Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum


Popular Content

Showing content with the highest reputation since 06/23/17 in all areas

  1. 4 points

    White Supremacist Protest Violence

    I do happen to believe they are the same, morally speaking. I had some experience with some Antifa groups, both online and at some protests. I naively thought they could be open to libertarian and individualist ideas, much in the way that objectivists hoped to influence the tea party groups in this way. After my interactions with them, I find them very similar to neo-Nazi types. Let me first explain a bit of history. Antifa, at least in so far as they claim, has its history in the KDP, the communist party of Germany during the Weimar years. Most of you are probably familiar with the stories of red shirts fighting brown shirts in the streets, which originated as the Sparticist Leage, and is basically a Bolshevik group that wants a communist dictatorship. The party is banned in Germany to this day. This is the intellectual heritage they claim and logos they use. It was resurrected in the 1980s by punk rock types and leftist agitators to fight against anything right wing using violence. It is not a singular organized group with a single goal or philosophy, much like the occupy movement, but are a disparate group of loosely networking individuals that get together for protests. I was drawn to them for the protest aspect. Many objectivists, I find, either put too much stock in voting and democratic politics, or are just too intellectual to be involved in practical action. I am interested in agorism and building alternative institutions, so naturally a group claiming to be about anti fascist action sounded promising. Objectivists, I still do believe, should be the real Antifa. They are also anti racism, anti sexism, anti bigotry, what are we if not all of those things? So I thought they were about using private, voluntary, and non-state means to fight these things through protests, boycotts, social pressure, doxing, etc, which sounded great. I thought, like many left-liberals dissatisfied with the Democratic Party establishment, they would be young, intellectual, and interested in fighting oppression and injustice, and I could influence them towards liberty and individualism. I knew many of them were left-libertarians or left-anarchists, but I had success in the past interacting with them. What I found was a group of extreme, violent anti-liberal racial collectivists who are basically social misfits and losers. Many of them are, in fact, extremely racists, much like the BLM folks I interacted with. Events such as "white people stay home day" on campus were endorsed. Yaron mentions this in his podcast, and I can confirm, yes violent leftist agitators were roaming around looking for white people to club. During a protest in California, there was a targeting of anyone who was white in a certain area because it was assumed they were pro-Trump. Many of them believe in some sort of reparation scheme, whereby all whites, regardless of their position in society, must be expropriated to repay for historical oppression. And, this is anecdotal, but I was interacting with an Antifa member who felt comfortable confiding in me, lamentably, that they couldn't openly support extermination of whites. When pushed on this, he circled and said he meant through promoting interracial marriage (except not marriage cause that's oppressive), which is a common thing you hear, that all whites would be technically gone and that would be a good thing. They are also virulently anti-Israel, and to such a point that they want to see it destroyed, and it's not hard to see how that turns into a general hatred of Jews. I think there's also a psychological aspect here and the analysis isn't complete without that. As many have pointed out, the type of person drawn to violent political extremism tends to be someone who is an outcast, is socially awkward or ignored in some way, people who just enjoy being edgy and contrarian, thumb their noses at established norms, and people who have psychopathic personality types. We can probably understand how easy it is, for some young people to be disasstisfied with mainstream conservatism, for example, and join the alt right or patriot type movements, only to be disgusted with them, then read Richard Spencer or something and become a full blown Nazi. Without a principled philosophy, this person is just drifting toward a cult or gang like group until they are embraced by the worst. The same thing happens on the left. Many were disgusted at the betrayal of the Bernie Sanders movement and looked for a better home that would embrace their psychopathic and nihilistic personalities. And the types I found numerous times. I saw a young girl pepper spray an elderly woman who she supposed was a Trump supporter. I saw kids, disabled people, women, moms and dads, random bystanders, etc. attacked with batons or sticks, or hit with projectiles. When I asked her if this was morally okay to her, I got the usual anti-conceptual "revolution isn't pretty" type response and was told this many times. "Break some eggs, if you want to make an omelette" slogan was repeated to me. I saw the group full of these punk rocker types and various social misfits that had no problem hitting women or elderly people. To the extent that I found anyone receptive to ethical egoism, I only found support of the egoism of Max Stirner, who believed that morality and law were artificial and limiting constructs, and supported a subjectivist and emotionalist type of egoism. But in generally, I found them to be anti-intellectual and not interested in ideas. Evaluation of whether something is threatening to me isn't a numerical comparison of sins, such that I would go "Antifa: socialists, Nazis: socialists + racists" that's two sins versus one, so Nazis are more immoral. Based on the foregoing, I do put Antifa in the same category as the Klan or Nazi type groups. Both involve bringing in people with nutjob views, dysfunctional personality types, social awkwardness, etc into the cultlike embrace of the group, and derive enjoyment from transgressing established norms of society. Both are racialist and both want socialist dictatorships. Both are perfectly fine with using violence to achieve that goal. Both are, in my view, one step removed from being domestic terrorist groups. Both are a danger to themselves and to me and to society as a whole. Im not sure how much political power they have, but Hilary Clinton was opposed by the Sanders movement, incredibly popular with young people. Many of those people moved on to Antifa and BLM groups. They have a way of infiltrating any leftist gathering and scouting for new recruits. I believe they are Soros funded and their actions whitewashed by the media. That's how we see things like mainstream liberal types who just think we need more peace and love protesting right next to a hardened left agitator with a hammer and sickle flag and nobody questions it. But everyone immediately knows Nazis are bad. One thing is certain, don't let your kids or friends join these groups, and don't go to these protests. Just stay away.
  2. 4 points

    Will Capitalism Collapse?

    For those whom capitalism is still an unknown ideal, capitalism is the complete seperation of economics and state and that has never existed. This clear, non-foggy, definition of capitalism is the basis for Rand's argument, that Laika just led himself to discover, on the difference between economic and political power.
  3. 3 points
    I don't think philosophy is all that dissimilar to other ideas through history: man made flight, electricity, combustion engine etc., etc. All these ideas became popular because they resulted in worthwhile concretes. They weren't ideas the general public could've successfully been presented with, in theory alone. There was a need for concrete achievements, to go along with the ideas themselves. So that's the key: to go along with all the activism, people who like the ideas should live good lives, and that achievement will cause interest in the ideas that shaped that life. That doesn't mean activism is useless, but activists need to be conscious of the full range of their communication: both the intended and the unintended messages. For instance, an Oist activist focused on pointing out the flaws of the political system may think he's just communicating political ideas, but, in reality, to the average person, he projects a sense of isolation and even fatalism (us vs. them, as SN put it). When there's a contradiction between a more concrete and a more abstract message, people (rightfully) give more weight to the former. So that activist is hurting more than he's helping. To effectively control the message, and only communicate what he intends to, an activist needs to be well versed in communication and dedicated to the work full time. Even if you're naturally charismatic and an effective leader in your day job, it's not enough. Your message, no matter how convincing, can still be presented selectively, or misrepresented, by others (both in the traditional media and on social media). So you still have to be deliberate about everything you do and discerning about who you talk to...and that takes a lot of expertise and tedious research. Just to be clear: you don't have to be "fun", charming, or even nice and friendly, to be an effective communicator. Trump's an effective communicator...I doubt even his minions would ever accuse him of any of those four things. But you need to be aware of the times when you might be perceived as unhappy or a pessimist (as well as of the many other unintended messages we send out on a daily basis).
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 3 points
    Okay, in the spirit of the OP's request, this is my two cents: There is the psychological plane of existence, the experience of life, pain pleasure, happiness. Then there is the epistemological plane, the abstraction of life, the concept of flourishing and the moral code. And then the metaphysical plane, the organism, existence or nonexistence. From the metaphysical plane, the main thing that I learned from Rand was that there was no "my reality" vs. "your reality". There was just reality and the search for the truth is honorable. From the psychological/experiential plane: Objectivism taught me that I have a right to my life. I understood that when someone calls me selfish "they want something". I learned to strive for greatness rather than strive to look great. I found that if I held onto things that didn't make sense, if I went along for too long, I suddenly drowned in anxiety. I learned that living as a parasite can creep up on people. Objectivism gave me a path to follow to find my way back, to happiness. She awoke me to the existence of unearned guilt. I learn that when I have a sense of having achieved something, the pleasure was moral, it was good. And of course, I learned that the good was not what religion said and what a majority believed did not mean wisdom. Ultimately, with her attack on altruism, I learned that defining my boundaries, determining who I am and what I want was my fundamental responsibility and a never-ending task. She reminded me that the merging and melding with others, at the cost of my core self, was being dead before my time. And in the process, I have fought to hold on to who I am, to be myself. And now, I am here to learn what I put aside for later.
  7. 3 points

    Why Objectivism is so unpopular

    I think the problem really starts because self-improvement is not the focus. I think you're both right. The outward/political focus versus self-improvement or the pursuit of personal happiness, and also the combative style... though not necessarily so much Rand's (though that's part of the issue), as that of Objectivists who try to ape her style. In my experience, most Objectivists have no idea how to talk to people outside of the Objectivist community, and no apparent desire to try to distinguish those who might be fundamentally open to reason, yet mistaken on one or several points. How to talk to people, to discuss ideas, to persuade -- both within and outside of Objectivism -- is a topic that is not only under-explored, but is regarded with outright suspicion by some. Some people seem content to pass moral judgement and condemn others to hell, rather than the (admittedly more difficult) project of examining their own methods of communication. I have found that many Objectivists have the reputation of being "assholes"; so much so that it's arguably regarded as characteristic. I don't think it's even undeserved. But it doesn't have to be so. I've known many utterly pleasant and polite Objectivists, and I see no reason why someone cannot be both correct and nice. Even our expressions of anger, where merited, can stand critical examination and improvement. Above all, I think that empathy is a vital characteristic (I would not go so far as to say that it is a "virtue," because I am not prepared for the argument -- but I'm not dismissing it either). I've used this analogy before, and I think it still serves: Objectivists have the best product on the market. We have truth. We have reason and reality on our side -- and despite what you may have heard (and despite humanity's checkered history), reason and reality are fairly persuasive forces. They keep all of us alive, every day, and have formed the basis for all of humanity's many achievements. So despite everything we're working against (deeply ingrained cultural forces, including academia, the media, and political institutions), I think Objectivism stands poised to remake the world. What we need -- what any great product needs -- is sales. We need to examine and re-examine (and re-examine again) our means and methods of communicating our ideas to a world which is frankly starving for reason, for peace, for happiness. We must continue to improve upon our approach until we succeed.
  8. 3 points

    White Supremacist Protest Violence

    There's a meta aspect to this White Supremacist vs. BLM argument, which one sees repeatedly in similar fights across time and geography: Protestant vs. Catholic in Ireland, Hindu vs. Muslim along the Indo-Pakistan border, and many other such conflicts. The aspect is this: the more extreme elements are a small minority around which there is a larger set of people who identify with them to some extent. If one considers the larger group, people on both sides have different ideas, but would likely move closer toward each other's position if they would talk, would probably be willing to talk, and would likely be able to find a workable solution even while disagreeing. However, the extremes are the loudest voices, and this keeps the (larger) group around them polarized, rather than listening and attempting to understand the situation rationally. Often, there will be some specific issue that the larger groups disagree on: it could be confederacy statues in this case, it could be cows and pigs in another case, it could be religious affirmative action in another. The more extreme elements will take an all-or-nothing position, and that's the loudest position. If members of the larger group around them say anything else, they're branded as traitors to the cause. On top of this, the extreme elements on both sides will try to provoke physical violations: perhaps using police to enforce what they want, perhaps using private thugs, or perhaps using violence against members of the "enemy" group. This is further polarizing. Once the battle reaches a certain point where people think dialog isn't going to get them anywhere -- because the opposition will use violence in response -- then they do the "rational thing" by cheering on when their own side uses violence. From one perspective, white supremacists almost do not exist; from another, millions of white supremacists are out there. If we're speaking of people who want to get rid of blacks, they're a tiny minority. If we threw them all in jail, we'd still have disproportionately more black folk in jails. However, if we expand the definition to include people who think there's probably something biological/genetic about black people that makes them inferior, we now have a slightly bigger set. If we expand this further to include people who think there's probably something cultural about many black people that makes them inferior (in effect, even if not inevitably), then we have a pretty big set: many millions across all states. Similarly, the set of people who think these statues should stay up is far larger than the racist hard-core. If nobody addresses their views and their arguments with words, it is no surprise they will give a secret, guilty thumbs up to the thugs enforcing their wishes with force. It is also no surprise that they will point to the thugs on the other side as their primary argument.
  9. 3 points
    I haven't seen any evidence that North Korea has the ability to deliver nuclear warheads with any accuracy. There are also several missile defense systems in the area, that further reduce the success rate of NK missiles. The US is in the process of deploying THAAD missile defense to South Korea, Japan has the ship and air based AEGIS missile defense system, and I'm guessing US bases in the region are protected by both. So, to me at least, North Korea's ability to inflict massive casualties on either SK or Japan is being exaggerated in the media. If they attack with conventional weapons, they would have a few days at most before their offensive capabilities are fully destroyed. If they try to attack with nukes, I'm guessing they would have one try, before the US responds with tactical nukes against their launch sites. That's one of the few good things about Trump: he is unlikely to hold back the US military from using appropriate force. And that's IF Un even has the power to start a suicidal war. Seems like a tall order for an unpopular, unproven leader to get his military to march into certain death...no matter how ruthless and scary he is.
  10. 3 points
    No. First, I want to know the truth about reality, i.e. to hold the correct philosophy. Secondarily, I would want others to also know the truth about reality and hold the correct philosophy (it would make life better for me). Merely having "an impact" of any kind as such has no value... it is only the particular kind of impact that might result which matters. If everyone already knew the truth and had the correct philosophy I would not be pining and wishing to have an impact on someone. You imply by your OP and other posts that either A) the philosophy is incorrect/erroneous, or that B ) the philosophy is correct but people are inherently flawed and cannot accept it. You then admonish us to action of one sort or another, which make little sense. An individual surely must seek out the truth and on the evidence he/she should accept a correct philosophy and reject a false one, and insofar as possible and when it is in his self interest to do so, to teach what he knows to others, thereby increasing their potential spiritual and economic value to him. If A) is the case, then only by evidence and reason can a person be shown that A) is the case. If B ) is the case, then a person who knows the truth can either try to convince others, or simply refrain from doing so. Since you seem to indicate that people just don't accept it, you imply it is futile to attempt to convince others. I see you are already trying to show why A) is the case (in other threads). If you are implying the philosophy is wrong, I take it you are proceeding in the attempt to show that. If B ) is the case, then logic would dictate from your premises, that since it is futile, one should not try to convince others. Which is odd, because at the same time you state we should "want" to convince others. All I can think is that maybe B ) is that case, but not all people are impervious to the truth (after all there are people who have heard the evidence and accepted the philosophy) and hence attempting to convince others, although difficult, is not futile. The point of your OP and your ensuing argument, if there is one, is elusive. Please be more succinct if you would like a direct answer.
  11. 3 points
    . The strings of the harp return to silence. That is so not only for each individual, but for the species, and eventually for all life in the solar system, and eventually farther, for all life-organization and intelligence-organization in the universe. Stardust to stardust. “When we are here, death is not come. When death is come, we are not here.” –Lucretius Taking a third-person perspective on oneself, one can be in advance conscious of one’s death, one’s full stop. In the first-person perspective, full ending of any object of consciousness whatsoever is collapse of both together, conscious process and object. I like better the third-person perspective, which is the only perspective with real interest for one's endpoint. Value is here on this earth beyond one's own life. Look to here and to the tomorrows of here all through one’s own last look at all.
  12. 3 points

    Is Dignity a Right?

    Changing the conditions of your work in a way that is different from your contract could be construed as an initiation of force/fraud (and a contract is definitely needed in situations like these). And there would be legal issues associated with holding you ransom. You might say that the corporation didn't force you to stay there. But the issue of force is determined by the nature of reality. If somebody locked you in a room only they can open, you would essentially be held as a prisoner. By the nature of reality (i.e., by the constraints placed by the fact that you are physically unable to leave), the situation is very similar and legal issues can be involved. Also another thing: if this is the mentality, I doubt they would be the first to do anything in space. So situation is very unlikely as well.
  13. 3 points

    Will Capitalism Collapse?

    Such an obvious, absolute, and undeniably true statement of fact and of Rand's position, will resonate with those who get it. Well said. Unfortunately, lesser minds will quibble, squirm, equivocate, whine, and in the end babble some anti-conceptual, inconsistent, irrelevancy, and I am decidedly not talking about Laika.
  14. 3 points

    Will Capitalism Collapse?

    Laika: Your decision to purchase and actually read a work by Rand herself is an impressive display of your intent to learn for yourself and make up your own mind about her philosophy. You are to be commended for it and with that kind of approach nothing will stop you from finding all the answers you need.
  15. 2 points
    I would argue that satisfaction, for a rational person, comes from living a good life. Just to explain what it is I'm nitpicking about: "being successful" implies the achievement of a final, set benchmark (or at least crossing a set threshold). Living a good life implies continuity. You can only derive so much satisfaction from "being successful". But you can derive endless satisfaction from continuously living well. And you don't have to wait before you're satisfied. You can be satisfied with what you did today, even if you're not yet "successful".
  16. 2 points
    Try this on for fun https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=KIs9xM7Sac8
  17. 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.
  18. 2 points
    "Virtue is not an end in itself. Virtue is not its own reward or sacrificial fodder for the reward of evil. Life is the reward of virtue—and happiness is the goal and the reward of life." -John Galt (from John Galt's speech) Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
  19. 2 points
    I had tried to anticipate this sort of thing here: If one takes "selfish" to include those acts which destroy others (i.e. via the initiation of the use of force), then neither is selfishness necessarily moral. But if one is rational in his selfishness, I would argue that he is moral; and, too, a moral man would make a rational appeal to consequences. An Objectivist would reject the supposed morality (or the morality of the actions) of a man who wound up justly and characteristically impoverished, downtrodden, etc., etc., yet accidentally stumbled over some sort of buried treasure, say. But why? Have we sundered morality from consequence? Not at all. In the first place, we recognize that one may not be assured of stumbling over such treasures; that acting in the ways that characteristically lead to impoverishment are, more often than not, going to result in impoverishment, not wealth. And that this will probably be true over a long enough span of time as well (if the lucky man who stumbled over the treasure above does not amend his ways, it is likely he will return to his poverty and poor fortune soon enough). And then there is the fact that "life" in the sense of "that which causes life" or "consequence of enhancing life" is rather broad. It is not wealth alone, it is not longevity alone, and so forth. The full flourishing that we seek is unlikely to be found accidentally; and the man who has death as his just due but is kept alive through accident (as in tripping over buried treasure) will probably yet be suffering in many aspects of his life, and perhaps also through psychological awareness of his precarious state. Yet in all of this, supposed "virtues" are not accounted virtue for their own sake; they are virtuous due to the consequences that the Objectivist expects in adopting them as principled approaches to living -- with the ultimate consequence being the Objectivist's experience of his own life, or happiness.
  20. 2 points

    Is objectivism consequentialist?

    Sorry for interjecting... your response was to ET, but this is tantamount to arguing against the Objectivist standard of morality itself. It claims that bad conduct can support life long range... implying that the standard of morality is wrong. It amounts to saying really, conduct is to be judged as "good" or "bad" according to something which is not the Objectivist standard of morality. This is an error. Actions are bad precisely because they are inimical to life, long range, and any action which is not inimical to life, long range simply is not bad.
  21. 2 points
    People have to learn to handle their subconscious premises, and they can make innocent mistakes about it. Thus it doesn't follow that someone with an unbreached rationality will be perfectly integrated in his psychology. Conversely, it doesn't follow that someone who feels an out-of-context desire has been irrational somewhere. The long-term ideal of the rational man is to achieve perfect integration between conscious and subconscious, and this needs to be striven for. But its lack at any given time is not a sure sign of irrationality, and it doesn't defeat the virtue of actions based on explicit moral principle. Ayn Rand agreed with me: http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/psychologizing.html#order_4 In Atlas Shrugged, Rand also had her supremely ideal man, John Galt, relate an instance in which he experienced an out-of-context desire while observing Hank Rearden. That he felt that desire did not make him immoral. A consequence of the view that you ascribe to Rand would be that psychology is an illegitimate profession: It would just be a sanction of irrationality: a cover that allows the irrational to pretend that they're rational. Any rational man would have his psychology completely figured out and integrated, with no conflicts. (The most we might say a psychologist would be useful for would be to hear about the patient's emotional conflicts and then condemn him for his bad premises. The psychologist would merely act as a form of punishment for a perpetrator of irrationality. But then this wouldn't require any specialized training, only philosophical education.)
  22. 2 points

    Novels to read before you die

    Thanks for the suggestions. I'm starting with the hunchback of Notre Dame.
  23. 2 points
    I can't tell if you are 1) suggesting a method of persuasion, or if you are 2) suggesting abandoning principles, or if you are 3) proposing convincing people to use one moral code while you use another. 1 isn't a matter of the facts per se. That's not a criticism of the philosophy, only the particular methods some people use to persuade. 2 would not be actually superior or lead anywhere good. The system I'd get isn't one I'd like in the first place. If I'm as right as I think I am, watering down my beliefs isn't going to help me reach my goal. But if you mean going slow and convincing people one small idea at a time in terms they are able to understand, that's not turning moderate. 3 is saying that some people lack any potential to become their best, so you resign yourself to say some people are too stupid to "get it". For them, reason is impotent. If you truly thought that, well, you would think Objectivism is fundamentally wrong about human nature. That's rejecting Objectivism, not turning moderate.
  24. 2 points

    Pleasure and Value

    I think you're trying to focus on the point-in-time thing we should try to optimize. Rand's "Objectivist Ethics" highlights two key linkages: first, that this pleasure is -- in turn -- based on our biology.. on the survival of life (today we might speak of this in terms of the role of pain/pleasure in evolution). "Good" (i.e. recommended action) is thus (mostly) tied to survival in its original cause second, she takes the focus away from point-in-time pleasure, to acknowledge that there are causal links between things. Seeing the pain in a dentist's visit is not good enough, we have to understand the pleasures and pains from the visit as a causally linked set. That's how we get to: "how to we get a better mix". The decisions move from considering a single thing (imagine someone making an excuse not to visit the dentist, because he's focusing on the pain alone). "Good" is the concept that embraces the evaluation of such mixes, and going far beyond these small bundles, to encompass one's life. Good it is the integrated evaluation of pain and pleasure. Only by starting from these two ideas can Rand end up saying Productive Work is one of the highest ideals. That's quite a huge integration that includes hundreds of observations that aren't mentioned in the essay. That's her key achievement: not her focus on pleasure -- which hedonists already took a shot at -- but explaining how we go from there to a message that sounds like "work hard". The hedonists had already praised pleasure, but nobody can take a short-range approach too seriously. Aristotle spoke of Eudemia, and his golden mean is one way of conceptualizing the various choices we have to make all the time. The Epicureans had spoken about enjoying life in a relaxed way. These were attempts integrate the idea that selfish pleasure is the core of Ethics with other observations about the world. The Stoics took a different tack: they recognized that men are driven to do "big things" which cannot be explained by "live a relaxed life" or '"do only what you need to be comfortable". They admired these men. At some level, they were admiring productivity, but could not quite explain why it was the good. They ended up with a somewhat "duty ethics". The Bhagavad Gita got to the same point too: work (karma) is good because it is, because it is a universal law. They both assumed a feedback: where the universe rewards us for doing our duty. The only alternative to work seemed asceticism, and Eastern philosophies thought that was good too...but, we can't all be ascetics. So, working hard was what the typical person had to do... just because. There was no tie to happiness, leave along to pleasure. Rand stepped through the horns of this ancient dilemma. In summary: I agree with you that pleasure is key, but it is key the way a dot of paint is key to a painting, or a word is key to Atlas. It's a starting point, but the bulk of Ethics is explaining how it comes together across our lives. Post-script: I think your focus on pleasure is important though, because some people read Fountainhead and Atlas as enshrining the virtue of hard work, but do not keep the link to pleasure and happiness in mind. By dropping that link, and by seeing work as an end in itself, drops the crucial justification for work. Work then is a duty: an end that we just do, because it is good... don't ask any more questions! This is why I think the recent moves by The Undercurrent/Strive: abandoning the focus on Politics, and linking Objectivist Ethics to individual happiness, is great.
  25. 2 points


    The thing with depression is that physiological causes are rarely ever the whole story. There is also some amount of one's position in the social world, or some deeper things besides strictly how your brain is working. It's difficult at times to keep up a motivated outlook. Sometimes, physiology makes it more difficult than for other people. Personally for me, there is a mix of all this that leads me to show symptoms of depression. Objectivism has had an important role for me so that while at times depression is there, it helps me to prevent things like self-hate, or beating myself up as a bad person. I don't feel that, and I attribute it to a few principles of Objectivism. Some Nietzsche, too, but my opinion on him is complex. 1) Benevolent Universe Premise No, this doesn't mean the universe "wants" you to be happy. Rather, it's a belief that evil doesn't win out over the good, that is, if one acts justly and acts virtuously, evil cannot last. This isn't to say tragedies don't happen - after all, Rand wrote "We The Living", which is really good at making the point that on a wider scale, the triumph of good is affected by things like respect for individual rights. http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/benevolent_universe_premise.html 2) Art fuels one's passions Rand wrote this, I recommend reading all of The Romantic Manifesto: "Since a rational man’s ambition is unlimited, since his pursuit and achievement of values is a lifelong process—and the higher the values, the harder the struggle—he needs a moment, an hour or some period of time in which he can experience the sense of his completed task, the sense of living in a universe where his values have been successfully achieved. It is like a moment of rest, a moment to gain fuel to move farther. Art gives him that fuel; the pleasure of contemplating the objectified reality of one’s own sense of life is the pleasure of feeling what it would be like to live in one’s ideal world." http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/art.html 3) Celebrate the good Perhaps this is obvious, but it is important to see the good in the world and celebrate it. Some people are truly jealous of success, seeing happiness as zero-sum, and think a successful billionaire is inherently bad. This is what Rand pointed to as hating the good for its good qualities. At times, a depressed person may want to wallow and blame others. If you go out of your way to admire the good, you'll have an easier time recognizing that it is possible to achieve your goals by your own efforts. It's a sense of self-responsibility.