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  1. 5 points
    It is hard when something is mixed. Sometimes one's immediate feeling toward it comes from whatever side of it you're seeing that day. A couple of years ago, I was in a small mid-western resort town on July 4th and thousands of tourists (mostly from elsewhere in the state) had turned out to see the fireworks. Trucks streamed in from all the nearby little towns and farms. The atmosphere was festive. There was benevolence all around. The red-white-and blue was respected, not as a symbol of something above us on an altar, but as a symbol of who we are. Not on a pedestal to be saluted -- though that too -- but, in casual clothing, in funny head-dress, in flashing lights to be worn for the evening. All around was a feeling of family and of sharing a value. Very few cops in sight, and yet the thousands self-organizing in very orderly ways. If you asked those people, in that moment, if freedom was their top value, if the individual is important, if we should recognize the individual's right to his own life and happiness...you'd probably find lots of agreement. It's all good, but it is mostly emotional. As you peel away and understand the intellectual roots, contradictions appear. I won't say the emotions are unfounded, that there is no "there there". When Hollywood makes a movie of a maverick going up against the world and winning, huge audiences love the theme. It is who they are: sometimes, on some topics, and in some emotional states. Nationalism is dangerous when it goes beyond a general benevolent celebration of sharing good values like freedom and individualism. It usually does, and we have a good person like Robert E. Lee rejecting Lincoln's attempt to get him to lead a Union Army, even though he could "anticipate no greater calamity for the country than dissolution" and thought "secession is nothing but revolution". Why? For "honor" -- which really translates to honoring a convention where you are loyal to your home state. Throw in ideas about the role of government in helping people in all sorts of situations. Thrown in ideas about inequality being caused by oppression. And faulty ideas about economics. And suspicions about bankers running the world. Add back the occasional cheering of the maverick who defies authority; but also add back the desire to control other people's behavior: if they're gay, or marrying someone of another race, or smoking pot, or even having a beer when they're 20 years and 11 months! That is the contradiction that is America. Still, you should feel free to choose what emotions you wish to invest in symbols like the flag. You do not have to salute a flag and think you're saluting a tortured contradiction that is eating itself from the inside out . You can salute it for the right reasons, or for what you think it once stood for.
  2. 5 points
    Let me start with a fundamental problem with your position: you claim actual knowledge of the effort that Rand put unto understanding various bad philosophies, and moreover you find it to be insufficient. I have an extremely hard time believing that you even met Rand, much less that you have the kind of personal knowledge that led to the development of her philosophy. I don’t know what facts you are relying on as evidence for your claim – not everything about the development of her intellect is summarized in the journals. In fact, I don’t understand what it would even mean to “make a real effort to engage with” the opposition. Let me amplify on what the problem is. Correct me if you can, but you made no real effort to engage with Rand’s philosophy. Your criticism hinges on the presupposition that to understand an idea, you must “visit” the people promulgating the ideas. That of course means that all prior knowledge is truly incomprehensible, thus you yourself cannot comprehend Rand because you cannot visit her, you do not understand Objectivism because you haven’t visited OCON and ARI, you cannot understand Plato, Aristotle, Locke, Kant, Frege because you haven’t visited them (they are dead). Hopefully you see how absurd a position that is. Understanding is about grasping ideas: understanding comes from identifying those ideas, because ideas are not laid out self-evidently in the words of an author. The trivial social act of “visiting” does nothing to clarify those ideas, and does not firm up a person’s grasp of ideas by magically allowing them to see consequences of ideas, and detect contradictions in them. Where you say that “the ‘skeptical’ camp is not making nearly enough of an effort to understand what they are trying to criticize”, I would conclude instead that you have not made nearly enough of an effort to understand that criticism. Now, I do in fact understand “the mystics” sufficiently, so I should by your lights have a privileged position to criticize them. I will claim to have a more nuanced understanding of classical Indian philosophy than Rand did: I don’t have any reason to think that she knows about Cārvāka philosophy, nor do I have any reason to think that she could read Sanskrit. Her “mystic muck” characterization does not mean “every Indian philosopher has been a hopeless mystic”, it is a correct generalization about a particular earlier intellectual export. You might want to investigate exactly what the nature of that export is, because it was influential, in a bad way, in the West for, mercy sake alive, two centuries, and even now we are not free of it. So actually, you don’t have to visit India to understand the muck, you just have to look around you (these days, more in antiquarian bookstores). The fact that she doesn’t burden Galt’s speech with a silly footnote granting some element of rationality to the Cārvāka doesn’t invalidate her characterization of Indian philosophy. Now then. What is necessary is not a visit, what is necessary is a study of the ideas, to see if they bear promise for being correct. Plainly, they do not. They are grounded in false and absurd ideas, such as that being whipped and burned is the same as not being whipped and burned – and that you cannot know if that idea is absurd. If you want to make this be about specific texts in Indian philosophy which you think are in fact compatible with Objectivism (and were not written by Br̩haspati or his followers), then make your case.
  3. 5 points
    MisterSwig

    Future of Objectivism

    Like Aristotle, Rand's philosophy will percolate through cultures with free speech until it develops a large enough root system to sustain another golden age of reason. Our job as individual roots in that system must first be to achieve our own happiness and be as great as we can possibly be at whatever we enjoy doing. We need more great Objectivists to figure out great ways to influence others and bring them to our side of the intellectual battle.
  4. 5 points
    Nicky

    Metaphysics of Death

    In Objectivism, ethics deals with what's good or bad, and metaphysics deals with what is. Objectivism does not describe reality and natural laws and phenomenons as good or bad, it only describes human choices as good or bad. With that out of the way, within the context of Ethics, Objectivism would consider as bad those deaths which are chosen for irrational reasons, it would consider good those deaths which are chosen for rational reasons, and it would consider amoral (neither good nor bad) those deaths which are inevitable. I'll give some examples for each category: 1. murder, or death that is self inflicted through carelessness, passivity, evasion, or other forms of irrationality (murder is considered bad because violating the rights of a fellow member of a civilized society is considered irrational). 2. death that is chosen for the purpose of avoiding unbearable pain due to terminal illness (euthanasia), or a justified deliberate killing (for instance, Hitler's killing) 3. death due to incurable disease or natural disaster The reason why I gave this answer rather than answer your exact question is because the above is the only rational definition of good and bad that I'm familiar with (I'm also aware of several arbitrary, religious definitions of good or bad, that go along the lines of "the will of God is good, the opposite is bad"...but I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that's not the kind of definition you're operating under). If you wish me to answer your question in the context of metaphysics, without involving religion, I'd be happy too...as soon as you define the terms good and bad in that context.
  5. 5 points
    This assertion is not backed by facts. The 1929 depression had people up in arms. Their solution was FDR. In the recent "great recession", Bush et al got most of the blame. We got 8 years of Obama. Now, the 8 years of wallowing has turned many people against Obama and they're looking to Trump. Go back in history and you find Germany in severe crisis -- hyperinflation that basically wiped out all debt, the French re-taking parts of Germany between the two wars. People were anxious and turned to Hitler. Assertions like this are baseless unless you can provide counter-examples from history. Without that, it is like saying "if I heat water, maybe it will freeze". The key flaw is thinking that politicians and the "elite" classes are the real problem. In fact, your average voter is the kernel of the problem. He only gets the politicians he deserves.
  6. 4 points
    2046

    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.
  7. 4 points
    Plasmatic

    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.
  8. 4 points
    The following is a list of poems featured/mentioned in Poems I Like - and Why (lecture by Leonard Peikoff) ___________________________ LP's definition of poetry: "Poetry is the form of literature whose medium is the sound of concepts" Poems need not have events and characters Most suited to the eloquent, powerful statement of a relatively simple thought, sentiment or inspirational idea, an expression of love, a short story, a joke. Best suited to shorter works A cross between literature and music Like music scores, poems MUST be read out loud A poem must not sound like a poem - and yet it rhymes (must sound natural) Poems combine the sensory (auditory) field with the intellectual one; brain + ears, mind + body Two essential elements rhytm rhyme - "a repeated pattern of recognizable sounds at the end of the lines". Rhyming creates auditory expectations. The meaning can be a total twist - you hit the expected sound but it has a completely different meaning than what you anticipated ___________________________ METAPHYSICAL POEMS Richard Cory (Edward Robinson) - a malevolent universe poem with a punch Invictus (William Henley) - Byronic view of existence Say not the Struggle nought Availeth (Arthur Hugh Clough) - it looks bad, but stand back, we're winning The Gods of the Copybook Headings (Kipling) - the issue underneath the benevolent/malevolent universe premise: I wish vs it is. LP's top favorite. POEMS ON EPISTEMOLOGY Flower in the Crannied Wall (Lord Tennyson) - integration; the true is the Whole (Tennyson is LP's favorite poet) The Daffodils; The Tables Turned (William Wordsworth) - an opponent of reason and integration The Thinker (Berton Braley) - the theme of Atlas Shrugged POEMS ON MORALITY Two favorites of Ayn Rand, found in her papers: 1. Mourn Not The Dead (Ralph Chaplin) - on moral judgement 2. Short poem by 'A Nony Mous' (1960 July-August issue of Success Magazine) Why should you begrudge another The fortunes he does reap? Bless him, he's one brother That you don't have to keep! The Westerner (C. B. Clarke) - egoism and individualism. Ayn Rand had the last two lines of this poem in a placard frame. INSPIRATIONAL POEMS Poems that stress some virtue, such as strenght, heroism, persistence, courage. Columbus (Joachim Miller) - the virtue of persistence, Man the Hero If (Kipling) - a description of the Ideal Man (Ayn Rand's top favorite) LOVE POEMS To His Coy Mistress (Andrew Marvell) - what to say to a woman that won't put out... Sonnets from the Portuguese 43: How do I love thee? Let me count the ways (Elizabeth Browning) Love and Sleep (Algernon Charles Swinburne) POLITICAL POEMS Retaliation (Olver Goldsmith) - a thinker wants to go into politics A song: “Men of England” (Percy Bysshe Shelley) What is a communist? (Ebenezer Elliott) FUNNY POEMS Ogden Nash poems; The Pig; The Germ; The Duck; The Panther; The Ostrich; The Pizza; Which the chicken which the egg; Kind of an ode to duty (moral-practical dichotomy); Lines Fraught With Naught But Thought MISC POEMS The Lotos-eaters (Tennyson) - must be read in an increasingly sleepy way The Confessional (Robert Browning) - a tragic, compelling story Ulysses (Tennyson) - Man the Hero (white rhyme) Sometimes (Thomas S. Jones, Jr) - a man who betrayed his potential Dying Speech of an Old Philosopher (Walter Savage Landor) Do not go gentle into that good night (Dylan Thomas) Beethoven And Angelo (John Bannister Tabb) An Essay on Man: Epistle I | Epitaph on Sir Isaac Newton (Alexander Pope) The Arrow and the Song (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow) The Song of Roland (translated by Dorothy L. Sayers) It's all a state of mind (Success Magazine, March 1963 issue) The Highwayman (Alfred Noyes) America for Me (Van Dyke) - an ode to America Drinking (Abraham Cowley) - or, as LP calls it, "The Metaphysics of Vodka" On a Girdle (Edmund Waller) Be Strong (Maltbie Davenport Babcock) Opportunity (John James Ingalls) Gunga Din (Kipling) - recommended by somebody in the audience Tennyson poems: Break, break, break; Crossing the bar; Rizpah (LP refused to read this one because it makes him cry) An ode to my mistress' breasts (mentioned during a Q&A session, LP might have referred to the girdle one by Waller)
  9. 4 points
    I wanted to add my thoughts, as a parent who is currently working through The Fountainhead for the first time. I appreciate the quote that was given on Rand' and motherhood being a career that can become outdated. This can be applied to fatherhood as well - which at this point in my life is my central purpose. Thus, I would characterize one's central purpose in life not in terms of an unchanging career, but in terms of a single building that Roark might have built - in the sense of a stage of ones life. A rational, discrete accomplishment and goal that consumes one with passion and leads to flourishing. Everything I do at this point in my life is in the very broad context of my being a father - even my mental "breaks" from fatherhood (such as dates with my wife, studying philosophy, going to the gym - which I require to come back and continue being the best father I can be, rejuvinated with fresh energy and perspective.) My marriage, my philosophical studies, my health/fitness, my personal time, my job - all of this (at this point in my life) supports my central purpose of being a father. More to the point - Within the context of my knowledge, I don't do anything antithetical to being a father in the long-run. My current "building/structure" must integrate and not contradict the others I have built in the past - for example I will rely on my marriage, life experiences and health/fitness to support my next structure, so they all form a support of whatever my current building is. As Rand alludes to, at some point it won't make sense for fatherhood to be my central purpose...my structure will be completed (for the most part...I know I will always be a father) just like my competitive bodybuilding, my college degrees, my career, my romantic life, a stable home, etc have all been important structures in my life for me in the past (in that chronological order, actually). But the important point is the structures one chooses to build in life may change and this presents no contradiction with the objectivist conception of a flourishing life. This is the integration referred to in the title of this thread - and it is deeply personal, and individualistic. The structure of one's value hierarchy should properly be completely unique and personal for that individual. Ultimately, the moral rule is that one pursue a flourishing life of reason, purpose, and self-esteem. The number of ways one may do this is limited only to their imagination. But just as Roark had multiple buildings that he architected during his life, a person's highest values may change as well. And Roarks buildings, although discrete, did not preclude one another. There is no reason that they should. And if I may share something a bit more to the point, if not exceptionally personal: It brought tears to my eyes when it occurred to me that my children are my Stoddard Temple. And I know that I will have to unveil them to the world someday, and it breaks my heart, in a selfish way, that I can't keep them perfect and sweet and pure and innocent forever. And they will be vandalized, and judged improperly by those who don't deserve to even look upon them. I will build it my way, according to the very best within me, no matter what it takes, through sleepless nights and tears, but also through joyous highs and laughter. And I will let no one sway me from my path unless the reasoning of my own mind convinces me of a better one. And when the time comes, as it will, for me to move on and choose a new structure in my life to focus on - I will look back on my temple and know it was built according to my highest values and to the best of my ability. And properly, and egoistically, I will be a better person for having built it.
  10. 4 points
    An abstraction that existed metaphysically would not be an abstraction, it would be just another concrete. In fact abstractions are concretes, they are attributes of the brains of those abstractors who have preformed that mental action. But as a product of human action such abstractions are not metaphysically-given, which is why they must be acknowledged as epistemological. A metaphysically given abstraction is a contradiction in terms.
  11. 4 points
    A good starting point would be OPAR ch. 1, which says “Science is systematic knowledge gained by the use of reason based on observation.” Science thus includes “specialized science” and philosophy. It differs from mere observation, which is not systematic. It differs from religion and emotion, which are not based on reason or observation. Philosophy (actual philosophy, not purported philosophy) is a science: again, OPAR ch. 1 “philosophy is a system of ideas. By its nature as an integrating science…”, Peikoff in “The analytic-synthetic dichotomy”: “Epistemology, the theory of knowledge, the science that defines the rules by which man is to acquire knowledge of facts…”. Rand says (“Philosophy: who needs it?”) that “Philosophy studies the fundamental nature of existence, of man, and of man’s relationship to existence. As against the special sciences, which deal only with particular aspects, philosophy deals with those aspects of the universe which pertain to everything that exists. In the realm of cognition, the special sciences are the trees, but philosophy is the soil which makes the forest possible”. In the broader context, “science” refers to systematic knowledge gained by the use of reason based on observation, but in the narrower context where philosophy is distinguished, we would contrast philosophy and special sciences. In the appendix to ITOE, “Philosophic vs. Scientific issues”, Rand begins by noting “Philosophy by its nature has to be based only on that which is available to the knowledge of any man with a normal mental equipment. Philosophy is not dependent on the discoveries of science; the reverse is true”. Philosophy is not “the art of just making crap up”. In this context (which presupposes the distinction between science and philosophy), the simple term “science” is used where elsewhere “special science” might be used. This second sense of “science” as special science, specialized knowledge, is what is ordinarily called “science” especially by people who haven’t read OPAR and ITOE. Philosophy is science, in the broader sense, but not in the narrower sense. “Evidence” is not, as far as I know, defined in Objectivism, but observation of how the word is used shows that it refers to knowledge in relation to a proposition – a fact supports a proposition, or it contradicts a proposition. A bit of knowledge can depend heavily on an immediate observation – “I just saw an eagle!” – or it can depend heavily on applying knowledge to previously gained knowledge (insert your favorite mathematical proof here). When people speak of “empirical evidence”, they mean knowledge that depends heavily on immediate observation. “Empirical evidence” brings us back to the axiomatic, because the distance from the axiomatic to the conclusion is shortened. All knowledge rests on observation, but some knowledge is separated by quite a distance from observation. It is true that some people treat philosophy as non-empirical, which allows patent nonsense to be promulgated as “philosophy”. You have to consider the concept “evidence” from two perspectives as well, depending on whether it has been evaluated. People often look at the observation as being the “evidence”, in which case since you can’t deny the axiomatic, you end up with a very goofy notion of “balancing” evidence, and seeing truth as scalar. Which, b.t.w., is poppycock. This notion that evidence is the raw observation is wrong. An observation has to be logically evaluated and integrated with all of your knowledge, before it becomes “evidence” for or against anything. “Uncontrolled observations” then are not evidence, because there has been no validation of the relation between the observation and the proposition that the observation stands in a supposed evidentiary relation to. How does that observation integrate with other observations (all other observations, not just the ones of interest to the advocate of the position)? The specific form of stupidity that you’ve identified is failing to consider alternative. There are alternative propositions that are consistent with the observation, and those alternatives are arbitrarily rejected. That means that the resulting emotion of “certainty” is achieved at the expense of acquiring knowledge.
  12. 4 points
    Is this thread a joke? I don't think I've ever seen such a messy hodpodge of personal misunderstandings, clunky symbolism, and arbitrary assertions cobbled together to posture as a "critique".
  13. 4 points
    softwareNerd

    Trump

    People love to hate politicians, and to claim that politicians are some particularly disgusting breed. But consider... a GOP acquaintance of mine was complaining about Obamacare. When I pushed, it turned out he wanted the government to somehow bring down rates, and wanted the government to help the poor who cannot afford healthcare. Yet, this person -- typical of the average voter -- has no clue about how the government should go about this. This voter simply wants stuff.... somehow. It doesn't matter if it is contradictory. Similarly, another acquaintance was talking about how she could not afford to retire. The discussion went to social-security, and it turns out she does not want SS taxes raised, did not want SS benefits curbed, and wanted the budget deficit to be lowered in the bargain. How? Well, that's not her problem... politicians should figure it out. A colleague is very conscientious about recycling, wants coal plants shut down, wants more regulation; but, also wants the economy to grow twice as fast as it is doing. Sorry, the fault, dear Brutus lies not in our politicians, but in ourselves, that we are whining, un-intellectual voters who have no clue about what government ought to be. So, we get the government we deserve. [Of course, by "we", present company -- and other more-intellectual voters -- are excluded. I'm speaking of the average-Joe American voter.]
  14. 4 points
    Dustin explained issues he has had in another thread: Issues like these are so common they are almost epidemic among Objectivists. See for example what Nathaniel Branden wrote, in 1984: http://web.archive.org/web/20120106060148/http://www.nathanielbranden.com/ayn/ayn03.html An Objectivist popped into the chatroom just the other night discussing their psychological issues with me. They were seeing a therapist because they were overloaded with stress from work, essentially because they were over-valuing material independence, and the therapist was having trouble helping them. What I had to say to this person is this: The virtue of independence doesn't pertain to material independence primarily. Virtues are about how you think and act, not about your material circumstances. It doesn't make sense to describe material independence as a "virtue"; that's a consequence, not an action. Virtues describe principles of action. If you read Rand's description of independence, she's talking entirely about judgment and the mind: "yours is the responsibility of judgment", "no substitute can do your thinking", she rejects "the acceptance of an authority over your brain" - these do not comment on material dependence, or say anything negatively about relying on others, but rather they are focusing in on a particular issue of how you use your own mind. When she talks about independence, she's talking about that virtue of using your mind, acquiring knowledge the best you can, thinking the best you can, and being able to come to judgments based on that thinking and knowledge. In essence, she's focused on how to think and act to the best of your ability. That does not preclude either material dependence, or relying on others in general. Virtues are not negative principles, they aren't there to instruct you what not to do, they are there primarily to talk about what you should do, based on what's possible to you simply by nature. By nature we are all capable of thinking, acquiring knowledge, and forming judgments - and morally, we should. Independence as a virtue is a matter of sound mind and sound action, not a matter of a trade-off of material values. And if material independence were held as high in one's mind as a virtue of character, that could lead one to make bad trade-offs in one's life, such as pursuing material independence at the expense of other values like a good social life. If one holds material independence - the outcome - to the standards of a virtue of one's character - which pertains to one's actions - that could lead to some serious distress and guilt, because one's esteem becomes tied to the material outcomes rather than to one's actual virtue and character. Imagine if Roark took working in the quarry as fault of his integrity; he wouldn't have made it out of there. Virtue needs to be completely separate from outcome. Consider this quote from Peikoff's lecture on "Certainty and Happiness": "Let’s consider here a moral man who has not yet reached professional or romantic fulfillment, an Ayn Rand hero, say Roark or Galt, at a point where he is alone against the world, barred from his work, destitute. Now such a person has certainly not “achieved his values”. On the contrary he is beset by problems and difficulties. Nevertheless, if he is an Ayn Rand hero, he’s confident, at peace with himself, serene. He is a happy person even when living through an unhappy period. He does experience deprivation, frustration, pain. But in a phrase that I think is truly memorable, from the Fountainhead, it’s pain that “goes down only to a certain point”. He has achieved, not success, but the ability to succeed. In other words, the right relationship to reality. So the emotional leitmotif of such a person is a unique and enduring form of pleasure: the pleasure that derives from the sheer fact of a man’s being alive, if he is a man who feels able to live. I’ve described this particular emotion as "metaphysical pleasure". Now metaphysical pleasure depends on one’s own choices and actions. And in that sense virtue does ensure happiness- not the full happiness of having achieved one’s values in reality, but the radiance of knowing that such achievement is possible." I think this quote from Peikoff is helpful because it illustrates what it means to have self-esteem based on your character, independent of where you actually are in life - that is, independent of the outcomes. --- Dustin is by no means alone in the issues he's having. Objectivists have had these issues for decades, and they still do even today. In Understanding Objectivism, Peikoff identifies another cause of this psychological problem in Objectivists: a concrete-bound mentality. As an Objectivist, one might hold themselves to the concrete elements of Rand's heroes instead of to the abstract moral principles the heroes exemplify. Since, objectively, one might not (and need not) value any of the particular concretes that her heroes value, the fact that one's emotions are not in line with such concretes can mistakenly lead one to the idea that one's emotions are out of control and must be repressed, which can lead to a great deal of distress and suffering. Here's an excerpt from lecture ten of Understanding Objectivism describing the issue: There is a similar issue known by the term "Howard Roark Syndrome", essentially the issue of taking Rand's heroes too literally, and thereby holding oneself to an impossible (or even an improper) standard. This was discussed previously on this forum: Another post: The consequences of this kind of problem can be an inability to act appropriately when dealing with other people (in the case of the second quote), or even broken relationships (in the case of the first quote), or in general, an under-valuation of other people, which can be a major factor in these psychological problems common to Objectivists.
  15. 4 points
    Craig24

    Vote Trump!

    I was going to vote for Trump to keep Hillary out but that was months ago. I can't do that now. I know now what Nicky has known all along. He's a disaster in the making if he's elected. Vote for Johnson if Hillary is unacceptable to you or don't vote.
  16. 3 points
    softwareNerd

    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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 3 points
    human_murda

    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.
  20. 3 points
    StrictlyLogical

    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.
  21. 3 points
    StrictlyLogical

    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.
  22. 3 points
    Boydstun

    Objectivism in Academia

    . Religious Liberty or Religious License? Legal Schizophrenia and the Case against Exemptions Tara Smith – Journal of Law and Politics (25 April 2017) Abstract
  23. 3 points
    dream_weaver

    Joseph Campbell's Monomyth

    "Observe the persistence, in mankind's mythologies, of the legend about a paradise that men had once possessed, the city of Atlantis or the Garden of Eden or some kingdom of perfection, always behind us. The root of that legend exists, not in the past of the race, but in the past of every man. You still retain a sense—not as firm as a memory, but diffused like the pain of hopeless longing—that somewhere in the starting years of your childhood, before you had learned to submit, to absorb the terror of unreason and to doubt the value of your mind, you had known a radiant state of existence, you had known the independence of a rational consciousness facing an open universe. That is the paradise which you have lost, which you seek—which is yours for the taking. — For The New Intellectual, page 177 Joseph Campbell has done extensive work in collecting mythology from all around the world, offering one of the most secular explanations from his analysis of the similarity and differences between them. In The Romantic Manifesto, Ayn Rand decried the absence of rationality in the field of esthetics and provided her keen insights into the nature of art in her most controversial work. There are a few here, that have expressed interest in Joseph Campbell's works. His book The Hero With A Thousand Faces was to him what The Fountainhead was to Ayn Rand, setting each, in their respective areas, a notoriety they had not had prior to their respective publications.
  24. 3 points
    What exists, everything that is metaphysically given to us, needs to be accepted first. Existence has primacy; that means logical priority and semantic meaning moves in the direction from existence to consciousness. Existence exists, it needs no explanation to exist, no justification is required. Justification only applies to where choices are made. Existence has no choice, existence exists in the form it takes, its identity. There is no choice involved in existence existing. Justification can only be grounded in appealing to what exists and its identity. To ask for existence itself to have a justification is a logical fallacy because justification is logically dependent on existence and identity. "If I can't understand it then it can't exist" is a form of subjectivism.
  25. 3 points
    dream_weaver

    In the news

    The fact check site Snopes sets the record straight on an Ayn Rand quote by checking with Onkar Ghate associated with the Ayn Rand Institute. Did Ayn Rand Say 'The Question Isn’t Who Is Going to Let Me; It’s Who Is Going to Stop Me'?
  26. 3 points
    Dustin, I wasn't asking if any of your questions/objections in this thread alone you considered to be answered/resolved, I was asking about if you considered that to be the case of *any* of your questions/objections you have raised on this forum in general. Also, you have in your post there stated your position, but you have not addressed anything any of us have already said to you here about why we contend such a position is incorrect. You didn't answer my question either about what sources, aside from this forum, you have on Objectivism, or even point me to a place where you already answered that question (which also would have been perfectly acceptable). When I said, "You've made lots of threads here based on questions/objections to Objectivism " - I didn't mean that as an accusation, like it was an inherently bad thing that just should not be done. I was stating it because it was relevant to my later question, asking what, if any, sources you had aside from this forum on Objectivism. Asking this many questions isn't a bad thing necessarily, but it does makes me suspect that you may be attempting to approach learning about or "challenging" this philosophy very badly. You may be jumping into the middle of this philosophy and going about it all higgledy piggledy, not looking into the well made primary or even secondary sources on it that answer the whats and whys pretty thoroughly and systematically. You may instead be asking people to not just reinvent the wheel for you, but reinvent the rocket ship, knowing almost nothing about rockets already yourself, and that they do so random piece by piece with you showing little interest in actually seeing how the pieces fit together and why, or maybe even seeing all the pieces, just seeing how these individual parts aren't making sense to you at first glance and on their own and then saying "This makes no sense! It's all bullshit! No way this thing gets off the ground." This seems like a bad way for you to learn about Objectivism and an even worse way to try to convince anybody who knows Objectivism well that it is incorrect. It's also hugely inefficient on time involved doing it the messy way versus going to the primary or even secondary sources. As for "echo chambers" and "safe spaces" -- you realize, don't you, that with Objectivists being such a teeny, tiny percentage of the population, we all spend our lives immersed constantly in people and products of contrary beliefs, right? This forum is just one of the few places where we come together with people that DO share our support of this philosophy so that we can actually get some where furthering our discussions of the subject beyond constantly just going over the basics with people who think the philosophy is flat out incorrect, just endlessly rehashing the same basic issues over and over that are already old hat to us, never touching any further or new material. We don't need to have this forum bombarded with people who disagree with us in order to be exposed to other beliefs and the possibility that we are wrong because we already inevitably face those things all the time everywhere else we go pretty much. Our goal here on this forum isn't to *never* be exposed to contrary ideas(something the forum couldn't possibly achieve anyway), its to just have somewhere that actually is about our ideas in the midst of aaaaaaaaaaaaaall the rest that we are exposed to which isn't. And we already do believe in reexaming our own beliefs if ever we come across something which seems to flout them anyway. Having this forum to discuss Objectivism with mostly people who support it is like having a forum for fans of bag pipe music in a world where pretty much everybody hates bag pipe music.
  27. 3 points
    Every time Trump expresses hostility towards Mexico, the peso takes a significant tumble. This has been happening for months, so, surely, even Trump noticed the correlation by now. Whether it's just a negotiating tactic or destabilizing the Mexican economy is his end game, he's clearly trying to hurt Mexico, on purpose. And there are voices on the right cheering it on, as if Mexico's failure would be some kind of victory for the US. So what happens if it works? Clearly, Mexico is at the United States' mercy. Just the threat of a trade war has caused the peso to drop 12% over the last three months, with experts predicting a 50% drop if the rhetoric escalates. What happens if Trump blows up NAFTA, starts a trade war, Mexico devolves into hyperinflation, and the already unpopular government is overthrown or replaced by populists or radical socialists like in Venezuela? Or worse, a civil war between a weakened government and the cartels? Could the US end up with a failed state, like Syria or Venezuela, on its doorstep, with tens of millions of economic migrants, and cartel soldiers and Islamic terrorists hiding among them, flooding across the border? And would it be possible for a populist demagogue to exploit that crisis, and expand his power beyond constitutional limits? And, even if Trump gets voted out of office in four years, could the next President deal with the crisis he inherits? Would there be a way to walk back the failure of the Mexican economy, and stabilize the region? Or will the US be faced with permanent war on its southern border?
  28. 3 points
    I'd like to think the chances of this are low, because American business interests in Mexico and with Mexico will put pressure in the opposite direction. However, we know that Trump is clueless about economics. We know that he would rather stoke his egoless soul with sticking to a stupid idea than admitting he's wrong. We know that the trailer trash that cheered him on wouldn't mind apoorer Mexico that's worse off than they are. So, it is possible; though I still believe it is unlikely. "A prosperous Mexico, caused by a capitalist-leaning Mexico"ought to be an important pillar of US foreign policy. So, it's no surprise that the clueless yahoos and their Dear Leader want the opposite. Let me add a note of realistic optimism though... We've all got an overdose of the idiot, but we have not seen reactions. The main reason is that everyone else is waiting to see what the idiot actually does; they don't want to react to his ravings alone. Reactions will come from home and abroad. The Mexican president cancelling his visit was one small reaction. Internal Mexican politics made it difficulty or him to meet Trump. Two days later, there are reports that he spoke to the Chiief Yahoo and they agreed not to talk about who will pay for a wall... Not just between themselves, but also in public. Similarly, The Chief Yahoo said that NATO was obsolete. Then, his defense secretary contradicted him, saying that if NATO did not exist, we'd need to invent it. And, standing by him, Teresa May announced that he'd told her that he was 100% behind NATO, and Cheif Idiot quietly stood quietly by, dangling his bonnet and plume. As time goes by, we'll see more reaction. It's even possible that the hoards of yahoos will thin as they see their Cheif being caught in more lies, and being bested by others.
  29. 3 points
    The most important purpose a transcontinental border wall would serve is to meet the desires and expectations of the American electorate. Regardless of any conversation about the popular vote versus the legitimacy of President Trump, it has been my experience that the Americans who voted for Trump want that wall. It has nothing to do with economic or security benefits; it's a matter of democracy. Trump supporters were gleeful at the thought of the wall. Now, as the fog of campaign rhetoric is lifting, and these people are becoming slightly more aware of the fact that this wall will be one more expensive boondoggle for the taxpayers to bear, they continue to cling to the vision. Will the wall and Trump's other isolationist policies lead to economic and security disaster? They don't care: Build the wall. It will make them feel better. Here's a fantasy, although not so crazy: A fortification rivaling the Maginot Line and the Chinese Great Wall spans the roughly 1,954 miles of America's southern border. It does exactly that which it was designed to do. The cost of building, maintenance, and staffing it with troops exceeds anything our budgets could sustain. It would make a perfectly good tourist site; visitors from China, Saudi Arabia, and Russia could have their pictures taken while posing atop or in front of the wall brandishing the Trump logo. The heirs of the Trump dynasty would own and operate the hotels and casinos that punctuates the serpentine structure. As our descendants revert to savagery as a means of survival, they can sit around the campfires, and tell their children of the once powerful American Empire, and how the second coming of the Trump-King will once again make America Great!
  30. 3 points
    softwareNerd

    Pleasure and Value

    I think you're trying to focus on the point-in-time thing we should try to optimize. Rand's "Objectivist Ethics" highlights two key linkages: first, that this pleasure is -- in turn -- based on our biology.. on the survival of life (today we might speak of this in terms of the role of pain/pleasure in evolution). "Good" (i.e. recommended action) is thus (mostly) tied to survival in its original cause second, she takes the focus away from point-in-time pleasure, to acknowledge that there are causal links between things. Seeing the pain in a dentist's visit is not good enough, we have to understand the pleasures and pains from the visit as a causally linked set. That's how we get to: "how to we get a better mix". The decisions move from considering a single thing (imagine someone making an excuse not to visit the dentist, because he's focusing on the pain alone). "Good" is the concept that embraces the evaluation of such mixes, and going far beyond these small bundles, to encompass one's life. Good it is the integrated evaluation of pain and pleasure. Only by starting from these two ideas can Rand end up saying Productive Work is one of the highest ideals. That's quite a huge integration that includes hundreds of observations that aren't mentioned in the essay. That's her key achievement: not her focus on pleasure -- which hedonists already took a shot at -- but explaining how we go from there to a message that sounds like "work hard". The hedonists had already praised pleasure, but nobody can take a short-range approach too seriously. Aristotle spoke of Eudemia, and his golden mean is one way of conceptualizing the various choices we have to make all the time. The Epicureans had spoken about enjoying life in a relaxed way. These were attempts integrate the idea that selfish pleasure is the core of Ethics with other observations about the world. The Stoics took a different tack: they recognized that men are driven to do "big things" which cannot be explained by "live a relaxed life" or '"do only what you need to be comfortable". They admired these men. At some level, they were admiring productivity, but could not quite explain why it was the good. They ended up with a somewhat "duty ethics". The Bhagavad Gita got to the same point too: work (karma) is good because it is, because it is a universal law. They both assumed a feedback: where the universe rewards us for doing our duty. The only alternative to work seemed asceticism, and Eastern philosophies thought that was good too...but, we can't all be ascetics. So, working hard was what the typical person had to do... just because. There was no tie to happiness, leave along to pleasure. Rand stepped through the horns of this ancient dilemma. In summary: I agree with you that pleasure is key, but it is key the way a dot of paint is key to a painting, or a word is key to Atlas. It's a starting point, but the bulk of Ethics is explaining how it comes together across our lives. Post-script: I think your focus on pleasure is important though, because some people read Fountainhead and Atlas as enshrining the virtue of hard work, but do not keep the link to pleasure and happiness in mind. By dropping that link, and by seeing work as an end in itself, drops the crucial justification for work. Work then is a duty: an end that we just do, because it is good... don't ask any more questions! This is why I think the recent moves by The Undercurrent/Strive: abandoning the focus on Politics, and linking Objectivist Ethics to individual happiness, is great.
  31. 3 points
    Psychology used as a common noun usually refers to the totality of our thoughts. The things that happen in our (according to Oism individual) consciousnesses. So, when I read that something is part of "human psychology" (singular, no less, not "human psychologies"), the only way that makes sense to me is by assuming some kind of collective consciousness. There would be no other way for 7 billiion individuals to have the same set of thoughts, except if they share a consciousness. We don't share a psychology. We share a biology, and we develop our own psychologies. Some, more rational than others. And we certainly choose our own values, we don't have any values that came with the frame. So attributing the irrational valuing of scarcity that some humans have, and marketers like to take advantage of, to human nature, is absurd. It's not human nature to be irrational. You choose it.
  32. 3 points
    JASKN

    Future of Objectivism

    I have personally not experienced any kind of success convincing another person about the logic behind Objectivism and why the philosophy is The Way, The Truth, and The Light. Maybe it's too wordy for most people when presented that way, maybe there aren't enough social scenarios where people accept deeper conversations, I don't know the reason, but a brick wall is hit every time. During the past couple of years I've given up the "lectures" altogether and replaced them with one-off comments in normal conversation, where I really try to think about everything from as realistic a standpoint as I can and then take a second to sum it up succinctly with a somewhat philosophical-style comment, delivered in my own words/formulation for the conversation only. People have really responded to this method, it feels like magic compared to the old strategy. At the same time, I've focused more on my own life than on an Objectivst agenda (I'm part of a trend, I guess?), with several benefits: a better life, from which to draw examples, and a better understanding of the purpose of philosophy, and why someone would follow principles to begin with, from which I can formulate my summations. I'm beginning to think there is no other way to get people to legitimately change their views. There has to be something to look at in real life for an "aha!" moment to happen. More emphasis should be placed on Rand's life success and enduring influence as support for the validity of her philosophy. More Objectivists should emphasize their own real life benefits following a stellar philosophy.
  33. 3 points
    William O

    Reification and Suicide

    I don't agree with this account of the Objectivist ethics. It is a good piece of advice, epistemologically, but I don't think it is the basis for the distinction between morality and immorality, because you can unintentionally form invalid concepts. For example, many people who believe in God are basically honest, even though God is an invalid concept. I continue to find invalid and unexamined assumptions in my thinking on occasion, even years after learning of Objectivism. I'm not saying this is irrelevant to morality, it's just a really demanding standard to set. Almost everyone has some invalid concepts at work in their thinking.
  34. 3 points
    That being said, I hearken back to what my first piano teacher used to tell me:
  35. 3 points
    I wanted to start a thread just for general discussion of a benevolent or malevolent sense of life, and in particular, the concepts of a benevolent universe premise (BUP), malevolent universe premise (MUP), benevolent people premise (BPP), and malevolent people premise (MPP). Which of these do you identify with personally, and why? And do you have any reservations or disclaimers you want to add? In general, one can have a benevolent or malevolent sense of life. A "sense of life" is the basic emotional stance one has on life that comes from one's implicit metaphysical value judgments. Metaphysical value judgments are one's overall value judgments or feelings about the essential nature of existence, of man, and of man's relationship to existence.1 If one has an overall positive judgment about the metaphysical nature of reality and of man, then one's basic emotional stance on life will be positive. One will have a benevolent sense of life. Likewise, if one has an overall negative judgment about the metaphysical nature of reality and of man, then one's basic emotional stance on life will be negative; one will have a malevolent sense of life. Someone with an overall benevolent sense of life has a philosophical conviction that their life and the universe are good and valuable, a conviction that is not shaken simply by going through trying circumstances. They have a conviction that joy, exaltation, beauty, greatness, and heroism are the meaning of life, and not any pain or ugliness that they may encounter. They believe that happiness is what matters in life, but suffering does not, and that the essence of life is the achievement of joy, not the escape from pain. Pain, fear, and guilt are inessential and are not to be taken seriously as a scar across one's view of existence. Their basic stance when it comes to any question is that they love being alive, and they love the universe in which they live. "We exist and we know that we exist, and we love that fact and our knowledge of it" (Augustine). One's sense of life can be further analyzed into two basic categories: one's judgment of the universe, and one's judgment of man. An overall positive or negative judgment about the nature of the universe is what Rand calls the "Benevolent Universe Premise" (BUP) or "Malevolent Universe Premise" (MUP), respectively; a positive or negative judgment about the nature of man is the "Benevolent People Premise" (BPP) or "Malevolent People Premise" (MPP)2. A fully benevolent sense of life will combine a benevolent judgment of the universe and a benevolent judgment of man: both BUP and BPP. One may have a characteristically mixed sense of life, with a benevolent universe premise but a malevolent people premise (BUP/MPP), or a malevolent universe premise but a benevolent people premise (MUP/BPP).3 A benevolent universe premise (BUP) is characterized by a reverence for the Universe, and the belief that the universe, by nature, is intelligible to man, and that his happiness is possible in a place such as this. It's the belief that the things around you are real and ruled by natural laws, and that reality is stable, firm, absolute, and knowable. Tragedy is the exception in life, not the rule. Success, not failure, is the to-be-expected. It's the conviction that man is not ultimately doomed in this universe, but rather that a human way of life is possible. A benevolent people premise (BPP) is characterized by a reverence for Man, and the belief that man, by nature, is to be regarded as rational and valued as good. It's the belief that man has the power of choice, the power to choose his goals and to achieve them, and the power to direct the course of his life. It is the conviction that ideas matter, that knowledge matters, that truth matters, that one's mind matters. It's this conviction that leads to a respect and goodwill toward men, and an attitude, in individual encounters, of treating men as rational beings, on the premise that a man is innocent until proven guilty. One is unable to believe in the power or triumph of evil; evil is regarded as impotent and unreal, and injustice is the exception in life, not the rule. Consequently one has confidence in one's ability to judge others, to communicate with others, and to persuade them by rational argument, and a belief that the great potential value of men is the to-be-expected. The rationality in others is what matters, not their irrationality, and in essence they are a potential source of value, not a potential threat of dis-value. 1. For more on "sense of life", see the chapter "Philosophy and Sense of Life" in The Romantic Manifesto, by Ayn Rand 2. "Benevolent People Premise" is a term coined by Objectivist Dan Edge in blog posts back in 2007. You can find them here and here. Also see his thread here on Objectivism Online here. 3. See how Ayn Rand applies the BUP/MPP and MUP/BPP mixtures to the field of literature in her chapter "What is Romanticism?" in The Romantic Manifesto, where she discusses "volition in regard to existence, but not to consciousness" and "volition in regard to consciousness, but not to existence".
  36. 3 points
    Nicky

    Trump

    The notion that Republicans can't win is ridiculous. For most of the past eight years, Republicans have held Congress. They can win just fine. They're even set to hold the House this year, which is a miracle, given who their Presidential nominee is. In fact, before Trump won the nomination, polls showed that Kasich and Cruz had favorability rankings above Clinton, and they would've both beaten Clinton. Kasich in a landslide, Cruz by about three points. Studies that look at the history of the elections (including several that have guessed correctly in every election since the 70s) back that up, saying that the opposition candidate should have swept this election. So, had the Republicans nominated a candidate who didn't alienate 2/3 of the country, and most Republican donors, by being disgusting in every way imaginable, and then some I couldn't possibly have thought of, he or she would be the favorite in this election. Especially since the Dems are also fielding their weakest candidate since Dukakis. You see, the problem with the last three elections isn't immigrants favoring Dems. Immigrants are a small minority. The problem with 2008 and 2012 was that Bush doubled government spending, spent trillions on wars against Middle Age savages the US military had the power to annihilate for the cost of airplane fuel, and continued Clinton era financial policies that caused the biggest recession and financial crisis in decades. And the the problem with this election is that Republicans nominated the most hateable person they could find. If, in four years, the Republican Party gets its act together, they can win by a lot more than that extra million Dem voters Clinton might, if all the stars align in her favor, naturalize.
  37. 3 points
    Reidy

    Trump

    If you have access to back issues or reprints of The Objectivist, read her 1968 kiboshing of George Wallace; it's as close as you'll get (which is close indeed) to what she'd say about Trump. The character most resembling him in her fiction is James Taggart. Both are classic mixed-economy businessmen, getting rich by government favors and connections in a highly-regulated industry. Both are contemptuous of ideas and principles. Both are what Objectivist jargon calls social metaphysicians. Taggart stroked his vanity by letting his wife think he was a man of acheivement. Trump is trying to do this with the entire world.
  38. 3 points
    I don't think it is implied in Objectivism even if it was depicted in Atlas Shrugged. In fact, even the novel did not do much in that regard. Yes, it has that as a bit of a "happy ending", but there's no believable bridge between the collapsing society it depicts in far more detail and then this finale of a return. Just the author's wishful thinking that living happily ever after in Galt's Gulch was unsatisfactory. I could be forgetting something that Rand said elsewhere regarding a collapse being a favorable pre-condition, but that would not be Objectivism, the philosophy. You're right that some Objectivists think that a collapse of society would be a good thing: wiping away the old to make space for the new; but, they're terribly wrong. A collapse is a bad thing, both while it is happening, and because of the likely aftermath. To think that a post-collapse society will somehow see the folly of its ways and support individual rights is worse than wishful thinking: it is the opposite of what is likely. In general, the way to approach the subject is to study the history of actual past collapses and major depressions.
  39. 3 points
    There are a few comments in this thread that I've read, and reread, and still I don't know what their respective authors believe or wish to communicate. A little less attempted wit or brevity or snark and a little more plain-spoken earnestness and elaboration would probably go a long way. Regarding immigration: yes it is a right, as has recently been discussed elsewhere. It is as SpookyKitty said, "You have a right to immigrate to the US because you are an individual and no one can tell you otherwise (so long as you respect the rights of others)." No, this does not extend to "people who threaten to kill and kill Americans," but that's not an issue with immigration, per se (there are American citizens who also threaten to kill and kill Americans -- they are also criminal), and it is not a justification for restricting the rights of people who do not threaten to kill and kill Americans, whether immigrant or otherwise. In the case of someone who may (theoretically) be an enemy, or a criminal, but of whom we have no proof or specific suspicion, well... "innocent until proven guilty." Regarding the Constitution: it certainly was, as dream_weaver said, "a major step in the right direction," and ought be appreciated as such. Yet it is not perfect. In that we recognize its imperfection (to some degree borne out by the political results over the last couple centuries), I think it's also right to say that Objectivists generally wish to "subvert" the document, in that we wish to make substantial changes to it and to the system it defines. If people wish to defend the Constitution as written (if they regard that goal as something good, generally), they should not look to the Objectivists, who instead wish to enact Capitalism in full measure, contra both contemporary and historical American law. ("Radical.")
  40. 2 points
    This reminds me of the thought process and public lobbying of creationists. "I/you can't believe nature could actually cause Life. Some supernatural consciousness must be the cause and therefore the supernatural consciousness MUST exist" This error identified by Grames is the closest thing to direct and sheer subjectivism there is. It directly denies the very nature of valid knowledge and belief. It's not a form of subconscious compartmentalization or even evasion, its using as a tenet of logic, as part of the attempt at a process of logic, that for anything (a proposition a conclusion etc.) to qualify as possibly true, it must "strike one" as believable, independent of any evidence of the senses, and literally for no reason whatever. This must stem from a process of rationalization (or a psychological predisposition) whereby floating abstractions (invalid and illusory) emerge in the mind, either because they are taught, are the result of more basic floating abstractions or are due to an over imaginative mind which conflates what is with what can be imagined (something like the Walt Disney principle from LPs History of Philosophy) I might go so far as to say this mechanism is a species of a broader fallacy that has lead to ALL of the philosophical errors that ever were. IF man were led only by evidence, man would never come up with a fabricated explanation of anything. In cases where he knew enough of the evidence, he would make the correct integrations/deduction to determine the true principle. If he made a mistake in the process of logic itself, he would soon see the inconsistency between that which is implied by his conclusion and some evidence, and would immediately check and soon correct his logic because he must be led only by evidence. In cases where he did not know enough evidence he would not have arrived at a conclusion, or claimed to have done so, because by definition NOT KNOWING ENOUGH MEANS NO CONCLUSION IS POSSIBLE. Faced with the unknown, the part known, and the known, instead of basing his conclusions on the evidence in accordance with this, philosophers have relied on some "sense" or intuition or feeling of believability, which introduced a sort of over the shoulder influence, like a Rasputin or a Steve Bannon: intrinsicism, supernaturalism (primacy of consciousness aspect), rationalism (ideas over reality), skepticism... all played a role nudging the thinker, injecting as pseudo-evidence, their feeling of believability. This is a case of products of the mind (feeling, whim, imagination) masquerading as evidence... some ghost of a consciousness fraudulently garbed in the robes of an aspect of reality. Monads, dialectic progression, platonic forms, the noumenal, and an unimaginably large number of others insanities are all examples of the result of NOT relying only on the evidence of the senses. I used to think the process of logic was the problem, I see now the problem is the disrespect for true importance of the evidence of the senses, it's the rejection of the fact that any and all knowledge must be based ONLY on the evidence of the senses. Any breach of this rule inevitably leads to insanity, floating abstractions, false philosophies, flawed thinking and deplorable cultures, death and disaster. I'm reminded of the ending line of OPAR: "To save the world is the simplest thing in the world. All one has to do is think." Grames observation is very astute... I have much to think about.
  41. 2 points
    About 5 years ago, Steven Farron wrote an essay in Liberty titled Defending Capitalism against Ayn Rand. Contemplate this for a moment. He thinks Ayn Rand, in some sense, was anti-capitalist even though she explicitly promoted and defended capitalism. In the essay he writes: “She thought that the heroes she created were exemplars of pure, uncorrupted capitalism. In fact, the heroes she created in Atlas Shrugged came from her sense of life, which was not only un-capitalist but anti-capitalist.” That’s a head scratcher. He continues: “In Atlas Shrugged, Rand created heroes who embodied her sense of life and described how such heroes would fulfill their heroic natures if they engaged in economic activities. She thought that the sum of their economic activities and interactions provides a template of what laissez-faire capitalism would look like. She was wrong. When the heroes who embody her sense of life engage in economic activities, they function like Communist administrators, not capitalist businessmen.” Her heroes function like Communist administrators in what way? Farron continues: “To paraphrase Rand, “Grandeur is the one word that names” the sense of life of Communist economies. They had no concern with anything “penny ante.” … The heroes of Atlas Shrugged are heroic because, like Communist bureaucrats, they produce or maintain impressive products, not mean little ones. It would be unimaginable for a Rand hero to be a manufacturer of “penny ante” products, such as disposable baby diapers, menstrual tampons, or dependable contraceptives. But these distinctively 20th-century inventions improved the quality of life immeasurably by freeing people from preoccupation with brute, animal existence.” Farron is saying that what makes you anti-capitalist is a grandiose preoccupation with the heroic struggle to create impressive products, not mean little ones. When Galt invents his motor he is being anti-capitalist because his motor is so much more impressive than a tampon. Wrap your head around that one. Capitalism is the system of individual rights. The essence of capitalism is the banning of coercion in human relationships. Under capitalism you deal with others by persuasion and trade, not force and fraud. Now what part of inventing an impressive motor instead of a tampon consists of promoting or using force? Galt, Hank Rearden, Francisco D’anconia, Ellis Wyatt and Dagny Taggart do not promote or use force by being grandiose or impressively productive and Farron has to know that. So what the **** is he really trying to do in this essay?
  42. 2 points
    Nicky

    Is geneology a rational pursuit?

    It can be, sure. It's the history of how you, as an individual, came to exist. It only becomes tribalism if you assign significance to the tribal or ethnic background of your ancestors. But, if you are simply interested in who they were as individuals, it's a selfish, individualistic pursuit.
  43. 2 points
    Ok, here it is: NONE. There. It's summarized. There's NOTHING mystics have to say that I don't understand. Now it's your turn to contradict that by naming something.
  44. 2 points
    And then the essence of statist tyranny enacted in the name of democratic will. The essence of everything that Rand fought so hard against. Who needs Galt's generator when Rand is spinning so fast in her grave.
  45. 2 points
    This whole thread is about imaginary creatures that fly around inside our heads and breathe statements.
  46. 2 points
    In brief, it's part of human psychology to value things that are scarce. I think a lot of people wouldn't care that much about making the most of their lives if they knew that it went on indefinitely. None of their time would ever be 'wasted' on anything, since they have an infinite supply of time at their disposal. This is not to say this would make them suicidal, since the struggle for survival is not the definition of happiness. Here we are confusing the metaphysical with the psychological. Metaphysicaly, when we fulfill our needs, we are maintaining or improving our capacity to survive and reproduce. But psychologicaly, we are not after either of these, but after pleasure, which is the physiological incentive to pursue those needs in the first place. If we didn't have emotional feedback mechanisms, there would be no reason to survive since emotions are our means of enjoying life. Regarding whether the struggle for survival is necessary for happiness, and whether happiness is defined by the struggle to survive: it's true that every human need has some effect on either survival or reproduction, but not all of them require 'struggle' in order to get fulfilled. Solving the survival problem is the basic precondition of happiness - namely, the security of food, shelter, clothes and financial stability. Many people, especially those in first world countries, are well past this stage. People like that are freed to pursue less urgent needs that are nontheless essential to happiness. Is acquiring friendship, romantic love, making or consuming art, ordering pizza, working on your earth-shattering philosophical system a struggle? Those things might pose different levels of challenge, but it's a pleasurable and fulfilling kind of challenge. The only people to whom survival is a struggle is those who actually need to toil day and night for their basic survival needs. Those people cannot be said to be happy, because their other needs go unfulfilled. Now, about longevity: who wouldn't want that? But people don't want to lenghten their life unconditionaly, they want to do it because it's like extending their stay in Disneyland. Agreed.
  47. 2 points
    I agree completely with this. Aesthetics is a much more fundamental branch of philosophy than it normally gets credit for. I think hierarchically it should follow directly from metaphysics, and actually has implications in epistemology and ethics. In the same sense that everyone has to be a philosopher to some extent, since man by nature must be guided by a comprehensive view of life, do you think in a sense everyone has to be an artist to some extent, since aesthetic principles also perform a necessary function in the guidance of life (when it comes to metaphysical value judgments and sense of life)?
  48. 2 points
    Eiuol

    Reification and Suicide

    I think it is a fine thought experiment. I think it frames two things. One is your main idea: How does one compare pain too suffering, or when does enduring pain become sacrifice? Your position is, seemingly, that unrelenting pain and torture is that point. Epist's position is that at no point does enduring pain become sacrifice, as long as one has the capacity to think, i.e. live according to man's nature - no matter how long it lasts. My position is Epist's, as far as I understand it. But then there's another question to ask: what is excruciating pain and emotional despair? I'm lead to wonder what is excruciating pain is, because I suspect what is excruciating to you isn't going to be as bad for me. I honestly have a high pain tolerance, and I doubt that level of pain exists without some error of thought or choosing to focus. For example, Buddhist monks, leaving aside any error about ethics this implies, are quite amazing at enduring pain most likely due to their meditation skills. It isn't a matter of them embracing pain, or attempting to ignore the pain. Simply, they recognize it as present, and that's it. One way to think of this is that Buddhist monks want to erase value, thus nothing will be able to harm their values. This is nihilistic, and anti-life. Or, another way is that they recognize how pain is meaningless, a zero, and adopt some mental skills to manage what life throws at them. To them, 99 years of despair and suffering is due to the wrong frame of mind. This mirrors the Stoics. Pain and suffering, in the usual sense people mean it, is due to frame of mind. With proper practice and study, this pain is entirely bearable. If you have the skills, your thought experiment wouldn't make sense. The real question is what pain is in the first place. If the pain is a promise, he also knows it's time to start acquiring the proper frame of mind.
  49. 2 points
    softwareNerd

    Truth

    You think your statement is true, do you?
  50. 2 points
    Dustin86, It is not out of reverence that Objectivism acknowledges reality. Speaking for myself, it is out of self-preservation and purpose that I acknowledge reality as it is, without regard for that which it is not. The James Taggart meltdown is merely an illustration of what might happen to an individual in denial of reality, and suddenly confronted with the undeniable consequences of that denial. If the purpose of your initial post is to provoke a discussion of atheism as a component of Objectivist beliefs, you could come right out and state it. As I have come to understand, atheism is not so much a tenet of Objectivism as it is a derived conclusion. There are those who maintain that some sort of supernatural-omnipotent-omniscient being exist, and yet they have their own rationalization as to how this belief fits into objective reality. I am not one of those people. Imagine what society would be like if parents stopped frightening their children with threats of eternal damnation, and instead impressed upon them the consequences of ignoring reality. There would be little need for a term such as "God" in matters of morality. Reality would provide its own morality.
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