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

    Donald Trump

    A philosophy of Objectivism that distorts itself and compromises its principles for the sake of wider acceptance is not what I want. Have children and raise them rationally, that is one method that can help gain some additional practitioners without compromising.
  3. 2 points
    I don't think this is true. I think it's an interesting notion, being "committed to evasion." Someday -- and it's sooner now than ever -- I plan on opening up a topic to really try to explore evasion... but in the meantime, do we think it's true that people are committed to evasion? Were it so, how could any of us survive? We depend upon reason for survival itself (whether or not we account "survival," in any sense, the standard of value ). And so I think that we in the West, as elsewhere, must be open to reason to some certain extent. And if we manage marvels, like constructing skyscrapers, conquering disease, etc. -- and we do -- then that is all the more evidence that reason carries great sway among men. And Objectivism, as truth, has literally everything worth valuing to offer. If we can get it right -- as we must attempt to do for ourselves, our own sakes, let alone proselytization -- then we have the formula for earthly happiness, inclusive of all values and virtues, including "fun." I'm taking a bit of a flyer, and I'd rather discuss this in full when I do commit to a topic on evasion, but I suspect that it does not come out of nowhere, unmotivated. I suspect that it's something like a psychological defense mechanism... and as such, I think that there are means by which we may come to understand evasion, such that we could be more or less effective in communicating our message. I don't think it's hopeless or fruitless. I think we can do better.
  4. 2 points
    Try this on for fun https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=KIs9xM7Sac8
  5. 2 points

    Donald Trump

    From The Objectivist Ethics, The Virtue of Selfishness, p. 32-33 This is the fallacy inherent in hedonism — in any variant of ethical hedonism, personal or social, individual or collective. “Happiness” can properly be the purpose of ethics, but not the standard. The task of ethics is to define man’s proper code of values and thus to give him the means of achieving happiness. To declare, as the ethical hedonists do, that “the proper value is whatever gives you pleasure” is to declare that “the proper value is whatever you happen to value” — which is an act of intellectual and philosophical abdication, an act which merely proclaims the futility of ethics and invites all men to play it deuces wild. I don't know what you expect of "opposition", but this certainly is not an advocation of hedonism.
  6. 2 points
    But, to also answer part of your question, there just isn't going to be one single "undisputed" account, just like there isn't one single undisputed account of what "health" includes. Health is individual, contextual, but also generic and inclusive. Health isn't just "I don't know what it is, but I know it when I see it," it is an objective state that is scientifically describable. But still my health may be different from yours. There may be a cutoff point below which you don't have it, and above which you do, but at the same time degrees in which this person has more than that person. Flourishing is individualistic like this. My flourishing is different form yours. To get a complete description you're going to have to take multiple accounts and multiple approaches and integrate them with your observations.
  7. 2 points
    I can't quite agree that her starting point is question begging. It would seem to me that there is a set of principle data that the philosopher starts off with in every branch. A sort of foundation that any philosopher as such starts out with. The metaphysician starts by outward look at things and noticing that there is something rather than nothing, that he is a something, that he has questions. The epistemologist starts off with noticing that he has been correct sometimes, and incorrect other times, that he has selective awareness, that being wrong has consequences for him, and that he doesn't not automatically know which things are correct and incorrect. Unless he had noticed that he has fallen into error, he would not have reason to examine the processes that led him there. If we had a mode of operation that provided us with automatic knowledge, then we wouldn't need to distinguish between certitude and error, and thus wouldn't need epistemology. The ethicist proceeds in a similar manner. The ethicist must start from the fact of human action, that we deliberate between alternatives, say A or B, that we can't not act as long as we are alive and awake, and that our actions have consequences for us. Asking "why do we need ethics at all" is, in my view the exact right question. After all, maybe we don't need ethics, if we were provided with automatic action we wouldn't need to deliberate between alternatives. Or maybe our action automatically is aimed at life-sustainment or some other end. Rand follows Aristotle in starting with examining the concept of action, and differentiating between vegetative action, sensitive action (animals), and deliberative action. She does differentiate between types of action, volitional and non. Analyzing human action is just about the most non question begging way to start off ethics. In that she defines it as code of values, she doesn't mean values in a normative sense. As Smith points out, sometimes she uses "value" as "that which one ought to act for" and value as "that which one acts to gain/keep." But regardless, when she defines ethics as a code of values, value just definitionally refering to the object of action. "Values," descriptively, are interchangeable with "ends." Thus, saying it's a code of values is simply recognizing that man acts to attain ends, and deliberates about them. True there is deontology, divine command, consequentialism, emotivism, nihilism, Stoicism, all sorts of different codes, and that code man needs could be any of these things. But all of these things has to start out with the principle data, that the philosopher notices that man acts to attain ends (values), and has no automatic guide to them. This, I see as Rand's reformulating the first line of the Nicomachean Ethics, that every inquiry and activity aims at some good, into more modern language.
  8. 1 point

    All About Evasion

    I've threatened to do this for quite some time... so I guess now is as good a time as any. There's been some discussion on this topic recently, and I'm not opposed to importing quotes -- but for this OP, I'd like to start fresh. I don't have a particular thesis or argument, but I would like to explore the topic of "evasion," and importantly how it intersects with ethics. That is, given "evasion" (however we conceive of it, though obviously that's central to the discussion) what do we do about it? How do we recognize and deal with evasion in others? How do we recognize and deal with evasion in ourselves. Let me back up for a moment. The first time I ever dealt with evasion, and recognized it as such, was long before reading Rand/discovering Objectivism. I'm sure I didn't use the word "evasion" to describe the phenomenon -- probably something like "denial" would have been quicker to my mind -- but I was debating the Biblical story of the Garden of Eden with a Christian friend of mine, and I wished to make a point by reference to the text of Genesis. I didn't have a copy on-hand, but I was certain that my friend must keep a copy (and we were at his home). I asked him to break out his Bible, so that I could demonstrate the textual basis of my argument -- show that the Bible really did say what I claimed that it did -- and... my friend refused. He did not want to look at the Bible, to see whether I was right or wrong. He didn't want to know. Now, I know that many people will think that this is besides the point. "Evasion" is an internal phenomenon, a subconscious phenomenon, and so it is. You can't see it happen. I agree. But I have come to believe that evasion often has surface features and effects which may be recognized and addressed. It's kind of like a "tell" in poker: you can't see the other person's cards, but you can see their reaction to their cards, and often people have a characteristic reaction, depending on their hand. That is information, and just like any information, we can try to make sense of it through our best use of reason (bearing in mind the context that we may easily make mistakes in doing so; and sometimes you bet in poker on the basis of what you think you know, and lose). Usually, this doesn't take the form of someone specifically refusing to look at something -- refusing to look through the proverbial (or literal) telescope -- though sometimes it does. But especially through a long history of debate and conversation, on this forum and elsewhere, what I've found is more often a pronounced reluctance or resistance to specific argument. There are untold arguments where someone has made a claim of, "I will get to that point soon," and then they never, ever do. Not even if it is brought up time and again, or made a point of emphasis. This is not, in itself, proof of anything, let alone "evasion," but especially in context I consider it my best means of determining when a partner in conversation is focused and oriented (in the manner that they would need to be to determine their own error, should I be correct) or otherwise. When examples go unaddressed, when my arguments are paraphrased incorrectly (sometimes wildly so), when questions are asked but never answered, and so forth, it is all information that helps me to see whether someone is engaging with the discussion... or perhaps deflecting it. And then, in myself, I wonder: how should I know it, if I evade? Because I take it for granted (though perhaps I shouldn't) that a person does not have conscious awareness of his own evasion; if he had conscious awareness, it wouldn't be evasion. That's what makes it so damned troublesome! What I have found in others, I look for in myself. I look for the effects of evasion, rather than counting on my ability to detect it, as such (or rather than what I fear most do, which is to implicitly assume that I am the only human on earth somehow immune to evasion, of my nature). When I feel reluctant to address some argument or answer some question directly, I try to make it a point of emphasis to do exactly what I am initially disinclined to do. If a question is asked of me, and I fear that my answer will somehow put me at a rhetorical disadvantage, because my instinctive answer somehow "sounds bad" for me or the point I'm trying to make, I consider it doubly important to answer the question directly, and to try to assess whether what I consider a "rhetorical disadvantage" isn't actually just me being wrong about something. I may also choose to answer such a question at length, in an attempt to explain myself more fully, or provide the proper context for interpreting my answer, but I don't let it pass unaddressed because it seems "easier" or feels more comfortable. I fear that those emotional cues, sometimes, may actually be symptoms of an attempt at evasion. For as I'd recently mentioned elsewhere, I have come to regard evasion as a sort of psychological self-defense mechanism. I think no one is immune. When I try to imagine the extremes of evasion, what I come up with is something like "dissociative identity disorder." To be very honest, I'm not certain whether that's a real phenomenon or not (or the extent, at least, of its "reality"). But suppose that it is. My layman's perspective on it is that it might make sense for a person, in a given context, to "go to war with reality" to some certain extent in order to preserve one's sanity otherwise. To pretend that some outrageous forms of abuse (especially in early childhood) are not truly happening to the self, but "someone else." It is a desperate measure in the face of the truly horrendous, and it portends a lifetime of difficulty and recovery, but in some cases it might still be better than the alternative. I think that, to lesser or greater extents, evasion is a subconscious means of such self or "ego" preservation. With my Christian friend (and I sorely wish that I had this level of insight then), it's worth asking: what would he need to defend? What vested interest does a teenager (as we both were) have in the details of the story of bleeding Genesis, such that his emotions would scream at him to avoid looking at his own professed Holy Book? Well, only everything. He'd been raised Christian, in a Christian family, in a Christian community. Though it may not be so simple as this, he regarded his own understanding of the universe -- and his own morality, his own self -- as being based upon his beliefs in the Bible. So... if he were wrong about that, even to the smallest degree, what would that mean for... his beliefs about literally everything else? What would it mean for his regard for his family, for his friends, for himself (in that he had been so thoroughly taken in)? Having been so wrong about this, how could he ever again trust himself going forward? It's an immensity to consider. And I think that this lies at the heart of the pushback against thought, against evidence, that evasion fundamentally represents. Our survival, our happiness, our lives and all that this represents, depends upon our ability to think, and to be right. And so the possibility of being wrong (and sometimes thoroughly wrong) feels like an attack on our very lives. Evasion, then, is the fear of pain that being wrong, and all that it entails, made manifest at the subconscious level... and then represented at the conscious level by emotional reactions and biases that shade our responses, choices and actions, whether it be something so striking and obvious as an explicit "refusal to look," or something so subtle as an indirect answer to a direct question. Beyond looking for the "tells" I'd mentioned, resolving to answer questions directly, and etc., what can one do to fight against this tendency? I think that some of my conscious convictions have helped (or at least, so I hope). My conviction, for instance, that being wrong is no moral crime. That it is, in fact, a wondrous joy to discover my own errors -- not a slight against my ego or value, but a tribute to my ability and intelligence. This is how I have come to view debate and argument, not as a contest between enemies, but as a collaboration between allies. I do not feel put off by challenging material; I am drawn to it. (And indeed, I read Rand initially, not because I thought she would agree with me or provide me with some defense of already-held arguments... but because I thought she would disagree with me utterly, and I looked forward to the project of identifying her errors!) There is an analogy to be made here with my experience of playing games with my daughter. She does not like to lose. Of course. Nobody does. But over the course of my life -- and reflective of what I hope to instill in her early on -- I have come to view losing at games (or "failures" more generally) as being instrumental to the course of improvement... and eventual winning/success. So it is with being wrong. We are all wrong, at times. We are all probably wrong, right now, with respect to some of our beliefs. It is no moral failure to be wrong about things. But the right way of viewing this, in my opinion, is to deeply value the experience of being proved wrong. To then put ourselves in the best position possible to be proved wrong, and to embrace that feeling, embrace the difficult emotions associated with a stern challenge to one's ego, as being part of the true path towards success. And then, also, to look for the concrete manifestations that I have mentioned -- and seek out and discover others, and amend our actions accordingly. It ain't easy. I'm not always successful, either. But I believe that it's the key to addressing one's own evasion and pushing past it to discover and embrace the truth.
  9. 1 point
    One withstands or resists the invasion of armies; one does not withstand or resist the invasion of ideas. — Victor Hugo This may have been inspired, perhaps, by the earlier written: There is something more powerful that the brute force of bayonets: it is the idea whose time has come and hour struck. — Gustave Aimard Ayn Rand is the first to have given a rational, objectively demonstrable, scientific answer to the question of why man needs a code of values. At the same time she shines reason’s light into and thus dispersing altruism’s shadow revealing the vampire haunting Western culture. She describes altruism not as a morality—even though she refers to it as the morality of altruism—rather a negation of morality. Even though she wields reason as a weapon, and calls upon reality as an invincible ally, ideas do not invade; rather they are passed around. One can see and rather easily grasp the invasion of armies and even readily resist. Without first having learned to distinguish the nature of ideas, it is much more difficult to recognize, much less resist the brightly colored fruit coming from the deadly yew tree. It is the idea whose time has come and hour struck that determines whether the brute force of bayonets is resorted to, and whether it is utilized in the more efficacious deployment of self-defense or the less efficacious employment of the initiation of physical force. A question that often arises within those familiarizing themselves with the various writings of Ayn Rand is: Is Ayn Rand right? In “The Objectivist Ethics” in “The Virtue of Selfishness”, Ayn Rand writes the following: If you wonder why the world is now collapsing to a lower and ever lower rung of hell, this [altruism] is the reason. If you want to save civilization, it is this [the altruistic] premise of modern ethics — and of all ethical history — that you must challenge. Quibbling over whether this borderline case or that borderline case falls inside or outside the Objectivist guidelines may be a good intellectual exercise for developing clarity for some. Squabbling over whether Johnny’s interpretation or Jimmy’s interpretation or Joey’s interpretation of Ayn Rand’s wording is ludicrous at best. Being objective is not about hermeneutics or interpretations. The question remains: Is she right? Leonard Peikoff, in Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand isolates this crucial tidbit: To understand man, or any other human concern, one must understand concepts. One must discover what they are, how they are formed, and how they are used, and often misused, in the quest for knowledge. Harry Binswanger, in one of his lectures points out: If you want to understand reason, understand concepts. If you want to study reason, study concepts. Concepts are where we store reason. If civilization is at stake, it is an altruistic notion of concepts that must be swept aside. In her article: “Global Balkanization” in her book “The Voice of Reason”: [T]o the tribalists, language is not a tool of thought and communication. Language to them is a symbol of tribal status and power—the power to force their dialect on all outsiders. This appeals not even to the tribal leaders, but to the sick, touchy vanity of the tribal rank and file. To wrap this up on another note that Miss Rand saw fit to comment on: the whole of Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology applies, while in particular this isolates an essential ingredient: It is worth noting, at this point, that what the enemies of reason seem to know, but its alleged defenders have not discovered, is the fact that axiomatic concepts are the guardians of man's mind and the foundation of reason—the keystone, touchstone and hallmark of reason—and if reason is to be destroyed, it is axiomatic concepts that have to be destroyed. If your axiomatic concepts, like existence, are indestructible, then you have nothing to worry about. Ayn Rand put it succinctly. As Leonard Peikoff put it in Fact and Value, as paraphrased: The “official authorized doctrine” of Objectivism was stated and validated objectively by its discoverer and author, Ayn Rand.
  10. 1 point

    Is it time, is the hour striking?

    You describe a man-made issue, then offer the "solution" is to accept it as one ought the metaphysically given.
  11. 1 point
    I do agree that doing the same thing that's been done while expecting a different outcome isn't rational, very generally speaking, but not that there's nothing that Objectivists can do about the state of the world, or the direction it's currently heading in. (Medieval Europe, perhaps, didn't look so rosy until Aristotle's rediscovery; why oughtn't the world enjoy a Randian Renaissance?) I think, rather, that Objectivists should take stock of the methods we've used, our approach in engaging the wider world, the way we communicate ourselves and our ideas, and make some changes. One of my takeaways from reading Rand is that philosophy has the power to move the world; I still believe that's true. Are we including Rand's own efforts in writing essays to describe her philosophy, and etc.? Because as far as I can tell, she designed arguments in order to convince others of what she believed to be true, which is part and parcel to what I consider "proselytization." For what it's worth, that worked for me. I believe that changing peoples' minds is a difficult task, but if we instead frame this in terms of learning how to make arguments (and other sorts of presentations; "argument," as I conceive of it, need not be so formal as an essay or a debate), how to approach people and groups diplomatically or tactfully, how to make better use of academic infrastructure or the media, how to make inroads into the culture, and such -- if that's how we think of our efforts, then I think we stand a better shot of success, on our own terms. It's kind of like, if I ask how I can force students to learn some given material... well, that's a difficult notion. Just like you can lead a whore to culture (which conjures Allen's Whore of Mensa to my mind) but you cannot make her think, so too you cannot make a student learn. Yet teachers can (and ideally do) strive to sharpen their pedagogical skills, so that they can make the best use of whatever skills the students provide, leverage whatever efforts the student is willing to perform, and hopefully incite further effort. There are reasonable people in the world, some to a lesser extent, some to a high degree -- and not all of them are Objectivists (to put it lightly). I'm not satisfied that, because we have not yet figured out the best means of outreach, that means that we will not be able to do so going forward. You're doing fine. I'm weighing my options about starting the thread I've long had in mind... but I enjoy and appreciate the conversation in the meantime.
  12. 1 point
    It's literally impossible for a man who has already abdicated (consciously or unconsciously) his responsibility to judge things for himself, deferring wholly to and depending wholly upon others, to consciously and with intention in a committed fashion, repeatedly decide not to engage in independent thought, not unless he second guesses his abdication and wrests back his responsibility each time. No, a person is not voluntarily committed fully and intentionally and continually, they simply, at some point in their distant past, have put aside what they would need to avoid evasion, the responsibility of thinking. From there it is a simple matter: thinking has been evaded, the only thing left to do is to latch onto and accept any one of the contradictory answers, ideas, thoughts, sentiments, on the basis of how one feels in the moment, or how easy it is to accept for the nonce. These of course build up into the baseless irrational edifices we all encounter so often in the psychology of others. What little left of a man's mind after he has decided not to think for himself, are the ideas and doctrines and sentiments of his immediate surroundings which he latches onto. They may be there due to habit, the past ease with which they could be latched onto, the feelings they produced, or they could be due to indoctrination, religion, messages of the media, teachers, parents, or priests: baseless guilt and unfounded admonishment. These form false structures in a psyche, posing as morality, virtues, principles... a slowly hardened, monumental edifice of falsehood... and YES this IS defended from thought .... and EVASION IS the psychological defense mechanism at play.., how else to defend the false, the incorrect, the irrational, against the process of fully integrative and flawlessly logical thought...? It must be the suspension of the act of thought ITSELF, and evasion of any momentary thought before they can be fully embraced, understood, integrated, and remembered... else they would bring the whole house of cards falling down. You will note, that the above implies falsehoods in a sense should be powerless against, to put it simply, thinking, ... as if thiking were a time bomb ready to set off a chain reaction... so why is the world filled with so much falsity and insanity? Precisely because Evasion IS effective, its mechanism enables the negation of thought as a process at its root... and whenever it springs up... like a depraved self abusive game of whack-a-mole... threatening thoughts are smashed over and over wherever and whenever they appear... shielding the false edifice in all its distorted glory. Falsehoods cannot win the face of thinking ... they only win in the emptiness of a desolate mind whose only lonely sounds are the guarding winds of evasion where the buzz and life of a thought should have been.
  13. 1 point
    *snicker* Actually, I did understand. I merely addressed the first point I disagreed with, your contention that Objectivists as a group are sorely lacking in fun. I just don't think it's generally true. That said, I don't personally know the people you discussed and I've largely stayed out of that fight, so I'll take your characterization of those public Objectivists as accurate for the sake of argument....but I must still disagree with you, as I think your other premise is wrong. Fun is a virtue,as you noted. As applied to the people you discussed, I would have to agree -- they need more fun for their own sakes. But you seem to be saying that Objectivists need to be more fun in order more effectively spread Objectivism, presumably to enact the social change that is so sorely needed. In my view, there's not a damned thing that Objectivists can do about the world's merry handbasket ride. Westerners are, as a society and mostly as individuals, committed to evasion and not all the reason -- or fun -- in the world, will change that. Only bitter experience might do so, experience the West will get in a couple of decades or so. (I wrote a much longer screed on that point over in DW's topic.) As to what Objectivists should do instead of attempting the impossible, that's probably off-topic here. But I do intend to write about it sooner or later.
  14. 1 point
    I can't speak to Peikoff himself but I believe those who find Objectivism and try to fully understand themselves and reality in an integrated fashion are not waiting for happiness to happen, nor delaying it, they are actively pursuing it. A mystic who never discovers independence or morality nor life itself as a human, can live as a physical and spiritual slave thinking he is happy. Those who know better, even intuitively, will be compelled to want to wake up from such a false existence. Waking up and fighting the inner falsehoods is the good fight that sometimes takes a lifetime. Consider the indoctrination and the effect of social programming religion, altruism, and skepticism on almost everyone every day of their lives from birth. Is it any wonder that it truly takes a lifetime of effort to heal those wounds, to rebuild the atrophied muscles, and broken bones of our abused and tortured psyches? I don't think it is surprising, I truly think it is a wonder anyone raised in modern society ever truly becomes a whole and happy human and all that means. As far as I'm concerned Peikoff has finally won in the good fight, and I urge everyone not to give up on their own fight to be fully human, no matter how hidden and ingrained the damage and no matter how long it takes. We've heard the truth... we need to believe, understand, and then fully Know it with our entire being. After word : We here are here for a reason and it is ourselves. Unless and until we have obtained everything we want and need, we'll keep coming back. If any should break the chains that make this forum necessary, and we hear nothing from them again, I will assume they have reached a better place, a world beyond this one... the real world and a happy full life as man qua man... for truly they will then have slipped their surly bonds to touch the face of the God who is in fact their true and full Self, as it can and should be.
  15. 1 point

    Is objectivism consequentialist?

    From another thread, I found this fascinating: I don't want to read too much into this podcast, or to put too much upon one man's experiences (even if that man is Leonard Peikoff), but really, I found this not only fascinating in itself but that it speaks directly to -- not necessarily the technical specifics of this ongoing conversation, but -- my basic approach and motivation. Peikoff describes himself as finally fully happy at age 81 (though I'm certain he must have enjoyed himself to some extent throughout his life), and he attributes this to having discovered what he "really wants to do in life" (as opposed to at least some portion of his work theretofore, which he "dreaded"). To me, in my life, such a thing is simply unacceptable. I would not want to wait until I'm 81 to be able to describe myself as "finally fully happy" and in fact I have not waited. Though I have challenges and setbacks from day to day, as I expect everyone must, and sometimes severe or lasting ones, I consider myself happy in all of the major areas of life. In part, I believe this is because I have always paid careful attention to my own experiences, cared about them, and have taken action accordingly. When I have pursued paths that I dreaded (and I have), including career aspirations or personal relationships, etc., I took that as a cue that there was something fundamentally amiss, and in need of investigation/change. I did not accept my own unhappiness as being somehow the price of moral action, but I sought (both without and within) to make things better for myself, as much as within my power, as soon as possible. I have put nothing higher than my own experience of life -- to make it as positive as possible -- and I think that this emphasis has rewarded me. If Peikoff could not have described himself as "fully happy" before this late juncture, then I suppose we must be thankful for his longevity. What a tragedy it would have been, had he died never being able to say that about himself. I'm middle-aged, myself. A week ago, I was involved in a car accident -- that's one of those pesky challenges/setbacks! -- and actually, it was a situation that I've often brought up in various discussion about ethics: I was stopped, behind some other cars, but another car (a couple back) failed to stop, and there was a domino effect, leading to my being rear-ended. No one was injured, thankfully, but sometimes things don't work out so well. Can we imagine if I were pursuing an ethics that might not lead me to happiness until I'm in my 80s (if ever)... and then I die decades beforehand, whilst dreading my daily work? What a waste that would be. No thank you. I would rather enjoy myself along the way, as much as possible, so that on the day I die (be it tomorrow or fifty years from now), it will always be correct to say that I was happy. From yet another thread, I recently found this: I don't know what dream_weaver had specifically in mind when he wrote this -- and frankly I don't know what to make of it, if we are disinclined to discuss various interpretations of Ayn Rand's wording on a board such as this -- but I will say that I believe it really, deeply matters how we understand and approach ethics. I think it can make the difference between being able to achieve happiness now, or having to wait until old age... if we ever reach it at all, if we don't die first, our attempts at "survival" notwithstanding. If the Objectivist community has a hard time winning converts -- and based on many threads here lately, and based on the overall state of the world, and the way things appear to be trending, I'd say that we do -- then maybe part of it is that we don't manage to produce very many well-adjusted, friendly, happy people. Maybe the confusion at the heart of our approach to ethics, a confusion reflected in this thread and many others on the board, is playing a role in that, inspiring people to fight for "survival" (whatever that should mean to them) at the cost of the things which might otherwise bring them happiness in the near(er) future or present. I'd say that if, when people met Objectivists, they were inspired to think, "Wow! That person really has life figured out; look how well they're doing! Look how happy!" that this would go at least as far as a free copy of Atlas Shrugged in convincing them to investigate the nature of the underlying philosophy. Maybe farther.
  16. 1 point

    What is Subjectivity?

    What is subjective and what is subjectivity (the thread title is about subjectivity) are closely related things, and everyone must engage in them and be aware of when to avoid the subjective and subjectivity when possible. Subjectivism is a normative theory about what ought to be done in epistemology and ethics and so not everyone is a Subjectivist. The Ayn Rand Lexicon has an entry for Objectivity which includes the following passage "... no special revelations to privileged observers...". There exists a perfectly ordinary and natural (as opposed to supernatural) category of observations which are only possible to certain privileged observers: observing the contents of your own mind, including your emotions and perceptions. You can yourself attempt to be objective about what you think and what you perceive even when alone, but when alone you don't have the problem of attempting to justify yourself or your conclusions to others; there is only one observer in that case. Include within the category of the subjective things that can only ever exist within the privacy of your own mind and ought to be there, and things which ought not be there but are because you are wrong about them existing, either because your reasoning is wrong or you are hallucinating them or are the victim of an illusion.
  17. 1 point
    Spooky it is indeed! I think that with many computer programs, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Just like with the human brain. Consciousness is not reducible to neurons and brain chemistry, even though if you took the brain apart that's all you'd get. There's clearly something more there. It's what is called an "emergent property," much like how a colony of ants, or an economy functions. Or a video game. There's more there than just lines of code, there's something that people can engage in and enjoy in ways that the programmers never anticipated. Will AI ever reach that point where it attains "sentience" from all of the lines of code? I don't know. I do know that it would raise interesting ethical questions, and society would have to redefine its definition of personhood. The EMH is clearly a person because he has apparent consciousness and free will... he can choose not to perform his duty... he can choose not to focus his subroutines on treating patients, as in that video I linked.
  18. 1 point
    Someone asked: "is determinism (or causation, I may be mixing the two up if they're different) not the way all logic and science works when talking about anything? ... studies that seem to indicate that free will may be more of an illusion" The reductionist materialism of the "scientific worldview", does embrace determinism and the idea that free will is an illusion. Logic does not dictate this, though, actually the reductionist worldview is incoherent. Without free will, morality or ethics would be a meaningless science, people will act strictly according to prior causes, and can't change their behavior based on a morality. So there would be no "good" or "bad", no right or wrong, no justice, nothing. These terms would be essentially meaningless. If behavior is determined, then what people do, just *is* what they do, there's no alternative to compare it against, it wasn't right or wrong, or better or worse, it just *happened*. Worse than that, if reductionism is true, then all that exists in a metaphysically basic sense are millions of identical particles, behaving according to simple mathematical rules, a la Conway's game of life. There is no real line you can draw around one group of particles and think of it as a person, that would be a purely subjective choice that doesn't actually mean anything in reality. The things that you think you see around you aren't real. There are no men or women, there isn't even a self. Furthermore, statements or propositions you make don't have any meaning in the sense of true or false either since the concepts that make them up don't mean anything, and therefore neither does logic hold. So in this materialist worldview there is no justice, no morality, no truth or reason or logic, or even self. These concepts are all contradicted by the nature of reality. They are essentially meaningless and impossible. Yet despite all of this, they will still continue to speak as if these were true. They will talk about what you ought to do for your well-being, how you should be rational, use reason, seek truth, be logical, and speak as if people are real, that things around them are real, that they matter, and that there is meaning in life. All of this is contradicted by their own philosophy, and so they are being incoherent, and engaging wholesale in the fallacy of the stolen concept.
  19. 1 point
    No. Not if you mean by "Narcissistic" the clinical definition of Narcissistic Personality Disorder: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcissistic_personality_disorder Absolutely. Sure it is! Of course. As those who brought about and voted in Hitler into power found out! Being AWARE of anything (i.e. identifying reality) as such does not have pitfalls. Obsessing over anything you can be aware of, being obsessively and continually aware of one thing to the detriment of being aware of anything else, or to the detriment of acting certainly are pitfalls. Being socially aware if done rationally (like being aware of anything else) should be smooth sailing... the only pitfalls are not to be found in the being aware of something, but in the HOW or WHAT you then think about or evaluate that something of which you are aware. THAT is where the real error occurs. In fact, being as fully and accurately and rationally aware as possible of the fact of people's existence and their actual character, value, and relationship to a man is the opposite of a pitfall .. it is VERY useful.
  20. 1 point
    Image via Wikimedia Commons.Over at Aeon is an article (that doesn't take one to read) about how trial by ordeal was actually used. This in no way legitimizes the practice, but it does answer a practical question faced by the mystics in charge: Essentially everyone believed in eternal damnation for the unrepentant, but that wasn't always an effective deterrent to actual crime. At the same time, a perceived inability on their part to render reliable verdicts would cast doubt on them as cognitive and moral authorities. The Church needed a way to achieve some level of certainty about innocence or guilt, but the priests knew on some level that they weren't going to get any help from their imaginary friend. What to do? Capitalize on ignorance and rig the result: ... Did you catch the trick? Because of your belief in iudicium Dei, the spectre of the ordeal leads you to choose one way if you're guilty -- confess -- and another way if you're innocent -- undergo the ordeal -- revealing the truth about your guilt or innocence to the court through the choice you make. By asking God to out you, the legal system incentivises you to out yourself...The piece goes on to elaborate on how the instruction manual for the priest who ran the "trial" should proceed: A "miraculous" result was thus practically assured. For example, in the early 13th century, 208 defendants in Várad in Hungary underwent hot-iron ordeals. Amazingly, nearly two-thirds of defendants were unscathed by the "red-hot" irons they carried and hence exonerated. If the priests who administered these ordeals understood how to heat iron, as they surely did, that leaves only two explanations for the "miraculous" results: either God really did intervene to reveal the defendants" innocence, or the priests made sure that the iron they carried wasn't hot. [minor format edits]So the Church found a way to both preserve its credibility by delivering a fair verdict often enough for that purpose -- and yet to maintain complete control over the result of any given trial. Even if, as the author claimed, this yielded "improved criminal justice," it served its true purpose, of maintaining the power of the Church over society, far better. The superstitious rabble were kept from utter lawlessness and any uppity heretics were put on notice, too, even if they saw through the ruse. Clever. -- CAV Link to Original
  21. 1 point
    The implication is that drug addiction is a situation where one's emotional mechanism is not attuned to survival anymore. And of course we are all born with some wants that we wish we did not want and vice versa, we wish we wanted something that we could not care less about. The way you find out about the misalignment of emotions is when something hurts and you find out that you caused it because you wanted an unwantable. Its just that coming up with an ethics based on the interplay of emotions, reason, perception, sensation, and imagination is too overwhelming, at least for me it is. Furthermore, I know, based on experience, that my emotions are misaligned. Therefore I feel safer (emotionally) using reason to guide me. Consequentialism with an ultimate end fits my bill. Do you know anyone whose emotions are perfectly aligned to survival? As in they are attracted to eating only what is good for them, they want the right companion simply by an emotional reaction, they control the order of activities simply by emotion, they are on time simply by feeling it, they don't want excesses that prevent important survival necessities (smoking, gambling, Netflix, video games, drugs, alcohol, and procrastination). I think everyone's emotions are misaligned and an addictive drug is not the only cause.
  22. 1 point
    Sorry; I didn't mean the quantity of people, either. A group of people is only some number of individuals. How they should behave, as a group, depends on how each of them should act in isolation (not that they'll necessarily be identical but that one must be based on the other). You are right on several counts (notably the relation between my ideas on "flourishing" and on socialization) and I do push for "social awareness", in my own way, and only in that very specific way. There's a point at which "social awareness" would cease to be healthy, benevolent coexistence and turn into second-handedness (trying to think through another brain, see through their eyes and do whatever you think they'd most approve of); beyond that point human beings stop being helpful or uplifting for each other's lives and gradually become codependent and monstrous. Trying to define the ultimate standard and purpose of ethics in social terms will prevent you from being able to define that cutoff point. Now, if you think it's just a separate but also important issue, then you're right. It probably belongs in another thread, but if you feel like making it and we can continue this subject over there. --- Also, on rat brains and flourishing, I found this to be extremely helpful:
  23. 1 point
    This is nothing short of brilliant.
  24. 1 point

    Is objectivism consequentialist?

    Of course. The document to which I've been referring can be found here, and the quotes I've provided starting on p.73 (under the heading Flourishing and Survival).
  25. 1 point

    Is objectivism consequentialist?

    Yes! I agree with the other flourishers in this thread, that the idea that one's flourishing won't ever decrease life span or survival even infinitesimally (microscopically small!) to be wildly implausible. To a classical eudaimonist, especially a rational egoist, this would be just downright boring! Such a conception would be somewhere between a Bear Gryllsian and a Stoic, one should survive as long as possible without even microscopically lessening survival, achieving maybe a long, careful life of peaceful comfort and equanimity. I say, F that. Galt, for example, threatens to kill himself if Dagny (his highest value) is harmed by the Thompson regime. He also risks and endures torture to stand up for his values. By what measure? Since life always involves trade offs, one is forced to choose between acceptance of minor values and major ones. I think choosing as much and as intense values as possible is a part of the nature of choosing. No truly human life can confine itself to activities pursued merely to keep yourself safe from the smallest of risks. I agree with Aristotle that a short, intense life more accurately embodies the fully self-actualized human life than a long, mild one. A truly human self-actualization includes a tense state of striving and alertness for value achievement that embodies a heroic vision. In fact, I think the requirements of flourishing demand of us to accept risks, certainly infitessimal (and sometimes more) to our survival. In order to fulfill the requirements of courage, integrity, productiveness, pride, we should, as Nietzsche says "Live dangerously! Build your cities on the slopes of Vesuvius! Send your ships into uncharted seas!" This should, of course be moderated by consequentialist (!) concerns (i.e., unity of virtue) of rationality, temperance, prudence. This, in the typical Aristotelian way, avoids the twin pitfalls of foolhardiness and timidity.
  26. 1 point
    Objectivist dogma says that one's automated values reflect one's ethics. The reality is rather more complicated than that. But one's ethics do strongly influence one's emotions and habits. So, as a general rule, the person who has chosen to die is likely to continue (in most areas) as if he had not made that choice, simply because his programming gives the ethics he abandoned a kind of inertia. Thus, a man who loves his family but has chosen to die isn't likely to harm his family. This won't be a reasoned choice, because he can't reach any reasoned ethical conclusions. But, I expect, it would be a choice strongly supported by the emotions he feels in relation to his family. A thing that is wholly automatic is wholly outside the province of ethics. One's programming isn't quite that, in that it depends on one's prior choices. So, it can be morally evaluated -- though not by the person who has chosen to die.
  27. 1 point
    This does not depend on which flavor of ethics one adopts. Every ethical proposition X, when fully stated, is of the form, "If you choose to live, then X." (Or, rather, a more complicated X. But that's a topic for another time.) The person who has not chosen to live has no reasoned ground to accept any X. Of course, losing the reasoning that supported his values won't have much effect on his emotions, so one might expect such a person to act more or less as he would have prior to his choice to die, at least in areas not related to the reason for his choice.
  28. 1 point
    That's getting just a little personal. That said, of course my idea of flourishing includes other people.. However, I prefer to deal with things in a logical order, and settling the fundamental issues of ethics is a prior condition to addressing a third level set of values. So, I shall continue with the fundamentals and, once I've nailed them down to my satisfaction, I will turn to derivative issues.
  29. 1 point
    Indeed, that's one of the problems with the survivalist interpretation of Rand. If Rand's ethics were only necessary for literal survival, then how did the human race manage to survive up until Rand? If Rand's ethics were necessary, the human race would've died or long ago, unless everyone, or most everyone alive, is already a Randian hero accidentally, then her ethics are reduced to pedantic Bear Gryllsism. Clearly her novels point to a richer, more full conception of human life than mere survival as an ultimate end for man.
  30. 1 point
    Moral psychology just refers to the part of psychology that influences philosophy. Things like free will, the nature of choice, emotion, consciousness, etc. Yes that's kind of a huge part of Rand's novels is the interplay between the characters' emotions and their consciously held thoughts and premises. An example would be Dagny and Dominique at the end, once they had integrated correct premises with their emotions. Another is the character of Rearden, who is disgusted with his family, but supports them anyway out of conscious conviction. His emotions give him correct knowledge, but he can't act on it until he smoothes out the contradicting premises he held, then he acts on it by bucking their mooching advances. Another example is when Dominique tells Wynand to fire Toohey, Rand has her openly say that she doesn't know why she wants him gone (yet), just that she hates him. She even says "it'll take years for me to understand" (around p. 499-500 in my version.) Another supporting quote for my claim is in VOS (p.27) when Rand says emotions are estimates of what can be "for or against" you, and says they are "lightning calculators giving him the sum of his profit or loss." There is a scene towards the end of AS when Dagny even says she can "surrender her consciousness" and that her emotions are like a "voice telling her by means of a feeling" (AS p.674.) I think what Rand means to say is that emotions are inert by themselves, and so you'd have to trace them to the experiences that programmed them, but once one did, if they stem from rational thoughts, they can help take part in cognition and guide action. Aristotle more plainly sees emotional disposition as evidence of a virtuous character. While Rand officially held otherwise, I think her fiction seems to hold the more Aristotelian view. Her descriptions of the fully integrated hero/heroines are ones where their stated thoughts and emotional dispositions are aligned and both working "for" their wellbeing.
  31. 1 point
    I am ignoring and will continue to ignore it because it is derivative....way down the logic chain.
  32. 1 point
    This is not an illustration of the "expansion" of "survival", it is an identification of what that goal "survival" entails and implies. The goal "Shelter" does not imply only a straw hut. If you live in Norway it at least implies insulation and a source of heat, if you live near a river or on flood plains it at least implies a raised floor, and if you live near a big bad wolf it at least implies a brick based structure. And if cold, floods, and wolves are not impossible where you live, "shelter" implies all three. Illustrating that short sighted people do not fully grasp all the implications and consequences implied by a simple premise (eg a binary goal in an incredibly complex context) does not implicate the simple premise as somehow deficient, it exemplifies just how deficient simple mindedness is. imho
  33. 1 point
    No, we wouldn't. Serious theologians argue with each other plenty - with the Bible as their standard of truth. And the Bible isn't too hot on the subject of atheism. A normal human being might adopt atheism in response to that, but a "monk" who could do so would not be. Yes. See Mental Health versus Mysticism and Self-Sacrifice by Nathaniel Branden.
  34. 1 point
    How does the Minimoralist regard this? Hero or no, I as a Minimoralist could not tell this man what to do. He may be a Subjectivist, a Survivalist, an Intrinsicist or a Mystic for all I know. I can only to advise what I believe is consistent with Minimoralism. Were he to say that he is a Minimoralist and wanted to know my advice this is what I would say: Life is full of uncertainty, the possible outcomes and their various causes, are too many to analyze with certainty the full consequences of any single action, or a single eventuality from a given number of known staring conditions. At best we have limited knowledge, and more or less can know of the general magnitude of the likelihood of events. It is in this way that a man devoid of all hope in a concentration camp might yet live in the face of unsurmountable odds by the unforeseeable consequence of human action and the volition of unknown people. It is in this way that a man of the 1600s would, based on his knowledge have no rational inkling that a man would eventually set foot on the moon... the actions, discoveries, and accomplishments of other men, because they are moved by free will are not easily predictable. You, who have this particular life-long dream would likely not be able to replace that specific dream with a brighter one, but it is not impossible. It is precisely the capability of each of us to learn and to change which makes so much of life unpredictable, and if not the spontaneous self-generated change that you yourself make, then changes in you in response to the unpredictable and unforeseeable inspirations, innovations, and creations of others. Some new art form or discovery yet to be made by another may be more compelling to you than you could possibly imagine now... because of the very fact that you personally cannot imagine this new possibility. Perhaps you did choose to pursue the specific life-long dream, perhaps it does not meet your expectations, perhaps you find upon your return a greater dream that you would have wished to live longer to enjoy, and you live the rest of your shortened life not with satisfaction but with regret. The experts cannot know whether the pursuit of your singular dream will actually cut five years off your life.. even if they were 99% sure, there is an actual 1% chance that it will not... the experts also cannot know that you will necessarily be severely depressed, nor the exact reduction of the term of your life which would result from its effects. There are so many questions. What could you do to change yourself, your pleasures, your dreams? What could you do to minimize the chances that the so called one dream would result in loss of years of your life? What could you do to reduce your depression (should you choose to forego the specific dream) and/or its effects on your lifespan? So much is uncertain, and yet so much hangs in the balance. It IS your very life after all. I would ask you to think, given the risks and the chances involved, If you are uncertain about your particular dream and whether you could find an alternative to it, then by all means try to live your life on terms which exceed your expectations but in a safer way. One which multiplies your ability to live and to experience your joys. There are a humanly uncountable number of dreams, experiences, and pleasures to choose from. IF, on the other hand, you know yourself with enough certainty to claim that NO OTHER LIFE would be worth living at all. That no matter what the chances, that you would rather die if forced to give up your specific singular dream for any other alternative. If so, you have already made the choice to renounce all of life’s possibility, to renounce Minimoralism, and its principles. Your obsession, your purpose, your choice, and your end, is your one dream and it is more important to you than yourself and your survival. You are no longer an end in itself to you, your specific dream IS... you are now merely the means. Clearly then, Minimorality could not serve you from that moment on, it could not serve your choice, your end, your dream... it thwarts it, and you should simply give Minimoralism up and use something else in its place as your guide to that single end which is your particular dream. IF, on the other hand, you know yourself with enough certainty to claim that IF THERE IS JUST ONE CHANCE no matter how small that you can have your dream and live your life too, you would want to take that chance no matter how small because that life which includes your dream means too much to you, then I say take that risk. Do everything in your power to maximize the chances of having your dream as well as those five years, even if all you can do is change those chances by the most miniscule amount, it may make the difference in the end. You are not a helpless passivity in a malevolent universe (or some philosophical hypothetical), you can nudge the needle onto the camel's back, you can affect the outcomes in reality... Pass through the eye of the needle of uncertainty (I know a second needle analogy), come out the other side, and maybe, just maybe you can die an old man with the knowledge you fought for your life with your dream, that the chances, although insurmountably low, were never impossible, and that you overcame the odds and won, and the fight was worth it. And if you fail, know in your last moments, that that small chance was worth it to you. The main thing to be certain of that that the specific dream is important enough to take that chance. If it is not important enough, find another dream!
  35. 1 point

    Is objectivism consequentialist?

    I'll give it a try (speaking as myself). Happiness is an emotional state accompanying the periods of time when things are going well for you, existentially and psychologically. It would be a contradiction in terms to say that happiness is a means to survival, since in the causal chain, happiness is the result of survival. Legitimate happiness cannot ever be in conflict with (or periclitate) survival, period. One of the major virtues of the Objectivist ethics is that it respects the epistemological principle of context. You cannot make valid ethical judgements, unless 1). you hold the entire lifespan in mind, and 2). you hold the entire hierarchy of your (proper) values in mind. In other words, Objectivism is not concerned with half of a lifespan, or with three quarters of it, or with a single year of it. And it recognizes that there are no isolated facts, that nothing can ever happen outside of a context. The need to sacrifice lower values in order to pursue higher values is metaphysicaly inherent in the universe. Time is finite, so you're bound to make compromises upon compromises in order to make all of your values play togheter well. Not all pain is wrong, and not all 'happiness' is right. That you are happy now might be irrelevant - your next 10 years of happiness might lead to disastruous consequences later on, consequences that you cannot justify to your own self. If you endure suffering right now, your effort might lead to a bright future that will be worth every single moment of misery that you endured. How are you to decide? The full context. In some cases, it is right to shorten your lifespan. In some, it is outright insane. Some compromises are worth it, some aren't. Let's assume that the Hero's dream is some kind of career. There are legitimate situations where you might love something so intensely (maybe the love became part of your psyche during your formative childhood years) that you simply can't find a replacement, no matter how long and conscientiously you try. Let's do some horizontal integration and scan for other factors. Quitting his dream in order to live five years longer will not make the Hero live five years longer. The Hero will have to earn a living. If he doesn't resent his new job for always reminding him of his compromise, he will spend around 1850 hours every year doing something that will never give him the same intellectual and spiritual fulfillment that his other job would have given him. His self esteem will run into the ground. His personal sense of identity will suffer, since he can't identity with the job he truly loves. His recreation will become an escape, not a complement and reward for his achievements. He probably won't have the same types of friends or lovers he would have if he had the other job. Your central purpose is a sensitive subject, since it controls an exceptionaly vast array of things in your life. When a person acts immoraly, a chain of factors start to domino into every aspect of his existential and psychological situation. Which in time corrodes his desire to live, as well as his physical and mental health. After many years, the pain might become too great, and the hero might say: 'I could have lived the best life possible to me. Yet, I am here - by my own fault'. If the pain overrides his rationalist/dutiful approach to ethics, he might find himself drinking a lot and escaping into the antipodes of his mind via certain substances - which will further speed up his demise. When people mention survival, they do not actually refer to survival. Their definition is limited to the Bear Grylls type of context where you eat bugs to remain alive for yet another day. If staying alive was the pupose of ethics, everyone in the world right now is a master of the Objectivist ethics. Things change if you expand 'survival' to include the best possible functioning and resillience to adverse conditions, taking in consideration both the mind and the body. When the Hero will understand that each action he takes will get him either closer, or further away from that state, he will know what to do.
  36. 1 point
    If y'all wouldn't mind, I'd like to try something a little different: I would like to play "devil's advocate," and -- since no one here will lay claim to the title "survivalist" (even if I believe that some extant arguments amount to the same thing), I shall adopt that mantle, for the purpose of exploring these issues further. I should say from the outset that I do not typically enjoy "devil's advocate" style arguments, on either side of them, and I do not expect that I engage in them particularly well. But I struggle with the impression that, as yet, I still have not successfully conveyed my thoughts on these matters... and I hope that a fresh perspective might help me to do that better. (Or, if I am wrong about any aspect of this debate, perhaps taking on a fresh perspective will show me something I hadn't seen before.) In an attempt to keep things at least somewhat clear, I'll adopt the convention of using Comic Sans MS font while taking the "survivalist" side (and the default of Arial when providing straight commentary). Like this. Happiness is a means to an end. Man's proper ultimate end is his own survival. It is proper, therefore, to value happiness insofar as it functions as a fuel, to help one to survive, and no more than that. Valuing a pleasant feeling emotion at the cost of one's literal survival is choosing non-existence over existence, and is thus immoral. It is not always the case that one gets positive emotions from ethical action, or negative emotions from unethical action; if that were so, then yes -- one could simply be guided by his positive emotions. But sometimes unethical actions (meaning: actions which work against the literal survival of the organism) will produce positive emotions in some individuals, or ethical actions may trigger some negative-feeling experience of emotion. This is precisely when the rational application of a survival-oriented code of ethics is necessary, to guide our actions. The case you describe is just such a situation. If our "Hero" is guided by his emotions, then they will lead to his literal destruction. That is whim worship. Whatever it is you mean by "continuing to live," it is not possible without "simple survival." Valuing "continuing to live" at the cost of "simple survival" is illogical, it smuggles subjectivity into the standard of "life" (emotionalism). For remember, "it is the bare fundamental alternative of survival versus death that stands at the root of all values." Our hero faces that bare, fundamental alternative and chooses death over survival -- for what? The experience of some emotional thrill. It may not be the "only factor of significance" whether he continues to carry out the process of life, as such, but that does function as "the basic criterion of ethics": "the literal alternative of life versus death, existence versus nonexistence." "Continuing to live," objectively, requires continuing to carry out the process of life. It is therefore immoral to value anything above one's very ability to carry out the process of life, and since your hypothetical stipulates that pursuing "his life-long dream"* will impair his ability to carry out the process of life (more substantially than the alternative), it is choosing literal death over literal life, nonexistence over existence. ______________________________ * A rational person should not value anything more than his own survival in the first place; a rational person -- a true Hero -- would not value a "dream" if pursuing that dream came at the cost of his own life, and it should consequently not provide him happiness, either in contemplation or actuality. A true Hero would be happier staying safely at home (not that this happiness is material, of course, except as a fuel towards further survival). Remember that, "although Ayn Rand made it clear that she meant her morality to ensure a rich, fully human life, it is the bare fundamental alternative of survival versus death that stands at the root of all values." Therefore, this "health" you speak of, if it is to have objective value consistent with these ethics, must fundamentally contribute to the organism's life with respect to the bare fundamental alternative of survival versus death. If our Hero's choice is to go, satisfying his emotions, then his emotions are working against his own survival; they are not healthy. This is a situation where "following one's emotions would not be right": they are not consistent with "the most basic criterion of ethics," which is survival, "the literal alternative of life versus death, existence versus nonexistence." If one's "dreams" and "emotions" lead one to literal destruction, then they are unhealthy, and to follow them against an objective code of morality is whim worship, subjective, and immoral. Whether it is the case that this trip would bring a person happiness, or not, is immaterial; it is worth keeping in mind that "an ethical person examines the facts and determines which alternative best promotes his survival." In this case, the alternative which best promotes the Hero's survival is to find another dream.
  37. 1 point

    Donald Trump

    You are deliberately equivocating on the term "invasion", to misrepresent Ayn Rand's views on the proper role of government. You're welcome to be a nationalist and a racist. But, please, don't lie about Ayn Rand agreeing with you. Here's Rand's position on the issue, as stated in a 1973 Q&A: She was asked: “What is your attitude toward immigration? Doesn’t open immigration have a negative effect on a country’s standard of living?” This is her answer: You don’t know my conception of self-interest. No one has the right to pursue his self-interest by law or by force, which is what you’re suggesting. You want to forbid immigration on the grounds that it lowers your standard of living — which isn’t true, though if it were true, you’d still have no right to close the borders. You’re not entitled to any “self-interest” that injures others, especially when you can’t prove that open immigration affects your self-interest. You can’t claim that anything others may do — for example, simply through competition — is against your self-interest. But above all, aren’t you dropping a personal context? How could I advocate restricting immigration when I wouldn’t be alive today if our borders had been closed?
  38. 1 point

    Is objectivism consequentialist?

    I certainly don't think it's subjective. Subjective vs objective isn't about whether something has a clear line, as if something that is objective just can't have any debate about and everyone will agree. Objective means having mind-independent qualities that are what they are, subjective means existing in the mind without relation to external reality. Theres always going to be interpretation over certain objective facts, including flourishing. Many people might think Hugh Hefner lived the ultimate flourishing life, while other accounts might think he lived a sad and pathetic existence. Having different interpretations of facts is just part of life. Life or death is a very important distinction, but not every decision is a life or death one, and it's important to understand varying degrees of living because that's where most of our choices are.
  39. 1 point
    What you bring up is a very important point. At this point in the thread, with all the information we have brought forward, it is almost irrefutable that when she says "life" she means "a life worth living". We know that she does NOT mean "survival at any cost". That implies that there is a minimum, that there is a boundary, a line that one "should not cross". Once discovered, that is the line that differentiates a good life from a bad life. For those who believe that flourishing is the ultimate end, then that line becomes the standard of the good or evil. So what constitutes or leads to a good life is good etc. That line would end up being the differentiator of good from evil, the crux of the ethics. The problem with the interpretation of "a life worth living" is that life can be getting crumbs like welfare or a grand life with major achievements. The concept of flourishing also has that problem, in that there a minimum flourishing necessary? Or is any amount of flourishing good? We all agree that an ethics has to have an ultimate end (so that it is not utilitarian/aimless). (oddly: the ethics of an ethics) The concept "Life" is clear, objective, as in existence or non-existence. For a man or living organism, death is, in fact, the objective minimum. Even in a life not worth living, a person can have hope. Hope is subjective and can make any kind of life worth living. "Life" encompasses life vs. death, and happiness/flourishing. Happiness/flourishing is inevitably partially objective and partially subjective, which in total means subjective. It is most plausible that she did not use flourishing because it can never be totally objective. The objective line drawn, within the "big picture", had to be life vs. death, survival. With life vs. death, existence being the ultimate end, the line is clear. Death does not have degrees, it either is or isn't. The realm of economics, politics and even psychology require a clear line that differentiates right from wrong.
  40. 1 point
    Even in the description in the cited study on Wikipedia, the authors note that flourishing is an objective state, and not reducible to felt experiences. You mention prison, interesting because Aristotle discusses whether a man trapped at the bottom of a well can be eudaimon, and he answers no (other Greeks like Socrates would say yes, so A is arguing against them.) A goes into detail describing the content of eudaimonia. It is something that includes "doing and living well," something that includes "everything choiceworthy and lacking in nothing" and overall "a complete life, well-lived." A's language is forgein to us and he is difficult to read and interpret. Various modern philosophers in the virtue ethics movement and psychologists have given accounts to describe flourishing. Researchers are taking note of accounts of eudaimonia. In addition to internal goods, external goods one may include such as a wealth and health, meaningful friendship and social relations, career choices, political freedom and autonomy, and so on. Even things out of your control, such as luck and natural disasters are going to effect your flourishing. You can see in both approaches broad generalized goods that everyone needs that are then individualized in the context of each person's life. Aristotle thinks it is comprised of these two categories, of internal and external goods. Rand thinks it is comprised of her three cardinal values, reason, purpose, and self-esteem. In both, flourishing is generic (constituted of generic human needs as defined by biology, psychology, medical science) but also agent-relative and individualistic, and a continuously maintained process. The virtue ethicists have many pro-reason, individualistic discussions, as do many of the classical eudaimonists. The Roman philosopher Cicero, for example, has four categories of flourishing (universal human nature, the individual's unborn talents, social context, and personal choices.)
  41. 1 point
    I would find that part of the ethicist charge is to objectively evaluate the sciences, ascertaining if they are furthering or threatening the ultimate value. Life can be kept in existence only by a constant process of self-sustaining action. The goal of that action, the ultimate value which, to be kept, must be gained through its every moment, is the organism’s life. An ultimate value is that final goal or end to which all lesser goals are the means — and it sets the standard by which all lesser goals are evaluated. An organism’s life is its standard of value: that which furthers its life is the good, that which threatens it is the evil. On one hand, the climatologists provide useful information for investing in the futures markets for farming. On the other, global warming claims are diverting time and attention away from other matters those resources might have been better allocated.
  42. 1 point
    Rand isn't relying on psychology here to identify the basis of what is good: Now in what manner does a human being discover the concept of “value”? By what means does he first become aware of the issue of “good or evil” in its simplest form? By means of the physical sensations of pleasure or pain. Just as sensations are the first step of the development of a human consciousness in the realm of cognition, so they are its first step in the realm of evaluation. The capacity to experience pleasure or pain is innate in a man’s body; it is part of his nature, part of the kind of entity he is. He has no choice about it, and he has no choice about the standard that determines what will make him experience the physical sensation of pleasure or of pain. What is that standard? His life. — The Objectivist Ethics The key to the kingdom of flourishing is cut in triplicate near the end of this paragraph from the same essay: Just as the automatic values directing the functions of a plant’s body are sufficient for its survival, but are not sufficient for an animal’s — so the automatic values provided by the sensory-perceptual mechanism of its consciousness are sufficient to guide an animal, but are not sufficient for man. Man’s actions and survival require the guidance of conceptual values derived from conceptual knowledge. But conceptual knowledge cannot be acquired automatically. Man is not born with conceptual knowledge. If he is to gain it, he must act in order to do so. Consider what actions are required in order to keep the conceptual knowledge mankind has gained/acquired over the centuries. For greater precision regarding the realm of flourishing, consider this following excerpt from Atlas Shrugged: You, who claim that you long to rise above the crude concerns of the body, above the drudgery of serving mere physical needs—who is enslaved by physical needs: the Hindu who labors from sunrise to sunset at the shafts of a hand-plow for a bowl of rice, or the American who is driving a tractor? Who is the conqueror of physical reality: the man who sleeps on a bed of nails or the man who sleeps on an inner-spring mattress? Which is the monument to the triumph of the human spirit over matter: the germ-eaten hovels on the shorelines of the Ganges or the Atlantic skyline of New York?
  43. 1 point
    The passage you quoted defines intuition as a "non-inferential knowledge or grasp, as of a proposition, concept, or entity, that is not based on perception, memory, or introspection" then gives yellow as an example as if it were not based on perception. It also claims that yellow is not definable but with a moments thought I can come up with "the color of ripe bananas and dandelion flowers" and can recall Rand's insistence that an ostensive definition is valid. Academic philosophy is quite frustrating for me to deal with. Intuition is how one gains access to a priori knowledge. It is a secular version of divine revelation and should denounced wherever it appears. I think the relation to rationalism is that it allows rationalists to make the rhetorical ploy of an appeal to authority without having to appeal to God.
  44. 1 point
    You seem to be hung up on why Rand used this word over that word, or why she "left us" with a certain word and how we have to make sense of it. This strikes me as the wrongheaded way of doing philosophy and more resembles monks arguing over interpretations of scripture. It's more important to think about concepts, ideas, and what they mean and relate them. Rand didn't use the word flourishing even though she studied Aristotle in Russia because Aristotle didn't use the word flourishing. Aristotle used the Greek word "eudaemonia" which means something like "being well-demoned" or "having a good spirit." It had religious connotations, even though it had lost those prior to the time of the Socratics. But, it seems obvious why Ayn Rand wouldn't use this word. It seems like most translations used "happiness" but since Aristotle elsewhere says that eudaemonia and happiness are not identical (although it includes happiness as a component) this seems like an ungratifying translation. In the 1900s, Ross started using "well being" as a translation, and someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but I think this is the version of NE that Rand possessed in her library. "Flourishing" didn't become widespread until virtue ethics started gaining popularity in the late 70s. I think Cooper used the term in the 90s and this was widely accepted. Since the early 2000s there's been a lot of empirical research being done in modern psychology to refine the concept and give it an objective meaning. I mean just check out the Wikipedia article on the topic: Individuals described as flourishing have a combination of high levels of emotional well-being, psychological well-being, and social well-being.[4] Flourishing people are happy and satisfied; they tend to see their lives as having a purpose; they feel some degree of mastery and accept all parts of themselves; they have a sense of personal growth in the sense that they are always growing, evolving, and changing; finally, they have a sense of autonomy and an internal locus of control, they chose their fate in life instead of being victims of fate.[5][6] According to Fredrickson and Losada, flourishing is characterized by four main components: goodness, generative, growth, and resilience.[1] Flourishing is related to the Aristotelian concept of eudaimonia. According to a Neo-Aristotelianview, the concept of human flourishing offers a view of the human good that is objective, inclusive, individualized, agent-relative, self-directed and social. It views human flourishing objectively because it is desirable and appealing. Flourishing is a state of being rather than a feeling or experience. It comes from engaging in activities that both express and produce the actualization of one's potential.[7][8]
  45. 1 point
    Ayn Rand said that the purpose of morality is to teach us, 'not to suffer and die, but to enjoy ourselves and live.' Well, let's ask whether the purpose of morality is primarily for survival or flourishing. Which is the end and which is the means? If it's flourishing then our moral code is fully applicable to any action of every single individual*, since there isn't a single choice that doesn't bear some consequence for our psychological equilibrium (indeed, most have a myriad of subtle and intricately multifaceted consequences) - especially those which impact our actual survival! It applies to serial killers regardless of whether or not they're ever caught (for reasons I just sketched, albeit not-too-neatly), to serial killers of the soul (like Kant or Toohey), to giants like Roark and to suicide bombers - equally. If survival then it doesn't apply to serial killers who don't risk their own capture (or even those who do risk it in a state without the death penalty); you can try to discourage them on the basis of "the survival proper to man" but if anyone presses you on why he has to live as a proper man - good luck. It doesn't apply to Roark's non-survival-related choices and so has nothing to say about him beyond "yeah, that's a good way to do architecture" (and even then there are scenes like his refusal to alter his design for the bank which, like Galt's promise of suicide in the event of Dagny's torture, we'd be hard pressed to even justify). Furthermore, if a suicide bomber doesn't want to live then it doesn't apply to him, either; we can call his actions "unfortunate" or "tragic" but we simply could not call him a bad guy** (a stance which, in terms of moral advancement, would leave us somewhere behind the fundamentalist Christians). But this is what I find truly essential. When I think of Egoism I think of Howard Roark (specifically Gary Cooper's rendition), the perfect and archetypical Egoist. He doesn't ask what he ought to want because he already knows (not which TV shows he wants to watch or what he wants for dinner but what he wants out of his entire life). He doesn't ask what he should do because he figured that out, too, decades in advance. In fact, he doesn't usually say anything; he mostly just does things (and he does them flawlessly, on the first try, every time). As slippery as the concept of "flourishing" is, what I mean by that is what Roark does, all day, every day, regretting nothing and making it all look easy. Howard Roark could make Chuck Norris his bitch if he ever stopped to notice his existence. And not a single one of the qualities which make him worth aspiring to have anything to do with his survival! You could easily survive just fine like a Keating or a Toohey (the literal living proof of that is all around us - literally)! It wouldn't be fun or a pretty thing to look at, but it'd be a life. James Holmes, who took a machine gun to a movie theatre full of strangers, survives in Colorado to this very day! Even Immanuel Kant, the diabolical one himself, could tell you how to survive as long as you truly wished not to! When we say that morality doesn't apply to non-survival-related issues (or imply it in various ways) we're amputating all of the best parts of Egoism; the very things that make it all worthwhile, worth arguing about and worth fighting for, if necessary. We know that it does matter whether you spend your time sitting around, killing time, or working to better yourself; that it's important because the way you choose to spend your life is important - and that that's important because your own happiness is important! We have the blueprints for how to "flourish" like Roark and we're sitting here asking each other whether the upper half of its skyscraper is really necessary! Given the existential threat that actual suicide bombers could potentially pose to us at some point down the road, it's not necessarily hyperbolic to call our ability to condemn them a matter of life and death (maybe a little bit over the top but not out of the question). To put it perfectly bluntly, though, if we're pulling out the supports which make man-worship conceivable then I really don't give a damn about the Jihadis. And brother, if we're saying that Egoism has no direct (non-instrumental) role in human happiness then we are either messing around with exactly that or else playing some kind of conceptual game which I am not familiar with. --- I'm sorry for the length and general tone of that; chopping my thoughts into acceptable-sized chunks was getting to be exhausting. But I'm done now! --- *This doesn't mean that allegedly-amoral choices, such as which flavor of ice cream to eat, must be carefully pondered for days on end. Rather, it means that there is only one correct answer for you (and for your mood and tastes right now) which you probably already know. If you'd most prefer chocolate today then that's the moral thing for you to get, and any other option would be a sacrifice (and immoral) and don't do that to yourself. Your emotions are not tools of cognition but they are facts (just like gravitation) which you must take into your consideration of any relevant choice. They would not be "whatever you felt like" if you lied to yourself about them (which regular people do actually attempt alarmingly often) nor will knowledge of them automatically enter your skull if you fail to look inward in the first place; your emotions are specific mental things, with specific identities, as perceived by your (introspective) consciousness. The nature of some emotional responses is immediately self-evident after paying a fraction of a second of attention to them, which is precisely why your preferred flavors of food make such great toy-examples. Knowing the nature of other emotions (romance comes to mind again) will actually demand some careful studying. If you act consequentially (say eating cyanide instead of chocolate ice cream) on some emotion, without understanding what it is or where it comes from, that's whim-worship. So much for that. **Have I mentioned that I am not advocating ethical subjectivism?
  46. 1 point
    Dear Miss Wodlinger: ... A book cannot be "ruined" through a film or "through the interpretations of some of its readers," as you say. Nothing can ruin a book. It is a completed entity. Misinterpretations are merely the misfortune of those who make them. —The Letters of Ayn Rand
  47. 1 point
    Just because the contents of a fantasy are subjective, does not mean that fantasy qua fantasy cannot be judged as objectively good. A fantasy's purpose is to delight the fantasizer. If it succeeds in this purpose, it is an objectively good fantasy. If it fails in this purpose, we can call it an objectively bad fantasy. People have those all the time when they imagine themselves getting in a car wreck and are terrified. Psychologists call that "catastrophizing" and it has objectively measurable negative effects on people, i.e. they are afraid to drive, or they refrain from driving. I am redefining "fantasizing" in the same way that Ayn Rand re-defined "selfishness." Most people think of "selfishness" as a bad thing but we use that word to mean a good way to live life. In the same way, most people view "fantasizing" as a sexual perversion, or as something that only children do and you "grow out of it." That's ridiculous. I am redefining "fantasizing" as a way in which man can directly and instantly use his mind for his own happiness. I would add "bearing in mind that it isn't actually part of objective reality" to the end of that, but that should be obvious and assumed. Ayn Rand didn't add, "by the way, this isn't real" to her writings on aesthetics, so I shouldn't be saddled with the same burden. Emotions are not tools of cognition but they are critical to man's enjoyment of his life. I would add that fantasies, while not critical, should serve the same purpose in Objectivist thought. Not part of defining reality, but can be enjoyed themselves. Some people seem to have a knee-jerk, "Well it's not real so I refuse to enjoy a good fantasy" reaction. Imagine if they had that reaction to works of literature. "It's not real, so I refuse to enjoy it." The "world" of Atlas Shrugged only exists in the minds of its readers. The "world" of my fantasies exists only in my mind. Why not enjoy both? The only difference between artistic and personal fantasy is that one is shared with others, while the other is personal. I've written my fantasies down before and shared them with no one. They were necessary for me because I felt like crap that day and there was nothing in real life I could do to immediately change the facts and circumstances. So my fantasy made me feel immediately better. Even though I knew that my thoughts weren't real, I enjoyed them for what they were. I propose that we call them out as fantasies, but we don't take an intrinsicist view like "all fantasies are bad." We instead say, "this is not based on objective reality, it is a fantasy so it cannot inform us of how to live on earth."
  48. 1 point
    . William, I’m not sure Audi sticks to that list of conditions in all his works, and anyway, the list circumscribes a more narrow concept than the usual. In his The Architecture of Reason, he allows that certain moral principles could be self-evident or at least, more weakly, a priori. Right principles present to us in this way would seem to be at least about the perceptual level and, frankly, in the thick of it. That goes as counter only to his item 2 on the list. The usual definition of the self-evident is the manifestly true requiring no proof. This is still a good place for philosophers to start and not forget. I doubt one would be laughed out of the academy if one did not confine one’s philosophic uses of the term to the constraints Audi was formulating for it. “Percepts, not sensations, are the given, the self-evident” (ITOE 5; similarly, early Heidegger). A paragraph from my book in progress: Sextus, Peirce, and Moritz Schlick argued against self-evidence of our cognitive bases.* They erred in supposing self-evidence in cognition is spoiled by any obscure or fallible aspect and by connection of any purported self-evident cognition to other cognition. To the contrary: In one’s present perception is this text. That one perceives those marks in this read, perceptually knowing their existence and character, is self-evident. They are not only perceived as present, but as having the particular character they have. Additionally, they are not only perceived as present, but can then be reflected as self-evident. Their status as self-evident does not require they have no obscure or fallible aspect and have no connections with other cognitions, preceding, overlapping, or subsequent. *Sextus c.200b, I, 151; Peirce 1868b, 19; Schlick 1925, §19; see also Maddy 2011, 118–37; cf. Binswanger 2014, 382. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ PS Rand rightly held that it is incorrect to try to prove the existence of the external, perceived world.* The world’s existence is self-evident in perception. The existence of character and spatiality and action is self-evident in perception. *Rand 1961b, 28; cf. Gilson 1937, 146–47, 152–55; Heidegger 1953, 202–7/194–200. (1961b is For the New Intellectual, paperback.)
  49. 1 point

    Choosing to Live, Choosing to Die

    Newborns have that context. You would just need to ask if the choice to live is a choice actually pre-volitional. I have no reason to say newborns lack volition, though. Or just ask if life is a given start to all people, thus "choosing" a given makes no sense, as if this is true, all people reach for life by nature, by teleology. I have no reason to call life a given start.
  50. 1 point
    In ordinary everyday existence, the choice to live or not to live doesn't usually come up explicitly. It is not as if we wake up each morning and make an explicit choice to live or die, we get up and go through our morning routine. However, I think this would be the choice to live one's life and to pursue the day and the values of the day. In some extreme cases, however, the choice is explicit. If one suffers some horrible illness and cannot enjoy one's life one can say, "I'd rather die than go through this." In fact, people do say that, though without full seriousness for getting things like a very bad case of the flu, for example, or surviving the death of a loved one that is so painful one doesn't know how to go on living with that pain uppermost in one's mind. In other threads on other forums, I have made the case that like the choice to focus one's mind or not, our fundamental choice, that this *is* the choice to live, since living rationally requires one to focus on the facts of reality with our full mind on the ready. However, in this type of case, one doesn't deliberate, because one cannot deliberate until one's mind is focused. So,like I said, the choice to focus or not or the choice to live or not comes before one will reason about anything. In Tara's view about rationality, it is always purpose driven, and she states that without purpose there is no rationality -- that one cannot focus on the facts of reality with one's full alertness without having some specific purpose in mind. I do think she is correct about this, that rationality has to do with effectiveness (taking the facts into account or not), though taking the facts into account requires a huge context that comes about due to what one wants to pursue -- i.e. purpose. Otherwise the facts are there but so what? She is saying is that we cannot have a purpose until we decide to live and to pursue our lives; and without purpose, there is no rationality. This is the fuller meaning of what she means by "pre-rational" -- there is not necessarily an explicit deliberation about the issue, and we are not taking the facts into account because we cannot do this until we are focused on living purposefully.