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The_Rational_Animal

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  1. I can offer empirical evidence that organisms kill, rape, and sacrifice themselves to ensure their own reproductive success. Perhaps you are misusing terms; I did not use 'rational' in an epistemological sense, only in the sense which Rand uses the word to mean consistent with or based on or using reason. There is nothing rational about ensuring reproductive success for oneself because the lowest organisms are driven to it by instinctual means. Thornhill and Thornhill (1987, link) introduced a theory by describing the sexual behaviour of scorpionflies, in which the male may gain sex from the female either by presenting a gift of food during courtship (in which case the female submits voluntarily) or without a nuptial offering, in which case force is necessary to restrain her. Socio-biologists propose that human rape appears not as an aberration but as an alternative gene-promotion strategy that is most likely to be adopted by the 'losers' in the competitive, harem-building struggle. If the means of access to legitimate, consenting sex is not available, then a male may be faced with the choice between force or genetic extinction. If he can succeed in impregnating one or two 'stolen' women before being castrated or lynched by the 'owner' males, then his genes (and thus behavioural tendencies) will have been passed on to the next generation of males.
  2. Each organism competes to reproduce. For the ones that do not, they die and do not pass on their genes. When you say "do with what it has biologically to survive and flourish" implies that an organism uses its reproductive capabilities for its genes to survive and flourish, not that organism itself surviving and flourishing. Just as an apple lives as a uterus for apple seeds, any organism lives as a casing for its genes, moving them from place to place until they are ready for interaction with complementary genes. The consciousness we possess is the product of a long development of evolution; the conception of rationality we derive and are so proud of is simply an enhancement of a faculty purposed as a vehicle for the purposes of copulation. I meant 'egoism' in the sense that "I must survive so that I may pass on my genes", a selfish motivation of fulfilling a biological function. I made no assertion that it is rational. Presenting objections such as these does not weaken the claim. To say that reproduction is simply an ability and not a necessity is another comparison fallacy. Organisms outside the human realm exemplify the error in your claim: reproduction is not simply "yeah, I'll do it if I feel like it" or "yeah, I'll do it once I find the right partner". It is a biological necessity, an instinct. Humans have lost the necessity thereof through time, but this is an invalid comparison. Ultimately, a human being is a rational animal. Humans defecate, sleep, and breathe as animals do, we are a product of evolution. Man may be different in many aspects from his ancestors, but this does not make Rand's theory of life being an end in itself any more valid than one's life being a means in itself.
  3. Can we firstly agree that Ayn Rand was heavily influenced by Aristotle? But say this influence is not limited to traditional philosophy, and extends into his natural philosophy as well. Aristotle's scientific study in biology led him to believe that the life of an organism (for example, a tree) is purposed by reaching adulthood. Neither he (nor Rand) thought favorably about an alternative, that the singular mission of that tree is in reproduction, that is, reaching adulthood to reproduce. Aristotle's theories were replaced by Darwin in the 19th century. Modern biology, with great explanatory power, supports Darwin's thesis, that no biological life is interested in preserving its own life as an end in itself. Biological life treats itself as a means, to the end of reproducing. To assert that one (a human being) must treat himself as an end is contrary to nature and thus reason. And if Rand's life-to-value thesis is invalid, her entire ethical system is untenable under that heading. Instead, the human animal shall act as all animals act: preserving oneself in order to pass one's genes onto the next generation. This in itself would be egoism; rational or not is the question.
  4. Well, Professor. It would be nice for the teacher to explain what I am doing wrong. Otherwise, how am I going to learn? Think of yourself as a very bad teacher, who gives his students a test without teaching the material... (at least I gave links, not obscure references)
  5. Why is going against reason unethical? Why is this a moral duty and not a moral 'ought'?
  6. Why don't you simply tell me what is so "bad" about this objection?
  7. What are these "objective" means of survival exactly? Yes, my own self-interest signifying an 'ought'.
  8. I did a search for the is/ought problem in this forum but could not find one... What is the Is-Ought problem? It is usually stated as the problem of whether it is possible to derive normative statements from descriptive statements; but to state the problem at its most general level, it is the problem of whether any moral statement can be literally true, and hence potentially knowable. It is the problem of whether there exist any moral facts in exactly the same sense as there exist chemical facts, historical facts, or mathematical facts. Firstly, what is the reason why one should sustain one's life. It is a matter of 'ought.' To say that you 'must' sustain your life implies a deontological imperative, one that destroys free will. Secondly, what is the rationality of keeping or abandoning reason, is it rational or irrational? With Objectivist ethics, where moral facts are apparently objective, the following syllogism is defective. It is one that represents the most basic moral reasoning of the Randian system: The adoption of value system x is necessary for the survival of any human being. You are a human being. Therefore, you should adopt value system x. The missing premise-a prescriptive premise-is that one ought to do what is necessary in order to survive. But any inclusion of that prescriptive premise just triggers the infinite regression of the is/ought dichotomy. Treatment of the problem as a hypothetical imperative would prove equally unsatisfactory: If you wish to survive, you ought to adopt value system x. You wish to survive. Therefore, you ought to adopt value system x. This syllogism is perfectly valid, but it will not serve for Rand's purposes, for its introductory conditional makes the entire ethical system subjectively dependent on the individual human will: If you do not choose to survive, there appear to he no grounds upon which the Randians can condemn your judgment morally. Objectivist ethics are, therefore, thoroughly subjective.
  9. I'm sorry, I decided to raise this point on the basis that somebody told me to read it, when I have, to "discover" arguments against physicalism. I am not rejecting Objectivist epistemology, only questioning whether Peikoff or Rand knew that it is possible to have a different kind of monism, one that does not reject the possibility of consciousness, one like anomalous monism. A magnetic field is a process. It may supervene upon a magnet just as a mental state supervenes upon a physical state. The magnetic field is dependent upon the magnet just as a mental state could be dependent upon a physical state. To say that magnetic fields exist independently from any causal source is mysticism. Back to the first point, not all monism is the same. A basic understanding of anomalous monism would show this. What Rand and Peikoff took to be monism is "the doctrine that all things are forms of one ultimate reality". But this is not Davidson's view. His view is a neutral monism, a dual-aspect, a third substance which is neither completely "mental" (as it is defined) or "physical" (as it is defined, by Davidson himself, a definition I should not be required to describe in full). This third substance is capable of both body and mental functions. This is the view of Benedict de Spinoza (whom Rand admired), Bertrand Russell, Alfred Ayer, William James, and, Donald Davidson. The monism of "anomalous monism" is really a misnomer and an obvious source of confusion here. In this neutral monism, there is only one. This is Wittgenstein's non-reductionism of the mind/body. My question is if this is Rand's non-reductionism of the mind/body. The question, although it requires familiarity with the topic, is not too terribly difficult. What am I reasoning or claiming here? I am asking a question. I am not asserting the truth of physicalism, I am merely showing that the definitions of monism being used here are outdated and quite frankly ridiculous, they're the ones that Rand and Peikoff used twenty to sixty years ago, and since (most) Objectivists do not make note of the mind/body discussion, I provided links to appropriate pages.
  10. And I apologize, I mistook Capitalism Forever for noumenalself, who is the one that picked the fight.
  11. Frankly, this question is only relevant to those who are aware of Donald Davidson's work and his theory of anomalous monism, or those who are curious enough to read about it from external sources, because I cannot explain the entire theory on these boards. It requires a bit of intellectual commitment to truly understand what he is saying and what the implications of the theory are. But Davidson explains precisely what is 'physical' and what is 'mental', and any reputable source for describing the theory will include said definitions. Think of this as an optional in-class discussion on a reading assignment that was due as homework.
  12. I'm sorry, when did I say I care about what you think? Firstly, I'm not here to argue for physicalism, for anomalous monism, for Rand's view of the dichotomy. I posted here looking for an answer as to whether the two views are in at least some ways compatible, and if there are ways that they are not, what they are. It's you who is shifting the discussion. Secondly, don't ask me to defend physicalism to you because its obvious that no matter what I can possibly say here within normal limits, it won't convince you because you probably memorized the Objectivist Epistemology cover to cover, probably not questioning if what you're reading is intuitively reasonable. And if you have nothing more to say on the topic as indicated by the title of the thread, please go to your local university and ask any of the science faculty what physical is (if you're looking for a technical definition) and why everything must be physical.
  13. The sciences study only science for a special reason: because science studies only that which is falsifiable and can be confirmed by rational examination. To suggest dualism without a theory of how such a mechanism would work is not falsifiable, it's a matter of asking an "if" question and not receiving an appropriate answer because it cannot be demonstrated to be false. Dualism is a place for philosophy because it is, as I say, not falsifiable. Physicalism is implied by science because the physical is all that is falsifiable. Like Rand, we cannot deny the existence of consciousness. But what we can deny is that this consciousness is a separate entity, somehow controlling the physical body which everyone inhabits. It's not that nonphysical objects cannot interact at all with physical ones. This is too broad of an ontological claim that I want to get into. It's simply in this case, with the mind and body, that they do not. I'm sure you've heard all of the arguments, I can't drum up any new proofs against the possibility of dualism, but it's simply a matter of recognizing that machines do not run on mysterious non-material forces. They are driven by energy input. "Ghosts" in the machine cannot run without energy, there is no way to transfer energy to a "ghost" if it has no material being. The only reasonable conclusion is that this "ghost" is actually an erroneous categorization of what consciousness is. No one should care about the relation of causation to energy (as the paper you cited addresses). The only care is about the necessity of energy needed to move such a "ghost", to keep it active. For example, say I stop eating. Why does my consciousness slowly deteriorate? Because my body is obviously intricately connected to my mind. My body sustains my consciousness, provides it with energy. Perhaps you would care to enlighten me on what free will is because right now, I'm not seeing your claim here as valid, that is, your conclusion doesn't follow the premises. What is the apparent defect of the "free will" which comes from physicalism and supervenience? I don't care to get into this long discussion. Almost all physicalists can agree on what is 'physical' (or more appropriately, all human beings can agree on just what is 'physical'.) But I leave some reading to you: Understanding 'Physical'.
  14. Well, it is rational to be guided in one's metaphysical commitments by the methods of natural science. Metaphysics should not be approached in a way that is distinct from the sciences but should rather be thought of as continuous with it. The metaphysical picture of the world that one is led to by the methods of natural science is physicalism. The conclusion is that physicalism is true, or at least physicalism is the only rational conclusion from this. You're right, there are no dominant, catch-all arguments in favor of physicalism. But I mostly advocate it because I find that it is impossible for there to only be non-material entities (idealism). I also find that dualism is an impossibility. A non-material entity, such as a consciousness or a soul, cannot have causal interaction with a physical entity such as the body. There cannot be energy continuation between a non-material mind and a material body as it violates the laws of physics. Occam's Razor says that it is more likely, with the simpler explanation, that there is simply a body. Between materialism and physicalism, I choose physicalism because hard materialism goes against a belief in free will. It advocates a strict determinism, which I could argue against but being on an Objectivist forum, I don't feel such discussion is necessary. Thanks for correcting me.
  15. To be honest, I think the agreements between Rand and Anomalous Monism are quite apparent in their premises. I believe the real issue likes in their respective laws of causality. I decided to investigate the respective meanings of 'event', 'action', and 'entity'. I see it as such: IF 'event' is an 'entity', THEN there is no contradiction IF 'event' is an 'action', THEN there is no contradiction IF 'event' is neither an 'action' nor an 'entity', THEN there is a contradiction Definitions: Event-- something that happens at a given place and time; a phenomenon located at a single point in space-time Action -- something done Entity -- something that has a distinct, separate existence look them up--source: WordNet Search Firstly, the obvious thing is that each definition begins with "something", which is some unspecified thing. According to the Objectivist, something which has a distinct existence (entity) is incompatible with "something that happens" or "something done". So thus, neither an action nor an event is an "entity". Secondly, it should be apparent that from these given definitions, action and event are equivalent and synonymous insofar as "to do" and "to happen" are both used passively. That is, something can be done, it need not do (perform) some thing itself, actively. For instance, I could say "the laundry was done", when I could have equivalently said "I did the laundry". They are the same, just as "the laundry happened" where laundry is the "action of completing the laundry". Thus, I believe there is no contradiction in both conceptions of causality because if we use the same term, either "action" or "entity", consistently in both cases, they will say the same thing.
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