Tag Archive: Philosophy


Ayn Rand On Thanksgiving

Some Thoughts On Thanksgiving, From Ayn Rand

 

 

” On Thanksgiving Day, I’d like to share two selections from Ayn Rand’s writings. First, her description of the holiday’s significance (from an article called “Cashing In on Hunger” published in the Ayn Rand Letter):

Thanksgiving is a typically American holiday. In spite of its religious form (giving thanks to God for a good harvest), its essential, secular meaning is a celebration of successful production. It is a producers’ holiday. The lavish meal is a symbol of the fact that abundant consumption is the result and reward of production. Abundance is (or was and ought to be) America’s pride—just as it is the pride of American parents that their children need never know starvation.”

 

 

 

 

 

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11 Brain-Twisting Paradoxes

Head Scratching Time

 

 

 

 

 

” Paradoxes have been around since the time of Ancient Greeks & the credit of popularizing them goes to recent logicians. Using logic you can usually find a fatal flaw in the paradox which shows why the seemingly impossible is either possible or the entire paradox is built on flawed thinking. Can you all work out the problems in each of the 11 paradoxes shown here? If you do, post your solutions or the fallacies in the comments.

 

#10 – The Sorites’ Paradox

 

The paradox goes as follows: consider a heap of sand from which grains are individually removed. One might construct the argument, using premises, as follows:
 
1,000,000 grains of sand is a heap of sand. (Premise 1)
A heap of sand minus one grain is still a heap. (Premise 2)
Repeated applications of Premise 2 (each time starting with one less grain), eventually forces one to accept the conclusion that a heap may be composed of just one grain of sand.
 
On the face of it, there are some ways to avoid this conclusion. One may object to the first premise by denying 1,000,000 grains of sand makes a heap. But 1,000,000 is just an arbitrarily large number, and the argument will go through with any such number. So the response must deny outright that there are such things as heaps. Peter Unger defends this solution. Alternatively, one may object to the second premise by stating that it is not true for all collections of grains that removing one grain from it still makes a heap. Or one may accept the conclusion by insisting that a heap of sand can be composed of just one grain.”

Happy 197th Birthday John Stuart Mill

 

 

 

Early Years

” Under the tutelage of his imposing father, himself a historian and economist, John Stuart Mill began his intellectual journey at an early age, starting his study of Greek at the age of three and Latin at eight. Mill’s father was a proponent of Jeremy Bentham’s philosophy of utilitarianism, and John Stuart Mill began embracing it himself in his middle teens.

  Born in 1806, John Stuart Mill was the eldest son of James Mill and Harriet Barrow (whose influence on Mill was vastly overshadowed by that of his father). A struggling man of letters, James Mill wrote History of British India (1818), and the work landed him a coveted position in the East India Company, where he rose to the post of chief examiner. When not carrying out his administrative duties, James Mill spent considerable time educating his son John, who began to learn Greek at age three and Latin at age eight. By the age of 14, John was extremely well versed in the Greek and Latin classics; had studied world history, logic and mathematics; and had mastered the basics of economic theory, all of which was part of his father’s plan to make John Stuart Mill a young proponent of the views of the philosophical radicals.

  By his late teens, Mill spent many hours editing Jeremy Bentham’s manuscripts, and he threw himself into the work of the philosophic radicals (still guided by his father). He also founded a number of intellectual societies and began to contribute to periodicals, including the Westminster Review (which was founded by Bentham and James Mill). In 1823, his father secured him a junior position in the East India Company, and he, like his father before him, rose in the ranks, eventually taking his father’s position of chief examiner.”

 

 

 

 

Career

 

” It was not until 1843 that John Stuart Mill became known as a philosopher. In this same year he published System of Logic, Ratiocinative and Inductive, his most systematic work.

Whatever is known to us by consciousness, is known beyond possibility of question. What one sees or feels, whether bodily or mentally, one cannot but be sure that one sees or feels. No science is required for the purpose of establishing such truths; no rules of art can render our knowledge of them more certain than it is in itself. There is no logic for this portion of our knowledge. But we may fancy that we see or feel what we in reality infer.

  Attacking “intuitionist” philosophy, he argues in favour of logic as the most adequate method of proof. Despite the fact that truth “may seem to be apprehended intuitively,” Mill stresses the fact that, “it has long been ascertained that what is perceived by the eye, is at most nothing more than a variously colored surface.” It thus the object of logic to “distinguish between things proved and things not proved, between what is worthy and what is unworthy of belief.”

  In 1848, Mill published Principles of Political Economy, which soon became the most important text of his time. The book examines the conditions of production, namely labour and nature. Following Ricardo and Malthus, he emphasizes the possibility of change and social improvement and examines environmental protection needs. In order for these to be obtained, he considers a limitation of both economic growth and population growth, as the polis itself is indispensable. Furthermore, Mill argued in favour of worker-owned cooperatives, which clearly reflect his views.

  On Liberty, published in 1859, caused the greatest controversy of John Stuart Mill’s career and has since become a classic of liberal thought. Written and developed in close collaboration with his wife, Harriet Taylor, Mill examines the nature of power and argues for an absolute freedom of thought and speech. For Mill it is only through such “freedom” that human progress can be attained and preserved. As he states: “The subject of this Essay is not the so-called Liberty of the Will, […] but Civil, or Social Liberty: the nature and limits of the power which can be legitimately exercised by society over the individual.” He thus asserts a„very simple principle“: “that the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others[…] The only part of the conduct of any one, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.” “

 

 

 

File:J S Mill and H Taylor.jpg

 

 

 

Philosophy

 

 

Liberty

 

” John Stuart Mill’s view on liberty, which was influenced by Joseph Priestley and Josiah Warren, is that the individual ought to be free to do as he wishes unless he harms others. Individuals are rational enough to make decisions about their good being and choose any religion they want to. Government should interfere when it is for the protection of society. Mill explains,

“The sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinion of others, to do so would be wise, or even right…The only part of the conduct of anyone, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns him, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.”

 

 

Freedom of speech 

 

An influential advocate of freedom of speech, Mill objected to censorship. He says:

I choose, by preference the cases which are least favourable to me – In which the argument opposing freedom of opinion, both on truth and that of utility, is considered the strongest. Let the opinions impugned be the belief of God and in a future state, or any of the commonly received doctrines of morality… But I must be permitted to observe that it is not the feeling sure of a doctrine (be it what it may) which I call an assumption of infallibility. It is the undertaking to decide that question for others, without allowing them to hear what can be said on the contrary side. And I denounce and reprobate this pretension not the less if it is put forth on the side of my most solemn convictions. However, positive anyone’s persuasion may be, not only of the faculty but of the pernicious consequences, but (to adopt expressions which I altogether condemn) the immorality and impiety of opinion. – yet if, in pursuance of that private judgement, though backed by the public judgement of his country or contemporaries, he prevents the opinion from being heard in its defence, he assumes infallibility. And so far from the assumption being less objectionable or less dangerous because the opinion is called immoral or impious, this is the case of all others in which it is most fatal. “

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Stuart Mill Major Publications

 

“Two Letters on the Measure of Value” 1822 “The Traveller”
“Questions of Population” 1823 “Black Dwarf”
“War Expenditure” 1824 Westminster Review
“Quarterly Review – Political Economy” 1825 Westminster Review
“Review of Miss Martineau’s Tales” 1830 Examiner
“The Spirit of the Age” 1831 Examiner
“Use and Abuse of Political Terms” 1832
“What is Poetry” 1833, 1859
“Rationale of Representation” 1835
“De Tocqueville on Democracy in America [i]“ 1835
“State of Society In America” 1836
“Civilization” 1836
“Essay on Bentham” 1838
“Essay on Coleridge” 1840
“Essays On Government” 1840
“De Tocqueville on Democracy in America [ii]“ 1840
A System of Logic 1843
Essays on Some Unsettled Questions of Political Economy 1844
“Claims of Labour” 1845 Edinburgh Review
The Principles of Political Economy: with some of their applications to social philosophy 1848
“The Negro Question” 1850 Fraser’s Magazine
“Reform of the Civil Service” 1854
Dissertations and Discussions 1859
A Few Words on Non-intervention 1859
On Liberty 1859
‘Thoughts on Parliamentary Reform 1859
Considerations on Representative Government 1861
“Centralisation” 1862 Edinburgh Review
“The Contest in America” 1862 Harper’s Magazine
Utilitarianism 1863
An Examination of Sir William Hamilton‘s Philosophy 1865
Auguste Comte and Positivism 1865
Inaugural Address at St. Andrews – Rectorial Inaugural Address at the University of St. Andrews, concerning the value of culture 1867
“Speech In Favor of Capital Punishment”[44][45] 1868
England and Ireland 1868
“Thornton on Labor and its Claims” 1869 Fortnightly Review
The Subjection of Women 1869
Chapters and Speeches on the Irish Land Question 1870
On Nature 1874
Autobiography of John Stuart Mill 1873
Three Essays on Religion 1874
On Social Freedom: or the Necessary Limits of Individual Freedom Arising Out of the Conditions of Our Social Life 1907 “Oxford and Cambridge Review”
“Notes on N.W. Senior’s Political Economy” 1945 Economica

 

 

 

 

Further Reading & Resources

 

John Stuart Mill (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

MillJohn Stuart [Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy]

John Stuart Mill – Philosophy Pages

John Stuart Mill – Utilitarianism

John Stuart Mill : Biography – Spartacus Educational

John Stuart Mill – The ultimate collection of online works, papers …

John Stuart Mill – Papers and essays on his philosophy

John Stuart Mill: On Liberty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20 Mental Barriers You Should Let Go Of

 

 

 

 

” 1. Let go of attachments: According to Buddhist Philosophy, attachment is one of the roots of all suffering. I can’t agree more. We attach ourselves to all sorts of things even the most self-slapping stupid notions in the universe. Are you attached to something? How much are you attached? Is it keeping you back from something? Is it making you suffer? Look at it straight through – break the illusion. Know that every attachment can be detached.

2. Let go of guilt: Guilt has absolutely no function whatsoever. Think about it – what could guilt possibly resolve? It just holds you imprisoned to self-mortification and sorrow.

3. Let go of Negative thinking: Pessimistic thoughts and negative attitudes keep you locked in a dark aura that permeates in everything you do. It’s a dangerous line to follow. Know that thoughts influence the world around us. Enough said

4. Let go of self-criticism: Many times we are our biggest pain in the neck. We criticize ourselves with the best of intentions but then go over the acceptable limit. Criticism then turns to disempowering messages. Let go of it and be kind and gentle to yourself.”

20 Observations About Human Nature That Liberals Would Probably Disagree With

 

 

 

 

 

 

My latest Townhall column is called, 20 Observations About Human Nature That Liberals Would Probably Disagree With. Here’s an excerpt from the column.

1) Working hard, being self-reliant and taking responsibility for your own life are good for you and will make you much happier than having too much leisure time, being overly dependent and giving others responsibility for your life.

2) The more a behavior is rewarded with attention, fame, sympathy or money, the more of it we’ll see. We recognize this almost instinctively when it comes to good behaviors, but we also tend to almost habitually block it out when it comes to behaviors we don’t want to encourage.

3) There’s nothing shameful about being poor — but, if you stay poor over the long haul in a country like America, you’re doing something wrong.

 

A Lecture By Ayn Rand

 

 

“An exposition of capitalism and of the crucial question its enemies evade.”

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