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Sam

September 11th

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I'm still new to Objectivism so please forgive if I'm not getting something straight.

Yesterday was September 11th so I've been thinking about everything that happened. I was just wondering this morning how Objectivism felt about all the firefighters, police officers, paramedics, and others that sacrificed themselves in the attempt to rescue other people.

Edited by Sam

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Sacrifice in that context just means they died in the job they chose as their personal value.

Oh okay. I was slightly confused because there was this one part in "Objectivism..." by Peikoff that said something to the effect of it was okay for a college student to live at home as long as he was studying and his parents weren't sacrificing themselves. So, I wasn't sure how the firemen, etc. would fit into that context because their job is their value, like how the student/child is the parent's value, but the parents shouldn't sacrifice themselves... so the firemen shouldn't either? Maybe I'm confusing contexts or something, I don't know.

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Oh okay. I was slightly confused because there was this one part in "Objectivism..." by Peikoff that said something to the effect of it was okay for a college student to live at home as long as he was studying and his parents weren't sacrificing themselves. So, I wasn't sure how the firemen, etc. would fit into that context because their job is their value, like how the student/child is the parent's value, but the parents shouldn't sacrifice themselves... so the firemen shouldn't either? Maybe I'm confusing contexts or something, I don't know.

No one should sacrifice themselves. But dying for your ultimate value, in an attempt to preserve or protect it, is not a sacrifice. In fact, it is a very loud proclamation of a love of life in the face of anti-life. Remember, in Objectivist parlance a sacrifice is the destruction of a greater value for a lesser one. That is not what those men and women did on Sept. 11. They were fighting to preserve the one value, life, which makes all other values possible. I'd say that's worth dying for.

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No one should sacrifice themselves. But dying for your ultimate value, in an attempt to preserve or protect it, is not a sacrifice. In fact, it is a very loud proclamation of a love of life in the face of anti-life. Remember, in Objectivist parlance a sacrifice is the destruction of a greater value for a lesser one. That is not what those men and women did on Sept. 11. They were fighting to preserve the one value, life, which makes all other values possible. I'd say that's worth dying for.

Ahh, okay, I understand now. Thanks!

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Objectivism felt about all the firefighters, police officers, paramedics, and others that sacrificed themselves in the attempt to rescue other people.

No one sacrificed themselves to rescue anyone that day, i.e., no firefighter, police officer, paramedic deliberately, volitionally, chose to kill themselves for the sake of some one else. Sacrificing oneself is a conscious, knowing choice; where one knows they are going to die and kill themselves deliberately.

These people died. They did not sacrifice themselves.

The goal of "rescue" by definition does not require sacrifice. It is not a rescue if the person's sets out to "rescue" someone, but in the process saves the victim and kills them self on purpose. E.g., if a child falls into an ice pond attached to one end of a rope and pulley, and you jump in making yourself a counter weight, drawing the girl out of the ice water; is not a "rescue" mission if you deliberately, knowingly, choose to kill yourself, but save her. If she is saved, she is saved; but you have not to performed a "rescue."

A rescue would be if you draw her out of the water, bringing both of you back to normalcy. To rescue a person, we use our abundance of safety, skill, or ability, i.e., our abundance of safety in the context of not being a victim; as leverage to bring the victim back to safety.

(Note: these silly scenarios are always fictional, because emergencies are not normal in life. Man cannot properly live, qua man under such states.)

In other words, rescue squads workers or firefighters do not set out in the morning with the goal, "Well, if I'm lucky I'll be able to die today in the process of saving someone else."

The altruist morality in the culture perpetuates the myth that life requires sacrifice, i.e., killing ourselves for others. But when examined objectively (scientifically) life does not require sacrificing oneself; rather it requires purposeful, self-directed, self-generated, self-motivated actions for achieving successful long-term production over one's life time. Life requires creating values for gaining and/or sustaining itself; it does not require destroying values. Destroying one's values does not produce the values life requires. Investing one's resources, for greater more stable returns of value in the future is what life requires.

The only people that day who set off to sacrifice themselves for the sake of others were the murdering terrorists, carrying out their suicide mission. They deliberately, consciously chose to kill themselves for their goal of killing innocent others, i.e., of mass murder. They are the one's who sacrificed themselves for others, not for "rescue", but for murder, terror, and a sick sense of approval from their conspiring peers. They practiced the moral code of altruism with full integrity to the letter, ...to the suicidal, murdering, anti-life, self-sacrificial letter. There actions is what altruism means in practice.

Altruism holds the moral standard of death, therefore, that's all it can and does achieve.

Edited by phibetakappa

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I'm still new to Objectivism so please forgive if I'm not getting something straight.

Yesterday was September 11th so I've been thinking about everything that happened. I was just wondering this morning how Objectivism felt about all the firefighters, police officers, paramedics, and others that sacrificed themselves in the attempt to rescue other people.

Just a slight nit-pick with your wording, Objectivism doesn't "feel", only people do. Objectivism is a philosophy, not a human being. :-)

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No one sacrificed themselves to rescue anyone that day, i.e., no firefighter, police officer, paramedic deliberately, volitionally, chose to kill themselves for the sake of some one else. Sacrificing oneself is a conscious, knowing choice; where one knows they are going to die and kill themselves deliberately.

Well, it is hard to say if there really was no one who sacrificed themselves. It is certainly possible to die as a result of a rescue, and I'm sure many who did die trying to rescue people did it for their own values, whether or not they acknowledge it. But I'm sure there were some who died rescuing people for selfless reasons, so "no one sacrificed themselves" probably isn't true. "I'm going to risk my life FOR this person so they can live" would definitely be sacrifice. It's not quite so much the consequences of actions that matter, but the reasons for those actions.

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Well, it is hard to say if there really was no one who sacrificed themselves.

It really wasn't hard to say at all. Its pretty easy to make the determination because the term sacrifice has a meaning.

Also I did not say "no one" sacrificed themselves. I said the terrorist pilots sacrificed themselves very well.

It is certainly possible to die as a result of a rescue, and I'm sure many who did die trying to rescue people did it for their own values, whether or not they acknowledge it.

You need to read more carefully. I did not say it is impossible to die during a rescue attempt. But a rescue "attempt" is just that, an attempt, i.e., a new concept. If one person attempts to rescue another person from death in some emergency, and dies one would not call it a "rescue", but would have to modify the event, classifying as something else.

When a person dies attempting to rescue someone in an emergency, their death does not make their action a sacrifice.

Roark in "The Fountainhead" makes the point,

"Roark smiled. "Gail, if this boat were sinking, I'd give my life to save you. Not because it's any kind of duty. Only because I like you, for reasons and standards of my own. I could die for you. But I couldn't and wouldn't live for you" (608)."

A rescue is not when a person deliberately decides they are going to kill themselves for the sake of another person. That is not the proper referent of the concept rescue; that is a self-sacrifice.

Further and more importantly, the term sacrifice has a meaning. It does not include dieing in the course of one's job. It means deliberately dying, or deliberately exchanging a higher value for a lower value.

But I'm sure there were some who died rescuing people for selfless reasons, so "no one sacrificed themselves" probably isn't true.

"selfless reasons" does not make an act a sacrifice.

"I'm going to risk my life FOR this person so they can live" would definitely be sacrifice.

That is false. That is not what makes a sacrifice a sacrifice. A sacrifice is giving up a higher value for a lower value or non-value.

Ayn Rand defines sacrifice as follows,

“Sacrifice” is the surrender of a greater value for the sake of a lesser one or of a nonvalue. Thus, altruism gauges a man’s virtue by the degree to which he surrenders, renounces or betrays his values (since help to a stranger or an enemy is regarded as more virtuous, less “selfish,” than help to those one loves). The rational principle of conduct is the exact opposite: always act in accordance with the hierarchy of your values, and never sacrifice a greater value to a lesser one.

This applies to all choices, including one’s actions toward other men. It requires that one possess a defined hierarchy of rational values (values chosen and validated by a rational standard). Without such a hierarchy, neither rational conduct nor considered value judgments nor moral choices are possible. (“The Ethics of Emergencies,” The Virtue of Selfishness, 44)

Ayn Rand Lexicon: Sacrifice

Doing something "for" someone else does not make it a sacrifice. One has to consider the full context and circumstances, within their hierarchy of values.

Here's another quote from Ayn Rand on sacrifice I particularly like which applies:

If you wish to save the last of your dignity, do not call your best actions a “sacrifice”: that term brands you as immoral. If a mother buys food for her hungry child rather than a hat for herself, it is not a sacrifice: she values the child higher than the hat; but it is a sacrifice to the kind of mother whose higher value is the hat, who would prefer her child to starve and feeds him only from a sense of duty. If a man dies fighting for his own freedom, it is not a sacrifice: he is not willing to live as a slave; but it is a sacrifice to the kind of man who’s willing. If a man refuses to sell his convictions, it is not a sacrifice, unless he is the sort of man who has no convictions.

Sacrifice could be proper only for those who have nothing to sacrifice—no values, no standards, no judgment—those whose desires are irrational whims, blindly conceived and lightly surrendered. For a man of moral stature, whose desires are born of rational values, sacrifice is the surrender of the right to the wrong, of the good to the evil.

The creed of sacrifice is a morality for the immoral—a morality that declares its own bankruptcy by confessing that it can’t impart to men any personal stake in virtues or values, and that their souls are sewers of depravity, which they must be taught to sacrifice. By its own confession, it is impotent to teach men to be good and can only subject them to constant punishment. (Galt’s Speech, For the New Intellectual, 139.)

Ayn Rand Lexicon: Sacrifice

Edited by phibetakappa

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Just a slight nit-pick with your wording, Objectivism doesn't "feel", only people do. Objectivism is a philosophy, not a human being. :-)

Ha, yeah, I figured someone would say something about that... all you smart smarty smarties :)

But yeah, I know, I was just asking for clarification because I wasn't sure how that situation fit into Objectivist views on altruism.

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"selfless reasons" does not make an act a sacrifice.

Yes, you're right, my wording wasn't too clear. I think I was trying to point out that the only type of person who would conceivably sacrifice is a true altruist. Not all actions an altruist makes would necessarily be sacrifice. If your life is more important than my life, and I save you, and I die, that is not a sacrifice. But it is selfless. Is that what you mean? I would not say it would be impossible that none of the firefighters who died were deliberately sacrificing themselves, though. I already understand how saving another person's life and risking your own can still be selfish (but your points do clarify well to people like the OP who don't understand that yet)

Edited by Eiuol

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