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Praise for Yes or No Philosophy

Feedback on my new philosophy education product, Yes or No Philosophy, is positive so far.

Kate Sams in Fallible Ideas discussion:

“yes-or-no philosophy” is great → http://fallibleideas.com/yes-or-no-philosophy

big thanks to Elliot for creating it!

so far i’ve only finished the ~2.5 hour video part, yet have spent over 10 hours thinking and taking notes on the material in the video. there’s a lot of content just in the video itself.

similar to lots of objectivist ideas, yes-or-no philosophy is very applicable to the lives of regular people (i.e. non-professional philosophers) who want to improve at thinking and making choices. so far, it’s just what i hoped it would be.

one thing i’m looking forward to is getting more practice at using the ideas consistently in my daily life. the decision chart idea is terrific. i’ve used it a few times already and it worked great.

i think yes-or-no’s emphasis on clarity and precision (both on the purpose or problem side of things and the candidate ideas side of things) is huge.

it can help you catch when your purpose is flawed, e.g. you are pursuing a bad value.

it can help you catch rationalizations and bias.

it can help you not ignore stray ideas which are hanging around on the periphery of your awareness which you should be considering and which deserve a clear, explicit refutation if you aren’t going to act on them.

it can help you then act with confidence on your judgment. if you are used to acting on fudged approximations, then i think it's easier to just passively drift along. but if you have clear, precise thinking which cuts to the heart of the matter resulting in one clear, nonrefuted idea to act on, then it’s easier to act decisively and confidently on it.

decisively ruling out ideas with clear thinking sets you up to be able to act decisively and direct your life better.

Elliot Temple on August 10, 2017

Comments (15)

John Galt in _Atlas Shrugged_ by Ayn Rand:

> A process of reason is a process of constant choice in answer to the question: True or False?—Right or Wrong? Is a seed to be planted in soil in order to grow—right or wrong? Is a man's wound to be disinfected in order to save his life—right or wrong? Does the nature of atmospheric electricity permit it to be converted into kinetic power—right or wrong? It is the answers to such questions that gave you everything you have—and the answers came from a man's mind, a mind of intransigent devotion to that which is right.

Anonymous at 10:38 AM on August 10, 2017 | #8930

> "Francisco," she asked, when she brought him home, "what would your father say about this, if he knew?"

> "My father would ask whether I was good at the job or not. That's all he'd want to know."

Anonymous at 10:55 AM on August 10, 2017 | #8931
"Look," said Rearden. "Now I'll ask you a question: did your scientists decide that Rearden Metal is not what I claim it is?"
"We have not committed ourselves as to that."
"Did they decide it's no good?"
"It is the social impact of a product that must be considered. We are thinking in terms of the country as a whole, we are concerned with the public welfare and the terrible crisis of the present moment, which—"
"Is Rearden Metal good or not?"
"If we view the picture from the angle of the alarming growth of unemployment, which at present—"
"Is Rearden Metal good?"
"At a time of desperate steel shortage, we cannot afford to permit the expansion of a steel company which produces too much, because it might throw out of business the companies which produce too little, thus creating an unbalanced economy which—"
"Are you going to answer my question?"

Ayn Rand at 10:56 AM on August 10, 2017 | #8932
"I don't give a damn about your opinion. I am not going to argue with you, with your Board or with your professors. You have a choice to make and you're going to make it now. Just say yes or no."
"That's a preposterous, high-handed, arbitrary way of-—"
"Yes or no?"
"That's the trouble with you. You always make it 'Yes' or 'No.' Things are never absolute like that. Nothing is absolute."
"Metal rails are. Whether we get them or not, is."
She waited. He did not answer.

Ayn Rand at 10:57 AM on August 10, 2017 | #8933
"Are you asking me to help him stage a fraud of that kind?"
"You don't have to put it that way."
"Is it a fraud—or isn't it?"
"That's why I can't talk to you—because you're not human. You have no pity, no feeling for your brother, no compassion for his feelings."
"Is it a fraud or not?"
"You have no mercy for anybody."
"Do you think that a fraud of this kind would be just?"
"You're the most immoral man living—you think of nothing but justice! You don't feel any love at all!"

Ayn Rand at 11:03 AM on August 10, 2017 | #8934
"A middle ground between you and your murderers?"
"Now why use such words?”
"What I said at the trial, was it true or not?"
"It's going to be misquoted and misunderstood."
"Was it true or not?"
"The public is too dumb to grapple with such issues."
"Was it true or not?"

Ayn Rand at 11:05 AM on August 10, 2017 | #8935
AS, Galt asking Dagny if she'll stay at the gulch:

> "Yes or no, Miss Taggart?"

Anonymous at 11:08 AM on August 10, 2017 | #8936
"This, in every hour and every issue, is your basic moral choice: thinking or non-thinking, existence or non-existence, A or non-A, entity or zero.

Ayn Rand at 11:09 AM on August 10, 2017 | #8937
"The man who refuses to judge, who neither agrees nor disagrees, who declares that there are no absolutes and believes that he escapes responsibility, is the man responsible for all the blood that is now spilled in the world. Reality is an absolute, existence is an absolute, a speck of dust is an absolute and so is a human life. Whether you live or die is an absolute. Whether you have a piece of bread or not, is an absolute. Whether you eat your bread or see it vanish into a looter's stomach, is an absolute.
"There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil. The man who is wrong still retains some respect for truth, if only by accepting the responsibility of choice.
But the man in the middle is the knave who blanks out the truth in order to pretend that no choice or values exist, who is willing to sit out the course of any battle, willing to cash in on the blood of the innocent or to crawl on his belly to the guilty, who dispenses justice by condemning both the robber and the robbed to jail, who solves conflicts by ordering the thinker and the fool to meet each other halfway. In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit. In that transfusion of blood which drains the good to feed the evil, the compromiser is the transmitting rubber tube.

Ayn Rand at 11:11 AM on August 10, 2017 | #8939
Man has a single basic choice: to think or not, and that is the gauge of his virtue.

Ayn Rand at 11:12 AM on August 10, 2017 | #8940

Dagny literally shoots a man for not deciding "yes or no"

"But I can't decide! Why me?"
"Because it's your body that's barring my way."
"But I can't decide! I'm not supposed to decide!"
"I'll count to three," she said. "Then I’ll shoot."
"Wait! Wait! I haven't said *yes or no*!" he cried, cringing tighter against the door, as if immobility of mind and body were his best protection, "One—" she counted; she could see his eyes staring at her in terror —"Two—" she could see that the gun held less terror for him than the alternative she offered—"Three."
Calmly and impersonally, she, who would have hesitated to fire at an animal, pulled the trigger and fired straight at the heart of a man who had wanted to exist without the responsibility of consciousness.

Atlas Shrugged (emphasis added) at 11:15 AM on August 10, 2017 | #8941

Roark rejecting the big commission

“You understand the situation, Mr. Roark?”
“Yes,” said Roark. His eyes were lowered. He was looking down at the drawings.
Roark did not answer.
“Yes or no, Mr. Roark?”
Roark’s head leaned back. He closed his eyes.
“No,” said Roark.

Ayn Rand at 11:18 AM on August 10, 2017 | #8942

Peter Keating deciding to Marry Dominique

“You don’t want me to say anything now, except yes or no?”
“That’s all.”
He sat looking up at her for a long time. Her glance was on his eyes, but it had no more reality than the glance of a portrait. He felt alone in the room. She stood, patient, waiting, granting him nothing, not even the kindness of prompting him to hurry.
“All right, Dominique. Yes,” he said at last.

Ayn Rand at 11:19 AM on August 10, 2017 | #8943

Wynand is asked a yes or no question, too

“Quiet, gentlemen, quiet! Wynand, this is final: we switch policy on Cortlandt, we take Harding, Allen and Falk back, and we save the wreck. *Yes or no?*
There was no answer.
“Wynand, you know it’s that—or you have to close the Banner. You can’t keep this up, even if you bought us all out. Give in or close the Banner. You had better give in.”
Wynand heard that. He had heard it through all the speeches. He had heard it for days before the meeting. He knew it better than any man present. Close the Banner.
He saw a single picture: the new masthead rising over the door of the Gazette.
“You had better give in.”
He made a step back. It was not a wall behind him. It was only the side of his chair.
He thought of the moment in his bedroom when he had almost pulled a trigger. He knew he was pulling it now.
“All right,” he said.

Ayn Rand (emphasis added) at 11:21 AM on August 10, 2017 | #8944

>She stood, patient, waiting, granting him nothing, not even the kindness of prompting him to hurry.

heh, people might think that being prompted to hurry would be unkind, but second-handers like Keating depend on and are grateful for social prompts and signals like this.

Rand is just so good. almost every sentence is a treasure.

kate at 4:57 PM on August 10, 2017 | #8946

What do you think?

(This is a free speech zone!)