Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum


  • Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

About mb121

  • Rank
    Junior Member

Previous Fields

  • Country
    Not Specified
  • State (US/Canadian)
    Not Specified
  • Copyright
  1. mb121

    Is Objectivism ACTUALLY Built on Man's Nature?

    Because I'm arguing (among other things) that the act of raising a family leads to the expression of much of our communalistic nature.
  2. mb121

    Is Objectivism ACTUALLY Built on Man's Nature?

    Sure, but I'm not even going that far. Objectivism's metaphysical understanding of man is wrong.
  3. mb121

    Is Objectivism ACTUALLY Built on Man's Nature?

    Yup. I'm 21 years old and a former first place winner of "The Fountainhead Essay Contest." I'm a student at Yale University and know several people who placed close behind me also attending Ivy League Universities. We are all former Objectivists because Objectivism denies that man is a political animal. I also know several adults (some professors) who subscribed to Randian Oism when they were much younger. When talking about the appeal of a philosophy I won't hesitate for a moment to draw on statistics. Youngsters, like myself, have never had to raise children or take family considerations seriously. The older people I know tell me that family life makes evident many non-egoistical elements of our human nature. Perhaps this is why none of Rand's major characters had children (save for one). In addition, this is probably why Rand never had children as well. Here are the substantiated claims I made: 1) Man is a political animal because he relies on relationships to survive. He evolved out of a tribalistic context. Academia suggests he thus has communal psychological drives which Objectivism dismisses. His drive to have relationships extends beyond capitalism and into the realm of wanting to belong to groups and gain status within those groups. 2) Objectivism cannot predicate rights on rationality and also grant them to children or the mentally handicapped. Therefore, I suppose it's OK for me to blow the brains out of my own children. No? Well, to you who intuit that this is wrong (probably on an instinctual level per our human nature), you're going to have to crank out an explanation that doesn't rely on rationality. 3) Sexual urges are not predicated on egoistical values. They are predicated on communalistic indicators which include: status, looks, fertility, etc. This also suggests that man is a political animal and not merely a rational being.
  4. mb121

    Is Objectivism ACTUALLY Built on Man's Nature?

    I have met my fair share of Objectivists, and I should say 90% of them are "former" Objectivists mostly under under the age of 25. These include winners of the Fountainhead/Atlas Shrugged essay contests. Of course, that's not to say there aren't older Objectivists. But the fact that Objectivism's major following tends to be youngsters who haven't yet had families might tell you something about its appeal.
  5. mb121

    Is Objectivism ACTUALLY Built on Man's Nature?

    Perhaps this is why Objectivism is laughed out of almost all serious philosophical discussions in places like Ivy League Universities. In highly educated circles, most people have heard of (and even read) Rand's major works. But the general dismissive attitude of all anti-Objectivist sentiment as "unsubstantiated" or "anti-reason" (usually without much explanation) is almost laughable.
  6. mb121

    Is Objectivism ACTUALLY Built on Man's Nature?

    You. Me. Everyone who reads this post. "We" is a linguistic device which communicates the summation of individuals. Objectivists love to pretend that "we" must signify the belief that people who use the word must think that humans are some singular, communalistic blob of an entity. Obviously that is not what is being conveyed. Stop being rhetorically dramatic and answer the criticism. This is a fair request. Here's a start: Maslow's hierarchy of needs (which has acually been around since I believe the 40's). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow's_hierarchy_of_needs Although there have been criticisms that the structure of Maslow's pyramid might be too rigid, I can't think of any serious study which denies that the "needs" he idenifies don't exist on a psychological level.
  7. Critique: Objectivism attempts to create a philosophy around the nature of a rational being, but not man qua man. IE, man isn't just a rational being. Modern academia suggests that man: - needs to feel that he belongs in a community - needs to feel differentiated in some way within his community. Of course, man could suppress the above necessities but he would suffer the psychological and biological consequences. Objectivism tries to deny these elements of man's nature because it aesthetically prefers to focus on his rational faculties; however, this criticism contends that man isn't just a rational being. Objectivism insists (or at least in spirit insists) that man is not a political animal; however, this is fundamentally against man's true nature. As soon as we are born, we will die quickly if we do not receive intensive care and guidance from others more experienced than us. The relationships which we form are integral, not incidental, to our survival. The same biological and psychological needs that we have for others when we're children don't just suddenly dissapate when we reach "the age of rationality." Yet, objectivism insists that as soon as a man has the ability to go off on his own he should strive to be self-sufficient at all costs. This is probably why the common objectivist's "sense of life" is almost always individualistic. Political implications: - man never existed in a "state of nature" as a loner. He evolved within the context of tribalistic communities (and we all know Rand detested tribalism). - the concept of individual rights is almost impossible to apply to children, although many objectivists have come up with ridiculous explanations for why children have rights. When you try to build boxes around individuals as self-sufficient entities, you deny our fundamental communalistic nature as expressed in early childhood. - objectivists must also deny that the mentally handicapped have rights. Whether we admit it or not, this makes all of us feel unconfortable. As a side-note, objectivism even tries to describe our sexual nature as somehow individualistic. Anyone who has seriously reflected on their own sexual impulses knows that we are not attracted to mates based off of how they "reflect our values as individuals." IE, if aliens landed on earth who also happened to share egoistic values I doubt objectivists would be flocking to them for sexual gratification. Men are attracted to women primarily on looks, while women are attracted to men primarily on social status and the ability to accrue resources (which is inherently communalistic). Obviously, objectivism's support of capitalism taps into some of the human need to associate with other individuals. However, this merely glosses over the situation as any rational being qua rational being would find benefits with the ability to trade with others. Humans are more than traders. We are fundamentally communalistic. We are psychologically driven to feel belonging in groups and then, once members, we feel the drive to obtain status within those groups (esp. males, who are driven to compete for status with others on a sexual basis). We feel this drive just as much as we feel the drive to be sexual. It is built into our nature. Does this mean we must "submit our minds" to the collectivist abyss? No. Rationality obviously plays a huge role in the way healthy humans function. But to focus on this element alone does a huge disservice to both philosophy and biology. How would objectivists answer this critique
  8. Very interesting discussion so far. I have a few things to add. 1) I have read many objectivist attempts to justify child rights (and for that matter the rights of the mentally handicapped). They mostly rely on the "potential" for rationality which is a very vague standard. There are also objectivists who flat out deny that children have rights, instead replacing them pseudo-rights (again on the standard for potential rationality). Do I really have to point out why this is silly? 2) Child-rearing is a fulfilling experience for you. For that I am glad. But I just want to note (although this is not your intention) that when you make a list of X, Y, and Z of how raising a child adds to your hedonic calculus it sounds almost repulsive. What happens when it stops being "fulfilling"? You might argue that you would still be "committed," but based off of what? If objectivists quip and quabble all of the time about the very status of rights for Children, is this really what you want to base your human instinct for procreation on? Forgive the traditionalist rhetoric, but I think there is something deeper in your desire to raise children. Surely you would fight like hell to save your kid's life. Prove to me, as Rand would say, that the rational reason for you to do so is that you would not be able to live a moral life afterwards without his existence? What about your siblings? I don't know about you, but I would fight like hell to save my sister's life. 3) Really? How do you think we are talking to each other right now? Language, as Peikoff writes in OPAR, is integrally connected to our ability to think in conceptual terms. Scientifically, by the way, it is impossible for someone to become fluent in any language unless they are exposed to it before the age of 10. Using Objectivism, could you prove to me why someone would be morally compelled to teach their child how to speak and read via language if they correctly deemed it not in their long-term rational self-interest? If you need me to think of a situation where exposing my child to English would not be in my rational long-term self-interest I can give you one. The point is that my ability to think is in every way shape and form connected to my cultural inheritance. Thank God for the West.
  9. I've read my OPAR and have a somewhat-decent-understanding of objectivism. I was not criticizing objecting though, only the broader enlightenment heading which Objectivism is definitely nestled under. You might be slightly annoyed that I nestled Objectivism as just some school under the enlightenment. Traditionalists tend to do that (look philosophies in a broader sense) to find their historical context. To review, here is what a traditionalist reacts against: 1) Man has rights. Traditioanlists think that men have conditions under which they flourish, but nothing like Lockean rights that are just granted to them because they are men. Objectivism at least understands that rights are conditions of flourishment and not some gift granted from the heavens. 2) Man's own reason is sufficient to understand the truth. Traditionalists obviously accept reason as a mode of finding the truth, but they use their inherited traditions as a starting point for exploration. De facto, this is mostly what everyone does anyway, but traditionalists emphasize it because it plays into their overall reaction against the enlightenment. 3) It's man vs. all. Traditionalists think that the language of American liberalism (classical and modern) has deemphasized the important task of living: pursuing the good. When you talk constantly about the politics of empowerment, you tend to forget what it is you want to be empowered to do. Objectivists aren't necessarily in this camp but most certainly the libertarians are (ie, at least objectivism is a comprehensive philosophy that proscribes what one is to do once he is empowered with his "rights"). Now on to a few specific things as this is an interesting discussion. Now this is the single most important thing you stated in your response. What exactly do you mean here? Man cannot under any circumstance survive or thrive without a community. Even if you were stranded alone on a desert island and managed to live a somewhat-fulfilling life (say eating, building, and thinking), you would have depended upon your parents and former community for giving you the capacity to fend for yourself, and you most certainly would have depended on your cultural inheritance to be given the ability to think and meditate productively. Objectivists, and indeed most members in the school of enlightenment premises, have a very hard time explaining child-rearing. Everyone here knows that Rand brushed this issue aside. But even after that, nobody has given much of a sufficient explanation for why children have rights or even basic dignity. Most objectivists admit that they don't based on their lack of rationality (although some have given silly defenses for child protection laws). In conclusion: Why have children, Mr. Objectivist? Answer: Well, I don't know. Maybe it might add to your long-term-self-interest by giving you a fulfilling experience? (never mind that in reality this would not hold water, at least it certainly didn't for Howard Roark or Hank Reardon). Families in Rand's novels, like in most enlightenment settings, are mostly portrayed as stifling, archaic institutions that hinder one's ability to be fully empowered (aka, Reardon’s family, Keating's family, etc.) Again, for my entire life as well as for the entire life of everyone on this forum, we have been "coerced." We have been guided. We have been taught. Now that we are capable of being self-sufficient with the great inheritance of our culture and traditions, we are told by the enlightenment to free ourselves from the bonds of the very communities that got us here to begin with.
  10. You just used Wikipedia? really? lol. How about Merriam-Webster. But really owning you in some definition war isn't the point. The point is that the connotation and the general meaning that the word "meritocracy" brings to mind (caused by enlightenment influence) is based on false principles of human nature.
  11. This was unnecessary. Exceptions don't prove rules, and you basically agreed with my point that aristocracy and meritocracy are the same in literal terms. Tell me though, would you rather us randomly pick a human being and place him in a position of power, or randomly pick a human being from an esteemed background and family? Fortunately this is not how the world works, but the point is that culture and upbringing mean a lot and classical enlightenment impulses make us want to ignore this. Most of the time you'll hear left-liberals nagging about this to advance their socialism, it's not often you hear a traditionalist saying we need to recognize these forces to actually work with them.
  12. I will have to critique you on this one. Family and especially background do matter, almost more than pure genetics. The way we develop when we are young depends almost entirely on how much our parents/elders stimulate us. For example, I am now ~20 years old and therefore am almost incapable of ever becoming 100% fluent in Chinese. If, however, my parents taught me Chinese when I was younger I could be fluent easily in both English and Chinese. This is one tiny example, but think of how this vibrates to nearly every part of us. What you advocated was therefore not a "pure" definition of meritocracy even though you thought you did because "family" and "background" are not "artificial barriers" at all. The connotation of meritocracy is premised on the false enlightenment principle that all have an equal chance of raising to the top. Aristocracy (literally: rule by the best) is truly blind. It is not afraid of recognizing that factors like a superior family background make one superior to others in terms of what makes one "the best." By the way, capitalism is good because it functions like an aristocracy as well (or, 100% true meritocracy w/o enlightenment connotations). By the way, someone mentioned earlier that Bill O'Reilly was a traditionalist. Bill O'Reilly is just a demagogue conservative. Traditionalism is totally different than knee-jerk reactionary conservatism (although it certainly is reactionary in many ways).
  13. As a stereotype, consider them to be intellectual conservatives (esp. found at Ivy League universities). They reject the enlightenment as a huge, rationalistic movement that has no bearing on man's true nature. In fact, most of what they accept you can think as a reaction to the specifics of Lockean enlightenment principles: 1) "Man" never existed in the state of nature. This is bullshit. Man has always existed within the context of a community because that is how man survives and (most importantly) thrives. Enlightenment-based philosophy (ie, objectivism) emphasises man as a victim to the coercion of others, sort of a struggle between atomistic man and everyone else. While this sentiment is cool as a reaction to left-liberalism, it's an intellectual fad that can actually lead to corruption in the long run in terms of intellectual honesty. 2) [similarity between objectivism]: They halt absolute truth, absolute morality, and an objective reality as the hugest premise of all philsophy. 3) "Individual rights" are a silly concept derived from the enlightenment which, although neato sounding, aren't actually grounded in reality. Again, it's cool to believe in rights as a reaction against left-liberalism in America, but an honest intellectual might find rights language distracting to what's actually important to do with one's life. In other words, you spend all your time bitching about how man needs to be left alone and respected that you eventually find yourself building up this conception of man as an atomized individual separate from his community and incapable of thriving. The enlightenment, and left-liberalism which is logically derived from the enlightenment, is all about individual empowerment. Empowerment! Give me my rights! Get out of my wallet government! Get out of my face religion! Get out of my way gender-roles! It's all about empowerment and it never talks about what to do when you have your empowerment. At least objectivism attempts to answer this. 4) One's own reason is insufficient to explain the universe. Yes, this sounds repulsive as we have all inherited enlightenmenet sentiment if we have found ourselves pulled into the Objectivist school. Unfortunately, traditoinalists have to emphasise (because everyone has forgotten) that the inherited traditions of the past (particularly the West) represent the knowledge and wisdom of billions of men, and the foundation of our entire civilization. Enlightenment impulses tell us to reject traditions as (just like everything else) stifflers on our "individual empowerment". Traditionalists look first to tradition as a starting point to build up from with reason and rational inquiry. Don't mistake: reason is still the medium of truth seaking. It's just that one starts with one's inherited traditions as a starting point. 5) Emphasis on law and order, aristocracy (literally we might htink of it as meritocracy although meritocracy has the enlightenment connotation that one should ignore birth differences and act as if we are all born equal which is not true). I could go on, but to sum up: traditionalism is intellectual conservatism which primarily reacts against the enlightenment. One could identify William F. Buckley and Edmund Burke as two famous traditionalists.
  14. I'm biased from the start to agree with the concept, since it ostentatiously is part of the wonderful English/American tradition of capitalism. I'm just curious (before I get invested in the idea too much) that it checks out morally. The connotation of "collective person" does raise some suspicion. I think as long as it is understood by lawyers, judges, and the parties involved that it is merely a legal term that signifies the umbrella of consenting individuals it is OK (not just OK, excellent). Is my reasoning correct here? PS - This is related to my interest in becoming a commercial litigator. Here is link on wiki that explains some of the muck that socialists have thrown at the concept of "corporate personhood": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_Personhood_Debate