Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum


Popular Content

Showing most liked content since 09/21/17 in Posts

  1. 3 points
    I think this smuggles in the premise that pursuing survival (the 'pure' type) would never require you to temporarily diminish your momentary wellbeing for the sake of increased survival later on. In reality, pursuing survival pretty much requires you to incur 'hits' to your momentary survival. As the norm, I might add. A while ago I heard an anecdote by Harry Binswanger in which Ayn Rand was arguing with somebody who denied the law of Identity (A=A) on the grounds that a moving object has no particular spatial position. Every time you look at the object, it is in a different position, so where is it? Ayn Rand replied that the particular object isn't anywhere, it is in transition. Its identity is that it is changing its location. I think that the same thing can be applied to ethics. In fact, it was captured by Rand in her definition of life: 'A process of self-sustaining, self-generated action'. While it may appear a stationary definition, it is exactly the opposite. Survival is not merely a process of staying alive - it is a constant, never ending departure from your current position to a better state. This fact seems to have a expression in the way our brains are made: once you get where you want, you always have to move higher and higher, because you become progressively desensitized to what you currently have. If you suddenly find yourself without intellectual challenge, or doing the same things over and over, you become bored out of your mind. A lot of enjoyment is derived from the process of moving forward itself, from gaining values as well as enjoying values. Just to be clear, I agree with SL (and even Kelley) that flourishing is not the goal of life. To sunder the two is to ignore the hierarchy: life -> value -> survival -> moving forward (flourshing). Ayn Rand understood survival to be a state of transition from a lower state of robustness to a higher one. Death is also a state of transition, which is why you can't judge somebody's course by the claim that he is 'happy'. If his happiness is a slow march into the Lion's den, he's wilfully undergoing a process of slow death, no matter how well he tends to his physical health in the meantime. The excessive prudence that the' survivalist' displays is the result of his Gryllsian view of survival. He don't see the fact that life is actually a broad timeline filled with factors that cannot be separated from each other. Flourishers, on the other hand, tend to speak on the unstated, or unidentified premise that reality is full of things that conflict with survival while enabling flourishing. The flourishing-survival dichotomy is similar to the classical variants of the mind-body break: love vs sex, percepts vs. concepts. In reality, the thrill seeking & cool things that flourishers say they want to do (insteading of being tied to the 'boring' survivalist view) ARE what survival entails. A lack of pleasure and excitement is anti-life in the sense that it moves you away from survival and proper functioning. Rand captured this in the virtue of Pride: a person of unsundered rationality not only has the best life possible to him at any given moment in time, but he's also necessarily in a state of 'transition' to even higher self-esteem, wealth, health etc. Stilness means death, in the sense that every time somebody tries to remain where he already is ('freezing' his survival in place), he is actively hurting his survival, not maintaining it. In the example above, the hero does not gain five years of life by giving up his dream. Instead, he becomes spiritualy diseased. A person who shortens his life for a fuller experience does not forfeit survival, he acts exclusively on the principle of survival. This is not a negation of A=A. Ayn Rand was clear that the standard of value is survival as a specific kind of being. Survival as man does not mean merely longevity. It means pleasure, challenge, hobbies, love, art, friendship, constantly moving forward and other factors relevant to what he is. The values that man needs qua man are his actual means to longevity. A lot of people turn longevity into a contextless standard and then proceed to seek it in ways that not only hurts their own goal, but makes them survive not as men, but as diseased forms of life. Ayn Rand used the term 'metaphysical monstruosity' in Galt's Speech, and gave the example of a bird struggling to break its own wings, or a plant trying to destroy its own roots. So we can identfiy yet another dichotomy here: the longevity vs identity dichotomy. I think Rand would have agreed with me, since she put some examples in her books. For example, the before-mention Galt suicide threat, which appears in the same book as Galt's speech. Surely she must have counted on the fact that Galt's actions would shed some context on her abstract presentation. Galt is not choosing between death (suicide) and survival. He is choosing between two different types of death: by slow torture, or instantaneous. Galt is not motivated by any flourishing-survival dichotomy. His best use of reason told him that he has legitimate grounds to be 100% convinced that his life would become a living embodiment of precisely the thing that his own ethical code condemned. So paradoxically, his suicide over Dagny was a statement of a moral choice, in total agreement with survival qua man. There are legitimate cases where a change to a different course really isn't possible. Let's look at Galt. He longed for Dagny for a decade, a process that slowly imprinted her into his psyche as each day passed. Every time he had trouble getting motivated, he used her as fuel. He watched her go into the beds of two men he admired. He then got her, but.. what if she died at the hands of a bunch of petty people that represent what he despises the most? 10 years of striving and emotional investment, negated in an instant. A decade of his life, wasted. He probably understood the repercussions on his psychology that her death would have caused. He would lose desire to do anything, no matter how heroically he'd try to get on track. Implying he then wasted 5 more years in depression, and that eventually his desire for women returned, what competiton would there be? If another mercilessly-rational woman with the brains and character to build the John Galt line in a collapsing country was around, he would have known about her. For him, it's either the vice-president or nothing. It would haunt him forever. So, contra SL, I would say that sometimes, but not always, 'pursuing a different dream' can be anti-life. I will go on a limb and say that the pure survivalist, Kelley-type position is really the absolute same as the flourisher position, when all of the factors are brought into question. The most ardent Flourisher is actually the most ardent, pure and bare-bones Survivalist. And all 'self-actualization'-based ethical systems are useless unless people understand that self-actualization is not an intrinsic end in itself, but the effect, the natural result of a survivalist ethics. The alternative is accidentaly pursuing 'self-actualization' in a way that goes against its root (survival), which leads to consequences that are too obvious to mention. The self-realization vs survival dichotomy.
  2. 3 points

    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.
  3. 3 points
    Okay, in the spirit of the OP's request, this is my two cents: There is the psychological plane of existence, the experience of life, pain pleasure, happiness. Then there is the epistemological plane, the abstraction of life, the concept of flourishing and the moral code. And then the metaphysical plane, the organism, existence or nonexistence. From the metaphysical plane, the main thing that I learned from Rand was that there was no "my reality" vs. "your reality". There was just reality and the search for the truth is honorable. From the psychological/experiential plane: Objectivism taught me that I have a right to my life. I understood that when someone calls me selfish "they want something". I learned to strive for greatness rather than strive to look great. I found that if I held onto things that didn't make sense, if I went along for too long, I suddenly drowned in anxiety. I learned that living as a parasite can creep up on people. Objectivism gave me a path to follow to find my way back, to happiness. She awoke me to the existence of unearned guilt. I learn that when I have a sense of having achieved something, the pleasure was moral, it was good. And of course, I learned that the good was not what religion said and what a majority believed did not mean wisdom. Ultimately, with her attack on altruism, I learned that defining my boundaries, determining who I am and what I want was my fundamental responsibility and a never-ending task. She reminded me that the merging and melding with others, at the cost of my core self, was being dead before my time. And in the process, I have fought to hold on to who I am, to be myself. And now, I am here to learn what I put aside for later.
  4. 2 points
    I don't think this is true. I think it's an interesting notion, being "committed to evasion." Someday -- and it's sooner now than ever -- I plan on opening up a topic to really try to explore evasion... but in the meantime, do we think it's true that people are committed to evasion? Were it so, how could any of us survive? We depend upon reason for survival itself (whether or not we account "survival," in any sense, the standard of value ). And so I think that we in the West, as elsewhere, must be open to reason to some certain extent. And if we manage marvels, like constructing skyscrapers, conquering disease, etc. -- and we do -- then that is all the more evidence that reason carries great sway among men. And Objectivism, as truth, has literally everything worth valuing to offer. If we can get it right -- as we must attempt to do for ourselves, our own sakes, let alone proselytization -- then we have the formula for earthly happiness, inclusive of all values and virtues, including "fun." I'm taking a bit of a flyer, and I'd rather discuss this in full when I do commit to a topic on evasion, but I suspect that it does not come out of nowhere, unmotivated. I suspect that it's something like a psychological defense mechanism... and as such, I think that there are means by which we may come to understand evasion, such that we could be more or less effective in communicating our message. I don't think it's hopeless or fruitless. I think we can do better.
  5. 2 points
    Try this on for fun https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=KIs9xM7Sac8
  6. 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.
  7. 2 points
    But, to also answer part of your question, there just isn't going to be one single "undisputed" account, just like there isn't one single undisputed account of what "health" includes. Health is individual, contextual, but also generic and inclusive. Health isn't just "I don't know what it is, but I know it when I see it," it is an objective state that is scientifically describable. But still my health may be different from yours. There may be a cutoff point below which you don't have it, and above which you do, but at the same time degrees in which this person has more than that person. Flourishing is individualistic like this. My flourishing is different form yours. To get a complete description you're going to have to take multiple accounts and multiple approaches and integrate them with your observations.
  8. 2 points
    I can't quite agree that her starting point is question begging. It would seem to me that there is a set of principle data that the philosopher starts off with in every branch. A sort of foundation that any philosopher as such starts out with. The metaphysician starts by outward look at things and noticing that there is something rather than nothing, that he is a something, that he has questions. The epistemologist starts off with noticing that he has been correct sometimes, and incorrect other times, that he has selective awareness, that being wrong has consequences for him, and that he doesn't not automatically know which things are correct and incorrect. Unless he had noticed that he has fallen into error, he would not have reason to examine the processes that led him there. If we had a mode of operation that provided us with automatic knowledge, then we wouldn't need to distinguish between certitude and error, and thus wouldn't need epistemology. The ethicist proceeds in a similar manner. The ethicist must start from the fact of human action, that we deliberate between alternatives, say A or B, that we can't not act as long as we are alive and awake, and that our actions have consequences for us. Asking "why do we need ethics at all" is, in my view the exact right question. After all, maybe we don't need ethics, if we were provided with automatic action we wouldn't need to deliberate between alternatives. Or maybe our action automatically is aimed at life-sustainment or some other end. Rand follows Aristotle in starting with examining the concept of action, and differentiating between vegetative action, sensitive action (animals), and deliberative action. She does differentiate between types of action, volitional and non. Analyzing human action is just about the most non question begging way to start off ethics. In that she defines it as code of values, she doesn't mean values in a normative sense. As Smith points out, sometimes she uses "value" as "that which one ought to act for" and value as "that which one acts to gain/keep." But regardless, when she defines ethics as a code of values, value just definitionally refering to the object of action. "Values," descriptively, are interchangeable with "ends." Thus, saying it's a code of values is simply recognizing that man acts to attain ends, and deliberates about them. True there is deontology, divine command, consequentialism, emotivism, nihilism, Stoicism, all sorts of different codes, and that code man needs could be any of these things. But all of these things has to start out with the principle data, that the philosopher notices that man acts to attain ends (values), and has no automatic guide to them. This, I see as Rand's reformulating the first line of the Nicomachean Ethics, that every inquiry and activity aims at some good, into more modern language.
  9. 2 points

    False concept

    Gio, I would recommend listening to Leonard Peikoff's lecture series entitled "Unity in Epistemology and Ethics". I think it was the third lecture where he discusses a topic which is, in my view, closely related to your question. Basically, he argues that there are certain concepts which, in order to be properly understood and applied, must have two distinct definitions. The main concept he considers in the lecture is "value", but his analysis (which is still somewhat unrefined at the time this lecture was given) applies to other concepts too and I think also applies to the concept "concept", which is why I'm bring this up. For "value", the two definitions would be (roughly): 1. That which one acts to gain and/or keep, and 2. Something which one acts to gain and/or keep which sustains one's life. The second definition is "pure" form of the first, and refers to values in the complete and consistent sense. The first definition subsumes "values" which may in fact be life destroying (eg. "valuing" Nazism). With "concept", I think the analagous definitions would be (very roughly): 1. An idea represented by a word, and 2. A mental integration of two or more concretes [insert rest of Ayn Rand's definition here]. Peikoff offers his best explanation (at the time the lecture was delivered at least, which was in 1996) for why this is so. I think he argues that this only applies to certain normative concepts, or concepts which directly or indirectly refer to something volitional. Another example he gives is egoism. I think the basic point is that one first grasps these concepts in one context, and then discovers later on what their fully consistent definition is. Yet, the original definition is still useful since these concepts are still used and held by others in a form which is not fully consistent. If, having grasped the fully consistent definition of "concept", we did not permit ourselves to call things like "altruism" anti-concepts (thus viewing them as a subcategory of concepts), we would not be able to evaluate these anti-concepts at all; we wouldn't even be able to talk about them (because, "what" are they?).
  10. 2 points
    "Virtue is not an end in itself. Virtue is not its own reward or sacrificial fodder for the reward of evil. Life is the reward of virtue—and happiness is the goal and the reward of life." -John Galt (from John Galt's speech) Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
  11. 2 points

    Is this rape? Consent? Something else?

    That would be me. I just try to be objective, if there is any method to my apparent madness it is objectivity. I don't think objectivity is as well studied among self-professed Objectivists as it should be.
  12. 2 points
    DA: I'm not certain why, but this discussion of your has lead me see a sort of asymmetry... there are different kinds of consequences being considered. As Objectivists we hold that acting morally (toward the correct end according to the proper standard) as a finite, fallible, non-omniscient man, is based on anticipated consequences of those actions. If a consequentialist only looks ex post facto at actual consequences (including some unforeseeable by a finite, fallible, non-omniscient man) that is a completely different thing. As Objectivists we know that moral action is moral when a decision has been made to act, it is also moral at the time the action is taken, i.e. morality is not solely an exercise post mortem... it is entirely based on anticipated consequences. It would appear that a Consequentialist, IF bound to the law that only actual outcomes determine morality of action, can never actually BE moral when making a decision to act, nor while acting, because the outcomes of the action are not yet known. In other words Consequentialists cannot act morally, only their actions can be judged as moral or not, and only after the actual consequences are known. Of course this seems incredibly silly, but it would seem to be the case.
  13. 2 points
    I had tried to anticipate this sort of thing here: If one takes "selfish" to include those acts which destroy others (i.e. via the initiation of the use of force), then neither is selfishness necessarily moral. But if one is rational in his selfishness, I would argue that he is moral; and, too, a moral man would make a rational appeal to consequences. An Objectivist would reject the supposed morality (or the morality of the actions) of a man who wound up justly and characteristically impoverished, downtrodden, etc., etc., yet accidentally stumbled over some sort of buried treasure, say. But why? Have we sundered morality from consequence? Not at all. In the first place, we recognize that one may not be assured of stumbling over such treasures; that acting in the ways that characteristically lead to impoverishment are, more often than not, going to result in impoverishment, not wealth. And that this will probably be true over a long enough span of time as well (if the lucky man who stumbled over the treasure above does not amend his ways, it is likely he will return to his poverty and poor fortune soon enough). And then there is the fact that "life" in the sense of "that which causes life" or "consequence of enhancing life" is rather broad. It is not wealth alone, it is not longevity alone, and so forth. The full flourishing that we seek is unlikely to be found accidentally; and the man who has death as his just due but is kept alive through accident (as in tripping over buried treasure) will probably yet be suffering in many aspects of his life, and perhaps also through psychological awareness of his precarious state. Yet in all of this, supposed "virtues" are not accounted virtue for their own sake; they are virtuous due to the consequences that the Objectivist expects in adopting them as principled approaches to living -- with the ultimate consequence being the Objectivist's experience of his own life, or happiness.
  14. 2 points
    If we go by the definition of Consequentialism as: "the doctrine that the morality of an action is to be judged solely by its consequences." Consequentialism can end up having different meanings, concretized differently. The definition is vague, therefore it can end up turning into contradictory philosophies. There is a continuum. From irrational consequentialist to rational consequentialist. Some consequentialist philosophies include: Utilitarianism, Hedonism, Epicureanism, Egoism, Asceticism, Altruism, etc. I think that at the core of Rand's objection to pragmatism is that one could be a consequentialist and believe that contradictions exist in reality. The irrational versions reject absolute truth, the primacy of existence, self-interest. It goes without saying that a rational version of any philosophy rejects the existence of contradiction. A rational/comprehensive version of consequentialism is compatible with Objectivism if life is the ultimate consequence. If "a consequentialist" considered consequences as part of causality, its absoluteness, I don't see any conflict. Therefore, I think that one can say that Objectivism is a type of rational consequentialism, which means a type of consequentialism.
  15. 2 points
    Objectivists are people, too. Best case scenario is that their philosophy is superior, but even that is not a given - do they practice what they preach? Even with a superior philosophy, have they been able to translate that into life success? Can they get along with others? That is, do they have value to trade? People are people, too. They're not explicitly rational by choice, they don't explicitly pursue their own personal interests, but in practice, most do live this way most of the time. They are Objectivists to degrees and have translated that into life success, and have a lot of value to offer and trade. The world will never, ever present itself to you as the polar choice illustrated in Atlas Shrugged. People are fluid, choosing to change or not change. Atlas Shrugged is meant to crystalize principles, allowing you to make better day to day choices for yourself. It's an exaggeration which will never be a reality, because people have the ability to choose and change, and few of them are all evil or all good. Even more so today, a "band together and separate" fantasy shouldn't be given a fleeting thought, when everyone carries around pocket computers representing perfectly all the value the world has to offer to trade, the world's largest country is heading in the right direction, poverty is low, etc. etc. Why would anyone want to run from that? The world's never been better.
  16. 2 points
    I can't speak much to the term "consequentialism" in the context of the history of philosophy, but I wonder... If I said that I planned on pursuing a flourishing life by any means necessary -- and that I will judge (and amend) my efforts by their success in winning me a flourishing life -- what would we make of it? Would this put me in the "consequentialist" camp? Would it be outside the bounds of Objectivism? It is potentially a danger to reject principled thinking in the face of some accident. If I stop at red lights because I do not want to get into an auto accident, but one day I stop and... BANG, someone hits me from behind, I would not therefore abandon my strategy of stopping at red lights. But this does not change the fact that I adopt and maintain the approach of stopping at red lights in order to avoid such accidents. What an Objectivist means to do by adopting "principles" -- isn't this according to the consequences he expects through the adoption of such principles? Maybe that's not what's conventionally meant by "consequentialism," but it is what it is.
  17. 2 points
    People have to learn to handle their subconscious premises, and they can make innocent mistakes about it. Thus it doesn't follow that someone with an unbreached rationality will be perfectly integrated in his psychology. Conversely, it doesn't follow that someone who feels an out-of-context desire has been irrational somewhere. The long-term ideal of the rational man is to achieve perfect integration between conscious and subconscious, and this needs to be striven for. But its lack at any given time is not a sure sign of irrationality, and it doesn't defeat the virtue of actions based on explicit moral principle. Ayn Rand agreed with me: http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/psychologizing.html#order_4 In Atlas Shrugged, Rand also had her supremely ideal man, John Galt, relate an instance in which he experienced an out-of-context desire while observing Hank Rearden. That he felt that desire did not make him immoral. A consequence of the view that you ascribe to Rand would be that psychology is an illegitimate profession: It would just be a sanction of irrationality: a cover that allows the irrational to pretend that they're rational. Any rational man would have his psychology completely figured out and integrated, with no conflicts. (The most we might say a psychologist would be useful for would be to hear about the patient's emotional conflicts and then condemn him for his bad premises. The psychologist would merely act as a form of punishment for a perpetrator of irrationality. But then this wouldn't require any specialized training, only philosophical education.)
  18. 2 points
    I think this helps illustrate important facts about purpose. 1. Chosen: Purpose is volitionally chosen, not automatic, and therefore it's most likely a uniquely human thing. (I doubt chimps could have a human-like purpose.) It's possible to not choose a purpose, in which case we would act pre-volitionally like a baby or post-volitionally like an emotion-driven looney. 2. Good or bad, harmony or discord: Because man is fallible, his chosen purpose might be good or bad for his individual survival. Likewise, it might be in harmony or discord with his particular moral code. The two evaluations are separate and unique questions, meaning that a particular purpose could be good for survival while in discord with one's moral code, and vice versa. 3. Complex: Man is capable of setting short, mid, and long-term goals. And so there may be multiple chosen purposes for any particular action. When properly integrated, these single purposes become one complex purpose which we use to guide our entire life process. It's possible for man to set only short-term goals, in which case he drops the context of a future life and lives only for the present purpose. It's also possible for man to have a longer-term goal but lack the planning skills or ability to achieve it, in which case his shorter-range goals will not be integrated with the longer-term one, and ultimately he will fail or be frustrated, unless he learns and adjusts his goals accordingly. 4. Post-life: On account of having imagination, it is possible for man to set a post-life goal which is achieved (or not) only after and on account of his death. Despite not being alive to see this final purpose fulfilled, he can still act with purpose before death in order to best ensure that the imagined goal is achieved. And like all purposes, even this one can be good or bad for survival, and in harmony or discord with one's moral code. To elaborate a bit on #4, a popular example of a post-life goal is: to get into Heaven and be with God. Religious folk may or may not attempt to integrate this final goal with their short, mid, and long-term goals in life before death. They may routinely choose to drop the context of such a supernatural afterlife and focus on pursuing more this-worldly purposes such as making money and raising a family. But if they do pursue Heaven, then they must do so according to some standard of value, such as whatever moral code they can glean from their favorite religious text. If they should decide that getting to Heaven and being with God requires killing infidels because that's what their favorite prophet said, then their shorter-range goals in life will probably include waging war upon non-believers. They might even conduct a suicide mission against the enemy to prove their devotion to their ultimate purpose. Another popular post-life goal is: helping loved ones. This is accomplished by creating a will and bequeathing property to the people we love. But in order to have something to bequeath, this purpose must be properly integrated with pre-death goals, such as making a good living and buying valuable property. If one chooses to live hedonistically and spend everything on booze and gambling, there may be nothing left for loved ones in the end.
  19. 1 point

    All About Evasion

    I've threatened to do this for quite some time... so I guess now is as good a time as any. There's been some discussion on this topic recently, and I'm not opposed to importing quotes -- but for this OP, I'd like to start fresh. I don't have a particular thesis or argument, but I would like to explore the topic of "evasion," and importantly how it intersects with ethics. That is, given "evasion" (however we conceive of it, though obviously that's central to the discussion) what do we do about it? How do we recognize and deal with evasion in others? How do we recognize and deal with evasion in ourselves. Let me back up for a moment. The first time I ever dealt with evasion, and recognized it as such, was long before reading Rand/discovering Objectivism. I'm sure I didn't use the word "evasion" to describe the phenomenon -- probably something like "denial" would have been quicker to my mind -- but I was debating the Biblical story of the Garden of Eden with a Christian friend of mine, and I wished to make a point by reference to the text of Genesis. I didn't have a copy on-hand, but I was certain that my friend must keep a copy (and we were at his home). I asked him to break out his Bible, so that I could demonstrate the textual basis of my argument -- show that the Bible really did say what I claimed that it did -- and... my friend refused. He did not want to look at the Bible, to see whether I was right or wrong. He didn't want to know. Now, I know that many people will think that this is besides the point. "Evasion" is an internal phenomenon, a subconscious phenomenon, and so it is. You can't see it happen. I agree. But I have come to believe that evasion often has surface features and effects which may be recognized and addressed. It's kind of like a "tell" in poker: you can't see the other person's cards, but you can see their reaction to their cards, and often people have a characteristic reaction, depending on their hand. That is information, and just like any information, we can try to make sense of it through our best use of reason (bearing in mind the context that we may easily make mistakes in doing so; and sometimes you bet in poker on the basis of what you think you know, and lose). Usually, this doesn't take the form of someone specifically refusing to look at something -- refusing to look through the proverbial (or literal) telescope -- though sometimes it does. But especially through a long history of debate and conversation, on this forum and elsewhere, what I've found is more often a pronounced reluctance or resistance to specific argument. There are untold arguments where someone has made a claim of, "I will get to that point soon," and then they never, ever do. Not even if it is brought up time and again, or made a point of emphasis. This is not, in itself, proof of anything, let alone "evasion," but especially in context I consider it my best means of determining when a partner in conversation is focused and oriented (in the manner that they would need to be to determine their own error, should I be correct) or otherwise. When examples go unaddressed, when my arguments are paraphrased incorrectly (sometimes wildly so), when questions are asked but never answered, and so forth, it is all information that helps me to see whether someone is engaging with the discussion... or perhaps deflecting it. And then, in myself, I wonder: how should I know it, if I evade? Because I take it for granted (though perhaps I shouldn't) that a person does not have conscious awareness of his own evasion; if he had conscious awareness, it wouldn't be evasion. That's what makes it so damned troublesome! What I have found in others, I look for in myself. I look for the effects of evasion, rather than counting on my ability to detect it, as such (or rather than what I fear most do, which is to implicitly assume that I am the only human on earth somehow immune to evasion, of my nature). When I feel reluctant to address some argument or answer some question directly, I try to make it a point of emphasis to do exactly what I am initially disinclined to do. If a question is asked of me, and I fear that my answer will somehow put me at a rhetorical disadvantage, because my instinctive answer somehow "sounds bad" for me or the point I'm trying to make, I consider it doubly important to answer the question directly, and to try to assess whether what I consider a "rhetorical disadvantage" isn't actually just me being wrong about something. I may also choose to answer such a question at length, in an attempt to explain myself more fully, or provide the proper context for interpreting my answer, but I don't let it pass unaddressed because it seems "easier" or feels more comfortable. I fear that those emotional cues, sometimes, may actually be symptoms of an attempt at evasion. For as I'd recently mentioned elsewhere, I have come to regard evasion as a sort of psychological self-defense mechanism. I think no one is immune. When I try to imagine the extremes of evasion, what I come up with is something like "dissociative identity disorder." To be very honest, I'm not certain whether that's a real phenomenon or not (or the extent, at least, of its "reality"). But suppose that it is. My layman's perspective on it is that it might make sense for a person, in a given context, to "go to war with reality" to some certain extent in order to preserve one's sanity otherwise. To pretend that some outrageous forms of abuse (especially in early childhood) are not truly happening to the self, but "someone else." It is a desperate measure in the face of the truly horrendous, and it portends a lifetime of difficulty and recovery, but in some cases it might still be better than the alternative. I think that, to lesser or greater extents, evasion is a subconscious means of such self or "ego" preservation. With my Christian friend (and I sorely wish that I had this level of insight then), it's worth asking: what would he need to defend? What vested interest does a teenager (as we both were) have in the details of the story of bleeding Genesis, such that his emotions would scream at him to avoid looking at his own professed Holy Book? Well, only everything. He'd been raised Christian, in a Christian family, in a Christian community. Though it may not be so simple as this, he regarded his own understanding of the universe -- and his own morality, his own self -- as being based upon his beliefs in the Bible. So... if he were wrong about that, even to the smallest degree, what would that mean for... his beliefs about literally everything else? What would it mean for his regard for his family, for his friends, for himself (in that he had been so thoroughly taken in)? Having been so wrong about this, how could he ever again trust himself going forward? It's an immensity to consider. And I think that this lies at the heart of the pushback against thought, against evidence, that evasion fundamentally represents. Our survival, our happiness, our lives and all that this represents, depends upon our ability to think, and to be right. And so the possibility of being wrong (and sometimes thoroughly wrong) feels like an attack on our very lives. Evasion, then, is the fear of pain that being wrong, and all that it entails, made manifest at the subconscious level... and then represented at the conscious level by emotional reactions and biases that shade our responses, choices and actions, whether it be something so striking and obvious as an explicit "refusal to look," or something so subtle as an indirect answer to a direct question. Beyond looking for the "tells" I'd mentioned, resolving to answer questions directly, and etc., what can one do to fight against this tendency? I think that some of my conscious convictions have helped (or at least, so I hope). My conviction, for instance, that being wrong is no moral crime. That it is, in fact, a wondrous joy to discover my own errors -- not a slight against my ego or value, but a tribute to my ability and intelligence. This is how I have come to view debate and argument, not as a contest between enemies, but as a collaboration between allies. I do not feel put off by challenging material; I am drawn to it. (And indeed, I read Rand initially, not because I thought she would agree with me or provide me with some defense of already-held arguments... but because I thought she would disagree with me utterly, and I looked forward to the project of identifying her errors!) There is an analogy to be made here with my experience of playing games with my daughter. She does not like to lose. Of course. Nobody does. But over the course of my life -- and reflective of what I hope to instill in her early on -- I have come to view losing at games (or "failures" more generally) as being instrumental to the course of improvement... and eventual winning/success. So it is with being wrong. We are all wrong, at times. We are all probably wrong, right now, with respect to some of our beliefs. It is no moral failure to be wrong about things. But the right way of viewing this, in my opinion, is to deeply value the experience of being proved wrong. To then put ourselves in the best position possible to be proved wrong, and to embrace that feeling, embrace the difficult emotions associated with a stern challenge to one's ego, as being part of the true path towards success. And then, also, to look for the concrete manifestations that I have mentioned -- and seek out and discover others, and amend our actions accordingly. It ain't easy. I'm not always successful, either. But I believe that it's the key to addressing one's own evasion and pushing past it to discover and embrace the truth.
  20. 1 point
    I agree with your post generally, but this is a wee bit of an overstatement, given all of our own personal experiences living in unjust societies. Perhaps he does "not thrive", or he "must fight" or "struggle much harder to survive". A man can survive with a great weight chained about his neck... but he will thereafter only be living as a man... with a great weight chained about his neck.
  21. 1 point
    I can't speak to Peikoff himself but I believe those who find Objectivism and try to fully understand themselves and reality in an integrated fashion are not waiting for happiness to happen, nor delaying it, they are actively pursuing it. A mystic who never discovers independence or morality nor life itself as a human, can live as a physical and spiritual slave thinking he is happy. Those who know better, even intuitively, will be compelled to want to wake up from such a false existence. Waking up and fighting the inner falsehoods is the good fight that sometimes takes a lifetime. Consider the indoctrination and the effect of social programming religion, altruism, and skepticism on almost everyone every day of their lives from birth. Is it any wonder that it truly takes a lifetime of effort to heal those wounds, to rebuild the atrophied muscles, and broken bones of our abused and tortured psyches? I don't think it is surprising, I truly think it is a wonder anyone raised in modern society ever truly becomes a whole and happy human and all that means. As far as I'm concerned Peikoff has finally won in the good fight, and I urge everyone not to give up on their own fight to be fully human, no matter how hidden and ingrained the damage and no matter how long it takes. We've heard the truth... we need to believe, understand, and then fully Know it with our entire being. After word : We here are here for a reason and it is ourselves. Unless and until we have obtained everything we want and need, we'll keep coming back. If any should break the chains that make this forum necessary, and we hear nothing from them again, I will assume they have reached a better place, a world beyond this one... the real world and a happy full life as man qua man... for truly they will then have slipped their surly bonds to touch the face of the God who is in fact their true and full Self, as it can and should be.
  22. 1 point

    Is objectivism consequentialist?

    From another thread, I found this fascinating: I don't want to read too much into this podcast, or to put too much upon one man's experiences (even if that man is Leonard Peikoff), but really, I found this not only fascinating in itself but that it speaks directly to -- not necessarily the technical specifics of this ongoing conversation, but -- my basic approach and motivation. Peikoff describes himself as finally fully happy at age 81 (though I'm certain he must have enjoyed himself to some extent throughout his life), and he attributes this to having discovered what he "really wants to do in life" (as opposed to at least some portion of his work theretofore, which he "dreaded"). To me, in my life, such a thing is simply unacceptable. I would not want to wait until I'm 81 to be able to describe myself as "finally fully happy" and in fact I have not waited. Though I have challenges and setbacks from day to day, as I expect everyone must, and sometimes severe or lasting ones, I consider myself happy in all of the major areas of life. In part, I believe this is because I have always paid careful attention to my own experiences, cared about them, and have taken action accordingly. When I have pursued paths that I dreaded (and I have), including career aspirations or personal relationships, etc., I took that as a cue that there was something fundamentally amiss, and in need of investigation/change. I did not accept my own unhappiness as being somehow the price of moral action, but I sought (both without and within) to make things better for myself, as much as within my power, as soon as possible. I have put nothing higher than my own experience of life -- to make it as positive as possible -- and I think that this emphasis has rewarded me. If Peikoff could not have described himself as "fully happy" before this late juncture, then I suppose we must be thankful for his longevity. What a tragedy it would have been, had he died never being able to say that about himself. I'm middle-aged, myself. A week ago, I was involved in a car accident -- that's one of those pesky challenges/setbacks! -- and actually, it was a situation that I've often brought up in various discussion about ethics: I was stopped, behind some other cars, but another car (a couple back) failed to stop, and there was a domino effect, leading to my being rear-ended. No one was injured, thankfully, but sometimes things don't work out so well. Can we imagine if I were pursuing an ethics that might not lead me to happiness until I'm in my 80s (if ever)... and then I die decades beforehand, whilst dreading my daily work? What a waste that would be. No thank you. I would rather enjoy myself along the way, as much as possible, so that on the day I die (be it tomorrow or fifty years from now), it will always be correct to say that I was happy. From yet another thread, I recently found this: I don't know what dream_weaver had specifically in mind when he wrote this -- and frankly I don't know what to make of it, if we are disinclined to discuss various interpretations of Ayn Rand's wording on a board such as this -- but I will say that I believe it really, deeply matters how we understand and approach ethics. I think it can make the difference between being able to achieve happiness now, or having to wait until old age... if we ever reach it at all, if we don't die first, our attempts at "survival" notwithstanding. If the Objectivist community has a hard time winning converts -- and based on many threads here lately, and based on the overall state of the world, and the way things appear to be trending, I'd say that we do -- then maybe part of it is that we don't manage to produce very many well-adjusted, friendly, happy people. Maybe the confusion at the heart of our approach to ethics, a confusion reflected in this thread and many others on the board, is playing a role in that, inspiring people to fight for "survival" (whatever that should mean to them) at the cost of the things which might otherwise bring them happiness in the near(er) future or present. I'd say that if, when people met Objectivists, they were inspired to think, "Wow! That person really has life figured out; look how well they're doing! Look how happy!" that this would go at least as far as a free copy of Atlas Shrugged in convincing them to investigate the nature of the underlying philosophy. Maybe farther.
  23. 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.
  24. 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
  25. 1 point
    The implication is that drug addiction is a situation where one's emotional mechanism is not attuned to survival anymore. And of course we are all born with some wants that we wish we did not want and vice versa, we wish we wanted something that we could not care less about. The way you find out about the misalignment of emotions is when something hurts and you find out that you caused it because you wanted an unwantable. Its just that coming up with an ethics based on the interplay of emotions, reason, perception, sensation, and imagination is too overwhelming, at least for me it is. Furthermore, I know, based on experience, that my emotions are misaligned. Therefore I feel safer (emotionally) using reason to guide me. Consequentialism with an ultimate end fits my bill. Do you know anyone whose emotions are perfectly aligned to survival? As in they are attracted to eating only what is good for them, they want the right companion simply by an emotional reaction, they control the order of activities simply by emotion, they are on time simply by feeling it, they don't want excesses that prevent important survival necessities (smoking, gambling, Netflix, video games, drugs, alcohol, and procrastination). I think everyone's emotions are misaligned and an addictive drug is not the only cause.
  26. 1 point

    Is objectivism consequentialist?

    Of course. The document to which I've been referring can be found here, and the quotes I've provided starting on p.73 (under the heading Flourishing and Survival).
  27. 1 point
    I saw these quotes in Tara Smith's book, she integrates both interpretations when it comes to measurement and standard: She also differentiates a feeling of flourishing vs. the fact of it. The metaphysical vs. the psychological/experimental.
  28. 1 point

    Is objectivism consequentialist?

    Yes! I agree with the other flourishers in this thread, that the idea that one's flourishing won't ever decrease life span or survival even infinitesimally (microscopically small!) to be wildly implausible. To a classical eudaimonist, especially a rational egoist, this would be just downright boring! Such a conception would be somewhere between a Bear Gryllsian and a Stoic, one should survive as long as possible without even microscopically lessening survival, achieving maybe a long, careful life of peaceful comfort and equanimity. I say, F that. Galt, for example, threatens to kill himself if Dagny (his highest value) is harmed by the Thompson regime. He also risks and endures torture to stand up for his values. By what measure? Since life always involves trade offs, one is forced to choose between acceptance of minor values and major ones. I think choosing as much and as intense values as possible is a part of the nature of choosing. No truly human life can confine itself to activities pursued merely to keep yourself safe from the smallest of risks. I agree with Aristotle that a short, intense life more accurately embodies the fully self-actualized human life than a long, mild one. A truly human self-actualization includes a tense state of striving and alertness for value achievement that embodies a heroic vision. In fact, I think the requirements of flourishing demand of us to accept risks, certainly infitessimal (and sometimes more) to our survival. In order to fulfill the requirements of courage, integrity, productiveness, pride, we should, as Nietzsche says "Live dangerously! Build your cities on the slopes of Vesuvius! Send your ships into uncharted seas!" This should, of course be moderated by consequentialist (!) concerns (i.e., unity of virtue) of rationality, temperance, prudence. This, in the typical Aristotelian way, avoids the twin pitfalls of foolhardiness and timidity.
  29. 1 point
    What you bring up is a very important point. At this point in the thread, with all the information we have brought forward, it is almost irrefutable that when she says "life" she means "a life worth living". We know that she does NOT mean "survival at any cost". That implies that there is a minimum, that there is a boundary, a line that one "should not cross". Once discovered, that is the line that differentiates a good life from a bad life. For those who believe that flourishing is the ultimate end, then that line becomes the standard of the good or evil. So what constitutes or leads to a good life is good etc. That line would end up being the differentiator of good from evil, the crux of the ethics. The problem with the interpretation of "a life worth living" is that life can be getting crumbs like welfare or a grand life with major achievements. The concept of flourishing also has that problem, in that there a minimum flourishing necessary? Or is any amount of flourishing good? We all agree that an ethics has to have an ultimate end (so that it is not utilitarian/aimless). (oddly: the ethics of an ethics) The concept "Life" is clear, objective, as in existence or non-existence. For a man or living organism, death is, in fact, the objective minimum. Even in a life not worth living, a person can have hope. Hope is subjective and can make any kind of life worth living. "Life" encompasses life vs. death, and happiness/flourishing. Happiness/flourishing is inevitably partially objective and partially subjective, which in total means subjective. It is most plausible that she did not use flourishing because it can never be totally objective. The objective line drawn, within the "big picture", had to be life vs. death, survival. With life vs. death, existence being the ultimate end, the line is clear. Death does not have degrees, it either is or isn't. The realm of economics, politics and even psychology require a clear line that differentiates right from wrong.
  30. 1 point
    Rand isn't relying on psychology here to identify the basis of what is good: Now in what manner does a human being discover the concept of “value”? By what means does he first become aware of the issue of “good or evil” in its simplest form? By means of the physical sensations of pleasure or pain. Just as sensations are the first step of the development of a human consciousness in the realm of cognition, so they are its first step in the realm of evaluation. The capacity to experience pleasure or pain is innate in a man’s body; it is part of his nature, part of the kind of entity he is. He has no choice about it, and he has no choice about the standard that determines what will make him experience the physical sensation of pleasure or of pain. What is that standard? His life. — The Objectivist Ethics The key to the kingdom of flourishing is cut in triplicate near the end of this paragraph from the same essay: Just as the automatic values directing the functions of a plant’s body are sufficient for its survival, but are not sufficient for an animal’s — so the automatic values provided by the sensory-perceptual mechanism of its consciousness are sufficient to guide an animal, but are not sufficient for man. Man’s actions and survival require the guidance of conceptual values derived from conceptual knowledge. But conceptual knowledge cannot be acquired automatically. Man is not born with conceptual knowledge. If he is to gain it, he must act in order to do so. Consider what actions are required in order to keep the conceptual knowledge mankind has gained/acquired over the centuries. For greater precision regarding the realm of flourishing, consider this following excerpt from Atlas Shrugged: You, who claim that you long to rise above the crude concerns of the body, above the drudgery of serving mere physical needs—who is enslaved by physical needs: the Hindu who labors from sunrise to sunset at the shafts of a hand-plow for a bowl of rice, or the American who is driving a tractor? Who is the conqueror of physical reality: the man who sleeps on a bed of nails or the man who sleeps on an inner-spring mattress? Which is the monument to the triumph of the human spirit over matter: the germ-eaten hovels on the shorelines of the Ganges or the Atlantic skyline of New York?
  31. 1 point
    Huh? Pretty sure this is the exact meaning of second handedness. Being first handed is a disposition towards reality, not other people. If I can interpret this charitably, I think you're saying something like, let's look at the work of Ayn Rand when trying to philosophically analyze the work of Ayn Rand. But... okay? This seems rather obvious. A scholarly paper, for example, would include the practice of making references and notations. In any event, of course people are going to have differing interpretations of any philosopher when doing philosophy. The reason for this is that rationality is a independent process that is self initiated and requires sustained effort. Underlining tautologies and bold font does nothing to change this or coerce belief. See Locke's Letters Concerning Toleration and Essay concerning Human Understanding for detailed argumentation why.
  32. 1 point
    It's hard to use a visual metaphor (left vs. right) and plug "good political philosophy" into that mix. If you list various key issues, you might be able to say whether the "left" or the "right" is better on that particular issue. (Often they're both wrong in different ways.) If the Green dots are the ideal positions on each issue, then this ideal (on any particular issue) would not lie in the middle of either the red or the blue. However, the term "centrist" would give that false impression. Added: France's new president, Macron, seems like a true centrist: someone who would choose to push policies that lie somewhere in between the red and blue, on a case-by-case basis. This type of centrism might be the best we can hope for in a polarized political environment.
  33. 1 point
  34. 1 point
    This is the belief I have issue with. There are at least a million things you will never do... you do not have the time. You could literally live life to the fullest in millions of different ways. It's not a zero sum between staying alive and the values life makes possible... there are too many possible values, pleasures, and sources of happiness out there for you to even hope to experience in even 100 life times! To say changing an activity for an alternative which is more life supporting prevents you from living life to the fullest is not tenable IMHO. Thank you for the discussion, it has been liberating for me (I get stuck in conceptual ruts which lack rigor until I've been pushed to examine them more properly). Good luck in pursuing the good life!
  35. 1 point
    This baffles me... Consider an avid computer person, he loves making simulations with his computer, he loves making fractal art with his computer, he loves making 3d rendering and animations with his computer, he loves coding cellular automata with his computer... he loves all the things he can do with his computer and he can do only with his computer. One day the computer has a problem, he fixes the computer with use of the Manual, one which describes how to care for and maintain the computer, to keep it operational. Being interested only in his love for what he could do with his computer, he never learned about nor even cared about the computer itself. The things he did with the computer were values in themselves, whereas the computer itself ... well in and of itself, was wholly uninteresting and useless to him. Now, however, realizing that the computer makes all he loves to do with it possible, specifically its being operational, he realizes that fundamentally ALL the things he loves doing with the computer depend fundamentally upon its being operational. As a rational person, he decides to read and learn everything from the Manual about caring for and maintaining the computer's operation. He realizes he cannot overclock it too much (this could cause it to fail permanently) so he has to give up some speed for his simulations, but he decides this is OK because there is so much more he does not want to lose at the cost of a little simulation speed. He adopts the Manual as a guide, and follows it religiously because everything he values about the computer depends upon it being operational. He does not stop doing all the wondrous things with the computer which he loves, he does so now with the understanding that he has the power to help guarantee he can continue to do those wondrous things. You speak of choosing particular states of existence, and those particular states of existence as having value, while at the same time stating that existence "in itself" has no value. But those particular states of existence presuppose existence, they are species of existence, they wholly and utterly depend upon existence. Existence "in itself" has no value??? It makes ALL values possible, NO values are possible without it. It therefore has fundamental and ultimate value. Your adopted guide to action whose standard is life, helps you objectively to stay alive. It does not and cannot tell you what to live for, or what to love about your computer. You still have to choose and do that for yourself. Morality is a guide you adopt for your use, not your master or your teacher or your parent...you are not a servant of Morality it serves you.
  36. 1 point

    Is objectivism consequentialist?

    Really good work from you guys. As for 'objective value' in the minor things like taste preferences which are sometimes considered "subjective", I think of it exactly as in the manner in which one gains knowledge of facts from the senses, to the percepts, to identifications, integrations, to evaluations of facts - and so on. All the senses contribute to knowledge, bottom up, in one's cognition - equally, all the senses contribute to enjoyment, from top down, in one's value/evaluation. A hierarchy of value then, is congruent with one's hierarchy of knowledge. Hierarchical clarity answers most uncertainties attached to this, in my view. I think my opinion is consistent with Objectivism. "Survival" ~ for an individual choosing a life proper to man qua man ~ is identical to "flourishing", in my simple take on that matter. And happiness is to be found, taken and/or sought here and now - as well as in one's short and long future - especially not forgetting the "simple" pleasures.
  37. 1 point
    Harrison Danneskjold

    Meaning of the newborn cry

    It knows it's entered the same world Chuck Norris lives in...
  38. 1 point

    Objectivism: "Closed" system

    We're all reasoning individuals who think for ourselves. Ayn Rand made the map, as others have pointed out. The map is a philosophy for living on earth, a map of earth. Times change. Politics change. Technology changes. New cities come, new volcanoes form new islands. We can't view Rand's "map" of Objectivism as something that is to forever remain unaltered. Things like "A is A, Existence exists, consciousness exists and is consicous of objective reality"... those axioms are the paper. That'll always be there, even if the entire terrain is destroyed by a meteorite. But political topics like immigration? Rand never wrote on the topic, and has only one recorded remark on the subject. In Rand's time, it was European immigration of people who integrated into society culturally, as Rand herself did. Now, it is Third World immigration of people who primarily vote socialist and refuse to learn English or otherwise integrate, instead replicating the Third World right here in America. Somehow I doubt that Ayn Rand would've advocated throwing open the borders and letting 300 million Chinese and Mexican people come here, or Muslims, in fact she called their cultures primitive and barbaric. But that's what people like Harry Binswanger and Yaron Brook advocate for... unlimited immigration (except for Israel which gets to remain a Jewish state). Even if the number of people would come here and overwhelm American culture. That is impractical, thus immoral, for our side to accept. I would recommend that you all read this blog piece which makes the case for a restricted system of immigration better than I could ever do. New scientific discoveries must also be integrated into our philosophy. I observe that quantum mechanics is a sticking point that a lot of Objectivists see, including Peikoff himself... but for one I am not convinced that there even is any contradiction. Quantum mechanics, in my eyes, is fully compatible with Objectivism... I admit I am no scientist but I don't see the problem. Even if it did contradict something in Objectivism, science is a valid epistemological inquiry. Say we observe something with our senses through the microscope or telescope, which are nothing more than extensions of the senses. If it contradicts something in our philosophy then we must integrate it.We have no choice in the matter (well, we do, that's called free will to not think, but that is evasion). Lyrically, that song kinda reminds me of "The Man" by The Killers.
  39. 1 point
    This is an example of a return on investment example. Isn't that based on consequences? If an action causes you to loose your commitment to your moral perfection, the loss/consequence is immense. Your lack of virtue will come against your achieving your ultimate aim. As a consequence, it may cause reconsideration. You don't maintain your virtues in a vacuum (without consequence in mind). There has to be a reason, a final cause. One may say that the nature of man requires virtues. But the nature of man requires survival and it is survival that requires virtues. Virtues do not require survival, they help cause it. Bottom line, virtues are not the final cause, they are necessitated by the final cause.
  40. 1 point
    to be clear, i'm not at all convinced that it is plausible even with a disorder. it has not been established psychologically that someone with PTSD would suddenly behave like a pheasant instead of a human whenever they experienced unwelcome physical contact, and be completely unable to move or even vocalize for extended periods of time. i find that highly unlikely. i was just responding to your comment above that some kind of rare disorder was only one possible explanation among many, that this kind of "tonic immobility" is not even that abnormal to expect. i don’t think it’s reasonable to demand that people modify their behavior based on such fanciful possibilities that they have no grounds in their experience of human beings to postulate. it would be on par with being afraid to pour someone a glass of water because they might automatically drink it and have a medical condition unknown to you where it affects them like poison.
  41. 1 point
    I looked those quotes up based on my usage of the "seed of their own destruction". You frame an interesting distinction. Looking at Marxs' line, it is a form of reifying evil, especially clarified to me in the evaluation that "Evil has something in it". I was thinking along the lines where some say "Government is a necessary evil" and the catch 22 it plays with the ethical premise of being good for life, and by all means, a proper form of government would be good for life indeed, so by what measure is it deemed as being a "necessary evil"? Historically MISS systems have cycled, oscillating between forms of Platonism and forms of Kantianism per my understanding of DIM Hypothesis. Those that understand anarchy cannot work, lament that other forms of government have trended toward tyranny. Thus they see some form of government as necessary, but not having a solution that circumvents the "tenancy" toward tyranny, have resigned to that oft used bromide. It seems there is something similar at play looking with my acronym MISS and Objectivism. Reading what I've written in this post, it somewhat highlights why the two quotes seemed to go with my thoughts at the time.
  42. 1 point

    Is objectivism consequentialist?

    This is not correct. This would be possible but for the following: 1. Reality 2. The nature of Man. 3. The standard of Morality being a man's life, long range. Consider any subsidiary (short term, small etc.) goal, which is pursued to serve as a means to the more ultimate goal, it must be in accord with the standard, which is life long range, so it cannot be harmful or an "unethical" means. Any and all goals, if moral, cannot be unethical in the way you suggest. Also be careful, virtues and principles, are useful because no one can predict with perfect certainty the consequences of each and every action, rough guidelines are useful, and efficient, because we are not omniscient and cannot take all consequences into consideration (we simply don't have the knowledge or the time). Man cannot be judged immoral because he is fallible. Edit: So in a real sense, because of Man's nature, one adopts principles and practices virtue, not because they are ends in themselves divorced from the standard of morality, but because they precisely are the most efficient and effective way to bring about, as a consequence of their adoption, the ends. If Man were omniscient, there would be no need of virtues or principles, he could simply choose actions one by one according to his values and knowing all the consequences. But that is not the nature of man.
  43. 1 point
    As a man I can relate the reality of me to what I can learn about the reality of men who have lived and are living. It is easy to accept that objective knowledge gained about these other men (for shorthand ... knowledge about Man) is useful at least in part to my quest to understand myself. As a man choosing to live rationally and with objectivity, how would my life be impacted differently by choosing as my standard of morality "my life" and everything that entails and means, versus choosing, as you deem significant to put it, man's life as the standard?
  44. 1 point
    Integrate everything you do into a seamless whole. David Allen's GTD methodology is a great way to do this. Amy Peikoff did an interview with Dave Allen, if you're interested you can listen to it here. Always set specific work goals, such as: 'I want to find out how to do X in less time and with better results'. Not lying to yourself about where you are in relation to your goals. If applicable, don't be afraid to say 'I'm not where I want to be', or 'I have a long way to go'. Don't pretend to like things that you don't. For example, if a friend wants to discuss a movie you dislike, simply tell him that it's not your kind of thing, and change the topic. Strive to achieve a real understanding of the principles that you practice regularly, even if they were learned from other people. You can't make full use of a piece of information unless you know exactly what it refers to and why it's true. Form principles for your work, your romantic life, your thinking etc. and follow them. This virtue refers to all principles, not just moral ones. Check this post to learn how to form good principles. Stick to rational principles, even when it's hard. Weakness of will is weakness of vision; if you don't feel like respecting a principle that you know is true, remind yourself of the consequences that will follow if you break it. "I'm not brave enough to be a coward" - Ayn Rand Pride Don't create unearned guilt by blaming yourself for unintentional mistakes. Learn from them & move on. The Ben Franklin exercise that you mentioned. Seek the best in anything. Make a list of values (work, love, art, food, health etc.) and go over it daily/weekly. As yourself, 'how can I improve the quality of this area?'. In art, it might mean creating a reading list or a watchlist. In love, picking out some special lingerie for your kindred soul. In health, choosing to use the stairs instead of the elevator.
  45. 1 point
    What are you doing here? You're either relying on the veracity of your senses to impugn the veracity of your senses, or you're doing something else.
  46. 1 point
    Objectivist Ed Powell has written a paper against the open borders immigration position of other Objectivists (Binswanger, Tracinski, Biddle, Bernstein, Duke). This raises the question: Does a foreigner have a right to cross an international border? Powell says no. Powell says the burden of proof that any applicant for entry is not a threat to the freedom or security of the country lies with the applicant. The paper is well written, the position well argued. For reference: Binswanger's essay and Biddle's essay
  47. 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).
  48. 1 point
    After giving you and Nicky a hard time, I figured the least I could do was sort of get back on topic. Death doesn't give life meaning. Life gives life meaning. Death gives life a purpose, though, which is to stay alive--usually. I could be wrong.
  49. 1 point
    This is totally dismissive about the field of psychology! Human psychology refers to the nature of the human mind. One's psychology is a different concept than psychology the nature of human thought. Now, at least value pertains to seeking some end by choice - and it is part of human nature to actively seek those ends by choice. What psychology shows, Kyary, is that people have an innate capacity to recognize scarcity. Scarcity is a major basis to decide value, because it is so easy and notable to recognize. As far as philosophy, this doesn't say -why- life should or does have meaning.
  50. 1 point
    I'll bet that those who've stopped thinking at 30 weren't exactly the epitome of thoughtfulness before that age.