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  1. My first thread made me realize my mistake : I thought my own sense of morality was consistent with Objectivism. I just discovered that there is a fundamental difference between my own morality and Rand's and it just made me realize how much of a Potter fan I am. (I'll be quoting Dumbledore , Rowling's equivalent of Galt, here). The post is sufficiently long. Anyone who does not want to consider even the possibility that my argument can be true can move along. So, the fundamental problem I have with Rand's philosophy is the assumption that survival is the ultimate purpose of a living being and the sole measure of the worth of existence. The problem is that an individual's survival is impossible given a long enough time frame. Every living thing (and consequently all species including us) must cease to exist at some time in the very distant future due to the increasing entropy of the Universe ("Thermal death" or "Heat death" of the Universe), assuming some "Big Crunch" hasn't happened already. So the point is : life cannot exist for eternity. So I asked myself the question : 'If I am going to die anyway, why don't I [or any body] just kill myself [or themselves] and be done with it?'. The answer came as quickly as I had asked it [a testament to how much I used to like the Potter series] : 'The question is not about how long you live, but what you did while you where alive'. There is a simple analogy to computers ; Someone may ask : 'If I am going to shut down down my computer anyway, why should I switch it on in the first place'. The conclusion is similar : 'The purpose of switching on a computer is not to shut it down, but to do whatever you want with it, although it must necessarily to come to an end'. The effect of these simple questions made me realize the root cause of my disparity [Yes, everything I said in the previous thread was ultimately a derivative of these ideas. Simple difference, really, but far-fetching consequences] with the Objectivist philosophy [although there is much in common]. Basically, morality is not based on a question of life and death. Survival is not a fundamental. The question is not about how long you survive [as even the most moral person must die], but what you do so long as you are alive (such as aquiring knowledge 'additionally' as a matter of curiosity rather than as a means for survival. It is this additional part that matters. Knowledge used for survival is only like the electricity used to run a computer. Both are only the pemises, not the main feast). Rand's morality is based on an unachievable dream [survival], finally giving no incentive to the practitioner [DD : " Time is making fools of us again " & "It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live"]. A hint of such existence where survival is the only concern is hinted at in the third HP book, probably the only reason for introducing the dementors : ["You can exist without your soul, you know, as long as your brain and heart are still working. But you'll have no sense of self anymore, no memory, no ... anything. There's no chance at all of recovery. You'll just exist. As an empty shell. And your soul is gone forever ... lost" -Lupin]. Before I state more, I shall say : Survival is important. But it is only a premise to achieving something else : positive emotions. There, I said it [a crime, isn't it?]. This was also the moral foundation for the Harry Potter series - this was something that Voldemort ignored : he went in search of immortality while he slighted the importance of love [positive emotion] and the message is this : the preference goes to positive emotions over survival . Voldemort had additional evils, which where shared by many characters, such as Dumbledore himself and countless others. But it was only he who despised love [so don't go assuming his problems lie elsewhere]. Harry's mother sacrificed herself out of love for Harry. Harry sacrificed himself out of love for everybody. Even Rand said something about self-sacrifice for a loved one [superiority of positive emotions, which might have lead me to believe that our beliefs overlapped]. Basically employing reason is a means to achieve survival, a premise for achieving positive emotions [knowledge, love, curiosity, even sadness, what are poems for?]. The desire to survive ceases immediately when it is to be achieved at the cost of positive emotions [which happens often, if you apply the principle to everything you come across], taking "surival" off the pedestal as a fundamental. Do not confuse positive emotions with Rand's concepts of "happiness" & "love", which are basically physical manifestations of the mind's pursuit of survival [which can never be achieved, but only a false assurance] and which gives a sense of selfishness [in case of pleasure], or productivity [drinking, smoking, etc - they used to hint productivity]. My case of morality is where positive emotions are a fundamental and although survival is necessary to achieve it [you can't feel anything if you're dead], our survival upto now has no effect on it [the same reason why every living person, although obviously surviving, experience different emotions], making positive emotions more fundamental than survival itself [even Rand's evil characters had negative emotions while the good characters had positive emotions]. These are achievable while survival is not. Before people start bashing, try to see from this perspective [and allow a few days to get used to it]. And don't assume I am one of the "altruists", just because I am not an objectivist. Actually I hate altruists more than anything [another thing that convinced me that my morality may be similar to Rand's]. You will see that the Harry Potter series retains some of the best aspects of Objectivism : Rational self-interest [Harry, Hermione], fight against altruists [in the form of slytherins], individualism [Dumbledore, Hermione], free will [courage is emphisised as a means to make individual choices; for gryffindors], second chances [which death does not give], protection of minorities [house elves] and majorities [muggles] through reasoning, rejection of mysticism [divination] etc. Sure, both philosophies deal with death. But Rowling accepts that death is inevitable and trying to conquer it is an unrealistic motivation, which must end sooner or later. Young people are more prone to the convicton that death can be somehow overcome, through power, popularity, etc (DD - "Youth cannot know how age thinks and feels, but old men are guilty, if they forget what it was to be young.") Rand claimed that emotions are not reality. Well, negative emotions are not a reality [it does not allow any kind of suvival, which is a premise to experiencing positive emotions]. Long term survival is also unrealistic, a foolish motive to base your life on if you ask me. Consider a similar analogy to reproduction: Sure food is important, but it is foolish to consider food more fundamental than reproduction. Food is only the premise to achieve reproduction, the ultimate aim : this is also because group survival is more attainable than individual survival. [but survival of any type is unattainable. What I presented is only an analogy]. One of the things that Objectivism allows is power [see my previous thread]. Although it allows survival [strictly because the kind of power I am speaking of does not involve force, but rather the lack of it, which is actually quite dangerous], it stifles up positive emotions. Some DD quotes: “We both know there are other ways of destroying a man, Tom,…Merely taking your life would not satisfy me, I admit—” “There is nothing worse than death, Dumbledore!” (voldemort) “You are quite wrong,…Indeed, your failure to understand that there are things much worse than death has always been your greatest weakness—” “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” (meaning, death is inevitable. Although death is contradictory to our will to survive, there is no way around it. So by accepting death, by accepting the fact that it is impossible for you to survive, you shall have conquered death - a major theme in the book) "You are the true master of death, because the true master does not seek to run away from Death. He accepts that he must die, and understands that there are far, far worse things in the living world than dying" "Your father is alive in you, Harry, and shows himself most plainly when you have need of him." (emotions can be used as a means to pretend that survival can be achieved, although it cannot be truly achieved) “Its our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities” (suggesting that there are non-altruists, who have the ability, but go out of their way to achieve an unattainable ideal - survival). "It's the unknown we fear when looking upon death and darkness. Nothing more" "Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it." (Putting all your energy on survival can numb the pain for a while, but death is inevitable) I have one theory why Rand considered survival so important (and this influence can't be neglected) : her experience with Russia. She could have had a great fear for death, basically convincing her of the existence of only two entities : survival vs. death; intelligence vs. stupidity; selfishness vs. altruism; America vs. Russia. She then constructed an entire philosophy based on this assumption and made a crude mistake : she forgot that electricity is not merely enough to justify the existence of a computer. Survival is not merely enough to justify the existence of life. I'll reply when someone actually considers/understands my argument [that survival is not fundamental] objectively and then replies. If anyone intends to quote Rand, justify how it relates to the topic and the basic argument [as I have already considered that Rand if fundamentally wrong, you should attempt to directly tackle the fundamental problem. Avoid using derivatives of her philosophy which are based on this fundamental assumption. Using derivatives of an argument to prove the original argument is a flaw in logic].
  2. TWO KINDS OF MORALITIES, MARXIST VERSUS THEOLOGICAL I am reading interesting comments about communist morality, in a book devoted to Judaism, published in 1975. The authors are two rabbis, D. Prager and J. Telushkin. A Christian theologian would probably make similar observations. Marxists and theologians, they write, "are both motivated by the desire to perfect the world and establish a utopia on earth. ... Both promote all-encompassing worldviews. But they diametrically oppose one another in almost every other way." The authors remind us that communists rejected "all morality derived from nonhuman [i.e. God] and nonclass concepts," as stated in 1920 by Lenin. ... "Marxist morality sanctions any act so long as that act was committed in the interest of [economic and political] class struggle." Nothing that Stalin, and Mao did was immoral, according to such ideology. Theologians, on the other hand, hold "that morality transcends economic, national, and individual interests." God's commandments are objective rather than subjective. Evil human acts are condemned, no matter what economic or political gains are derived from them. That is the essential difference. Greed in human nature, they emphasize, "may have helped create capitalism, but capitalism did not create greed in human nature." Theologians also deplore social injustice. But they reject brutal proletarian revolutions because "the roots of evil and injustice lie not in economics or society but in man himself." This has to do with the concept of freedom. "For Marxism, which conceives of the world in materialist terms, bondage is defined solely as servitude to external sources such as slave owners, capitalist bosses, or other forms of material inequality. Freedom is liberation from such servitude." People, as stated in the Communist Manifesto, written by Marx and Engels, must get rid of economic chains binding them. Then they will automatically cease to be evil. Theologians, on the other hand, see two kinds of liberation, from external and from internal bonds. "Once liberation from external servitude takes place, one must then liberate oneself from internal domination, the domination of one's life by passions, needs, irrationality and wants." The conflict between theologians and Marxists "is not economic, it is moral." Proletarian dictatorship was practiced in several countries; the results show that "when Marxist revolutionaries attain power they are at least as crual as their predecessors." Philosophical differences about morality, among different kinds of theologians, are minimal, as far as I know. But attempts to impose morality are not very successful. Why is it so? What can be done to improve the situation, to bring our reality a little closer to "utopia" dreams? Ludwik
  3. Hi all, You can read a post on one of my blogs titled “‘Publish or Perish’ → ‘Life or Death’” where I argue that keeping your own non-personal and non-private knowledge for yourself and thinking it is a good idea to try try to use it as a strategic advantage, is a recipe for stagnation and depression. Someone I talked to, thought that I was advocating publishing everything under an open source/open content etc. licence, but I don't go that far, and just encourage prompt publishing under a usable licence (but possibly a proprietary one). And I also don't encourage publishing too much of too little quality, that appears to have become the norm recently in the academic world, but you should definitely publish. In the post, I mention the United State Government’s so-called National Security Agency (= the NSA) as an organisation that offesnively violates this principle, and later on continued my mission of fighting it in the screenplay Summerschool at the NSA where the “Publish or Perish” meme is a recurent theme there, and you may enjoy it as well (I also reference Atlas Shrugged there and lots of other pieces of old and new culture). As I note in a different post, this is one thing I now dislike about Atlas Shrugged where trade secrets and possibly a fantasy of artists/creators keeping things to themselves - both appear to have received Rand’s approval, and which I now consider as extremely harmful notions. Anyway, comments are welcome, and I'm quoting the abstract to the screenplay here below for your perusal. Best regards, — Shlomi Fish. Summerschool at the NSA Abstract The Hollywood actresses Sarah Michelle Gellar (of Buffy fame) and Summer Glau (of xkcd notability) conspire to kick the ass of the NSA (= the United States government’s National Security Agency), while using special warfare that is completely non-violent. Two attractive, intelligent, and resourceful women against a large, inefficient, federal government organisation whose estimated annual budget is several times their combined worth. Does the NSA actually stands a chance?
  4. According to the Objectivist perspective, would it be immoral to advocate or accept government grants for college-education? I'm talking mainly about need based financial aid, rather than loans or scholarships. These loans aren't given for academic performance, but strictly based on income.
  5. What is value? Value is an abstract concept. A value as such is a place within a particular hierarchy. To value something is to judge where within a particular hierarchy a particular thing is. Ayn Rand asserted that a value is that which one acts to gain or keep however she confuses “value” here with a few other concepts. Her confusion is innocent however ironic. I say it is ironic because it was she who discovered precisely how to define a concept. “When in doubt about the meaning or the definition of a concept, the best method of clarification is to look for its referents-i.e., to ask oneself: What fact or facts of reality gave rise to this concept? What distinguishes it from all other concepts? ” (Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology) So indeed, what facts give rise to the concept “value”? “Value” is used in many contexts and yet always holds the same characteristic in each context. It is used in all numerical contexts. A numerical value is always positive or negative. “1” is a “value”. “-17,000,000,000,000” is also a “value.” “Value” is used also in philosophical contexts. If something is moral, i.e., in one’s rational self interest, it is of positive “value” to one’s life; it is highly valuable. If something is immoral it is of negative value to one’s life; it is destructive. What then distinguishes the primary use of “value” from all other concepts? ... (Clean here To finish reading "On The Definition Of Value")
  6. Morality and War By Thomas M. Miovas, Jr. 05/24/2012 I’ve come across and interesting moral dilemma presented by individualists who love Ayn Rand’s rational egoism and think that the individual ought to be free to pursue his life using reason and reality to benefit themselves ardently. The moral dilemma is usually put in the form of an application of individualism and self-defense. How can an such an individualist be in favor of having a war, when the individual enemies cannot be sought out to be killed in the name of retaliatory justice, and one winds up having to kill a vast number of people on the other side not directly involved in killing members of an individualist and moral country? In other words, in their version of applying rational justice, it would be moral to kill enemy soldiers attacking a peaceful country in the name of self-defense – like shoot down their air force or their tanks or their armies – but leave the rest of their country alone, since the rest of their country is not attacking us. And this sounds quite reasonable on the face of it. If a murderer comes and kills your loved one; you don’t go kill their loved ones or their grocer or their teachers or their neighbors. No, you hunt him down and deliver justice, by either killing him or by throwing him in jail. And that is the way these anti-war individualists think about fighting a war. So, why not fight a war that way? Why not just live and let live for the rest of their country, and kill only their soldiers? I think the issue here is one of context – the facts governing how one is to think about a particular moral issue. In the case of a lone gunman who kills your loved one, there is no implication that he is attacking a whole neighborhood, let alone a whole country; no, he kills that one person (or maybe several in the immediate vicinity) and doesn’t declare war on the neighborhood or the whole country. So, it is rational to treat that lone individual as a lone individual, and not take it further, unless it can be shown that he had accomplices helping him to carry out his evil act. For example, if a bank robber uses a car as a getaway, and killed the teller in the process of robbing the bank, not only is the robber guilty of murder, but the getaway driver is also held as an accomplice to murder – even if he didn’t go into the bank. In a similar manner, one could defend oneself against a cadre of bank robbers and their support system, say if a group of them got together to plan a heist and lived together and encouraged each other to go rob banks; teaching each other how to use a Tommy gun and how to avoid the police and how to control bank customers at the point of a gun, etc. In other words, everyone involved in the bank heist cadre would be guilty of being accomplices. Nonetheless, it is still only individuals attacking individuals, and has to be handled by the police rather than the armed forces. In the case of a foreign armed forces attacking a peaceful nation, the implication is entirely different – instead of just attacking those particular people who they bomb, their intent is to destroy the entire peaceful country. Hitler sought to overthrow Poland, for example, and burst through their border to do so; killing many Polish people along the way. But his intent was to get all of Poland to surrender to Germany. He attacked a country, and not just a few individuals. In that sense, he was not like a gang leader who attacks a neighborhood, his plans were much more grandiose – he wanted all of Poland. And so all of Poland – qua country – had the moral right to fight back in self-defense. And let’s say Poland did this, they fought back and destroyed that particular army. Would it be over? Would justice have been served? For the immediate moment, perhaps. But, Germany is still there, and Hitler still wants Poland, and so he puts together another army, and they attack Poland again. And let’s say this goes back and forth a few times. How long is Poland supposed to put up with these continuous attacks? The source is coming from Germany, who is out to destroy Poland, and their factory workers continue to make tanks and fighter planes and war ships and guns and ammunition, etc. There is a whole support system there. And there is encouragement from the German people to take over Poland. They cheer on their armed forces; they agree with Hitler that Poland ought to be taken over with force. So, who is Poland supposed to kill in their pursuit of self-defense? In a manner similar to the cadre of bank robbers, there are many accomplices involved. Is Poland supposed to go into Germany and arrest all the military factory workers, the munitions plant workers, the people cheering them on, or what? And how are they to do this anyhow? I think Germany would have something to say about that, and seek to prevent it. So, more Polish people get killed. And they weren’t doing anything except minding their own business and trying to institute justice. So, when you come right down to it, such attacks on peaceful countries can only be repelled by all out war against the aggressor nation. And by implication of the people of that aggressor nation supporting their troops in various ways, as mentioned above, they are all a fair target. Justice will only be served in the Germany / Poland case if Germany is made to stand down their attacks on Poland. And the only way to do this is to take away the German people’s moral fortitude to attack Poland, to let them know in no uncertain terms, that what they are doing is morally wrong and that it will not be tolerated. And maybe it is unfortunate that many of them will have to be killed for them to realize they have done something wrong, but they supported Hitler’s reign, and they will have to pay a heavy price for it. Similarly for our current War on Terror. Americans, by and large, have been minding their own business around the world, and being attacked time and time again by Muslim Fundamentalists. The height of these attack were the mass terror attacks of September 11, 2001; where over 3,000 Americans were killed for doing nothing but taking care of business in a peaceful manner. And like the Poland example, it was an attack on America qua country, rather than qua individuals, and there is a whole support system there to train them and to encourage them to make such attacks. In fact, one could almost make a case that the entire Middle East stood behind the attacks, with the exception of Israel, as they cheered in their streets as those towers fell. How long was America to put up with it? And since these particular Islamicist soldiers died in the attacks, is justice served by the fact that the terrorists are dead? In a way, like the Poland example, perhaps. But there will be more of them, and there already have been many of them, and there is a whole ideology behind them, and entire countries are giving them moral and material support. Are these people innocent bystanders? I think not. Not by a long shot. And they need to be taught that we will not put up with these continuous attacks against Americans; and they will have to be taught by force, along whoever are their accomplices. One final note about the truly innocent who had absolutely nothing to do with the whole mess, such as the children and the babies. If the terrorists and their accomplices grouped together, leaving the children out of it, then we could kill only them and only them. But that is not the way war operates. Like I’ve said, in a sense, their whole country attacked us or encouraged others to do so and idolized their suicide bombers and their following of Islam and the killing of the infidel. We don’t have a method of aiming only at the bad guys and their accomplices – we have to bomb buildings and villages and cities to get them to stand down. And it is not our fault that they carry their women and children with them. It is the terrorists who put such people in harm’s way, not us. Now are we to stand down until no one can possibly get hurt except for the terrorists and their immediate accomplices? How many Americas are supposed to die before that type of event will happen? Realistically, it can’t be done. When it is kill or be killed – for an entire nation, one way or the other -- it’s all of them as targets or all of us as targets. And personally, I don’t like being a target just because I live in a semi-free country that the enemy literally hates with religious passion. They can lay down their arms – and the truly innocent can encourage the terrorists to lay down their arms – or they are dead. It’s as simple as that. It’s either the USA survives as a nation, or some hell-hole in the Middle East survives as a nation. And I know what side I’m on. So, I fully support our troops in their efforts to defend America by fighting abroad. If you want to save the babies over there, then be against the terrorists, not the American Soldier who is killing the terrorists and their support system. Besides, I really think such baby defenders ought to be more concerned with American babies than Islamicist babies. http://www.appliedphilosophyonline.com/morality_and_war.htm
  7. http://www.appliedph...er_standard.htm Happiness by a Proper Standard By Thomas M. Miovas, Jr. 05/15/2012 Many people seem to vacillate between “doing what is right” and “pursuing their happiness”, which, largely due to their religious upbringing, puts them in a bind either way. To do what is right generally means to do one’s duty or to follow principles not connected to living a joyful life on earth. A joyful life is considered “selfish” and is to be avoided by most moralities, so in order to pursue their happiness, many people eschew morality and just do what they feel like doing, acting on feeling in an effort to satisfy themselves. The trouble is, either stance is not in favor of one’s joyful life – religious morality because it says to avoid happiness on earth, and following one’s feelings because it doesn’t generally end up being good for oneself. Suffering, by most moralities is considered a virtue, and no reasonable man would want to suffer his whole life through; so they cheat every once in a while and do what they feel like doing. But feelings (or one’s emotions) are not tools of cognition (thinking) and are not pre-programmed to do those things which are in-fact good for oneself. Take a drug addiction (say cocaine): It may very well make you feel good while the hit lasts, but at the cost of disconnecting one’s mind from reality. Trouble is, reality is still there, and believing one can jump off a tall roof while high is not going to be good for one’s own life. So, if a morality of duty will make one miserable, and following feelings can be dangerous to one’s health, what’s the alternative to really pursuing a happiness that is both good for you and moral? Ayn Rand came up with the solution by coming up with a standard of morality that is based upon man’s factual nature. One doesn’t follow one’s duty nor one’s feelings, but rather pre-decides, before acting , what is in one’s best interest taking all the relevant facts into account. And since happiness is the result of successful living, acting according to what is good for oneself will lead to a happiness based on man’s nature – it will be good for oneself and one will experience joy due to the accomplishment of living a fact-based successful life. An example of this is to eat nutritious meals; these are good for oneself, so it is moral to eat well, and by eating well one will achieve an overall feeling-good about oneself on the biological level. On a more consciousness level, it is moral to think about the facts relative to one’s own life – those facts influencing one’s life – and to think it through before taking an action with regard to those facts. Thinking is a joyful process; the ability to reason is a natural aspect of being human, and a rational man gains psychological pleasure when he is thinking something through. Consequently, one does things in one’s life – both physically (biologically) and in tuned with one’s consciousness – that lead to a successful state of joy in accomplishing goals that are beneficial to oneself. The heroes of Ayn Rand’s two most popular novels – The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged – contain many such examples of her moral characters gaining through rational action those values which sustain their own individual lives – to show what it means to be moral by a rational standard – and enjoying their lives greatly in the process. Howard Roark goes on to gain a great, uncompromising career; and John Galt goes on to gain his freedom to live his own life in a world run-amuck with irrational philosophy that seeks to enslave him. Their struggle was not easy, in either novel, but by following the principles of a fact-based, man-centered morality, they were able to be successful, in the long-run, because they put the facts on their side by using reason as a guide. The same can happen in any man’s life, so long as he is rational and going by the facts according to what those facts mean towards his own life by a rational standard. By acting on those goals which are in fact beneficial to his life – on all levels – his happiness can be achieved in a moral state of living well. As Tara Smith put it in her book on egoism (Viable Values), to be moral by a rational standard means gaining more life to live and to be happy about it – one gains a more joyful life, because one is not fighting either the reality of man’s nature or reality in general, attaining a harmony between both. http://www.amazon.co...ostRecentReview
  8. If there's any morality, justice, or even rudimentary decency in the cosmos, and the biota of The Milky Way, then the consciousness, spirit, and soul of Steve Jobs lives on. Any alien of any "humanity" and quality would rescue and save his living, thinking essence. As for any super-terrestrials which could do it, but didn't do it -- to hell with them, and the galactic horses they rode in on!
  9. I found this very interesting article criticizing Steve Jobs for pursuing his own self-interest and producing an awesome product. At the same time, it lauds Bill Gates for his philanthropy and his disassociation with his company in 2006 to better achieve his philanthropic goals. http://www.businessweek.com/management/idolize-bill-gates-not-steve-jobs-11012011.html?campaign_id=rss_topStories The article is clear evidence of the difference between Objectivist ethics and the prevailing philosophy today. Enjoy!