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     Objectivism Is the Everyman's Philosophy

    In the universe, what you see is what you get,

    figuring it out for yourself is the way to happiness,

    and each person's independence is respected by all

  • Rand's Philosophy in Her Own Words

    • "Metaphysics: Objective Reality"Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed/Wishing won’t make it so." "The universe exists independent of consciousness"
    • "Epistemology: Reason" "You can’t eat your cake and have it, too." "Thinking is man’s only basic virtue"
    • "Ethics: Self-interest" "Man is an end in himself." "Man must act for his own rational self-interest" "The purpose of morality is to teach you[...] to enjoy yourself and live"
    • "Politics: Capitalism" "Give me liberty or give me death." "If life on earth is [a man's] purpose, he has a right to live as a rational being"

    Pleasure and Value

    By DonAthos,
    Over the last few threads in which I've participated substantially (here, here, and here), I've been pushed to look more and more into a conception of ethics that I've been developing for quite some time. A conception I've temporarily labelled as "life-as-experience," which I contrast with the "life-as-survival" view I attribute to David Kelley1, among others -- where "life-as" refers to my understanding of what "life" in "life as the standard of value" means. I hold that Kelley, et al., contend that Rand truly means that survival is the standard of value; whereas I think this fails to express Rand's full meaning, and moreover fails to express the truth of ethics, which is that it is not survival alone which is the standard of value, but "life as it is experienced." By "experience," I primarily mean as it is characterized by pleasures and pains. I'm not yet ready to try to describe this idea in full. I have not yet settled on a terminology. I haven't satisfied myself that I even understand what I'm driving at, in totality, let alone thought the whole thing through in all of its application. I don't know whether I will finally accept this burgeoning concept or modify it substantially or discard it altogether. I don't know whether I will come to find that it still fits with Rand's ethics (though so far I think this is the case), or whether it will finally constitute a breach with Objectivism and the emergence of some new philosophy more reflective of reality. This thread, then, is an attempt to try to "think out loud" about some of these issues -- it is an "exploration," rather than an argument (though arguments for or against my position are welcome in response). Specifically, I would like to explore the relationship between pleasure and value. It is my current position that there is a a deep and abiding relationship between the two. One that is under-realized and consequently underappreciated, or even absent from the stated ethical reasoning of other Objectivists. (I have even seen some Objectivists display what I would call hostility, or suspicion at the least, against the pursuit of pleasure.2 I believe that this sort of attitude is deeply misplaced.) One of the key confusions that often plagues this sort of topic, I find, is that "pleasure" can refer to a variety of experiences. Eventually I mean to speak to all that sort of thing "pleasure" represents, in totality, but first and foremost we should consider pleasure in its most basic sense: a positive physical sensation. This is the pleasure of the taste of good food, or the soft caress of satin sheets, or the cooling of the skin from a breeze on a hot day, or the whole-body lightning of orgasm. In the first place, we should wonder whether there is any relationship at all between such pleasure and value. Value is, as always, "that which one acts to gain and/or keep," but it is more to the point to ask whether there is any relationship between pleasure and that which a rational man values: value consonant with Rand's conception of ethics, holding "life as the standard of value." I say that there is. Moreover that Rand was aware of this, describing this relationship thusly (in "The Objectivist Ethics"): Consider first that this observation implies that it is pleasure (i.e. physical pleasure) which allows a man to have some conception -- any conception at all -- of "the good." It is through the experience of such pleasure that teaches man to discern good from evil (which finds its corresponding analogue in physical pain). Now, this cannot be the end point of ethics. Moreover, the standard Rand refers to in that final sentence (His life.) is not describing the full standard of the Objectivist Ethics, where "life is the standard of value." If it were, then ethics would be as simple as equating pleasure to good and pain to evil: Objectivism would be hedonistic. What we come to learn, however, is that some things our "natural standard" pronounces good (which is to say, that which we find physically pleasurable of our nature) will lead, in time, to pain and death. Even that which is very pleasurable, should it ultimately lead to pain and death, cannot be "the good," then, as we come to understand it conceptually, abstracting away from our experience of temporary, momentary pleasures -- which, remember, is our source of the very concept of "the good" in the first place. How would this operate in a person? Rand describes the experience of pleasure/pain as the "first step in the realm of evaluation." Well, what are the subsequent steps? And where do they lead? Consider a child. Or a baby. There are pleasure and pain for the baby ("innate," as Rand has it), and though the baby has no conceptual understanding of it initially, what these sensations communicate are the launch points for "good" and "evil." Pleasure is the good, it is what is desired, it is what is wanted, it is what is valued. And pain is not simply the lack of such pleasure, or a "neutral" state, but it is a negative analogue to pleasure. (Pain is no less "real" for that, and matters just as much as any other fact... despite any admirable sense of life which may eventually inspire a man to act as though some pain is "less important" than a corresponding pleasure). Pain is thus the evil, it is what is shunned, what is avoided, and I believe it sensible to say that it is disvalued in consequence. The baby grows and matures. With experience and development comes the understanding that certain things cause pleasure and others cause pain. Concrete values follow suit, as the baby comes to value those things that bring pleasure and disvalue those that bring pain. Such simple associations develop and grow into childhood and can persist well beyond, into adolescence or even adulthood. The young child will, more than likely, not wish to go to the dentist. The young child sees no good in it, whatever lecture he hears, because for him the dentist is simply a bringer of pain. The young child wishes instead to eat ice cream, morning, noon and night. Ice cream is pleasurable, and the young child cannot conceive of even the mid-range consequences of overeating ice cream, let alone the long-term effects of habitual poor eating. Those long-term effects have no reality whatever to him. But as the child grows, and acquires perspective (and continues to gain experience, and continues to develop mentally), he may come to see the sense in putting down the ice cream from time to time and going to the dentist. He understands that his forbearance from eating ice cream comes at the cost of some "good" now (i.e. pleasure), but will help him to avoid even greater "evils" (pains) to come. So, too, the dentist, such that eventually the mild pain of a regular cleaning may be borne for the sake of avoiding worse pains later, or to continue to enjoy the pleasures that having healthy teeth affords. It may be, in time, that the child can pronounce going to the dentist as "good" and eating too much ice cream as "evil" (though "bad" is more likely, but amounts to the same) -- just as an adult might -- because he finally and thoroughly understands the actual relationship these activities have with pleasure and pain, long-term. As I'm describing it, it is not that man acquires some perspective which completely divorces pleasure from "the good" (or pain from evil), but that he comes to understand that the simple equation of pleasure to good (which is natural, "innate") will not serve him long-term, because it will lead to far more pain than pleasure. If he would like to have more pleasures as he lives, and fewer pains, then he must learn to value accordingly. These are the "next steps" of evaluation. But is it the last step? Is it ever the case that good and evil stand free and clear from pleasure and pain? (For instance, does the final conception of "life as the standard of value" have anything at all to do with pleasure and pain, apart from heritage? Or are they utterly separate by that point, such that one may evaluate "good," qua the Objectivist Ethics, without ever any need to consider such pleasures or pains, or even reference them?) I will most likely approach this question more substantively in a later post, but for now, let me introduce another quote from Rand (per the Lexicon, from "Our Cultural Value-Deprivation" in The Objectivist, 4/66; and please note Rand's use of the term "experience" here, which obviously predates my own adoption of the term to express my meaning, but was wholly independent of it, as I was completely unaware of this quote at the time): I am open to the interpretation of other intelligent, rational minds (as I always strive to be), but this suggests to me that the relationship between pleasure and "the good," or value more generally, is not just that pleasure provides some initial spark for evaluation, before they go their separate ways... but that there is an ongoing, vital relationship between them. I would go so far as to say that a life without pleasure (again: this is "just" physical pleasure in my current usage, though I mean to argue that there is also a vital relationship between such physical pleasures and those of the corresponding cognitive/emotional/spiritual kind -- including happiness) is not worth living. The consequence of a life filled with pain is something else entirely, and far, far worse. _____________________________________
    1) Kelley's written position is a convenient way to address what I consider to be a widespread understanding (or misunderstanding) of the Objectivist Ethics, where he's written (in The Logical Structure of Objectivism): 2) The pursuit of pleasure can sometimes be misread as "hedonism," but these two things are not -- or need not necessarily be, at least -- the same thing. Hedonism is, as Rand writes, "the doctrine which holds that the good is whatever gives you pleasure and, therefore, pleasure is the standard of morality." Yet it is possible to reject the idea that "the good is whatever gives you pleasure" and that "pleasure is the standard of morality," while still wanting to experience some particular pleasure consonant with life, with man's nature, and with a rational standard of morality. Pursuing such a pleasure, even for the sake of that pleasure alone, is not "hedonistic" but life-affirming.

    An Atlas Quote that May Be at the Very Core of Objectivism

    By Dustin86,
    Guys, please help me with this quote from Atlas Shrugged. It may be at the very core of Objectivism. "She had thought that industrial production was a value not to be questioned by anyone; she had thought that these men's urge to expropriate the factories of others was their acknowledgment of the factories value. She, born of the industrial revolution, had not held as conceivable, had forgotten along with the tales of astrology and alchemy, what these men knew in their secret, furtive souls, knew not by means of thought, but by means of that nameless muck which they called their instincts and emotions: that so long as men struggle to stay alive, they'll never produce so little but that the man with the club won't be able to seize it and leave them still less, provided millions of them are willing to submit—that the harder their work and the less their gain, the more submissive the fiber of their spirit—that men who live by pulling levers at an electric switchboard, are not easily ruled, but men who live by digging the soil with their naked fingers, are—that the feudal baron did not need electronic factories in order to drink his brains away out of jeweled goblets, and neither did the rajahs of the People's State of India." This is the opposite of what we often hear. We often hear that civilized men are docile and tame, so they are easily ruled by a tyrant, whereas "wilder", primitive men are harder to control. This is often given as the reason for the rise of the Totalitarian States of the previous century. What Rand is saying in this section of Atlas (if I have interpreted it correctly) is the complete opposite of what we so often hear. Please help me with this quote.

    Reblogged:Obama’s Manning Decision: Still Doubt That He Detests America?

    Michael J. Hurd Ph.D.
    By Michael J. Hurd Ph.D.,
    President Barack Obama announced his plan to free Chelsea Manning (who changed his name from Bradley) after leaking classified military documents to Wikileaks and being sentenced to 35 years in prison for his crimes. Once in prison, Manning went on a hunger strike to demand sex change surgery in prison, which was granted by officials at the cost of American taxpayers. Obama included Manning on a list of prisoner commutations announced late Tuesday afternoon, allowing him to be set free on May 17, 2017. …Obama’s move was panned by Manning’s critics, including several prominent Republicans. House Speaker Paul Ryan called the move “just outrageous.” “Chelsea Manning’s treachery put American lives at risk and exposed some of our nation’s most sensitive secrets,” said Ryan, R-Wis. “President Obama now leaves in place a dangerous precedent that those who compromise our national security won’t be held accountable for their crimes.” Paul Ryan nailed it. It’s not only what Manning did; it’s also the precedent it sets. Obama’s latest destructive move sends a message to the military and the world that if you’re politically correct — a status presumably brought about by having sex change surgery — then you’re somehow immune from the obligation to side with the United States when you’re a member of the United States military. How fascinating. On the one hand, we’re told that Donald Trump’s presidency is invalid. Why? Because the Russians hacked computers and made him president. What’s the evidence for this? Well none, really, but that’s not the point. Then we have Bradley-Chelsea Manning whose guilt for breaches of security was proven in a court of law. And yet he/she is innocent. What’s the logic here? Or is even elementary logic no longer a requirement? If you ever had any doubts that Barack Obama isn’t merely a bad president, but a bad man — who isn’t on the side of the United States, and never was — then I don’t know what better evidence you can find than this decision. During the White House press briefing, press secretary Josh Earnest noted the “stark” differences between Manning and Edward Snowden, who also leaked highly classified documents. “Chelsea Manning is somebody who went through the military criminal justice process, was exposed to due process, was found guilty, was sentenced for her crimes, and she acknowledged wrongdoing,” he said during the White House press briefing. Earnest added that Snowden “fled into the arms of an adversary,” and criticized him for seeking refuge from Russia, calling it “a country that most recently made a concerted effort to undermine confidence in our democracy.” So let me get this straight. (1) Edward Snowden released secure documents showing wrongdoing by the government of the United States against  its own citizens. This makes Snowden guilty of treason. (2) Bradley-Chelsea Manning released secure documents harming the ability of the United States government to defend its citizens against known wartime enemies. Yet inexplicably and without any justification required, Manning is innocent. With only three miserable days to go in Obama’s presidency, the truth has never been plainer: Obama is on the other side. He always was. The other side is anyone or anything opposed to freedom and liberty as established by our original government and Constitution. Obama still has three days to go. What do you think is coming next? Follow Dr. Hurd on Facebook. Search under “Michael  Hurd” (Rehoboth Beach DE). Get up-to-the-minute postings, recommended articles and links, and engage in back-and-forth discussion with Dr. Hurd on topics of interest. Also follow Dr. Hurd on Twitter at @MichaelJHurd1 Check out Dr. Hurd’s latest Newsmax Insider column here! Dr. Hurd’s writings read on the air by Rush Limbaugh! Read more HERE.     The post Obama’s Manning Decision: Still Doubt That He Detests America? appeared first on Michael J. Hurd, Ph.D. | Living Resources Center. View the full article @ www.DrHurd.com

    Reblogged:Intrusive Parenting Laws Are Already on the Books

    Gus Van Horn blog
    By Gus Van Horn blog,
    Lenore Skenazy of Free Range Kids sounds the alarm over a bill in California, the bulk of whose primary opponents are, unfortunately, anti-vaxxers and the like. But if one shouldn't judge a book by its cover, one shouldn't assume a proposed law is harmless based solely on the opposition it attracts -- or good based on the stated intention of its sponsor. For starters, Jacob Sullum of Reason notes the following: Sullum goes on to note that the state already intervenes on behalf of children in appropriate instances, such as child abuse. He is also correct to note that such a law would invite all kinds of meddling sooner or later.

    Let me add that, for anyone who pooh-poohs the threat that such a bill poses to parental rights, many states already have meddlesome laws on the books. From Skenazy's blog, it is possible to learn, for example, that in Maryland, it's illegal to leave a child under eight inside a locked car without someone else at least thirteen years old also in the car. This is supposed to promote safety, so who could argue against it? Allow me...

    Consider the following hypothetical: Your sick child, age six, is fast asleep in the back of the car (after a day of vomiting). It's cool outside; your other child's daycare is in a safe neighborhood; the parking lot is heavily trafficked by other parents (many of whom you know); and you park in full view of its office. You need to go inside for less than five minutes to pick up your other child, age four. Your spouse is unavailable to help you on short notice. Maryland law requires you to drag your sick child into the daycare center, if you can't find someone willing to hang out in your car with the sick kid, rather than doing the common-sense thing: Locking the door and making a quick pick-up.

    Perhaps Pan's ridiculous bill and the publicity it is attracting is a good thing: Parental rights are already under attack, and the situation will not improve until, for starters, we stop turning our brains off every time someone says something is for the "safety" of "our children."

    -- CAV Link to Original

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