Debates, Past and Future

Jan 312007

Trey Givens blogs a report on a recent debate on the UN between critic Dr. Yaron Brook and defender Dr. Gilligan. (One of these days, opponents of Dr. Brook in debate will realize that they must show up prepared!)

Speaking of debates with Dr. Brook, Boulder’s Philosophy Department (or more precisely, its Center for Values and Social Policy) will be hosting a debate on just war theory between Yaron Brook and Martin Cook on March 13th from 7:30 to 9:30 pm in the lovely Wittemeyer Courtroom of the Wolf Law Building as part of its “Think!” series. Martin Cook is a professor of philosophy at the Air Force Academy — and one of the preeminent just war theorists in the country.

The Twist

Jan 312007

I very much enjoyed this story of a girl learning to defend herself against neighborhood bullies. And I’ll definitely remember the advice to stab and twist.

No Children Allowed!

Jan 292007

Not too long ago, Mike M. posted a quick but good rebuttal to the standard complaint that Objectivism ignores children. It’s worth reading, mostly as ammunition for the next time you hear that charge.

Threats from Allah

Jan 282007

I refuse to comment on this letter on principle: I don’t argue with threats, particularly not divine threats communicated by human proxy. Still, I thought it interesting enough to repost. (Since I haven’t written anything on Islam of late, it must be in response to some earlier post.)

From: mohamed sobah ([email protected])
Sent: Friday, January 26, 2007 3:48 AM
To: [email protected]
Subject: Comments on your article

Hey Diana
I don’t know who the hell you are, but one thing is apparent to me: You know absoulutely nothing about islam. First of all let me be very clear: European civilisation does not possess any respectable vaues at all. The values that you claim to be of European are lower than crap. In fact animals are far more civilised than you are. You are a nation full of evil, you all are so deviated from the path of God. You have no idea what’s right and what is evil. You’re so lost and all your damn values stand on materialism. You should be ashamed of yourselves. You have utterly failed to understand the basic reason why you are here, what you are supposed to do, how can you expect to understand the limits of freedom? Now stop crowing about your so called values before God’s wrath befalls you. Repent now and think about Islam seriously. Ask yourself the question: what’s Islam and what’s it all about. What are islamic values. Believe me, you are going to regret what you said about Islam, you have no power over God, do you understand that? Do you think you will not die, and you will not go to the grave. Of course you will, and you can never tell when. And it’s in the grave that things will start, rather as soon as you die. So find about islam and think about converting now, if you want to be successful, if you are so serious about your values. It’s really simple: compare pure Islam with other religions and i’m sure you will understand the difference and you will be convinced that islam is the religion for you.

Have you ever wondered about the Koran, what it says. i dont think you have. Get a transalation today, go through the contents, and ponder over what you read. If God wills you will be rightly guided. I pray that God guides you to the right path. Just keep in mind that you will be raised again after your death, and you will be questioned about your deeds. You can go ahead, laugh , poke fun at Muslims, but remember, you will regret that in your grave. If you don’t believe me, read the Qur’an, its words from God. If you think it’s not words of God, then prove that. I’m sure you will fail to prove, cuz you can’t fight against God, can you? You will be the loser, so come back to the religion of GOD, dont be stubborn, it wont be of any use.

And dont make hasty comments about islam without even a little knowlege about it. You’re wrong, Diana, you’re perception about islam is wrong. I hope you will think about this, and embark on finding about islam right away. I’m sure you will end up in finding the truth. may God bless you and guide you to the right path and forgive you of your sins. Good luck, Diana

Lovely, no?

Horse Training

Jan 272007

The beginning of this (short) video is rather sappy, but if you survive that minute or so, you’ll see some of the most amazing horse training possible to man. A person would have to have a superb relationship with his horses — total trust on all sides — to do that. (Yes, the horses would have to trust the man just as much as he must trust them.)

Hand Art

Jan 262007

Wow, this hand art is just amazing. I particularly like the first picture, as the hand-shape is so clear, yet disappears as soon as you focus on the eagle. (I also really like the giraffe and the zebra.)

Christian Hysteria

Jan 242007

This comic strip on Christianity is absolutely priceless. When I have an office, it’ll be the very first thing I post on the door. (Via Glenn Friedman.)

OCON 2007

Jan 232007

Hooray! The schedule for the 2007 OCON in Telluride, Colorado has been posted.

Without a doubt, the highlight of the conference will be Leonard Peikoff’s six lectures on “The DIM Hypothesis”:

Dr. Peikoff’s forthcoming book, The DIM Hypothesis, identifies three different modes of integration, i.e., of interrelating concretes, such as individual percepts, facts, choices, etc. The book then demonstrates the power of these three modes in shaping Western culture and history.

In his lectures, Dr. Peikoff presents and explains six of the chapters in his twelve-chapter book. The first three, dealing with epistemology, explain why there are only three possible interpretations of integration (symbolized by the acronym DIM), and which philosopher is the source of each. The second three illustrate the power of the DIM hypothesis to reveal the anatomy of Western culture, by considering the trends prevalent in literature, education and politics since the Renaissance.

Students will receive well in advance a highly detailed outline of the material. Each lecture will be followed by a question-and-answer period.

This course will not be a repetition of his earlier course by the same name, now available for free from ARI’s web site. In fact, I’d highly recommend that first course as preparation for this summer’s course.

I’m also very excited by some of the optional courses, but I’ll blog about those later.

Some Goodies

Jan 222007

Here are some goodies that I’ve recently found:

  • First and foremost, Noumenal Self has two blog posts on Robert Tracinksi’s “What Went Right” series — so far. Both essays (essay #1 and essay #2) are very good. If you are interested in this ongoing debate about the role of philosophy in the culture, they are a must-read.
  • Software Nerd has some interesting comments on the fact that well-educated Indians are starting to return to India to work — and the reasons why.
  • I believe it was Gus Van Horn who pointed me to this interesting article on the psychological origins of procrastination.
  • This commentary on Ayn Rand’s philosophy is absurd empiricism, then egalitarian Rawlsianism:
    I’m no socialist, and [Atlas Shrugged] was written in a time when socialism was being tested empirically. There was evidence that it might even be working. Now we know differently. But we didn’t then, which may explain why Rand felt the need to write it: to justify her own belief that socialism was a mistake. She was right about that.

    Other aspects of her ideology, though, are much more offensive to me, such as the idea that some people are better than others–whether by virtue of culture (a “strong work ethic”) or innate differences (IQ). Even if there are such differences, and they matter, they aren’t under individual control. It’s called luck: if you’re born smart or with the ability to focus on long term goals, you prosper. If not, you don’t.

    But why does this idea persist, that some people are “better” than others?

    Yup, Ayn Rand’s rejection of socialism was just a lucky guess. Her knowledge of human nature, economics, and even her experience in Soviet Russia couldn’t have been relevant. And sheesh, even her capacity to write Atlas Shrugged was also a matter of luck, since she was born with the “ability to focus on long term goals.” How could it be otherwise, since we’re all just equal bundles of good and bad luck?

  • Mike M. of Primacy of Awesome has some interesting thoughts on Christian Reconstructionism. (Like him, I’ve read a bit about that lately.) He accurately summarizes it as follows:
    The basic thrust of Reconstructionism is that the United States should be remade according to biblical law in preparation for the second coming of Christ. So, Reconstructionists are famous (infamous) for advocating the death penalty for homosexuality, adultery, and witch craft, among other “crimes.” Now, lest you think this is some fringe movement of the fringes of the Christian fringe, I’ll simply state that Reconstructionism is a driving force in the religious right, ask you to do your own research, and leave it at that…

    He then comments a bit about the embrace of Christian Reconstructionist Gary North by some libertarians. It’s good stuff.

John Lewis in Denver

Jan 212007

John Lewis will be in Colorado toward the end of this upcoming week. He’ll be a busy man! (John is an insightful and vivacious speaker; I highly recommend any of his lectures.)

Event #1

What: CU Boulder Campus Lecture “The Individualist Alternative to the Political Left and Right” by Dr. John Lewis
When: Thursday, January 25, 2007, 7:00 pm
Where: Wolf Law Building (WLFL 207)
Contact: Jim Manley, Club Leader, [email protected]

American politics is divided today, between the political left and the right-so goes the prevailing wisdom. But the wisdom is wrong: the conservatives’ support for the welfare state at home and for “nation-building” overseas shows how close the traditional left and right really are. In this talk, Dr. Lewis will demonstrate how common principles of altruism and statism align both camps in opposition to the sovereign individual-and have offered Americans a false alternative between deadly socialist policies. A true alternative would understand the individual–ethically, politically, and economically–to be the starting point of a proper politics. It is only the individual which exists, and the protection of his rights is the only purpose of a proper government. This is because, ethically, life as a rational man is the only proper standard for a moral code, and individual happiness its only purpose.

Event #2

What: Young Aristotle Competition and Dinner Lecture “Early Greek Lawgivers: Solon of Athens and the Discovery of Freedom under Law” by John Lewis
When: Friday, January 26th, 2007, 5:30 pm
Where: Ridgeview Classical Schools, 1800 South Lemay Avenue, Fort Collins, Colorado 80525
Cost: $10 per ticket, reserve with Joe Collins, [email protected]

About the event:

You are cordially invited to the third annual Young Aristotle Competition, Friday January 26 at 5:30 p.m. at Ridgeview Classical Schools, 1800 South Lemay Avenue, Fort Collins, Colorado 80525. This year’s event will feature a dinner talk by historian John Lewis Ph.D. of Ashland University. The title of the talk will be “Early Greek Lawgivers: Solon of Athens and the Discovery of Freedom under Law.” Due to fundraising and a generous grant, we are able to offer the dinner and talk for $10.00. Tickets are expected to sell out and can be purchased from Joe Collins at Ridgeview. His contact is [email protected]. Please consider joining us for a night of ideas and scholarship and see why Ridgeview is, for the second year in a row, the top high school in the state of Colorado. Rational education is taking hold in northern Colorado.

About the lecture:

One of the great Greek discoveries is that of freedom: the right of each person to live his own life as he wishes, and to conduct his individual affairs free from the coercions of others. This discovery was incomplete, and limited to adult male citizens–yet it set the background for all later advancements in freedom. Part of this discovery was the need for laws: objective rules, justly created in open discussion, used to bring order to human life, and carved into stone for all to see. The men who brought these ideas, and these laws, to the Greeks were the lawgivers: men of wisdom and justice, who created just laws.

Greek lawgivers understood an important truth: that freedom requires law, and proper laws can be created only by free men. This talk will focus on the figures of the lawgivers, and their deeds: who were they? What did they do? Why should we care about them? What is the connection between freedom and law? Is there freedom without law?

If you can’t make it up to Fort Collins by 5:30, you might still be able to attend the lecture, as that likely won’t start until about 6:40. You can e-mail [email protected] about that.

Event #3

What: Seminar on Fighting Socialized Medicine with Dr. John Lewis
When: Saturday, January 27, 2007, 11:00 am to 2:00 pm
Where: Dixon’s Restaurant, 16th and Wazee, Downtown Denver
Contact: For more information and to RSVP, please contact Lin Zinser, [email protected]

About John Lewis

John Lewis is assistant professor of history at Ashland University and contributing editor of The Objective Standard. He holds a Ph.D. in classics from the University of Cambridge, and is an Anthem Fellow for Objectivist Scholarship. His research interests are in ancient Greek and Roman thought, military history, and their connections to the modern day. He writes for The Objective Standard, and for Capitalism Magazine.

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