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  1. 2 points

    Donald Trump

    From The Objectivist Ethics, The Virtue of Selfishness, p. 32-33 This is the fallacy inherent in hedonism — in any variant of ethical hedonism, personal or social, individual or collective. “Happiness” can properly be the purpose of ethics, but not the standard. The task of ethics is to define man’s proper code of values and thus to give him the means of achieving happiness. To declare, as the ethical hedonists do, that “the proper value is whatever gives you pleasure” is to declare that “the proper value is whatever you happen to value” — which is an act of intellectual and philosophical abdication, an act which merely proclaims the futility of ethics and invites all men to play it deuces wild. I don't know what you expect of "opposition", but this certainly is not an advocation of hedonism.
  2. 1 point
    Someone asked: "is determinism (or causation, I may be mixing the two up if they're different) not the way all logic and science works when talking about anything? ... studies that seem to indicate that free will may be more of an illusion" The reductionist materialism of the "scientific worldview", does embrace determinism and the idea that free will is an illusion. Logic does not dictate this, though, actually the reductionist worldview is incoherent. Without free will, morality or ethics would be a meaningless science, people will act strictly according to prior causes, and can't change their behavior based on a morality. So there would be no "good" or "bad", no right or wrong, no justice, nothing. These terms would be essentially meaningless. If behavior is determined, then what people do, just *is* what they do, there's no alternative to compare it against, it wasn't right or wrong, or better or worse, it just *happened*. Worse than that, if reductionism is true, then all that exists in a metaphysically basic sense are millions of identical particles, behaving according to simple mathematical rules, a la Conway's game of life. There is no real line you can draw around one group of particles and think of it as a person, that would be a purely subjective choice that doesn't actually mean anything in reality. The things that you think you see around you aren't real. There are no men or women, there isn't even a self. Furthermore, statements or propositions you make don't have any meaning in the sense of true or false either since the concepts that make them up don't mean anything, and therefore neither does logic hold. So in this materialist worldview there is no justice, no morality, no truth or reason or logic, or even self. These concepts are all contradicted by the nature of reality. They are essentially meaningless and impossible. Yet despite all of this, they will still continue to speak as if these were true. They will talk about what you ought to do for your well-being, how you should be rational, use reason, seek truth, be logical, and speak as if people are real, that things around them are real, that they matter, and that there is meaning in life. All of this is contradicted by their own philosophy, and so they are being incoherent, and engaging wholesale in the fallacy of the stolen concept.
  3. 1 point
    One withstands or resists the invasion of armies; one does not withstand or resist the invasion of ideas. — Victor Hugo This may have been inspired, perhaps, by the earlier written: There is something more powerful that the brute force of bayonets: it is the idea whose time has come and hour struck. — Gustave Aimard Ayn Rand is the first to have given a rational, objectively demonstrable, scientific answer to the question of why man needs a code of values. At the same time she shines reason’s light into and thus dispersing altruism’s shadow revealing the vampire haunting Western culture. She describes altruism not as a morality—even though she refers to it as the morality of altruism—rather a negation of morality. Even though she wields reason as a weapon, and calls upon reality as an invincible ally, ideas do not invade; rather they are passed around. One can see and rather easily grasp the invasion of armies and even readily resist. Without first having learned to distinguish the nature of ideas, it is much more difficult to recognize, much less resist the brightly colored fruit coming from the deadly yew tree. It is the idea whose time has come and hour struck that determines whether the brute force of bayonets is resorted to, and whether it is utilized in the more efficacious deployment of self-defense or the less efficacious employment of the initiation of physical force. A question that often arises within those familiarizing themselves with the various writings of Ayn Rand is: Is Ayn Rand right? In “The Objectivist Ethics” in “The Virtue of Selfishness”, Ayn Rand writes the following: If you wonder why the world is now collapsing to a lower and ever lower rung of hell, this [altruism] is the reason. If you want to save civilization, it is this [the altruistic] premise of modern ethics — and of all ethical history — that you must challenge. Quibbling over whether this borderline case or that borderline case falls inside or outside the Objectivist guidelines may be a good intellectual exercise for developing clarity for some. Squabbling over whether Johnny’s interpretation or Jimmy’s interpretation or Joey’s interpretation of Ayn Rand’s wording is ludicrous at best. Being objective is not about hermeneutics or interpretations. The question remains: Is she right? Leonard Peikoff, in Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand isolates this crucial tidbit: To understand man, or any other human concern, one must understand concepts. One must discover what they are, how they are formed, and how they are used, and often misused, in the quest for knowledge. Harry Binswanger, in one of his lectures points out: If you want to understand reason, understand concepts. If you want to study reason, study concepts. Concepts are where we store reason. If civilization is at stake, it is an altruistic notion of concepts that must be swept aside. In her article: “Global Balkanization” in her book “The Voice of Reason”: [T]o the tribalists, language is not a tool of thought and communication. Language to them is a symbol of tribal status and power—the power to force their dialect on all outsiders. This appeals not even to the tribal leaders, but to the sick, touchy vanity of the tribal rank and file. To wrap this up on another note that Miss Rand saw fit to comment on: the whole of Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology applies, while in particular this isolates an essential ingredient: It is worth noting, at this point, that what the enemies of reason seem to know, but its alleged defenders have not discovered, is the fact that axiomatic concepts are the guardians of man's mind and the foundation of reason—the keystone, touchstone and hallmark of reason—and if reason is to be destroyed, it is axiomatic concepts that have to be destroyed. If your axiomatic concepts, like existence, are indestructible, then you have nothing to worry about. Ayn Rand put it succinctly. As Leonard Peikoff put it in Fact and Value, as paraphrased: The “official authorized doctrine” of Objectivism was stated and validated objectively by its discoverer and author, Ayn Rand.
  4. 1 point

    What is Subjectivity?

    What is subjective and what is subjectivity (the thread title is about subjectivity) are closely related things, and everyone must engage in them and be aware of when to avoid the subjective and subjectivity when possible. Subjectivism is a normative theory about what ought to be done in epistemology and ethics and so not everyone is a Subjectivist. The Ayn Rand Lexicon has an entry for Objectivity which includes the following passage "... no special revelations to privileged observers...". There exists a perfectly ordinary and natural (as opposed to supernatural) category of observations which are only possible to certain privileged observers: observing the contents of your own mind, including your emotions and perceptions. You can yourself attempt to be objective about what you think and what you perceive even when alone, but when alone you don't have the problem of attempting to justify yourself or your conclusions to others; there is only one observer in that case. Include within the category of the subjective things that can only ever exist within the privacy of your own mind and ought to be there, and things which ought not be there but are because you are wrong about them existing, either because your reasoning is wrong or you are hallucinating them or are the victim of an illusion.
  5. 1 point
    Try this on for fun https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=KIs9xM7Sac8
  6. 1 point
    Spooky it is indeed! I think that with many computer programs, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Just like with the human brain. Consciousness is not reducible to neurons and brain chemistry, even though if you took the brain apart that's all you'd get. There's clearly something more there. It's what is called an "emergent property," much like how a colony of ants, or an economy functions. Or a video game. There's more there than just lines of code, there's something that people can engage in and enjoy in ways that the programmers never anticipated. Will AI ever reach that point where it attains "sentience" from all of the lines of code? I don't know. I do know that it would raise interesting ethical questions, and society would have to redefine its definition of personhood. The EMH is clearly a person because he has apparent consciousness and free will... he can choose not to perform his duty... he can choose not to focus his subroutines on treating patients, as in that video I linked.
  7. 1 point
    It doesn't really relate to free will. I just saw a bunch of oversimplified and, frankly, incorrect claims about computer programs which I wanted to correct. I didn't mean to imply that AlphaGo can think; only that it's not predictable and that its unpredictability is not just a matter of exceeding our cognitive capacity. And that is spooky.
  8. 1 point
    Image via Wikimedia Commons.Over at Aeon is an article (that doesn't take one to read) about how trial by ordeal was actually used. This in no way legitimizes the practice, but it does answer a practical question faced by the mystics in charge: Essentially everyone believed in eternal damnation for the unrepentant, but that wasn't always an effective deterrent to actual crime. At the same time, a perceived inability on their part to render reliable verdicts would cast doubt on them as cognitive and moral authorities. The Church needed a way to achieve some level of certainty about innocence or guilt, but the priests knew on some level that they weren't going to get any help from their imaginary friend. What to do? Capitalize on ignorance and rig the result: ... Did you catch the trick? Because of your belief in iudicium Dei, the spectre of the ordeal leads you to choose one way if you're guilty -- confess -- and another way if you're innocent -- undergo the ordeal -- revealing the truth about your guilt or innocence to the court through the choice you make. By asking God to out you, the legal system incentivises you to out yourself...The piece goes on to elaborate on how the instruction manual for the priest who ran the "trial" should proceed: A "miraculous" result was thus practically assured. For example, in the early 13th century, 208 defendants in Várad in Hungary underwent hot-iron ordeals. Amazingly, nearly two-thirds of defendants were unscathed by the "red-hot" irons they carried and hence exonerated. If the priests who administered these ordeals understood how to heat iron, as they surely did, that leaves only two explanations for the "miraculous" results: either God really did intervene to reveal the defendants" innocence, or the priests made sure that the iron they carried wasn't hot. [minor format edits]So the Church found a way to both preserve its credibility by delivering a fair verdict often enough for that purpose -- and yet to maintain complete control over the result of any given trial. Even if, as the author claimed, this yielded "improved criminal justice," it served its true purpose, of maintaining the power of the Church over society, far better. The superstitious rabble were kept from utter lawlessness and any uppity heretics were put on notice, too, even if they saw through the ruse. Clever. -- CAV Link to Original
  9. 1 point

    Is objectivism consequentialist?

    OK, I see that I must clear something up, a bit of sloppiness that I am as guilty of as anyone else. Otherwise, this discussion is just not going to go anywhere. The Objectivist ethics comprises a set of conditional statements, each of which is of the form, "If I choose to exist, X." Existence not being a floating abstraction, to exist is to exist as something. So those conditionals really mean, "If I choose to exist as a human being, X." One attribute of humans is that they die. Dying is as much a metaphysical fact as breathing (and I don't need to be told that technology might change this. But for now....) Choosing existence is necessarily to choose that one will die. What matters in the Objectivist ethics is not that one dies -- that is not open to choice -- but how one dies. The contrary to the Objectivist ethics is not choosing to die. It is choosing to live in a way that is not proper to a human being. So, the death question confronting an Objectivist is not whether he will die, but whether he will die as is proper to a human being, or not. The relevant consequence here is that, if a person abandons life as a human being, none of those conditionals imposes a "should" on him. So there are no validly reasoned ethical conclusions that apply to him. But this applies to abandoning life as a human being. Not to choosing the manner of one's death. The person who decides that his values are best served by his own death is still choosing existence as a human being, albeit a shorter one than his biology would have allowed. His actions therefore do satisfy the conditionals of the Objectivist ethics. The contrary is a bit more complicated. It is hard to imagine a person consciously choosing against his own values in order that he die. His is not the case that really matters, though. Instead, it is the person who chooses a value that is contra-life (his life) that is said to have chosen death. I think this is an unfortunate wording, as it simply doesn't reflect reality. If I'm brought up Christian and follow its morality, I have chosen an anti-life morality, but I haven't rejected life itself; I have no idea that my morality is anti-life. To the contrary, I would believe myself to have chosen life, the life promised by my religion. Not only that, I probably only give lip service to the worst aspects of what I assent to, implicitly choosing life in doing so. My point here is that I think it would be a good idea to drop the whole "choosing life/death" thing. Whatever rhetorical value it may have (and I think it has little), it causes immense intellectual confusion.
  10. 1 point
    Sorry; I didn't mean the quantity of people, either. A group of people is only some number of individuals. How they should behave, as a group, depends on how each of them should act in isolation (not that they'll necessarily be identical but that one must be based on the other). You are right on several counts (notably the relation between my ideas on "flourishing" and on socialization) and I do push for "social awareness", in my own way, and only in that very specific way. There's a point at which "social awareness" would cease to be healthy, benevolent coexistence and turn into second-handedness (trying to think through another brain, see through their eyes and do whatever you think they'd most approve of); beyond that point human beings stop being helpful or uplifting for each other's lives and gradually become codependent and monstrous. Trying to define the ultimate standard and purpose of ethics in social terms will prevent you from being able to define that cutoff point. Now, if you think it's just a separate but also important issue, then you're right. It probably belongs in another thread, but if you feel like making it and we can continue this subject over there. --- Also, on rat brains and flourishing, I found this to be extremely helpful:
  11. 1 point

    Donald Trump

    A philosophy of Objectivism that distorts itself and compromises its principles for the sake of wider acceptance is not what I want. Have children and raise them rationally, that is one method that can help gain some additional practitioners without compromising.
  12. 1 point
    Just because the contents of a fantasy are subjective, does not mean that fantasy qua fantasy cannot be judged as objectively good. A fantasy's purpose is to delight the fantasizer. If it succeeds in this purpose, it is an objectively good fantasy. If it fails in this purpose, we can call it an objectively bad fantasy. People have those all the time when they imagine themselves getting in a car wreck and are terrified. Psychologists call that "catastrophizing" and it has objectively measurable negative effects on people, i.e. they are afraid to drive, or they refrain from driving. I am redefining "fantasizing" in the same way that Ayn Rand re-defined "selfishness." Most people think of "selfishness" as a bad thing but we use that word to mean a good way to live life. In the same way, most people view "fantasizing" as a sexual perversion, or as something that only children do and you "grow out of it." That's ridiculous. I am redefining "fantasizing" as a way in which man can directly and instantly use his mind for his own happiness. I would add "bearing in mind that it isn't actually part of objective reality" to the end of that, but that should be obvious and assumed. Ayn Rand didn't add, "by the way, this isn't real" to her writings on aesthetics, so I shouldn't be saddled with the same burden. Emotions are not tools of cognition but they are critical to man's enjoyment of his life. I would add that fantasies, while not critical, should serve the same purpose in Objectivist thought. Not part of defining reality, but can be enjoyed themselves. Some people seem to have a knee-jerk, "Well it's not real so I refuse to enjoy a good fantasy" reaction. Imagine if they had that reaction to works of literature. "It's not real, so I refuse to enjoy it." The "world" of Atlas Shrugged only exists in the minds of its readers. The "world" of my fantasies exists only in my mind. Why not enjoy both? The only difference between artistic and personal fantasy is that one is shared with others, while the other is personal. I've written my fantasies down before and shared them with no one. They were necessary for me because I felt like crap that day and there was nothing in real life I could do to immediately change the facts and circumstances. So my fantasy made me feel immediately better. Even though I knew that my thoughts weren't real, I enjoyed them for what they were. I propose that we call them out as fantasies, but we don't take an intrinsicist view like "all fantasies are bad." We instead say, "this is not based on objective reality, it is a fantasy so it cannot inform us of how to live on earth."
  13. 1 point

    Choosing to Live, Choosing to Die

    Rand did say that living is a choice throughout Galt's speech and in her essay "Causality Versus Duty" - a choice distinct from another type of choice, namely your choice of the goal that your moral action is meant to serve. To put it in context, Rand denied the existence of a self-preservation instinct in humans, instead calling it a 'desire to live', which she believed to not be automatic, and she mentiones that some people do not even have this desire, simply living because everybody else seems to do it. Rand was right that you don't need morality if you're dead. If you're alive but choose to die, then by definition you're a soon-to-be dead person. In that situation, you wouldn't need any morality anymore, you would need a suicide method. Wanting to be alive is the precondition of morality. So, is living a choice? You could say that any person that is alive right now expresses his choice to live by the very fact of being alive and intending to take future action toward self-preservation. Every moment in which a man is alive is a testimony to his choice. The choice is expressed the moment a baby cries in order to signal to his mother that he's hungry or in distress. But, can you make that choice consciously and volitionaly, and does the choice take place in a certain place and time? Not likely, unless you extend 'volitional choice' to mean: the volitional choice to obey or defy your natural self-preservation drive. In this sense, any conscious choice to live is simply a rationalization of a desire that people can't actually control (If they're sane). (But unlike plants and other animals, humans have a distinct 'capability' to volitionaly kill themselves to reach higher, immortal levels of existence, and cults such as Heaven's Gate are the scary testimony to this).
  14. 1 point

    Choosing to Live, Choosing to Die

    Newborns have that context. You would just need to ask if the choice to live is a choice actually pre-volitional. I have no reason to say newborns lack volition, though. Or just ask if life is a given start to all people, thus "choosing" a given makes no sense, as if this is true, all people reach for life by nature, by teleology. I have no reason to call life a given start.
  15. 1 point
    And how do we know that the new guy is in error, versus that his critics are? By whose interpretation and aesthetic response do we judge? We can all declare that we're guided by Objectivism, and therefore that each of our differing tastes and interpretations are the properly integrate ones, and anyone who disagrees is wrong. Then, unless someone can actually provide some proof (which Rand admits is not possible without the missing "conceptual vocabulary") it's basically just an irrational shouting match in which one side is just posing as being better and more integrated Objectivists. As Tyler is suggesting, I think people should like what they like. Instead of asking if it meets Objectivism's criteria or approval, why not start with the assumption that, being an admirer of Objectivism, you probably like it for some reason that is consistent with Objectivism, perhaps even without fully recognizing it yet. So instead of heading down the path to a guilt trip and self-repression, why not ask a different set of questions, such as, why does this resonate with me? Others tend to see it as bad and icky and depressing, but is that the way that I see it? Does it make me feel powerful? Inspired? Rebelious? What virtuous thing about it am I responding to? J