Saturday, November 15, 2014

[Gay] Marriage Legal in South Carolina


The ban against same-sex marriage in South Carolina has just been overturned by Circuit Courts.  Barring further legal action, Colleen Condon and Nicholas Bleckley will soon be granted a marriage license from SC.

I'm happy to see that most of my fellow South Carolinians have come to their senses.  Homosexuality is a real thing.  There is such a thing as gay people (or bi or whatever).  They're just like that.  So what?

Marriage is a common law contract that helps simplify a complex legal relationship between two people.  Much like an S Corp or LLC, a marriage contract allows citizens to opt into an existing legal construct, encompassing issues like: life insurance, medical insurance, estate division upon death, custody of children, and much much more.  Marriage contracts have a lot of judicial precedent behind them, and this is useful for all citizens.

How could one legally justify denying gays the right to form a marriage contract?  It would be exactly the same to deny them the right to form an S Corp or LLC.  These common law contracts were designed to make it easier for citizens to make legal connections.  Marriage is perhaps the most pervasive and useful contract in Earth's history.  To deny the right to such a contract is a massive penalty.  WHY?

Consider the history of judicial precedent regarding marriage contracts:  Imagine a single case where the judgement would be different if the married parties were the same sex vs. opposite sex.  Take a sec, and really think about this...  The are few such weird cases, and they make no difference.  Marriage law is essentially unaffected by allowing same sex partners,

I see no legal justification from the anti-gay folks, just references to their moral and religious beliefs.  Folks need to mind their own business.  I think it proper that the SC law was struck down on Constitutional grounds.

[I put brackets around "Gay" in the title because I find it ludicrous to talk about Gay Marriage vs Straight Marriage.  Marriage is marriage, as far as the State is concerned.]

Thanks for reading,

--Dan Edge

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Why I'm No Longer an Objectivist (1 of 2)

Started 11/2013
Objectivism vs Science Notes

After almost 20 years, I no longer consider myself an Objectivist.

This was the conclusion of my recent 3 year-long odyssey of science, cosmology, mathematics, and epistemology.  The main sticking points for me were technical science and epistemology.  Objectivism encounters problems with both.

It’s hard to document all the information that’s lead me to this conclusion, but I would like to try.  This first entry is a collection of notes and links regarding Objectivism’s problems with science.  It’s only a small sample, the most I care to document for now on science.  The next entry will concern epistemology, specifically Objectivism’s use of concept as the basis for all knowledge.

Quantum Physics and Relativity

David Harriman opposes Quantum Mechanics.  From the ARI: "This lecture examines the historical development of such ideas [as Quantum Theory] and refutes the myth that they derive from experimental evidence."  Harriman makes many conceptual and logical criticisms of Quantum Theory, and I think he applies Objectivism fairly well here.  

The problem is, Quantum Physics is as proven as evolution.  Harriman ignores this elephant.  He makes no attempt to directly engage the mountain range of evidence on Relativity and QM.  Does Harriman believe in silicon microchips, the orbit of Mercury, distant galaxies, quantum computers, and his GPS device?  How can Quantum Physics be a corrupt conspiracy, when it is a necessary prerequisite for modern chemistry, astronomy, and computer technology?  

McCaskey, Harriman, Peikoff, Galileo, and Viscosity

John McCaskey lost his job standing up for Galileo and viscosity.  Seems a weird thing to take a fall for, but he did.  

In The Logical Leap, David Harriman again makes fairly accurate deductions of Objectivist concepts to a body of technical knowledge, this time the history of science.  Again, Harriman gets wrong or ignores some facts, discounting evidence that is not in line with his arguments.  (Eg., writer "ewv" on The Forum destroys Harriman on the technical science stuff.)  

Again, Harriman is able to convince many intelligent non-experts that he is right about Galileo and viscosity, even after experts point out his errors in detail.  On Amazon, some Objectivists go so far as to claim that McCaskey is evil and his points irrelevant, even if his criticisms are accurate!

A lot of things came to the surface because of the McCaskey affair.  Travis Norsen revealed that he had been ousted from ARI for criticizing the amateurish science of Peikoff and Harriman.  Peikoff declared that his expertise in Objectivism qualifies him as the best judge of the McCaskey dispute:

"An organization devoted to spreading an ideology is not compatible with “freedom” for its leadership to contradict or undermine that ideology. In theory, the best judge of such contradiction would be the person(s) .. who best understands and upholds the ideology ... In practice, the best judge would be the person, if he is still alive, who founded the organization ... carrying out a mandate given him by Ayn Rand. On both counts, only one individual qualifies: me."  

I think that from the perspective of Objectivism, Peikoff is correct.  If all knowledge is rooted in concepts, and if Objectivist concepts are the best, then he who best knows Objectivist concepts is the best judge of virtually anything.  Now that Ayn Rand is gone, Peikoff certainly qualifies.  Regarding McCaskey, the ARI bowed in acceptance of Peikoff's moral and epistemological superiority.  But how can Peikoff be simultaneously be "the best judge...alive," and yet have no expertise in the scientific subject matter he's talking about?  


Alex Silverman sums up implications of Objectivist cosmology in this 2004 essay.  He was only a student at the time, but his conclusions were endorsed by popular Objectivist scientist Stephen Speicher and many others on Speicher’s Forum 4 Ayn Rand Fans.  I’ve heard these same arguments from many other intelligent Objectivists over the years.  I’m willing to bet Harriman and Peikoff would enthusiastically approve, as well.

Objectivism does require an unbound, finite, three dimensional, plenum-space universe.  Arguments like Silverman’s have been used to discount quantum theory, black holes, and the Big Bang (as Speicher did).  

These guys prove to me that Objectivism has no business pronouncing limitations on scientific discovery.  Good physicists do not limit their theories to the unbounded, finite, etc.  Physicists have documented proof of black holes, et al.  Again, Objectivism gets science wrong.  Why?

Environmental Science

Almost all Objectivists reject Anthropogenic Global Warming.  Some Objectivists claim that environmental scientists are -- like physicists and mathematicians -- corrupt, irrational, untrustworthy, and conspiratorial.  When I looked into the numbers for myself, I came to the exact opposite conclusion.  Yet again, on a technical scientific issue Objectivsm gets it wrong.

I had to spend 40 hours on this problem, restudying maths and statistics first.  The evidence could not have become clear unless I did this.  I have no interest in documenting this very difficult subject, but to me, this is another instance in which highly technical subject matter has confounded leading Objectivist thinkers.

(Once you've tackled Stats, Skeptical Science is a good start for research.)
---------------------------

This is all I have for now.  I’ll work on documenting the epistemological stuff in the coming weeks.  This may never become a polished work, but I wanted to get it out there.

--Dan Edge

Friday, May 24, 2013

In Defense of Islam

I write in defense of Islam.

Islamic Totalitarians have become the greatest threat to freedom in the modern world.  Murderous, Theocratic nations openly express their intent to conquer and cow us.  Every day, there is news of a new attack.  Militant Islam is clearly a threat.  How to respond?

I agree with the direct approach advocated by the late, great  John David Lewis: conquer rogue terror states and forcefully impose separation of state and religion.  But leave freedom of religion alone -- in fact, enforce it under threat of annihilation.  Freedom of individual thought, freedom of belief, and (therefore) freedom of religion must be upheld in a free society.  Without exception.

The free world ought to abide by the same moral rule: there can be no such thing as Thought Crime.  Privately practiced religion should be a non-issue for law-abiding citizens of a free nation.  This principle should be codified into Constitutions and righteously enforced, everywhere.

There are many Muslims living in America, UK, Europe, etc., who are much like their Christian (or Deist or whatever) neighbors: working hard to make the best of things for themselves and for their own.  I sympathize, and assert that all law-abiding individuals ought to be considered equally under the law, regardless of their personal beliefs.  In these trying times, I stress that this principle most emphatically includes Muslims.

A "War on Islam" is as misguided as a "War or Terror."  War is (or ought to be) a conflict with another Nation-State, for a specifically designed purpose, legally authorized by the Legislative and Executive Branches, and fully supported by the populous.  Anything else is a Police Action, harming free people foreign and domestic.  

Given that our governments have failed in this duty, I feel I must support the efforts that our military is allowed to make against the worldwide virus of Totalitarian Islam.  But I will never support the use of that might to wage War against domestic Muslim Citizens. Muslims qua believers should be treated no different from any other Citizen.

Muslims should not be targeted for deportation, and suggestions to the contrary  are shameful.  This is a tragic, emotionalistic inversion of rational principle.  Again, freedom of ideology (above all) should be protected under Law.  This means that government should not take one's personal beliefs into account when enforcing Law.  Immigration and deportation are absolutely not excluded from this principle. 

When I'm 64, I don't want to begin the story to my grandkid with, "When they came for the Muslims..."

--Dan Edge

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cosmology vs. Modern Physics: A Piece of War



The disciplines of Theoretical and Applied Physics took a dramatic turn in the 20th Century.  Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and the birth of Quantum Mechanics revolutionized our understanding of the universe.  These theories are ridiculously complex and fundamentally weird:  Einstein introduced 4-dimensional space that bends, and in the Quantum World an electron can travel the entire universe simultaneously in any moment.

As weird as the world becomes through the lens of these theories, they have been proven over and over again by experiment.  Modern Chemistry and Astronomy are confined by Quantum Law, and could not proceed without them.  Nuclear reactors, synthetic materials, and every one of the over 10 quintillion transistors manufactured each year owe their existence to applications of modern Quantum Physics.

What conclusions must a philosopher (qua cosmologist) draw from these seemingly incomprehensible scientific notions?  Some have argued that the scientific community has gone rogue against rational metaphysics.  One might object that space cannot “bend” because “space” is a concept we use to describe the lack of existence, but concepts do not bend – they are tools of cognition.  There is no such thing as actual empty space; it is only a conceptual reference.  All that exists is existence.  Should the cosmologist then advise the physicist to abandon such mental constructs as bending space and an expanding universe?

Or: if electrons are confined by the Law of Identity, how can they teleport to multiple locations simultaneously?  How could they be in two locations at once, traveling every possible route to their destinations, at the same time and in the same respect?  Quantum theorists would have us believe that particles flick in and out of existence in a regular, but partially random way.  This too may bristle the cosmologist’s sensibilities.

The history of Quantum theory in particular often seems an exercise in madness.  Great geniuses, playing tetris with the known and unknown, formed a bizarre set of notions that was both internally consistent and confirmed through experiment.  Heisenberg and others explicitly cleaned their cosmological slates.  There were to be no conceptual restrictions on scientific modeling.  Physicists use models of bending space, expanding existence, and thermo-dynamics interchangeably when they are mathematically equivalent (as they are in the case of black holes). 

Just as literature or auto repair ought not be made the handmaiden of philosophy, so neither should the sciences.  Theoretical Physics is the use of mathematical (and sometimes oddly conceptualized) models to broaden the known universe.  The cosmologist can help the physicist better explain and organize his conceptual tools, but he is not qualified to regulate the choice of tools – given a shared respect for observational evidence.

The exuberant cosmologist may insist that existence cannot spring out of non-existence, that it cannot expand or collapse into non-existent nothingness, that the universe must be a boundless, seamless plenum, that it may not be random, etc.  But the rational scientist can and should ignore such conceptual restrictions.  Modeling tools will be examined, integrated, re-verified, and updated as necessary – based ultimately on perceptual evidence.  This is not pragmatism, but scientific achievement at its best.

Observational evidence confirming Quantum Mechanics and Relativity continues to pour in.  Every day, we are discovering black holes, neutron stars, and the origins of an exploding universe exactly where physicists told us to look for them.  We are beginning to understand the micro world – the world of energy and particles -- with similarly increasing clarity.  These discoveries have no bearing on metaphysics and epistemology, and are not in opposition to them.

There is and ought not be a war between cosmologists and modern physicists.  Both can enjoy the expanding universe of knowledge in the mind of man.

--Dan Edge    

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Atlas Shrugged Movie Review


I got the Atlas Shrugged movie on DVD for my birthday last month (thanks Heather), and watched it with interest.  I also reviewed commentary from director, writer, and producer.  I was touched by the “I am John Galt” video montage.  Many of the faces were familiar to me.

The movie was of admirable quality considering the shoestring budget.  Many participants essentially donated their time to make it happen.  They wanted to be a part of the legacy of this masterwork by a properly revered author.  Their hard work mirrors the character of the dramatic subjects portrayed. 

Many negative reviews of the movie were unjust, from both critics and Objectivists.  Director, writer, producer, actors, and special effects team produced an admirable result given time restraints.  Atlas Shrugged is now on the big screen, even in my small hometown of Greenville, SC.  Honor is owed to those who helped make this happen.

I look forward to Part 2, with realistic expectations.  Viewers will be driven to read the book for the full story – a satisfying result.  Atlas Shrugged continues to sell in ever increasing numbers.  All benefit.

I venture that the production of this movie does more to advance reason and freedom than does the combined efforts of all rational participants in the recent Presidential election.  Ideas move the world, and the Atlas Shrugged movie project succeeds in presenting rational ideas to the populous.  As such, I honor and sanction it  

Sincerely,

--Dan Edge

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Editing Passes for Business/Personal Correspondence

One reader asks:
I am informed that I write long and 'intense' letters. After all, I mean to transfer content to the reader. I am always up for new ways to become succinct without losing the detail, or rather the points intended to be made through detail. I am not completely cognisant of what you mean by Reverse Outline. Do you have anymore articles on how you pick out content over verbosity?

OK.

Multiple editing passes are as useful for business and personal corrspondence as they are for technical essays.  Most editing involves removing (or paring down) words, sentences, and often entire paragraphs.  During each pass, one focuses on a different category of verbiage to eliminate or essentialize.  This article will describe recommended editing passes for business and personal writing.  Note that self-editing is most effective when one takes time away from the draft, for reflection.

The Reverse Outline method is a useful tool to go along with every editing pass.

The first editng pass should remove general "fluff," i.e., words that do not add any meaning to the piece.  Fluff can easily double the length of a letter.  Use direct, simple language instead.  For example, which of these sentences seems most effective?
  1. In my view, it is best to utilize a direct and simple communication style whenever possible instead of indulging in rampant verbosiy for the sake of grammatical self-glorification.
  2. It is best to utilize a direct and simple communication style instead of indulging in rampant verbosiy.
  3. Use direct, simple language instead.
This last is often all that is necessary.  As you review your own words, aim for economy of language.

Next, edit out personal thought processes that are not essential to the message.  Off-the-cuff letters tend to include much of the writer's internal dialogue -- thoughts which lead him to his conclusions.  But only the conclusions matter.  Your boss doesn't need to know the details of every thought in your mind, and neither does your girlfriend.  What do you want to communicate?  State your conclusions in as few words as possible.  Simple and Direct.

Edit emotional content.  When communicating about emotions, do so directly.  Inciteful, moralistic language is rarely useful and should be carefuly considred.  If you write angry, sit on it a bit before hitting the Send button.  Come back later and reconsider.  Intensity is good if it is managed.

During each editing pass, look for ways to simplify your message.  It is much easier to screw up a complicated message than a simple one.  Eliminate language that does not contribute to a few central points.

Hope this is helpful.

--Dan Edge

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Reverse-Outline

The Reverse-Outline is a method of reading analysis and editing, especially useful in self-editing, in which one thoroughly studies a draft and formulates a summary outline.  Pre-draft outlines are critical in professional writing, but even after they are used, the draft result can contain errors in order and focus.  The Reverse-Outline is a powerful tool for identifying and correcting these errors.

< I learned this method at the OAC, but have seen it taught elsewhere, so I'm assuming there's no copyright issue.>

I've found that the Reverse-Outline is most useful for short, one-page documents with limited focus: op-eds, cover letters, internal business emails, public business memos, marketing scripts, stock letters...and more.  A Reverse Outline for such short drafts can often be written in the mind, without having to commit the summary to paper.  This makes it extremely efficient for effective editing on-the-fly.

The method:  Study a short, approx. one-page draft, and write/think an outline of its essential points.  These points should be formulated into clear, grammatically correct sentences which accurately summarize the material.  Points can cover one or more paragraphs, depending on the flow and focus of ideas.  A one-page document will typically contain 3-5 main points.  If you find more than 7, then either you're not thoroughly essentializing the material, or the draft itself is overly complex.

For example, following is a Reverse Outline for the current top story on CNN.com, Deported bin Ladin Widows, Daughters Leaving for Saudi Arabia.  It's about a 2/3 page document, so I anticipate 2-4 points.  Writing Reverse Outlines of news articles is good practice because news stories are (usually) already essentialized, making the main points easier to tease out:

  • After the end of their detention in Pakistan last week, members of Osama bin Laden's family are now being deported to the country of their choice: Saudi Arabia.
  • One of the widows provided details about how their family moved into and around Pakistan with the help of friendly Pakistanis.

I have been using the Reverse Outline method throughout the writing of this article.  After I finish a new section, I look back over the previous sections, form a Reverse Outline in my mind, and confirm that the ideas flow in some kind of logical order.  The method isn't full-proof, but it did allow me to complete this one-page article to my satisfaction.  Try it out.

--Dan Edge

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

AMERICA is to Blame -- the Syrian Tragedy



For once, I could be seen to agree with most of the rest of the world about a current international tragedy: I say AMERICA is to blame for the horrific massacre now taking place in Syria. We are to blame because we have become a nation of moral cowards, willing to withstand anything besides soundly and proudly crushing these belligerent, dictatorial theocracies that have waged open war on the United States for decades.

We are to blame because we refuse to recognize the blatant fact that these maniacal regimes consider us demons to be destroyed (or at least conquered and cowed). While moral traitors in our own country proclaim that America is responsible for the zealous blood lust of some foreign leaders, those same foreign powers plot continually to kill us in every way possible. One self-proclaimed messiah is completely naked in his ambition to annihilate a relatively peaceful neighbor in a nuclear holocaust. AMERICA is to blame for this.

We are to blame because we are too cowardly now to wage total war. The last time Congress declared war on an enemy nation was June 5, 1942. The result of that conflict was a lasting set of peaceful allies who have never since been a threat to us or anyone else. Subsequent "peace/police actions" by the U.S. have resulted in lasting enemies: North Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and, eventually, a newly theocratized Iraq. None of those countries were ever truly defeated. None were permanently disarmed. None were prevented from reorganizing and strengthening into a new, more dangerous breed of enemy. We are to blame for this.

These Islamist Terror States, most of them born in the blood of innocents, have not killed or conquered us all only because they lack the capability to do so -- for now. But they're working on it -- hard -- while the Western world buries its collective head in the sand. Fortunately for us it turns out that brutal dictatorship is not an ideal form of government. The military might of the Middle East combined is a fly we could swat with a flick of our military's mighty wrist. The only reason these regimes continue to thrive and terrorize is that we refuse to eliminate them.

The Greatest Generation of our noble nation would never have allowed such a thing to happen. They would have demanded that Congress declare war, achieve complete victory, and permanently remove the threat. The rogue terror state of Iran shouldn't be allowed to have a fucking patrol boat, much less a nuclear arsenal. Instead, Iran brazenly leads the charge of Islamic Totalitarianism, biding its time and supplying its surrogates with the resources to murder us in ever-growing numbers -- while the current crop of American leaders, yellow bastards without a spot of moral courage, can barely muster up a series of strongly worded "official" statements.

Look and see for yourself what is happening to these families in Homs, Syria. They are being slaughtered by the hundreds and thousands. The Syrian military is firing heavy artillery, rockets, and bombs at civilians in their own country. They are carpeting the area with explosives, maximizing medical care casualties, and killing anyone who tries to escape the city. Go read their stories and witness their tragedy. America is to blame for this.

Since we are too scared to do anything about it ourselves, I hope at least that America will allow Israel to do what we won't (lest we get our hands dirty). Either way, we are still to blame. And it's a goddamned shame.

--Dan Edge

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Re-Checking Some Premises

Update: Dr. Hsieh has written her own response to the shameful checkingpremises.org site here.

A new Objectivism-related website named checkingpremises.org went live yesterday. My interest was piqued when I saw a link in Facebook comments, so I paid the new site a visit. According to its Purpose page, the site was "created by serious students and proponents of Objectivism in response to the danger that some, who may seem in agreement with the philosophy, are in fact subverting it."

Checkingpremises.org contains a few select quotes and links related to David Kelly, the Brandens, and Libertarianism. Also present is Peikoff's oft-quoted "Fact and Value," a very enlightening statement on disputes within the Objectivist movement. Links to works by Harry Binswanger, Peter Schwartz, and Ayn Rand are there as well.

So far, this is nothing unusual. There are already numerous sites on the web offering resource material on various disputes in the Objectivist movement. This site adds nothing new on that front, and is by comparison quite lacking in content. What makes checkingpremises.org stand out (and not in a good way) is its concerted, focused attack on professional intellectual Dr. Diana Hsieh. Based on the website's presentation at launch, one can only assume that it was created specifically to attack Dr. Hsieh, and explicitly to lump her together with David Kelly, the Brandens, and Libertarianism, i.e., as an enemy of Objectivism.

[At launch,] Checkpremises.com contains a total of 13 pages: one page on its Purpose, one page on its Context, one page about Libertarianism, one page about the Brandens, one page about David Kelly, one Resources page, one About Us page, and six pages about Dr. Diana Hsieh. Even more striking is the complete lack of meaningful content on the non-Hsieh-related pages. For example, the entries on David Kelly and the Brandens contain two sentences and one link each. The Current Controversies page -- dedicated entirely to Dr. Hsieh -- contains two full paragraphs along with links to five other pages, each with additional comments on Hsieh's alleged transgressions against Objectivism.

Despite their mission to expose "subversive" threats to Objectivism, the authors of checkpremises.com contribute nothing of value to advance this end. The entries on Kelley and the Brandens are ridiculously short; no effort whatsoever is made to substantiate criticism of these individuals. This is not to say no criticism can be made, only that the site's creators make no attempt to do so.

Ironically, Drs. Diana and Paul Hsieh have contributed literal volumes of thought-provoking essays related to the various Objectivist splits. Dr. Diana Hsieh's collection of essays False Friends of Objectivism contains a wealth of insights from a professional intellectual who has been personally and emphtically promoting Objectivism for many years. Dr. Paul Hsieh's brilliant article The Fable of the Cartiac Surgeon is perhaps the best, most easily accessible criticism of Libertarianism I have ever read. I may not agree with everything the Hsiehs have written over the years, but they are always thoughtful, they always cite their sources, and they always stimulate the mind. They are fiercely independent thinkers who have dedicated their lives to promoting a philosopy for life on earth. They are anything but subversive enemies of Objectivism.

If there is anything "subversive" brought to light by checkpremises.org, it is the underhanded way in which an entire website was created as a giant smear of Dr. Hsieh, then dressed up and presented as a resource site for conflicts within the Objectivist movement.

For a site that boasts of fifteen contributors, it is laughably short on content and substance. These fifteen individuals (did they write one sentence each?) expose one further subvertive element within the Objectivist community: the tendancy of loud, cynical, moralizing Objectivists to wage propoganda wars against purported "enemies" over non-essential disagreements. A distinction needs to be made between anti-Objectivists like Kelley, the Brandens, or pedophile-defender Michael Stuart Kelly -- and others like Tracinski, McCaskey, and the Hsiehs (and Reisman and Packer?) who have had non-essential disagreements with other Objectivist intellectuals which blew up into widely-publicized conflicts.

Thankfully, this destructive trend to focus disproportionately on negative elements within the Objectivist community seems to be waning. Objectivist bloggers and professional intellectuals are dissiminating the philosophy every day by applying it to a variety practical subjects. Those with a passion for written communication openly debate a wide range of topics, and all benefit. Your average college-age Objectivist out there may not even know who David Kelley is, but is much more likely to have written dozens of posts on internet forums in his pursuit of knowledge. I think this is a very good thing.

Dr. Diana Hsieh is already a much more important contributor to the history of the Objectivist movement than David Kelley ever was. She is a far greater a contributor still than those now concocting these smears against her. The tens of thousands of pages of material she's published, the thousands of online discussions, and the dozens of lectures speak for themselves. While I would never say that I'm in the Hsieh's "camp" (they don't have one) I consider them much greater allies, who contribute so much more to my life, than those Self-Centered, Malevolent People Premisers of checkpremises.org.

--Dan Edge

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Goodbye Dr. Lewis, Mentor and Freedom Fighter




A few days ago I learned the terrible news that Dr. John David Lewis, possibly my favorite professional intellectual I’ve ever met, lost his battle with cancer and passed away on January 3, 2012. I had the great pleasure of meeting Dr. Lewis on a number of occasions, and was always struck by his passion, his intelligence, his charisma, and his acute judgement. Though I spent less than 15 hours with him in total, I received an incredible bounty of concentrated education, which led to hundreds more hours of contemplation and conversation, all inspired by this one man.

I’ve read several moving tributes to Dr. Lewis over the past few days, including kind notes from Paul and Diana Hsieh, Craig Biddle, and the ARI via Yaron Brook. As these and others have done, I would like to share a story about one of the ways in which Dr. Lewis changed my life for the better.

After 9/11, I was mad as hell and cried out (in vain) for a proper retribution. Though in general I supported military action against state sponsors of terrorism, I still didn’t fully understand what Dr. Lewis called “The Will to Victory.” I scoffed at friends who called for a nuclear strike on our enemies, or for mass bombing to target the enemy population and industry. I had studied a great deal of military history, but had never fully integrated the concept of individual rights with the function of the military. Dr. Lewis changed all that forever.

My first step was reading his articles No Substitute for Victory and William Tecumseh Sherman and the Moral Impetus to Victory. These articles are so clear, so well-researched, and so logically sound, I was immediately inclined to agree with his view. As wonderful and convincing as these articles are, they do not compare to meeting Dr. Lewis in person. I attended an event of his about the Iranian threat for the NYU Objectivist Club, and was delighted at the quality of the lecture. Dr. Lewis was even better during the Q+A period, dealing effectively and charismatically with every question.

I asked Dr. Lewis to clarify an issue related to individual rights: If all men possess individual rights, including civilians living in an enemy country, isn’t it a violation of their rights to destroy their homes and offices? After all, they didn’t do anything to us, not directly. How can we justify raining utter destruction on entire cities of non-combatants?

Thanks to Dr. Lewis, I already had an outline for the answer to this question. And his response filled in the rest of the pieces of the puzzle. Dr. Lewis has a way of making complex ideas amazingly clear. He explained to me that individual rights define man’s needs in a social context. It runs counter to our need for freedom to allow enemy nations to flourish though our own lack of moral will. History teaches us again and again that coddling an enemy, giving ground, anything less than the conviction to achieve complete victory, will result in failure.

After the lecture, I had the pleasure of dining with Dr. Lewis and talking with him casually. He was so positive, so generous, so excited to be there -- it was infectious. Dr. Lewis loved to laugh, and he could speak intelligently on virtually any topic. But even with all that knowledge, whenever he spoke to you he always showed interest in you. He made everyone feel at ease. He was a natural people person because he was a genuine lover of human life.

I met Dr. Lewis several more times, and each time my respect and admiration for him grew. He made such a difference in so many lives, mine included, and I deeply mourn his loss. He will live on in the memories of those he inspired, to learn all that we can and to fight the good fight, as he did. Goodbye Dr. Lewis, mentor and freedom fighter.

--Dan Edge