person being bound of course, by the laws of biomechanics and gravity, and theintangible being bound by nothing but the laws of reasoning. “…..the body, from its nature, is always divisible and the mind is completely indivisible.” (Descartes 1995, 70) Continue reading

Methodology

Courtesy of Peter Van Coppenolle @ NASOE.org:

Prof. Carl Menger dedicated an entire book to what he considered the appropriate methodology for the thinker in the human and social sciences, of which the field of theoretical economics is a subsection.

If the methodology has been handed to us, why expand on it? Times have not changed since Menger exposed the fallacies of positivist theories. The scorn heaped on subjectivism from positivist corners has increased, even after positivism was found wanting. And not only in the subsection of theoretical economics.

This contribution is intended for the scholar in the hope it will shed more light or provide a deeper understanding on the justification for a subjectivist methodology in theoretical economics. As a philosophy of science, subjectivism draws on a seasoned and proven track record, something Menger thoroughly realised. One hundred and fifty years after Menger, what is the score?

Whατ Δο ωΣ (κ)ποω ?

Evaluating the scientific tools on their appropriateness is not a task for the tools themselves. Obviously, that decision is a task for the philosophy of science to make. The quality of this philosophy will determine the quality of decision making about science and the quality of thinking within science.

One significant result of the Age of Enlightenment has been a marked narrowing of the field of reason to the sense realm. For pre-moderns, reason included in its field the moral and spiritual dimension of human life. For the majority of Western intellectuals since the Enlightenment reason is restricted to the empirical or quantifiable aspects of human existence. Continue reading