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2046

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  1. It makes no sense to say hedonism with consequential considerations because pleasure/enjoyment are consequences. Hedonia as a standard is circular and untenable for the usual Aristotelian-Randian reasons. Hedonism is more about felt good experiences and removal of bad experiences. Eudaemonia is more focusing on a way of function, of excellence in ones mode of functioning, achieving ones unique potentialities and fulfillment of purpose and personal growth. Sometimes we might actually want to feel to opposite of pleasure in order to get what we really want, as in Roark working in the quarry.
  2. Yes! I agree with the other flourishers in this thread, that the idea that one's flourishing won't ever decrease life span or survival even infinitesimally (microscopically small!) to be wildly implausible. To a classical eudaimonist, especially a rational egoist, this would be just downright boring! Such a conception would be somewhere between a Bear Gryllsian and a Stoic, one should survive as long as possible without even microscopically lessening survival, achieving maybe a long, careful life of peaceful comfort and equanimity. I say, F that. Galt, for example, threatens to kill himself if Dagny (his highest value) is harmed by the Thompson regime. He also risks and endures torture to stand up for his values. By what measure? Since life always involves trade offs, one is forced to choose between acceptance of minor values and major ones. I think choosing as much and as intense values as possible is a part of the nature of choosing. No truly human life can confine itself to activities pursued merely to keep yourself safe from the smallest of risks. I agree with Aristotle that a short, intense life more accurately embodies the fully self-actualized human life than a long, mild one. A truly human self-actualization includes a tense state of striving and alertness for value achievement that embodies a heroic vision. In fact, I think the requirements of flourishing demand of us to accept risks, certainly infitessimal (and sometimes more) to our survival. In order to fulfill the requirements of courage, integrity, productiveness, pride, we should, as Nietzsche says "Live dangerously! Build your cities on the slopes of Vesuvius! Send your ships into uncharted seas!" This should, of course be moderated by consequentialist (!) concerns (i.e., unity of virtue) of rationality, temperance, prudence. This, in the typical Aristotelian way, avoids the twin pitfalls of foolhardiness and timidity.
  3. Just to be clear, isn't that the position DA is taking, ad arguendo? Moreover, I think this is the actual position Kelley, Gotthelf, and Swartz have taken, even though there's a further (I think dubious) step to derive flourishing from survival (whereas, if flourishing is the ultimate end, survival would simply by a competent thereof.) Anyways, I thought your position was somewhat similar to the "survival into flourishing" one, correct me if I'm wrong.
  4. Indeed, that's one of the problems with the survivalist interpretation of Rand. If Rand's ethics were only necessary for literal survival, then how did the human race manage to survive up until Rand? If Rand's ethics were necessary, the human race would've died or long ago, unless everyone, or most everyone alive, is already a Randian hero accidentally, then her ethics are reduced to pedantic Bear Gryllsism. Clearly her novels point to a richer, more full conception of human life than mere survival as an ultimate end for man.
  5. Moral psychology just refers to the part of psychology that influences philosophy. Things like free will, the nature of choice, emotion, consciousness, etc. Yes that's kind of a huge part of Rand's novels is the interplay between the characters' emotions and their consciously held thoughts and premises. An example would be Dagny and Dominique at the end, once they had integrated correct premises with their emotions. Another is the character of Rearden, who is disgusted with his family, but supports them anyway out of conscious conviction. His emotions give him correct knowledge, but he can't act on it until he smoothes out the contradicting premises he held, then he acts on it by bucking their mooching advances. Another example is when Dominique tells Wynand to fire Toohey, Rand has her openly say that she doesn't know why she wants him gone (yet), just that she hates him. She even says "it'll take years for me to understand" (around p. 499-500 in my version.) Another supporting quote for my claim is in VOS (p.27) when Rand says emotions are estimates of what can be "for or against" you, and says they are "lightning calculators giving him the sum of his profit or loss." There is a scene towards the end of AS when Dagny even says she can "surrender her consciousness" and that her emotions are like a "voice telling her by means of a feeling" (AS p.674.) I think what Rand means to say is that emotions are inert by themselves, and so you'd have to trace them to the experiences that programmed them, but once one did, if they stem from rational thoughts, they can help take part in cognition and guide action. Aristotle more plainly sees emotional disposition as evidence of a virtuous character. While Rand officially held otherwise, I think her fiction seems to hold the more Aristotelian view. Her descriptions of the fully integrated hero/heroines are ones where their stated thoughts and emotional dispositions are aligned and both working "for" their wellbeing.
  6. I certainly don't think it's subjective. Subjective vs objective isn't about whether something has a clear line, as if something that is objective just can't have any debate about and everyone will agree. Objective means having mind-independent qualities that are what they are, subjective means existing in the mind without relation to external reality. Theres always going to be interpretation over certain objective facts, including flourishing. Many people might think Hugh Hefner lived the ultimate flourishing life, while other accounts might think he lived a sad and pathetic existence. Having different interpretations of facts is just part of life. Life or death is a very important distinction, but not every decision is a life or death one, and it's important to understand varying degrees of living because that's where most of our choices are.
  7. But, to also answer part of your question, there just isn't going to be one single "undisputed" account, just like there isn't one single undisputed account of what "health" includes. Health is individual, contextual, but also generic and inclusive. Health isn't just "I don't know what it is, but I know it when I see it," it is an objective state that is scientifically describable. But still my health may be different from yours. There may be a cutoff point below which you don't have it, and above which you do, but at the same time degrees in which this person has more than that person. Flourishing is individualistic like this. My flourishing is different form yours. To get a complete description you're going to have to take multiple accounts and multiple approaches and integrate them with your observations.
  8. Even in the description in the cited study on Wikipedia, the authors note that flourishing is an objective state, and not reducible to felt experiences. You mention prison, interesting because Aristotle discusses whether a man trapped at the bottom of a well can be eudaimon, and he answers no (other Greeks like Socrates would say yes, so A is arguing against them.) A goes into detail describing the content of eudaimonia. It is something that includes "doing and living well," something that includes "everything choiceworthy and lacking in nothing" and overall "a complete life, well-lived." A's language is forgein to us and he is difficult to read and interpret. Various modern philosophers in the virtue ethics movement and psychologists have given accounts to describe flourishing. Researchers are taking note of accounts of eudaimonia. In addition to internal goods, external goods one may include such as a wealth and health, meaningful friendship and social relations, career choices, political freedom and autonomy, and so on. Even things out of your control, such as luck and natural disasters are going to effect your flourishing. You can see in both approaches broad generalized goods that everyone needs that are then individualized in the context of each person's life. Aristotle thinks it is comprised of these two categories, of internal and external goods. Rand thinks it is comprised of her three cardinal values, reason, purpose, and self-esteem. In both, flourishing is generic (constituted of generic human needs as defined by biology, psychology, medical science) but also agent-relative and individualistic, and a continuously maintained process. The virtue ethicists have many pro-reason, individualistic discussions, as do many of the classical eudaimonists. The Roman philosopher Cicero, for example, has four categories of flourishing (universal human nature, the individual's unborn talents, social context, and personal choices.)
  9. Short answer: the sciences can provide the ethicist with vital information to make objective and narrow down the content of ends, and to help choose which means will best accomplish a given end, but they cannot select ultimate ends themselves. A psychologist performing study cannot say "everyone ought to do this because my study says so" they can only say "if this state of affairs is selected, then these will result."
  10. You seem to be hung up on why Rand used this word over that word, or why she "left us" with a certain word and how we have to make sense of it. This strikes me as the wrongheaded way of doing philosophy and more resembles monks arguing over interpretations of scripture. It's more important to think about concepts, ideas, and what they mean and relate them. Rand didn't use the word flourishing even though she studied Aristotle in Russia because Aristotle didn't use the word flourishing. Aristotle used the Greek word "eudaemonia" which means something like "being well-demoned" or "having a good spirit." It had religious connotations, even though it had lost those prior to the time of the Socratics. But, it seems obvious why Ayn Rand wouldn't use this word. It seems like most translations used "happiness" but since Aristotle elsewhere says that eudaemonia and happiness are not identical (although it includes happiness as a component) this seems like an ungratifying translation. In the 1900s, Ross started using "well being" as a translation, and someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but I think this is the version of NE that Rand possessed in her library. "Flourishing" didn't become widespread until virtue ethics started gaining popularity in the late 70s. I think Cooper used the term in the 90s and this was widely accepted. Since the early 2000s there's been a lot of empirical research being done in modern psychology to refine the concept and give it an objective meaning. I mean just check out the Wikipedia article on the topic: Individuals described as flourishing have a combination of high levels of emotional well-being, psychological well-being, and social well-being.[4] Flourishing people are happy and satisfied; they tend to see their lives as having a purpose; they feel some degree of mastery and accept all parts of themselves; they have a sense of personal growth in the sense that they are always growing, evolving, and changing; finally, they have a sense of autonomy and an internal locus of control, they chose their fate in life instead of being victims of fate.[5][6] According to Fredrickson and Losada, flourishing is characterized by four main components: goodness, generative, growth, and resilience.[1] Flourishing is related to the Aristotelian concept of eudaimonia. According to a Neo-Aristotelianview, the concept of human flourishing offers a view of the human good that is objective, inclusive, individualized, agent-relative, self-directed and social. It views human flourishing objectively because it is desirable and appealing. Flourishing is a state of being rather than a feeling or experience. It comes from engaging in activities that both express and produce the actualization of one's potential.[7][8]
  11. Yes interesting point. Aristotle differentiated between theoretical wisdom (reasoning about ends) and practical wisdom (reasoning about means.) Due to the "crow epistemology" I don't have time to engage in lengthy chains of weighing logical consequences every time I want to act. We categorize and classify for this reason. Principles are a way of subsuming a large number of observations and referents under an easily recallable form, much like conceptualization does in the knowledge branch. To this point, I think Rand might've given short shrift to, or underemphasized, at some points, the role of emotions in ethical judgment. Is it really true that emotions are not tools of cognition entirely? Emotion and value judgments are closely connected in Rand's moral psychology, while I think that her understanding of neurobiology and psychology is basically reflected of standard modern view and are uncontroversial, it is interesting to note that subconscious emotional reactions play a role in helping determine courses or action. Emotions help to distill a lifetime of conscious judgment and cognitive programming, and this help serve as a quick recalling device to help overcome the "crow epistemology" in action, much like measurement omission does in thought. Emotions thus, can be a guide to action, assuming the initial evaluations themselves are in accordance with right reason. Rand's commentary on the integrated man, as well as her fictional heroes seem to reflect this view, while her explicitly non-fiction papers seem to reject it.
  12. It's interesting that you found the word "value" and "action" to be most controversial part of her definition of ethics, whereas I've always thought they were the least controversial. On the other hand, I find "code" to be the most interesting word in there. "Code" means a set of ideas or words or something, a system of principles. While most ethical theories are codes, I suppose you could imply that it's too early to know whether the datum of ethics is a systematic statement or is more ad hoc or situational.
  13. I can't quite agree that her starting point is question begging. It would seem to me that there is a set of principle data that the philosopher starts off with in every branch. A sort of foundation that any philosopher as such starts out with. The metaphysician starts by outward look at things and noticing that there is something rather than nothing, that he is a something, that he has questions. The epistemologist starts off with noticing that he has been correct sometimes, and incorrect other times, that he has selective awareness, that being wrong has consequences for him, and that he doesn't not automatically know which things are correct and incorrect. Unless he had noticed that he has fallen into error, he would not have reason to examine the processes that led him there. If we had a mode of operation that provided us with automatic knowledge, then we wouldn't need to distinguish between certitude and error, and thus wouldn't need epistemology. The ethicist proceeds in a similar manner. The ethicist must start from the fact of human action, that we deliberate between alternatives, say A or B, that we can't not act as long as we are alive and awake, and that our actions have consequences for us. Asking "why do we need ethics at all" is, in my view the exact right question. After all, maybe we don't need ethics, if we were provided with automatic action we wouldn't need to deliberate between alternatives. Or maybe our action automatically is aimed at life-sustainment or some other end. Rand follows Aristotle in starting with examining the concept of action, and differentiating between vegetative action, sensitive action (animals), and deliberative action. She does differentiate between types of action, volitional and non. Analyzing human action is just about the most non question begging way to start off ethics. In that she defines it as code of values, she doesn't mean values in a normative sense. As Smith points out, sometimes she uses "value" as "that which one ought to act for" and value as "that which one acts to gain/keep." But regardless, when she defines ethics as a code of values, value just definitionally refering to the object of action. "Values," descriptively, are interchangeable with "ends." Thus, saying it's a code of values is simply recognizing that man acts to attain ends, and deliberates about them. True there is deontology, divine command, consequentialism, emotivism, nihilism, Stoicism, all sorts of different codes, and that code man needs could be any of these things. But all of these things has to start out with the principle data, that the philosopher notices that man acts to attain ends (values), and has no automatic guide to them. This, I see as Rand's reformulating the first line of the Nicomachean Ethics, that every inquiry and activity aims at some good, into more modern language.
  14. Fair enough, I retract my comment then. Let us find the most plausible interpretation of objectivist ethics. I've hopefully helped to start to conversation rolling with three basic alternative options. But also I want to know what you think, not just what you think AR is saying. I suspect we may agree on like 98% of everything, and the 2% is relatively minor.
  15. Huh? Pretty sure this is the exact meaning of second handedness. Being first handed is a disposition towards reality, not other people. If I can interpret this charitably, I think you're saying something like, let's look at the work of Ayn Rand when trying to philosophically analyze the work of Ayn Rand. But... okay? This seems rather obvious. A scholarly paper, for example, would include the practice of making references and notations. In any event, of course people are going to have differing interpretations of any philosopher when doing philosophy. The reason for this is that rationality is a independent process that is self initiated and requires sustained effort. Underlining tautologies and bold font does nothing to change this or coerce belief. See Locke's Letters Concerning Toleration and Essay concerning Human Understanding for detailed argumentation why.
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