Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Retiring Wizard of Oz

The Wizard has announced, from OCON, that he is retiring from the Land of Oz. It is reported that there will be "no more books, lectures, courses, or long treatises from him," though he "will continue to issue podcast episodes as he indicated that this work is a great enjoyment to him..." A transcript of the upcoming podcasts from questions asked at the convention have been made available:

  • [When asked by the Scarecrow about the reversal on voting for Democrats over Republicans:] "Why, anybody can have a brain. That's a very mediocre commodity. Every pusillanimous creature that crawls on the earth or slinks through slimy seas has a brain! [to Scarecrow] Therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Universitatus Committeeatum e pluribus unum, I hereby confer upon you the honorary degree of Th.D."

  • [When asked by the Lion about the fate of the DIM hypothesis book:] As for you, my fine friend, you're a victim of disorganized thinking. You are under the unfortunate delusion that simply because you run away from danger, you have no courage. You're confusing courage with wisdom.

  • [to Tin Man, who asked about his hard-line on foreign policy:] As for you, my galvanized friend, you want a heart! You don't know how lucky you are not to have one. Hearts will never be practical until they can be made unbreakable.

  • [To Dorothy, who just wanted to go back to Kansas:] "I can't come back! I don't know how it works! [waving to the crowd] Good-bye, folks!"

Monday, July 5, 2010

Objectivism in Science: David Harriman's THE LOGICAL LEAP

I "stumbled upon" this book by accident yesterday, not through that site, but the old-fashioned way: browsing the shelves in a bookstore. How about that? Anyway, David Harriman, "chief science office" of the ARI, has just published The Logical Leap: Induction in Physics. There's an introduction by Leonard Peikoff, and Rand is invoked a few times via her Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. It's notable that the book does not appear next to the Rand library, but under the author's name. (It's also notable that Borders categorizes it under Philosophy, and Barnes and Noble under Science.)

I'm not a physics major (hell, I'm a musician, I only need to know how to count to four), but I understand enough of the basics to understand the philosophical issues brought up in this book, which challenges "modern" theories like the Big Bang Theory, String Theory, Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, and so on, while defending quantum theory where it does work. Is it an essential book? The main thesis of the book, which argues for induction over rationalism or empiricism in science, is already a part of Objectivist theory. So, as a layman, I was able to come to the same conclusions about the principles, if not the specifics about some of the technical details, after reading books like James Gleik's Chaos and David Deutsch's The Fabric of Reality. (But, again, I'm a musician, and I only need to count to four...).

It should be said, though, that it is significant that some of the original theorists of these controversial ideas don't go as far to connect modern physic to "new age" ideas as, say, What the #$*! Do We Know?. Gleik points out, for one, that the term "chaos" theory is a misnomer; there is also Feynman's warning that those who claim to fully understand quantum theory don't. So, I don't think one has to be a rocket scientist to be skeptical of some of these theories (does that make Sheldon Cooper a "witch doctor?")

But for the non-Objectivist, this book may be a revelation, even if there are those in the Objectivist community who have their own issues with Harriman. I suspect that those people really have an issue with his involvement with Leonard Peikoff; (for example, see Robert Campbell's "guestimation" about this book.) I can see the argumentative comparisons now between Rand's "back-seat driving" of Peikoff's Ominous Parallels and the "collaboration" here. But after my reading, the subject matter seems to demand that any criticism revolve around the actual relations between philosophy and physics, so, hopefully, Harriman's book will be judged on its own merits (though there will still be the bickering nitpicking Kant-loving gadflys who already have a problem with the Objectivist approach to begin with.) I'm personally wondering if there will be accusations that Harriman has done to Paul Feyerabend what Peter Schwartz has done to his various opponents in his essay "Libertarianism: The Perversion of Liberty"...although I think Harriman justified, given such Feyerabend "gems" as Against Method and Farewell to Reason...

(Speaking of nitpicks, I have my own; the index has a listing for Arthur Koestler on page 97, but I don't see it there...maybe it's a parallel universe page...)

Hopefully, technical issues aside, this will be recognized as contribution to the fight to keep the science in science and to promoting the view that the world, after all, is an intelligible place.

But then, what the #$*! do I know? I'm a musician, so I only have to count to four...

Saturday, July 3, 2010

From Peikoff to Perigo: Two Peas in a Pod?

Not to be outdone by "Peikoff's Revenge," Lindsay Perigo makes the "play of the day"...

After Lindsay Perigo
shocked his readership in late May by having dinner with "anti-Objectivists," he goes on the defensive for being accused of "betraying Solo," all while reiterating his view on "open debate." Relevant quotes include:

"Second, again I must inform you, I don't require a permission slip from you or anyone as to whom I associate with. Nor do I have to tell you whether I "deloused" or not."

"Third, I say for the zillionth time: ours is a battle of ideas. I personally engage in this battle in one form or another (including the campaign against quacking) every waking hour of every day of my life."

"In all, I was reassured that the SOLO approach toward dissent from Objectivism of "bring it on" is the right one."

Forward to
July 3. A regular SOLO poster commented about a discussion at a site called Objectivism Online:

Leonid: "I'm currently participating in very interested discussion about meaning of life on Objectivism on Line. This is my recent posts. You are more than welcome to join."

To which Perigo replied:

Submitted by Lindsay Perigo on Sat, 2010-07-03 11:28.
I'm really not amused by folk posting here about great discussions on other pseudo-Objectivist (intrinsicist or subjectivist) sites when such sites are run by avowed enemies of Objectivism. If Leonid is truly sanctioning O-Lying by posting there then I don't know how to begin to express my disgust...

...In the meantime, the truth matters above all else!

(To which "Leonid"
replied, noting that Perigo has confused Objectivism Online with Objectivist Living:)
Submitted by Leonid on Sat, 2010-07-03 14:08.
I fight evil wherever I find it. I fought Adonis and Kelly on Objectivist living site as I fought many others like them on this site. Incidentally I don't post anymore on Objectivist living since I've been moderated and banned. However I don't really understand what you have against "Objectivism on Line"? Truth, they are a bit dull and sometimes a bit dogmatic but one can conduct meaningful and fruitful conversation over there.

I understand your revulsion of randroids. So what caused you to become as one of them? Should I sign The SOLO PLEDGE in order to post on your site? And what made you to assume that I'm pre-moral?

There it is. Draw your own conclusions...But I reiterate, once again:

"Leadership is obliged to justify itself daily."

–Isabel Paterson, God of the Machine

Thursday, July 1, 2010

"Not Nobody, Not No How!"

Once again, "The Great Oz has spoken." And in case you didn't get the message, the gatekeeper reminds you:

"As you might recall, Leonard Peikoff clearly requested that he not be asked any further questions about the NYC Mosque in his recent podcast. I wanted to remind everyone of that, given that OCON starts tomorrow. For his sake -- and for the sake of a fun-filled OCON -- I ask that everyone respect his request."
In other words: Orders are, nobody can see the Great Oz, not nobody, not no how...NOT NOBODY, NOT NO HOW!
Oh - Oh, please. Please, sir. I've got to see the Wizard. The Good Witch of the North sent me.
Prove it!
She's wearing the ruby slippers she gave her!
Oh - so she is! Well, bust my buttons! Why didn't you say that in the first place? That's a horse of a different colour! Come on in!
"Ha - ha - ha, Ho - ho - ho - And a couple of tra - la - las..."

You might ask why am I being like this, amidst the calls for "civility?" "Leadership is obliged to justify itself daily."

–Isabel Paterson, God of the Machine.

No exceptions.

The Mosque Debate Continues: (Paul) Hsieh and (Amy) Peikoff

First, Amy Peikoff's essay "Further Arguments against the NYC Mosque", which addresses the Hsieh's arguments against Leonard Peikoff's now-infamous podcast:

(Excerpt) "As I understand it, we are at war with those who are animated by an ideology — Islam — that declares war on us (the nonbelievers) and our way of life. Because they have declared war on us, we are at war with them, regardless of whether our government has chosen to formally or explicitly declare war on anyone. This war is more than a cultural war, because this ideology explicitly advocates the use of force in order to propagate its ideas and way of life. Most importantly, in my view, a significant number of Islam’s adherents have acted according to its teachings, killing thousands of Americans. And, by all accounts, they will continue to do so. Finally, it seems that the majority of Islam’s adherents are sitting by, silent, refusing to denounce the initiation of force by their fellow believers."
(Excerpt) "In short, my biggest concern is that if we use non-objective law to stop the mosque, we may help temporarily stop creeping Sharia law and we may stop some immediate attacks (which could save many lives). But because we still wouldn't have dealt with the underlying problem in a proper fashion (i.e., by declaring and fighting a proper war), the danger from abroad will not be prevented -- but merely delayed.

And because of the non-objective means we chose to stop the mosque, reality will extract its inevitable price in the form of accelerating the trend towards a home-grown religious tyranny."