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  1. That quote was taken out of context. I had said: "The same cannot be said for humans. Humans don't learn by imitation. Other members of the same generation need not follow this behavior." Of course children can imitate just like adults can. They don't have to. Besides, even if they imitate, it doesn't need to be permanent. The fact that young children could imitate or even hypothetically "have to" imitate is irrelevant. The fact is that young children aren't hunters and gatherers now. Dragging in children serves no purpose. Ayn Rand said that "Man is an is end in himself". Yet children are dependent on their parents. Do you disagree with Ayn Rand's statement? If not, that should show you why my own statement isn't wrong. You have some "unique form of human abstract reasoning" to do. No, conceptualization begins way before six and you can't reason without concepts (there is no such thing as 'pure reason').
  2. Further application of the fact that humans need not function by concrete inheritance: Several people inherit the religion of their parents. But they don't have to. Some people wear a certain brand of shoes simply because others wear them. But they don't have to. This fact was the determining factor in the evolution of 'volitional consciousness'. This choice to be rational. The choice which eliminates concrete inheritance (or the chance, perceptual acceptance of ideas). But it is still a choice: it could have been otherwise. Automatically, it has no survival advantage.
  3. As for the assertion that animals "exploit" their environment. Beavers build dams? Great. So will future beavers. Suppose there are no streams or forest/wood materials available in the future. Beavers aren't equipped to deal with it. Humans building dams is different from beavers building dams. It's irrelevant whether beavers learn to build dams. They couldn't have done otherwise. It is still an instinct. It is inherited. Just because there is a superficial similarity (dam building) doesn't mean the processes involved are the same. Beavers building dams is an adaptation to the environment (they can't function without streams or wood materials). It is a concrete inheritance (learned or not). Humans building dams is not an adaptation to the environment. It has no concrete inheritance (we don't do it because our ancestors did so or because we are imitating something). Nonhuman animals inherit their concrete method of functioning. From tribal warfare to signing chimps, it is the the same, inherited concrete method of functioning determined by their evolutionary past. Birds learn to fly? Great. They couldn't have done otherwise. Nobody said that a perceptual consciousness cannot learn. But given their, perceptual consciousness, environment, parenting, etc, they couldn't do anything else. The potentials involved are simply not the same. The present potential of an animal is determined by their evolutionary history at a concrete level. Humans do not have the same concrete method of functioning generation after generation. Humans used to be hunters and gatherers. We are not hunters and gatherers now. Humans do not inherit a concrete method of functioning (even though all generations of humans actually possess a specific concrete method of functioning). The inheritances involved are different: one involves concrete inheritance (whether prewired or imitated from parents or imitated from humans or through perceptual learning). The other involves 'volitional consciousness'. Natural selection can only act on concrete inheritance (since survival only involves concrete events). Natural selection simply cannot work without inheritance. This inheritance has to be concrete if it refers to the same entity in reality. Human traits proceeding from volitional consciousness do not follow concrete inheritance and cannot be acted upon by natural selection (simply because they change from generation to generation). Of course, this is a superficial way to say it. The reason some traits differ from generation to generation is choice. Other human traits which do not proceed from 'volitional consciousness' were acted upon by natural selection. However, humans did evolve. How? Through a rudimentary artificial selection. Some humans chose a certain concrete, rational way of living. It wasn't the concrete method of functioning that survived but the source that gave rise to it: 'volitional consciousness'. The trait (the concrete way of living that made our ancestors survive) wasn't inherited. The trait was man-made. It needn't have existed meaning that humans needn't have existed meaning humans (as a species) exist by choice. There was an artificial selection involved in our evolutionary history (this artificial selection acted on the inherited trait of 'volitional consciousness'). The fact that humans exist by choice is even more obvious now: we can potentially make our own species extinct using atom bombs. Animals cannot possess such a trait after the action of natural selection (any concrete inheritance [through learning or otherwise] that makes an animal kill itself will be negatively acted upon by natural selection). Suppose one animal in a herd acts suicidally (by accident) and other animals learn this behavior, that would be acted upon by natural selection. Since animals learn perceptually, this behavior has concrete inheritance. The species can go extinct. Something like this happened to dodo. The same cannot be said for humans. Humans don't learn by imitation. Other members of the same generation need not follow this behavior. Moreover, the next generation could be entirely rational. Natural selection simply cannot act on this (there is no concrete inheritance for these traits). Animals acquire traits concretely (with or without learning) and retain it by natural selection. Humans do not acquire (man-made) traits concretely. Why is everyone pretending that these facts have no consequences in reality? How could these facts possibly have no consequence? What consequences do you think these facts have, in terms of evolution of human beings vs evolution of other organisms. Are these irrelevant? If so, why?
  4. Strong muscles and the ability to see are the material upon which the ability to choose acts. Strong muscles don't constitute an ability to choose. They are the material. The ability to choose is volitional consciousness. As to the assertion that quills are only a potential survival advantage in the same way as volitional consciousness, that's wrong. Quills are a potential survival advantage but their possible relation with any particular environment is fixed. The standard by which the quills of an animal act automatically is life. They have an automatic, objective survival advantage. Volitional consciousness does not automatically act on the standard of life. The potential of a porcupine acts on the standard of life. The potential of a volitional consciousness does not automatically act on the standard of life. The potential of a volitional consciousness isn't just more complicated. Natural selection fully explains the selection pressure on animals. Saying that animal faculties in the present are just a potential like reason is confusing between the past and the present. The way animal faculties can potentially act in the present is exactly the same way they have actually acted in the past. The way volitional consciousness can potentially act in the present is not exactly the same way it acted in the past. The reason 'volitional consciousness' survived as a trait is because someone was rational in the past. That is not the potential of that trait for the present or for the future. The potential function of a quill or perceptual consciousness or animal learning or animal flight is exactly the same as the animal's history. The potential for a 'volitional consciousness' is different from the concrete events of the past. It need not even have been conceived yet. The difference is not one of "complication".
  5. I've already answered this several times. Any product of your choice is not a metaphysical fact. You are evading the choice involved. You are also equivocating between the two uses of the word "able", first as a capacity to prove that martians/saturnians are "able" to do something. Once you "proved" it, you swapped the meaning to introduce choice (survival advantage pertains to the real, the concrete. That concrete is the actual choice they made. The possibilities are your conceptions that you attributed to it. It doesn't exist in reality yet.) If you attributed to a martian the "possibility" of going to space or jumping into a volcano and if, in the future, you observed the martian jumping into a volcano, the other possibility of going into space isn't real. It is your conception. It doesn't exist. It can't affect anything in reality including survival advantage. What affects survival advantage is the actual choice: jumping into a volcano. The possibility of going to space doesn't exist now. It has no survival advantage. Just because you conceived of a possibility doesn't mean that it can affect reality. The finite choices X or X and Y are concrete bound. You aren't talking about volitional consciousness anymore. The possibilities of a volitional consciousness are potentially infinite (infinities don't exist in reality. These possibilities are potentials) and these possibilities can go either way (life or death). A saturnian may be better equipped to survive than a martian in the cold. These are metaphysically given. But in terms of their volitional consciousness, one is definitely not better than the other. Infinity has no nature and no survival advantage. The only metaphysical difference between the saturnian and the martian is the material on which they can act, the metaphysically given faculties they possess (and you swapped a faculty with a finite potential for a faculty for an infinite potential in your post when talking about X or X and Y).
  6. And these learned behaviors are called instincts. They are inherited in the sense that the things which cause them are inherited. They have no choice in what they learn. Even tribal behaviour in lions are probably learned, but these behaviors are still inherited by the nature of the faculties they have to use to survive. You (not me) are assuming a false dichotomy: either something is a mindless automata or it has volition. It is your assertion that animals are mindless automata if they don't have volition. Not mine. Animals can make decisions, but they have no volition. They couldn't have acted otherwise. Volition acknowledges the fact that you acted someway in the past but could have acted otherwise. No matter how complex animal learning is, everything from the signing of a chimpanzee to the "math" done by an African grey parrot is non-volitional. They couldn't have done otherwise. These behaviors don't exist in the wild but they are instinctual: they are automatic. They are learned, but they have no choice in that learning. They can make decisions but they have no choice in making that decision. Animal behaviours are learned, instinctual, and automatic. How they learn these behaviors is determined by their natures and hence is indirectly inherited. Behavior of domesticated animals is actually an example of instinct. Your assertion is that an instinct needs to be independent of the environment for it to be a true instinct. Basically, you've created a false dichotomy where if an action is contextual, it cannot be automatic and if it's automatic, it cannot depend on context. This is false: like pretty much anything in the world, instincts are contextual. You might be thinking of fixed pattern action but even that is contextual. Your argument is irrelevant to everything from human choice to human reflexes (and is irrelevant to animal reflexes, learning and instinct). Animal decision making is entirely perceptual. They aren't capable of error because they don't deal with anything that isn't the "given" in decision-making. Animals learn instinctually. They have no doubt about what they learn (because they couldn't have erred. Hey couldn't have done otherwise. There was nothing more they could do). The sign language, the math, the hunting are the "given". They are instinctual to animals because it is in their nature to do sign language and math (if sign language and math are introduced to them perceptually). They couldn't have done otherwise. This instinct is inherited: given their mental faculty, given the sign language in their "environment", given the reward system, they would invariably pick it up. This instinct is automatic and contextually invariable (the word contextually is unnecessary here. But you made this error before when talking about domesticated animals). In this context, sign language is an instinct: for an animal, it is an unerring, automatic action that results in rewards. It couldn't have done otherwise because that is its nature. For the chimpanzee, the sign language is the given. It doesn't know a universe without sign language. It is the perceptually evident and the animals grasps it unerringly: as a percept. A crucial question I want to ask you before further discussion: do you believe that decision making in animals involve volition (that is, do you think they could have acted otherwise)?
  7. It might as well be an "inherent disadvantage". Why are you disregarding the other possibility? Also, the advantage is not inherent (Rand: "...it was not inherent in the nature of existence...). The possibility was conceived by you. Of course, the nature of your mind allows you to carry it out, but it was still conceived by you. The possibility was not inherent in the nature of your mental faculty before you conceived of it (to say otherwise is to assume that the metaphysical facts of reality could have been otherwise. This is wrong. There are no different possibilities for metaphysical facts. They are what they had to be. The possibility is not inherent/metaphysical). It was a choice. Also, before further discussion: do you agree with the distinction Rand made between the metaphysical and the man-made? I already said this: "just so someone gets ideas: I'm not talking about the mutation that gave humans the faculty of reason. That was out of our control. I'm talking about what selected for this trait. That was a choice." How so? Which specific parts are you talking about?
  8. Volitional consciousness is necessary for all distinctly human achievements. But it isn't sufficient. It is impotent without actually making a choice. That is the only aspect needed for my argument. Your statistical statements are wrong though. Without choice, a volitional consciousness is absolutely impotent. Only because of the choices you make. You could have done otherwise. It has no inherent, automatic survival advantage. It does not function for your benefit automatically ("In regard to any man-made fact, it is valid to claim that man has chosen thus, but it was not inherent in the nature of existence for him to have done so: he could have chosen otherwise."). The choices you have made to survive wasn't metaphysically necessary. This is why a volitional consciousness has no inherent evolutionary advantage. The existence of volitional consciousness is a metaphysical fact. Its survival advantage is a man-made fact. There is a difference. The man-made survival advantage makes the selection process of 'volitional consciousness' artificial/man-made. Your assertion seems to amount to: 'if it gives no advantage without choice, it is impotent'. This is untrue. Just because something requires choice doesn't make it impotent. Man-made things aren't impotent. Rand: "Nothing is given to man on earth except a potential and the material on which to actualize it. The potential is a superlative machine: his consciousness; but it is a machine without a spark plug, a machine of which his own will has to be the spark plug, the self-starter and the driver; he has to discover how to use it and he has to keep it in constant action." No. The actual evolution of quills involved concrete events. In the case of humans, the concrete event is 'choice'. The potential is 'volitional consciousness'. 'Volitional consciousness' is the heritable trait. The specific choice isn't.
  9. Killing yourself is also an option. So, no. You essentially cannot remove choice from the equation. Then it won't be reason. If choice is involved, death is also involved. Statistically/amorally, the faculty of reason has no survival advantage or disadvantage. It is a potential. It cannot affect anything in reality. You're equating a potential "option" with an actuality. It simply cannot be done. (A better term to use would have been "volitional consciousness", but the point remains the same: it can be used to act against your nature, it doesn't function automatically and it is only a potential until you use it to make a choice.)
  10. Also I earlier (3 years ago) argued that the faculty of reason was not an adaptation to the environment. I'm not making that argument now (although I still believe it). There's no point in following that line of thought (or a line of thought involving evolution of instincts) unless we can agree that human reason did not evolve by natural selection. So I won't pursue that line of thought now.
  11. I'm resurrecting in this thread because it's so obvious to me that human beings did not evolve by natural selection and I don't get how other people don't see it. To be precise, note the fundamental assumptions of natural selection: 1) It involves genetically heritable traits. 2) These heritable traits should statistically increase the organism's chance for reproductive success. Now consider two species surviving in the arctic region: a polar bear which has a thick layer of fur and has the capacity for hibernation. Then there are some human beings who have built a house and lit a fire to keep themselves warm. Both species have a high degree of reproductive success. Now consider the African Savannah: there is a lion which uses its claws during hunting. Then there are some humans who hunt using spears. Both have a high degree of reproductive success. Here is the problem: humans don't satisfy 1) and 2) simultaneously for the same trait. Here, the trait involved (for humans) is the usage of shelter and spears. Neither are heritable genetically. The next generation of humans could burn down the house in the name of living in harmony with nature. They would die within a few days. The other group could stab themselves with a spear. Essentially, a human being can act against its own nature. The capacity of reason, which allows you to do either (survive or commit suicide), has no statistical survival advantage. Now what trait do human beings inherit? The capacity of reason. Human beings inherit a potency, not an actuality. The capacity that allows us to be rational also allows us to be irrational. A human being can act against its own nature. There is no statistical survival advantage to the faculty of reason. There is only a potential for advantage. Then what allowed human beings to survive? The usage of the faculty of reason to the purpose of survival. This is the specific trait that improved the reproductive success of humans. To sum up: a.) The trait that humans inherit is a potency: the faculty of reason. It has no statistical survival advantage. You could create or burn down a house. You could hunt animals or stab yourself with a spear. This faculty gives us the possibility of an incredible survival advantage as well as the ability to act against your own nature. This trait satisfies 1) but not 2). b.) The trait that allowed humans to survive is rationality (the specific usage of the capacity of reason for your survival). This trait increased the reproductive success of humans. This trait isn't heritable. This trait satisfies 2) but not 1) What this means for evolution: human beings evolved the trait of reason solely because they chose to be rational. Human beings evolved because of a non-heritable trait (essentially, the identification of the right philosophy, in some rudimentary, perhaps preverbal, form). Humans evolved because they chose to. If they had chosen not to be rational, they wouldn't have existed. The physical capacity of reason was selected because early humans chose to use it rationally. The tribes, races and other human-like species which did not use that faculty rationally perished. Humans do not currently possess the heritable trait of reason by natural selection. (Of course, humans acquired the trait of immunity and certain other things by natural selection, but not the trait of reason). The trait of reason was artificially selected by a specific number of humans who chose to use it rationally. This does not ensure our future survival (the faculty of reason does not change our statistical, amoral chance of survival). By chance alone, we could potentially perish in the future (since reason does not statistically improve our chances of survival). Of course, this wasn't purposeful artificial selection. These early humans chose to be rational and nature did the rest. But the term (artificial) highlights the fact that a choice was involved. Human faculty of reason could not have evolutionarily survived without some human being making that choice in the past. This is a fact. An extremely simple fact (if it was automatic, it would not involve reason). And there's no way around this. Humans do not possess the faculty of reason by natural selection (just so someone gets ideas: I'm not talking about the mutation that gave humans the faculty of reason. That was out of our control. I'm talking about what selected for this trait. That was a choice. If it wasn't a choice, it did not involve reason). For those saying I'm twisting Rand's philosophy, just ignore Rand's philosophy here. Just examine the facts. I had this theory way before I heard of Rand (at around 8th or 9th grade, years before I read Rand). However, some Rand quotes are relevant here: Why is this important? Because adaptation to the environment is heritable. It is a fixed relation requiring no choice. On the other hand, "adjusting his background to himself" is a non-heritable trait (the inherited trait, reason makes it possible, but doesn't cause this. It is only a potential). Reason, since it enables rationality, is the faculty that survives or perishes with rationality or irrationality. The only way humans could use reason is by choice. Hence choice is the distinguishing element in human evolution. Reason cannot be used without volition. It cannot survive genetically if you don't use it rationally. The specific choice (rational/irrational) you make isn't genetically heritable (you or your progeny could have done otherwise) but it is this trait that gives you reproductive success. Human beings did not evolve by natural selection (the reproductive success wasn't given by a heritable trait) but by a primitive form of artificial selection. I don't know in how many permutations I can state the same thing. This assertion seems so obvious to me and the more I think about it, the more obvious it seems. In summary, the essential human trait, reason, did not evolve by natural selection. And this does not involve any complicated arguments. Reason was not selected by natural selection by the fact that it does not function automatically and is a faculty that can contribute to life or death (and its survival depended on a specific non-heritable human choice in the past). Pretty much every fact about the nature of reason points to this (by simple logic). Until you actually make a choice as a baby, what you have is only a potential. A potential cannot be involved in any kind of evolutionary selection. It has to be actualized by a choice. In order to evolve as a human being some of our early ancestor had to have made a choice (otherwise, your capacity would only exist as a potential and could play no role in evolution). The choice had to have been rational for the presence of the rational faculty to be of any survival advantage. This choice is not heritable. However, human beings still survived. Human evolution (of reason) was driven by this choice, not by any heritable element involved in natural selection. The faculty of reason was a trait riding on the choices our ancestors made. It was artificially selected in a primitive way. It was not subject to natural selection because every time it was exercised, it involved choice (which could have gone either way if you talk about the faculty of reason itself. It's survival required an additional, non-heritable trait, the actual choice of being rational. This trait was not subject to natural selection simply because it was not heritable). And in case you didn't know, I already got variants of "you're rationalizing", "you're trying to fit science into philosophy", blah, blah... as replies to my above arguments. I don't need more of it. I you suggest that I'm taking concepts to the extreme, I'll take that as a complement. If you say that I'm using these concepts out of context, I'll say that you're wrong. If you care to, reply to the essentials of my arguments (which I've stated in different forms).
  12. The question itself is wrong. Sexuality isn't decided at a single point. It involves your entire sense of life, all the decisions you made after birth, including your choice to have fantasies to develop and automatize your desires.
  13. I'm not going to defend claims I didn't make.
  14. @Nicky Why do I have to defend the claim that homosexuals are irrational? Why did you assume that was my position? I have little to no interest in the "morality" of gays/lesbians because of their sexual orientation.
  15. I'll just say that no causal relation between any human trait/tendency/desire and cellular properties at conception have ever been discovered (including alcoholism, addiction, sexuality: all correlations discovered are less that 99.99%). And as an additional note, if the only choice humans have is between repression and appeasement ("Whether or not you act on a desire is a choice"), then that directly disproves Objectivism (that man is an integrated being). Of course, you can escape this conclusion by saying no impulses should be repressed/appeased. But that is just whim-worship. Besides, I've never felt a desire I can't trace back to my values (i.e., my values and desires are always consistent, whether I feel a conscious sense of choice or not), so I think it's pointless for me to continue this discussion. Let the people who have phantom desires discuss this. Everybody keeps talking about inborn desires. I have no idea what it is. My desires and values are consistent, and my values are chosen (inasmuch as I chose to think). What is the only conclusion you can derive from this? Try introspecting your own psychology and try to see if there is any inconsistency. And as many times as gay people repeat that they would never choose to be gay in a homophobic society, is there any actual inconsistency between their values and their desires? Don't they love their partners? Or are they claiming that they value their partners so little that they would ditch their partners at the slightest touch of social pressure? I don't find any inconsistency between their values and their desires. As much as they say they have no choice in the matter, I've never heard anyone say they hate who they're attracted to. They might hate the attraction, but they still value who they're attracted to. I don't see any inconsistency. It takes a lot of introspection to see that there is no contradiction between your values and your desires, that your desires are just what you would expect given what you truly value (despite superficial protests).