A great comment by an anonymous internet user about Rand and Darwin

Tom Burroughes's picture
Submitted by Tom Burroughes on Thu, 2012-03-29 15:43

Boy, I love the internet. In thinking about a recent posting I put up here debunking some false charges against Rand about her views on human nature and so on, I found this comment. http://darwinianconservatism.b... I am going to quote the lot in full, it's that good:

"One might also wonder whether an evolutionary theory or Darwinian-style explanations are necessary for a true account of human nature. Of course, assuming that Darwinian theories are more or less correct, then no account of human nature that didn't appeal to evolution and evolutionary explanations could be explanatorily complete. But it is one thing to identify a feature as part of human nature and another thing to give a correct causal explanation for its emergence in the history of life and the mode by which such features are passed down to offspring. It was only in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that we knew enough about genetics to have a great deal of confidence that Darwinian explanations are at least formally correct (leaving aside questions about the details of how some particular feature was selected, which can be more or less speculative in varying cases). If one needs evolutionary theory in order to know anything about human nature, it follows that nobody before Darwin, and probably not even Darwin himself (since the biology of his own time hadn't come to an understanding of genetics sufficient to explain precisely how traits can be passed down and how changes can occur) knew anything about human nature. To anyone who has read Aristotle, that should be an obvious absurdity."

"So, especially given that Rand was writing in the middle of the 20th century and didn't know much about evolutionary theory, it makes perfect sense for her to be agnostic on the issue, at least if she wanted to be epistemically responsible. After all, her views on human nature did not contradict evolutionary theory, and they could be correct even if it turned out that the true causal story of human nature had nothing to do with natural selection at all."


Big Clanger

gregster's picture

I don't agree with Greg's -- and Harriman's -- opinion that the theory is closet religionist

I liked Adam Reed's Not Even False;

p. 375;
"The “Big Bang” was first hypothesized to explain the
observed ongoing expansion of the visible universe by Georges
Lemaître (1927). Lemaître was also a Roman Catholic priest, a fact
that may have contributed to the subsequent popular interpretation
of the singularity in terms of the Judeo-Christian creation myth.
There is, however, no actual evidence to suggest anything resembling
the creation myth."

P. 388;
"The most pervasive intuitive heuristic identified by Tversky and
Kahneman (1973; 1974) is the availability heuristic. Since the function
of intuition is to substitute for investigation and observation when
conserving time and other resources, intuition assigns exaggerated
likelihood and plausibility to the most readily available ideas, and
reduces the subjective likelihood and plausibility of ideas that are less
available and would require more time or a greater expenditure of
resources to investigate and measure. Thus, an interpretation of the
Big Bang singularity as a “creation,” rather than as an instance of a
class of known singularities such as those in Black Holes (Cavaglia et
al. 1995)—even though the latter interpretation requires fewer concepts—
is most likely a result of the pervasive cultural availability of
the Hebrew creation myth, and an example of the availability heuristic
at work."

He summarizes some of the Intelligent Design fallacies too.

Ellen, Lemaître and Hubble may not have been inspired by the creation myth.
The theory has since been found to be problematic and this would not have been apparent to them.

Xray, re Darren and thermodynamics

Ellen Stuttle's picture

Xray on Fri, 2012-04-13 20:35 (#108111):

"Ellen,
What is it that Darren does not understand about the Seconcd Law of Thermodynamics?"

Angela,

I got around to reading the rest of the thread where thermodynamics became the main topic.

I found a number of Darren's posts enjoyable to read, especially those in which he was calmly explanatory when answering you, and tangentially he triggered some thoughts along lines relevant to my thinking about volition. However, he made the mistake over and over of substituting "entropy" in what he calls in his blogspot post the "logical" meaning for "entropy" in the thermodynamic meaning and, by equivocating between the two, arguing invalidly from the one to the other. Hence I concluded that he doesn't understand the physics meaning.

I'm not sure if Peter quite caught the equivocating, though he hints at it, but his language does some conflating also. Marcus caught it in posing the bomb example.

I found an article which might help you to understand the enormous confusions which result when the two meanings aren't kept distinct. Such confusions are all over the place in the literature about "information" these days.

http://www.panspermia.org/seco...

A warning: Brig Klyce, the author, is a panspermia advocate. Please don't interpret my recommending his discussion as my signing on to the particulars of his own theories. Or to every detail of his presentation. I have lots of questions on issues of life origins, and on details of evolutionary theory. For instance, I do think that there are problems with the Darwinian account of speciation.

On another page of Klyce's website he provides a chart "Comparing Darwinism, Creationism/ID and Cosmic Ancestry" which I think is helpful as a quick overview.

Klyce is probably right that most current Darwinists accept big bang theory -- and apparently Klyce is of the belief that the big bang happened. I'm doubtful that it did. (I don't agree with Greg's -- and Harriman's -- opinion that the theory is closet religionist, although some adherents might have religionist motives. But I think the observational problems accumulate and the patches in the theory become pretty transparently ad hoc.) On the other hand, I don't know what Klyce means by "science cannot answer," whether he's claiming science's ultimate inability to answer or only a current inability.

-

"Imo the many insults Darren has made against you can be interpreted as a reaction of someone who is well aware that your knowledge could burst his bubble."

I don't see that he's any more insulting to me than to anyone else with whom he has disagreements. His praise/venom seems to vary in direct proportion to agreement/disagreement. For instance, I was a "mensch" when I posted something he liked (about the integralness to Newton's psyche of his religious beliefs). Then shortly afterward I became a "yenta" over something he didn't like (I don't off-hand recall specifically what).

Ellen

tom do you really want to play the game

seymourblogger's picture

my daddy is bigger and stronger and smarter than your daddy?

Hicks is one of many points of informationi

Tom Burroughes's picture

His not my "authority"; I have read some other material also, but Hicks' book is great, I think. He mentions Foucault several times (unflatteringly), along with Derrida and so on.

And if you want to see what people in the science and medical school think of postmodernism, check this out:

http://www.sciencebasedmedicin...

tom

seymourblogger's picture

Anyway, I think we have kicked this one around enough.

Is that a fact?

tom so HIcks is your authority

seymourblogger's picture

He's not mine. Not even close.

No distortion as far as I can tell

Tom Burroughes's picture

Seymourblogger, the man who wrote that passage is one of the most eminent philosophers working in the UK and US. So I doubt he was distorting anything in this case but was in fact describing his true view of this school of thought to the best of his ability. (And Scruton, I should add, is no objectivist, more a conservative in the High Tory tradition).

I can also cite this review of Stephen Hicks' Explaining Postmodernism, which contains several references to Foucault.

http://www.reasonpapers.com/pd...

Anyway, I think we have kicked this one around enough.

tom not likely

seymourblogger's picture

Fuddle's scholarship could pose a serious challenge to Darren's. Or mine.

Darren and the Second Law

Xray's picture

Ellen Stuttle wrote on Thu, 2012-04-12 09:48:

"Since we don't know how abiogenesis happens, who knows what abiogenesis violates or doesn't? Likely not the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which Darren doesn't understand. See the thread where he made the ballyoo for refutations by Peter and Marcus." (end quote)

On Janet's blog, Darren (with his usual insults) brazenly reiterates his allegations about the Second Law being violated:

http://aynrand2.blogspot.de/20...

[Darren]: "Our favorite Yentavist, Ellen Stuttle, recently knelt down and intoned the following heartfelt prayer on Sense of Life Objectivists (SOLO):
 
>>>>"Since we don't know how abiogenesis happens, who knows what abiogenesis violates or doesn't?"
 
In other words, Stuttering Stuttle believes that it has already been established that abiogenesis does, in fact happen (or DID, in fact, happen long ago) but that the only knowledge we currently lack is the precise mechanism by which this statistical miracle occurs or occurred.
 
Um, wrong.
 
We do not even know IF abiogenesis, in fact, happens or happened. And the claim of many origin-of-life researchers (a claim with which I agree) is that any imaginable scenario in which matter, energy, and time interact to produce a biologically meaningful unit (such as a functional protein, a functional nucleic acid, or a functional cell) would necessarily entail a violation of the 2nd law of thermodynamics. "
(end quote Darren)

Ellen,

What is it that Darren does not understand about the Seconcd Law of Thermodynamics? Your input would be much appreciated.
Imo the many insults Darren has made against you can be interpreted as a reaction of someone who is well aware that your knowledge could burst his bubble.

well tom I could not let this go unchallenged

seymourblogger's picture

"It seems to me that Foucault's political naiveties are a direct result of a false idea of `essence', according to which the essence of human things lies never on the surface, but always in the `hidden' depths. The search for this `depth' is, in fact, the greatest shallowness. Foucault's `unmasking' reveals, not the essence of human thought and action, but merely the underlying substance out of which all human institutions, and life itself, are made. To reduce everything to this `hidden' core is in effect to reduce it to nothing. And we should not be surprised to find that it is precisely this nothing which then becomes the hidden god." (page 43).

The BOLD is such a fantastic distortion of Foucault that I can't reply to it. Either your beloved has not read Foucault or he cannot read him.

"underlying substance" is an unbelievable so far out spin that it cannot be addressed.

the essence of human things lies never on the surface Foucault was absolutely opposed to hermeneutics.

You read the original not the one who writes about to bolster up the fact that he has nothing to say.

Great point, Xray

Tom Burroughes's picture

Even by Darren's standards, his attempt to dismiss your point about different animals sharing 95% of genes by making a crack about machines is weak. Even some of the more serious ID advocates would wince with embarrassment at this sort of argument.

This is deadly: "What are the odds of man and chimp sharing so high a percentage of genes? Darren is always stressing that pure chance doesn't cut it, so if he is to be consistent with his own premises, he must also admit that there is far more than mere coincidence involved in such high percentage of shared genes between man and chimp."

One of the significant failings of the ID case (aka Creationism) are the many flaws in the makeup of humans (why do we have wisdom teeth, male nipples (!), appendixes, etc?), which would presumably not exist if we had been made by an all-wise, omnipotent creator.

Bah.

Wrong addressee, Janet

Xray's picture

Janet, you are being sloppy as usual:

I was me, not Ellen, who remarked on Darren's attempt at ridicule.
I know what a satire is, so there's no need for you to explain.
Far more interesting than Darren's attempts at 'satire' are the feelings that lie behind it.
And these feelings on his part are plain and simple: anger. It is anger at having once been an Objectivist, and he is venting this anger (mostly via insults) at those who own or post on Objectivist forums.

As for Darren replying to me on the blog to a question I had asked of you here:

"Oh really, Janet? Gee, then how do you explain that humans share over 95 % of their genes with the chimpanzees and bonobos?"
(end quote Xray)
Darren: http://randroidbelt.blogspot.d...
Gee, I dunno, Xray, how do you explain it? Why does that automatically prove Darwinian evolution?
Air-conditioners and refrigerators also share over 95% of their parts. To your way of thinking, Xray, I guess the fact of "shared parts" between two things proves that one thing evolved from the other. But why?
(end quote Darren)
Notice how he is trying to twist my remark to mean that man "evolved from" the chimp, and then attacks his straw man argument?
Thus he can evade discussing the theory of both chimpanzee and man having had a common ancestor that lived about 6 million years ago.

He continues: http://randroidbelt.blogspot.d...

"Actually, it proves nothing of the kind, since that fact is also consistent with the scenario that shared technology, i.e., similarity or identity of functional elements between two devices, is simply an efficient way of constructing both entities. It doesn't necessarily prove evolution since it is also consistent with the idea of "commonality of conception." (end quote Darren)

What are the odds of man and chimp sharing so high a percentage of genes? Darren is always stressing that pure chance doesn't cut it, so if he is to be consistent with his own premises, he must also admit that there is far more than mere coincidence involved in such high percentage of shared genes between man and chimp.

In case Darren believes in an intelligent designer (I have no doubt that he does), then this intelligent designer must have had interest in 'designing' that common gene pool; just as he must have had interest in e. g 'designing' roundworms, fleas, and all organisms who feed on and threaten human life.

I suppose Biblical Creationists are trying ot wiggle out of that one by delclaring those critters to be 'curses' with which God took revenge on man for Original Sin, but since Darren probably does not want to come across as being an adherent to such primitive thinking, I'm curious how he is trying to wriggle out of the contradictory mishmash which the concept of 'intelligent design by a divine creator' entails. Laughing out loud

I have not spent serious

Tom Burroughes's picture

I have not spent serious "downtime" reading The Order of Things or the Archeology of Knowledge, but I have read several commentaries on Foucault, such as this by Roger Scruton, in his book, Thinkers of the New Left. Here is a quote:

"It seems to me that Foucault's political naiveties are a direct result of a false idea of `essence', according to which the essence of human things lies never on the surface, but always in the `hidden' depths. The search for this `depth' is, in fact, the greatest shallowness. Foucault's `unmasking' reveals, not the essence of human thought and action, but merely the underlying substance out of which all human institutions, and life itself, are made. To reduce everything to this `hidden' core is in effect to reduce it to nothing. And we should not be surprised to find that it is precisely this nothing which then becomes the hidden god." (page 43).

I suggest you read Scruton's book: his demolition of Foucault, and other New Left thinkers, such as Habermas, Wallerstein, EP Thompson, etc, is impressive. It was one of those books that convinced me of how shallow some of these thinkers are. Maybe that is one of the reasons why I did not waste my limited time on this Earth reading through all their works.

I have also examined enough Hegel and that tradition to have serious reservations about the idea that Rand wrote within such a tradition, either consciously or otherwise, notwithstanding my appreciation of some of the things that Sciabarra said. (I intend to re-read that book at some point). Of course, Sciabarra's own book has come in for significant criticism.

As for my presumed lack of knowledge, you can presume whatever you like. For a start, your assumption about me is wrong: I was educated in a UK university, not in America. Okay, a trivial point maybe, but you seem a bit careless in making judgements on me based on almost no evidence. Maybe this is what Rand called "primacy of consciousness" thinking. Puzzled

tom thanks for the link

seymourblogger's picture

The Dialectic IS the Dominating Discourse of our time.

Who wears the dress better, A or B?

Hunger Games versus Twilight

Pro and con

Benefits and disadvantages

All Hegelian Discourse is couched in these opposing terms which lie at the foundation of the Dominating Discourse. It is built in, hardwired so to speak: thesis, antithesis, synthesis, new thesis etc etc etc into the horizon of idealism. As long as you are discussing or arguing within this Discourse, the template will control you words, thots, voice, writing.

No escape.

No I did not get it from Sciabarra. I got it from the horse's mouth: Michel Foucault.

The fact that Sciabarra includes an article in JARS on the pro and cons of dialectical Discourse is refreshing. Sciabarra himself is refreshing. The Russian Radical is the only excellent book on Rand's "philosophy of objectivism".

No Rand is not endorsing Hegel. She is just arguing and writing in her NON-FICTION within the Dialectical Discourse. Her fiction follows Nietzsche. It is aphoristic. Except for Galt's speech.

You keep pontificating on things you really know nothing about. You sound-bite very very well to hide that fact. This is the result of American university education. this is what you are taught to do. You have learned your lesson well. Now you can't think or express yourself outside of it.

As Vija Kinski says in Cosmopolis of the outrageous protest:(paraphrasing) They are part of the system. They strengthen it. There is no outside from which to protest. They are part of the same structure. In other words the protest follows the Dialectical Discourse, the foundational template of opposites. Marcuse may have said it better. It is like Pac-Man. Everything is devoured and turned to its advantage.

You and I can play ping-pong forever. Literally. We will never get closure. Never. The discourse will not allow it. We are not exchanging ideas. We are trying to dominate the other through language and knowledge. Master/slave relation as Derrida might have said.

I know for a fact that you have never spent serious downtime reading The Order of Things or The Archeology of Knowledge. Without that foundation we cannot exchange. How could Biblical commentary have assumed such power if the students of it had not read the Bible. Or here, if the students commenting here have not read Rand.

I called the essay "tripe"

Tom Burroughes's picture

I called the essay "tripe" because that was my opinion of it. When Rand called some thinkers mystics she meant she thought these people based their ideas not on hard, testable evidence, but faith. She was not being rude, but telling it as she saw it.

Your comment that Rand was a Hegelian might, I assume, be taken from how Chris Matthew Sciabarra went about analysing her thoughts in his book Rand, The Russian Radical. I read this book many years ago, and my memory is that CMS made it very clear that Rand's dialetical approach (as CMS saw it) in no way meant she endorsed many of Hegel's ideas or approach. But of course that does not mean that we cannot use Hegel's ideas to get a new perspective on what Rand said, and learn from it.

Here is an interesting essay that addresses the limitations of the dialetical approach.

http://www.aynrandstudies.com/...

Brgds

ellen i know this is useless, i know this is useless, i know thi

seymourblogger's picture

But satire is not literal. If it were, it would not be satire. Eh?

The fantasy book of Darren's published in 1967 including DHsieh who has not yet been born in 1967 is meant as an ironic statement, as a funny one.

This is John Stewart's humor. This is Colbert's humor. This is not Ellen Tuttlle's sense of humor. She doesn't get it. To explain a joke is to destroy it. Someone spent time quoting Koestler here. Well, here's Koestler then on humor: he says that it is two incompatible facts, statements, "truths" etc in two different modes of thinking that rub against each other and cause sparks. Something like that anyway as I remember his saying it some 50 years ago, you can appreciate the fact that it is not exact.

I have no concerns about your criticism. It's just that it is so 1950's dated in that Discourse I tossed away. Too much baggage.

Darren's ballyhoo

Xray's picture

Submitted by Ellen Stuttle on Thu, 2012-04-12 09:48.

Angela (#107927):

[Darren] made quite a ballyhoo here about abiogenesis allegedly violating the Second Law of Thermodynamics - but is this really the case?
Any input from biologists or physicists posting here would be much appreciated.

Since we don't know how abiogenesis happens, who knows what abiogenesis violates or doesn't? Likely not the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which Darren doesn't understand. See the thread where he made the ballyoo for refutations by Peter and Marcus.

http://www.solopassion.com/nod... "
(end quote)

Ellen,

I had the impression that Darren's attacks on the possibility of abiogenesis are rooted in his belief in an "abracadabra god", a 'master-mind intelligent designer', who, via supernatural powers, 'created life'.

I also told him this on Janet's blog, he has not no replied (yet): http://aynrand2.blogspot.de/20...

He seems to have been busy instead to create stuff like the following: "The Yentavist. Edited by Ellen Stuttle and Xray"
http://randroidbelt.blogspot.d...

D. Hsieh is listed as co-author too, lol! Truly amazing, given the fact that she hadn't yet been born in 1967 (the appearance date of the 'book' listed on the bottom right hand corner). Laughing out loud
But since acknowledging basic facts is not Darren's strong suit, it was to be expected that he wouldn't even get it right when trying to be funny.
And as for dear Janet, I already hear her twitter: "But who cares whether Hsieh had already been born in 1967, or whether she exists at all! Darren and I are floating in non-linear subjective Pomoland!"

Happy floating, Darren and Janet! I'm sure you won't let pesky reality get in your way. Smiling

Submitted by Ellen Stuttle on Thu, 2012-04-12 09:48.
"I said something on OL -- link -- about being interested re directedness. Possibly my remark misled you as to why I was interested -- not specifically because of Darren's argument, something tangential in his remarks." (end quote)
I recall you saying something to the effect that you were interested in discussing a specific issue further.

Quote from the link http://www.objectivistliving.c...
"Darren is on a track there with which I partly agree, the idea that *directed* energy is a required real, though not included in current physics. I'm still reading through the thread." (end quote)

Discussing the *directed* energy issue further would indeed be very interesting.

Careful ellen

seymourblogger's picture

You are treading on the shadow of post modern thinking. In this case Foucault's dominating Discourse or prevalent Discourse in a particular field or fields.

Not to argue over the definition of "mainstream." You're using a different meaning than I was. I meant the dominant theory of a time span.

marcus Rand follows Nietzsche on this

seymourblogger's picture

but she doesn't want to say so out loud or even in her own head.

ellen from Piaget

seymourblogger's picture

("Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny"): Steller work that Piaget learned from playing with his babies.

I have a patent on an educational device on Conservation of Number from my research on it.

Nice post Ellen

seymourblogger's picture

Here's a good idea for you: go over to blogspot and open a blog on the Dominating Discourse of anthro and psych in the mid 20th century using those quotes.

It was such a different academic time. I'm trying to forget all that stuff! LOL!

Please

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

Fatuous, vacuous, rude, non-responsive, off-topic, intellectual dilettantes and high obscurantists whose ideas are a chaos of incoherent, incomprehensible, mindless, hopeless, petty drivel can't hold true discussions and aren't worth addressing. You can have more worthwhile and rewarding conversations with schizophrenics.

Ellen

gregster's picture

I will look into that. Thanks. Sagan's book is from 1977.

Xray, re Darren on abiogenesis

Ellen Stuttle's picture

Angela (#107927):

[Darren] made quite a ballyhoo here about abiogenesis allegedly violating the Second Law of Thermodynamics - but is this really the case?
Any input from biologists or physicists posting here would be much appreciated.

Since we don't know how abiogenesis happens, who knows what abiogenesis violates or doesn't? Likely not the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which Darren doesn't understand. See the thread where he made the ballyoo for refutations by Peter and Marcus.

http://www.solopassion.com/nod...

I said something on OL -- link -- about being interested re directedness. Possibly my remark misled you as to why I was interested -- not specifically because of Darren's argument, something tangential in his remarks.

Ellen

Ellen...

Marcus's picture

...although I of course agree with the principle that certain human behaviour has evolutionary origin, sex and survival instincts being the most obvious, I don't agree with a lot if Morris's deductions. Although it is inspiring to hear someone speculate, at the end of the day these are mere speculations.

I just thought that if it was brought to Rand's attention she might have had some more thoughts on the topic.

Greg, re Haeckel's recapitulation theory

Ellen Stuttle's picture

Greg (#107912), re Haeckel's recapitulation theory ("Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny"):

http://evolution.berkeley.edu/...

http://www.answers.com/topic/w...

Sounds from your quotes as if Sagan was buying the original theory. I hope not.

(I never did get around to reading The Dragons of Eden, though I thought it would be interesting.)

Ellen

Marcus, re Morris and mainstream

Ellen Stuttle's picture

#107900

Marcus,

Not to argue over the definition of "mainstream." You're using a different meaning than I was. I meant the dominant theory of a time span. My point that best sellerdom says nothing about scientific acceptance remains.

Also my initial point concerning Rand, which is the important issue. What I was saying is that she was not out of synch with the dominant views in scientific psychology and in anthropology of her time. It isn't so peculiar as commenters make it out to be that she was disinterested in evolution. Non-nativist explanations of human behavior were dominant then.

You say:

Morris's book...
...was non-fiction written by a scientist applying a theory that had already been accepted in the mainstream."

Zoologists, ethologists were friendly toward Morris' thesis, but the prevailing American theories of psychology, and the field of anthropology, were not.

Rand even actually criticizes, in Galt's Speech, the reigning view of infinite malleability. (See the paragraph starting "Sweep aside those parasites of subsidized classrooms," quoting from memory.)

I've been doing some digging through the piles of old textbooks which reside in my basement looking for succinct quotes which might help people understand how different the prevailing views were then on the human behavioral inheritance than they are now. When I have a chance -- likely not before next week -- I'll type in samples of material representative of what I've called "mainstream" American thought in psychology and in anthropology world-wide mid-20th century.

(To my surprise I'm enjoying looking through the old psych texts as a retrospective. I disliked drudging through those back when, since the approach seemed to me so off-base and so powerful in its grip on research programs. I liked reading my anthropology texts.)

Meanwhile, for the interested, here's a link to a description of Morris' thesis:

http://www.enotes.com/naked-ap...

Ellen

Your criticism of my assertion

seymourblogger's picture

does not cut to the chase. Of course she used Artistotle a serious philosopher. A "footnote" does not preclude using serious assertions and arguments as "floating signs" to dissemble, mask, or any other of the signals FS's reference, oppose, deny, assert, mask etc.

If you don't like calchi-Novati that's one thing. But to call her essay "tripe" is about the same as Rand calling major philosphers like Nietzsche mystics to be done with them.

Then you are going to have to go head to head or cock to cock with Zizek and Lacan over this. Frankly if I were you I would give up at this point as Hegel is even too much for you.

Rand was a Hegelian BTW. She always argued within the Discourse of the Dialectic.

Seymourblogger, as I am sure

Tom Burroughes's picture

Seymourblogger, as I am sure you are aware, Objectivism is, to a degree, a development of Aristotelian philosophy, with some important changes and alterations. I think that you would recognise that Aristotle was a serious philosopher.

It is not a mere "footnote" although I guess that Rand continues to bemuse some people on account of how she used the medium of fiction, rather than long, non-fiction treatises, to expound her views. There is no doubt that this approach has its flaws; my regret is that in some cases Rand did not present some of her ideas in a more systematic way. But her contribution was so considerable that it seems a bit churlish to complain.

I had a brief look at this Twilight stuff. It is pure, unadulterated tripe from beginning to end, from what I can tell.

kyrel obj is suffering

seymourblogger's picture

from being forced in the wrong Order. Darren and I have done a series on this on http://randroidbelt.blogspot.com and I think you will find Darren's detailed explanation more to your liking than my contributions on the subject.

Objectivism is not a serious philosophy. It is a "floating sign" of Rand's fiction, an adjunct to it, a very long made up footnote such as Borges might have done. From that POV it is brilliant and irrefutable.

I am sure you are not a Twilight fan. But if you read this paper by Gabriella Calchi-Novati on WHO WE MIGHT BE you will see her reading through Zizek and Lacan on Twilight, can also apply to Fountainhead and Atlas.

Until Objectivists change the way they think, Rand's philosophy will deteriorate along with their minds.

tom darren has been

seymourblogger's picture

writing a lot on this in Around the Randroid Belt but I am sure you know this already. You are only correct if you are replying within linear time: past present future.

To sort of quote Faulkner: the p-ast is not past. It is not even over.

All theory is withi the Order of Production, formalized to be disproved or supported within the dialectic. The dialectic is the Dominating Discourse since Hegel philosophy became the Dominating Discourse in philosophy.

If you can't stand the heat of Hegelian theory, then it's time to get out of the kitchen.

Objectivist Cowards

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

Lindsay -- You make the provocative claim that:

"Objectivism perishes from an orgy of cowardice."

I certainly think cowardice is a massive vice -- especially of the intellectual and moral type. But I'm curious as to how much you think Objectivism and/or the Objectivist Movement is currently perishing? Also, what else it's perishing from, besides cowardice?

And certainly I'd like to learn: Who are the major cowards among today's ARIan, Atlasian, and independent Objectivist groups; and what are their recent major acts of cowardice?

Not a coward, Lindsay

Tom Burroughes's picture

For goodness sake, Linz, there is nothing cowardly about me (you respected my takedown of the arguments of Greg Nyquist and this "Darren" character a few days ago). If one is up against obvious irrationality and downright malevolence, there has to be a limit on how much time anyone should want to devote to responding to it rather than say, advancing ideas in other ways. I am also a busy guy, as you are.

Life is limited; there is only so much time I or anyone else can spend in debating some people. As they say of economics, life is about the intelligent use of scarce resources. I spend a fair amount of my time on blogs and forums of one kind of another debating leftists, conservatives, religious types, etc, etc. So give me some credit!

Feel free to present your test results, Janet

Xray's picture

Submitted by seymourblogger on Mon, 2012-04-09 23:38.
"When you do experimental research you are not positing an alternative hypothesis or theoretical change. "
(end quote)

Exeriments are conducted to test theories.

The renowned German physicist and astrononmer Harald Lesch put it in simple words:
"Idee, Theorie, testen. Idee, Theorie testen. Test positiv - Theorie weiterverfolgen. Test negativ - Theorie wegschmeißen."
(Idea, theory, testing. Idea, theory, testing. Test positive - pursue the theory. Test negative - throw out the theory.".

(H. Lesch, in H. Lesch/W. Vossenkuhl Die großen Philosophen, p. 22) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H...

So feel free to present your (or others') test results here (on whatever theory you think deserves testing in the context of this discussion).

Submitted by seymourblogger on Tue, 2012-04-10 19:38.
"What if Darwinian theory is turned on its head and is going backwards. Not my original thought BTW, I'm only the messenger." (end quote)

Whose messenger? Who is it that thinks Darwinian theory is "going backwards"?

"Volitional" consciousness?

Xray's picture

Submitted by Lindsay Perigo on Mon, 2012-04-09 12:53.

"Someone here says:

Her [Rand's] belief that "the development of a man's consciousness is volitional" (!) and that man "must become a human being by choice" does indeed indicate misunderstanding/ignorance.

How? She's not talking about the biological maturation of the organs of consciousness; she's talking about the exercise of consciousness. The essence of being a human being is precisely the volitional exercise of consciousness.

I believe that in the early stages of a human being's life, the exercise of consciousness is not volitional but hard-wired, driven by the life-urge that we share with the animals (here I am at variance with Rand, who, absurdly, says there's no such urge in human beings). Later, it becomes a matter of choice, which is assuredly not automatic or hard-wired, but values-driven." (end quote)

Here is the context in which Rand made the statement about development of man's concsciousness being volitional:

[quote]http://www.objectivistliving.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=5658&st=20 (post #24)

THE MISSING LINK
Part II, May 21, 1973
Vol II, no. 17,
The Ayn Rand Letter

< ...>

pg. 5-6, the concluding paragraphs

"I am not a student of the theory of evolution and, therefore, I am neither its supporter nor its opponent. But a certain hypothesis has haunted me for years; I want to stress that it is only a hypothesis. There is an enormous breach of continuity between man and all the other living species. The difference lies in the nature of man's consciousness, in its distinctive characteristic: his conceptual faculty. It is as if, after aeons of physiological development, the evolutionary process altered its course, and the higher stages of development focused primarily on the consciousness of living species, not their bodies. But the development of a man's consciousness is volitional: no matter what the innate degree of his intelligence, he must develop it, he must learn how to use it, he must become a human being by choice. What if he does not choose to? Then he becomes a transitional phenomenon - a desperate creature that struggles frantically against his own nature, longing for the effortless "safety" of an animal's consciousness, which he cannot recapture, and rebelling against a human consciousness, which he is afraid to achieve.

For years, scientists have been looking for a "missing link" between man and animals. Perhaps that missing link is the anti-conceptual mentality." [/end quote]

But can't what Rand calls "breach of continuity between man and all the other living species" be traced back to the human brain having biologically evolved to a stage where a higher developed degree of consciousness will invariably manifest itself, i. e. its development is not volitional?
For example, every human being whose brain is not impaired and which has matured to a certain stage will have developed consciousness of all humans having a limited life span. But this consciousness is in no way 'volitional'.

I think what Rand means by [man] "must become a human being by choice" is more a personal value judgement influenced by what she believed to be the "right" kind of consciousness: A consciousness based on and reflecting the "right" philosophy: Objectivism.

Why Debate the Empty and the Poseurs?

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

It's only worthwhile and valuable to debate ideas and people of substance and importance -- not ideas and people which and who are a chaotic and meaningless gallimaufry of the eclectic, idiosyncratic, bizarre, and ridiculous. If ideas don't go anywhere or add up to anything -- such as many of the nonsensical, irrational, post-modern theories of Berkeley, Hume, Kant, and Hegel -- then good people of consequence, who seek to live lives of value and joy, should move on to something and someone far more rewarding and fun. Life today is filled with such people and ideas! Why waste your time with, and allow yourself to be tripped up by, tricky and sneaky people who advocate the obviously false and evil?

Tom

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Deleted

Debate

Tom Burroughes's picture

Oh I am happy to debate folk like Janet or whoever, but there comes a point when I need to get on with other things at the moment.

Oh, Tom!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

You shouldn't surrender that readily! Janet is a pomowanker who quotes far worse icons than Hegel. But these are battles we have to fight. If ours is a battle of ideas, and we fail to engage the enemy, how can we win?

I am not sure how evolution

Tom Burroughes's picture

I am not sure how evolution could go backwards - it would not be evolution, would it? "Survival of the weakest?". Does not make sense.

As for whether "theory itself is being challenged", it depends on what theory you mean, and by whom, and why.

Anyway, I am more or less done with this thread. When people start quoting Hegel, it is time to turn off the lights.

yes Darwinian has to be linear in concept

seymourblogger's picture

Evolution is evolving. Darwinian theory is evolving into a progressive more adaptive species. Adapting to all the environment and if not, then death of the species.

Have you seen the documentary film Darwin's Nightmare?

Hegelian theory is idealistic: thesis - anthithesis - synthesis - thesis ad infinitum. Towards an idealistic horizon that ever recedes.

What if Darwinian theory is turned on its head and is going backwards. Not my original thought BTW, I'm only the messenger.

And it is theory itself that is being challenged; that means all theories. Our world has changed; in a heartbeat. Have you noticed? No one else here has.

Boomerang

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

Greg -- I changed the Wikipedia entry for Big Bang back to the previous version. How many weeks, days, hours, or minutes it'll remain thus, I have no idea. Meanwhile...

Vengeance is mine! Eye

Mutations and changes

Tom Burroughes's picture

Seymourblogger, from what I read by evolutionary scientistists (Dawkins and co), the Darwinian model does take account of big changes that can occur of things such as certain "chaotic" events (such as a meteorite strike that wipes out a lot of life, etc). Quite a lot of The Blind Watchmaker, if I recall, is devoted to this sort of issue. I am not really sure if likening the process to Hegelian dialetics really explains it much.

Also, is it really the case that Darwinism has to be "linear"? Not sure about that at all.

x-ray sorry

seymourblogger's picture

for not being dissertation defense precise.

Darwinian evolution of natural selection through slow adaptation does not take into account abrupt changes that are predicted by chaos theory. Actually it is mathematical: Thom first described it mathematically since he was a mathematician. But do see Babich on her Nietzsche Philosophy of Science book. Sorry the link is on my laptop.

I am sure there are other ways to account for the similarities in DNA but when I say that slow adaptation of species depends on Hegelian dialectics it is not up to me to explain it. It is just up to me to disprove something. When you do experimental research you are not positing an alternative hypothesis or theoretical change. What you are doing is to set up a hypothesis, that, if it were true, the theory would not hold. Nowhere in experimental research are you expected to say what is, or to posit a different theory. You are just out to prove the null hypothesis is not correct within a specified probability cut off point. That's all.

BTW when are you going to learn how to exchange ideas instead of attack. Do you have that much aggression to displace?

Jes sayin'.

Over 95 %, Janet!

Xray's picture

Submitted by seymourblogger on Mon, 2012-04-09 17:23.

"Since Hegel has been dealt the death blow evolution is resting on sand - quicksand." (end quote)

Oh really, Janet? Gee, then how do you explain that humans share over 95 % of their genes with the chimpanzees and bonobos? Big smile

Actually it came from a series

seymourblogger's picture

of inter-uterine photos of the human embryo and a variety of animal embryos. From a magazine like Life used to be, perhaps Smithsonian (?) I have the pics stashed in my other building and can't get them so easily. I wanted to make an art collage with them to illustrate this which is why I kept them.

But internet images should show the same pics I think if you wanted to look.

To support your lambasting of science and its domination over what can be said, by whom, where, for what, etc (Foucault's Dominating Discourse which you so carefully delineated,) a review on google of Philosophy of Science read through Nietzsche by Babette Babich, page 57 is the page for you: http://books.google.com/books?...

perigo on consciousness Rand

seymourblogger's picture

is going up against Nietzsche. She cannot bear his genealogy of consciousness. His genealogy of atheism - doing God in - pleases her for life - but his method applied to consciousness repel that very young girl that she was when she read The Genealogy of Morals. She was probably 16 or 17 when she read it and at that age she responded as one might expect a girl of that age to respond.

To paraphrase Nietzsche on this:

Consciousness was developed over eons from the grunting animal state of humanity. How? By torture. By inscribing the body/mind with torture to instill memory. Consciousness requires memory (why our ADD population doesn't have much consciousness BTW) and this memory is inscribed over eons so that forgetting will not occur! I am not going into the requirement of time for contemplation which is being assaulted daily by the modern culture.

Horrifying even now to think of. Without memory there can be no consciousness, only an ever present now. Try taking a drug to put you there for hours and hours. You can't wait to come down!

Nietzsche is Rand's great teacher and mentor. The teacher/master must be "killed". Erased in Rauchenberg's case - see newberry's recent posting. Rand was challenged to come up with an alternative to Nietzsche. She may have developed his brilliance had her life taken a different turn. But then we would not have her anticipatory post modern fiction, which is a "great gift".

I hope this is not too "Polish" for you perigo.

No x-ray all attackers of evolution

seymourblogger's picture

are not doing so for religious reasons.

Many of us are doing so because Darwin's evolution requires the assumption of linearity. This assumption is not only questioned but requires that Hegelian dialectics continue its dominance unquestioned. Darwin's evolution is also directed at man as ascendant to all other species, clearly Biblical in origin.

Since Hegel has been dealt the death blow evolution is resting on sand - quicksand. Yes, creationists are ganging up against it, but they are in it to win it, which is an entirely different reason for celebrating the huge gap in evolutionary theory.

Theory itself is over the hill too, not just evolutionary theory. All theory.

All this is not mainstream. Yet. But it will be.

Many are holding their breath over Zizek's new book on Hegel which, as he says, is more Hegel than Hegel. This is Baudrillard's term for disappearing a theory, or for disappearing anything at all. A rather concrete example is the word "fuck" which means so many things, it means nothing at all.

x-ray and grester I suggest

seymourblogger's picture

this link Nietzsche's Philosophy of Science: Reflecting Science on the Ground of Art ... by Babette Babich http://books.google.com/books?...

for your information: Page 57 should do it on this review.

As for darren replying to a question with a question, this is known as "reflection" or mirroring.

All questions directed at someone are interrogations and, as such, need not be replied to. For a genealogy of questioning, interrogation, confession see Foucault's 1974 Lectures on Abnormal at the College de France.

The art of questioning, or hypothesis formulation, is to play with science, philosophy, mathematics, etc. an art form of maximum freedom for the individual to acquire a "knowing" not to be confused with circulating information.

Ellen/Angela

Lindsay Perigo's picture

As for Darren, I asked him directly: "Are you theist?"
He did not reply, but asked back instead "Are you a believer in abiogenesis"? He made quite a ballyhoo here about abiogenesis allegedly violating the Second Law of Thermodynamics - but is this really the case?

Darren never did reply directly to a direct question. And he discovered the Second Law of Thermodynamics relatively recently—a result, no doubt, of latter-day Google searches—having been found wanting in the previous discussions here of his Intelligent Design superstition, when he didn't mention the Second Law of Thermodynamics at all. He is not honest, or remotely original. He is bereft of elementary civilized decorum. I am surprised he's not welcomed with open arms on O-Lying, with whose amoralism and malevolence, I would have thought, he'd be in perfect sync.

Evoution, Creationism, ID

Xray's picture

Submitted by Ellen Stuttle on Sun, 2012-04-08 09:35:

"Xray, I recommend reading that whole thread you "found" somehow -- maybe because I'd linked to it. Eye"

(end quote)
I found the thread by navigating through some of your links, yes.

http://www.objectivistliving.c...
I scanned through it and have left a comment there; amazing how Charly Reese, who is quoted in the root post, tries to downplay Evolution by placing it on a same level with the belief that "God created the first man and woman".

The vividness of Creationism (Reese is no doubt a Creationist - his attempts to camouflage this are quite poor) in the US is an amazing phenomenon; what could be the reason for that?
It is merely a hypothesis, but could one of the reasons be that at the time when the Pilgrim Fathers who first set foot on the New Continent, the Age of Enlightenment with all its questioning of religious premises had not yet begun?

So they brought over their 'pure' belief, and as opposed to the conditions in Europe, where a process of religious disintegration was slowly setting in (and has been speeding up considerably in recent years, especially in Western Europe - they managed to keep their belief stable, 'undiluted'. It would interest me how if there exist any statistics about the number of atheist living in the Bible Belt. Smiling

The Protestant work ethics coupled with the spirit of capitalism was an additional factor in linking Christian evangelical religions so deeply to the Amercian society.

I have the impression that every fierce attacker of Evolution attacks it because it can't be reconciled with the tenets of his religious belief.
As for Darren, I asked him directly: "Are you a theist?"
He evaded a direct reply, asking me back instead "Are you a believer in abiogenesis"?
He made quite a ballyhoo here about abiogenesis allegedly violating the Second Law of Thermodynamics - but is this really the case?
Any input from biologists or physicists posting here would be much appreciated.

Beats me ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Someone here says:

Her [Rand's] belief that "the development of a man's consciousness is volitional" (!) and that man "must become a human being by choice" does indeed indicate misunderstanding/ignorance.

How? She's not talking about the biological maturation of the organs of consciousness; she's talking about the exercise of consciousness. The essence of being a human being is precisely the volitional exercise of consciousness.

I believe that in the early stages of a human being's life, the exercise of consciousness is not volitional but hard-wired, driven by the life-urge that we share with the animals (here I am at variance with Rand, who, absurdly, says there's no such urge in human beings). Later, it becomes a matter of choice, which is assuredly not automatic or hard-wired, but values-driven. If the values aren't there it doesn't happen—or if anti-life values are there, it happens in a grotesquely dysfunctional way ... Gramsci's Comprachicoism has done its work. Irrefutable evidence of this is afforded by the contemporary Generation Airhead—poster boys and girls for arrested development. Obama-voters, gum-chewers and headbanging caterwaulers. Sub-humans. These creatures are whom evolutionary psychologists, and Objectivists, should study. Such studies would help us identify whenabouts volition, all things being equal, trumps hard-wiring—and would morally empower us to disenfranchise those in whom it doesn't.

In this regard it's been instructive seeing all the replays of Mike Wallace interviews today—testament to a bygone era in which protracted interviews on commercial television could be conducted intelligently and without frenetic distractions designed to accommodate minimal attention spans.

As far as the human fetus's resembling a pig at a certain stage is concerned, I think there is strong evidence that this is so—and that some fetuses become arrested at that point and remain so for the rest of their lives in all senses. Exhibit A is O-Lying. The biggest doubt about this hypothesis consists in its inherent unfairness to pigs.

Blogger from Seymour

gregster's picture

You will be pleased to know that the human fetus most resembles the pig fetus in early stages of development. At a particular point, you can barely tell them apart.

Can you point to where this information is Janet? Does it have gill slits and then a curly tail? Sounds ridiculous, or another of your porcine porkies.

gregster

seymourblogger's picture

You will be pleased to know that the human fetus most resembles the pig fetus in early stages of development. At a particular point, you can barely tell them apart.

gregster I know nothing about all this

seymourblogger's picture

but your description of what scientists are doing to control the research validates what I keep saying.

The Dominating Discourse is the Big Bang. Any research that opposes it will lie in the side alleys of the discourse and go undetected or unnoticed, purposely or unpurposely until the Discourse crashes. With a Big Bang I guess if it does.

Read Babich on Nietzsche for a philosophy of science. It is on your side of this argument.

Thanks Joe

gregster's picture

I've fished out my copy of The Dragons of Eden. Haven't read it yet. I hadn't heard this before, p. 58,

"..in human intrauterine development we run through stages very much like fish, reptiles and nonprimate mammals before we become recognizably human. The fish stage even has gill slits, which are absolutely useless for the embryo who is nourished via the umbilical cord, but a necessity for human embryology: since gills were vital for our ancestors, we run through a gill stage in becoming human. The brain of a human fetus also develops from the inside out, and , roughly speaking, runs through the sequence: neural chassis, R-complex, limbic system and neocortex.

[..]

Natural selection operates only on individuals, not on species and not very much on eggs or fetuses."

"Man may be excused for feeling some pride at having risen, though not through his own exertions, to the very summit of the organic scale; and the fact of his having thus risen, instead of having been aboriginally placed there, may give him hopes for a still higher destiny in the distant future."

"Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin."
both Charles Darwin The Descent Of Man as seen in The Dragons of Eden

Criticisms of the Triune Brain

Jmaurone's picture

Here's a wiki article on the history, status and criticisms of the theory of the triune brain.

The triune brain hypothesis became familiar to a broad popular audience through Carl Sagan's Pulitzer prize winning 1977 book The Dragons of Eden. Though embraced by some psychiatrists and at least one leading affective neuroscience researcher,[2] the model never won wide acceptance among comparative neurobiologists and neurophysiologists. Comparative evolutionary neuroanatomists currently regard its claims about brain evolution to be outdated.[3][4]

and

Scientifically, the triune brain hypothesis was based on what is now recognized as a faulty interpretation of the anatomical organization and evolution of the vertebrate brain. The idea holds little favor in current neuroscience.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
From an obituary of the guy who originated the theory, Paul MacLean:

Dr. MacLean (pronounced mac-LANE) termed the brain’s center of emotions the limbic system, and described an area that includes structures called the hippocampus and amygdala. Developing observations made by Dr. James W. Papez of Cornell, he proposed that the limbic system had evolved in early mammals to control fight-or-flight responses and react to both emotionally pleasurable and painful sensations. The concept is now broadly accepted in neuroscience.

Dr. MacLean said that the idea of the limbic system leads to a recognition that its presence “represents the history of the evolution of mammals and their distinctive family way of life.”

In the 1960s, Dr. MacLean enlarged his theory to address the human brain’s overall structure and divided its evolution into three parts, an idea that he termed the triune brain. In addition to identifying the limbic system, he pointed to a more primitive brain called the R-complex, related to reptiles, which controls basic functions like muscle movement and breathing. The third part, the neocortex, controls speech and reasoning and is the most recent evolutionary arrival.

In Dr. MacLean’s theory, all three systems remain in place and in frequent competition; indeed, their conflicts help explain extremes in human behavior.

In the 1970s and ’80s, aspects of Dr. MacLean’s model were popularized by the astronomer Carl Sagan and the novelist Arthur Koestler.

The triune brain theory remains controversial. Dr. Thomas R. Insel, a neuroscientist and director of the National Institute of Mental Health in Rockville, Md., said the theory was “outside the mainstream of scientific effort,” but added that Dr. MacLean’s research had opened the door for neuroscience to “ask big questions about consciousness and philosophy, instead of the more tractable questions about vision and movement.”

Big Clanger

gregster's picture

Kyrel,

Since you linked to Wiki, there’s been an alteration to the words you quoted.

It now reads: “The Big Bang is a well-tested scientific theory which is widely accepted within the scientific community because it is the most accurate and comprehensive explanation for the full range of phenomena astronomers observe. Since its conception, much evidence has arisen to further validate the model.”

“Abundant” has been replaced by “much.” I presume by this time next year, “much” will become “some,” or “evidence” will become “mathematical theorizing.”

Of course, Wikipedia is unreliable in many areas, due to its democratic sourcing. Try looking up another widely accepted belief – “Climate Change”
“One cause of climate change is anthropogenic global warming linked to greenhouse gas production by humans. Since the 1990s, "climate change" has often been used synonymously with human-induced global warming.”

Many believe in God- at least they’re only one god away from atheism – and that can’t lend the non-concept credence.

Here’s an oldie:
An Open Letter to the Scientific Community Published in New Scientist, May 22, 2004

“Today, virtually all financial and experimental resources in cosmology are devoted to big bang studies. Funding comes from only a few sources, and all the peer-review committees that control them are dominated by supporters of the big bang. As a result, the dominance of the big bang within the field has become self-sustaining, irrespective of the scientific validity of the theory.”

Then this one should be viewed:
http://video.google.com/videop...

That showed that predictions could be made by using the plasma cosmological model. In contrast with the Big Clanger for which no predictions have been evidenced. In fact, the joke with the Big Clanger is that dishonest scientists, usually government funded, keep modifying the theory by inventing add-ons, such as dark matter.

You will see in the above video, Wal Thornhill. Wal said Einstein was a man of integrity who was not happy with the constant he’d added to his equation, because Einstein had not accounted for electromagnetism, but focused on gravity.

More here including a tilt to Objectivism.

forensics

seymourblogger's picture

on the brain of a serial killer showed lesions from childhood on from head injuries received from his parents. Sorry I can't give you the reference. A rather famous psychiatrist and neurologist saw him, interviewed him, studied his medical records and presided over the results of the forensics performed after he had been capital punished.

Interesting report.

Sort of challenges "free will" eh.

Actually Phillip Garrido who held Jaycee Dugard captive for 18 years had a motorcycle head injury while in high school and he almost died from it. His father said he was never the same again.

Here in the Ozarks I have known a number of men who have been brain damaged in the past. and I certainly wonder about all the brain damage from the heavy use of lead in the home in the earlier part of the 20th century. Linked to Alzheimers in those older people?

Thanks

Jmaurone's picture

Thanks, Gregster. Not sure that it totally nullifies Koestler's argument (though I can see the implications, and not that it couldn't; Koestler's science is rather old), but it does looks groundbreaking...

This is from another article on the subject: "Brain Nerves Line Up Neatly"

The grids were most regular in deep brain structures, including neural pathways involved in emotion and memory. Wedeen speculates that this pattern represents a bare-bones wiring plan, which becomes more branched and convoluted in the overlying cortex of higher primates, associated with complex behaviours such as language and fine motor skills.

On a large scale, the brain probably is organized like this, agrees David Van Essen, a neurobiologist at Washington University in St. Louis. However, he thinks that the analysis probably underestimates the number of axon bundles that run at oblique angles to the grid, and which are outside the grid altogether.

Irregular wiring is probably especially common near the grey matter at the brain's surface, where the tissue wrinkles and folds. “The story is on more solid ground the deeper [into the brain] you get,” says Van Essen.

David Kleinfeld, a neurophysicist at the University of California, San Diego, says that the findings are an exciting first step. But he adds that the researchers need to verify the grid-like architecture through tissue staining and three-dimensional reconstructions of small brain samples.

Owing to technical limitations, the study was able to resolve a grid-like structure in only about one-quarter of the human brain, mostly in deep brain structures. Wedeen is currently using more sensitive imaging techniques to search for grids in the more geometrically complex regions of the human cortex, as part of the US National Institutes of Health's Human Connectome Project, which aims to map all the brain's wiring and its relation to mental health.

No ghost

gregster's picture

Again, I bring up Koestler's Ghost In the Machine. …

Joe,

Some interesting new views of the physical wiring structure are here. Now the question is, how does the operating system work?

The brain appears to be wired more like the checkerboard streets of New York City than the curvy lanes of Columbia, Md.,

[..]

In the current study, researchers performed DSI scans on postmortem brains of four types of monkeys – rhesus, owl, marmoset and galago – and in living humans. They saw the same 2D sheet structure containing parallel fibers crossing paths everywhere in all of the brains – even in local path neighborhoods. The grid structure of cortex pathways was continuous with those of lower brain structures, including memory and emotion centers. The more complex human and rhesus brains showed more differentiation between pathways than simpler species.

The development of consciousness is not "volitional"

Xray's picture

Submitted by Jmaurone on Sat, 2012-04-07 16:25.

<...> "I'd wonder whether it had more to do with something with a misunderstanding, or simply ignorance, of the brain's evolution (taking Rand at her words that she wasn't a student...)" (end quote)

Her belief that "the development of a man's consciousness is volitional" (!) and that man "must become a human being by choice" does indeed indicate misunderstanding/ignorance.

Morris's book...

Marcus's picture

...was non-fiction written by a scientist applying a theory that had already been accepted in the mainstream.

Big difference, wouldn't you say?

Anyway by mainstream I don't necessarily mean accepted. I mean it in the sense of generally known about and discussed or debated.

This alien astronomer theory has been quite well-known and talked about since the '70s. It is not accepted by the mainstream as being true though.

Best seller doesn't equal mainstream, Marcus

Ellen Stuttle's picture

http://www.daniken.com/e/index...

"Erich von Däniken, the world's most successful non-fiction writer of all time, has written 26 books on the topic and has sold over 63 million copies worldwide."

By your standards, Marcus, he's therefore mainstream science. Eye

Ellen

I believe that Morris's book...

Marcus's picture

...was an international best seller by 1969.

Although I agree, probably too late to have had an effect on Rand and her ideas.

Kyrel - and Xray

Ellen Stuttle's picture

Kryel - #197845:

"If memory serves [...]."

Did you see this post - "Rand on evolution, relativity, Big Bang," below (#107817)?

It has links to direct quotes from Rand and to other material.

--

Xray, I recommend reading that whole thread you "found" somehow -- maybe because I'd linked to it. Eye

Ellen

Desmond Morris, et al - Marcus

Ellen Stuttle's picture

Marcus - #107860:

"No mainstream thought on evolution in human behaviour?

How about Desmond Morris's "the Naked Ape" published in 1967?"

1) 1967 was ten years after Atlas was published.

2) Desmond Morris was hardly mainstream. Nor was Konrad Lorenz or Niko Tinbergen or Lionel Tiger or Robert Ardrey.

All of those had published books about the continuity of animal and human behavior by the mid-60s, and there were ethologists who were taking their works seriously, but mainstream psychology and anthropology was still environmentalist.

I was explicitly taught by psych and anthro professors at Northwestern -- which was considered a top school in both areas -- that biological evolution had pretty much stopped except for details and environmental determinants had taken over with the advent of the big brain. More or less Wallace's view, minus God intervening. The only psych professor I had who was favorably inclined to the ethologists was Donald T. Campbell -- today considered ahead of his time.

It's hard for people today, when evolutionary explanations are so much the rage, to realize how different mainstream theorizing was in the mid 20th century.

I had read all the authors I mentioned. Robert Ardrey's African Genesis was the first novel-like book I could manage to read after reading Atlas in June 1961, just after my freshman year of college. (Ardrey was a playwright and told his story dramatically, thus providing a narrative which didn't seem "too pale" by comparison to Atlas.) I was at odds with what I was taught in my college courses -- except for Don Campbell's course. Most of my professors thought my views were wrong-headed.

Ellen

No

seymourblogger's picture

I can imagine that Rand (whose focus was on man as a "heroic being") felt somehow uncomfortable with the idea of humans sharing so much evolutionary heritage with animals.

Rand felt uncomfortable with sharing so much heritage with Nietzsche, Hitler's idol.

As for the "missing link" I suggest you read Foote's book on Washoe, the chimp he taught to sign. It is a long journey of human's torturing this chimp who remained more human than the humans who "owned" her.

Washoe's mate went up in the space capsule. On leaving orbit and returning to earth, the auto got jammed and wouldn't release him to parachute out. The capsule went again around in orbit a few more times, each time it got hotter and hotter threatening to burn the chimp to death.

He overrid the controls, and manually brought it down.

A signing chimp he ended his days in a cage. Foote could not save him as he had saved Washoe. Youtube probably has the video of Foote and Hugh Downs making that visit on Downs's program. At the end of that visit the chimp signed, "I be good. I be good. Take me Take me." Footes was crying in the car with Downs afterwards.

When Washoe was in captivity after the Gardner's gave her up, when Foote had no claim on her, he suffered and began to drink a lot. He still saw Washoe and Washoe wanted to know what was wrong with him. I think she signed "sad", "unhappy" something like that. I forget. That was the intervention he needed to quit drinking and go about rescuing her.

Washoe and the chimps she now lives with, teach each other signing and teach the baby chimps signing.

Here's the story of Nim the signing chimp. Not a happy ending. http://focusfree.blogspot.com/... Again Nim is more human than many of the humans who "own" him.

I don't worry or even think about missing links anymore except to wonder if there ever was a missing link when I observe human behavior.

Nietzsche on consciousness

seymourblogger's picture

in The Genealogy of Morals

Consciousness was created by torture. Torture inscribed the body/mind with memory. Without memory there is no consciousness.

This is the essay in which Nietzsche takes on God and disposes of HIM. Genealogically.

Rand read this and was a confirmed atheist for life. She has disavowed Nietzsche at the point in life where she is asked this question. But he is seared in her mind forever, as that is the power of Nietzsche's writing: musical and poetic like rock music. You don't forget it because you don't argue with it and pick it over. It is written aphoristically and you can't do that with an aphorism. Rand wrote aphoristically BTW, another parallel with Nietzsche's inscription of her mind.

Asked about evolution and consciousness, Rand is not going to go up against Nietzsche because she agrees with him. Neither is she going to confront science about which she knows she does not know. The known unknowns as Zizek might say. Nor is she going to give Nietzsche's argument concerning the "dawn" of consciousness and I use the word dawn very figuratively. As Nietzsche says it was a long process taking eons to inscribe memory on the body/mind.

Foucault seizes upon Nietzsche's method of genealogy to apply it to human behavior and "ideals" and "concepts".

Genealogy is a powerful tool for changing your thinking.

We do not need to enter the psychological swamp as to why Rand says this or that when asked questions out of her range of knowledge. She is "not a flyswatter" to quote Nietzsche. Peikoff knows and doesn't know all this and so gets caught in the interrogation net of the questioners. Rand is fully Nietzschean to the core whether she admits it or not. She fights her master but she only wins more superficial battles than Nietzsche.

Rand and Nietzsche

seymourblogger's picture

Thus Spake Zarathustra On Old and New Tablets p. 198

There it was too that I picked up the word "overman" by the way, and that man is something that must be overcome - that man is a bridge and no end; proclaiming himself blessed in view of his noon and evening, as the way to new dawns - Zarathustra's word of the great noon, and whatever else I hung up over man like the last crimson light of evening.

Verily, I also let them see new stars along with new nights; and over clouds and day and night I still spread out laughter as a colorful tent.

Yes Rand was a non-determinist going up against Hullian and Skinnerian behaviorism. Eliminate it at your peril. It must be understood and never underestimated.

In paperback, even...

Jmaurone's picture

Kyrel: "Always nice to have things exact!"

All these quotes have been out there for years, in paperback even. There's so much more than FOUNTAINHEAD and ATLAS on the shelves. Available at a bookseller near you.

Thanks

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

Thanks Xray and Ellen Stuttle for that Rand quote on evolution! Always nice to have things exact!

Big Banger

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

Greg -- That first video is pretty interesting! Thanks for the link. Smiling I watched part 1 of 3. I'll try to check out the others later. Meanwhile, according to Wikipedia, under Big Bang:

"The Big Bang is a well-tested scientific theory which is widely accepted within the scientific community because it is the most accurate and comprehensive explanation for the full range of phenomena astronomers observe. Since its conception, abundant evidence has arisen to further validate the model." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B...

Missing Link and Ghosts in the Machine

Jmaurone's picture

X-ray: "I can imagine that Rand (whose focus was on man as a "heroic being") felt somehow uncomfortable with the idea of humans sharing so much evolutionary heritage with animals."

As demonstrated with the Branded quote in the post below, I'd wonder whether it had more to do with something with a misunderstanding, or simply ignorance, of the brain's evolution (taking Rand at her words that she wasn't a student...)

Again, I bring up Koestler's Ghost In the Machine. Going beyond the "left/right hemisphere" split, he details the tri-level brain: reptilian, mammalian, and the neocortex. Where Rand talked about integration, she made it sound "seamless," but Koestler points out that the neocortex was, in essence, "slapped on" to the other parts in a not-so-seamless way; sometimes they are in conflict, and the cortex can be "hijacked" by the animal side ("flight or fight" responses, for instance.) This goes for the "animal" side of sexuality and dominance, which clashes with man's development of rights and the principle of "non-initiation of force." That clash is seen in Rand's work, and that's why Objectivists are still split, today.

Just my theory.

Rand: "The physical is not unimportant"

Jmaurone's picture

X-ray: "I can imagine that Rand (whose focus was on man as a 'heroic being') felt somehow uncomfortable with the idea of humans sharing so much evolutionary heritage with animals."

Maybe, maybe not...I've heard that thought before, but I balance it against this bit, as well, quoted from Nathaniel Branden's A Woman's Self-Esteem: Struggles and Triumphs in the Search for Identity:

pg. 144 has this:

____________________________________________________________________________________________________
I recall a conversation I had with her in the early years of our relationship, when she was expounding on her idea of feminine hero-worship. I was in my twenties at the time. I asked her: 'Don't men worship women? I mean, the women they love?"

"Oh, I suppose so, but that's not how I would think of it. By "worship," I mean our highest capacity for admiration, reverence, looking up. I see man as superior to woman, and..."

"Oh, Ayn," I protested. You don't. You're joking!"

"I am not joking," she answered seriously.

"Superior in what? Intelligence? Creativity? Moral worth?"

"No, of course not. In spiritual or intellectual matters the sexes are equal. But man is bigger, stronger, faster-better able to cope with nature."

"You mean, at the pure physical level?"

"The physical is not unimportant." Later, I often heard her reiterate that point.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Submitted by Ellen Stuttle on

Xray's picture

Submitted by Ellen Stuttle on Thu, 2012-04-05 18:54.
"She wasn't knowledgeable about evolution, but I know of no evidence that she was hiding her views or that her followers are doing so." (end quote)

Ellen,

I just found on OL an excerpt from the Ayn Rand Letter that you posted in 2008 on the "Evolution, Creationism and Intelligent Design" thread:

[quote] http://www.objectivistliving.c.... (post #24)

THE MISSING LINK
Part II, May 21, 1973
Vol II, no. 17,
The Ayn Rand Letter

< ...>

pg. 5-6, the concluding paragraphs

I am not a student of the theory of evolution and, therefore, I am neither its supporter nor its opponent. But a certain hypothesis has haunted me for years; I want to stress that it is only a hypothesis. There is an enormous breach of continuity between man and all the other living species. The difference lies in the nature of man's consciousness, in its distinctive characteristic: his conceptual faculty. It is as if, after aeons of physiological development, the evolutionary process altered its course, and the higher stages of development focused primarily on the consciousness of living species, not their bodies. But the development of a man's consciousness is volitional: no matter what the innate degree of his intelligence, he must develop it, he must learn how to use it, he must become a human being by choice. What if he does not choose to? Then he becomes a transitional phenomenon - a desperate creature that struggles frantically against his own nature, longing for the effortless "safety" of an animal's consciousness, which he cannot recapture, and rebelling against a human consciousness, which he is afraid to achieve.

For years, scientists have been looking for a "missing link" between man and animals. Perhaps that missing link is the anti-conceptual mentality. [/end quote]

I can imagine that Rand (whose focus was on man as a "heroic being") felt somehow uncomfortable with the idea of humans sharing so much evolutionary heritage with animals.

No Big Bang

gregster's picture

To quote a comment from youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

When Giordano Bruno proclaimed that the sun is at the center of the solar system and that the universe was infinite, he was burned at the stake as a heretic by the Roman Inquisition. The new inquisition is the "scientific" establishment and Their Big Bang theory is nothing more than religion disguised as science. It was proposed by a catholic priest named Georges Lemaitre and he based this theory off of his interpretation of the Biblical creation myth. But the priesthood of the Bang has no actual evidence to support their theory. There's no reason to think that the universe ever had a beginning, it is infinite and has always existed. Matter can not be created or destroyed.

Kyrel, you're on the side of the religionists on the big bang. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

No mainstream thought on evolution in human behaviour?

Marcus's picture

How about Desmond Morris's "the Naked Ape" published in 1967?

AR's Relationship to Science

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

Tom -- You're right that AR's views on this need to be far better documented; and then very openly and honestly discussed. If memory serves, I think she only wrote one or two public sentences revealing her curious (and ominous) agnosticism on species Evolution. Her views on Relativity and the Big Bang she seemingly deliberately kept private -- perhaps so as not to be compared to her views on Evolution. I've discussed all this on other Objectivist forums, and the well-educated don't seem to challenge it. Maybe I or they got our facts from the two 2009 AR bios. Or maybe it's just generally known. Well-documented sources and evidence of her serious doubts on these three seminal scientific subjects are important, but unfortunately I don't have them readily at my disposal. I'm also curious to hear what other leading Objectivist intellectuals think of these three and of Rand.

For the record, I believe in all three!

There might be

Ellen Stuttle's picture

something to the notion that Rand got from Nietzsche her idea that humans have to choose to be human.

Janet is correct that Darwinism was very non-mainstream as an explanation of human behavior in the mid-20th century. A point I've made a number of times is that where Rand parted company from the mainstream of psychological thought at the time she was writing Atlas was in being non-determinist, not in being non-nativist.

Ellen

Tom the thread with anonymous was in 09

seymourblogger's picture

It is interesting but has serious flaws.

This can be cleared up by reading Nietzsche. In Thus Spake Zarathustra the ideas you are arguing about here are in close juxtaposition in the text. She gets the idea of the highly evolved human - man of course - from there and from Nietzsche as he discusses the Overman for the first time. It's not in front of me or I would give you the page. Sorry.

Rand was not going to get into this as she knows Nietzsche's Genealogy of Morals very well and Nietzsche is quite clear in rejecting evolutionary theory in explaining human behavior. Nietzsche rejects Evolutionary Theory by omitting it in his essay. He is aware very much so of different orders - categories - of argument. He does not make those mistakes as anonymous does in his comment. Rand will only confront Nietzsche in certain areas of thought where she has taken a position and fortified it. She will not be so foolish as to argue against him ad hoc. She knows very well the power of Nietzsche's words.

And Nietzsche, as Babette Babich the great Nietzschean scholar in taking him to the woodshed over anti-semitism, completely convinces the reader how Nietzsche "infiltrated" the minds of his readers with his superlative use of rhetoric, convincing them of the opposite of what he really meant. He was completely opposed to war, for cultural reasons, not on the basis of rights. Nietzsche's words had the power of penetrating someone's mind and thinking, becoming a permanent part of their thinking, without their ever being aware of it. This is akin to the power of the Bible heard read aloud from childhood into adulthood which possesses certain people.

Baudrillard discusses how this occurred for him, and when reading Baurillard on this we know that Rand was also seduced in the same way. If you have read Nietzsche then read Baudrillard, you will feel Nietzsche all through his writing even tho he rarely mentions him. If you have read Baudrillard first, then read Nietzsche, you will feel Baudrillard in page after page of Nietzsche resonating again and again. As a reader it becomes impossible to separate them.

Which makes Babette Babich's work on Nietzsche so astounding. She knows him as Baudrillard does, but has not been taken over by him as Baudrillard and Rand were.

Kyrel

seymourblogger's picture

She was a well educated woman under the Soviet system and except for Nietzsche which she continued to read from an early age into middle age, she did not learn from highly regarded experts in their field. She learned history from Isabel Patterson,via long discussions through the night, something else from someone else and her education was patched together from the beginning of her life in the US. When she researched for a book she had a very penetrating eye. She could have been a major scholar. Thank god she was not.

Darwin and evolution is very much up for grabs. Physics is in a very confused state right now.

In the 50's the class of people who attended NBI were fed up with the bureaucracy. They were not particularly well educated. Just like the people here in fact. But absolutely convinced that they are in the know. And unteachable except by authoritarian methods by someone they have decided to follow.

Tom

seymourblogger's picture

As for the idea that Rand was anti-science, that seems nuts. I recall reading her essay on the Apollo space programme - hardly the sort of essay that someone would write if they were "anti-science"

The Apollo Space program was NOT science. It was technology. 2 different things. 2 different orders.

Neither you or I know how far she read about physics, chemistry, biology, and other sectors. I haven't read her Journals to know what sort of background reading she did on certain topics.

Suffice to say her personal library was very mediocre. She was not a well read person. That she read science beyond the popular zines and books is doubtful. In the 50's evolution - Darwin - was not mainstream as it is now. I have read her Journals and there is nothing in them to suggest she was scientifically literate.

The core of Rand’s metaphysics—that existence is identity, and that an entity’s identity consists of the values of its
attributes—can be understood as an extension of Pauli’s exclusion principle to all existents."

That's one hellava jump there Tom. Whew! But kinda typical of the way an "objectivist" thinks out loud. God I'd hate to hear one think to themselves when they thought no one could hear. ...........

You all would do better rereading Zizek's article in JARS 2002 on Rand. Now there's brilliance. And complementary.

Rand on evolution, relativity, and the Big Bang

Ellen Stuttle's picture

Tom,

See this post by me on the OL thread "Rand through a Nietzsche filter." It has the exact, approved-by-Rand transcript of her (sparse) remarks on the subject of evolution from her last Ford Hall Forum speech (April 26, 1981), "The Age of Mediocrity." It also contains a link to an exact transcript of excerpts from her 1973 Ayn Rand Letter piece titled "The Missing Link."

She wasn't knowledgeable about evolution, but I know of no evidence that she was hiding her views or that her followers are doing so.

On relativity, one of the few hints is something she said on pg. 303 of the Expanded Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. See this thread started by me, titled "Einstein Method, Rand Misunderstanding," on OL.

I suspect that where Rand got the misunderstanding was through Leonard Peikoff's giving her a garbled version of what my husband tried to explain to Leonard at a lunch at Brooklyn Poly. (I was present at the lunch and could see that Leonard wasn't following the explanation.)

On the Big Bang, I don't know off-hand if she said something about that. Harriman is very negative about it, but partly for incorrect reasons (the idea that it was proposed as a creationist theory). I think that, increasingly, there are good reasons to doubt that "the Big Bang" (actually big very rapid initial expansion) happened, but the problems producing those reasons have mostly come up since Rand's death. If she doubted the Big Bang, I suspect that she doubted for philosophic not scientific reasons, but I'm guessing on that one.

Ellen

Kyrel - evidence please.

Tom Burroughes's picture

Kyrel, if she kept her views private (not even in her Journals?), how do you know what her views were? What are your sources? I would like to know.

Given what I and others have already written on this board, it seems unlikely, in the absence of hard evidence (this is an objectivist site, remember!) that she doubted the plausibility of evolution, which would imply her support for creationism. And on some of these questions, I have not seen or heard people say what her views were one way or the other. But it smells a bit rum to me: this is a person, remember, who beat up on religion as mysticism several times, interviewed scientists, praised scientific achievement, wrote about the achievements of said (the space programme, etc). Your accusations don't seem to be based on anything very definite. In the absence of such definite evidence, to say what you did seems blatantly unjust.

As for whether "docile, servile, submissive" followers are covering up some dark secret, well, you really need to provide some proof of what her views were, before being so quick to accuse people of dishonesty and cowardice in supposedly "covering them up".

As Alwyas, Open Discussion is the Answer

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

Tom -- Rand didn't publicly discuss her very surprising views on evolution, relativity, and the Big Bang, almost at all. She kept them private. And her docile, servile, submissive followers hushed it up too. That strikes me as cowardly and dishonest all around.

It's possibly legitimate -- and not necessarily irrational or anti-science -- for Objectivists to doubt all three scientific theories and conclusions. But not secretly.

Rand and Elvis and Einstein

Jmaurone's picture

Marcus: "One which I have read was in The Voice of Reason, I think. Rand defended the fact that Elvis Presley earned more than Einstein. Her beginning premise was that what Einstein did was of much higher value than Elvis."

Rand: "[An] objection is usually expressed by a question such as: “Why should Elvis Presley make more money than Einstein?” The answer is: Because men work in order to support and enjoy their own lives—and if many men find value in Elvis Presley, they are entitled to spend their money on their own pleasure. Presley’s fortune is not taken from those who do not care for his work (I am one of them) nor from Einstein—nor does he stand in Einstein’s way—nor does Einstein lack proper recognition and support in a free society, on an appropriate intellectual level."

“What Is Capitalism?”
Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, 27

Regarding Einstein...

Marcus's picture

...Rand definitely admired him and his science.

One which I have read was in The Voice of Reason, I think. Rand defended the fact that Elvis Presley earned more than Einstein. Her beginning premise was that what Einstein did was of much higher value than Elvis.

Secondly someone recently quoted a letter Rand had written to a fan about how removed from the priniciple of causality modern physics had become, but that Einstein (being one of the good guys) was critical of it.

Kyrel, thanks for the

Tom Burroughes's picture

Kyrel, thanks for the response.

I honestly don't know what Rand's views were on some scientific questions since they did not come up in her writings (if others want to enlighten me, please do post on this thread ). For instance, I am not aware what her view was on the Big Bang, or of certain other ideas relating to cosmology. As for relativity, again, I am not sure about that - are there any of her writings you can cite? I think part of the problem is that she might have been put off by some of those people who, when writing about Einstein and his ideas, tried to impose their own, subjectivist views onto what Einstein was saying about relativity. In Paul Johnson's "Modern Times" history of the 20th Century, he points out how some people falsely used Einstein's ideas to justify what Johnson calls moral relativism. Rather like Darwin's ideas were, again falsely, used to justify "social Darwinism". It is quite possible that AR smelled a rat and as a result, falsely scorned what Einstein did. But it seems unlikely, given her conversations with nuclear scientist when she was researching a book project in the item I quoted.

BTW, one of my all-time heroes of science is Richard Feynman. He was not an objectivist but his essays and talks on science, the methods of science, are enthralling and also, in the right way, very funny. We need more people like him.

Rand and Science

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

Tom -- Like almost all Objectivists, I have an incredibly high opinion of AR's Apollo 11 essay. At other times, in her fiction and essays, she also seems plenty pro-science. Maybe I'll read that long Journal of Ayn Rand Studies essay you cite.

But Rand seemed to doubt evolution, relativity, and the Big Bang. That's a helluva trio to be agnostic about! Very very few men of reason and men of science in her era had such doubts. And evidently precious few Objectivists.

I worship science! Almost as much as I worship reason. AR seemed not to. Puzzled

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