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  1. 2 points
    Delving a bit deeper into Objectivity in this 121st post, a definition which was requested and provided as the 41st post in this thread, a complimentary passage can be found in Who Is The Final Authority In Ethics. It is obvious that the root of such questions ["Is it intellectual plagiarism to accept and even to use philosophical principles and values discovered by someone else?"] is a certain kind of conceptual vacuum: the absence of the concept of objectivity in the questioner's mind. Objectivity is both a metaphysical and an epistemological concept. It pertains to the relationship of consciousness to existence. Metaphysically, it is the recognition of the fact that reality exists independent of any perceiver's consciousness. Epistemologically, it is the recognition of the fact that a perceiver's (man's) consciousness must acquire knowledge of reality by certain means (reason) in accordance with certain rules (logic). This means that although reality is immutable and, in any given context, only one answer is true, the truth is not automatically available to a human consciousness and can be obtained only by a certain mental process which is required of every man who seeks knowledge—that there is no substitute for this process, no escape from the responsibility for it, no shortcuts, no special revelations to privileged observers—and that there can be no such thing as a final "authority" in matters pertaining to human knowledge. Metaphysically, the only authority is reality; epistemologically—one's own mind. The first is the ultimate arbiter of the second. The concept of objectivity contains the reason why the question "Who decides what is right or wrong?" is wrong. Nobody "decides." Nature does not decide—it merely is; man does not decide, in issues of knowledge, he merely observes that which is. When it comes to applying his knowledge, man decides what he chooses to do, according to what he has learned, remembering that the basic principle of rational action in all aspects of human existence, is: "Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed." This means that man does not create reality and can achieve his values only by making his decisions consonant with the facts of reality. This provides some rationale why volitional adherence to reality is prudent. It does not cover the fact that spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean or of the Rocky Mountains exist. It does point out that in any given context, only one answer is true, thus trying to decide in a vacuum, i.e., trying to make a contextless decision, would be a departure from objectivity. If you do lift the corner of the aforementioned rug, could you check to see if this was inadvertently swept under it as well? "Do you cry that you find no answers? By what means did you hope to find them? You reject your tool of perception—your mind—then complain that the universe is a mystery. You discard your key, then wail that all doors are locked against you. You start out in pursuit of the irrational, then damn existence for making no sense. — This is John Galt Speaking
  2. 2 points

    I am a bit confused...

    This strikes me as a form of empathy. If your buddy gets beaned in the groin with a baseball, you might unthinkingly grimace and say, "Ouch!" Likewise, when he hits a home run, you cheer and share his pride in himself. It's not that you take on unearned pain or pleasure. It's that you express your shared grasp of reality. Getting hit in the privates hurts. Hitting a home run feels good. You're letting your buddy know that you two are alike and feel the same way about things.
  3. 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.
  4. 1 point

    Trump, the Anti-Socialist

    “We stand for free enterprise!” cried Dr. Ferris...“You don't understand us!” “I'm beginning to.”
  5. 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.
  6. 1 point
    A cool thing about this part is that while most of the brain can't grow new neurons in the adult brain, in the hippocampus, new neurons can grow and others may deteriorate. It is still debated to what extent this matters in adult humans, if there is enough neurogenesis to make any difference, but it happens in both adults and babies (although they aren't growing completely new regions in their brain). In humans, the hippocampus is especially important for imagination, long-term memory, and thinking about the future. This would suggest that preserving the ability to grow is important throughout all of life.
  7. 1 point
    Indeed. It is quite typical among some people to see objectivity being associated with the universal, impersonal, or "the view from nowhere." Notice how he characterized the deliberative process as unresolvable until these "fillings" are introduced, then it becomes trivial, by which I take it as being resolved. What exactly would be "reality without fillings" seems a lot like Nagel's "view from nowhere." Daston and Galison (2007) trace objectivity-as-impersonalism to the Kantian turn (although not without seeds already planted in the Scholastic version.) Of course you can't make a decision without the "fillings," all of the particular, personal, contingent things that characterize actual reality. Once you empty reality of that the things that actually make it up, what could end up guiding your thought process? Factors unique to each person is desperately needed for objectivity when trying to give a weighting or balancing between various goods and option. You need to take your circumstances, talents, endowments, interests, beliefs, and histories that descriptively characterize each individual precisely because reasoning about ends is done by real life individually situated people and not detached Cartesian egos or Kantian noumenal selves.
  8. 1 point


    I mentioned earlier that my Nietzsche/Rand series of articles had been composed in 2010 for the Boydstun Corner at OBJECTIVIST LIVING, and that by now the series there had received 20,600 hits. I have now removed this series and a couple of others from that site because OL has taken on a type of outside advertising that I saw was dispersed within the Nietzsche/Rand thread. The ads use motion to get the eye's attention, distracting from extended concentration that these posts need in order to assimilate the information. The ads have headers like "Seven Women for Every Man" and other such irrelevant foolishness. So OBJECTIVISM ONLINE is now the exclusive public sharing place of these compositions.
  9. 1 point
    Rand stated that she used "mental entity" metaphorically in the ITOE appendix (p. 157). "Mental something" was the closest she could get to identifying a concept metaphysically.
  10. 1 point

    Critique of Ayn Rand’s Ethics

    The important thing to recognize is that Rand didn't address this question. Maybe she would have a good response to you, maybe she wouldn't. I'm not aware of anyone besides Tara Smith trying to address it. I'm sure some people have tried to from Rand's perspective, I'm just pointing out that it's not front and center. So the way SL answers your question would probably be different from me (even though I'm sure we would agree with what the moral implications are when we do choose to live). So don't think of this answer as replacing his, and I hope he doesn't see my response as trying to drown his out. You're right that her ethics have whim at their basis (choosing to live can be made for any reason at all without undermining her ethics), although I imagine someone here would disagree with me. I don't think this is problematic because this doesn't undermine or ignore that there is a such thing as a fact. In that way, reason is relevant, even if there is no ethical purpose for reasoning prior to the choice to live. After all, Rand considers epistemology hierarchically prior to ethics. You would have some sensation about the world around you from the moment you were born, or sensation within you, which is at least some dim awareness that there is such thing as reality. On some level, I don't know if Rand would accept such implications. She starts a sound a lot like Nietzsche. It says if the choice to live is equivalent to will to power. Will to power doesn't mean willing to show power over others. It means a will to show some kind of power over your individual life. There is no rational basis to such a will. If anything, we could call it will to reason, to point out that Rand still sees reasoned thinking as always relevant (distinct from rational thinking that assumes an end goal has been selected). Rand herself thought of her philosophy as a philosophy of reason first, not a philosophy of rational selfishness first. By the way, EC was referring to rationalism (lowercase 'r') with the definition that Peikoff uses in his lecture "Understanding Objectivism". It usually refers to talking about abstractions with absolutely no effort to concretize them or ground them.
  11. 1 point
    This is an interesting question but there are so many different people with so many different ways of living that it becomes complicated. Some people DO live life as a sort of unconscious non rational choice, in fact some people who tend to follow feeling absent thought are choosing irrationally all the time. The whole point of a rational morality is to shift the what is guiding those choices from whim wish and feeling towards focused rational awareness and deliberation. So I have to say that in reality a great many people choose life, choose to seek flourishing, but it is not really a conscious choice. Others choose self destructive behaviours, self sabotage, and quite fundamentally they have chosen oblivion even if only a slow and sad journey lasting the rest of their natural lives... Others are fully aware of their own well being, and that they themselves are the primary actor causally responsible for it, and consciously choose life. Now for these people what could be the reasons to choose life? Is the choice rational? What constitutes a reason to do anything? A goal. Although there may be reasons for choosing certain actions to achieve particular goal, namely, that the facts of reality are such that only certain actions lead to the goal, that goal does not serve as its own reason... the goals is only the reason for those particular actions. But soon one gets into what seems like an infinite regress... chasing goals which further other goals related to other goals etc. all across the face of the universe... but they all lead back to a fundamental undeniable truth of the first person experience ... existence or nonexistence. Bereft of humanity in a frenzy of academic torpor, a rationalist might try to view this question from the point of view of a blind universe or a platonic nirvana, which is not any kind of a point of view at all... and say there is no possible reason to choose life because there is no intrinsic goal in the universe...It must be an arbitrary choice. To a frenzied academic attempting to see with no vision, perhaps it would appear so. But to a living creature faced with the alternative of existence and non existence, every reason, every thing, every experience, indeed the whole universe, all of it, constitutes the reason(s) to live, and the alternative is nothing which cannot be a reason for anything. In a sense the choice is an arbitrary non-rational choice for which there are no intrinsic reasons but in another sense it is the least arbitrary and most rational choice for which there is literally every possible personal reason to make.
  12. 1 point


    * “. . . trembling with the craving and rapture of questioning . . .” –GS 2 To age 30, the major philosophic influences on Nietzsche were Emerson, Plato (largely negative), Schopenhauer, Lange (materialism), and Kant. At age 21, shortly after his conversion to atheism, Nietzsche read Schopenhauer’s The World as Will and Presentation (1844). He remained a Schopenhauerian for ten years, 1865–75. He continued to read Schopenhauer to the end of his intellectual life. Of special importance, during his philosophically mature period, was his study of Schopenhauer’s On the Basis of Morality (1839), which includes a major critique of Kantian ethics. Nietzsche read Kant’s Critique of Judgment in 1867–68. It appears that his knowledge of Kant’s philosophy outside that work was indirect, coming through a good number of writers on Kant (Brobjer 2008, 22–42, 46–49). Schopenhauer’s WWP includes endorsement of basic elements of Kant’s theoretical philosophy such as Kant’s distinction between things as they are in any possible cognition of them and things as they are in themselves. Nietzsche had evidently assented to that view of the world and our situation, but broke with this Kantian view along with his break from Schopenhauer’s philosophy, acutely in 1875–76. Nietzsche took a semi-positivist, anti-metaphysical turn at this time, spurred in part by work of Paul Rée (Small 2005). During this profound shift, Nietzsche read favorably the moralists and Enlightenment figures of France. Schopenhauer had come to the view (1844) that there is a blind, natural, striving will operating in all organisms. This unitary will was alleged to be manifest in organisms by the purposiveness of their ontogeny, inner organization, and interdependence with other species of organisms (WWP I 2.187, 4.323–24, 4.364–65). Nietzsche had read favorably Julius Bahnsen’s Contribution to Characterology: With Special Regard to Educational Questions in 1867. In this work Bahnsen “followed Schopenhauer closely but at the same time developed his philosophy in a more individual direction by emphasizing that true reality is not one general will as Schopenhauer claimed but instead was many contradicting wills that constitute human beings whose inner life therefore is always in turmoil” (Brobjer 2008, 48). In Human, All Too Human, Nietzsche criticizes Schopenhauer’s calling by the single designation will what are in fact “many different human states.” Such talk of the will has, “through the philosopher’s rage for generalization turned out to be a disaster for science: for this will has been turned into a metaphor when it is asserted that all things in nature possess will; finally, so that it can be pressed into the service of all kinds of mystical mischief it has been misemployed towards a false reification – and all the modish philosophers speak of it and seem to know for certain that all things possess one will and, indeed, are this one will. . . .” (AOM [1879] 5; also GS 99, 127) In that rejection of Schopenhauer’s doctrine of will, Nietzsche sounds like one come down to earth and science. Nietzsche comes closest to such an outlook at this stage of his development, but in another of his rejections of doctrines of Schopenhauer, and Kant, we see his enduring bent of mind, which is not to stand with level-headedness, sound science, and close philosophical analysis. Rather, his stand is: Recall extravagant metaphysical ideas and the criticisms that have been made of them in the history of philosophy. Insinuate that he is siding with the criticisms and yet that he is a critic transcending them. Treat the world and comprehensions of it in philosophy as most truly explicable as products of human psychology (cf. Pippin 2010). Here is Nietzsche setting aside a grand Kantian distinction in “Appearance and the Thing in Itself” (cf. BT 87)). After recalling the fate of the distinction in Hegel and Schopenhauer, he calls on “science” to vindicate his own mythic rendition of reality. “With all these conceptions the steady and laborious process of science, which will one day celebrate its greatest triumph in a history of the genesis of thought, will in the end decisively have done; for the outcome of this history may well be the conclusion: That which we now call the world is the outcome of a host of errors and fantasies which have gradually arisen and grown entwined with one another in the course of the overall evolution of the organic being, and are inherited by us as the accumulated treasure of the entire past – as treasure: for the value of our humanity depends upon it.” (HH I 16; also 9–11, 18–19; GS 54) Nietzsche opens that aphorism with this statement: “Philosophers are accustomed to station themselves before life and experience – before that which they call the world of appearance – as before a painting that has been unrolled once and for all and unchangeably depicts the same scene . . . .” It is reasonable that he does not want to retain the name and concept world of appearance, for he wants to deny the distinction between that world and a realm of things as they are apart from perception and theoretical reason. Many of us today call the single world that is: the world. That was not what Nietzsche selected to replace world of appearance. He opts for life and experience. Kant’s world of appearance was the world from which the mind makes experience, geometry, and scientific law appropriate to that world. Nietzsche objects to the idea that there is a world, a knowable world, that “once and for all and unchangeably” is the same single thing it is. In lieu of world is life, and of this he writes: “The picture of life – The task of painting the picture of life, however often poets and philosophers may pose it, is nonetheless senseless: even under the hands of the greatest of painter-thinkers all that has ever eventuated is pictures and miniatures out of one life, namely their own – and nothing else is even possible. Something in course of becoming cannot be reflected as a firm and lasting image, as the ‘the’, in something else in course of becoming.” (AOM 19; also 114 and WS 171) Nietzsche does speak of the world. He speaks of our judgments about the world. However, it is not truths reported in judgments that is basis of judgments. In his view, it is the judge, the one pronouncing judgment, wanting to appear as striving for truth that is the root of devotion to truth and root of intellectual conscience (AOM 26, 33, 90; HH I 629–37; UM 86-93, 145; cf. D 248). Even more important than truth, the judge. Technique: Replace straight thought about the world and our situation in it with a story of how culture has brought about the appearance that such thought is straightly what it is about. Trump reason with psychology, the world with the human being, and truth with justice (HH I 636–37; D 539; GS 76, 109, 112). Trump metaphysics with biology. The principle that there are things having in themselves something in virtue of which they are the self-identical things they are, different from some other things, is a principle that evolved from the lower organisms. The distinctions among different substances are the different relations they have to organisms. “Belief . . . in identical things is . . . a primary, ancient error committed by everything organic. . . . [Metaphysics is] the science that treats of the fundamental errors of mankind – but does so as though they were fundamental truths” (HH I 18; also 10; GS 110, 111). Notice that the predicament of an individualist who is also a determinist—such as Nietzsche—is made less acute by absence of same things and same actions. Uniqueness of the individual is guaranteed without the bright possibility of different human actions upon same conditions and without the dark possibility of same human actions upon same conditions. There is an ancient enduring doctrine in philosophy that reason can be kept from truth by interference from feeling and preferences; therefore guard against this subversion. Nietzsche slides from that sound wariness to doubtfulness that reason can attain truth not beguiled by human need and utility (HH I 32, 131, 146, 227, 517, AOM 32, 50, 98; D 543; GS 110). He does, however, hold to the idea that we (true intellectual sorts) have some true needs, and one of them is a need for truth, which only impartial critical and experimental reason could possibly win (HH I 22, 633–35; D 270, 424, 432; GS 2). Moreover, skepticism not subject to experimental test wins nothing (GS 51). In Human Nietzsche was at a phase more welcoming of “science,” “scientific philosophy,” and “philosophical science” than in his earlier or later phases. He speaks of science getting us closer “to the true nature of the world and to a knowledge of it” (HH I 29; also 38, 27; D 270). Even here though, in 1878, he depreciates the ability of science, mathematics, and logic to reach important truth. Nietzsche was himself not well versed in the hard sciences nor in mathematics beyond high school geometry. (He had high school physics and opened some biology books eventually; he alludes to chemistry and geology in his writings.) “Science furthers ability, not knowledge. – The value of having for a time rigorously pursued a rigorous science does not derive precisely from the results obtained from it: for in relation to the ocean of things worth knowing these will be a mere vanishing droplet. But there will eventuate an increase in energy, in reasoning capacity, in toughness of endurance; one will have learned how to achieve an objective by the appropriate means. To this extent it is invaluable, with regard to everything one will afterward do, once to have been a man of science” (HH I 256; cf. 251, 635, WS 4; earlier, BT 74–75, 82, 85–88, and TL). More important than the results of science, the practice? No, the preceding passage was written by a philosopher living in the nineteenth century, in the midst of enormous scientific and technological advancement decade after decade. Nietzsche recognized the great utility of modern science, though he inveighed against making utility its aim (HH I 6, 38; D 41, 195; GS 12, 37). Modern science has delivered truth, which is the proper aim of science. This it does not by the lifetime work of the individual scientist, necessarily narrowly channeled for solid contribution, rather by accretion of such narrow contributions across generations (D 547; GS 46). “Error regarding life necessary to life. [An error concerning life, which error is necessary for life] – Every belief in the value and dignity of life rests on false thinking . . . . [He who has] succeeded in encompassing and feeling within himself the total consciousness of mankind . . . would collapse with a curse on existence – for mankind has as a whole no goal . . . . If in all he does he has before him the ultimate goallessness of man, his actions acquire in his own eyes the character of useless squandering. . . . / In mitigation. – But will our philosophy not thus become a tragedy? Will truth not become inimical to life . . . ? A question seems to lie heavily on our tongue and yet refuses to be uttered: whether one could consciously reside in untruth? Or, if one were obliged to, whether death would not be preferable? For there is no longer any ‘ought’; for morality, insofar as it was an ‘ought’, has been just as much annihilated by our mode of thinking as has religion. Knowledge can allow as motives only pleasure and pain, utility and injury: but how will these motives come to terms with the sense for truth?” (HH I 33–34; cf. 6, 22; GS 1, 7, 110, 121) With truth and knowledge in significant opposition to life, its value, and the values it requires, there is no morality with oughts beyond is. Furthermore, there is no given goal for humanity as a whole, so adopting individual goals supporting that sort of goal is not a source for external, given direction in which actions among possible actions one should take. Mankind as a whole has no goal, and mankind is not the goal of nature. Truth is not always something salutary and useful to man. “To determine that a plant makes no contribution to the treatment of sick human beings is no argument against the truth of the plant” (D 424). Nietzsche goes on to suggest “that truth, as a whole and interconnectedly, exists only for souls that are at once powerful and harmless, and full of joyfulness and peace (as was the soul of Aristotle), just as it will no doubt be only such souls capable of seeking it . . .” (D 424; cf. Spinoza at GS 37). Nietzsche is on to some truth here. I observe, however, that determining that a plant makes no contribution to the treatment of human beings does contribute to the overall goal of finding plants that are curative. Mankind’s knowledge, especially in scientific integration, can make mankind the goal of nature. Error of life regarding itself runs deep, according to Nietzsche. In an individual organism, including the individual human, what appears to be teleological action is not action due to final causes, but is entirely the result of efficient causes. That we feel hunger is not due to a desire of the organism to sustain itself, not due to that end or any other end. Hunger in an organism appears to it as not connected with antecedents or consequents. It appears as something isolated, such as the isolation envisioned in the concept freedom of the will. “Belief in freedom of will is a primary error committed by everything organic . . .” (HH I 18; also 38; cf. D 6, 148; see also Small 2005, 69). Similarly, in The Gay Science (1882), Nietzsche writes that it is a self-deception to “conceive reason as a completely free, self-originated activity” (GS 110). Value is not in the world. Value is from those who thoughtfully sense the world, who create the world that concerns human beings (GS 301). “It is not the world in itself, it is the world as idea (as error) that is so full of significance, profound, marvelous, and bearing in its womb all happiness and unhappiness” (HH I 29; cf. D 76, 148). We who will to value bear the pearls within us as waves seeking treasures on the shore (GS 310; also 59, 324, 342; D 102). Even more important than value, the weight-giving (HH 177; cf. 629). (Cf. Clark 1998, 47–73.) Nietzsche was familiar prior to HH with the egoisms of Hobbes, Spinoza, Stirner, and La Rochefoucauld (Brobjer 2008; Safranski 2002). Nietzsche held to psychological egoism in HH. The good for each agent is what the agent sees as useful to his self-preservation (HH 103). This is a thesis of how people are and cannot otherwise be; it is not a normative egoism. The challenge for the thesis of psychological egoism is to show that cases in which behavior appears to be unselfish are actually selfish. A soldier willing to die for his country or a mother who deprives herself for the sake of her child would seem not egoistic. “Is it not clear that in . . . these instances man loves something of himself, an idea, a desire, an offspring, more than something else of himself, that he thus divides his nature and sacrifices one part of it to the other?” (HH I 57; also 138). The ascetic is a partisan to parts of himself warring with other parts of himself (HH 137, 141; cf. D 215). Amelioration of the suffering of others relieves one of any pain one may feel at the sight of the suffering and gives one the satisfaction of exercising power (HH I 103; also 133). Furthermore, virtues such as prudence, fortitude, temperance, and justice would be abolished if egoism were abolished. No vanity, no virtues (WS 285). “The struggle for pleasure is the struggle for life. Whether an individual pursues this struggle in such a way that people call him good, or in such a way that they call him evil, is determined by the degree and quality of his intellect” (HH I 104; cf. 99 and AOM 91). Knowledge is pleasurable mainly because it brings consciousness of one’s strength, its acquisition can be a victory over one’s former conceptions, and it can make one feel superior to other people (HH I 252). Causing others to suffer, which is called “evil,” is not basically about those others; it is selfish in that it is exciting, sometimes sweet revenge, and it gives one a feeling of power and ascendancy (HH I 103; further, D 18, 30). Nietzsche takes egoism as desirable, as normative, even in HH. “Let us work for our fellow men, but only to the extent that we discover our own highest advantage in this work: no more, no less. All that remains is what it is one understands by one’s advantage; precisely the immature, undeveloped, crude individual will understand it most crudely” (HH I 95). Such admonitions are out of order if everyone simply does seek his or her own advantage. Urging better understanding of what is one’s advantage is also out of order. If other motives outweigh improvement of understanding what is one’s advantage, then they do, and they are selfish motives. Psychological egoism is an unstable position. Nietzsche lets go of it as absolutely general, beginning with his next book. (See also Abbey 2000, 37–39; and Clark and Leiter 1997, xxiv–xxv.) “‘There are so many days that have not yet broken’. –Rig Veda”. That is the epigram Nietzsche placed at the fore of Daybreak – Thoughts on the Prejudices of Morality (1881). The obligatory force of moral judgment (e.g. in Kant) and moral feeling (e.g. in Schopenhauer) are at odds with the obligatory force of reason. The foundations of the former obligatory force are all defective. We need to “construct anew the laws of life and action,” and for this we should take our foundation-stones from the “sciences of physiology, medicine, sociology, and solitude. . . . It is from them that the foundation-stones of new ideals (if not the new ideals themselves) must come” (D 453; cf. HH I 37). Moralities can be false in two ways. Motives for actions can be other than the moral ones people claim for them. That is one kind of falseness, and Nietzsche sees a lot of it. Another is to base morality on false premises. Where motives are genuinely moral, as designated in past and present moralities, the base premises are false. True, some of the things that have been regarded as immoral ought to be avoided, and some of the things that have been regarded as moral ought to be done. But this is so for reasons other than those that have hitherto been adduced (D 103). Some of the old ideals are wrong. Their valence is conferred inversely, or the weights given them are too much compared to weights given to other possible ideals. The feeling rated positively and called humility by Christianity could be rated negatively and called cowardice by another custom (D 38). The right valence and balance is found by the feeling of power and its lack (D 23). The feeling of power and its lack is the cipher of religions (D 65), of praising or blaming after wars won or lost (D 140), of the pleasantness of being a banker (D 205), of ecstatic self-sacrifice (D 215). The feeling of power is a factor beyond utility and vanity in national decisions for war (D 189, 360). The feeling of power is an inducement to look to distant goals beyond direct consequences to others or to oneself (D 146). The feeling of power is the first effect of happiness (D 356, 146). Men may have their needs and desires fulfilled; they may have health, food, housing, and entertainment. Yet they remain unhappy if they lack power in the soul. They may lose everything, yet be almost happy, if they retain that power. Nietzsche quotes Luther: “‘Let them take from us our body, goods, honor, children, wife: let it all go—the kingdom [Reich] must yet remain to us!’” (D 262; also 206). Where happiness is, there is “the feeling of power: this wants to express itself, either to us ourselves, or to other men, or to ideas or imaginary beings. The most common modes of expression are: to bestow, to mock, to destroy—all three out of a common basic drive” (D 356; also 146). The drive for the feeling of power, like all drives, has no moral valence. In itself it is neither good nor evil. It acquires moral rating “only when it enters into relations with drives already baptized as good or evil or is noted as a quality of beings the people has already evaluated and determined in a moral sense” (D 38; also 110, 35, and GS 21). In The Gay Science benevolence is ciphered by the feeling of power. Benefactors whose temperament is irritable and who are covetous of the feeling of power find pleasure in lording their power over the beneficiary. Proud natures, by contrast, are often hard and not obliging towards those who suffer and are broken; proud natures delight in unbroken persons who could become their equals, worthy contestants for power; towards these, the proud are more obliging (GS 13; also 118; D 133). There is something Nietzsche presupposes to be good, and noble too. A man who “flees from himself, hates himself, does harm to himself—he is certainly not a good man” (D 516). One should be benevolently inclined towards oneself. Therefore, reject allegedly virtuous benevolence towards others in which one would “live in others and for others” (D 516). One who “flees from himself, hates himself, and does harm to himself” is not benevolently inclined towards himself. Therefore, one who is benevolent towards others so as to “live in others and for others” cannot be virtuous by that (contra Comte, D 132; see also GS 119). Nietzsche continues in GS to render some occasions of putative self-sacrifice, such as that of martyrs, as for the self, for the self not to part from its feeling of power (GS 13). Still, at least in some other cases, he sees some degree of genuine self-sacrifice. Industriousness, obedience, and justice are praised by society as moral virtues insofar as these virtues benefit others and prevent an agent from applying “his entire strength and reason to his own preservation, development, elevation, promotion, and expansion of power” (GS 21). Does Nietzsche hold to the ancient “medical formulation of morality” captured by the dictum “virtue is the health of the soul”? No. To get closer to Nietzsche’s mark, one would need to at least change the dictum to read “‘your virtue is the health of your soul’. For there is no health as such, and all attempts to define such a thing have failed miserably. Deciding what is health even for your body depends on your goal, your horizon, your powers, your impulses, your mistakes and above all on the ideals and phantasms of your soul. Thus there are innumerable healths of the body . . .” (GS 120). Furthermore, considering the usefulness of illness to quicken the development of one’s virtue, especially one’s “thirst for knowledge and self-knowledge,” Nietzsche would question “whether the will to health alone is not a prejudice, a cowardice . . .” (GS 120). Notice the last word in the phrase “will to health alone.” Preserving one’s own health, of body and soul, remains a virtue in Nietzsche’s book, a virtue in competition with others. References Abbey, R. 2000. Nietzsche’s Middle Period. Oxford. Brobjer, T.H. 2008. Nietzsche’s Philosophical Context – An Intellectual Biography. Illinois. Clark, M. 1998. “On Knowledge, Truth, and Value: Nietzsche’s Debt to Schopenhauer and the Development of his Empiricism.” In Willing and Nothingness – Schopenhauer as Nietzsche’s Educator. C. Janaway, editor. 1998. Oxford. Nietzsche, F. 1873. The Birth of Tragedy and Other Writings. (Includes “On Truth and Lying in a Non-Moral Sense” [1872].) R. Geuss and R. Speirs, trans. 1999. Cambridge. ——. 1873–76. Untimely Meditations. R.J. Hollingdale, trans. 1997. Cambridge. ——. 1878–80. Human, All Too Human. (Includes “Assorted Opinions and Maxims” and “The Wanderer and His Shadow.”) R.J. Hollingdale, trans. 1986. Cambridge. ——. 1881. Daybreak. Hollingdale, trans. 1997. Cambridge. ——. 1882. The Gay Science I–IV. J. Nauckhoff, trans. 2001. Cambridge. Safranski, R. 2000. Nietzsche – A Philosophical Biography. S. Frisch, trans. Norton. Schopenhauer, A. 1859 [1819]. The World as Will and Presentation (Vol. I). Aquila, trans. 2008. Pearson Longman. Small, R. 2005. Nietzsche and Rée – A Star Friendship. Oxford.
  13. 1 point
    Most returns on the quote as cited point to Friedrich Nietzsche —"One repays a teacher badly if one always remains nothing but a pupil." Sensei used to say something along the lines "One learns more as a teacher than as a student." That doesn't get nearly as many Google nibbles.
  14. 1 point
    What do you answer yes? And no? I don't know what you believe. That's why I asked you. Anyway, take care. I'm gonna climb into the peanut gallery for the rest of the show.
  15. 1 point
    When the pupil is ready, the teacher appears.
  16. 1 point
    Jose, judging by your responses to this exchange, it appears that you're somehow determined to demonstrate that objectivity can't exist. Am I wrong? I can't help noticing that you spell, "Subjective," as if it were related somehow to a specific religion or philosophical school of thought. And yet, in the following sentence, the word, "objective," is not capitalized, suggesting that we're not discussing Objectivism as all. But to address your reply to my comment: No, there is no objectivity necessary when making a subjective decision. Is going a restaurant an objective choice? Yes, if you wish it to be. However, wishing is a subjective practice. You may choose to overwhelm yourself with internal conflict over where to conduct your dining. But, anyone who complicates their life with such indecision is loosing the opportunity to live freely. You are a slave to indecision. You are not pursuing Objectivist standards. If you wish to make an objective decision, make clear your criterion with regard to your intended end result before deciding o your conclusion. I clearly did not say that "all choices are subjective." You took that portion of words out of context from the entire statement. Was that intentional? Are we discussing Objectivism, or are you merely trolling?
  17. 1 point


    I wouldn't say that. Though I don't think the source of love is your desire to see the best in them. That is a separate issue, probably an attempt to sustain the love. The source is the fact that they're your parents, they raised you, and I assume they treat you well. It would be difficult to maintain such love if your parents were monsters who treat you terribly.
  18. 1 point
    Really choosing life, entails more than merely breathing for the next few seconds, it means choosing to live long range... choosing to choose life again the next day and the next ... indefinitely, for as long as you possibly can. The choice to continually choose life and to live as long as possible is simple, achieving it is complex. The potential for you to live as long as possible in future depends on your level of flourishing not just directly on your choices at any one time. You can’t choose to save yourself from an unexpected threat by jumping to safety if you have taken care of yourself so badly that you are simply incapable of it. Some events are unforeseen or cannot be predicted. The more physically strong you are the more likely you will survive accident or illness or other physically stressful events. The more mentally and emotionally strong you are the more likely you will survive extreme emotional trauma or events that may test your very will to live or test how quickly you can get back on your feet or how well you can will yourself to take care of yourself again. Your level of flourishing, your physical and mental health, is crucial to your likelihood of long term survival. As such every materiel and spiritual value that improves or contributes (in sum total) to your well being generally is objectively conducive to your flourishing and hence your choice to live in a world you simply cannot control. Your enjoyment at lunch is the product of your subjective tastes in food and ambience... but the spiritual value of your enjoyment and the mental well being it promotes, even if merely modestly incremental, are objectively good for you. All else being equal (the food is not poison, and the patrons not gang members liable to cause a shoot out) choose the place you enjoy the most, it’s objectively the best choice for you.
  19. 1 point

    I am a bit confused...

    Yes, it's quite routine for people to take pride in stuff they played no role in, and would even have actively worked against. They do this because they identify closely with the target of their pride, and they think something along the lines of "someone enacting values like mine" did something good. Too often, this becomes "people like me did...", or "people who live near me did..." of even "people who live nearby 200 years ago did...". As an *emotion* this is just natural consequence of the core question: who am I? If you think of yourself as a American, mid-western, Christian... the emotion of pride is natural when another mid-westerner, American or Christian does something good. Of course, just because one feels an emotion does not mean the core assumptions are right. That's what one needs to question: who am I?
  20. 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.
  21. 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?
  22. 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.
  23. 1 point

    Ayn Rand and her adultery

    Adultery isn't inherently immoral in that same sense that doing heroin isn't inherently immoral. In almost every conceivable context, it's a horribly destructive and evil thing to do, but in certain very unusual cases, it can be acceptable. If you're dying of cancer, and every moment is a painful struggle, then heroin (or other opiates) can make you more comfortable. It can ease the pain while leaving you conscious and aware, still able to communicate with your family during your final days. In this kind of case, using heavy drugs can be moral. Maybe. But it's still very borderline, and we shouldn't condone it as a regular practice. If your life-long lover doesn't fulfill your needs in some important respect, then it having an open affair might save your marriage in the long run. For instance, if you are a super-genius with a 200 IQ and your husband is only a normal genius with a 140 IQ, then it's possible that there are certain values he can't share with you. Perhaps he can't understand the breadth of your achievements, can't discuss ideas on the same level with you, etc. In this kind of case, having a (short-term) affair with another super-genius might fill your needs enough that you can stay with your life-long love. In this context, adultery could be moral. Maybe. But it's still borderline, and we shouldn't condone it as a regular practice. While not inherently immoral, both heroine and adultery are inherently destructive. No matter what the state of your health, heroine damages your body. It destroys part of your mental and physical capacities. No matter what the state of your romantic life, adultery damages your relationships. It destroys part of your capacity for intimacy and psychological visibility. Whether or not Rand was moral in her adultery, I can't judge. I didn't know her personally, nor anyone else involved. But I will say that her example is not one to be followed, nor viewed as a standard of moral action. --Dan Edge
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