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Regi F.

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Everything posted by Regi F.

  1. Regi F.

    Animal rights

    Very sorry StrictlyLogical. I've been busy (not an excuse, just and explanation). Thank you taking the time to illustrate your point. I see nothing wrong with individuals making formal agreements about their relationships. In my view, every individual is free to interact with any other individual or individuals by their mutual agreement. That is certainly true without invoking any notion of rights. It is simply based on the essential principle that reason is the only way individual's may morally deal with one another, which necessarily means, no one may morally interfere in anyone else's life in any way without their agreement or permission. Beyond that, individuals may form any relationships they choose for any purpose they choose. Just a note about formal written agreements. I do not have the almost mystic view others have about contracts. No contract, no piece of paper, has ever made anyone do anything. The only real virtue of contracts is to document the details of complex agreements so everyone involved will be able to refer to them if some details of the agreement are forgotten. Between honest individuals that is all a contract would be for. Among dishonest individuals, no contract will force anyone to abide by the agreement, which is why contracts are in constant litigation. A constitution is not a contract, and of course is designed entirely to regulate those who do not agree with its provisions. You don't need a law against murder for people who have no intention of murdering anyone, and never would. Of course a law against murder does not work for those who do intend to commit murder and do. The worst thing about the notion of a constitution is that it is binding (supposedly) on those who never signed it, or ever had an opportunity to. No one born and living in the United States today every agreed to the terms of the U. S. Constitution. Just my thoughts.
  2. I'm not really trying to make a point. I'm only suggesting that your point is in contradiction to Rand's Objectivism. The Journals of Ayn Rand "13 - Notes While Writing: 1947-1952" "His first desires are given to him by nature; they are the ones that he needs directly for his body, such as food, warmth, etc. Only these desires are provided by nature and they teach him the concept of desire. Everything else from then on proceeds from his mind, from the standards and conclusions accepted by his mind and it goes to satisfy his mind—for example, his first toys. (Perhaps sex is the one field that unites the needs of mind and body, with the mind determining the desire and the body providing the means of expressing it. But the sex act itself is only that—an expression. The essence is mental, or spiritual.)" I am not making a judgment about which view is the correct one, but for the sake of this thread, it seems to me, Amber Pawlik's view is consistent with everything Rand said and wrote, (e.g. my quotes on the previous thread) and the majority view on this thread does not. That does not mean anyone has to agree with Rand, but if not, why is it called Objectivism?
  3. I have no idea why you, or anyone, would want to change their sense of humor. What one finds funny or humorous is determined by what their values are, what they regard as important, their ability to discern irony and contradiction, and their ability to appreciate subtleties, (which all depend on one's ability to reason), all of which depend on the depth and scope of one's knowledge. The ignorant and shallow minded will find humor in the squalid and crass, but will never be able to appreciate the more intellectually demanding humor of the satirists like Swift, Shaw, Voltaire, or even Twain, for example. Our sense of humor does change as we mature and gain knowledge and learn to think and reason better, which is why what children find hilarious only a bores us as adults. As Ayn Rand said, "Man has no choice about his capacity to feel that something is good for him or evil," (or funny), "but what he will consider good or evil, what will give him joy or pain, what he will love or hate, desire or fear," (or make him laugh), "depends on his standard of value," and his knowledge and ability to think, I might add. If you know your values and beliefs have been determined by your best objective reason, not allowing feeling, sentiment, or desires to determine them and know your sense of humor derives from a fully integrated set of values and purpose, why would you change it?
  4. It depends on what you are asking. If you are asking about the ability to appreciate humor, like the ability to appreciate beauty or the ability to reason, it is a natural inborn attribute. One doesn't choose that, of course. But like all other attributes, you are not born knowing how to use it. What one will find funny depends on all they have chosen to learn, how well they have developed their ability to reason making them capable to discerning irony, understanding subtle ideas, recognizing humorous situations, but mostly how they view of reality in light of their values . Someone with shallow values and little knowledge will find the crude and crass funny, and will be incapable of appreciating the great humor of the satirists, like Twain, Shaw, Swift and Voltaire, for example. The correct question is not, "When did you or I choose our sense of humor? Sexual preferences? Way in which we walk? Interest in music? Etc." but what mental processes did we exercise, or evade, that resulted in what we find funny, what we sexually prefer and what music we love. Even how we walk required us to develop it. Within the scope of our physical abilities we could choose to learn to walk with poise and elegance, or stumble like careless ignorant bums. Every aspect of a human being's persona, from their character to their desires, is developed by the individual, either intentionally and by means of their best reason and effort or by default and evasion. That is what I believe Ayn Rand clearly meant and forcefully explained. You and I don't have to agree with it, but if we are honest, I think we have to agree that is what Rand clearly said and meant.
  5. JASKN, softwareNerd, The following are the quotes I promised. I have numbered them. I included the numbers so I might comment to the quotes if requested. I'm not interested in a debate.. (1) The Objectivist—September 1970 1. The Objectivist Ethics But while the standard of value operating the physical pleasure-pain mechanism of man's body is automatic and innate, determined by the nature of his body—the standard of value operating his emotional mechanism, is not. Since man has no automatic knowledge, he can have no automatic values; since he has no innate ideas, he can have no innate value judgments. Man is born with an emotional mechanism, just as he is born with a cognitive mechanism; but, at birth, both are "tabula rasa." It is man's cognitive faculty, his mind, that determines the content of both. Man's emotional mechanism is like an electronic computer, which his mind has to program—and the programming consists of the values his mind chooses. But since the work of man's mind is not automatic, his values, like all his premises, are the product either of his thinking or of his evasions: man chooses his values by a conscious process of thought—or accepts them by default, by subconscious associations, on faith, on someone's authority, by some form of social osmosis or blind imitation. Emotions are produced by man's premises, held consciously or subconsciously, explicitly or implicitly. Man has no choice about his capacity to feel that something is good for him or evil, but what he will consider good or evil, what will give him joy or pain, what he will love or hate, desire or fear, depends on his standard of value. If he chooses irrational values, he switches his emotional mechanism from the role of his guardian to the role of his destroyer. The irrational is the impossible; it is that which contradicts the facts of reality; facts cannot be altered by a wish, but they can destroy the wisher. If a man desires and pursues contradictions—if he wants to have his cake and eat it, too-he disintegrates his consciousness; he turns his inner life into a civil war of blind forces engaged in dark, incoherent, pointless, meaningless conflicts (which, incidentally, is the inner state of most people today). (2) The Journals of Ayn Rand "13 - Notes While Writing: 1947-1952" Another interesting point to be noted here: man is given his entity as clay to be shaped, he is given his body, his tool (the mind) and the mechanism of consciousness (emotions, subconscious, memory) through which his mind will work. But the rest depends on him. His spirit, that is, his own essential character, must be created by him. (In this sense, it is almost as if he were born as an abstraction, with the essence and rules of that abstraction (man) to serve as his guide and standard--—but he must make himself concrete by his own effort, he must create himself.) (3) Atlas Shrugged Part Three / Chapter VII "This Is John Galt Speaking" Pride is the recognition of the fact that you are your own highest value and, like all of man's values, it has to be earned—that of any achievements open to you, the one that makes all others possible is the creation of your own character—that your character, your actions, your desires, your emotions are the products of the premises held by your mind—that as man must produce the physical values he needs to sustain his life, so he must acquire the values of character that make his life worth sustaining—that as man is a being of self-made wealth, so he is a being of self-made soul—that to live requires a sense of self-value, but man, who has no automatic values, has no automatic sense of self-esteem and must earn it by shaping his soul in the image of his moral ideal, in the image of Man, the rational being he is born able to create, but must create by choice—that the first precondition of self-esteem is that radiant selfishness of soul which desires the best in all things, in values of matter and spirit, a soul that seeks above all else to achieve its own moral perfection, ... (4) The Letters of Ayn Rand Return To Hollywood (1944) To Gerald Loeb August 5, 1944 I believe that our mind controls everything--—yes, even our sex emotions. Perhaps the sex emotions more than anything else. Although that's the opposite of what most people believe. Everything we do and are proceeds from our mind. Our mind can be made to control everything. The trouble is only that most of us don't want our minds to control us--—because it is not an easy job. So they drift and let chance and other people and their own subconscious decide for them. I believe firmly that everything in a man's life is subject to his mind's control--and that his greatest tragedies come from the fact that he willfully suspends that control. (5) The Journals of Ayn Rand, "13-Notes While Writing: 1947-1952" Man exists for his own happiness, and the definition of happiness proper to a human being is: a man's happiness must be based on his moral values. It must be the highest expression of his moral values possible to him. This is the difference between my morality and hedonism. The standard is not: "that is good which gives me pleasure, just because it gives me pleasure"...-but "that is good which is the expression of my moral values, and that gives me pleasure." Since the proper moral code is based on man's nature and his survival, and since joy is the expression of his survival, this form of happiness can have no contradiction in it, it is both "short range" and "long range" (as all of man's life has to be), and it leads to the furtherance of his life, not to his destruction. (6) The Virtue of Selfishness, "1. The Objectivist Ethics" "But the relationship of cause to effect cannot be reversed. It is only by accepting "man's life" as one's primary and by pursuing the rational values it requires that one can achieve happiness—not by taking "happiness" as some undefined, irreducible primary and then attempting to live by its guidance. If you achieve that which is the good by a rational standard of value, it will necessarily make you happy; but that which makes you happy, by some undefined emotional standard, is not necessarily the good. To take "whatever makes one happy" as a guide to action means: to be guided by nothing but one's emotional whims. Emotions are not tools of cognition; to be guided by whims—by desires whose source, nature and meaning one does not know—is to turn oneself into a blind robot, operated by unknowable demons (by one's stale evasions), a robot knocking its stagnant brains out against the walls of reality which it refuses to see." (7) "Playboy's interview with Ayn Rand," pamphlet, page 6. "An emotion is an automatic response, an automatic effect of man's value premises. An effect, not a cause. There is no necessary clash, no dichotomy between man's reason and his emotions—provided he observes their proper relationship. A rational man knows—or makes it a point to discover—the source of his emotions, the basic premises from which they come; if his premises are wrong, he corrects them. He never acts on emotions for which he cannot account, the meaning of which he does not understand. In appraising a situation, he knows why he reacts as he does and whether he is right. He has no inner conflicts, his mind and his emotions are integrated, his consciousness is in perfect harmony. His emotions are not his enemies, they are his means of enjoying life. But they are not his guide; the guide is his mind. This relationship cannot be reversed, however. If a man takes his emotions as the cause and his mind as their passive effect, if he is guided by his emotions and uses his mind only to rationalize or justify them somehow—then he is acting immorally, he is condemning himself to misery, failure, defeat, and he will achieve nothing but destruction—his own and that of others."
  6. Yes, several. But perhaps you'd be willing to answer my question first. Do you consider yourself an Objectivist? Perhaps you are like me, a long time student and admirer of Rand, but certainly not an Objectivist. I'll gather up the quotes, since you are interessted, but only so you'll see what I mean. You very well may not agree with my assessment of the quotes meaning, but at least you'll understand why I think you contradicted Rand's view.
  7. JASKN, May I ask you sir, if you regard yourself an Objectivist? I'm interested only because I like to know, when possible, what an individual's views are based on. I ask because you asked, "When did I choose my sense of humor? Sexual preferences? Way in which I walk? Interest in music? Etc." as though you did not know the source of such things, or have any intention of discovering them. If that is the case it would seem to be in direct contradiction to Rand's views. Of course if you do not regard yourself an Objectivist, it wouldn't matter at all. Thank you!
  8. It seems, Railraod Man, you have fallen into a nest of thin-skinned prigs incapable of discerning or appreciating a little acerbic rhetoric. The easily offended often mistake their sensitivities for dignity or propriety, but it is only vanity, but harmless enough. You are absolutely right about Hume. I would not quite use your style of colorful description, but he certainly did nearly destroy all future philosophy. He was the ultimate sophist. Like all good sophists, Hume's arguments are not for anything in particular, but plausible questions of the nature, "you may believe in an objective reality, but if there is one, how can you know the one you perceive is it?" This is the style of Hume's argument (not his actual one), by which he denies reality itself. The specific denials include: —A denial of an objective external world, or at least, being able to know it. —A denial of abstract ideas or principles, supposedly based on empiricism. —A denial of "causation," mistakenly called "cause and effect." —A denial of the identity of existents in terms of their characteristics (by denying his version of induction). —A denial of the individual conscious self. —A denial of volition (wrongly called "free will"). —A denial of ethical values (his so-called "is/ought" problem). Anyone familiar with Western philosophy will not need references to know these are fair representations of Hume's pseudo-philosophy. But for those unable or unwilling to do their own homework, they are fully supported by Hume's Of the Academical Or Sceptical Philosophy and An Enquiry into the Principles of Morals which are fully discussed and referenced in four articles I wrote some years ago: "Hume, Father of Postmodernism and Anti-rationalism" Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4. I doubt if any of those who demand "references" will bother with the links, but you might find them interesting, Railraod Man, and could always use them the next time someone demands references.
  9. No, I was actually only trying to point out a contradiction in your argument, which is not all that important. I was hoping you might consider it, because I thought it might help you. Reality is what it is. One can either discover all they can about it, and live according to the principles that describe it or not, but living in defiance of reality can only result in disaster, witness most people's lives. Whether you call it "objective" or something else, it is discovering the nature of reality, which includes one's own nature and the nature of the world they live in, and identifying the principles by which one must conform to that reality to be successful and happy in this world that are moral values. To defy reality not only means failure, and ultimatly death. I'm not trying to convince you. If it is not reality, independent of whatever you wish, think, feel, or desire, that determines how you ought to live as a human being, what is it? If your interested in Rand's view of the difference between objective and subjective you might look at this post: http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=26950&page=2#entry320925
  10. tjfields You wrote, "To sustain his life, his ultimate value, man has to learn what are the basic necessities of life that are objectively determined by the nature of man e.g. water, food, shelter, and he has to act to gain and keep those necessities. If man does not act to gain or keep those necessities, man will die. Anything that an individual believes is a value, or needed to live as ‘man qua man’, beyond the basic necessities is determined by the individual not objectively derived from the facts of reality. " There is a contradiction here. It is in the sentence, "man has to learn what are the basic necessities of life," which contradicts, "anything that an individaul believes is a value, or needed to live as 'man qua man', beyond the basic necessities is ... not objectively derived from the facts of reality. Since you list the necessities of life as water, food, shelter, your list excludes what your first sentice declares is necessary, to learn what the basic necessities of life are. The first requirement of human life is knowledge determined by that fact of reality which is human nature. Because all human behavior must be consciously chosen (determined by the fact of reality that humans are volitional beings), and no choice is possible without knowing what choices are available and which choices will result in which consequences (will eating this nourish me or kill me?), another fact of reality, and making a choice is a judgement requiring reason (another fact of reality) to fail to learn all one is capable of learning, and using one's best reason to make right choices in all matters of life means to fail in every aspect of life.
  11. Regi F.

    Animal rights

    "To the second part, I would only amend that social rights only have meaning in a social context," said. Since you agreed that outside of a society the question of rights does not even come up, what other kinds of rights then social rights would there be? The idea, by the way, that there are different kinds of rights is fascinating. So far, no one has been able to tell me exactly what any kind of rights are supposed to be. I had not idea there were different kinds.
  12. Regi F.

    Animal rights

    JASKN I do not disgree at all that freedom is necessary to human life, as necessary as food and water. "As it's said, 'the price of freedom is constant vigilance.'" Well the price of freedom is usually much more than that and those who said it meant some supposed freedom provided by a government or social system. If that were what you meant my freedom, (I don't believe it is), it wouldn't be worth having. As necessary to human life as food, water, knowledge, and freedom are, how does anyone have a right to any of them if they do not secure them for themselves by their own effort? What does it mean to have a "right" to it. How is saying one has a right to freedom different from saying one has a right to water, or food, or knowledge? I can see how someone who understands the nature and value of freedom would feel the very appropriate emotional response, "it's my life and my freedom, dammit, and no one is taking it away from me," which is exactly how I feel, but that feeling does no justify believing it is mine by some right (unless by right one only means it is right to be free). If I want to have knowledge, I have to acquire it by my own effort. If I want to be free, I have to secure my own freedom. No matter how much I stamp my foot and insist freedom is mine by right, I won't have it till I pay the praice to secure it. The only way I could agree that freedom is, "a right," is to say it is "a morally right thing for an individual to seek, achieve, and exercise and morally necessary as well." It is certainly not a right in the sense that it is "deserved" in some way, just because someone is born.
  13. Regi F.

    Animal rights

    StrictlyLogical, I would be grateful if you told me what you believe the Objective meaning of the word "rights" is. Thank you! Devil's Advocate, If an individual were a solitary one (the only one in the world, or only one in a geographical area) would the question of rights ever come up? Such an individual would be completely free to do anything they chose within the limits of physical possiblity and their own ability, which would be complete liberty, wouldn't it? Rights only have meaning in a social context, because only others can limit an individual's freedom. Wouldn't "rights" in that case necessarily mean obligating some to not act in ways that limit others freedom. I'm only questioning if it is possible to define rights without implying limits (or obligations) on others, not the legitimacy of such limits.
  14. tjfields Is it not a fact of reality that human beings are rational volitional beings? Does not that fact mean that human beings must live by conscious choice, that their only means of making choices is by means of knowledge about themselves, their own nature and the nature of the world they live in? Is it not a fact of reality that all living things have a particular nature that determines how they must live, which does not mean simply to survive, but to successfully be the kind of organisms they are? Does living as a human being mean simply keeping the human organsim alive or does it mean living as the kind of being humans are? If you believe that it is merely the perpetuation of protoplasm that "living" means, or Rand meant, than let's make everyone unconscious and put them on life-support systems. If you cannot see that it is the nature of human beings as rational volitional beings that requires them to have a system of moral or ethical principles to live and that same nature that determines what those moral principles must be, than nothing is going to convince you. I'm not trying to convince you either. Just answering you honest questions as honestly as I can.
  15. Regi F.

    Animal rights

    Not sure what you mean by, "freedom in the abstract." I mean actual individual freedom in the sense of uncoerced liberty to live as one rationally chooses. I mean that no one has a claim on anything they have not earned, produced, or acquired by their own honest effort. That meaans anything of value, including freedom. In your words, "men and freedom are inseparable." [i know what you mean, but as stated is not true. It is quite obvious men are "separated" from freedom all the time. I think you mean true human life is not possible without freedom.] Isn't what you mean by "a right" that someone has a claim to something? But no one is born with a claim to anything they have not produced or earned, do they? Exactly whom is it that claim is laid against? Who or what is obliged to provide anyone else with anything? It seems odd to me that people who understand no one has a claim (or right) to food, or water, or education, or healthcare they have not produced or earned have a claim to freedom they have not provided themselves. Most recognize that it is not only things and services one does not have an unearned claim on, but protections as well. Does anyone have a claim to being protected from earthquakes, savage beasts, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, or fires, or do they have to find a way to protect themselves or pay for such protection? The only threat to human freedom is other men. Certainly not all men are a danger to an individual's freedom, but some are, and like every other danger we face in life, we must learn what the nature of that danger is, and take measures to protect ourselves from them, or pay someone else to provide such protection. We have no more claim on being protected from the threat of other men than a right to be protected from disasters,disease, ignorance, or poor health. That's what I mean and it's true, though I have very little expactation that you or anyone else will agree, which is too bad. Understanding it is the first step to actually being free. By the way, your view is the Objectivist view. Rand defended the concept of rights and based her entire political philosophy on it. I have no interest in arguing against Objectivism on an Objectivist site which I would regard as both discourteous and futile. I'm just answering your question, which you can ignore if you are not interested, but will gladly answer questions.
  16. Your first premise is wrong. It is not just life that is man's ultimate value, but the life of, "man qua man," as Rand puts it. If you read the second post, you should have seen it: [http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=27074#entry320511] "Man has been called a rational being, but rationality is a matter of choice and the alternative his nature offers him is: rational being or suicidal animal. Man has to be man - by choice; he has to hold his life as a value - by choice: he has to learn to sustain it - by choice; he has to discover the values it requires and practice his virtues - by choice. "A code of values accepted by choice is a code of morality." The fact of reality that is the objective basis of moral values is man's nature as a rational/volitional being. No one is forced to be moral, but if one chooses to live successfully and happily in this world, it is objective moral values one must live by. It is because it is a choice that makes it a moral issue.
  17. Regi F.

    Animal rights

    Not sure whether you are agreeing or disagreeing. However, no one is born with a "duty" or obligation of any kind. Reality determines that to live successfully and happily in this world one must live according to principles that describe that reality, that is, objective ethical principles, but no one is obliged to do that. Moral principles, like all principles, can only describe how an objective can be achieved. If one's objective is to be happy and successful they must live morally, but first they must choose to be successful and happy. Just wishing to be happy and successful is not choosing to pursue them, and does no tell one how to achieve them. Freedom is necessary to happiness and success, for example, and like all other values, freedom, as well as happiness and success, and life itself, must be earned and achieved by one's own choices and effort, which is why they are moral issues. No one (and nothing, man or animal) has a "right" to any of these things.
  18. It is not life that is the standard of moral values, not the mere perpetuation of protoplasm, which would justify any action which kept an organism alive. Even for the lowest organisms life is not the process of maintaining life, but of maintaining the organism as the kind of organism it is. That is why Rand emphasizes that it is not just the life of a man that is the source of ethical values, but a man's life, "qua man."<p> This essential mistake, I believe is the reason most students of Objectivism confuse Rand's view of ethics with a form of hedonism or subjectivism. Rand did not regard selfishness, happiness, or self-interest as a standard of ethical values. I'll let Rand herself explain, from an article I wrote in 2010. Rand's Objective Ethics The view that "selfishness" is an ethical primary and that living ethically means living according to one's own selfish desires is rightly called, "subjective hedonism." The first, subjectivism, is any view that regards feelings, desires, or passions, rather than reason, as ever being a legitimate bases for ethical choices. The second, hedonism, is any view that accepts one's own pleasure or happiness as the basis of ethical values. Both of these views fly in the face of objective ethics and the philosophy of Ayn Rand. The purpose of ethics, or morality, is to provide the principles by which one may live successfully and happily in this world. "The purpose of morality is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and live." [For the New Intellectual, "Galt's Speech from Atlas Shrugged," page 123] The principles of ethics are not social and pertain only to individuals and are based on the requirements of individual human nature. "Man's life is the standard of morality, but your own life is its purpose. If existence on earth is your goal, you must choose your actions and values by the standard of that which is proper to man—for the purpose of preserving, fulfilling and enjoying the irreplaceable value which is your life." ...and... "You who prattle that morality is social and that man would need no morality on a desert island—it is on a desert island that he would need it most." [Atlas Shrugged, "Part Three,—Chapter VII, 'This is John Galt Speaking.'"] Rand's ethical views cannot be entirely understood outside the context of the fundamental principle at the heart of all her work and thought, individualism. For Rand, the purpose of ethics was to provide the principles by which individuals make the choices that result in their own success and happiness. Every life is an individual life, every mind is an individual mind, and the success or failure of every individual is the consequence of their individual choices. "... knowledge, thinking, and rational action are properties of the individual, ... the choice to exercise his rational faculty or not depends on the individual ..." [Capitalism, The Unknown Ideal, "Theory And History, 1. What Is Capitalism?"] This view is in opposition to every view that subordinates the life or purposes of individuals to any other supposed purpose or end, such as society or "the greater good." "Man—every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life." [The Objectivist Newsletter: Vol. 1 No. 8 August, 1962, "Introducing Objectivism."] In the 40s and 50s collectivism was promoted in the name of the dominant "moral" philosophy of the day, altruism. It was in opposition to the concept of self-sacrifice embodied in the concept of altruism that Rand presented her view of selfishness. "We cannot save the system of free enterprise while we ourselves hold the moral beliefs of its enemies. We cannot save it without a complete and consistent philosophy of individualism. A militant and inspiring philosophy, not an apologetic one. Altruism by its very nature is a collectivist principle. If we accept the moral law that man must live for others—we have accepted collectivism, and all the practical consequences will follow inevitably." [The Letters of Ayn Rand (1931-1943), To Tom Girdler, July 12, 1943] Selfishness, for Rand, represented individualism as the opposite of altruistic self-sacrifice. "There is no hope for the world unless and until we formulate, accept and state publicly a true moral code of individualism, based on man's inalienable right to live for himself. Neither to hurt nor to serve his brothers, but to be independent of them in his function and in his motive. Neither to sacrifice them for himself nor to sacrifice himself for them in selfless service—but to deal with them in free exchange among equals, each with a legitimate right to his own benefit, and not in the spirit of any kind of altruistic service of anyone by anyone." [The Letters of Ayn Rand (1931-1943), To Tom Girdler, July 12, 1943] Rand emphasized selfishness in opposition to the irrational anti-individualistic morality of altruism. What she did not foresee was that selfishness would be taken by those who did not understand her philosophy as the basis of two ideas she regarded as destructive and evil as altruism itself: hedonism and subjectivism. Hedonism Hedonism is the view that the moral good is determined by or based on whatever makes one happy or gives one pleasure. Ayn Rand's view is that the moral good is determined by moral principles, and that pleasure and happiness are the result of the pursuit of moral values—values determined rationally and objectively. "Man exists for his own happiness, and the definition of happiness proper to a human being is: a man's happiness must be based on his moral values. It must be the highest expression of his moral values possible to him. "This is the difference between my morality and hedonism. The standard is not: "that is good which gives me pleasure, just because it gives me pleasure" (which is the standard of the dipsomaniac or the sex-chaser)-but "that is good which is the expression of my moral values, and that gives me pleasure." Since the proper moral code is based on man's nature and his survival, and since joy is the expression of his survival, this form of happiness can have no contradiction in it, it is both "short range" and "long range" (as all of man's life has to be), and it leads to the furtherance of his life, not to his destruction." [The Journals of Ayn Rand, "13-Notes While Writing: 1947-1952."] Even though Rand clearly explained what is wrong with hedonism in The Virtue of Selfishness, most of those who have studied Rand's ethics, continue to make the mistake that it is selfishness itself that is the basis of Objectivist ethics. It is not selfishness that makes a choice a moral one, but rational objective moral values, and any choice guided by reason and based on such values is a moral one, and therefore, in Rand's terms, a selfish one. "This is the fallacy inherent in hedonism—in any variant of ethical hedonism, personal or social, individual or collective. "Happiness" can properly be the purpose of ethics, but not the standard. The task of ethics is to define man's proper code of values and thus to give him the means of achieving happiness. To declare, as the ethical hedonists do, that "the proper value is whatever gives you pleasure" is to declare that "the proper value is whatever you happen to value"—which is an act of intellectual and philosophical abdication, an act which merely proclaims the futility of ethics and invites all men to play it deuces wild." [The Virtue of Selfishness, "1. The Objectivist Ethics"] Personally I think one of Rand's best explications of what is wrong with hedonism and what the correct basis of moral values are is that which I've gleaned (and annotated) from one of Rand's letters: "... hedonism is not a valid ethical premise; "happiness" is not an irreducible primary; it is the result, effect and consequence of a complex chain of causes. To say: "The good is that which will make me happy or that which will serve my interests," does not indicate what will make me happy or what will serve my interests. Hedonism, of course, assumes that the standard is emotional, subjective and arbitrary: anything that makes you feel happy is the good. But a feeling is not a standard of anything." {Note that Rand here makes the connection between hedonism and subjectivism—"assumes the standard is emotional, subjective and arbitrary."} "The task of ethics is to tell men how to live. Since neither self-interest (nor happiness nor survival) can be achieved by random motions or arbitrary whims, it is the task of ethics to define the principles by which man is to judge and choose his values, interests, goals and actions." {Self-interest, happiness, and one's life, may be the objective of ethics, but none can be the basis of ethics. To make any of these the basis of ethics would justify any action or choice with the excuse "its for my own happiness which I have a right to," or "it is OK to steal if it is a matter of survival," an argument I've heard some Objectivists make.} "You know the base and validation of the Objectivist Ethics; you know why man's right to exist for his own sake is not an arbitrary, 'selfish' choice, but a metaphysical necessity derived not merely from man's nature, but from the nature of life, that is: of all living organisms—and why the specific moral code required for man's existence is necessitated by his nature as a living organism whose basic means of survival is reason. {Note that Rand explicitly says that the right to exist for one's own sake is not a, "selfish choice," but a rationally determined fact based on the requirement of human nature to live by means of reason.} Therefore, a man's self-interest is not to be determined by his arbitrary wishes or whims, but by the principles of an objective moral code. Man must pursue his own self-interest, but only by the guidance of a moral code and within the framework of such a code. The moral rights and claims derived from that code are based on his nature as a rational being; they cannot be extended to include their opposite; an irrational claim invalidates itself by negating the base of man's moral claims or rights (by falling into the fallacy of the "stolen concept"). The right to exist and to pursue his own happiness does not give man the right to act irrationally or to pursue contradictory, self-destructive, self-defeating goals. Rationality demands that man choose his goals in the full, integrated context of all the relevant knowledge available to him; it forbids contradictions, evasions, blank-outs, whim-worship or context-dropping. {It is not one's "self-interest" that determines moral values, it is the reverse; one's moral values determine what is in his self-interest, and it is only by means of reason and moral principles one's self-interest can be realized. Nothing justifies choosing or acting irrationally, that is, on the basis of desire, whim, or passion. Nothing justifies evading the full context of all one knows to be right and true.} [The Letters of Ayn Rand, "Letters To A Philosopher," (Dr. John Hospers), April 17, 1960] Ayn Rand has made the connection between hedonism and subjectivism and has emphasized one of the essential mistakes of subjectivism which is evasion. Subjectivism Rand explained both how hedonism depends on subjectivism and how subjectivism is ultimately an evasion of reality. "But the relationship of cause to effect cannot be reversed. It is only by accepting "man's life" as one's primary and by pursuing the rational values it requires that one can achieve happiness—not by taking "happiness" as some undefined, irreducible primary and then attempting to live by its guidance. If you achieve that which is the good by a rational standard of value, it will necessarily make you happy; but that which makes you happy, by some undefined emotional standard, is not necessarily the good. To take "whatever makes one happy" as a guide to action means: to be guided by nothing but one's emotional whims. Emotions are not tools of cognition; to be guided by whims—by desires whose source, nature and meaning one does not know—is to turn oneself into a blind robot, operated by unknowable demons (by one's stale evasions), a robot knocking its stagnant brains out against the walls of reality which it refuses to see." [The Virtue of Selfishness, "1. The Objectivist Ethics"] Subjectivism is the opposite of objectivism. Objectivism is determining one's choices and action by means of reason; subjectivism is determining one's choices and action on the basis of feelings: emotions, desires, passion, or whim. Reason is man's only means to knowledge, man's only "tool of cognition." Rand emphasized this difference. "Emotions are not tools of cognition...one must differentiate between one's thoughts and one's emotions with full clarity and precision. One...has to know that which one does know, and distinguish it from that which one feels....to distinguish one's own considered judgment from one's feelings, wishes, hopes or fears." [For the New Intellectual, page 55] There is no natural antagonism between reason and emotion so long as one keeps the order correct—so long as one's feelings proceed from one's rational values and he understands what the source of those feelings are. It is when one let's their feelings influence or determine their thoughts and choices that those feelings become one's enemies, demons causing unhappiness and torment, and not the source happiness and pleasure they ought to be. "An emotion is an automatic response, an automatic effect of man's value premises. An effect, not a cause. There is no necessary clash, no dichotomy between man's reason and his emotions—provided he observes their proper relationship. A rational man knows—or makes it a point to discover—the source of his emotions, the basic premises from which they come; if his premises are wrong, he corrects them. He never acts on emotions for which he cannot account, the meaning of which he does not understand. In appraising a situation, he knows why he reacts as he does and whether he is right. He has no inner conflicts, his mind and his emotions are integrated, his consciousness is in perfect harmony. His emotions are not his enemies, they are his means of enjoying life. But they are not his guide; the guide is his mind. This relationship cannot be reversed, however. If a man takes his emotions as the cause and his mind as their passive effect, if he is guided by his emotions and uses his mind only to rationalize or justify them somehow—then he is acting immorally, he is condemning himself to misery, failure, defeat, and he will achieve nothing but destruction—his own and that of others." ["Playboy's interview with Ayn Rand," pamphlet, page 6.] I hope these notes and words of Rand will be a help to understanding what Rand's view of ethics truly was.
  19. Regi F.

    Animal rights

    It's "about" choice, which might be to act or not to act, which I suppose can be subsumed under the broader category, "action," and of course only pertains to human action which is consciously chosen.
  20. Regi F.

    Animal rights

    The principles of ethics, like all principles, are determined by the nature of reality, specifically the nature of human beings, the world they live in, and the requirements of those natures. Like all principles, no one decides or dictates them, (or invents them by some human, "actions"). They are discovered, rationally and objectively. They are immutable and absolute and independent of any human's knowledge or understanding of them.
  21. Regi F.

    Animal rights

    Thanks. I've been here a long time. Usually too busy (or unintersted) to post. It's snowing here in SC, so I have a little time.
  22. Regi F.

    Animal rights

    We do not have a well established concept of rights. "Rights is freedom of action in a social context," is certainly not a definition of rights. If that is all that is meant, why are governments justified by Objectivists as necessary for rights. Doesn't the notion of rights alway include some notion of a guarantee of such "freedom of action." The question is not whether there are animal rights, but whether the concept of rights in the political sense has any meaning at all. Rights are always used as a justification for a claim on something: life, freedom, even happiness, for example; but there is no ethical basis for a claim by any living creature on what that individual has not produced or earned by their own effort or acquired by exchanging what they have produced with other producers. Nothing is born into this world with a claim on anything: food, water, education, health-care, or freedom, without producing, earning, or acquiring it by their own choice and effort. The concept "rights" is a baseless concept that has simply been accepted for so long, no one ever questions it. It is similar to the baseless concept, God.
  23. Yes. Yes. You know this how? If everything you do, including everything you think is determined by genetics and environment, than everything you think you know is only what your genetics and environment have caused you to think, even to believing you know something. Now you have convinced me this is the case. I really do believe everything you think and do is determined by your genetics and environment. It even makes you think this is true of everyone else as well. It isn't, but of course you will never know that, because you do not have consciousness. You may even think you have, but it is only an illusion caused by your genetics and environment. It's a very sad thing. I've run into cases like this before, but I certainly don't blame you, because you cannot help it.
  24. Not sure where you are getting your statistics. Mine are from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. These are for violent crimes. Almost no change over last 20 years. These are for property crimes. Up almost every year since 1960 Thanks for the comment. Sorry, the DOJ links do not work. But you can find them yourself on the page the links go to.
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