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intrinsicist

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  1. intrinsicist

    The family cannot survive without duty.

    That's right.Human nature is the standard from which we define self-interest, because "is" implies "ought". Rand identifies life as the most defining characteristic of human nature, and so life is the ultimate standard of value. I've argued here that sex is also a deeply defining characteristic of human nature, and so is also a major standard of value.Whether my arguments are "compatible with Objectivism" or not is up for debate. I think that the logic I've just given follows the basic Objectivist meta-ethics, and is in that sense compatible. And yet Objectivist meta-ethics is a hairy subject, there is quite a lot of literature dancing around trying to avoid any categorical commitments while hanging on to the basic logic of "is implies ought". I think these arguments fail. (ask 10 Objectivists and you will get 10 different answers - see Moen's paper, https://reasonpapers.com/pdf/342/rp_342_9.pdf and David Kelley's response for some of the disparate approaches to Objectivist meta-ethics).That being said, the metaphysical and ethical arguments I've made here are not found in Objectivist literature, and indeed you will almost universally find arguments against duty (with some minor exceptions).Objectivism is very light on metaphysics. Almost none of the central issues of that foundational branch of philosophy are really dealt with at all. And as mentioned, and I think as a consequence of the gaping holes in metaphysics, Objectivist ethics and meta-ethics is a mess.Objectivism as a philosophy is incomplete, and in places, inconsistent, and we need to start from the foundational roots of metaphysics in order to fix the problems with the philosophy.
  2. intrinsicist

    The Case for Open Objectivism

    link doesn't seem to be working
  3. intrinsicist

    The family cannot survive without duty.

    Jason Hunter writes: "Salon released an article a few years ago claiming Objectivism is anti-family and the Atlas Society released an article in response which I found to be rather weak." Atlas Society article: https://atlassociety.org/commentary/commentary-blog/5440-objectivism-is-not-anti-family I agree that the Atlas Society article is weak, but the reasons for this go deep. Taken at face value, the author of this article is simply asserting the basic tenet of egoism - the extent your family members provide value to you is the extent to which you maintain a relationship with them. There's no argument here, of course your choices dealing with family should be like anything else in life, based on your own rational self-interest. And to be fair, they are not espousing the most shallow of conceptions of self-interest, this isn't merely about some material gain or non-material advantage like social status, it goes deeper than merely some actual advantage conferred to you. There is an element here, as in Rand, of the love of virtue, as something beautiful and valuable for its own sake. And so it's in your interests to maintain relationships with such virtuous people even in the absence of any specific or material advantage they bring to the table. Virtuous people are worth keeping a relationship with for the sake of their virtue alone. To some this seems like a strong position - coming from the perspective of self-interest, we've covered relationships based on specific advantages to you, and we've even covered a more non-specific or spiritual kind of self-interest when it comes to the appreciation of virtue. So where does this criticism of weakness come from? Is there some value, some aspect of self-interest, which goes even deeper than this? If so, I'd like to know what it is. After all, I'm out to maximize my own self-interest, I don't want to be missing out on it! The answer to this is yes. There is something deeper, and there is far more value at stake than what we've discussed so far. Family in general, and let's take marriage in particular, provides something deeply satisfying to life. There's a sense of the relationship being meaningful, that it's right, that it's somehow meant to be this way. It's a feeling deeper than happiness - marriage, like having children, may not confer any particular greater sense of "happiness" in any shallow sense of day to day hardships and pleasures - but it feels real, it feels true, like you're doing what you're meant to be doing, and it confers a sense of self-esteem that goes along with being on the right track in life, and accomplishing something meaningful. This is a feeling that comes from a very deep thought about human nature, and what it means to be human, about what we even are as people, and what is good for such human beings. Think of it in these terms: human beings are a sexually reproducing species. This entire system of values - the masculine man and feminine woman having a relationship and children - it's obviously a very deep and important part of human nature. As a human being you're an animal - a member of a sexually reproducing species - and your body, your innate pleasures, everything about your metaphysical nature has been built according to this deeply fundamental characteristic of sex (maybe nothing is more fundamental to your nature except life). For men and women to reach the highest potentiality of their existence, to fulfill all of their innate desires and natural pleasures consistently and to the fullest extent, they seek complementary romantic relationships with the opposite sex, and procreation. When they achieve these things, when they get married or have a baby, they reportedly experience the greatest joys of their life. This is widely attested to throughout history and across all human cultures. Nearly all human beings and other animals seek opposite sex relationships based on their biological sex. These behaviors are accounted for by the physical and psychological desires and complementarity innate to human beings and other animals by virtue of their sexual nature, and the rational decisions they make to achieve those values. (Hermaphroditic and other biological edge cases are accounted for by genetic disorders. The remainder of the edge cases are accounted for by psychological disorders and irrational choices with respect to the highest achievement of one's values. The psychological disorder of homosexuality was at one time very well studied before the field of psychology was disrupted by force and intimidation from pro-homosexual groups. This story is well accounted for in Objectivist Ron Pisaturo's book Power and Beauty, if you're interested in looking into it.) There are occasionally some accidents in nature, but the fact that every single living thing alive now or ever is the product of reproduction, throughout the entire history of life on Earth, goes to show that this is a principle deeply embedded in all living things, and in human nature in particular. What I'm trying to communicate here is that there is a metaphysical truth about human nature - something that cannot be changed and must be accepted. This truth is that human beings come in two flavors: male and female, and that they are designed as independent parts of a married whole; alone they are incomplete and together they complete each other, and that this combination is still yet incomplete, and is consummated and thus even further completed through procreation. This complementarity, this completeness, is not merely physical completeness or psychological completeness - it's all of the above and more, it is by design, by one's metaphysically given nature. Family is an end in itself. Seeking the completion of family is a good that is in your own self-interest, and separation from family is thereby a lacking which goes against your self-interest. It's not a free-for-all trade of values, even spiritual values like the appreciation of virtue in itself. The value of the relationship doesn't depend primarily on these things, and so the obligation to family - guided by your own self-interest - is not contingent on such things. What emerges from this basic metaphysical truth is a duty to your family - much like the duty to appreciate a man's virtues, or your obligation to fulfill your side of a contract. It's a categorical commitment, not a contingent one. Any violation of a contract is an injustice, any rejection of a man's virtue is an injustice. These are not "if I feel like it" case by case issues, these are black an white matters of justice and morality, of right and wrong. Does this mean you must carry out some straw-man Kantian duty and confer material benefits, or honor, or respect, or any other such advantage to someone who hasn't earned it? Of course not. But it does mean that you have a binding obligation to your family and that your values and your self-interest are inextricably tied up in these bonds. You can't get everything that life has to offer, you can't experience the deepest and most satisfying sense of meaning and true happiness, without the irreplaceable relationships you have with your family.
  4. "A “universal” is any property, quality, relation, characteristic, attribute, or combination of these—generally, any “feature of reality”—which may be identically present in diverse contexts. The “problem” of universals is—to put it in any of several ways—whether there are, or can be, strict identities between disparate contexts; whether two objects can literally have common attributes; whether universals (i.e., repeatable predicables, or qualities that can be “predicated” of more than one object) are really and genuinely present in their apparent “instances” or whether the mind merely behaves as though they are." "There are precisely two basic solutions to the genuine problem of universals: realism and nominalism. The former holds that there are some real universals, the latter that there aren’t any. A general theory of universals may hold that some apparent universals exist only in the mind and that others are real in some other sense. But for any given universal, these two alternatives exhaust the possibilities, and an ontology that admits even a single real universal is a version of realism. Though there are subheadings under each type of solution, there is no genuine third alternative unless we are willing to dispense with the Law of the Excluded Middle. And - importantly - both views are irreducibly ontological. There is simply no way to reduce the problem of universals to a pure matter of epistemology; that is why it has traditionally been regarded as a problem of metaphysics in the first place" - Scott Ryan
  5. intrinsicist

    Just Shut Up and Think

    Dismissal is an act of force, not an act of reason.
  6. intrinsicist

    Universals

    The thing this boils down to in intrisicism is that things are what they are, they have a definite nature. In a purely reductive materialism, there are no actual things, not at the high-level "middle-size dry goods" ordinary objects of our day to day experience. If everything we see around us is a happenstance configuration of particles that could just as equally be any other way, if you can arbitrarily hack on various properties to these objects, arbitrarily assign various functions, and that ultimately the definition *doesn't matter*, then there are no "things". The only demarcation involved is your own naming schema, a nominalistic assignment. There is a really easy analogy here to software. In my coding philosophy, all of your objects are well-defined, your database tables are normalized. Attributes of the objects are columns on the table, and separate concepts go into separate tables, etc. etc. All of the functionality is broken up into delimited, well-defined functions. In every case, the objects and the functions are coded to the spec. The spec is a higher-level definition of what the thing is, what it ought to be. Any mistake can be easily judged - and intrinsically known to be wrong - without looking at any outside purpose, without performing any estimate of the consequences relative to an agent - because the judgment is relative to the spec, to the definition of the thing, which also lays out the standard of its ideal. When you see people abandoning this philosophy in code, when there are no well-defined functions, they don't have any specified purpose, all you have, rather, is a chunk of code which happens to do something - just as in a metarialistic metaphysics, you just have a configuration of particles - it could be any other way or do any other thing just as well, it just happens to be the way it is. And there's no way to know whether or not it's got a bug, except by some far-reaching consequence, that the user is unhappy, or that the system as a whole is slow, or what have you. When you look at the function itself, there's no way to know or define whether it's right or wrong, it's all relative to a utilitarian system whose outcome is completely out of the scope of the function. The code is in essence unintelligible, buggy, inefficient spaghetti code. Or when the database is not normalized, and you have multiple concepts crammed into a single table, or a table with a sprawling list of attributes that conglomerate a bunch of pragmatic considerations, with no overall definition, no spec which the idea of the table is supposed to adhere to, you end up with the same issue: an unintelligible, buggy, inefficient mess of spaghetti code. And likewise, as a developer, how can you own something, if there is no *abstractly-defined* "thing" to own? There's just a scrambled mess of a system that everyone is trying to hunt for little improvements or patch the problems where they spring up. Nothing has a spec that defines what it is or what it ought to be, and therefore there *is* nothing in particular which anyone can specifically own and ensure that it does the "right thing". There's is just the brute, collective reality of all the things that *are*. This is the way I see reality as an intrinsicist. There is a higher-level metaphysical spec which defines what the objects of this world are, and what they ought to be. There is a well-defined, intelligible order to the universe; reality has a flawless ideal which everything can be measured against. You can't say that is implies ought, if you don't have an abstract spec of what is, such that you can infer what ought to be *from the spec*. Otherwise the distinction between "is" and "ought" would be meaningless - if everything, concretely, ought to be what it already is, and nothing beyond that, then you cannot infer any moral conclusion whatsoever. The philosophical basis of the idea that is implies ought, is one in which there is an abstract standard, a metaphysical spec which defines the nature of the object, the purpose for which its intended, and the standards which define the ideal. Then, anything concrete can be checked against its spec, against it's abstract standard, and can be judged accordingly. Everything about how it ought to be, what it ought to be doing, and every standard of goodness and behavior, is implied by what it is. And if you abandon "is implies ought", then you are left with no rationally justifiable moral standard whatsoever. This is the way the intrinsicist sees the world, everything has some well-defined abstract nature. Every concrete is an instance of some defined abstraction, a kind. And there are many kinds in the world. This system of kinds you can call the logos - it is the metaphysical nature of reality. This logos is an important part of what people often mean by "God" - theological non-cognitivists take note. And while "God" often means many other things to many different people as well, it usually means this, too. And skeptics, atheists, and materialists of every stripe not only deny "God" - which includes all sorts of things to all sorts of people, often incorrectly - they also deny the logos. In this they are wrong, because the logos can be shown to be rationally irrefutable by the impossibility of the contrary, in that it makes absurdity out of any system of thought which denies it. This logos and the system of rationality, morality, and individual rights it makes coherent, is at the root of the religious worldview, as opposed to say a skeptic/pragmatic or absurd/postmodern worldview. So when you hear a believer talking about God, there is something basically true, basically right about their point of view, about what they are saying. At the very least, insofar as "God" means this logos, this intrinsicist worldview, they are *right*. This is just something to think about. All of philosophy - the rest of epistemology, ethics, politics, and aesthetics - is going to start from, and depend on, this foundation. Everything in Objectivism needs to be analyzed and evaluated in this light, and the parts of Objectivism that are based on a consequentialist ethics and materialistic metaphysics, need to be *corrected*. Whether you want to *call it* Objectivism or something else, these issues need to be corrected, and we need to move forward with this project of philosophy. Make no mistake, we are losing, and we are losing to the absurd, postmodern worldview. And Rand was right, the moral and practical are one - this postmodern break from reality, break from morality, break from individual rights, is going to disintegrate into absolute hell, in your private life, and in our political world, if we don't start winning again. Just being louder, printing more copies of the books, is not going to change the game board. Atlas Shrugged has been published for more than 60 years. The Objectivist movement is broken. The liberty movement is broken. These ideas have not swept the political landscape, they have not unified the culture (or even the liberty movement, or even the Objectivist movement). Objectivism itself is broken. The philosophy is incomplete, and in places, inconsistent. We must start from the foundational roots of metaphysics in order to fix the philosophical problems, fix the arguments and inconsistencies, and thus change people's minds, unify the movement, and sweep the cultural and political landscape. That foundation is intrinsicism.
  7. Great question. Have you read The Romantic Manifesto? Rand talks about the origins of emotion in one's thinking and philosophical premises, and especially in one's metaphysics and metaphysical value judgements. You can become psychologically and emotionally twisted out of sync with reality through contempt for your own nature, the nature of man, or the nature of reality. This sort of malevolence is the place to start. The proper attitude in Objectivism is called the Benevolent Universe premise. So try to start looking at the world as a place that is intrinsically good, and at human nature as intrinsically good. Human nature naturally pairs us into male / female couples, and there is deep complementarity in that pairing, rationally, functionally, aesthetically, psychologically, socially, and so on. The level of meaning and value in that complementarity is surprisingly deep, I dont know if anyone has fully developed that idea yet. It's a moral ideal that you should strive for.
  8. intrinsicist

    Universals

    @Eiuol I'm not sure you've addressed my argument. Your position is that even without metaphysical universals you can define a category in your mind, and accumulate instances which fit that category, but my argument is that without a metaphysical universal, there's no way to infer anything about future instances of that category, besides merely the criteria on which you've grouped them (which is simply tautologically true). You know in analytic synthetic dichotomy, Peikoff talks about how a nominalist forms categories that are merely tautologically true, as in you can't get anything out of them that you haven't already defined? It seems like you're backed into a corner: either there is something both metaphysical and universal and thus it's justifiable to infer more than a tautology about instances that you haven't already seen, or else if there is nothing both metaphysical and universal, and then you cannot possibly be justified in inferring anything but tautology about things which you haven't already seen. The thing is, I'm unclear which side of the dichotomy I'm presenting that you are trying to take. You do believe that you can infer non-tautological things about future instances from your epistemic categories, correct? Do you agree that there are things that hold universally in reality (by "universally" I mean in all cases / at all times, i.e. it's possible to identify some things that are always true in reality outside of tautologies)? If so, then these things, whatever they are, are both metaphysically real and universal. It's not a mere epistemic category or a tautology, but rather it's true in reality. Doesn't this amount to a realist/intrinsicist answer to the problem of universals? Because I mean, if you believe things can be metaphysical and universal, and you believe that you can justifiably infer things about instances you haven't yet observed, then that sounds consistent between metaphysics and epistemology - and contrary to the strong statements Rand made in ITOE against universals, like, "...“manness” in man and “roseness” in roses. I was arguing with him that there is no such thing". Or is the amount of metaphysical universality that you believe in not sufficient to cover cases like "manness" or "roseness"?Because it's like, if you say you believe in things that are metaphysical and universal, and you are thus justified in making inferences, but then you deny such things as "man" or "rose", etc., have any metaphysical universal grounding, then you aren't justified in making inferences on those things or things like them. Which would really impoverish your position back down again. So it's really a question of, well what's left that is universal? Because that's the limit of what you're going to be justified in making inferences about. And if you are taking out "man" or "rose", that really doesn't bode well for you philosophically, I mean the entire realm of ethics and politics deals with the nature of man and what you can infer about man universally. So you basically eliminate any justifiable theory of ethics or politics applicable to all men. I'm not hung up on calling it "a universal" or "manness", what I'm stuck on is the issue of, "is there actually anything that's universally true in reality?". That's the important sense of "manness" that's at issue here.
  9. intrinsicist

    When to take time off

    I do it every few years. Take a year or two sabbatical now and then. Saving enough money for permanent retirement is a very long-term prospect.
  10. intrinsicist

    Intro to Objectivist Epistemology

    Rand only wrote an introduction to epistemology (and no more than a few statements on metaphysics).
  11. intrinsicist

    Objective Black and White Ideals

    First and foremost Ayn Rand lists life as an end in itself. Her argument in The Objectivist Ethics is that: That is, moral principles derive from the nature of Man, because is implies ought. It's not just limited to life, she goes on: So you can derive a list of specific, objective values and ideals by reference to the nature of Man, and what it means to live like a man - and that means all the characteristics of man's nature - not just his survival as a living organism or his rational faculty. Ayn Rand lists seven major virtues in Atlas Shrugged: rationality, independence, integrity, honesty, justice, productiveness, pride. Another more specific example like "life", would be one's sex, which means a couple of key things, like living as man or a woman accordingly, and learning to follow the principles of masculinity and femininity. It also means pursuing the ideal of heterosexual marriage and procreation. These are objective moral principles and ideals, guidelines for how to live, and how to give emphasis, optimization, beauty, etc, that follow from important aspects of human nature and identity. These would be like any other aspects of morality, they are not optional, or dependent upon someone's subjective whim, and going against them would be immoral and self-sacrificial.
  12. intrinsicist

    Universals

    Of course I agree that would would be a contradictory position to hold, if you are also assuming that the only thing that exists are concrete, physical objects extended in space. My claim here goes against that assumption. I am arguing for the metaphysical existence of universals, i.e. existents which are not concrete, physical objects extended in space. You are asserting the opposite position that I am taking. I've made a number of arguments for my position throughout this thread, so please take a look and let me know what you think of them. SpookyKitty seems to be the only one who has clearly understood what I'm saying so far.
  13. intrinsicist

    Universals

    Louie, I understand that. You can define a category of "winged things" which is open-ended, and therefore includes all winged things you've yet to observe. What I don't understand is why you aren't proceeding to my next question from there, as it is still unanswered. The question is regarding your belief that "any new particulars added to the set will behave as the rest of the set". Obviously any new instance added to the set will have wings, but what else can you say of it besides that? I'm suggesting that without such a thing as a natural class, that you are merely forming a nominal category, in other words the category is merely analytical, and the only thing you can infer from classifying something as a "winged thing" is that it has wings. Which is of course useless. If there is no natural kind backing the concept, then there's no justification for inferring anything beyond what you've already defined. If on the other hand your concepts are identifying a natural kind, then there's a necessary connection between all particulars in the set, from which you can justifiably infer things like "any new particulars added to the set will behave as the rest of the set". Do you understand this distinction here at least? I've been trying to describe these two fundamentally different ideas of concepts/universals, and how very different they are philosophically.
  14. intrinsicist

    Universals

    Again, I already understand what you're saying. You've defined some set of particulars - not a universal set, but a finite set - and you've identified some invariant facts about that set - which are not universals, but rather they are just abstract properties of that particular set. And again, the question I'm asking is, how can you extend that to particulars outside of your cherry-picked set? You're telling me it "stands for" an unlimited range of things abstractly, but concretely it only refers to some particular set of items you've already identified. How do you know that the abstraction you've come up with actually does apply to the full range of things that it stands for? You believe that, so apparently you do believe that you're identifying a universal in reality. Call it what you want - it functions as a universal. It abstractly identifies something in reality that is timeless, something where instances at all times and in all cases will behave in this same way. If you're trying to extend your abstraction across all instances at all times, and out into reality (in the sense that you actually believe that it will predict the future behavior of things in reality), then you are talking about something that is metaphysical and universal. A nominalist is someone who rejects that any such thing is metaphysically possible or epistemologically justifiable. If you deny the existence of universals metaphysically, then there's no reason to believe that your abstraction will extend beyond the range of the small set of particulars it currently refers to (and certainly not to believe that you have knowledge or certainty about it). In that case these "universal" epistemological abstractions don't provide knowledge, you can't have certainty about them - and indeed the opinion of a nominalist is that the use of or belief in such "epistemological universals" is foolish and counter-productive, after all, what's the point in having or believing in some "timeless essential" if it's not referring to something that is actually timeless in reality? These universal abstractions actually distort your view of reality since there are no such things. All you have are retrospective categories of reference guided by pragmatism. Again, as I've been saying, nominalists of all kinds own up to this and wear it proudly, declaring that all that is possible to man are pragmatically guided categories and statistical correlations, and that belief in concepts, in universals that actually hold in reality, is akin to a religious fantasy which we must break ourselves from and "be real". So you really have to pick a side here. Either you believe that there are these knowable universals which actually hold in reality, or else that there is no such thing. You can't keep telling me that there is nothing in reality which holds universally, but that you can still have knowledge of things which hold universally. You can't. You either need to own up to your metaphysical stance epistemologically, or own up to your epistemological stance metaphysically. You can't have it both ways. You can't steal the concept of metaphysical universality in your epistemology while denying it in your metaphysics - not if you're being honest with yourself. Either you have a merely pragmatic stance (i.e. "I'll hold this as if it's a universal, even though I don't believe in such things, since that seems to work well") in which case you ought to own up to that epistemologically as a nominalist, or else you do believe that universal knowledge is possible but you're operating on a stolen metaphysical premise, in which case you ought to own up to that metaphysically as an intrinsicist. Given the absurdity and incoherence of the former, I'd suggest going with intrinsicism.
  15. intrinsicist

    Universals

    I understand that's what you're going for, but my question here has been: how is that possible? How can a symbol meaningfully stand for an unlimited range of yet-to-be-observed particulars without relying on a real universal, some real property that makes them what they are, with which we can make universal claims about all such instances? It seems like you run into the same problems whether you're talking about things you're "referring to" or things that the symbol "stands for", I'm not seeing what that distinction buys you here. Based on what in reality? You're telling me there's this "something" in reality which makes all instances which have this "something" identical by nature. That's an exact description of a real universal! I would agree that this is clearly what she is implicitly relying on in numerous places in the book (and in many derivative ways throughout Objectivist philosophy), and yet she specifically rejects the reality of these metaphysical universals, these "timeless essentials" which man "recognizes", the "treeness" in tree or "manness" in man, etc. The issue here, both with you and with Rand, is the reliance on the real universals while denying them.
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