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  1. 2 points
    Alternatively: "A Botanist and an Objectivist walk into a Bar" Imagine you are a brilliant botanist and geneticist and that you have created a hybrid apple orange tree ... and you created only one. Now suppose because of your brilliance you can, from its unique genetic makeup, and all your knowledge, predict and completely understand its requirements for life and flourishing, some requirements similar to apple trees others similar to orange trees, other requirements common to both, and yet other requirements new and dissimilar to those of both apple and orange trees. You have chosen that your goal is to keep it alive which logically entails a goal of maximal flourishing and all that implies. Soon it will be transplanted outdoors and your gardener will be tasked with its care. You aim to write a guide to action, recipe of care, a standard practices manual, whatever you call it, for your gardener, using all your knowledge. As you set off to do so... you think to ask your friend, who is an Objectivist and an all around smart guy, how to formulate such a thing. Of course you meet him at a bar. Upon hearing of your problem, he smiles and tells you that he has all the answers you are looking for. Apparently, he knows all about this sort of thing because Rand discovered morality for people, and he could apply her logic to the analogous goal of keeping your tree alive. He excitedly says to you: "Your book or manual for your gardener is, in fact, a code of values to guide the choices and action of your gardener in the care of the tree aimed at its flourishing! Although I am no botanist, the general principles which guide how you write your code (to guide choices and action) is a no brainer" First he observed that your manual, or guide, etc. must be formulated according to some standard to ensure it is to be successful. The content of your proposed chapters, paragraphs, etc. should be evaluated against that standard to ensure that what goes into the code is proper, in other words, the code will actually guide choices and actions which lead to the "good", the goal of the tree's flourishing... flourishing being the maximal state for current and future long-term life (and maximal against unforeseen setbacks, like a storm or a drought). He interjects, that Botanists like you know that subjecting a plant to wind and the elements "hardens it" for long-term longevity, in comparison to sheltering a plant overmuch which might lead to fast growth short term, but which threatens the plant's long-term ability to survive... A little puzzled at why he should emphasize this short-term long-term nugget, you know your gardener is not an idiot who would trade the plant's long term health for short term showiness... you nonetheless nod in agreement. Your first contribution is to say, "Well, I plan to use all my knowledge derived from and consistent with all available knowledge about apple trees and orange trees which includes all relevant knowledge about apple trees and orange trees, trees in general, plants, living things.. and all I know about "entities", as well as all my special brilliant knowledge as a geneticist about the specific nature of this hybrid. In that sense, I will be guided by all abstract knowledge I can apply (as a finite non-omniscient human) which leads to flourishing". You smile, keen to see the reaction on his face to your use of "finite" and "non-omniscient" in the conversation... words you have oft heard from him. Instead of greeting your reference with a smile, your friend, with some disdain says: "Sounds to me like you are going on the premise of using the individual tree's life as the standard of value for your code." This puzzles you quite a bit. You point out... "Well the individual tree's life is the goal of the gardener's choices and actions... and that tree's potential and actual flourishing over the long term must therefore must be the standard by which that code is to be written. If something in the code leads to ill health or destruction of that tree it does not meet the standard for being chosen or done and hence does not meet the standard of being included in the code, and if something in the code would lead to good health, flourishing and life of the tree then that would meet the standard for being chosen and acted upon i.e. it would meet the standard for being included in the code... No?" He looks at you and says, quite solemnly: "The correct formulation is: Tree's life is the *standard* of value for that code--and that specific tree's life is the purpose of the code. Not that tree's life, Tree's life. Any other standard is subjective" You try to hide your utter shock, keeping a straight face, and reply: "What the heck are you talking about? Tree's Life?" He replies: "Why yes of course. Basing your code on what is best for that specific, concrete, particular tree, is "self-referencing" and circular. Effectively the code says the tree is its own standard a conclusion which is ultimately subjective (and leaving one adrift from a "standard of value" to which to adhere)." Practically, this will be acted out as: whatever "the gardener" chooses and decides to be a value to the tree, is a value because "the gardener" chose it. ... that makes him sound a little unreliable but you get my point... and well I mean... how will your code apply to other trees?... your code will be missing something if it's only for your tree... it...needs more.... something else... well you get my point." With a frown you try to tell him that he is incorrect, and that the code would in no way be subjective. It would be formed from objective knowledge of the nature of the thing to which the code is directed. The gardener would have no reason to depart from his goal which is to take care of that tree and your code has nothing to do with other trees. Your aim is not to start a movement for growing apple orange tree forests and you have no interest in sharing your code with anyone other than the gardener for any purpose whatever. Your code is for your tree... that tree, full stop. After a moment, you ask for him to explain how the code for the gardener would ACTUALLY read differently, if based on all of your knowledge, as you previously outlined, of what would be best for this particular tree, i.e. using the individual tree's life as the "standard", versus writing a code for the gardener which had as its standard "Tree's life"... whatever your friend means by that. Your friend the Objectivist, after taking a moment to gather himself, then outlines clearly and exactly how that code, your manual, would differ when written with "the tree's life" as the standard of value versus when written with "Tree's life" as the standard of value, and carefully explains how the former would NOT be the best manual, would not be the best code to follow, for achieving your goal of your tree's flourishing... NOW, WHAT HE SAID WAS.... [PLEASE REPLY to this thread by filling in what he said.... once we have enough honest attempts at the argument he presented, I propose we discuss and rank the results to choose a winner] You do not immediately indicate agreement, preferring to keep the meeting friendly... after nodding in acknowledgement and your thankfulness for his input, you quite deftly change the subject.
  2. 1 point
    You might be interested to know how Peikoff changed a particular paragraph on the standard of value between his 1976 lecture "The Philosophy of Objectivism" and his book OPAR, published in 1991. After arguing, in '76, that lower organisms act automatically and that "implicitly life is the standard of value guiding their actions," he continues: Fifteen years later, in OPAR, he says that for plants and animals, "implicitly, life is their inbuilt standard of value, which determines all their goals and actions." He added "inbuilt," and changed "guiding their actions" to "determines all their goals and actions." Then the following paragraph looks like this: Note that he added the phrase "leaving aside his internal bodily processes," which did not appear in his 1976 lecture. I find this to be a strange revision. Let's imagine that we keep man's internal bodily processes with the rest of him, would he now have an inbuilt standard of value, like the lower animals? Why must we disregard such a large part of him? It seems to me that my internal bodily processes make up the bulk of my existence. What would I be without them: a disembodied mind? Is it just my mind that lacks an inbuilt standard of value? Or am I allowed to retain my external bodily processes? Though I'm not sure what that would mean, since even hair growth involves internal processes below the surface of the skin. I might consider the rest of those quotes later, but right now I'll turn to the question of whether Peikoff has accurately represented Rand's philosophy. Because she approved of and attended his '76 course, it can easily be argued that she agreed that "man has no built-in, pre-programmed standard of value." However, those are still Peikoff's words, despite Rand's endorsement. So let's also consider what she, herself, wrote in The Objectivist Ethics (1961): Here she makes no initial division between the lower species and man, and she doesn't use words like "implicit" and "inbuilt." She talks generally about an organism, from an amoeba to a man. And she argues for its life being its standard of value. She must mean "standard of value" in the widest, biological sense of the concept. For it isn't until later in the essay that she narrowly identifies "the standard of value of the Objectivist ethics," which, of course, is "man's life." (p. 25) It seems to me that Peikoff conflated the biological standard of value (an organism's life) with the Objectivist standard of value (man's life), in his attempt to reformulate Rand's philosophy. And since Rand apparently approved of his '76 formulation, Objectivists will likely debate this issue until the end of time.
  3. 1 point

    Critique of Ayn Rand’s Ethics

    This sounds very interesting. I argued for something like this once before, but for a discussion on free will. Namely, that whatever particular method one uses to make a decision, that method will produce the same outcome if the identical context is repeated. I take that view as something consistent with Rand, but it's hard to say. In some sense, moral action is universalizable even for Rand. Of course, she treats universals as something different than Kant. Even more, Rand cares about an interested perspective and including it as a necessary part of rational action. My knowledge about Kant is limited, but I do know that he pushes for objectivity in the disinterested sense.
  4. 1 point

    Critique of Ayn Rand’s Ethics

    Related, but not the same. I can read a philosopher then see a line that inspires thoughts that help me find out what's true, without necessarily sorting through with a fine comb every detail. I also can read a philosopher to figure out what they are trying to convey, in which case the details matter a lot, even the individual words of a sentence sometimes - sorting out their thoughts so you can fully understand them as a philosopher. I agree. But none of us are Rand scholars here, so I don't see the point of constructing an argument for something you already read. It sounds like you're saying that Rand isn't as precise as you would like, not that you don't actually understand. If you want an in-depth discussion, take a look at the recommendations from 2046. Since this is a forum though, I don't see why you wouldn't just construct the argument yourself, then ask if any of us think you got it right. It can be difficult because her writing style often assumes you've read her other stuff, but I don't think sloppy is the right adjective. People who don't like Nietzsche usually think of him as sloppy, because his style is so literary and deliberately poetic. That style makes them hard to interpret. Heidegger made up words a lot, and wrote a lot of that stuff about those words, and that can come across a sloppy because he doesn't convey information plainly. I'm using those phosphors as examples because they are closer to how Rand wrote than someone like Leibniz. On some level, you just have to do the work yourself, and consider the totality of a given essay, and better yet, the totality of all the work of hers that you know. If something is weird or confusing, it requires thinking about what the philosopher is getting at, rather than deconstructing a sentence to find the exact logical breakdown of each proposition. Works great for Kant or analytic philosophy, but you'll be much more limited if you try to analyze Rand's own words that way. You could imagine anything you want. The quote is about the soundness of the concept value, not the validity of connecting one concept to another. It's more like the concept value is empty of meaning unless and until you have something about life conceptually speaking to build on. Is it correct to say that the concept life must come first? That part is left open, and would require some interpretation. Why is there a developmental order to concepts? Why isn't it good enough to the concept death instead for the logical relationship? Does Rand really have an argument in mind, or is she just saying what sounds true to her? If you want to ask questions like that, I can tell you how I would think about it and where in her work I would look for some insights. You need to be more specific though, what exactly don't you understand, and is that you don't understand, or just didn't like her style?
  5. 1 point

    Favorite Book(s) of All Time

    Frankenstein by Mary Shelly.
  6. 1 point
    Previous posts: William Whewell's "Discoverer's Induction" (Part 1) William Whewell's "Discoverer's Induction" (Part 2) William Whewell's "Discoverer's Induction" (Part 3) William Whewell's "Discoverer's Induction" (Part 4) Introduction This penultimate post will cover two of William Whewell’s three steps of induction. These steps are also his general theory of the generation of scientific hypotheses and theories. Whewell believed that these steps of induction are what scientists have followed in some form throughout history to discover and create conceptual knowledge and propel scientific inquiry. This progress in the creation and use of conceptual knowledge impacted all of the various, interconnected fields of science. Continue...Link to Original
  7. 1 point
    Intriguing segue around the 2 minute mark!
  8. 1 point
    I like your post. But note, setting your own life as the standard by which you evaluate actions does not necessitate any "trial and error" which this paragraph might imply to some on a first reading. Nor does it require the abandonment of conceptualization and abstract knowledge. You can evaluate any potential action based on what you know, namely the likelihood of outcomes based on your nature (i.e. all you know about what it is to be a man and all the possibilities and potentialities that entails), without ever having to wait for any specifically personal "results" from a personally tried action (trial and error). One can know whether a potential action is "good" by the application of principles and knowledge of what you are and keeping context.
  9. 1 point

    "Man's life"? Or, "your life"?

    You are incoherent. You said this creates a conflict. Now you say it doesn't. You don't make any sense. Nothing you write makes any sense. I don't mean I disagree, I mean it literally doesn't make sense.
  10. 1 point
    Consider nominalism. To arrive at the conclusion that time is an illusion, what line of reasoning is not being pursued? Like distinguishing dreams, hallucinations, illusions, etc., as contrasted against what? Calendars are produced identifying the cycles of the moon, equinoxes, solstices. Time keeping devices were brought about to overcome navigational difficulties in determining time from the position of celestial bodies at sea. Which constellations are dominant in the night sky, when planetary alignments are to occur . . . for time to be an illusion, a comprehensive integration with the rest of one's knowledge need be brushed aside. To consider that time passes differently under different contexts does not negate this either. If travel at the speed of light returns a twin older or younger (I don't recall off the bat), the constellations, moons, equinoxes etc, would have passed regularly for the other twin, and when rejoined, both would experience the continuation under the context derived on earth.
  11. 1 point
    Ninth Doctor

    Weird online TOS article

    Dollars to donuts Dupin is Mark from ARI Watch. Trying to drum up interest in his piece attacking Carl Barney. There was some discussion of it recently on OL: https://www.objectivistliving.com/forums/topic/17234-barney-tells-his-story/ My comment from over there: In earlier discussions I came out as a Barney defender, since I felt Mark's attacks had a lot of unfairness in them. But I don't have the time or energy for a rehash. It's out there on older threads, and it looks like Biddle is covering the rebuttals well enough. A sample: First, to criticize a private college for accepting students’ funds that come from government loans and grants is almost as absurd as criticizing a private supermarket for accepting customers’ funds that come from government welfare programs. https://www.theobjectivestandard.com/2016/05/the-times-smiles-and-sneers-at-carl-barney-ayn-rand-and-private-colleges/ Note to any ARIan readers: think of this as payback for James Valliant. Think you've got the high ground? Review The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics.
  12. 1 point
    I see that literature is another one, and if you include movies, it seems there's quite a bit more fascination today with zombies and vampires; Is this the reflection of philosophically lifeless society? I'm a big fan of Sci-Fi, and a diehard Trekker, so I kinda see today's literature as an appeal to cynicism (as opposed to "boldly going where no man has gone before"), or a validation of Jimi Hendrix's, "there ain't no life no where", but perhaps I'm reading too much into it...
  13. 0 points

    "Man's life"? Or, "your life"?

    Good one. I brought that into the abortion topic since I think that extreme term abortion is a rationally-moral, not a rights, concern. Can it be "right and proper" - by the standard of man's life, qua man - for an individual to abort an already living entity, able to survive independently? So, not by the fetus' standard of life, by "man's life" standard of value.
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