Monday, August 27, 2007

Praise Galt for Football

Greetings, sports fans!

This is the 5th annual “Praise Galt for Football.” Each year, I offer one well-educated fan’s view of the coming NFL season. Like many others, I picked the Carolina Panthers to win the Super Bowl last year. Of course, we know how that turned out. Injuries can ruin any team’s season. However, I was pleased to see Peyton Manning and the Colts finally earn their well-deserved Super Bowl rings. It likely won’t be Manning’s last. So who is stepping to the plate (or on the turf) this year?

Here are the front-runners, as I see it:

The Colts – Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, and Joseph Addai are still on board. The defense wasn’t that hot to start with, so they couldn’t get much worse. Add these together, and you get a good chance for a repeat. The Colts will at least make it to the AFC Championship Game, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they went all the way again.

The Patriots – Last year, I said of the Patriots, “As long as you've got offensive genius Bill Belichick coaching and gunslinger Tom Brady paired together, you've got yourself a competitive team.” Nothing has changed. Well, OK, some things have changed. Corey Dillon has retired, leaving Sophomore Lawrence Moroney as the man in New England. The Patriots have upgraded the defense, adding another veteran to an already stout linebacker corps. If the Offensive Line shows up again, this team could be as good as the ’04 team that beat my Panthers in the Super Bowl.

The Steelers – I’ve watched them over the preseason, and I must say I’m impressed. After the lackluster season they had last year, the Steelers will have their doubters, but from what I’ve seen they’re back. Willie Parker looks amazing – he can pound ahead for short yardage, elude tacklers in the open field, and catch hurried throws from a scrambling Rothlisberger to produce big plays. Parker, not Rothlisberger, is the key man on the Steelers team right now. Parker’s even got a tough, veteran Offensive Line to run behind. He should have been my fantasy pick (over Gore)! The defense also looks as tough as ever.

The Chargers – Are you starting to feel like this football preview is slanted towards the AFC? Me too, but that’s because the AFC has all the best teams! Take the San Diego Chargers, for instance. Fantasy stud Ladanian Tomlinson shows no signs of slowing down, QB Phillip Rivers is an adequate signal caller (at least the equal to overrated Ben Rothlisberger), and coach Norv Turner knows what he’s doing. These guys might have the best chance to go all the way.

The Saints – Finally an NFC team, and it’s not even my Carolina Panthers! The Saints might be the best team in the NFC. Yes, better than the Bears, even though the Bears were the ones that marched to the Super Bowl last year (then promptly got beat down). With the Saints, it’s all about offense. Sure, they won’t surprise defenses around the league like they did last year. Everyone knows the Saints are good, so they’ll be planning on it. But how do you plan for a super-freak like Reggie Bush who can score in more ways than you prepare a batch of New Orleans shrimp? (Shrimp burger, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp casserole, etc.) All you can do is be on your guard, and pray that your offense scores at least 24 points or more. Because otherwise, you’re going to lose.

The 49ers – This is my underdog pick for the season. I think Alex Smith is better than he’s given credit for, and he’ll grow even more this year. Frank Gore is an absolute hoss, and Ashley Lelie is no pushover, either. The 49ers offense can get it done, especially in the Big Play department. So what about the defense? That’s a big question for me, mostly because I haven’t gotten the opportunity to watch them play much, but they were about in the middle of the pack last year. If they can improve against the run and keep scoring points, they have a remote shot at the championship.

Who else is there? Philadelphia might have a chance, but I just don’t trust McNabb to stay healthy. Carolina is tough all-around, but can’t put enough points on the board. The Ravens are tough, but MacNair is getting old and Willis McGahee needs to step up big time. Some other teams could go far (Cowboys, Seahawks, and Titans come to mind), but I don’t think they’ve got what it takes for a Championship. Maybe next year.

Without further ado, my pick for Super Bowl Champion in ’08 is…

THE SAN DIEGO CHARGERS!

Too many weapons, too tough on defense, and too much Ladanian Tomlinson for the other teams to handle. Don’t worry, my Panthers, I still love you!

Have a good season, everyone!

--Dan Edge

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Psycho-Epistemology of Sexuality, Part VI

Conclusions and Applications

This is part 6 of a 6-part essay on The Psycho-Epistemology of Sexuality. Parts 1 and 2 can be found here, part 3 is here, part 4 is here, and part 5 is here. In a few weeks, I will publish a revised and edited version of the entire paper.

Over the past few months, I have written and published 5 sections of an essay on the nature of sexuality. I started by noting that a psychologically healthy man experiences his sexuality as a value, though it is not fully understood why this is so. Some have argued that one cannot value sexuality because it is not objectively more valuable to be male or female. As I wrote in parts 2 and 3, I reject this argument on the grounds that one can legitimately value what I call individuating elements of self. One's distinguishing characteristics are integrated with objective values by the subconscious - which treats automatized physical motions, sense-perceptions, values, and judgments as related units.

In part 4, I argued that one's gender integrates a broad range of physical individuating elements of self, and that these elements are stressed when one perceives a member of the opposite sex. If my arguments from parts 1-4 hold, then I have justified the claim that one's sexuality is legitimately a value. This much is evident through introspection, but I believe I have identified part of the psycho-epistemological mechanism for how and why this is so.

Finally, in part 5, I explained the concept of psychological visibility, and I argued that one can experience psychological visibility and sexuality to the highest degree in a romantic love relationship. Psychological visibility and sexuality are closely related -- both are automatized responses to another consciousness that reflects an integration of values. Whether or not these two phenomena are species of some broader genus, I will leave for another paper.

Assuming all of this is true, then where does that leave us? For one, we can forever discard the notion that sexuality is a purely cultural phenomenon. It is proper for men to be masculine and for women to be feminine. Particular expressions of sexuality can be colored by cultural influences, but sexuality itself is based on physiology and objective values. Further, since it has been demonstrated that sexuality is a value, then it is a virtue to act to attain it. Exploring and cultivating one’s sexuality can greatly enhance his life. But how is this done? I will only suggest some answers here.

Since sexuality is dependent on physiology, I choose to start with the physical. Men can develop masculinity, and women femininity, by automatizing physical motions that are consonant with one’s distinctive physiology. Exercise is very important, for two reasons: 1) A healthy man has more reason to value his body and its distinguishing attributes, and 2) Different forms of exercise can help one automatize a distinctive, gender-specific form of motion. For the most part, men and woman who exercise not only look more sexually attractive, they also move in a more sexual way. They practice using their bodies, and they have automatized forms of motion that work for their body-types.

So to those men who have never had much luck with the ladies, my first question is: Do you exercise? Also: Have you tried different forms of exercise? Do you know how to dance? Why not?

An exercise like dance is ideal for cultivating sexuality because it often involves physically interacting with members of the opposite sex. If one is trying to develop masculine qualities, there is no better exercise than learning to move in rhythm with a woman’s body. This is excellent training for a variety of other activities. Martial arts, soccer, basketball, and other sports are also great forms of exercise. When a man has automatized physical expressions of masculine power, he becomes more confident –more comfortable in his own skin – and this is obvious to any woman who watches him move.

Regarding homosexuality, I believe my essay raises more questions than answers. Clearly, homosexual couples fall in love and experience a wonderful depth of psychological visibility. But do two men feel masculine when they make love to each other? Based on the arguments in my essay, the answer to this question may be “no.” If humans were asexual, there would be no such thing as masculinity or femininity. However, I cannot conclude anything on this point because so much of the evidence for my argument was gathered through introspection, and I am not gay. I simply don’t have enough information. I would be interested in feedback on this essay from homosexuals, particularly those involved in a healthy, long-term romance.

There are many more applications of my sexuality theory, which I will explore in future essays. For now, I am bringing this essay to a close. When I began, I was aiming to prove this claim:

The psychological experience of sexuality is rooted in one's positive evaluation of his sex as an integrated, individuating element of self -- and it is experienced to the fullest through psychological visibility in the context of a romantic love relationship.

The reader must decide for himself whether or not I have fully justified this thesis, but I believe I have laid the sufficient groundwork. I hope that my essay inspires others to embrace and cultivate their sexuality. I also hope that others will further develop this theory, fill in some blanks that I left, or develop a theory of their own. Psycho-epistemology is a wide-open field, with many developments and applications left undiscovered.

Thank you for reading.

--Dan Edge

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Priorities at FoxNews.com

Right now, the top 4 stories listed on Fox News's home page are these:

Inmate Sues Vick for $63,000,000,000 Billion
Bizarre lawsuit alleges embattled NFL star stole, sold pit bulls to get 'money to buy missiles from Iran'

Hospital Guards Stun Father With Baby in Arms
Newborn allegedly suffers head trauma
Video captures guards at Houston clinic tasering a father for leaving with his newborn child without doctor's permission

Preacher-Killing Wife Freed
Mary Winkler, convicted last year of killing her husband, reportedly free after serving two months at mental facility

Mystery 'Marine' Raps for Freedom
Hundreds of thousands of people have viewed his video on YouTube — now, they and WE want to know who he is.

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You have to click on the World section of FoxNews.com to find this article, which is the top story on CNN.com:

Death toll rising; 4th bomb reported in attack
Around 175 people were killed and at least 200 others wounded when four suicide bombers driving in four vehicles struck four different locations in the Kurdish Iraqi town of Qahtaniya, two Iraqi army sources tell CNN.

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What the hell are Fox News's priorities these days? 375 reported casualties in an orchestrated terrorist attack, and it's not even front-page news? This is disgusting.

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**Update - The total casualties from this attack are now up to 500, and it is still not front page news on FoxNews.com.

**Update #2 -
The total casualties from this attack are now up to 600, and it is still not front page news on FoxNews.com.

--Dan Edge

The Psycho-Epistemology of Sexuality, Part V

Sexuality and Psychological Visibility

This is part 5 of a 6-part essay on The Psycho-Epistemology of Sexuality. Parts 1 and 2 can be found here, part 3 is here, and part 4 is here.

In part 4 of this essay, I argued that one's gender integrates a broad range of physical individuating elements of self, and that these elements are stressed when he perceives a member of the opposite sex. Those familiar with Nathanial Branden's "Muttnick Principle" may have noted a similarity between my description of sexuality and what Branden calls psychological visibility. This was no accident.

The psychological experience of sexuality results from perceiving an integration of values as reflected through another human being. Psychological visibility could be described in the same way. This section will explore the relationship between these two phenomenon.

Branden described psychological visibility as our capacity "...to perceive our self as an entity in reality, to experience the perspective of objectivity through and by means of the reaction of other human beings" (Branden, The Psychology of Romantic Love, pgs 77-78). In order to better understand what he meant by these words, I will offer a summary of his argument for the "Muttnick Principle" as presented in The Objectivist and in his book The Psychology of Self-esteem (partially taken from a summary I gave in an earlier essay, The Morality of Monogamy). Along the way, I will relate Branden's discoveries to my theory of sexuality as presented in the first 4 parts of this essay.

Branden begins by attempting to explain the joy he feels when perceiving other living beings. For instance, one may experience pleasure when looking at plant or lush landscape. Why is this pleasurable? What values are achieved in looking at a plant? While trees can be used as tools of production, the pleasure in perceiving them goes beyond their potential industrial uses. To the admiring viewer, a tree seems to have inherent value that makes it pleasurable to look upon.

Branden's answer -- One shares with a tree the struggle for survival. A tree grows towards the sun and pushes its roots deep into the earth in an effort to gain the minerals and chemicals that sustain its life. One perceives in the tree a miniature mirror of his values, and he experiences the actualization of those values as an emotional sum. Based on the mind-body connection I described in Part 3, this reaction is understandable. If the mind has automatized the connection between the perception of living things, life itself, the values that make life possible, and the positive judgments associated with these, then one would expect to experience pleasure when perceiving a being that represents life.

We share even more values with animals, which have the capacity of perception and locomotion. Animals possess a form of emotion, which is obvious to anyone who has ever owned a dog. The dog can often tell if one is happy or sad, excited or stagnant, and it responds in kind. One experiences pleasure when a pet displays recognition of his intentions. This opens up a whole new level of psychological experiences. An animal can provide not only a passive reflection of values, but also an active reflection -- an awareness of a one's self as an individual. A tree doesn't care who you are, but a dog will respond to its owner completely differently from anyone else. Once again, based on my explanation of the mind-body connection, this is exactly what we would expect when perceiving a being that represents both an integration of shared values and an awareness of one's individuating elements.

Through another human being, one can perceive a reflection of a huge range of values. A good friend can reflect both the broadest and most specific aspects of self simultaneously. He reflects one's broad intellectual values like philosophical and political beliefs, and also the specific traits, personality quirks, and physical attributes that make one unique. If individuating elements of self can properly be experienced as a value, as I argued in part 2, then perceiving the integration of such a broad range of individuating elements through the awareness of another conceptual being should yield very positive emotions -- which, in fact, it does. This is the joy of friendship.

The pleasure of psychological visibility can be taken to its highest level in the context of a romantic love relationship. Through a lover, one can experience the greatest reflection of values possible. As one's best friend, a lover can reflect the broadest and most specific aspects of one's self more fully than any other. Beyond that, she represents the integration of physical individuating elements of self (as described in part 4) by stressing the physiological difference between the sexes. This kind of reflection yields the greatest emotional pleasure possible to man: romantic love. Considering that sex is also the greatest physical pleasure possible to man, one can understand why this sacred act is so revered. When the experience of sexuality is combined and integrated with the greatest potential source of psychological visibility, the result is a thing of beauty.

I argue that one also experiences sexuality to the greatest degree in the context of a romantic love relationship. A lover is more aware of one's distinguishing physical attributes than any other. And the reciprocal is true -- one is more familiar with his lover's body than anyone else in the world. This acute awareness of each other's bodies allows for the most profound experience of masculinity and femininity. One becomes aware of his sexuality through perceiving a member of the opposite sex and observing the differences. This experience is heightened through psychological visibility. With a lover, one can not only observe the differences between the sexes, but he can also be observed by his lover as an integrated, physical whole. One's lover perceives him fundamentally as a man.

Based on the arguments I have presented in the first 5-parts of this essay, I am now fully justified in proclaiming the following: Sex in the context of a romantic love relationship is the most pleasurable, most profoundly spiritual experience possible to human beings.

In part 6 of this essay, I will provide a summary of the arguments and conclusions from the first 5 parts, then suggest some applications for these principles.

**Update- Part 6 can be found here.

--Dan Edge

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Recent Pictures

It's been a very busy week, and I'm working on multiple writing projects simultaneously, so I haven't had time to finish Part V of The Psycho-Epistemology of Sexuality. Expect the next installment next week. In the mean time, here are some recent pictures of me and my love Kelly. The pictures were taken by our friend Chad Johnson at Miguel's birthday party.

Dan eating some good, down home South American fare:




A quartet of friends. Dan and Kelly on right:



Dan displays mysterious powers granted by the Gods of Techno Music:



Dan and Kelly dancing to the Salsa Beat:




--Dan Edge