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MisterSwig

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  1. I agree that non-thinking things act in accord with their natures, but so do thinking things. I therefore don't understand the relevance of this point. I believe the relevant distinction here is that lower organisms aren't conceptually aware of their standard of value. They act to keep their lives (or not) automatically. Their automatic action, however, is not automatically beneficial to their lives. They might be an unfit mutant. Man, on the other hand, can be conceptually aware of his standard of value and can, as a maturing adult, learn to maintain his life by rational choice. (As a baby, he maintains his life by reflexes, and later mimickry, much like our primitive progenitors.) This view seems based on "standard" as merely an abstraction with no concrete units in reality. I could say that the lower organisms don't use food, because only humans have the concept of "food." But I would be wrong, because "food" refers to actual, particular things (leaves, bugs, mice, deer, wheat) that exist in reality and function as food relative to the user. The user needn't be aware of what humans call the thing in order to use the thing. And so a lower organism can use its particular life to react automatically without knowing that humans refer to its life as its standard of value in that context of acting to gain or keep something. I disagree. She repeated the exact same idea at least three or four times in the context of plants and lower organisms. I see no indication of metaphorical usage. She initially used it to refer to a particular thing (an organism's life), and later she used it to refer to an idea (man's life). Because man is conceptual, he has both standards, his own life and his concept of life. It is up to him to ensure that his concept does not contradict his reality.
  2. You think he got it right in '76? Because that's where he said that "implicitly, life is the standard of value guiding their actions [meaning the 'lower organisms']." And that is the formulation that Rand apparently approved. We might ask what it means to implicitly guide an action, but I want to understand your basic position first. When you say that Peikoff got it right, do you mean in '76 or '91--or both?
  3. An amount, or quantity, of life is different from life itself. Rand is talking about different types of action and consciousness, not merely different quantities. Besides you're talking about average lifespan. There is no correlation between an organism's particular lifespan and particular range of action. Newborns and the elderly typically have smaller ranges of action than young adults in their prime, but each case is different. It doesn't work generally, either. Sponges, for example, live for hundreds, sometimes thousands, of years, and they can hardly be said to have the greatest range of action. While Rand limited the context to "higher organisms," by this she did not mean higher mammals, which you suggest. She clearly meant conscious organisms, as opposed to plants. Her first example is "the lower of the conscious species" which only possess sensation. (VOS, p. 19) We can discuss linguistics on another thread, if you want. I'd rather not derail this one.
  4. Here is another example where you misrepresent Rand's argument to fit your own view. She did not say that man's survival is proportionate to the range of his consciousness. She wrote: It isn't man's survival that's proportionate to the range of his consciousness, it's his range of actions that's proportionate. There is no range of survival. You're either alive or not, living or dead. Again, you've misconstrued an important part of Rand's argument. I have now given you two plain examples where you have misrepresented the text. Are you going to address the problem?
  5. Why did you exclude man from Rand's examples of an organism? Did you miss it on page 17? Do you see where she says "if an organism fails in the basic functions required by its nature--if an amoeba's protoplasm stops assimilating food, or if a man's heart stops beating--the organism dies"? Doesn't this undermine your representation of Rand's argument? You mixed up the examples she gave for functions of an organism with the examples she gave for organisms themselves, thereby missing her entire point regarding "an organism's life is its standard of value." You have missed the objective basis for the Objectivist ethics. If you're willing to focus on this particular issue and textual passage, perhaps we can make this thread productive again.
  6. You might be interested to know how Peikoff changed a particular paragraph on the standard of value between his 1976 lecture "The Philosophy of Objectivism" and his book OPAR, published in 1991. After arguing, in '76, that lower organisms act automatically and that "implicitly life is the standard of value guiding their actions," he continues: Fifteen years later, in OPAR, he says that for plants and animals, "implicitly, life is their inbuilt standard of value, which determines all their goals and actions." He added "inbuilt," and changed "guiding their actions" to "determines all their goals and actions." Then the following paragraph looks like this: Note that he added the phrase "leaving aside his internal bodily processes," which did not appear in his 1976 lecture. I find this to be a strange revision. Let's imagine that we keep man's internal bodily processes with the rest of him, would he now have an inbuilt standard of value, like the lower animals? Why must we disregard such a large part of him? It seems to me that my internal bodily processes make up the bulk of my existence. What would I be without them: a disembodied mind? Is it just my mind that lacks an inbuilt standard of value? Or am I allowed to retain my external bodily processes? Though I'm not sure what that would mean, since even hair growth involves internal processes below the surface of the skin. I might consider the rest of those quotes later, but right now I'll turn to the question of whether Peikoff has accurately represented Rand's philosophy. Because she approved of and attended his '76 course, it can easily be argued that she agreed that "man has no built-in, pre-programmed standard of value." However, those are still Peikoff's words, despite Rand's endorsement. So let's also consider what she, herself, wrote in The Objectivist Ethics (1961): Here she makes no initial division between the lower species and man, and she doesn't use words like "implicit" and "inbuilt." She talks generally about an organism, from an amoeba to a man. And she argues for its life being its standard of value. She must mean "standard of value" in the widest, biological sense of the concept. For it isn't until later in the essay that she narrowly identifies "the standard of value of the Objectivist ethics," which, of course, is "man's life." (p. 25) It seems to me that Peikoff conflated the biological standard of value (an organism's life) with the Objectivist standard of value (man's life), in his attempt to reformulate Rand's philosophy. And since Rand apparently approved of his '76 formulation, Objectivists will likely debate this issue until the end of time.
  7. Applying objectivity to ethics is very difficult. Many Objectivists simply can't do it. They can't escape from the "thou shalt not" dogmatism of religion.
  8. You're not clear on what Rand wrote, so you're going to rely on Internet strangers to explain her arguments to you? I suppose this is your great "philosophical training" put into action. I can't say I'm very impressed with this second-hand approach to gaining knowledge. But I'm certainly not surprised by it.
  9. I'll do this once, because you're new and clearly not equipped to do it yourself. But if this doesn't work, I'm absolutely finding something better to do. Let's analyze what happened. You asked someone to condense Rand's argument into a simple, essentially syllogistic form. I did it. I then noted that these arguments typically end in a dispute over certain concepts, and I asked you to define them. A normal person would retain the context that I'm using Rand's definitions and that I just expressed a concern that we might end up disputing certain concepts. So why would I want you to tell me how I define them? Do you think that I want to have a debate with myself? Just tell me if you agree with Rand's definitions or not--and if you don't, how do you define these terms? Or do you not use such concepts in your own philosophy?
  10. Oh, please. I didn't ask you to define my terms for me. I did what you asked, and you didn't do what I asked, and this is not my first time on this merry-go-round. So I'll just leave you with this. Feel free to challenge my theory on that thread.
  11. Premise 1: Your life is your ultimate value. Premise 2: Your ultimate value is your standard of value. Conclusion: Your life is your standard of value. Which premise do you reject? Usually these arguments end in a dispute over the concept of "life" or "standard" or "value." So you should probably define these concepts for us. Maybe you don't agree that your life is your ultimate value. What, then, is your ultimate value? Maybe you don't agree that your ultimate value is your standard of value. If so, why should a lesser value be the standard?
  12. Why should we expect Peikoff to know fourteen years ago what you only revealed to us a couple years ago? Most people don't conduct journalistic investigations into their friends' histories or business practices.
  13. Me too. I have my bag of popcorn and an extra large iced tea.
  14. US Presidents List.xlsx There's the spreadsheet. I added a column for months in office. And I split FDR's presidency into two rows to make the chart below easier to read. The bars represent months in office per president (going chronologically from left to right). Note that FDR has two bars (94.5 and 51 months) which could be combined as one huge one.
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