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Gwen

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  1. From my understanding of Objectivism there is no such thing as valuing or loving something "unconditionally". Perhaps you mean that you value a virtue so much you would put up with smaller inconveniences or faults? Could you clarify what you mean in this case?
  2. The passage that Ayn Rand wrote that I was referring to is from "Philosophy: Who Needs it" page 111, 1st paragraph: Observe that Mr. Cohen's (and the egalitarians') view of man is literally the view of a children's fairy tale - the notion that man, before birth, is some sort of indeterminate thing, an entity without identity, something like a shapeless chunk of human clay, and that fairy godmothers proceed to grant or deny him various attributes ("favors"): intelligence, talent, beauty, rich parents, etc. These attributes are handed out "arbitrarily" (this is a "lottery" among pre-embryonic non-entities, and - the supposedly adult mentalities conclude - since a winner could not possibly have "deserved" his good fortune," a man does not deserve or earn anything after birth, as a human being, because he acts by means of "undeserved," "unmerited," "unearned" attributes. Implication: to earn something means to choose and earn your personal attributes before you exist.
  3. I am a relatively new admirer of Ayn Rand, so forgive me if what confuses me is actually something very obvious. I read this website http://armageddonconspiracy.co.uk/ and it talks about "Meritocracy" where everyone is stripped of any inheritance from one's forefathers and start at the same "line". It seems to make sense, as in that people should rise solely on their hard work and not what was given to them before they put in the hard work. This also leads me to wonder about how people being born with different levels of intelligence seem to be an unfair metaphysical fact. I think Ms Rand mentioned something about intelligence not being something a fairy godmother imparts to empty vessels or something (If need be I will try to relocate the passage and reproduce it here) - could someone explain this fairy godmother thing as I don't quite get it. I did ask a similar question about whether the intelligence and economic background a person is born with is an unfair thing, but I did not follow it and I can't remember where I posted it, so if you have already answered my question please redirect me to that post. Here is the relevant passage from the aforementioned website: If capitalism and democracy have failed – as they evidently have – it stands to reason that they must be replaced. Anyone who doesn’t understand failure will keep repeating failure. There’s no point in calling for worthless reforms of the existing failed system. The system itself has proved rotten to the core. The system must be wholly changed. There can be no half measures. Meritocracy is the answer. Meritocracy is about taking all logical, rational, enlightened steps necessary to end privilege and create equal opportunities for everyone. Meritocracy is not however an ideology of equality. Meritocracy says that everyone should line up at the same starting line and be given an equal opportunity to win, but then the race will be run and some – the most talented – will prove victorious. They will be the people who govern the world, but they will govern it in the interests of everyone, not in their own interests. They will be all about public service and nothing to do with self-service (unlike the current capitalist leaders of the world whose primary objective is to line their own pockets). 100% inheritance tax will ensure that the leaders of society cannot establish family dynasties or create systems of privilege for themselves and their relatives and cronies. There will never again be a super rich elite class. That will be enshrined in law and enacted via 100% taxation on all private estates: all assets at death are thereby inherited by the Commonwealth – the "Bank of the People" – and redistributed amongst the people (the money will mostly be invested in education.) Since there’s no point in hoarding wealth, the richest members of society will no doubt spend their wealth i.e. it will be continually recirculating in the economy. The money will therefore always be available to the people and the economy rather than being removed from circulation and used to create vast, permanent assets for the elite. 100% inheritance tax is the measure most feared by the elite. Oddly, it is also feared by ordinary people even though most have few assets to pass on anyway. Why do people with no assets fear inheritance tax? – because the elite have brainwashed them to fear it! It’s labelled as a communist policy; as the “evil” State interfering in people’s lives. Who says so? – the elite do. Why? Because 100% inheritance tax destroys them once and for all. It brings to an end the age of the Old World Order of elite dynastic families. It brings to an end the super rich class. It brings to an end the two-tier Society of Privilege. Inheritance tax isn’t even something that the living experience – because you have to be dead before it applies. What decent, moral person would object to having their excess wealth at death surrendered to the Commonwealth for the education and good of the people? Only sick and selfish people would oppose 100% inheritance tax. This tax is the one that will define the New Society. At one stroke, it changes EVERYTHING. Isn’t it time to put your weight behind a brand new political vision – Meritocracy. Of course, it isn’t actually new at all. It's just a modern update of Plato's Republic, Plato's Laws and Rousseau’s Social Contract. It's amazing how many people still think the current system can be salvaged. It can't. It's over. Anyone who wants a new society must turn to a new system – Meritocracy and social capitalism, specifically designed to curb excessive wealth and the power of dynastic families. What’s not to like? Does Ms Rand defend "excessive wealth" and "dynastic families"? If this "excessive wealth" came from anti-life activities like looting or selling mind-altering drugs (e.g. heroin, cocaine) am I right to say something should be done with this kind of wealth? If this post is too lengthy may I have some suggestions on how to refine it?
  4. Is context necessary for all instances of conceptual understanding? Why or why not? Is context necessary at the sensation or perceptual level? Why or Why not?
  5. Basically I am also asking: Why should I respect the rights of others when doing so would conflict with my self-interest?
  6. Am I right to say that while we recognize "objectively"(whatever this means) that say, people should love themselves, it does not mean that others should love them? Or that people are worthy to themselves, but not necessarily have worth to others? Or does it mean that in principle everyone has worth, so one should treat everyone as worthy to oneself?
  7. Which is more fundamental, being objective or being selfish?
  8. Is this a case of pleasing others so that they will please you? Wouldn't this be a case of enslaving self to others and others to self? What is the criteria to decide when to consider others or not? Does showing consideration mean that say, for example, someone wants to do or say something that you don't want to but you still go along? Wouldn't that be a lack of assertiveness? Perhaps this quote from "Honoring the Self" by Nathaniel Branden may be relevant (pg 159): "Sometimes I may defer to others, giving their feelings priority, or recognizing that their rights in a particular situation may supersede my own. When I do, I am practicing, not self-sacrifice, but objectivity." Could someone explain this concept of "objectivity"? Is it possible to objectively recognize that one has no rights or that others have more rights then you do?
  9. I am referring to "Honoring the Self", page 204, 3rd last paragraph. Is it alright for me to reproduce this paragraph on this post?
  10. Commonly, when introduced to the idea of 'selfishness' people talk about things like cutting queue, not giving way to other pedestrians, eating all of your favourite food during dinner not caring if others get to eat some or not, not giving up your seat on public transport to the elderly or needy. Are these actions rational and selfish, or are these kinds of 'petty' selfishness irrational? Why? Nathaniel Branden also talks about people being selfish over trivia (if I remember his words correctly). Shouldn't we also be selfish over trivia as a result of applying principles consistently? Is my understanding of what he writes correct, that what he refers to as 'trivia' it is about all or some about the examples I gave above which people call 'petty'?
  11. Am I right to say that people have the right to do what they want on their property even if it disturbs other people? Like cooking foods with pungent smells and playing music loudly at night? Is consideration for others a virtue?
  12. It seems that Objectivism does not consider differences in intelligence or economic background (consequently having more resources to education and good nutrition such that the person can develop more fully) as unfairness to the less intelligent or the poor. A person who is more intelligent will be able to achieve more than a person who is less so and potentially earn more respect/money. Shouldn't people be only judged or rewarded for the things they have control over? Since the intelligence or the economic background of a person is not something they choose, and yet these affect the potential of what an individual achieves, isn't it unfair? Even if a less intelligent or less educated person works harder than a person of higher intelligence or education, the former would not achieve as much as the latter, would not earn as much and would have a lower quality of life. How is this fair? If this issue has been addressed elsewhere (in this forum or otherwise) please direct me to the relevant resources.
  13. In my country smoking is banned in many public places by the government. This leads me to wonder if there is such a thing as "a right to fresh air and not to suffer from the consequences of second hand smoke". If this is a valid right, then does this not conflict with the right of some others to smoke in public? If it is right to ban smoking, isn't the government doing something for the greater good and isn't it based on a collectivist premise? Can it be also viewed that giving man freedom is also for the ''greater good'' as this promotes affluence and optimal functioning for many people? Am I misapplying some concepts? My governement also fines people for littering.Is it right to say that it is not the government's role to fine people or to ban activities like littering? Do people have rights to a clean environment? Also in my country, there was a recent furor over how some people living in apartments had conflict over a neighbour's pungent cooking, the other party not liking the smell and demanding that the neighbour only cook that dish on days when that party was not at home. Is there a conflict of rights here? Is there such a thing as a right to a ''neutral environment" where there is no cigarette smoke, litter or offensive smell? Is it a right to not be made to suffer harmful or unpleasant consequences of other people's choices?
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