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"Axioms" -- A Short Story

     The following is a work of fiction.  Any resemblance to any real 
 persons, either living or dead, is purely coincidental.
      Permission is granted to distribute this freely on the internet via
 the following electronic channels:  the Usenet newsgroups
 'humanities.philosophy.objectivism' and 'alt.philosophy.objectivism',
 other Usenet newsgroups, the mailing list Moderated Discussion of
 Objectivist Philosophy (MDOP), or via private e-mail.  The only condition
 I impose is that this story be distributed unaltered and intact, with this
 copyright notice included in its entirety. 
      However, I do *not* grant permission for this to be circulated on 
 the mailing list Objectivism Study Group (OSG).  Based on what I know of 
 that group, I have nothing against individual OSG members or their 
 moderator, Robert Stubblefield.  In fact, if I later deem it to be in my 
 self-interest, I would consider joining OSG and abiding by their conditions.
      But it has been made clear to me that at this point in time, OSG
 policy is such that the OSG list declines to trade values with me (due to
 the fact that I occasionaly post to the MDOP e-mail list). 
      Hence, I wish to decline to add *my* values to the OSG mailing 
 list.  My self-respect demands no less.  
      Members of OSG are of course welcome to read this story through any 
 of the above-mentioned channels.
      Since I don't read OSG, I will be unable to directly determine
 first-hand if my request will be honored.  Based on the information I
 currently have about OSG, I have no reason to believe that it would be not
 be honored.  However, if by some chance, my intellectual property rights
 are (perhaps inadvertently) violated, then I would appreciate being
      Otherwise, any constructive comments or criticisms about literary or 
 philosophical aspects of this story will be happily received.
      Thank you.
      (C) Paul Hsieh, September 1994.
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           A Short Story
           by Paul S. Hsieh
      "Sometimes, Walter, you Objectivists can be so damned 
 exasperating!", said Dr. Rawlings.  "I just came out of an oral thesis 
 defense of one of the Computer Science graduate students.  He was so 
 damned certain he was right about the nature of knowledge.  He dared to 
 cite Ayn Rand as the inspiring influence behind his work on 
 pseudo-conceptual database engines, knowing full well that I was on his 
 committee and that I think her work on epistemology is a crock of 
      Jeremy Rawlings, Professor of Computer Science and Adjunct Professor
 of Neurobiology shook his soup spoon in mock-anger.  A drop of clam
 chowder flew from the edge of the spoon and landed on his chin, the pale
 white of the soup blending in with the grey hairs of his thick,
 well-manicured beard. With an annoyed look on his face, he grabbed for his
 napkin and wiped it off. 
      His lunch companion and long-time friend Walter Emsden, Professor 
 and Chairman of the Department of Philosophy, laughed.  Swallowing the