Ooddities

2001-12-11

Hanging out at Peter Millard's house for one of our regular Jabber "hackfest" sessions. It's pretty strange that Peter, Dizzy, and I all live at almost the exact same longitude (within a few blocks of each other in the east-west pantheon of Denver streets). These guys are many miles north of me, though.

I was thinking on the way up here about one of the many essays I plan to write, this one entitled "Anarchy, State, and Objectivism". I think maybe there's something rather screwy about the Randian conception of human nature, which leads to some oddities in her view of politics (among other things). The standard Randian/Aristotelian line is that "man is a rational animal", but based on some recent reading I've been doing (Jared Diamond Guns, Germs and Steel and Edward O. Wilson's Consilience) I'd say that humans must at least be rational apes (Jared Diamond has also written a book entitled The Third Chimpanzee). Aristotle, for all his insights into biological thought, didn't know about Darwin or even Linnaeus. Humans are not just generic animals, and to categorize humans in the genus "animal" is bad epistemology. Wilson talks about "epigenetic" rules of human behavior that are part of human nature, but if we think of humans as mere rational animals we miss out on those aspects of human behavior. Right now this is only a quick thought I had -- I'll need to reflect on this more fully and follow up on some of the implications.


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