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  1. 3 points

    The Royal Family of Nominalism

    In the November 1966 issue of The Objectivist, Ayn Rand wrote: It might be said that fifty years ago nominalists self-identified as "non-binary definitionists." True and false pertained to propositions, but not definitions. A proposition suggests mere possibility, but a definition suggests actual certainty. And certainty implies knowledge of reality. If the goal is to enslave people's minds, then you certainly don't want to encourage them to pursue knowledge of reality. Fast forward fifty years to today, and the nominalists' appetite for slavery has turned to the social-political realm. Now they self-identify as "non-binary genderists." Male and female pertain to propositions, but not definitions; the mind, which possibly reflects reality, but not the body, which certainly reflects reality. If the goal is to enslave people's bodies, then you certainly don't want to encourage them to pursue knowledge of reality. Slavery is about controlling people's minds and bodies. Nominalism is a philosophy of slavery. A nominalist wants to be a master, a ruler of humans. And so he places himself above normal humans, both mentally and physically. Mentally he is a "non-binary" word-maker, whose speech must not be questioned. And physically he is a "non-binary" entity, whose very identity must not be questioned. When he says he is this or that, then he is this or that. And if he orders you to call him she or they, then your duty is to call him she or they. For he is the master, and you are the slave. He is a member of the "non-binary" royal family. And you are part of the lowly, unenlightened "binary" or "cisgender" class. If Rand were alive, she might say that nominalism has managed to reach an even deeper depth than anyone ever imagined possible. Verbal and sexual aberrants are being crowned as intellectual and moral superiors. And we, the normal ones, are the tolerated clown jesters of the circus kingdom. Drag queens and miladyboys. Bow down to your new rulers!
  2. 3 points

    A Complex Standard of Value

    There has been some great discussion about values lately, and so I'd like to present a brief case for my notion of a complex standard of value. Any feedback or criticism would be appreciated. This is only the beginning of a work in progress. I start with the idea that humans have three basic aspects: the physical, the mental, and the biological. Also, for each aspect we can hold a separate standard of value. For the physical it's pleasure over pain; for the mental, it's knowledge over ignorance; and for the biological, it's health over sickness. Next, many people seem to believe that man is primarily one of these aspects, while the others are secondary. They argue for what I call a simple standard of value. If man is primarily physical, then his standard of value is pleasure. If he's primarily mental, then his standard is knowledge. And if man is primarily biological, then the standard is health. I call such positions the Simple Man Fallacy. It means taking the standard of value for one aspect of man and applying it to the whole person. I suppose it's an example of the fallacy of composition. I believe it is critical that we form a complex standard of value which integrates the three standards of man's existence: pleasure, knowledge, and health. Rand of course argued for the standard of value being man's life. But there is much confusion over what that means precisely. She said it means: "that which is required for man's survival qua man." And what does that mean? She explained: This is a complex answer that is difficult to digest. For example, how do we figure out which terms, methods, conditions and goals are required for our survival as a rational being? Well, to answer that question, I suggest we consider in equal measure the three basic aspects of our existence: the physical, the mental, and the biological. We should formulate a complex standard of value which integrates our critical needs for pleasure, knowledge, and health.
  3. 3 points
    I haven't watched it either but since that didn't stop you from posting about it I'll post about it too. There is no danger whatsoever. The whole Russia thing is a collective exercise on the part of the Democratic party to attempt to undermine the legitimacy of the last election while simultaneously helping them continue their psychological denial of responsibility for their loss.
  4. 3 points

    The Law of Identity

    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy -- Process Philosophy --Johanna Seibt (2017) The Activity of Being --Aryeh Kosman (2013) / From the publisher: “For Aristotle, to ask “what something is” is to inquire into a specific mode of its being, something ordinarily regarded as its “substance.” But to understand substance, we need the concept of energeia―a Greek term usually translated as “actuality.” In a move of far-reaching consequence, Kosman explains that the correct translation of energeia is not “actuality” but “activity.” We have subtly misunderstood the Metaphysics on this crucial point, says Kosman. Aristotle conceives of substance as a kind of dynamic activity, not some inert quality. Substance is something actively being what it is.” / This book from Kosman is not an argument over what is true in the matter, only over what Aristotle thought true in the matter. As for true in the matter, I think Aristotle (under this interpretation of him) was wrong, although one doesn’t have to go back to Plato or Parmenides and pals to get things right. And I take Rand as by her philosophy to agree with me in all that. I’d like to add to the other thought in this thread that on the mere face of ‘A is A’ one can say ‘change is change’ even while ignoring ties of change to stasis or to other categories of existence, such as entity (in the Randian sense of that term). But one is then saying much less than one who is saying ‘change is change’ while keeping those ties in mind. At Metaphysics 1030a25–27, Aristotle allows ‘nonbeing is nonbeing’. But he takes such a statement to say far less than were one to say ‘substance is substance’. Those of us who, like Rand, take ‘A is A’ to be making an assertion about existence of A, take A to have ties to other things (counting its own parts as one type of other thing), to have a nature, to have identity (in Rand’s broader sense of the term). For us, saying ‘nonexistence is nonexistence’ is only a sameness of words, a metaphysical zero.
  5. 3 points
    To briefly get back to the original question, it is clear that Peikoff rejects the standard philosophical concept "tautology". The problem with the transcription which KyaryPamyu cited is that it doesn't represent what Peikoff wrote, it's what he said. In his writings, you can see that he abjures the term because he always puts scare quotes around it (plus, of course, what he says about so-called tautologies). It's possible but unlikely that he did air quotes when he said "tautology", and the quotes were not transcribed. "Tautology" is an invalid concept (though you may plead for validity, by removing the thing that makes it invalid). To be valid, there has to be a definition: it has to identify a specific range of things. We don't know what "tautology" refers to, and until we do, it's pointless to get into an extended discussion of it. Since the term is widely used in philosophy, I am inclined to attribute some meaning to it, thus I would more or less accept William O's initial quote from the Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy: it is The pure form of these statements does not render them always true. A formula which is "always true" is something like "P ∨ ¬ P", but these are meaningless formulas. The proffered tautologies are not of this form. In the Cambridge examples, there might be a valid method of translating the statements into a symbolic form such that these are "tautologies". For example, you have to add a special stipulation of referential identity in these cases (see the last example: we must additionally assert that the first Socrates is the same individual as the second Socrates – we're not mixing Socrates the philosopher and Socrates my dog). Examples like "A brother is a male" is "tautological" not by dint of the form, but because of what we know of the referents of words "male" and "brother", and we know that experientially. It is particularly obvious that one cannot arrive at a formalization of "tautology" by simply inserting the definition of a word, when you are dealing with names, which have no definition. As for concepts and proper nouns, to quote ITOE, "A concept is a mental integration of two or more units which are isolated by a process of abstraction and united by a specific definition". A noun is the label by which we access a concept. A proper noun is a noun identifying units that name that name – they have no CCD. "Cow" identifies a range of existents with certain characteristics; "William" simply is a conventional label that some people have.
  6. 3 points


    We all know how awkward Thanksgiving can be at that moment when some family member asks all to state what they are "thankful" for. Particularly if you want to be completely honest and you are somewhat suspect of what others might consider "thankfulness" to be. While regretfully awaiting your turn... and after having counted the number of people in the "round the table" queue, you begin to ponder: Thankful to whom and for what? For that matter what does it mean to be "full" of thanks? What are these "thanks" you are full of? Are these left over pleasantries that you've gathered up like obligations and IOUs: there's that nice summer day I should have thanked the universe for, oh and that old guy kept the door open for me I should have said something to him, and the grocer lowered her price on bread which I really like I should have given her an innocent pat on the back, oh and my employees, clients/customers, and employer all rationally pursued their self-interest generating economic value all around, which is ALL good... I should have really said something to all of them (over and above eagerly and professionally participating in the value generating interactions themselves??...). A pile of pleasantries indeed... Then again, without a doubt I am proud, proud of myself and my accomplishments, and the bounty of my metaphorical harvests (which do not necessarily coincide with autumn), and proud of my family and friends, for what they have accomplished, who they are, and for the fact that they are my family and friends and that we have made strides and grown together. Without a doubt I am appreciative, appreciative of reality and of many others and their actions, appreciative in the sense that I fully recognize and treat rationally and with justice all that I deal with. And upon a reflection I realize that I already do generally try to exercise justice on a day to day basis, which requires that in every interaction just values in both matter and in spirit are exchanged, but that I could do better... So what is thanksgiving really? Is it a pile of pleasant IOUs to be balanced through a cosmic confessional around a dead turkey or is it a celebration and a reflection on life and its bounty? I think it is more the latter than the former, but perhaps as a small tribute to both, Thankgiving can be seen as a recognition and a celebration of life and a reflection of all its bounty and also an opportunity to resolve to go forward consciously keeping all of it in perspective so that, day to day, in all our interactions, value is created with everyone we deal with, in both matter and spirit, while we all pursue the happiness and life that is ours for the making. Happy LifeCelebMaking! EDIT: So what do you say when finally your turn arrives? Without being too picky about what thankfulness IS (to whom?) and the little cognitive white lie of actually using the term in order to ignore the concept's "inadequacies", the story could proceed as follows: Finally, after your uncle quips something about being thankful for Scotch, with his disarmingly odd smile, and looks your way, you stand up, and raising your glass, you clear your throat, and smile thoughtfully, "To be honest, I'm 'thankful' for this moment in time, a moment to celebrate life and all its bounty, to say how proud I am of us and all of you and everything we and each of us has accomplished and become, and I'm 'thankful' for the opportunity to reflect and resolve to go forward pursuing the happiness and the life that is all, each of ours for the making, and it is you, all of you, I 'thank' for being here, all together, for making this moment and opportunity possible. Thank you!"
  7. 3 points
    For one, that's the liberal left. The Communist left does not like identity politics and engages in class warfare. For the sake of identifying threats properly, you need to know who you're arguing against - we don't want to fight Communism by fighting liberals. The racial stuff is mostly liberal, filled with contradictions. The more important thing to do, at least when making arguments, is to state the position rationally. It would be better to dismantle an ideology alongside an alternative, rather than only point out stupid ideas. If people don't engage you, that's their problem. By doing that, you attract persuadable individuals. Yes, they exist. There's no need to say you'd need a therapist to do that. Appeals to rationality are appeals to people who might care, even the minority of good people who in fact will make a difference. Appeals with memes attracts the lowest common denominator, the people who don't care to think deeply. Sure, they are amusing sometimes, maybe even correct. The issue is that they are still shallow. This is what propaganda relies on, hoping you don't care where it came from, getting you to think the issue is as simple as the image. This is fine to a small degree as motivation where an issue really is that simple. Except, Nazis get that the issue is complex. So they simplify. Make it sound benign. Let people who don't know better keep saying IOTBW, they won't know the point is to slowly make white identity seem important and dominate the race war. No, most people who say IOTBW aren't neo-Nazis. That's the point. It hides the fact that neo-Nazis are running that dialogue. It makes the phrase defendable. An important thesis of Objectivism is that philosophy drives the course of history. It matters where ideas come from. It matters that IOTBW is from neo-Nazis. For this reason, we need a better strategy than to regurgitate a neo-Nazi phrase. The worst reply would be to say you don't care where IOTBW came from. You'd be saying origins of ideas don't matter.
  8. 3 points
    A man from deserts afar wrote this as he gazed to the stars: "There is no greater love than that which comes from god above. Pray the Lord your soul to keep do not thine understanding seek." A boy from Georgia read that book but never took a deeper look. If God's love was real inside this boy, Then why did it seem to steal his joy? He could not feel this god above. He did not know the truth of love. Was lost as those around him said, "You'll find your heaven in the end." For years he searched, blind and sad. Was love in this world not to be had? A woman from tundra afar wrote this as she gazed to the stars: "There is no greater love than what a man for himself does. Pull pride and reason off the shelf and let your guidance be yourself." The lost boy, then a man become Knew that his search was now done. He felt the love inside his soul; for his own sake, he was made whole. For the first time since his birth, he could have heaven here on earth. No waiting on a realm unseen, when this world can fulfill man's dreams. There is no greater love than this: to live life here in selfish bliss.
  9. 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).
  10. 2 points
    Bertrand Russell ( 1872 -1970 ) famed British mathematician and philosopher once remarked to a large lecture audience at Cambridge that “....nobody can be certain of anything!” contrary to his insistence on previous occasions that mathematical knowledge was a certain and a provable science. He wasn't being funny. He of course was being very serious. How his epistamology changed we can only speculate but his lecture did proclaim to the whole world that no absolutes can exist, the tree you see or the car you drive or the meal you eat is not real, forgetting substanuously and unknowingly that he was uttering an absolute of his own.This type of evasion is like stating that the pursuit of knowledge is not only fruitless but pointless at best:that reality is unknowable, that the syllogism is corruptible and prone to error and that thee brain doesn't work; therefore rendering the mind impotent. If one accepts Russell’s quotation above as true, the logical conclusion would be that, if nobody can be certain of anything then everybody can be certain of everything that he pleases. Since nothing can be refuted anything and everything would be permissible. In politics this is called the “double twist” used to confuse voters into accepting facts that are not only untrue but to fall into the condition where a voter voluntarily gives up his independent judgement and concedes to the politician in question that he/she must know something better/more than I do (regardless of the true facts) This is the biggest reason America is falling into an ever lowering ring of fatalism that she may not be able to recover from and that my fellow Objectivists would truly be a shame.
  11. 2 points

    Ayn Rand and the French

    I just started a Youtube channel. I have a terrible accent and I probably make a lot of mistakes in English. I hope it's understandable. I devoted a video to the following topic: What do the French (in general) think about Ayn Rand? I would be glad to have your feedback.
  12. 2 points
    I never understood how sex can be a topic for philosophy to make such statements on in the first place. This is a highly concrete and specialized issue that depends on an individual's concrete values, psychology and physical constitution. Who is to make statements about what your own concrete and objective values are? What values to look for in another person? How abstract they are to be? And in order to fulfill which actual needs of interaction with them and to what extend? And knowing that Objectivism enters into this topic, I typically detect certain ideas surrounding and relating to it, that I find rather strange: A ) Limitation of the need of "physical attraction" to a purely physical pleasure. No such thing in my opinion. Every physical feature you identify is an aspect of a conscious living being that perceives itself and this world through exactly those physical features of its body, and hence in that very form. And you know this, and only knowing this gives meaning to that attraction. Simple introspection tells you that. You like a particular form in which he or she exists as a perceptually conscious being (with certain implications even for some of its conceptual values). What you like is a form that physically best facilitates your contact to the reality of another human beings' existence. Of his or her existence as a conscious living entity. You cannot like "just his or her body", without demanding and knowing that it is the body of a conscious living being that you are liking. And you cannot like "just the aspect of his or her being alive and conscious" without it being so in a particular form that appeals to you. You are seeking some specific conceptual knowledge here, and you want it to manifest itself in a specific perceptual form. That's to a degree of 100% a mental, as well as of 100% a physical need, you cannot separate the two. Individuals may vary, but how one would exclude that this alone might form to certain individuals an indispensable prerequisite, possibly even a highly important value in and of itself, is incomprehensible to me. Just think of how you prefer watering certain plants only, and like to have certain animals as pets only. Now, how much more exciting is the case of a particular form of a human being?! It already starts with only wanting a particular sex to begin with. Not to talk about all the other physical features, of which there are numerous. B ) Sex as valid only in romantic love celebrating achievement. Well, what about things like "puppy love" among human beings? Love driven by infatuation? I can conceive of it as being an immense pleasure and source of mental energy. Certainly enough so, to be valuable. Something to want to keep living on for in order to enjoy. I find the idea of suppressing it repulsive, if not disgusting. Unless you can conceive of something more fulfilling. And assuming of course, the person in question is not harmful. I think I heard or red Ayn Rand say in some documentary that her sisters were into puppy love, while she was the only hero worshiper. And that she never really understood how that could be enough for them. Whether she outright condemned it, I don't know. But I'd rather doubt that she approved of it, given her demands for "appropriate sex". C ) The frequent emphasis that your enjoyment needs to be about your achievement. I find this mind boggling. There can be a million things I could value without having achieved them. Many of them come naturally (like beautiful landscapes I see in nature). Others were built by other people (like the sight of impressive Skylines). I certainly would like to keep them in reality, whether achieved by me or not. In some cases, I might even not want to know in detail how they came about (You certainly wanna eat the steak, but that doesn't mean you wanna meat the cow ). Identifying the fact that me or other people had to - or didn't have to - achieve those things to put them into this world is not what makes my enjoyment of them possible or impossible. My enjoyment stems from my need to survive, which requires having certain experiences that make it worthwhile. Knowing that "I build this" can be a pleasurable add-on, though. Achievement is also not the psychological root of the motivation. In order for me to say "oh, there's something I want to achieve", I must first say "oh, there's something I want to enjoy". All this tells me that values (realized or not) are considered values independent of their achievement, but rather due to the valuing, the prospect of their enjoyment. But achievement is very often necessary to realize them - whether on my own or on other people's part. Since other people cannot be my slaves and shouldn't, I recognize the need to engage in a certain amount of my own achievement. While recognizing also, that I benefit from the achievements of all the other people as well. Together, we're all better off, plus the free riding. The rest is done by mother nature. And due to all those achievements, the amount of daily achievement necessary to maintain a desired degree of enjoyment becomes less and less. Nevertheless, you must always maintain some level of achievement, to keep your brain active so you can figure out how to best enjoy. Or to prepare yourself in case some new idea happens to come about some time on what next to realize. Psychologically, this means that achievement is a means to the end of enjoyment. But it needn't be focused on explicitly. It's simply an implicit part whenever it is required. I would rather separate the means from the end this way, while still recognizing they're both necessary.
  13. 2 points

    The Royal Family of Nominalism

    I completely agree with this. They usually provide two (mutually contradictory) justifications for why nobody can contradict them: 1) From evolutionary psychology: the idea that this "feeling" (actually: identification) of who they are is obtained through genes or some means other than perception. Such inheritance can be random, is not derived from reality and may eventually be discovered to be in conflict with physical reality. They may claim that they are physically a man but their brain comes with the identification that they are a woman. Since the identification is obtained through means other than perception and "cannot be helped", they claim that these identifications (of themselves as male or female) are as valid as a person whose genetic consciousness is "cis" (people who get a transmitted consciousness which identifies their biological sex correctly but don't have a choice in their identification either, since that part of the consciousness [which identifies their own biological sex] is transmitted genetically and is not derived from perception). 2) The idea that gender has nothing to do with biological sex and is a social convention. Under this paradigm, gender is a man-made concept. Hence, it is arbitrary. Hence, they're all equally valid. The concepts are considered to be derived from reality but in a loose sense: through social agreement. What is considered is "normal" or correct is also part of this agreement and has no basis in reality and must be fought. The latter argument can also be applied to all concepts: all concepts are man-made (true) and hence, arbitrary (false) but are given meaning and made "real" by society (false). Both justifications cut off consciousness (identification) from reality (one says identifications are hereditary; other says they are arbitrary.) and they contradict each other. There are still more (less important) arguments. Definitions: sex and gender are two different concepts but your sex determines your gender. Some heuristic definitions can be given: sex: biological sex of all animals gender: biological sex of humans male sex: male & animal female sex: female & animal male gender = male & human female gender = female & human man = male & human & 18+ boy = male & human & 18- woman = female & human & 18+ girl = female & human & 18- For example, a cow is female but not a woman. A bull is male but not a man. This is the only distinction between sex and gender. Humans can be referred to by their sex as well as gender. Your biological sex and the fact that you are human (and hence your gender) are determined by your physiology and is not an arbitrary choice open to debate. Note: saying something like "that female offered me candy" is a bit dehumanizing so the latter is more preferred [gender contains the implication that you are human]. But both are correct. This doesn't mean that gender has any additional special non-physiological attributes. Gender is preferred over sex (when referring to people) for the same reason that "those gay men are playing in the field" is preferred over "those gays are playing in the field". The only thing gender adds to sex (and "gay men" adds to "gays") is personhood (the fact that you are human). The addition (of personhood) makes sure that you are not reduced to your biological sex or sexual orientation while somebody else is referring to your biological sex or sexual orientation. It is a respectful way of addressing people (but it is not a title or indication of social status as some "constructionists" would want you to believe). There is no mystical undefinable element. Gender is a respectful way of referring to a person's biological sex by including the fact that they are human. The same thing happens with "gay men" or "gay person" as opposed to just "gays". Both sex and gender refer to biological sex but for different classes of species. Sometimes the word "man" refers to all humans emphasizing the personhood and getting rid of the biological sex. This is more evidence that what the words man/woman add to the table is the concept of being human, not some BS social convention. Also, English isn't my first language, but this is how I understand these words (male, female, man, boy, woman, girl). It seems extremely simple to me. But pretty much all native speakers seem to have some problems with this. I don't understand what their objections are to this (I have heard some say that since gender roles are made-up and different throughout the world [eg: marumakkathayam in Kerala], the concept of gender is false. That's faulty logic. Gender and gender roles are two separate concepts. The validity of gender roles has no implications for the validity of the concept of gender). To summarize: gender is a different concept from sex (which is broader) but if you are human, your sex determines your gender.
  14. 2 points

    Is objectivism consequentialist?

    I come back to the fundamental question of the topic which is: "Is objectivism consequentialist?" This time I've read most of the topic (not all because a lot of messages seem to deviate from the original subject) and I felt trouble in the force. Sorry if I made mistakes in English, it's not my primary language. As 2046 rightly said, the point of Grames (page 5), which says consequentialism is an "empty doctrine" is invalid in itself, because consequentialism is not a moral doctrine as such, but simply a category of moral doctrine. The generally opposite category, deontology, is also "empty" and silent about on what the good is. Grames (and others) makes another mistake in believing that "every theory of good and of the virtues is trivially consequentialist" and that one can "bolt the standard objectivist of value - your own life - onto consequentialism" because Objectivist ethics is actually incompatible with the consequentism, I will explain why. It's pretty simple. I will use quotations from Rand and Peikoff that have already been given several times in this topic, but which, I think, have not always been clearly understood. The reasoning of StrictlyLogical (who, if I understand well, thinks that Objectivist ethics is compatible with consequentialism) are sometimes brilliant, but he has just missed a crucial point. Objectivist ethics can not be classified as consequentialist for exactly the same reasons that Ayn Rand rejected utilitarianism and hedonism. What is consequentialism? Taking the consequence as the sole standard of good. YES, the Objectivist ethic deals with causality, so it fully takes into account the consequences (which is why some people seems troubled), BUT it does not consider the consequences as the standard of the good. The pursuit of values does not imply consequentialism. To know whether Objectivist ethics is consequentialist or not, the crucial question is not: Should the consequences be taken into account in a moral theory? (The answer is YES, of course, otherwise we fall back anyway into the intrincist theory of value). The crucial question is: WHERE does morality lies? In the action? In the consequences of the action? Both ? In the relationship between the two? Or elsewhere? Here is why, in short, Objectivist ethics is not consequentialist: Consequentialism confuses the consequences of morality with morality itself. In other words, it confuses the standard with the purpose of morality. Consequentialism says: morality does not lies in action, but exclusively in the consequences of action. Objectivist ethics does not say that. Think about the relation between morality and consequences like the relation between knowledge and emotions, because it's exactly the same kind of relation. Values are knowledge, and emotions are consequences. Ayn Rand used to say: "Emotions are not tools of cognition." because emotions are consequences of ideas or knowledge and not idea or knowledge by itself. We can also say somehow : "Consequences are not tools of morality". Back to the fundamental question: Why does man need a moral code? (Any moral code.) In order to guide his action. And action is always a mean. In other words, morality always deals with means. Of course it is necessary to have a goal, values (to give meaning to the action-means), but the goal alone is not enough (contrary to the consequentialist view), there must be a standard for discriminating actions that are consistent with this goal and actions that are not. In other words, a standard is needed to identify the virtues. Why do we need a standard? Why do our actions need to be guided by a moral criterion? Because man does not have automatic knowledge. He does not function by instinct, and he is not omniscient, a human being can not fully foresee the future when he acts, he do not know in advance all the consequences. (Which would be a pre-condition of consequentialism ...) So he needs a guide, that is to say a moral code. As it has been said by many of you, we can not evaluate actions post-facto ... We must therefore identify a standard that accords with the purpose, where we can rationally show the necessary dependency relation between the standard and the purpose as a cause-and-effect relationship (life is the cause, the effect is happiness, as Ayn Rand says in the following quote). According to Objectivist ethics, life is not the consequence or the purpose of morality, it is the standard. The purpose is happiness. Life is the ultimate value because it is the condition of happiness. Without life, there is no happiness. But life is not an action. Life is the standard that makes it possible to judge the morality of an action, in other words, whether it is virtuous or not. Moral action is virtue, and it is practiced by choice. A consequentialist morality such as utilitarianism for instance, says: What is the purpose of morality? Happiness. (We agree.) But then immediately it says: So, everything that makes you happy is good. Happiness is the good. But it is not happiness that is moral as such. Happiness is a consequence of a proper morality. In other words, happiness is not the good, happiness is a consequence of the good. There is confusion in utilitarianism between standard and purpose. To say: "the consequences are the moral standard" is a contradiction, it's like saying: "morality is useless" or "morality does not serve to guide action" or "man does not need a guide to action." To say, as consequentialism claims, that morality does not lie in action is to say that virtue does not exist. There is no moral code, no moral principles. For example, imagine that I am faced with an alternative. To determine how I should act, I will think, "I must choose my action according to such consequence." (happiness for instance) This is the consequentialist morality in its totality. This is not wrong in itself, but there is no morality yet: it is obviously insufficient to guide the action. Then I have to think and tell myself: "What actions would cause this consequence?" How to know? (In other words, what virtues should I practice?) In short: I need a moral code. In itself, having a purpose (happiness for example) is necessary, but not enough to determine a rational action plan. How do you determine what makes you happy? The moral code (life for example) is used to identify how to achieve this purpose. The purpose of your life.
  15. 2 points
    Fraud A unilateral breach of contract involves an indirect use of physical force: it consists, in essence, of one man receiving the material values, goods or services of another, then refusing to pay for them and thus keeping them by force (by mere physical possession), not by right—i.e., keeping them without the consent of their owner. Fraud involves a similarly indirect use of force: it consists of obtaining material values without their owner’s consent, under false pretenses or false promises. This is a perfectly legitimate identification of an indirect use of physical force. A civil mechanism, authorized to use retaliatory force once breach of contract or fraud is established in order to neutralize the indirect force initiated by the perpetrator via refusing to give up physical possession of the material value.
  16. 2 points

    What are you listening at the moment?

    I've been into Johnny Cash' American Recordings, the last few weeks. Especially "Help Me", off his final album. It's a very religious collection of songs, this one especially...but just so ridiculously, brilliantly touching, from a man mourning his soulmate. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jv4i4t2hj2I It's one of his many Kris Kristofferson covers. I think Kris wrote most of his truly great songs. But John made them eternal...especially this song would've been totally forgotten.
  17. 2 points

    Two Philosophers

    "Imagine the whole of Nature stretched blooming at my feet; a line of blue, misty hills encompassed the horizon in the east; the sun was sinking in the west; all Nature's temple lay before our enchanted eyes. Like Thetis, I could have flown down, and sunk into those flowery rivers. [...] At length, when the sun had just set, a mass of blossoming spring roses came floating up out of the dying rays - the tops of the mountains glowing, the woods all aflame - and illimitable Nature melted into soft rosy tints; and as I was gazing into this ocean of purple, [...] all stood enchanted before me, and sweetly smiled at me." — Robert Schumann, from a letter to a friend, dated Aug. 29, 1827 If all life were to disappear off the face of the earth, would beauty still exist? Obviously not. Beauty is an evaluation, made by a mind whose nature allows it to experience the phenomenon of beauty. Thus, one philosopher concludes: "beauty does not actually exist in the world. When the Poet says that roses are beautiful, he is not referring to something that exists out there. He describes a subjective mental construct. To him, either beauty exists out there in the world, just like trees and stars do, or it only exists in man's mind. Only non-mental things are real, and to be of a mental nature automatically means to not have reality or substance. But all mental experiences - whether we refer to sensory form, beauty, intuition, freedom, the grasp of poetic allegory - are real, as real as trees and mountains and stars. Man comes to know them through the ostensive process that stands at the base of all knowledge: direct experience. While his consciousness provides him with valid information about the world, he cannot ever step outside of consciousness. Every experience that he goes through during the span of his life is an experience of consciousness, but for some reason, that dimension has no reality for the philosopher. And nothing is more dangerous for a man's proper functioning than to doubt or deny the validity of his own consciousness. According to our philosopher, only descriptive statements, such as "Today is raining", can be factual. As soon as we enter the realm of consciousness, we aren't talking about reality anymore - we venture into the world of subjective experience. But man's mental faculties are not separate from nature, they are as much a part of it as everything else. The Poet, then, is right. When the Poet's consciousness encounters roses, a real and distinct phenomenon of consciousness occurs. The rose, as perceived and evaluated by a particular man, is beautiful. Or, certain types of daffodils, as perceived by a specific kind of consciousness, are yellow. And further, if life has identity, then its chemical origin and mechanism must be similar on every planet that can give rise to life. And if there are life forms on other planets, their emotions (or equivalent faculties) probably pertain to the exact same categories as earth's animals possess: fear of threats, desire for values, pain, pleasure and so on. If existence is identity, evaluations are not arbitrary. Our philosopher prides himself in doing whatever he can to perceive reality as it really is, without tainting it with his own mental nature. And in doing so, he's willfully suffocating his consciousness. He represses his spontaneous emotional reactions, intuitions and connotative associations. He struggles to express himself in the driest, most 'objective' way possible - after all, he equates the evaluative with the unreal. For each category of value, there are countless options that are just as good as the others - in fact, some tastes and preferences might be randomly shaped by childhood experiences or determined by genetic differences. And this makes the philosopher feel that his personal infrastructure of chosen values is a subjective construct. Feeling emotionally invested into any such infrastructure would mean non-objectivity, an evasion of the arbitrary nature of his choices. Consequently, life to him is just a play, a pretense. In his attempts at making objective choices, he is not aware that objectivity encompasses the entire context - including his psychological makeup and what is possible to him in a world that has identity. When our philosopher discovered that volition can shape man's character and psychology, he formed the unchecked premise that his mind and subconscious do not have a specific nature at all - that they are identity-less and entirely shaped by the self (or the environment). He thinks that there is no need to pay much attention to his own consciousness, because going through a series of proper conceptual and physical motions will eventually culminate in involuntary happiness and conscious-subconscious harmony. In doing so, he misses heaps of important and ostensively available details about himself, information that can be known only by direct introspection. One of the philosopher's contemporaries and friends is a German Idealist. His eccentric and poetically-minded friend believes that reality is a mental construct. To him, Nature's objects, the mind’s abstractions and his evaluative emotional experiences are all equally real and spring from the same source: a supernal productive imagination. Though his philosophy is factually wrong, he is much happier than the first philosopher, as his characteristic way of facing life seems to suggest. So, is it true that ignorance is bliss? If there is no God, immortality or primacy of consciousness, doesn't that make reality... stale? A pointless cycle of survival and reproduction? Our first philosopher objects: you can have all of these things without indulging in mystic fantasies. But in truth, deep down he doesn't feel that this is true. He does feel that his existence is a bit dry and pointless. A man's beliefs about the world shape the way he perceives his environment. His philosophy doesn't affect the raw sensory data, but it does control how he relates to it, what he experiences in his mind's eye. It's not a surprise, then, that when the two philosophers took a stroll through a nearby forest and discussed metaphysics at length, they saw the forest in completely different ways - even though their eyes and minds took in the same sensory data. If we tried to illustrate what went on in their mind's eye, the result would probably look something like this: The first philosopher saw a lifeless chunk of matter. The second philosopher saw Poetry made visible. Their subconsciously integrated and automated philosophy has stylized their consciousness, imbuing objects with connotative meaning, giving Nature beauty and staleness; it made the two men focus on certain aspects that affirmed their own worldview, while ignoring the aspects that seemed to contradict it. The two quintessential preconditions of human happiness are a world that is auspicious to joy, and an exalted view of man's nature. And for some reason, our first philosopher feels that the world is stale and pointless, while the second philosopher is intoxicated by it. Philosophy and religion are important and invaluable sources of information about human psychology. A lot of philosophical systems distort the truth not because man is blind to ostensively self-evident axioms; in truth, a lot of people are afraid that they'll end up like our first philosopher. They create systems that rationalize what they want to be true, worlds in which they intuitively feel they would be happy in. The proper attitude is not to shun those philosophies - but to study them, and learn which human needs are so compelling that they end up tempting people to discard the 'unpleasant truth'. A German Idealist proposes an organic system of Nature, where everything (including inanimate matter) is alive, and all concrete existence is an expression of Self's productive imagination. Why is that appealing to him? Because if everything is a part of him, he is not a tiny little man anymore - he is an all-powerful creative intelligence striving for self-awareness by objectifying himself to himself. This prospect makes his own self-esteem and view of man go up. If what he previously thought of as dead matter is actually organic in some way, he acquires a feeling of kinship between him and the entire Universe. If everything in existence strives for the same goal, the universe ceases to appear frightening or alien to him - it takes on the mantle of a benevolent and even exotic or elevated realm. If pleasure has a forbidden quality to it, values seem to become more tantalizing than if no mind-body breach existed. If the entirety of the universe and human life can be rationalistically deduced and contained by a crow-friendly system, he is at an advantage - because reason is his means of knowledge, and he longs for that type of crystal-clear and unshakably certain conceptual guidance - his need of self-esteem is again peeking through the curtain. What about religion? Man's nature as an integrator pushes him to unify his life into infrastructures such as culture, subculture and religion, infrastructures that integrate most or all aspects of his life (including ethics and very identifiable ways of dressing and behaving) into single, coherent systems. And the prevailing epistemological errors? Some philosophers intuitively feel that a world in which concepts merely classify the world - instead of shaping it – would mean that the nature of the external world is sharply different from the way their own consciousness is naturally built. They perceive a threat to the potency of their consciousness - to their self-esteem. And wouldn't it be nicer if Nature actually was as we perceived it, if sensory form was a myth? That would certainly give objective validity to what goes on in one's inner eye. Man would never have to doubt the metaphysical validity of his richly evaluative experience. A wrong system of philosophy can comfort man in the short-term, but will ultimately lead to existential and psychological turmoil. And a largely correct system of philosophy that was not properly integrated into his mind, can lead to worldly success, but also to the inability to enjoy that success. As man's nature dictates, if he implicitly believes and feels that the truth clashes with the requirements of his life or consciousness, truth will become his enemy. The solution is to identify and correct those faulty integrations, the ones that made the first philosopher discard, among others, the realm of poetry and emotional investment. In poetry, metaphor does not equal non-objectivity - poetic language describes facts of reality, as grasped by a human mind that relates everything to his own life, a consciousness that needs to clarify meaning by comparisons to other objects to which he attaches symbolic meaning. A proper human consciousness is staunchly anthropocentric. In the case of emotional investment, optionality does not equal the arbitrary. The nature of man and the universe dictates that he must achieve and settle for what is, to his current knowledge, the absolute best he can get. If he believes that 'everything could have been different', he is factually wrong - he can only live one life, not an unspecified number of parallel existences. And he is weakening his will to live, because he can't wantonly dive into the pond of Life while not being fully convinced that his particular values allow him to actually make the most out of his existence. Equally important is the issue of human greatness. Does he think it actually exists in reality? Or are humans just cavemen with high pretensions? The truth-loving philosopher does not need to make peace with the staleness of the world. After all, he lives in the exact same universe as his life-loving friend, and if the German Idealist can be happy, he can be happier than him. To unlock the beauty of the world, he must award the same reality to his own inner world as he does to the external world. He must give free reign to the natural realm of his emotions, inclinations, fears, desires, intuitions, yearnings. In every moment and issue of his life, he must be focused not only on growing and optimizing his practical excellence, but also on making the most out of his inner experience. After a full system of philosophy, psychology is the most crucial science that man must develop and master if he is to be fully guided in his life. He must understand the psychological causes of joy in all of its myriad forms: love, excitement, importance, luxury, humor, the Sublime, affection, curiosity, the exotic, the unusual, the cool, the beautiful, the idealized - as well as the nature of personal taste. In doing so, he will eventually tie them back to the two fundamental preconditions of happiness: the feeling that the universe is auspicious, and that man is an exalted being. "Miss Rand used to be a strong advocate of what she called 'the pleasure-purpose principle.' She meant the idea that on any level, whether we're talking about thought or action, you cannot function without a purpose that brings you pleasure, something you want to achieve, that you enjoy achieving. You can see this in an everyday example in the contrast between getting up on a day when there's something that you like [...] as against that kind of gray, dragging yourself through some dutiful routine, which can only go on for a limited period of time, after which you either end up giving up action and giving up generally, or else you say, 'I can't stand philosophy,' and you become an emotionalist. The point here is that pleasure - and we mean here personal pleasure, personal interests, your likes and dislikes - is essential to your functioning, in action and in thought". — Leonard Peikoff, Understanding Objectivism: Lecture Ten "Learn to be at home and well acquainted - I would almost say, be on intimate terms with your emotions. [...] After you've become acquainted with yourself emotionally, when you no longer have any great mysteries to yourself, then you can start to identify your sense of life. And the best - perhaps the only way to identify it - is by observing your own reactions to art." — Ayn Rand, 1974 Q&A session "How comes it that, to every tolerably cultivated taste, imitations of the so-called Actual, even though carried to deception, appear in the last degree untrue - nay, produce the impression of spectres; whilst a work in which the idea is predominant strikes us with the full force of truth, conveying us then only to the genuinely actual world?" — F. W. J. Schelling - On the Relation of the Plastic Arts to Nature (speech on the celebration of the 12th October, 1807, as the Name-Day of the King of Bavaria) The most important insight that a rational philosophy can give you is this: the profound efficacy of consciousness. Here, I am not confining myself to the ability to acquire objective knowledge. I am referring to the whole of human consciousness, including, among others, the perceptual, conceptual, subconscious, evaluative and emotional levels. Life is not a series of empty abstractions and standards of value. Abstractions stand for a rich symphony of specific values and content. Man's god is set by his nature: Joy - or survival, which cannot be legitimately sundered from Joy. His Religion is his particular value infrastructure, his love for everything that he strives to live here on earth. And his philosophy and heroes are the signposts that guide his footsteps.
  18. 2 points

    How Do You Achieve Bliss?

    There's a lot of conversation in this thread, and I might not have time for it all, at present, but I wanted to pull this out for response. I find it fascinating. The question of desert, I think, can be evaluated in two different ways: 1) Relating to cause and effect. We may say of a person that, if he has not done the things which in reality will lead to happiness, he does not "deserve" to be happy. And this sense is true enough; a person who does not "deserve happiness," because he has not done the things which his nature requires to achieve happiness, will not experience it (even if he has convinced himself that some other, ersatz emotion is "happiness"). 2) The second is something else. It is ostensibly an appeal to morality -- but which morality, and according to whose standard? If a man has done the things which his nature requires to achieve happiness, in reality, and thus experiences happiness... on what grounds could we say that he does not "deserve" it? Because perhaps he has done something bad in his past? Perhaps. But then, how could a man redeem himself sufficiently to be able to experience happiness thereafter; to what possible standard and judge could he appeal, apart from himself and his own natural capacity for happiness? Should a man, in any event, be capable of experiencing happiness... but tell himself, "I don't deserve this"? On what grounds? And what would that serve? I would say, rather, that every person in the world "deserves happiness," of their nature, of their capacity for happiness. And then it remains to discover the requirements of our nature, and to understand our context, such that we can achieve happiness for ourselves (in the "cause and effect" sense of desert described above). We require no further sanction than this, that we are ends in ourselves, and that our highest purpose is our own happiness.
  19. 2 points
    I did my bit for perspective and sanity, and I have nothing material to add. As for this terrorist, I prefer Roark's answer to Toohey: "But I don't think of you." Evil is not important, not unless it happens to significantly affect my life, and neither this scum nor his brothers-in-murder are likely to affect my life even a little. Unless, of course, public hysteria about terrorism is used as an excuse to tighten up the American police state. But whose fault would that be? All of which is a long-winded way of saying, "I'm outta here". I need to return my attention to where it belongs, on ways of making a better future.
  20. 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".
  21. 2 points
    I think there are two separate streams of ideas here: Should Objectivists be having lots of fun? Can Objectivism be popularized without compromising objectivity, truth and the good? On Fun: No, definitely not. We should struggle stoically. Life is a challenge. LOL, just kidding! Of course, Objectivists should have as much fun as they can. However, fun is really not a great word to describe all the ways of enjoying being alive. You could use it that way, but many people do not: so there could be an issue in communication. As an example: I've occasionally worked with people -- just regular middle-class colleagues -- who consider the jobs they do to be more than drudgery. They think of their jobs as draining their souls. Then, there is the larger set who "like their jobs", because the pay meets their expectations and their colleagues are fun to hang out with, but when it comes to the job itself they do it competently enough but do not seem to have much zest to improve or to change. And, finally, one has the third set -- not insubstantial -- who seem to find a degree of purpose in their work, and try to improve how they do things, and to put in their best. People spend almost all their adult lives working. SO, the key to long term happiness is to be working somewhere and on something that gives you some degree of enjoyment. A 2 week vacation to Florida isn't going to do it. Westerners advise their kids to "follow their passion", whereas your traditional Easterner tells their kid that they should get a well-paying career and that money will bring them the happiness they need. None of them are talking about fun in its narrower sense. They would all advise fun. Even most Christians and a church social have lots of fun, in the narrower sense. But, the broader idea is: enjoy life. That's a place where Objectivist-inspired authors still have a role to play. Candidly, I wouldn't find it weird is people at a Christian social are having more "fun" in the narrower sense than folks at an Objectivist social. I would find it depressing if those Christians understand the broader value of seeking a purpose (and diving into that purpose, and feeling rewarded by achieving that purpose) better than Objectivists. That would be a true wake-up call. History: I think the history of Objectivism does support some of Cart's critique, but it's "so 1990s". Again though, the problem is not that fun was undervalued. More importantly, the focus was on politics; and the psychological feel was one of us-vs-them; never healthy. From me, this is a critique, and not criticism. I think the movement through a learning process where everyone, from Rand down to new readers had to digest what it all meant, in all sorts of aspects of life. As it grew, the many new people in the movement questioned some false assumptions and I think the late 1990s might have been a time -- the internet did it -- when the majority discarded various concrete-bound false ideas around the whole idea of fun. However, I think too many Objectivists continued to be more outward-focused rather than focused on their values. That appears to have changed in the last decade or so. It has probably been a combination of on-going learning and maturity of the movement, and also the ability of the internet to allow people to come together, but also to selectively meet-up in real life and do things that have little to do with philosophy. Job #1 is to maximize happiness: Still, this last bit is where more "work" is needed. It has to be done primarily by each Objectivist individually: turning a focus inward, understanding that some things outside are unlikely to change, and figuring out how to make the most of one's own life anyway. If one is living in the U.S., and most western countries, there's seldom an external excuse for not having a good, enjoyable life. There are exceptions of course. Some people fall afoul of "the system" and it chews them up. For others, it may be too late. And, for still others, reality might have dealt them a really bad hand: a debilitating disease, for instance. So, I'm talking about the typical Objectivist here. Spreading the philosophy: I'd start with asking: "why?" and, even more importantly, "are you going to focus on that at the cost of your happiness, or as something that would bring you great happiness under realistic assumptions about what you can achieve?" If the things you think you can achieve, and the process you have to go through to achieve them, will not bring you happiness, then why would you waste your time doing them? This is not to diss those who spend their time doing this. For instance, the Institute of Justice fights cases that take a small bar-grade ice-pick to an ice-berg. But, I think this could be enjoyable and purposeful and some lawyers could have a lot of fun (that word again) doing it. If they can put food on their table in the process, more power to them! Similarly, if someone makes it his mission to get a few thousand additional kids to read The Fountainhead each year, and they enjoy this, and can make a living doing this, I wish them well. In the end though, most people have other career goals, and since work is such a large part of life, that's where they have to seek fun and fulfillment. The Objectivist youth organization that began as a campus newsletter, changed its focus. They figured out that their members could do more with their lives if they know a little less about Kant and Plato, and a little more about more immediate ways to make one's life a success, or if they had a way to network while looking for work, etc. In terms of spreading the philosophy, I think it will take something similar. It won't take people having more fun as narrowly defined. It's more likely to take someone who can craft a coherent message that gives great advice about how to live one's life to the fullest. it would take someone who understand the best ideas of modern motivational speakers, evangelists and self-help writers. Someone who can throw out the bad, and keep the nuggets that make sense. Someone who can craft that into a coherent whole, and can do so consistently with Objectivist Ethics. That could be a a game-changer. Meanwhile, if you're not that person, I'd fall back to: get a life... where you can find the maximum happiness for yourself, and feel a sense of purpose.
  22. 2 points
    Harrison Danneskjold

    Pleasure and Value

    Because it doesn't have to be rare or ephemeral. As @DonAthos observed, although you may or may not be able to find happiness in the next few hours or days, in the long run your overall quality of life (the quantity of joy you can experience) is in your own hands. That's exactly what the purpose of Egoism is; for you to learn how to correctly apply your brain and your hands to the pursuit of consistently-experienced happiness. For example, I'm at work right now (on my lunch break). I've been working 10 hours a day, five or six days a week, and frankly it sucks. As much as it truly sucks right now, though, I know it'll be worth it on payday; it'll result in a net gain of my own happiness. This is exactly analogous to your working out in order to pick up hot chicks. The trick to doing it correctly is to understand which desires are worth pursuing (will lead to happiness) and which aren't, and that's where Egoism comes in. Whether it's worth it to pursue your own happiness, in the first place, is something you have to judge for yourself. All I can try to give you is hope.
  23. 2 points

    Pleasure and Value

    I want to tread lightly here, because personal advice is often not so great (especially in a forum like this, between two people who don't really know one another) -- and also because, it sounds like you might be going through something. Depression is serious business. Many people require professional help to break through the negative thought/emotion cycle that depression represents. I have no idea whether that applies to you, but if it does, don't be afraid or too proud to seek it out. To be honest, my experience is 1) happiness is not "rare" and 2) I don't experience much "mental suffering." Were it otherwise, I would look to make some changes in my life. Instead, happiness is a (mostly) persistent state for me. Recently, I was involved in a small auto accident. It sucked. But even then, I didn't really experience what I could describe as "mental suffering," and it was not long after the accident that I was again enjoying my life in a characteristic fashion. Earlier this year, I went through some severe medical problems. It sucked. A lot. And I suffered a lot, too. But my "mental suffering" was mostly confined to finding some way out of my physical distress, and when I finally managed that, things quickly got back on track for me. There have been other challenges, of course; life is full of them, and some can be very tough to deal with. Some days, I'm not particularly happy; but when that happens, I rest assured that whatever mood or funk will soon pass, like the rain. But I am fortunate to have been able to surround myself with things that, on a day to day basis, provide me with enjoyment, such that I can weather these storms. These include my work, my environment, my daily routines and hobbies, and (powerfully) my family. I've worked hard to make each of these contribute in a positive fashion to my life, as best as I know how, and I think that they give me support against most of the shocks of daily life. Now, all that said, there has been a period in my life where it was mostly mental suffering, and not so much enjoyment... many, many years ago, I suffered a bout of severe depression. At the time I did not, but if I thought something like that were threatening me today, I would strongly consider going to a therapist for assistance; it was the worst part of my life, and nothing I intend to revisit. In the event that you do not consider yourself to be so depressed that you need such assistance (or you are set against the idea, for whatever reason, though I would advise you to reconsider if so), and if you're in the market for advice (keeping my caveats in mind), I would recommend that you investigate the possibility of making some changes for yourself. Try to adjust the ratio of enjoyment to suffering. This may require big changes and/or small alterations to what you already do and experience. (Probably you should not make big changes to your life without due consideration.) Some concretes that you could look at immediately are: are you getting enough sleep? Are you getting daily exercise (even as little as a 10 minute walk)? Are you eating healthfully/well? Getting enough sunshine/vitamin D? After that (or maybe before), I'd wonder if the mental suffering you're experiencing is attributable to anything specific and correctable. If you have a thorn in your paw, best to pull it out. Then, I would probably look at career/school. Does your vocation excite you? Is it something that you're passionate about? Or if it's not, is there something out there you've discovered that would excite you, and inspire your efforts daily? (And if you haven't found something like that, can you take steps to continue to look?) What is the mountain that you yearn to climb? What steps can you take in the near future, or today, to put you on the path to climbing it? Maybe you're already on such a path, but you dislike the grind required to get you to where you want to be. In my experience, we must all of us spend some time in the quarry. If so, be on the look out for all of the small things you can do -- the small rewards and treats you can provide yourself -- to lighten the load. Once upon a time, I had a two hour commute; four hours daily, in Los Angeles traffic. That was... not pleasant. So I subscribed to an audiobook service, and managed to change my commute into something I could (at least somewhat) look forward to. There were times when it was the best part of my day. I could go on in this fashion (and if you would like more suggestions, let me know), but the overall point is that... a good life has to be worked for, and achieved, step-by-step. It's not enough to learn that A=A; you don't just wake up the next day with a smile on your face (though the thrill of that initial discovery is pretty majestic). It takes a lot of work (and thought, and time) to create the kind of life that will provide you with a happiness that is more substantial and enduring than "a rare ephemeral scrap of mental enjoyment." But in my experience, it is worth it.
  24. 2 points
    Regi F.

    What is Subjectivity?

    The question of, "What is Subjectivity?," has two answers, because the same word, "subjective," refers to two different things. The first refers to the nature of consciousness itself. Every conscious experience is subjective in the sense that it cannot be known to anyone except the individual having the conscious experience. Whatever one consciously perceives by seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, or feeling it, or their perception of their own body by interoception, or their consciousness of their own thinking and feelings, are subjective experiences, because they cannot be known or examined or detected by anyone else. Every individual consciousness, in that sense, is totally subjective and private and beyond the ability of anyone else to perceive or know it. The other meaning of subjective pertains to how one thinks and makes their choices and is based on the difference between objective and subjective. The objective refers to the reality all conscious individuals perceive, however they perceive it. It is called objective reality because it exists and has the nature it has independently of anyone's consciousness or knowledge of it. It is that objective reality that determines what is true and not true. Objective, in contrast to subjective, means allowing nothing but one's knowledge of objective reality to be one's guide in all one's thinking and choices. Subjective, in that sense, means allowing one's own subjective experiences, their whims, their feelings, their desires, prejudices or sentiments to influence or determine what they think, believe, and choose, in defiance or ignorance of objective truth. Randy
  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.