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whYNOT last won the day on July 24 2015

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  1. Thank you, SoftwareNerd. And to dream-weaver for raising this issue to an abstractive and metaphysical level. My meaning is that one HAS one's own standards and values his life - but one cannot BE one's own "standard of value". This is an epistemological impossibility, I believe. It effectively states: whatever I choose must be of value because I am my measure of value. As I say, I find that non-objective. For what really counts though, what did Rand mean? ""That which is required for the survival of man qua man" is an abstract principle that applies to every individual man". And: "...by the standard of that which is proper to man..." These and other passages, I think indisputably, explain Rand's application of "the standard of value" to "man's life" -- in the abstract. While one's own life is one's supreme value, the gauge by which to evaluate one's choices and actions is what "is proper to man's life". Not in the concrete 'other men's lives' - for those suspecting altruism! And this is not simple physical "survival", Objectivists know. The context of one's individual life has to be conceptually connected to that high principle, man's life. The abstraction needs plenty of unpacking. Going back to her core statement on O'ist ethics, if it's read carefully, Rand specified "man's life", as the standard of value -- and then she directly and distinctly goes on to address the individual "and *his own life*" in the latter part of the statement. I don't know how she could be clearer. "Man's life", I think acknowledges implicitly the identity of man's consciousness: reasoning, volitional and autonomous - and explicitly, the objective value of existence - from which one can derive "the end in himself", who is every man, and 'the end in itself", which his is life. My thinking is that grounding rational egoism in the objective nature of "man" and that which is "proper" to man, and in the supreme value an individual (owning the ~capacity~ to value, and being the ~source~ of value) places in his life, is precisely what makes this ethics a radical departure from all other forms of "ethical egoism" (as it's generally called). For this morality has objective standards and an objective justification, based in reality, as Rand shows. Conversely, in the several dismissive accounts we see leveled against egoism, critics often avoid metaphysics and "identity", demean "value", and consider the ethics to be an arbitrary selection by the 'immorally selfish' and predatory.
  2. Uh, no. Please re-read "Yours is the ultimate value", and rethink your claim of altruism. Then take another look in VoS, from: "The Objectivist ethics holds man's life as the ~standard~ of value -- and ~his own life~ as the ethical ~purpose~ of every individual man". Do you see the distinction? Don't you think that this most precise writer in the English language, would have instead phrased that: "... holds *a* man's life as..." if she meant that each and every man, the individual, is his own standard of value? But she did not. You will notice she goes on to painstakingly define "standard" - i.e. "an abstract principle", "a gauge" - as well as "purpose" - leading up to: "Man must choose his actions, values and goals, by the standard of that which is proper to man--in order to achieve, maintain, fulfill and enjoy that ultimate value...which is his own life". Thus, the abstraction "man's life qua man" is the standard of value for each individual. "By the standard of that which is proper to man" - yes? That then is an *objective* standard, the alternate rendition is self-referencing, circular and subjective. edit: at best, non-objective.
  3. I must dispute this, as I think there's an important distinction. "Man's life is the standard of value" - not one's own. You can't be your own "standard", in short. Yours is your ultimate value. "Man's life" is an abstraction; one's own, the concrete.
  4. The dilemma of choosing empathy

    DJ, remember that we have in common with animals the senses and percepts, so can 'recognize' at the perceptual, preconceptual level, cries of distress, physical injury, and visual clues of abnormal locomotion, and 'feel with' an other's pain. An animal however lacks further comprehension. (Not to suggest that it's often that animals in that situation will be disturbed or appear 'empathic' -- and predatory animals of course get their meals from injured prey!) For man, there follows a conceptual and evaluative cognition of an other's suffering, and an immediate and automated (according to one's metaphysical view of existence) emotional response. If one holds man's life as the standard of value, that emotion here would be of an appropriately negative, feel bad, kind . I just can't see any conflict, more of an instant 'flow' from percept to integrated concept, to value assessment, to emotion. Emotion isn't a cognitive tool and shouldn't be directly acted upon, but one's subsequent, conscious value-perceived, can and should. I don't know if this helps and welcome anyone's input.
  5. The dilemma of choosing empathy

    Some very good questions, though you drift overly into concrete instances towards the end! "Empathy" that much used and abused concept, which is lumped together with compassion and pity, is also seen with actions of animals who perceive another animal's distress/injury. I think that as rational animals, at that biological, survival level, man also responds to others' pain . He has, of course much more, too: he is able to *identify* human suffering far beyond the simply physical, and is able to 'place himself' in an other's position and 'feel with' him. So I do believe human empathy (which I think of as fellow-feeling) is basically "automatic", but more critically it is a response by one's conscious value in man's life. So it is all well and good to experience empathy - but as you indicate, what can one DO about it? Very rarely can one do much, or anything to alleviate many others' suffering, and to believe one can and should attempt this as a compassionate duty, is certainly the path to unearned guilt, self-conflict, frustration and finally a sacrifice of one's values. (As well as destroying one's empathic feelings). "Value" rather answers the rest you ask. The pain one feels for someone else in emotional, psychological and mental distress - here, whom one values/loves - would be of a far higher order to one you don't know, haven't evaluated, and therefore can't individually value (except generally, as fellow human being). He/she is your "chosen" value, and your great loyalty. And holding an explicitly clear hierarchy of values too, is essential in sorting out any temporary conflicts between one's values. I suspect that where altruists - those 'professional' empathists - purposely try to blur the line and claim the moral high ground, is between their duty-based imperative to 'value' unknown people, en masse, equally or moreso than the "selfish" value an egoist places in the lives of specific individuals. (As he does in the selfish, top value he places in his own life).
  6. "...that one's life is the standard of value". (Epistemologue) ?? Such a crucial distinction to be made, I couldn't help jumping in. I'm sure, an unintentional mistake. "The Objectivist ethics holds man's life as the *standard* of value--and *his own life* as the ethical *purpose* of every individual man". The differences: between man, qua man - and the individual; between the standard - and the purpose; the abstract principle - and the concrete application.
  7. *** Post copied from previous version of forum. - sN *** Ah, fine, got it. To evade or not is always at the heart of it, you're right. Dishonesty to others: falsifying reality, deliberately substituting the truth (as well as you know it to be) for 'another version' of truth - are all evasion. Along your lines, on the subject Rand was succinct and uncompromising: "The only real moral crime that one man can commit against another is the attempt to create, by his words or actions, an impression of the contradictory, the impossible, the irrational, and thus shake the concept of rationality in his victim".
  8. Hmm. I'm as uncertain as jacassidy of your meaning. I don't think evasion is the immediate problem - but you remind me, what it is of course, is self-sacrifice: i.e. Surrender or "self-abnegation" (as AR put it, in her explanation for altruism) of an independent mind, another virtue. Essentially, to lower one's standard of honesty and integrity to that of the prevailing 'standard' of dishonesty - IS a sacrifice (a higher value to a lesser), and therefore a compromise of one's independence. And there is one more virtue that will also be affected, pride and self-esteem. It shouldn't be forgotten that an individual's virtues are also his values - and in the long run, his highest. It is in hard times, when it seems very few people around share one's objective outlook and virtues, that it may be 'easier' to compromise and relinquish a virtue or two.They aren't so easily to be picked up again later, in better times, however. It's not like changing a shirt. As I've known. But the good news, it is precisely in that tough time that holding firm to those virtues, tests and establishes them solidly and permanently.
  9. No. Maybe more challenging, but most possible. At such times of arbitrary and falling standards is when one needs virtues most of all. "If you can keep your head When all about you Are losing their's And blaming it on you"...
  10. Meditation / Meditating

    This was a lively discussion, worth reviving. Not at all "anti-reason" Luis, I think you're right. And "focus" - as a poster was concerned about - has many approaches, walking in a wood, playing a game - meditation too, I'm sure.
  11. Religion for Psychological Reasons?

    But you see, Harrison, there is not a word I doubt or disagree with in your post. Grandma and eggs comes to mind... Seriously, you seem to think I haven't also thought long and hard about - Life. Value. Purpose. Rational Egoism. Add in plenty of experience and observation to that. ("An intransigent mind..." etc.) So what's the point under contention? Remember where it began, with a radically extended life-span posited. From Aristotle to Rand, the metaphysically given and presumed length of life has not really changed that drastically. All philosophy has been based on the premise of man's limited life span. Call it 'x' years. What has been hypothesized is that man is on the brink of extending life further: 2x ... 10x ... 50x ... etc. (In reality, I can't see it: I'd accept x + 20, x + 60 ... in that vicinity. But never mind.) Leaving aside the feasibility of this, for the sake of argument, I made the observation that consciousness (with the best motivation possible) will not keep up with physicality. That eventually a mind-body split will occur. There is no value without the valuer. Life as the absolute value is the source of all other values. Value without life is impossible, life without values is non-life, a nihilistic existence. Do you accept these? But value, Rand at least intimated or said outright, is time-dependent and time-contextual. In my experience this is true. One values most what is rare, not what is common. A vastly-elongated lifespan does not correlate with vastly-increasing values. Never did Rand place quantity above quality, nor do I.
  12. It's a selfish virtue, like the others. Agreeing with Repairman. Honesty, or truthfulness, shouldn't be seen primarily as a duty to other people, but 'a deal' or commitment you make with yourself, in outward accord with your inner adherence to objective reality. Anything less would bring about fissures of consciousness causing erratic, uncertain actions. I think honesty in action, integrity, is what is perceived by others, with its due benefit - in values - from those who welcome it (and you) - even if not always at first! With those who won't ever appreciate it, best to not engage and stay away from. That "context of the existing society and culture" is, after all, one other individual at a time.
  13. Yes, their commonality of altruism follows and is not surprising, with the secular-leftist leaning more towards altruism-collectivism I think. I believe "justice"- which was mentioned - is key. (It, and calls for "dignity" and "equality" have been increasing lately with the growth of Progressivism). A central factor amongst altruists is the criticality of being SEEN to be doing "good" (by their concern for others, serving others, humbling oneself, etc.) and so earning their just desserts by the approval of some vague 'collective'. If one considers that the religious folk 'know' that God is watching and judging them, with their ultimate justice in the Hereafter, it could answer your last question. In short, the religious mainly seek justice from God, the secular left demands it now - from Society and the State - while an Objectivist knows he finds and earns it for himself, the justice of reality.
  14. Religion for Psychological Reasons?

    Have you applied yourself for one second to the thoughts I've brought up? Does it satisfy you rather to condescend to me and to attack straw men arguments I have not made, and do not stand for? But you have definitely shifted your goal posts quite a lot since it became clear your position wasn't so tenable. I quote you: "...abject despondence- like your vision of an increasing lifespan". Oh yeah..! Merely, "increasing"? Not multiples, of multiples of years? "...that time erodes all of our hopes, dreams and principles..." A few thousand years living might have that effect. But wait - now it seems you are back on earth, talking about a normal lifespan. Do you usually change contexts at will, without warning, for the sake of taking the moral high ground? That is- because I have doubts in one context (1000's of years life) it follows I'm also a skeptic in another context (life as it is)!? This is a dishonest tactic. Bait and switch, I believe it's called. Back to Rand on the subject: "A value is that which one acts to gain and/or keep and the action is limited by one's life time --so life and its time correlate directly to values". (For just one aspect, if ten years is dedicated by one to a major value in real time, today - it corresponds to, say, 100-200 years in one's vastly extended lifespan.) Yes, you've read all the same books we all have, and can expound on "by my life, and my love of it". There is no monopoly on the Objectivist ideas of morality and 'the good'. Spare me. But how well do you know ItOE on consciousness? Because - all along you've avoided my main point, which is to query the CAPACITY of man's consciousness to hold values (for that million years). Re: Rand, above. Also -"My life", i.e. Galt's life, is a metaphysical given and has always been physically limited, in Rand's day as now. Not one thousand years, or ten thousand, even for John Galt. Jump between the two and you drop context again. Faced with any argument you find unmanageable, you have evaded and then leveled "apathetic stupor" at me, in place of a rational and civil reply. It indicates to me you are over-emotionally invested - and rationalistic, in all this. Try objective reality as an antidote. (I'm out of this one).
  15. Religion for Psychological Reasons?

    "Ask yourself why"-- what? Why did Mallory speak this way of Roark? Why did the author 'put the words in his mouth'? ?? I'd answer the questions in terms of Roark's remarkable integrity imparting on him a sense of consistency or "permanence", but in this context, I don't believe this is relevant. I can only assume it is the references to immortality and "existing forever" which are relevant (to you). You do know these are metaphors? In a way, an entire work of fiction is one big metaphor, "a re-creation of reality" in word-concepts. From this passage one shouldn't derive that Rand was promoting or wishing for immortality, or even an extensively long life - by her words! It simply isn't true. She was painting a picture of a man through the dialogue of his friend and admirer (rather than stating the facts in plain narrative). If anything, the character of Roark 'shows' that quality is more important than quantity. Maybe this is bearing out what I said, about not confusing art's inspiration with philosophy's methodology?