Washington Metro Objectivism Discussion (WMOD)

		      December 1996 Meeting


			by Keith Lynch
You are a success.  You earn lots of money.  You create buildings,
inventions, or writings that will gain you fame for centuries.  You
help inaugurate a free society.

Why?  To benefit your own life.

And then you die, and can enjoy none of this.

Does it have to be this way?  Is there any alternative?

Keith Lynch will argue that there is.

Fifty years ago, if you were found without a heartbeat, you would be
pronounced dead.  Today, you would merely be considered very sick.
Very likely, CPR and other techniques could restore you to good health.

Today, a person whom doctors have just pronounced dead might be considered
merely very sick by the medicine of fifty years from now.  The only problem
is getting the patient of today to the medicine of tomorrow.

That's where cryonics comes in.  Cryonics is *not* freezing the "dead"
in hopes of "resurrection".  Cryonics is a slow ambulance, transporting
seriously ill patients to a hospital not yet built, staffed by doctors
not yet born, trained in techniques not yet invented.

There are excellent reasons to believe that within a few decades, we
will have the technology to manipulate individual atoms at will.  This
would allow anyone to be cured of anything, so long as a healthy state
of that person can be deduced from what's present.  This will not only
mean that people frozen immediately after legal death can be restored
to health.  It will also mean an end to cancer, heart disease, all
infectious diseases including AIDS, and the degeneration of old age.

This may sound utopian.  In a sense it is.  But no more so than the end
of slavery, smallpox, and mass starvation.  Or the existence of nuclear
power, the Internet, and space travel.  Or even telephones and electric
lights and motors.  Who would have believed, two centuries ago, that
such things were possible?  What might be possible in another century
or two?

In addition to cryonics, Keith is interested in Science Fiction,  
the Net, Lojban, programming, science, math, history, classical music, 
warmth, cycling, space exploration and colonization, nanotechnology,
archiving information, ham radio, extropians, liberty, and Objectivism.
He is opposed to big government, psychiatry, tobacco, cold,
ice, drunk drivers, drivers who think bikes don't belong on the road, 
destroying information, and rock music.

	  When and Where is the WMOD Meeting?

Join us on Wednesday 12/18.  You can either join us for
dinner at 7 pm and/or for the discussion at 8:15 pm at the
Fortune Chinese Restaurant at Baileys  Xroads, VA on Route 7
between 7 Corners and Columbia Pike (5900  Leesburg Pike
703/998-8888). You can take METRO to the West Falls  Church
stop and then take METRO buses 29A or 29B East on Route 7
toward Baileys Xroads. The Fortune is on this route. After
the meeting we can give you a ride back to a METRO station.
WMOD has arranged for a $15 fixed price dinner (including
tax and tip).  Or you can order from the menu.  Please RSVP
to WMOD (703) 820-7696 before noon Wednesday 12/18 so that we
can tell the restaurant how many tables to set up.

Unfortunately, email gremlins prevented at least half the
WMOD email list from receiving the last meeting announcement,
so it is repeated below:

		      November 1996 Meeting

		   The Essence of Objectivism 
		       by David Saum

Although the question of the essence of Objectivism has been 
dealt with by Rand, Peikoff and Kelley, further analysis of 
this crucial question is desirable since it may yield further 
insights into the significance of Rand's work.  This is not 
just an abstract question of academic interest since its answer 
determines who is an Objectivist and what constitutes new 
Objectivist thought. This talk will review the past analysis 
and attempt a critical analysis of it.  

The critical analysis will include several interrelated aspects 
of this problem:

a. Definition of Essence - The dictionary suggests that multiple 
meanings can be given to the term "essence" when it is applied to 
systems of ideas.  Is the essence of a system of ideas the major 
positions taken by this system, or is it the most fundamental 
positions that can be shown to give rise to the other ideas system? 

b. Essence of Other Objective Systems of Ideas - Modern science is 
probably the most successful objective system of ideas, and yet the 
question of the essence of science is rarely asked.  The history 
of science suggests that the scientific method is the essence of 
science, rather than any set of discoveries, no matter how fundamental.

c. Hierarchy and Essence - Objectivism holds that human knowledge 
is hierarchical, and this certainly applies to the system of 
Objectivism itself.  This suggests that only ideas from the most 
fundamental divisions of philosophy could be part of its essence.

d. Objectivity and Essence - What is the relation of the method 
of objectivity and the essence of Objectivism?  Since objectivity 
is a commitment to focus on reality, it can not have a more primary 
commitment to a set of conclusions about reality unless they are 
very fundamental.

This line of analysis suggests that the essence of Objectivism 
is the method of objectivity and not any set of Rand's conclusions 
in the major areas of philosophy.  In conclusion, some implications 
of this hypothesis are considered.

(Before the meeting you might read the chapter "Objectivism" in 
David Kelley's  "Truth and Toleration")

	  WMOD Contact Information

The WMOD newsletter is $10/yr,  email newsletter is free.

Contact: Dave Saum
PO Box 8007
Falls Church, VA 22041
Email: DSaum at infiltec.com, Phone: 703/820-7696, FAX: 703/671-9350
Web: http//www.infiltec.com/wmod.htm

----------- "Sapere aude" (dare to know) -------------------

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