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  1. 8 points
    Dante

    Humor and Laughing at Oneself

    So I just finished "Humor in The Fountainhead," from Essays on Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead, and its caused me to think some more about humor, a subject I hadn't given too much serious thought to. My purpose here is just to share some thoughts and hopefully hear others' thoughts on the subject. In the essay, Rand is quoted as making the following two statements: Upon first reading these, I found myself disagreeing strongly with both of them. My opinion is and has been that the ability to laugh at oneself demonstrates health and good-naturedness. In thinking about it, and reading through the essay and a few more of Rand's statements on humor, I find that these views are actually very easily reconcilable with my own. Consider this statement by Rand: In the essay, Robert Mayhew distinguishes between benevolent and malicious humor. Benevolent humor is basically humor aimed at objects which deserve scorn and ridicule, while malicious humor is aimed at objects which deserve respect and reverence. Thus, benevolent humor belittles the metaphysical importance of bad things, while malevolent humor belittles the importance of good things. Now, humor which is aimed at one's own achievements, or more generally one's own positive values, is obviously malicious humor. Laughing at oneself in the sense of laughing at these things is indeed bad. However, in thinking about it, that is not at all what I picture when I think of 'the ability to laugh at oneself.' Consider someone who slips and falls, or misspeaks in some absurd way, or makes an obvious error in a presentation. In all of these situations, I am inclined to think of the person who can 'laugh it off' as good-natured. I would contrast this with the image of the person who, when something like this happens, blusters and attempts to 'save face.' Obviously, this second person is primarily concerned with others' impressions of him rather than the actual error or accident. Such second-handedness is clearly not an appropriate attitude. But what is the first individual doing? First of all, he is acknowledging the reality of the accident or mistake. Furthermore, he is (in Rand's characterization) belittling its importance by laughing at it. Self-deprecating humor, in this case, is not aimed at ones values, but rather at one's mistakes. This form of humor is indicative of genuine self-esteem; the person in question is acknowledging the reality of his own thoughts and actions (an essential first step for genuine self-esteem) and is able to casually dismiss errors with a laugh. There is no attempt to pretend for the sake of others' opinions that the error was not made; rather, it is acknowledged and then moved on from. In my experience, the majority of instances of self-deprecating humor fall into this latter category of laughing off a mistake. Thus, while it is true that actually cutting oneself down with humor also undoubtedly occurs, the everyday understanding of 'laughing at oneself,' (at least what I think is the prevalent understanding of it) is a healthy practice, one which should be celebrated.
  2. 8 points
    Dante

    Accepted determinism

    We certainly are governed strictly by the laws of cause and effect, and there are no loopholes in causality. However, accepting this view does not immediately lead to the acceptance of determinism, as is often supposed. The non sequitur is often accepted because many people have an incorrect conception of causality. For many people, determinism is part of the definition of causality; this viewpoint might be termed 'billiard-ball' causality, where all instances of causality are assumed to be instances of objects interacting deterministically like billiard balls. However, Objectivism supports a more general conceptualization of causality, which does not smuggle in determinism. Causality, properly conceptualized, is simply the statement that, "A thing acts in accordance with its nature." This formulation leaves open the question of whether or not that nature is deterministic or (as in the case of human consciousness) some ability of self-determination is part of that nature. Now, I would not dispute the fact that the particles which make up the human brain and form the physical basis for human consciousness act deterministically, but it does not follow from this that the system as a whole acts that way (see fallacy of composition). In fact, to claim that determinism is true is to engage in a contradiction. The existence of knowledge itself presupposes that volition exists; knowledge depends on our ability to volitionally weigh evidence and separate truth from falsehoods. To claim something as true which undercuts the basis for truth is clearly contradictory. For some further threads on determinism, see 1 2 3 4. The rest of your point, however, is well taken (replacing 'acting deterministically' with 'acting causally'). If we pretend that our free will can do more than it actually can, then we will be helpless to face many personal issues. Our minds have a certain, definite nature, and our will is limited in scope. We need to understand this nature and these limits in order to act effectively (this is just another example of "Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed"). The example of kicking an addiction is a good one, where understanding how the human mind works will contribute greatly to one's success. Psychological issues in general depend on a good understanding of the nature of human consciousness. This thread on procrastination and how to beat it using an understanding of human consciousness also comes to mind.
  3. 6 points
    One of the greatest regrets of my early life is cutting off ties with a girl I loved, and several of our common friends, because I couldn't have her. Yes, staying friends would've been painful...and, back then, I thought pain was a hindrance to any kind of accomplishment or success, and therefor to be avoided at all cost...but, as I found out later: pain is a part of life. A necessary, and therefor GOOD part of life. It would've TAUGHT me a lot, about both myself and the nature of the human experience in general. So just take the pain. Don't betray your values, by removing a good person from your life, because you're scared of a little pain. If you take the pain of a short term, probably illusory heartbreak, you will be rewarded for it with a learning experience you can't access in any other way... and possibly a lifetime of friendship as well. P.S. You DO want to stay away from any kind of an exploitative relationship. My post assumes that your relationship with her is a straight forward friendship (like mine was), and she is not taking advantage of your feelings in any way.
  4. 6 points
    Dante

    Heroic teacher?!

    I find it very unlikely that she simply didn't value or like her life that much, and thought this would be a good opportunity to just throw it away for little or no reason. I find it much more likely that she took her responsibility (her chosen responsibility) as a guardian of these kids very seriously, and was willing to pay the ultimate price to preserve the integrity of that responsibility. I think, particularly if you have kids whose safety you entrust to others every single day, that calling her a hero isn't a misuse of the term at all.
  5. 6 points
    Nicky

    Peikoff on date rape

    Jesus Christ, stop already. Peikoff's comment was a throwaway line on the nature of consent, not the morality of sex. At worst, he's wrong about the Kobe Bryant case. Stop acting like you guys never said anything based on insufficient information. He did not say it's moral to have sex with a woman even if "the parts don't fit", he didn't even say it's moral to have sex with her if she's doesn't like it. He didn't say it was OK to choke her even though she's not into that, he didn't say it was OK to twist her arm behind her back to cause pain, but making sure you leave no physical mark, he didn't say it's OK to anally rape a man. And yet, all those lovely images somehow made it into people's arguments on how he is wrong. I guess what he actually said isn't all that egregious. Why else would you feel the need to spice it up like that? I do not wish to continue this post. I want to stop. Hope that's clear, I want this to be the end of my post. I don't want to write this next part. I don't wanna. No. (this last No. should be read in a forceful tone, please) Anyways: sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. Obviously. If there is no fraud or force involved (which, incidentally, Peikoff made sure to specify), then that person is free to leave at any time. Their declarations really don't mean as much as their actions. The owner of this site has no reason to feel bad about me continuing this post despite my declaration that I don't want to. The declaration was pretty meaningless. They often are. Rape means having sex with a woman against her will, not without her explicit consent. In Peikoff's example (though I have no idea if also in the actual case he cited, because, like I said, I don't keep up with celebrity news), the woman is clearly there by choice, and free to leave at any time. Unless next you guys are planning to also add kidnapping to the list of stuff Peikoff never said but somehow found their way into this thread anyway. The book he wrote suggests he doesn't. You're gonna go with the pointless speculation off of the throwaway line in a podcast though, huh?
  6. 5 points
    I’m in the Cayman Islands now, where I just had my second Regenexx-C procedure with culture-expanded stem cells. I saved for it for two years. We treated almost every joint in my body. The first procedure 20 months ago probably saved my life, and I’m stoked to get even more improvement from this one.
  7. 5 points
    DavidOdden

    Race Realism

    As you think about this topic, I suggest that you keep in mind the possibility that “race” is simply a mistaken concept, a mis-identification. It’s not like “gremlin”, “unicorn” of “free lunch”, being purely fictitious, but is is sufficiently detached from reality that it needs to be consigned to the intellectual trash heap that also contains phlogiston and epicycles. In its place would be some concept pertaining to human evolution and genetics. The genetic concept of “haplogroup” is based in objectively measurable fact, and the study of Y-DNA and mtDNA haplogroups has produced some interesting results pertaining to population genetics. (The reason for these 2 groups is that they do not recombine, so Y-DNA gives you good information about the patrilineal line and mtDNA is about the maternal line). In tracing shared mutations, you can come up with something resembling a “family tree” of humans. There are geographical correlates of haplogroups, where for example haplogroup A appears in parts of Africa especially among the San, who have probably been hanging on in the same spot for tens of thousands of years. Haplogroup A represents the “original situation”, lacking any of the subsequent Y-DNA mutations. And then you start adding mutations, and you check the geographical distribution of that mutation. (Geographical distributions have to be controlled by knowledge of history, for example the Siddi in India were transported from East Africa about 1500 years ago; obviously, Europeans only appeared in the New World a few hundred years ago). There are some surprises there, for example haplogroup B is high frequency in Africa, but also among the Hazaras of Afghanistan, which is surprising since usual racial classifications would have them be Mongoloid. Eventually you will get to haplogroup L-M20 which has high frequency among Tamils and I assume Malayali. It is also frequent (though not as frequent) among Pashtuns. Again, Dravidians can be racially classified in lots of ways, depending on what morphological features you’re attending to; Pashtuns are pretty much standardly classified as Caucasian. So the problem is that there is a physical reality (a genetic fact, which refers to your ancestry) which however doesn’t match well with any extant theory of “race”. The reason is, simply, that the theory of “race” is based on a false premise of absolute and instantaneous separation of humans – as though God split the human race into 6? groups and instantly transported them to their ancestoral homelands. Instead of race, we have a better concept of haplogroup, which is actually related to genetics. There are very many haplogrops: it is a hierarchical concept.
  8. 5 points
    Nicky

    How much danger are we in? What can we do?

    Yes, of course. Western countries are democracies. Ordinary citizens decide who runs our governments. We should vote for leaders who recognize basic facts about Vladimir Putin, such as: 1. He is a murderer, behind a series of assassinations and assassination attempts both at home and in countries around the world (including Britain, which shows how brazen he is). 2. He is fueling the Ukrainian civil war. 3. His intelligence services hacked the DNC, and released compromising information to Wikileaks in order to prevent a Clinton victory. This was an unprecedentedly hostile act. While espionage, including hacking, is par for the course between competing world powers, none of them have dumped the information they obtained through espionage onto the web, to influence elections, before. As such, this is a new level of hostility, which warrants an equally hostile response. 4. The DNC hack is part of a media and intelligence campaign aimed at destabilizing western countries. It is Russian propagandists (behind outlets like Russia Today) and intelligence services working together to sow confusion and poison western politics. In other words, we need to elect leaders who recognize Vladimir Putin as the enemy, treat him and his government as such, and retaliate proportionally for every single act of aggression or attempt to interfere. And, of course, we need to speak up about these basic facts, whenever someone is willing to gloss over them and write them off as "the leftist media trying to justify losing the election". Not saying they're not doing that, by the way. But what the leftist media is doing doesn't change what the facts are.
  9. 5 points
    It is hard when something is mixed. Sometimes one's immediate feeling toward it comes from whatever side of it you're seeing that day. A couple of years ago, I was in a small mid-western resort town on July 4th and thousands of tourists (mostly from elsewhere in the state) had turned out to see the fireworks. Trucks streamed in from all the nearby little towns and farms. The atmosphere was festive. There was benevolence all around. The red-white-and blue was respected, not as a symbol of something above us on an altar, but as a symbol of who we are. Not on a pedestal to be saluted -- though that too -- but, in casual clothing, in funny head-dress, in flashing lights to be worn for the evening. All around was a feeling of family and of sharing a value. Very few cops in sight, and yet the thousands self-organizing in very orderly ways. If you asked those people, in that moment, if freedom was their top value, if the individual is important, if we should recognize the individual's right to his own life and happiness...you'd probably find lots of agreement. It's all good, but it is mostly emotional. As you peel away and understand the intellectual roots, contradictions appear. I won't say the emotions are unfounded, that there is no "there there". When Hollywood makes a movie of a maverick going up against the world and winning, huge audiences love the theme. It is who they are: sometimes, on some topics, and in some emotional states. Nationalism is dangerous when it goes beyond a general benevolent celebration of sharing good values like freedom and individualism. It usually does, and we have a good person like Robert E. Lee rejecting Lincoln's attempt to get him to lead a Union Army, even though he could "anticipate no greater calamity for the country than dissolution" and thought "secession is nothing but revolution". Why? For "honor" -- which really translates to honoring a convention where you are loyal to your home state. Throw in ideas about the role of government in helping people in all sorts of situations. Thrown in ideas about inequality being caused by oppression. And faulty ideas about economics. And suspicions about bankers running the world. Add back the occasional cheering of the maverick who defies authority; but also add back the desire to control other people's behavior: if they're gay, or marrying someone of another race, or smoking pot, or even having a beer when they're 20 years and 11 months! That is the contradiction that is America. Still, you should feel free to choose what emotions you wish to invest in symbols like the flag. You do not have to salute a flag and think you're saluting a tortured contradiction that is eating itself from the inside out . You can salute it for the right reasons, or for what you think it once stood for.
  10. 5 points
    An abstraction that existed metaphysically would not be an abstraction, it would be just another concrete. In fact abstractions are concretes, they are attributes of the brains of those abstractors who have preformed that mental action. But as a product of human action such abstractions are not metaphysically-given, which is why they must be acknowledged as epistemological. A metaphysically given abstraction is a contradiction in terms.
  11. 5 points
    Let me start with a fundamental problem with your position: you claim actual knowledge of the effort that Rand put unto understanding various bad philosophies, and moreover you find it to be insufficient. I have an extremely hard time believing that you even met Rand, much less that you have the kind of personal knowledge that led to the development of her philosophy. I don’t know what facts you are relying on as evidence for your claim – not everything about the development of her intellect is summarized in the journals. In fact, I don’t understand what it would even mean to “make a real effort to engage with” the opposition. Let me amplify on what the problem is. Correct me if you can, but you made no real effort to engage with Rand’s philosophy. Your criticism hinges on the presupposition that to understand an idea, you must “visit” the people promulgating the ideas. That of course means that all prior knowledge is truly incomprehensible, thus you yourself cannot comprehend Rand because you cannot visit her, you do not understand Objectivism because you haven’t visited OCON and ARI, you cannot understand Plato, Aristotle, Locke, Kant, Frege because you haven’t visited them (they are dead). Hopefully you see how absurd a position that is. Understanding is about grasping ideas: understanding comes from identifying those ideas, because ideas are not laid out self-evidently in the words of an author. The trivial social act of “visiting” does nothing to clarify those ideas, and does not firm up a person’s grasp of ideas by magically allowing them to see consequences of ideas, and detect contradictions in them. Where you say that “the ‘skeptical’ camp is not making nearly enough of an effort to understand what they are trying to criticize”, I would conclude instead that you have not made nearly enough of an effort to understand that criticism. Now, I do in fact understand “the mystics” sufficiently, so I should by your lights have a privileged position to criticize them. I will claim to have a more nuanced understanding of classical Indian philosophy than Rand did: I don’t have any reason to think that she knows about Cārvāka philosophy, nor do I have any reason to think that she could read Sanskrit. Her “mystic muck” characterization does not mean “every Indian philosopher has been a hopeless mystic”, it is a correct generalization about a particular earlier intellectual export. You might want to investigate exactly what the nature of that export is, because it was influential, in a bad way, in the West for, mercy sake alive, two centuries, and even now we are not free of it. So actually, you don’t have to visit India to understand the muck, you just have to look around you (these days, more in antiquarian bookstores). The fact that she doesn’t burden Galt’s speech with a silly footnote granting some element of rationality to the Cārvāka doesn’t invalidate her characterization of Indian philosophy. Now then. What is necessary is not a visit, what is necessary is a study of the ideas, to see if they bear promise for being correct. Plainly, they do not. They are grounded in false and absurd ideas, such as that being whipped and burned is the same as not being whipped and burned – and that you cannot know if that idea is absurd. If you want to make this be about specific texts in Indian philosophy which you think are in fact compatible with Objectivism (and were not written by Br̩haspati or his followers), then make your case.
  12. 5 points
    softwareNerd

    Pleasure and Value

    I think you're trying to focus on the point-in-time thing we should try to optimize. Rand's "Objectivist Ethics" highlights two key linkages: first, that this pleasure is -- in turn -- based on our biology.. on the survival of life (today we might speak of this in terms of the role of pain/pleasure in evolution). "Good" (i.e. recommended action) is thus (mostly) tied to survival in its original cause second, she takes the focus away from point-in-time pleasure, to acknowledge that there are causal links between things. Seeing the pain in a dentist's visit is not good enough, we have to understand the pleasures and pains from the visit as a causally linked set. That's how we get to: "how to we get a better mix". The decisions move from considering a single thing (imagine someone making an excuse not to visit the dentist, because he's focusing on the pain alone). "Good" is the concept that embraces the evaluation of such mixes, and going far beyond these small bundles, to encompass one's life. Good it is the integrated evaluation of pain and pleasure. Only by starting from these two ideas can Rand end up saying Productive Work is one of the highest ideals. That's quite a huge integration that includes hundreds of observations that aren't mentioned in the essay. That's her key achievement: not her focus on pleasure -- which hedonists already took a shot at -- but explaining how we go from there to a message that sounds like "work hard". The hedonists had already praised pleasure, but nobody can take a short-range approach too seriously. Aristotle spoke of Eudemia, and his golden mean is one way of conceptualizing the various choices we have to make all the time. The Epicureans had spoken about enjoying life in a relaxed way. These were attempts integrate the idea that selfish pleasure is the core of Ethics with other observations about the world. The Stoics took a different tack: they recognized that men are driven to do "big things" which cannot be explained by "live a relaxed life" or '"do only what you need to be comfortable". They admired these men. At some level, they were admiring productivity, but could not quite explain why it was the good. They ended up with a somewhat "duty ethics". The Bhagavad Gita got to the same point too: work (karma) is good because it is, because it is a universal law. They both assumed a feedback: where the universe rewards us for doing our duty. The only alternative to work seemed asceticism, and Eastern philosophies thought that was good too...but, we can't all be ascetics. So, working hard was what the typical person had to do... just because. There was no tie to happiness, leave along to pleasure. Rand stepped through the horns of this ancient dilemma. In summary: I agree with you that pleasure is key, but it is key the way a dot of paint is key to a painting, or a word is key to Atlas. It's a starting point, but the bulk of Ethics is explaining how it comes together across our lives. Post-script: I think your focus on pleasure is important though, because some people read Fountainhead and Atlas as enshrining the virtue of hard work, but do not keep the link to pleasure and happiness in mind. By dropping that link, and by seeing work as an end in itself, drops the crucial justification for work. Work then is a duty: an end that we just do, because it is good... don't ask any more questions! This is why I think the recent moves by The Undercurrent/Strive: abandoning the focus on Politics, and linking Objectivist Ethics to individual happiness, is great.
  13. 5 points
    MisterSwig

    Future of Objectivism

    Like Aristotle, Rand's philosophy will percolate through cultures with free speech until it develops a large enough root system to sustain another golden age of reason. Our job as individual roots in that system must first be to achieve our own happiness and be as great as we can possibly be at whatever we enjoy doing. We need more great Objectivists to figure out great ways to influence others and bring them to our side of the intellectual battle.
  14. 5 points
    Nicky

    Metaphysics of Death

    In Objectivism, ethics deals with what's good or bad, and metaphysics deals with what is. Objectivism does not describe reality and natural laws and phenomenons as good or bad, it only describes human choices as good or bad. With that out of the way, within the context of Ethics, Objectivism would consider as bad those deaths which are chosen for irrational reasons, it would consider good those deaths which are chosen for rational reasons, and it would consider amoral (neither good nor bad) those deaths which are inevitable. I'll give some examples for each category: 1. murder, or death that is self inflicted through carelessness, passivity, evasion, or other forms of irrationality (murder is considered bad because violating the rights of a fellow member of a civilized society is considered irrational). 2. death that is chosen for the purpose of avoiding unbearable pain due to terminal illness (euthanasia), or a justified deliberate killing (for instance, Hitler's killing) 3. death due to incurable disease or natural disaster The reason why I gave this answer rather than answer your exact question is because the above is the only rational definition of good and bad that I'm familiar with (I'm also aware of several arbitrary, religious definitions of good or bad, that go along the lines of "the will of God is good, the opposite is bad"...but I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that's not the kind of definition you're operating under). If you wish me to answer your question in the context of metaphysics, without involving religion, I'd be happy too...as soon as you define the terms good and bad in that context.
  15. 5 points
    This assertion is not backed by facts. The 1929 depression had people up in arms. Their solution was FDR. In the recent "great recession", Bush et al got most of the blame. We got 8 years of Obama. Now, the 8 years of wallowing has turned many people against Obama and they're looking to Trump. Go back in history and you find Germany in severe crisis -- hyperinflation that basically wiped out all debt, the French re-taking parts of Germany between the two wars. People were anxious and turned to Hitler. Assertions like this are baseless unless you can provide counter-examples from history. Without that, it is like saying "if I heat water, maybe it will freeze". The key flaw is thinking that politicians and the "elite" classes are the real problem. In fact, your average voter is the kernel of the problem. He only gets the politicians he deserves.
  16. 5 points
    I think this discussion has missed what I see to be the money quote from that Swift interview, and it's not the one where he says that parents should think about how they're disadvantaging others by reading to their kids. He's describing the fundamental task of the philosophical work under discussion, and he describes it like this: He assumes that the moral default is perfect equality, and that any deviation from this outcome has to be justified on some independent moral grounds. He does indeed think that many parenting activities (such as bedtime reading) can be justified on independent grounds such as 'familial relationship goods,' but it's not the specifics of what he wants to allow or forbid that I find most troublesome. It's his overall approach, in which the default choice is to forbid any activities that produce inequality of outcomes, unless we have some independent reason for keeping them. In effect, he accepts Plato's framework of total state power over the family, but argues that it should refrain in some cases from using it (it always decides what to 'allow' or not, but it should allow certain independently justifiable activities). It reminds me a lot of Rawl's approach to distributional justice, where the default seems to be perfect equality of resources, and deviations from that standard have to be justified on the basis of making the poorest better off. If I recall correctly, Rawls was trying to defend some elements of liberalism from the assault by egalitarianism (much like Swift seems to want to defend certain familial goods against total equality of opportunity), but his basic approach was to assume egalitarianism as the moral default and carve out exceptions to it. Needless to say, I find this approach to be immensely flawed. Whether or not Swift would personally advocate for banning private school or not seems to me to be beside the point. Under his framework, all family activity is guilty until proven innocent. That is what is wrong with his approach, far more than the specifics of what activities he thinks are innocent or guilty.
  17. 5 points
    JMeganSnow

    Increasing Awareness of Mortality

    So, time to kick off this Advice thing. If you have a question for me--specific and personal are best--throw it out there and I'll answer it as best I can (eventually). I don't pretend to be an expert on anything in particular, so what's the point of this exercise, you may ask? It's really for me to do my best to show *how* I arrive at my notions. Why is this instructive or of any value? Because the hardest part of answering any particular issue about life is in deciding what is and isn't *essential*. You have to go from the particular (your problem) to the abstract (the essential principles involved) to the particular (the application of that principle). This is a process that must be practiced. A lot. It is CRUCIAL to understanding and applying Objectivism because the connection between the particular and the abstract is THE fundamental, defining factor of the philosophy. So the purpose, as I see it, of this advice forum is NOT the value of the SPECIFIC advice (although I do hope that anybody asking a question does at least get SOMETHING out of it), but by trying to illustrate this process of concretization and abstraction as much as possible. So, our first question: Dear Jenni This year I turned 30, and loved it. Every year I feel better about myself and happier to keep on living. Each passing year seems to open up the world in broader ways than the year before -- I learn more, and inevitably recognize more how little I actually know, which has the effect of making the world seem more full of opportunity. But, starting around age 28, my body began making me notice it. Jump off a 3ft.-something, and there's a sharp pain back there, which doesn't go away for four days. Aren't sleeping tonight? Good luck recovering from that in less than a week. Wtf is this splitting pain in my skull? Oh, sure glad that went away as mysteriously as it appeared... six weeks later. Etc. Now I have this conflict and dichotomy where I'm increasingly excited about living, while growing more and more uneasy (legitimately afraid?) about my apparent impending body breakdown. Ironically, I was born with a gimp heart which needed two operations. But, it never impeded my life, so I never thought of myself as deficient -- until The Pains started coming two years ago. Is my fear realistic? Should I accept or even be glad for my uneasiness about it? I don't feel glad about it. I think there's something I'm missing in my view of mortality, or something else? --JASKN So, to start us off, I'm going to summarize this question as essentially asking: "This aging and death thing, how should one feel about it?" In my experience, everyone has awareness of mortality more or less forced on them at some point in their lives. How exactly this happens (heart operations, physical pains, in my case a horrible movie I saw when I was 11) may have some personal importance but isn't really essential to the overall issue at hand, which amounts to a realization that the decay and end of one's existence, while inevitable, isn't exactly something that anyone could realistically anticipate with any enjoyment. This is an interesting question (and, I think, a good one to kick this off) because fear or dread of mortality is something that I have a rich (if that term applies to something so unpleasant) and varied experience with. I'll get to my more poetic expressions that I find the most helpful in dark moments in favor of a more analytical approach at first, in keeping with my ideas for this "Ask Jenni" business. So, the very first thing to do when applying one's analytical powers to a subject should always be to ask, what are the facts of the matter? Which is always a great excuse to produce a list. Note that this is not intended to be an *exhaustive* list, just an *illustrative* one. So, some facts on aging/death (which JASKN has pretty much already supplied): 1. It's inevitable. 2. It diminishes or even completely removes one's capacities for action. 3. Much of one's joie de vivre is dependent upon one's capacity for action. Well, put that way, it sounds kind of grim, but I want to submit a fourth (and, I think, significant) fact for your consideration: 4. Fretting oneself about things one can't change only has the effect of destroying the capacities and enjoyments one still has, making one grumpy, crotchety, miserable, unpleasant, and possibly even hastening said inevitable decay and demise. So, in short, the principle this falls under is basically: "you can't do anything (ultimately) about it, fretting makes it worse, so the only thing to do is to toss it out of your list of things to worry about and get on with your life". So, there's the analytical bit taken care of. Clearly I have fixed everything. Well, no, because an important factor remains that affects one's life but that the analytical bit *doesn't* dispense with, because fretting about something is an *emotional* response, and like all emotional responses cannot simply be turned off--not even if you know they're ridiculous. Maybe even especially if you know they're ridiculous. You can toss it out again and again (getting madder and madder at yourself each time), but until you resolve the underlying conflict it's going to pop right back up again. Of course, this is also where things start getting kind of fuzzy. But here's (some of) my perspective, and I hope it helps: I suspect this kind of anxiety ultimately derives from a subtle mental habit of viewing life and death (or youth and age) as a trade-off, as if they were options on a bargaining table. If you're viewing them (even very slightly) in that way, getting older seems like one heck of a lousy deal. Youth gets all the good stuff, and old age gets maybe that wisdom thing. Unless, of course you go senile. In reality, though, that is *not* the trade that life offers to you. It's not a question of "I can be young and awesome, or I can be old and suck", but between "I can get older and enjoy it as best I can, or I can just die now and miss out on something awesome". Staying young isn't on the table. Not dying at all isn't on the table. To view things with equanimity, whenever that feeling of worry or dread comes up, remember the deal that is *really* on the table, not the one you would *like* to be on the table. It won't fix everything instantly. You may never *entirely* reach some kind of Buddha-like state where the anxiety never impinges on you again, but what happens is that you develop practice at facing the fear head-on, seeing it for what it really is, and letting it go so you can hurry up and get back to the awesome. And, like anything, practice makes it easier.
  18. 5 points
    Dante

    Objectivism doesn't condemn this?!

    Objectivism requires, in a nutshell, that you do not attempt to gain values through dishonesty. This means more than simply ensuring that what you say isn't technically a lie; it requires that you endeavor to appeal to others' reason and intelligence rather than their stupidity and gullibility. In both of your examples cited above, the person is clearly behaving dishonestly, and in both cases it comes in the same form. The person is failing to disclose a fact that they know will be material to the decision of the person that they are tricking. In your original example, the guy clearly knows that he's going to leave this girl as soon as he sleeps with her, and he also knows that she wouldn't sleep with him if she knows this. He's deceiving her by withholding this fact and pretending that he has the intention of dating her. Similarly, the fact that some part will soon go out at great cost is a fact that is material to the buyer's decision to buy. Withholding it is fraud, and clearly dishonest. Objectivism holds that this method for gaining values will not serve your life and happiness in the long term. Relying on dishonesty to gain values requires that you seek out the dumbest and most gullible people to deal with, rather than the most intelligent and perceptive. It institutionalizes a fear of certain facts, namely the facts that will expose your lies, rather than encouraging an attitude of unreservedly confronting all facts of reality, which is the policy that one needs in order to be successful over the long term. Furthermore, relationships founded on dishonesty cannot become the kind of deep relationships that are integral to one's happiness, where another person truly sees and understands you. No short-term gains of one-night stands or car sales are worth this kind of life.
  19. 5 points
    dream_weaver

    Ayn Rand- Absolutes

    One can appreciate Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy's opening paragraph on Postmodernism: That postmodernism is indefinable is a truism. However, it can be described as a set of critical, strategic and rhetorical practices employing concepts such as difference, repetition, the trace, the simulacrum, and hyperreality to destabilize other concepts such as presence, identity, historical progress, epistemic certainty, and the univocity of meaning. While apparently indefinable, it is not indescribable. For those having no truck with the reaffirmation through denial, a friend of Miss Rand once said: that today's attitude, paraphrasing the Bible, is; "Forgive me, Father, for I know not what I'm doing - and please don't tell me." The law of causality guaranties the outcome of the rebellion against identity. In the meantime, postmodernism just provides another way to separate those who know A is A, from some others that wish it were not so.
  20. 5 points
    I used to feel this way a lot (still do, sometimes, but not nearly as much). It's a generalization that you're drawing from the only data you have around--the way you feel about your own activities. You're waiting for the activities to give you a feeling of purpose or satisfaction, and when they don't, you conclude that there is no purpose or satisfaction to be had, and it's all pointless. The truth is, activities won't give you purpose or satisfaction, so suggestions on the nature of "go do something!" are, in a sense, futile. However, they do have positive effects in that they can help you find your own purpose and satisfaction in a secondary sort of way. A lot of people, when they try to determine what interests them, do this sort of self-meditation where they wrack their brains trying to find some a priori voice that'll tell them, "I love soccer!" or similar. The thing is, you aren't born with interests that are stuffed somewhere in your brain. You *develop* interests by doing things, enjoying them, doing them again, enjoying them more, etc. Most people generally do all of this while they're still young enough that they aren't consciously aware of the process, so when they get to the questioning stage (late teens early twenties), they already know what they like and what they want to pursue, so it's just a matter of examining their mental contents in an orderly fashion to decide which interest is the top interest. Everyone isn't like that, though. Some people, due to shyness, a compliant personality, whatever, arrive in their late teens early twenties still pretty much unformed. When they start examining themselves, all they find is a void waiting to be filled. They think there's something wrong with them. There's nothing wrong with you, it's just that you hit the self-conscious phase before you had enough material to work with to form interests. So now, instead of having it happen more-or-less automatically as you grew, you're going to have to build them manually for yourself. I found that a helpful first step is to say "my purpose, is to find a purpose". It won't fix things for you right away, but it does help to know that feeling no deep attachment to your few interests isn't some kind of hideous psychological flaw. But this statement that you have a purpose even if it isn't a single directed one can help you straighten yourself out. So, step two is to figure out what will help you find a purpose. Well, clearly if you're going to develop strong interests, you need material to work with. So you need to go and consciously try things. Pursuing more of the interests you already have is good, but don't be afraid to try other things as well. Don't sabotage yourself by over-evaluating and trying to search for some kind of emotional spark WHILE you are doing them, though. You already have a mental habit of suppressing or repressing your emotional connections to people/things. The only thing that will happen if you try to analyze while you're doing is that you will suppress or repress whatever emotional reaction you DO have. So just concentrate on doing it instead of dwelling on how you feel about it. Later, after you've done it a few times, you'll start feeling either that you want to keep doing it, or that you'd prefer to stop. THAT's when you pull out the analysis. But it shouldn't just be a "what am I feeling about this" analysis, you need to ask yourself, "what about this is causing me to feel X"? Maybe you joined a band, you really like playing the music, but you just HATE the bass player so you find you don't want to go to practice any more because that jerk will be there harshing your groove. It's not that you don't "actually" love playing the music--it's that you want a different band. But, if he WASN'T there, you'd totally love to go play your music. Voila, you've discovered your full musical interest! NOW FIND A NEW BAND. So, yes, you do need to make yourself do stuff. Don't ride yourself too much if you find it difficult, and definitely reward yourself for even the tiniest positive steps. Don't listen to people who tell you what you "ought" to be doing--if you don't know, yourself, they sure as hell can't know. And don't hassle yourself for being different or somehow less worthy than people who happened to pick up their interests more or less by accident when they were younger and not self-critical yet. Yeah, that way sure seems like it would have been a lot nicer, but at least this way you get to form your interests consciously. You won't have a mid-life crisis where you suddenly begin to question what the source of your interests really is. In a way, you're sorting out your mid-life crisis NOW. And don't fuss yourself over not having friends or people to connect with. The problem is largely that you are currently lacking the kind of material that forms connections. The friends will come once you build up the material. There may not be many, but they'll be much better than the kind of friends you just fall into in high school. It's also not a sin to withdraw from your family. You're busy. You got stuff to build, and sometimes they try to "help" and don't help at all. So if you find them oppressive, tell them, as respectfully as you can manage, that they need to back off and let you do your buildin'. It'll probably be the nastiest, most awkward conversation EVAR, but they'll appreciate it that you told them what was up with you and you'll feel better about your relationship with them. And they may even back off. (Don't expect an instant fix--stay respectful and polite. Stick to your guns, but don't fire.)
  21. 5 points
    Nicky

    The bad guy won. The fight continues.

    An example of religious totalitarianism is Iran, or the Dark Ages. Calling Romney a religious fascist is much greater hyperbole than even calling the Tea Party socialists. Romney wants religiously motivated government control in a couple of areas (all of which can easily be circumvented by simply traveling out of the state, not even the country - since even the very unlikely overturning of Roe v. Wade would only result in a few states limiting abortion), while Obama wants near-full control of all Americans' work, more than half of all their earnings, full control over their health care, etc. , and he's proven that there's no escape from him anywhere on this planet (by enforcing his fascism all the way into Switzerland). But, I'm sure, logic will fall on deaf ears, and Kate will continue proving the evil ways of everyone but the political Left with her endless stream of fallacious arguments and plain arbitrary assertions, and consider herself the smartest, most modern and open minded person on here, for doing it. She's every freshly brainwashed, liberal college graduate I've ever met.
  22. 5 points
    Gramlich

    Steve Jobs and Cosmic Justice

    Don't worry, Wotan; I have it all covered. I conversed with a rock today that told me Steve Job's soul was currently travelling past the Gligok galaxy, on its way to Valhalla. Now, as is well known, the Gligok galaxy is home to the infamous Kecktox. An evil race known for its proclivity of enslaving souls as they make their cosmic voyage. Me and the rock both agreed something had to be done, so, being a wizard, I cast a spell on Steve Job's soul to hide it from the Kecktox's souldar. With any luck, Steve Job's soul should arrive safely at Valhalla, where he will be at peace slaying Jewish money lenders for all of eternity.
  23. 5 points
    Meta Blog

    Epistemological Anarchy

    Originally posted by Don from NoodleFood, If you have ever debated the issue of limited government versus anarchy with an anarchist, you have undoubtedly run into this argument: "Every government in history has violated individual rights, so what grounds do you have for believing there could be a government that doesn't?" In fact, our own Stephan Kinsella raised this point in his current discussion with Dave Harrison. He said, "All of our experience and history shows all states to ride roughshod over citizens' rights." (Dave's response was perfect: "To some extent or another, depending on the state. And therefore what?") What I want to note is the epistemological error in the anarchist's argument. Specifically, the false view of induction. To take the standard example, suppose I observe a hundred swans, all of which are white. This by itself would not justify concluding that all swans are white. Induction does not work by enumeration. To generalize, you would have to know why all swans must be white -- what in their nature causes them to be white? In the same way, you cannot argue that because all governments have violated individual rights, that all governments must violate rights. You would have to be able to identify something in the nature of government that necessitates the violation of individual rights. Never has an anarchist succeeded at this task. The closest anyone has ever come was Roy Childs, who famously argued that in barring other individuals and organizations from the use of retaliatory force, a government is initiating force. But, as I have argued elsewhere, Childs' argument shares the fatal flaw that plagues almost every anarchist argument: the complete evasion of the requirements of objectivity. In one of her Ford Hall Forum speeches, Ayn Rand read a quote so horrific and illustrative of the point she was making that the audience burst into applause. Rand paused for a moment and explained to the audience that their applause was non-objective, since she had no way of knowing whether they were agreeing with the quote or with Rand. Rand's point is that objectivity imposes requirements, not only in a person's mind, but in how they express themselves in a social context. Each audience member knew why he was applauding, but his applause was non-objective because the person he was trying to communicate with, Ayn Rand, had no means of knowing what his applause was attempting to communicate. The same principle applies to the issue of retaliation. In his open letter to Ayn Rand, Childs disputes Rand's claim that, "The use of physical force -- even its retaliatory use -- cannot be left at the discretion of individual citizens." He writes: Morally, a man has the right to retaliate against those who initiate force. In fact, as Ayn Rand pointed out, assuming he is able to do so, retaliation is a moral imperative. Refusing to retaliate against an aggressor is to sanction his aggression -- and to welcome more of it. Yet, if he is living in a society of other men, it is not enough that an individual determine in his own mind that his use of force is retaliatory. Since whether an act of force is initiatory or retaliatory is not self-evident, and since a man who initiates force is by that fact a threat to society, any man who engages in force that has not been proved by objective means to be retaliatory must be considered a threat. This is the deepest reason why the use of retaliatory force must be delegated to the government: an act of retaliation that isn't first proved to be an act of retaliation is indistinguishable from an act of aggression -- and must be treated as such. What, then, are "objective means"? To determine that an instance of force is retaliatory, men must know what the act of force was, the general standard by which guilt is to be determined, and what evidence was used to meet that standard in a particular case. Every member of society must have access to this information. And, of course, each of these elements must be objective (the laws, standards of evidence, and the evaluation of whether the evidence in question meets that standard). By its nature, then, objectivity in retaliation cannot be achieved without a government (assuming we are speaking here of a society of men and not individuals or isolated tribes). If an individual uses force, by that very fact he is an objective threat to other members of society and may properly be restrained, even if he was responding to another man's aggression. He has no grounds for claiming his rights are being violated. Imagine you are walking down the street and a man walks up and punches the person next to you in the face. The anarchist would argue that if you use force to restrain that person, you are initiating force if it turns out that the man he punched hit him first. Yet that is pure intrinsicism. It is non-objective in the same way that the audience's applause was non-objective. He may be retaliating but you don't know it. Contrary to Childs, the point is not that individuals are unable to make objective determinations of what constitutes retaliatory force -- it's that objectivity demands they prove it to every other member of society. Only a government can provide such a mechanism. (The anarchist would of course dispute this last claim as well, but the point here isn't to make the case for limited government -- merely to demonstrate that government is not inherently aggressive.)
  24. 5 points
    Dante

    Objectivism and homosexuality dont mix

    Except that each person's highest value is his or her own life. Attempting to claim that the highest value is some abstract "life" and therefore homosexuality, because it does not result in children, 'does not value life' is rationalistic, and a confusion of what is meant by valuing life for the Objectivist. Objectivism as an ethical code is always a guide for the individual valuer, who should always be focusing on his particular life. Valuing one's own life and therefore being true to oneself could certainly result for some people in a homosexual lifestyle, and everyone engaging in homosexuality for these reasons is operating on the premise of life: their own individual life, not some nebulous, abstract, 'furtherance of the species' conception of life, which by design refers to no life in particular.
  25. 5 points
    Eiuol

    The Process Of Deliberation

    Aristotle stated in Nicomachean Ethics that no one deliberates about facts. (Well, to be specific, he stated that no one inquires about what they already know. Aristostle thought of deliberation as a type of inquiry). As I’ve observed, this is true. I do not deliberate - reason out thoroughly and carefully- when I state that 2 + 2 is 4. More complex, I do not deliberate that the only way to violate rights is the through the initiation of force. It may take time to determine that both of these statements are facts, but once it is determined they are facts, no more deliberation occurs. Deliberation may occur again when some premise is called into question. If anyone gets to *thinking* about premises, that is deliberation, and the only time when truth is being considered. To deliberate, then, implies uncertainty about a conclusion. Really, it’s the process of induction. Deduction is reasoning with facts, so conclusions contain already known facts. Induction is deliberation, or consideration of new information of some entity. When deliberation stops, a concept has been formed. In a sense, Aristotle’s observation is this, which maybe he did not realize or know: concept formation is a volitional process of deliberation, and is an inductive process. Concepts consist of facts, and any formed concept is the final end of deliberation. Formed and valid concepts are not deliberated about. This further emphasizes how knowledge is contextual: what you know depends upon the facts you know, the objects being deliberated over. A knowledge base is made up of objects of non-deliberation, i.e. facts. When forming the concept “egoism,” it already consists of non-deliberated-over facts, namely that you are yourself, that there is not another entity controlling you. Deliberation occurs when those facts are put together in a way after noticing similarities and differences. If there is no process of integration, deliberation is not happening; you’d have facts and that’s it. And as has been shown, considering facts alone is not deliberation. Deliberation can only happen when some goal is sought after, particularly the formation of a concept. I should also throw in that deliberation might not always be about concept formation, but it still is thinking about facts which can, at that point, be integrated differently, dis-integrated, or even mis-integrated. What I'm thinking here is that this observation about deliberation can be used somehow to persuade people to think about new ideas, and get them to reconsider current ideas they hold. In order to change the minds of many people on particular subjects, already-formed concepts need to be deliberated about. Meaning that the facts which the concept/subject under consideration consists of need to be explained by the other party. That is the only way to get a person to think about what they understand to be a fact: have them re-form the concept. Argumentation might not be the method, but introducing a consideration is the first step in changing a person’s mind. Intellectual dishonesty, then, is not only refusal to acknowledge facts, but also a refusal to deliberate. In any case, destabilizing known “facts” rather than encouraging steadfastness of beliefs, even of one’s own beliefs, may be the best way of getting people to change their mind. However, that should only be done if teaching is the goal. Ideas can kill, so should be used as weapons when a destructive individual/group is involved; I don't mean to imply that all people should get an equal say. Fence-sitters -- even if not explicit ones -- can accept different ideas upon deliberation. But not before the concept in question is deliberated about. I'm going after something that is more than just activism in general, more than just going out and speaking of ideas. I'm thinking about very specific means to get people to unwittingly get to them to reconsider their beliefs. I'm wondering how to get the more resistant people to think about their ideas, not just fence-sitters. One way to lead a person to deliberate is present an argument. That way, they have to integrate their thoughts, present a conclusion. The issue with that is it is basically deduction. It would not be deliberation in the sense previously discussed. If I wanted to persuade others to agree with egoism (or any other concepts related to Objectivism), or any other “deep” concept, it may be better to figure out what facts the other person does not have. If I wanted to get an egalitarian to accept egoism instead, I couldn't talk about what they already knew. I'd have to present a fact that would have to be integrated that never had been previously. As a result, either the person fixes resulting contradictions, or outright evades/dis-integrates/mis-integrates the new fact. Of course, this all to some extent depends on a person being intellectually honest. Simply stating facts may be one way to entice people to think differently about an idea, without a great deal of mental effort on my own end. Or stating the existence of a concept previously unheard of by the other person. I would like to know what other people think about what I said about deliberation here, as well as any other ideas anyone has on how to get people to change their mind about something. And other ways to spread ideas other than activism. I’m personally not a fan of activism, but I do enjoy spreading ideas.
  26. 5 points
    If you believe this then you truly are a fool of the greatest proportions.
  27. 5 points
    Take any group of people of equal numbers. Put them in those situations and you will get a few that behave exactly like this if not worse. It reminds me of the line from "Apocalypse Now" Kurtz: "We train young men to drop fire on people, but their commanders won't allow them to write "fuck" on their airplanes because it's obscene!" By the way would this be the proper time to bring up the Objectivist ideal of total war? Where the deaths of civilians are the responsibility of the people they support even if only tacitly, and that any free nation has the right to invade any slave pen? War is hell, policing up the bodies and body parts is the kind of shit that makes grown men cry, puke and shit their pants so if you don't like the look of it then don't ever claim that you can send a man to war and have it be all pretty and sterile like some sort of 1930's movie where men fall gracefully and intact when they are shot and you don't have to see their skulls come apart. It's time that the civilian population grew up, more than just a little. Get in, get it done and get out with the fewest numbers of our own killed, or maimed. THAT is the job. Not making it all pretty for the fucking camera.
  28. 5 points
    FeatherFall

    Wisconsin Union Protests

    They actually need a 3/5 quorum, which means they need 20 senators. 19 Republicans, one with a donkey on his lapel, will not suffice. A common theme of the union-side is that Gov. Walker is abandoning democracy. Of course I don't need to explain why democracy is bad on this forum, but I still think there is some irony here that shows how confused the term, "democracy," is today. Reducing the power of the teacher's unions is exactly what many of us in Wisconsin elected the Republicans to do. We voted, the unions lost. Sounds democratic to me.
  29. 4 points
    StrictlyLogical

    Grieving the loss of God

    I'm no psychologist, but it is fairly common knowledge that grief is a natural part of life, if we conceive of it broadly as going through the process of psychologically dealing with loss. Loss is natural and ubiquitous if one is alive, growing, or changing... all the time one loses one's former self to become something new , something more (or different), a process of being is not static - it is a process of becoming. We transform from a dependent child to an adult, we learn to accept that Santa Claus is a fiction, as an adult we accept "the highschool years" as a part of our ever evolving lives and not its definition, and we must learn to make the transformation through old age and decline as well... These transformations and the subsequent introspections of the differences of self, require a process to fully deal with. We are aware that those who do not properly process these changes, as with those who do not properly process the death of a loved one, have psychologically unresolved issues... which can and will be problematic, until they are properly processed and there is closure and acceptance of the reality of that particular loss or change on a deep psychological level. One of the biggest psychological transformations a person can go through is to convert from an adherent of the religious/supernatural/mystical to a complete atheist. This is no trifle... it is a fundamental shift of a world view, indeed a view of the universe, all of existence, its relation to the self and the very definition of self also. Is anyone aware of any authority, academic, or psychologist who delved into, contemplated, and/or wrote substantively on the subject matter of the psychological process of Grief necessary for fully completing the transformation from religion to atheism in a psychologically healthy manner?
  30. 4 points
    softwareNerd

    Trump

    People love to hate politicians, and to claim that politicians are some particularly disgusting breed. But consider... a GOP acquaintance of mine was complaining about Obamacare. When I pushed, it turned out he wanted the government to somehow bring down rates, and wanted the government to help the poor who cannot afford healthcare. Yet, this person -- typical of the average voter -- has no clue about how the government should go about this. This voter simply wants stuff.... somehow. It doesn't matter if it is contradictory. Similarly, another acquaintance was talking about how she could not afford to retire. The discussion went to social-security, and it turns out she does not want SS taxes raised, did not want SS benefits curbed, and wanted the budget deficit to be lowered in the bargain. How? Well, that's not her problem... politicians should figure it out. A colleague is very conscientious about recycling, wants coal plants shut down, wants more regulation; but, also wants the economy to grow twice as fast as it is doing. Sorry, the fault, dear Brutus lies not in our politicians, but in ourselves, that we are whining, un-intellectual voters who have no clue about what government ought to be. So, we get the government we deserve. [Of course, by "we", present company -- and other more-intellectual voters -- are excluded. I'm speaking of the average-Joe American voter.]
  31. 4 points
    Dustin explained issues he has had in another thread: Issues like these are so common they are almost epidemic among Objectivists. See for example what Nathaniel Branden wrote, in 1984: http://web.archive.org/web/20120106060148/http://www.nathanielbranden.com/ayn/ayn03.html An Objectivist popped into the chatroom just the other night discussing their psychological issues with me. They were seeing a therapist because they were overloaded with stress from work, essentially because they were over-valuing material independence, and the therapist was having trouble helping them. What I had to say to this person is this: The virtue of independence doesn't pertain to material independence primarily. Virtues are about how you think and act, not about your material circumstances. It doesn't make sense to describe material independence as a "virtue"; that's a consequence, not an action. Virtues describe principles of action. If you read Rand's description of independence, she's talking entirely about judgment and the mind: "yours is the responsibility of judgment", "no substitute can do your thinking", she rejects "the acceptance of an authority over your brain" - these do not comment on material dependence, or say anything negatively about relying on others, but rather they are focusing in on a particular issue of how you use your own mind. When she talks about independence, she's talking about that virtue of using your mind, acquiring knowledge the best you can, thinking the best you can, and being able to come to judgments based on that thinking and knowledge. In essence, she's focused on how to think and act to the best of your ability. That does not preclude either material dependence, or relying on others in general. Virtues are not negative principles, they aren't there to instruct you what not to do, they are there primarily to talk about what you should do, based on what's possible to you simply by nature. By nature we are all capable of thinking, acquiring knowledge, and forming judgments - and morally, we should. Independence as a virtue is a matter of sound mind and sound action, not a matter of a trade-off of material values. And if material independence were held as high in one's mind as a virtue of character, that could lead one to make bad trade-offs in one's life, such as pursuing material independence at the expense of other values like a good social life. If one holds material independence - the outcome - to the standards of a virtue of one's character - which pertains to one's actions - that could lead to some serious distress and guilt, because one's esteem becomes tied to the material outcomes rather than to one's actual virtue and character. Imagine if Roark took working in the quarry as fault of his integrity; he wouldn't have made it out of there. Virtue needs to be completely separate from outcome. Consider this quote from Peikoff's lecture on "Certainty and Happiness": "Let’s consider here a moral man who has not yet reached professional or romantic fulfillment, an Ayn Rand hero, say Roark or Galt, at a point where he is alone against the world, barred from his work, destitute. Now such a person has certainly not “achieved his values”. On the contrary he is beset by problems and difficulties. Nevertheless, if he is an Ayn Rand hero, he’s confident, at peace with himself, serene. He is a happy person even when living through an unhappy period. He does experience deprivation, frustration, pain. But in a phrase that I think is truly memorable, from the Fountainhead, it’s pain that “goes down only to a certain point”. He has achieved, not success, but the ability to succeed. In other words, the right relationship to reality. So the emotional leitmotif of such a person is a unique and enduring form of pleasure: the pleasure that derives from the sheer fact of a man’s being alive, if he is a man who feels able to live. I’ve described this particular emotion as "metaphysical pleasure". Now metaphysical pleasure depends on one’s own choices and actions. And in that sense virtue does ensure happiness- not the full happiness of having achieved one’s values in reality, but the radiance of knowing that such achievement is possible." I think this quote from Peikoff is helpful because it illustrates what it means to have self-esteem based on your character, independent of where you actually are in life - that is, independent of the outcomes. --- Dustin is by no means alone in the issues he's having. Objectivists have had these issues for decades, and they still do even today. In Understanding Objectivism, Peikoff identifies another cause of this psychological problem in Objectivists: a concrete-bound mentality. As an Objectivist, one might hold themselves to the concrete elements of Rand's heroes instead of to the abstract moral principles the heroes exemplify. Since, objectively, one might not (and need not) value any of the particular concretes that her heroes value, the fact that one's emotions are not in line with such concretes can mistakenly lead one to the idea that one's emotions are out of control and must be repressed, which can lead to a great deal of distress and suffering. Here's an excerpt from lecture ten of Understanding Objectivism describing the issue: There is a similar issue known by the term "Howard Roark Syndrome", essentially the issue of taking Rand's heroes too literally, and thereby holding oneself to an impossible (or even an improper) standard. This was discussed previously on this forum: Another post: The consequences of this kind of problem can be an inability to act appropriately when dealing with other people (in the case of the second quote), or even broken relationships (in the case of the first quote), or in general, an under-valuation of other people, which can be a major factor in these psychological problems common to Objectivists.
  32. 4 points
    Craig24

    Vote Trump!

    I was going to vote for Trump to keep Hillary out but that was months ago. I can't do that now. I know now what Nicky has known all along. He's a disaster in the making if he's elected. Vote for Johnson if Hillary is unacceptable to you or don't vote.
  33. 4 points
    -Criticism of responses so far- To those of you saying morality does not apply, contrast the two positions taken by Ayn Rand here: and here: Why has nobody in this thread defended the unequivocal statements of Ayn Rand in her original, definitive work, "The Ethics of Emergencies", written to address this very question, featured in the canonical book of Objectivist ethics, "The Virtue of Selfishness"? Why instead have they taken these other comments - which are highly contradictory to the canonical position of the Objectivist ethics, from an obscure Q&A session given years later, on a lecture concerning a very different subject - as not only the more important and more defining, but apparently the only position that anyone has even bothered to really consider here? As Ayn Rand states in "The Ethics of Emergencies" very explicitly: morality always applies, to all of one's choices. When one is dealing with the circumstances of an emergency, that is merely another instance where one must apply their moral principles. You can always have a "long-term outlook of flourishing" and act accordingly, regardless of what situation you find yourself in currently. Devil's Advocate makes great points - How can you say that morality applies on a desert island - and that it doesn't apply on a lifeboat? StrictlyLogical also points out the reality that emergencies are still situations where man has a choice and must act - and therefore where morality must apply: -Answering the Question- - If the scenario is as dream weaver described, where you're in Alaska and there are cabins about with food stocked that are not in use, and it's the social convention that one lost in the wilderness in an emergency is expected to be able to use these resources, then it wouldn't really be stealing. - The original question is instead about a tent in the desert, where there's not necessarily any implied convention that you can use resources that you find because it's an emergency. Someone may even very well depend on those resources for their own life. But the original question is a little ambiguous - suppose you arrive at the tent on the verge of death, and nobody is home. The actions in that situation of a rational, benevolent person would be to share part of what they have with you given your desperate emergency, and in the absence of any definitive knowledge about their consent that's a fair assumption to make given a benevolent people premise (provided you assume this justly puts you in debt to them and will repay it on their terms). - To answer the question in the fullest sense, we have to ask what should one do given the premise that the tent owner is there when you arrive, and even against benevolence and rationality they still explicitly deny consent to take their things. How could following the non-aggression principle to your very death be consistent with holding life as the highest value? One might try to argue that holding life as the highest value doesn't simply mean a *physical life*, but rather a *moral life*, in the same sense that man's highest purpose isn't merely "that which gives me pleasure" but rather, that which is the expression of my moral values AND gives me pleasure: The attempt here would be to say that you *are* holding life as your highest value, by saying: by "life" you mean only a "principled life" - in this case a life of following the non-aggression principle. However, this still doesn't really answer the question in its fullest sense. The will to live is the most fundamental principle of morality by virtue of being the most fundamental aspect of man's identity - as an organism who by nature faces the life or death alternative. Therefore one cannot ultimately make the argument that the will to principle and morality somehow supercedes the will to live, when life-sustaining action is the root of moral principles. In order to answer the question one must show that the will to principle and the will to life are consistent - one must show that choosing to actually die for the non-aggression principle really is the best action to take in order to live. - The only way I know to answer this question is to say that death can be overcome and that we can have eternal life. By virtue of man's will to live, and the intelligibility and controllability of the nature of the universe, and given the lack of any complete proof of its impossibility and a benevolent universe premise, we should expect the progress of science and technology to, ultimately, reach the capability of immortal life and the resurrection of the dead. Just as Howard Roark says in the Fountainhead that, "The work of the creators has eliminated one form of disease after another, in man's body and spirit, and brought more relief from suffering than any altruist could ever conceive" and "The integrity of a man's creative work is of greater importance than any charitable endeavor" The most effective way to follow one's will to live is to respect the creative work and property of others through the non-aggression principle, even to the point of dying on that hill. The spiritual values one pursues are far more important and consequential than anything physical that one can accomplish. Following one's principles is more practically effective in order to live in the long run than anything one would be able to physically do by violating them just to live a little while longer. This is how to reconcile holding life as the highest value with the principle of non-initiation of force.
  34. 4 points
    I know it's much later but I just saw this topic, so idk if OP will see this reply. As a self-employed plumber, I can say that I in no way feel "less important" than a CEO of a large scale company. I would say that I resonate deeper with Hank Rearden than I do with Eddie Willers. This is because I don't equate my success with how much my business grosses each year, or how much I "contribute to society". I find great pride in my personal success and growth in itself, in relation to nothing at all. I have achieved great success through skill, dedication, and even character (A friendly, positive, and honest personality). My identifying with Rearden as opposed to Willers has nothing to do with Bank statements, it's all about viewpoint. I find pride in my ability and I know I do my job with 100% dedication. That's where the philosophy comes in. Its really not so much, what you do, but how you do it, and how you view it. I can't quote, but I recall Ayn Rand saying something to the effect of: even someone who just files papers for a living needs to use their brain and can find pride in it. Would someone who handles millions of dollars a day consider my life and profession as "important" as theirs? I don't know... Should I care?
  35. 4 points
    Nobody should be surprised to see Atlas Shrugged recommended as a source for what Rand had to say. Anne Heller points out that the story, quite literally on the first page, salutes the skill of a bus driver. This scene leads straight into a dialog scene between a VP’s personal assistant and the company’s CEO in which the assistant clearly understands the company’s situation better than the CEO and cares about it more. Not long after that is a chapter entitled “The Top and the Bottom” which (unfavorably) contrasts a bunch of corporate higher-ups in a bar with the aforementioned assistant and an unskilled laborer in the company cafeteria. One could go on and on in this vein. Rand preferred as a novelist to write about people of extraordinary character, talent and accomplishment. In her novels, as in life, these qualities correlate imperfectly with money and status. The world would offer fewer storytelling possibilities (less conflict, less surprise) if the two matched up well.
  36. 4 points
    Reidy

    Metaphysical Rebellion

    I chimed in yesterday that metaphysical rebellion as #3 explains it is characteristic of Rand's villains. They are in full revolt against one fact about the human condition: the necessity to make a deliberate effort to think and to act on the results. (I thought that Rand was the only one who used "metaphysical" this way, but apparently Camus does too. Some authors use "existential" to mean the same.) ((How metaphysical rebellion applies to clothes in an intriguing speculation. No head openings. Three legs. Two right shoes. Wrong for the weather. Bras for men and jockstraps for women.))
  37. 4 points
    I think one implication is: don't bet any good money on the political side of Objectivism being realized during your life-time. Invest your time accordingly. The more important question is: given that the world is unlikely to change much in my lifetime, what am I going to do to change my own world? My life, my priorities, my friends, my career, and so on. Objectivism is an egoistical ethical theory before it is a political theory. That's the part one can implement... and the number of countries where one can do so has increased a lot since 1980.
  38. 4 points
    "In the beginning Man created God; and in the image of Man created he him."-from the liner notes of Jethro Tull's Aqualung. As the JASKN and dream_weaver have responded so well to these charges, I see no reason to address the inference that Objective is competing with a church. I wish to address the suggestion that religion holds a psychological grip on some people. Some have rationalized a "need" to fill that spiritual gap, and I will concur with Devil's Advocate, in that that "need" can be filled no other way for them. I think this is a pity, but it is what it is. While many of these people are highly-functional people, valuable and worthy of all they have earned, they prefer to hold the image of God tightly integrated with their motives, reasons, and morals. Other members of society are not so valuable. Aside from children of the religious, who are not fully cognitive of reality, their are the criminally minded and the substance-abusive types for whom the "powers of a super-invisible-friend" may be necessary to reform them from their weaknesses. I raised this subject of weaker members of society in an earlier post, and wish to clarify that I do not believe religion is the best solution for them, only that some people have had success in its application. I thought it worth mentioning after seeing DA invoke the Serenity Prayer. And the "Like This" option on our post serves as a fine alternative to "Amen," just as this forum provides as fine "meeting hall."
  39. 4 points
    I just wanted to make an observation on a Friday leading into, hopefully a great weekend.. We have all heard the statement "The truth will set you free". This is somewhat of an insipid bromide, and it pertains mostly to the relief of the cessation of evasion, self-denial, or dishonesty. Relief from the guilt and the stress/worry of being caught or from being in a state of dis-integration. The relief from the self inflicted problems of vices is not like setting one's self free, it's more like taking one's hand out of the burning fire he never should have idiotically placed his hand into. For us Objectivists however this statement, used in a different context, reflects a reality few non-Objectivists, if any, would understand. We all (almost all) were raised in and indoctrinated with religion, false dichotomies, evasion, disintegration, duty, rationalism, intrinsicism,.. these all create actual mental prisons. Prisons in the sense that they restrict freedom of thought and action in ways which are not rational, valid, properly justified, nor in accordance with reality, and from which the prisoner, to the extent of his ignorance, is helpless to escape. When one discovers the truth, the Axioms, what morality IS, what rights are, i.e. Objectivism, even though the structures around us remain, the religions, the statism, the public consensus in irrationality etc., one nevertheless has been literally, albeit only mentally and spiritually, set free by that discovery. In this way the truth HAS set you free. On a Friday perhaps it is a nice thing to remember in the face of all of the coercion and unjust initiation of force upon your lives... .at least you have found a way, the truth, to free yourself from the mental and spiritual prison you once occupied! Have a great weekend!
  40. 4 points
    Critical thinking skills are an acquired ability to distinguish between clear and unclear expressions of thought. An ability that comes in handy is the ability to evaluate a statement with regard to how others might perceive it. A statement may seem clear at first, in the context of what was being considered when writing it, and lose that clarity when reviewing it at some point in the future. Objectivism is a philosophy that touts reason and logic underpinning the five basic branches, and the host of factors that give rise to its hierarchy and structure. Understanding it, like understanding anything, is not automatic. Imagine an outsider with little more familiarity to Objectivism, than hearing it is the solution to all the problems in the world. While this is an overstatement, Objectivism posits solutions to understanding key issues in ethics and politics that run askew to anything tried during the course of human history. The internet has more materials than anyone could possibly process in a lifetime. People need to allocate their time when using the Internet, just like anything else, and seek out what they esteem of value. A forum offers the opportunity to discuss and share ideas that fall under a common theme. People interested in understanding more about math, can find a math forum. I consider a forum like Freethought and Rationalism as a showcase for what advocating any and every idea as possible and plausible leads to. Objectivism advocates the adherence to a method in order to establish if an idea is possible, possible and ultimately as certain. Ideas that do not meet these criteria are deemed to be arbitrary. Critical thinking skills are honed by arriving to a conclusion of the ideas position along this continuum. While there is a place of being critical of others, it is usually accompanied by making a strong case supporting it. Folks who come here to read these threads are hopefully interested in what Objectivism is, and how it can benefit them. They can argue willy-nilly at home, work, school or favorite social club. Objectivism identifies the role that philosophy in the course of human events. If rational discourse with a sincere respect for logic is to return to the culture at large, where is it to start?
  41. 4 points
    JASKN

    Altruism Revisited

    If it's useful, is it altruistic?
  42. 4 points
    I got hired to work for my hero, Peter Schiff.
  43. 4 points
    Relevant quote from Ayn Rand on how the two interact politically in America, from her Q&A:
  44. 4 points
    And there is the confession. Look kid, looting can only be done to people, thus fracking is not looting. Fracking is a method of using property to extract one substance from another. Next, it does not matter, even if you are right, because a person can dispose of their property as they see fit. People can frack, fuck, or frell their property all they want. Your whims are not a substitute for their right to live their life and dispose of their property in the pursuit of living. What is real is if someone violates my property rights. If you are right and the latest and greatest from the Granola Death Cultists is true, and the process somehow does foul my property as a side effect, then I'm already protected under the law and can sue them to repair my property. Plus I’ll likely get more from the damages and get a nice vacation out of the deal. In fact, I hope someone does start fracking next door just so I can take Mrs. Spiral on a trip. Maybe Vegas again. Good times. So I don't need alarmist nonsense. I have common sense which is already in place. Everything else is just a desire to use government force to make people obey you, since you know better than them - I.E. strip them of their moral right to use their property as they see fit. When you realize who is trying to force others to obey them, you quickly discover that the greedy and evil person is the face in the mirror.
  45. 4 points
    I was going to say, the entire nature of Zeno's paradox means you're treating mathematics as if they inform physics and not the other way around. Just because it's possible to do something mathematically doesn't mean it's possible to do it physically.
  46. 4 points
    aequalsa

    Peikoff on date rape

    In that part, since clearly a woman can say, "No, I do not consent" I took him to mean she could not give "every evidence" that she wanted to have sex with a man, then say she does not consent and still be moral or honest. In other words, in that case she is not a victim of fraud where he tricked her into his bedroom, but rather a perpetrator of fraud, herself, who communicated one message to a man very clearly with the intention of pretending to be misunderstood in order that she can accuse him of rape later, as has been known to happen to celebrities on occasion. Again, I think he chose a poor way to phrase it, but holding the question in mind and his whole(somewhat convoluted)answer, I think this interpretation makes more sense, since it is connected to the original question. Otherwise, throwing in a, "oh by the way, it's ok to rape some bitches" has very little connection to whether or not a man who pretends to love a woman to sleep with her has committed fraud which is on par with rape. Incidentally, his answer was that a man who used fraud to get a woman to sleep with him was morally equivalent to a rapist so I have to think that someone who did commit rape would also be a rapist in his mind.
  47. 4 points
    Awesome. Why do you assume that an Objectivist "expert" knows more about any subject than anyone else, and that anyone who disagrees with the "expert" must be mistaken? We haven't even brought up any specific issues, yet you're position is that the only proper action of anyone who disagrees with an Objectivist "expert" is try to understand his own mistake? And daring to suggest that an "expert" might be wrong is an "insult"? In other words, you're saying that the Objectivist "experts" are infallible -- that they are always right, and those who disagree with them are always wrong (and therefore need to "try to understand their mistake"). So, what I'm wondering is how does one get promoted to Objectivist "expert" status and therefore achieve infallibility? Does one somehow demonstrate one's infallibility? If so, I'd be eager to learn how, since, as I've said in an earlier post, the overwhelming majority of Objectivist "experts" have not faced peer review or rigorous scholarly criticism of their work or their beliefs. I think Peikoff deserves criticism. And I think Rand would agree if she were alive. I think she'd be outraged at some of the things he's said and done in the name of Objectivism. I think that your mindset about Objectivist "experts" and their infallibility is what's insulting to Objectivism. J
  48. 4 points
    RationalBiker

    "Atlas Shrugged" Movie

    Most people on this forum don't think with their nuts anyway.
  49. 4 points
    aequalsa

    Free State Initiative

    In defense of dark-minded grumpy faces everywhere, I thought I should suggest a different approach to you. First, you have chosen to share an idea on a website populated by supporters of a philosophy that attracts a disproportionate amount of INTJ's and other heavy critical thinkers. The usual approach with new ideas for us sorts, is to attack it from all possible angles and find the weaknesses. That's what's occurring here. If you wanted a pat on the back then you should probably have put it in the productivity section with a disclaimer about not wanting criticism. Second, similar(though admittedly different) schemes like this have been tried before with consistent failure, so our usual level of skepticism is even higher. What's more, you have a website requesting donations which is cause for even more skepticism and fact checking if someone were considering donating to your cause. Especially in a world where we get nine requests a day to let a citizen of Zimbabwe deposit 3.4 million dollars US into our accounts for our discreteion of which half we shall humbly keep. Both seem like great things for us... Attacking and avoiding people with different views and ignoring their dissension leaves you with yes men which is not what you need on this kind of endeavor, so I'd suggest that you not only tolerate but learn to appreciate this sort of grilling. Think of it as cheap, efficient market research and donations of mental processing time. Honestly, I like your idea, but am a bit put off by your seemingly thin skin. I imagine that if you see this through there'll be far more "grumpy" things said to you before the end. Just sayin. Anyway, good luck with it!
  50. 4 points
    Those interested in Whewell, and especially the debate he got into with John Stuart Mill over the nature of induction, may find interesting Reforming Philosophy: A Victorian Debate on Science and Society by Laura J. Snyder, the author of the SEP article. I wrote a review of it for The Objective Standard. For your discussion about the relevance of an epistemologist's metaphysical views, see especially the discussion on page 131 regarding Mill's idealism. He considered himself a follower of Berkeley -- "To be is to be perceived" -- and defined matter as "a Permanent Possibility of Sensation." There is now a book that examines the history of the debate over the substance, depth, and breadth of Whewell's Kantianism, Whewell's Critics by John Wettersten. I can't recommend the book generally, but it's a place to turn if you want to study this long-running debate about how Kantian Whewell was and whether it matters. Also, do not overlook that what makes Whewell so interesting in the history of induction is that he was the most mature in a line of thinkers developing Francis Bacon's theory of induction. Do not overlook Bacon's own Novum Organum and other works in the Baconian tradition, especially those by Thomas Reid and John Herschel. It's best to see Whewell as he saw himself, as a Baconian struggling with (what we'd call) axiomatic concepts and how it is that perceptions and not sensations are the foundations of human cognition and how it is that new concepts get formed. You'll understand Whewell better that way than if you read him as a Kantian and then try figuring out whether his deviations from Kant were fruitful or not.
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