Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
mb121

Is Objectivism ACTUALLY Built on Man's Nature?

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

Critique: Objectivism attempts to create a philosophy around the nature of a rational being, but not man qua man.

IE, man isn't just a rational being. Modern academia suggests that man:

- needs to feel that he belongs in a community

- needs to feel differentiated in some way within his community.

Of course, man could suppress the above necessities but he would suffer the psychological and biological consequences. Objectivism tries to deny these elements of man's nature because it aesthetically prefers to focus on his rational faculties; however, this criticism contends that man isn't just a rational being.

Objectivism insists (or at least in spirit insists) that man is not a political animal; however, this is fundamentally against man's true nature. As soon as we are born, we will die quickly if we do not receive intensive care and guidance from others more experienced than us. The relationships which we form are integral, not incidental, to our survival. The same biological and psychological needs that we have for others when we're children don't just suddenly dissapate when we reach "the age of rationality." Yet, objectivism insists that as soon as a man has the ability to go off on his own he should strive to be self-sufficient at all costs.

This is probably why the common objectivist's "sense of life" is almost always individualistic.

Political implications:

- man never existed in a "state of nature" as a loner. He evolved within the context of tribalistic communities (and we all know Rand detested tribalism).

- the concept of individual rights is almost impossible to apply to children, although many objectivists have come up with ridiculous explanations for why children have rights. When you try to build boxes around individuals as self-sufficient entities, you deny our fundamental communalistic nature as expressed in early childhood.

- objectivists must also deny that the mentally handicapped have rights. Whether we admit it or not, this makes all of us feel unconfortable.

As a side-note, objectivism even tries to describe our sexual nature as somehow individualistic. Anyone who has seriously reflected on their own sexual impulses knows that we are not attracted to mates based off of how they "reflect our values as individuals." IE, if aliens landed on earth who also happened to share egoistic values I doubt objectivists would be flocking to them for sexual gratification. Men are attracted to women primarily on looks, while women are attracted to men primarily on social status and the ability to accrue resources (which is inherently communalistic).

Obviously, objectivism's support of capitalism taps into some of the human need to associate with other individuals. However, this merely glosses over the situation as any rational being qua rational being would find benefits with the ability to trade with others. Humans are more than traders. We are fundamentally communalistic. We are psychologically driven to feel belonging in groups and then, once members, we feel the drive to obtain status within those groups (esp. males, who are driven to compete for status with others on a sexual basis). We feel this drive just as much as we feel the drive to be sexual. It is built into our nature.

Does this mean we must "submit our minds" to the collectivist abyss? No. Rationality obviously plays a huge role in the way healthy humans function. But to focus on this element alone does a huge disservice to both philosophy and biology.

How would objectivists answer this critique ;)

Edited by mb121

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
objectivists must also deny that the mentally handicapped have rights. Whether we admit it or not, this makes all of us feel unconfortable.

I feel perfectly fine. Thank you.

We are fundamentally communalistic

Who is this "We"?

We are psychologically driven to feel belonging in groups

Who is this "we"?!?!

We feel this drive just as much as we feel the drive to be sexual/

WHO IS THIS "WE"?!?!?!?!?!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Critique: Objectivism attempts to create a philosophy around the nature of a rational being, but not man qua man.

IE, man isn't just a rational being. Modern academia suggests that man:

- needs to feel that he belongs in a community

- needs to feel differentiated in some way within his community.

Cite specific disciplines/claims, 'academia' is a vague enough term to be meaningless here.

Man literally does need to belong to a community in order to be rational since this the only way that language (and hence reasoning) can be learned, as studies of feral children have shown. But I doubt this is what you mean.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
WHO IS THIS "WE"?!?!?!?!?!

You. Me. Everyone who reads this post. "We" is a linguistic device which communicates the summation of individuals. Objectivists love to pretend that "we" must signify the belief that people who use the word must think that humans are some singular, communalistic blob of an entity. Obviously that is not what is being conveyed.

Stop being rhetorically dramatic and answer the criticism.

Cite specific disciplines/claims, 'academia' is a vague enough term to be meaningless here.

This is a fair request. Here's a start: Maslow's hierarchy of needs (which has acually been around since I believe the 40's).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow's_hierarchy_of_needs

Although there have been criticisms that the structure of Maslow's pyramid might be too rigid, I can't think of any serious study which denies that the "needs" he idenifies don't exist on a psychological level.

Edited by mb121

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
By pointing out that it is just unsubstantiated and false ranting.

Perhaps this is why Objectivism is laughed out of almost all serious philosophical discussions in places like Ivy League Universities. In highly educated circles, most people have heard of (and even read) Rand's major works. But the general dismissive attitude of all anti-Objectivist sentiment as "unsubstantiated" or "anti-reason" (usually without much explanation) is almost laughable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
But the general dismissive attitude of all anti-Objectivist sentiment as "unsubstantiated" or "anti-reason" (usually without much explanation) is almost laughable.
No, I was only referring to your unsubstantiated and false rant. It isn't a serious criticism of Objectivism.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Perhaps this is why Objectivism is laughed out of almost all serious philosophical discussions in places like Ivy League Universities. In highly educated circles, most people have heard of (and even read) Rand's major works. But the general dismissive attitude of all anti-Objectivist sentiment as "unsubstantiated" or "anti-reason" (usually without much explanation) is almost laughable.

I have met my fair share of Objectivists, and I should say 90% of them are "former" Objectivists mostly under under the age of 25. These include winners of the Fountainhead/Atlas Shrugged essay contests.

Of course, that's not to say there aren't older Objectivists. But the fact that Objectivism's major following tends to be youngsters who haven't yet had families might tell you something about its appeal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have met my fair share of Objectivists, and I should say 90% of them are "former" Objectivists mostly under under the age of 25. These include winners of the Fountainhead/Atlas Shrugged essay contests.

Of course, that's not to say there aren't older Objectivists. But the fact that Objectivism's major following tends to be youngsters who haven't yet had families might tell you something about its appeal.

You're probably that young or younger yourself. Any older person would have had the wits not to argue using percentages as a substitute for reason.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
WHO IS THIS "WE"?!?!?!?!?!

Actually we are this "WE" in the following sense:

None of us are hermits. All of us were nurtured in families (or the equivalent) and required nourishment and protection by others until we reached a stage where we could be autonomous. We are all engaged in a system of specialization of labor, production and trade as well as mutual defense. We all live according to laws, customs and conventions. While all of us are individuals, none of us live atomically or in an isolated fashion. So there is WE, namely the society in which we live, work, prosper and do all the other things that we need to do.

I seriously doubt that there are ten thousand true isolated hermits on the planet at the moment. And even hermits needed parents to keep them alive while young and teach them a language. There are maybe a dozen verified cases of truly feral humans who somehow survived infancy taken care of by non-humans. These feral folk never learned to talk during the critical stage at which human youngsters acquire speech, so they never think at a fully human level.

Humans by their biological nature are social animals, but not hive animals like bees, ants, wasps etc..

ruveyn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Objectivism is a philosopical system. The great pivot point on which its ethics depends is "the metaphysical nature of man".

I think it is an entirely valid to ask the question "Is the metaphysical nature of man the sole and only permissible basis for ethics?"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You're probably that young or younger yourself. Any older person would have had the wits not to argue using percentages as a substitute for reason.

Yup. I'm 21 years old and a former first place winner of "The Fountainhead Essay Contest." I'm a student at Yale University and know several people who placed close behind me also attending Ivy League Universities.

We are all former Objectivists because Objectivism denies that man is a political animal.

I also know several adults (some professors) who subscribed to Randian Oism when they were much younger.

When talking about the appeal of a philosophy I won't hesitate for a moment to draw on statistics. Youngsters, like myself, have never had to raise children or take family considerations seriously. The older people I know tell me that family life makes evident many non-egoistical elements of our human nature.

Perhaps this is why none of Rand's major characters had children (save for one). In addition, this is probably why Rand never had children as well.

Here are the substantiated claims I made:

1) Man is a political animal because he relies on relationships to survive. He evolved out of a tribalistic context. Academia suggests he thus has communal psychological drives which Objectivism dismisses. His drive to have relationships extends beyond capitalism and into the realm of wanting to belong to groups and gain status within those groups.

2) Objectivism cannot predicate rights on rationality and also grant them to children or the mentally handicapped. Therefore, I suppose it's OK for me to blow the brains out of my own children. No? Well, to you who intuit that this is wrong (probably on an instinctual level per our human nature), you're going to have to crank out an explanation that doesn't rely on rationality.

3) Sexual urges are not predicated on egoistical values. They are predicated on communalistic indicators which include: status, looks, fertility, etc. This also suggests that man is a political animal and not merely a rational being.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Objectivism is a philosopical system. The great pivot point on which its ethics depends is "the metaphysical nature of man".

I think it is an entirely valid to ask the question "Is the metaphysical nature of man the sole and only permissible basis for ethics?"

Sure, but I'm not even going that far.

Objectivism's metaphysical understanding of man is wrong.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
- needs to feel that he belongs in a community

- needs to feel differentiated in some way within his community.

I don't see that Objectivism in any way denies Man's social nature or that he should belong within a community. All of us do, except hermits. We are citizens of a country, state and city or town. Many are aprt of a business company, many belong to hobby clubs and associations. And there are online communities like this one.

What Objectivism rejects is the idea that Man is community property or should be community property. Or that a community should be Man's sole reason for living.

As a side-note, objectivism even tries to describe our sexual nature as somehow individualistic. Anyone who has seriously reflected on their own sexual impulses knows that we are not attracted to mates based off of how they "reflect our values as individuals." IE, if aliens landed on earth who also happened to share egoistic values I doubt objectivists would be flocking to them for sexual gratification. Men are attracted to women primarily on looks, while women are attracted to men primarily on social status and the ability to accrue resources (which is inherently communalistic).

Men are largely attracted to women on the basis of looks, true. Women are also thus attracted to men. For that matter, women sometimes are attracted to other women and men to other men, all on looks alone. As a man I can say that it is only natural to find a beautiful woman sexually attractive as well. I assume it's as natural for women, lesbians and gay men to find whoever they look for as sexually attractive.

But attraction only goes so far. I don't deny a man may marry a woman only because of her looks. I do deny their chances of a happy marriage are good. As one forms or tries to form a relationship, looks and sexual attraction are not enough. Values, interests, ideas, etc count for a lot more. And such things are also attractive in a prospective mate.

Some women may find wealthier men attractive regardless of other considerations. Look what I said about relationships based on such superficial concerns. besides, as women have gained a measure of economic independence these past few decades, they no longer find a "good provider" as important as they once did.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Of course, that's not to say there aren't older Objectivists. But the fact that Objectivism's major following tends to be youngsters who haven't yet had families might tell you something about its appeal.

Why does that matter at all when considering its merits?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Why does that matter at all when considering its merits?

Because I'm arguing (among other things) that the act of raising a family leads to the expression of much of our communalistic nature.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
- man never existed in a "state of nature" as a loner. He evolved within the context of tribalistic communities (and we all know Rand detested tribalism).

Prove it. How do you know that man has never lived as a hermit in a state of nature?

- the concept of individual rights is almost impossible to apply to children, although many objectivists have come up with ridiculous explanations for why children have rights. When you try to build boxes around individuals as self-sufficient entities, you deny our fundamental communalistic nature as expressed in early childhood.

Children do not have the rational faculty to be trusted to wield natural rights completely on their own per se. For that time being, they must use their parents as a guide, which is different from having them distribute candy and toys from the parents ability according to the children's need.

- objectivists must also deny that the mentally handicapped have rights. Whether we admit it or not, this makes all of us feel unconfortable.

I would feel more uncomfortable if a retard had the right to drive (Pardon the rude language). Does your philosophy treat retards differently? I would be pleased to hear your solution.

As a side-note, objectivism even tries to describe our sexual nature as somehow individualistic. Anyone who has seriously reflected on their own sexual impulses knows that we are not attracted to mates based off of how they "reflect our values as individuals." IE, if aliens landed on earth who also happened to share egoistic values I doubt objectivists would be flocking to them for sexual gratification. Men are attracted to women primarily on looks, while women are attracted to men primarily on social status and the ability to accrue resources (which is inherently communalistic).

You wanting to have sex with an attractive woman isn't a selfish act? Extract lust from the scenario and you'll see just how "communalistic" or "altruistic" the act really is. People don't have sex because they hate it.

We are psychologically driven to feel belonging in groups and then, once members, we feel the drive to obtain status within those groups (esp. males, who are driven to compete for status with others on a sexual basis). We feel this drive just as much as we feel the drive to be sexual. It is built into our nature.

Then I must not be a human, because I've never felt a damn thing that you've listed.

Does this mean we must "submit our minds" to the collectivist abyss? No. Rationality obviously plays a huge role in the way healthy humans function. But to focus on this element alone does a huge disservice to both philosophy and biology.

If your not arguing for us to throw our minds away into the "collective abyss" then what are you arguing about? The whole point of your post is to prove somehow that all human beings are dependent upon each other for survival. Even though the standard of living is improved greatly when men are introduced into a society, it takes certain types of individuals to do the thinking that makes life so much simpler for everybody else to live. The Atlas's of the world, so to speak, that carry the burden of the rest of the world upon their shoulders and whom of which are spat upon by people like you who proclaim the virtues of the lowest savage over the greatest thinker. I would like to see a society of proletariats try and construct a light bulb without Thomas Edison to have laid out the plans for such an invention.

Biological arguments are not legitimate means to determine mans nature. All cells reproduce A sexually, does that mean it is within our human interest to reproduce the same way? The fundamental flaw within your argument rests upon the assumption that just because something apart of nature acts a certain way, so should man when in fact it is the opposite. The most magnificent feature of man is his ability to defy nature by making his environment adapt to him instead of it being vice versa. Man is able to accomplish such goals when he/she is allowed the freedom to use their own reason.

Reason, is purely an individual aspect. Collectives cannot think because collectives don't exist. I cannot ask a group of people a question and expect to receive a group answer from the group brain. Biologically, mans mind doesn't work that way (Not like biological arguments mean much for this subject matter, but still).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Regarding the dismissal of values as basis for human attraction, consider this:

Humans, yes, evolved in tribal context, and possibly evolved to base attraction on the factors you mentioned, within the tribal context. Inside a tribe, loving a person for their values is irrelevant because everyone's values are the same. However, enter civilization, and it changes. Now there are a wide variety of options for moral value systems, and therefore a person's selection of values is extremely relevant to the choosing of a mate. To say otherwise is analagous to saying that a San bushman could marry a Navajo woman. It just doesn't work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Critique: Objectivism attempts to create a philosophy around the nature of a rational being, but not man qua man.

IE, man isn't just a rational being. Modern academia suggests that man:

- needs to feel that he belongs in a community

- needs to feel differentiated in some way within his community.

Ayn Rand never claimed that man is "just" a rational being. She claimed that rationality is man's most essential attribute. See Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology for a more full study of the implications of this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
But the fact that Objectivism's major following tends to be youngsters who haven't yet had families might tell you something about its appeal.

Or it might not tell you anything at all. And the fact that you have determined the "major" age group just by "people you've met" isn't really hard evidence. I'm 44 by the way AND I've raised a son that is 20, almost as old as you. Having a family and raising children has nothing to do with whether or not Objectivism represents a sound view on man's nature.

Perhaps this is why Objectivism is laughed out of almost all serious philosophical discussions in places like Ivy League Universities.

And this is meaningful because? There are many things about life that don't get the Ivy League University stamp of approval.

Edited by RationalBiker

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Of course, that's not to say there aren't older Objectivists. But the fact that Objectivism's major following tends to be youngsters who haven't yet had families might tell you something about its appeal.
Actually, it tells me nothing of Objectivism's appeal. What is does tell me is something that I already knew: youngsters have more free time on their hands than those of us raising families.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Critique: Objectivism attempts to create a philosophy around the nature of a rational being, but not man qua man.

IE, man isn't just a rational being. Modern academia suggests that man:

- needs to feel that he belongs in a community

- needs to feel differentiated in some way within his community.

How does this change the fact that if a man's community decides to burn him at the stake for being a witch, he's dead? Objectivism, as a system, includes proper political principles. The entire *discipline* of politics *assumes* that human beings are going to live with *other human beings* and thus need some sort of systematic approach to dealing with each other.

Unlike other systems, however, Objectivism starts by asking what kind of a creature is a single man and then *deriving* a political system from the answers. A man is a rational being who lives by using his mind and then implementing the results of his thinking. Since men think as individuals, the proper ethical system is individualism (in essence) . . . and the proper political system is one that permits individualism, and thus thought, to function.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@mb121:

Even if you can assign all sorts of characteristics to 'man' (political animal or something like that) there is at least one man I know of that thinks differently (namely me). If you and all the people you include in your own philosophy is happy with not looking at themselves as 'rational animals', feel free to do so. But by what right would you initiate force against me?

In the end you would have to "grant" all rational people a system of capitalism. There you can start your own club of political animals or whatever you feel like, but keep your hands of my life and my property.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I appreciate the people who have taken the time to provide thoughtful critiques. I don't have the patience, but I would like to see mb121's response to this:

Regarding the dismissal of values as basis for human attraction, consider this:

Humans, yes, evolved in tribal context, and possibly evolved to base attraction on the factors you mentioned, within the tribal context. Inside a tribe, loving a person for their values is irrelevant because everyone's values are the same. However, enter civilization, and it changes. Now there are a wide variety of options for moral value systems, and therefore a person's selection of values is extremely relevant to the choosing of a mate. To say otherwise is analagous to saying that a San bushman could marry a Navajo woman. It just doesn't work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...