Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
aequalsa

Is objectivism consequentialist?

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

19 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Both quantity and quality are irrelevant??

No. That's the very opposite of both what I had intended in your quote of me, and my entire meaning in this, and every other thread in which I've commented upon this subject. Invictus said, "both quantity and quality of life are ethically relevant," and when I responded, "precisely my point," it meant -- as I thought clear -- that I agreed with his statement.

But obviously I have done a poor job of explaining my position, despite all of the pains I have taken. I shall have to reflect upon how I can communicate myself more clearly in the future.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, DonAthos said:

But obviously I have done a poor job of explaining my position, despite all of the pains I have taken. I shall have to reflect upon how I can communicate myself more clearly in the future.

The problem is not yours, but that reader's. I had no trouble at all understanding your position or that you were agreeing with me.  No other interpretation was possible.

At some point, one must conclude that a particular reader is either too sloppy or too hostile to understand what one is saying.  At that point, further attempts at persuasion are irrational.
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On Tuesday October 10, 2017 at 11:13 AM, DonAthos said:

And if we can find a way to satisfy you as to the hypothetical's parameters, Invictus, I would be interested in your answer, because while it is important to try to present our visions of ethics in the abstract, it is meaningful to try to determine the ways in which this would result in different choices, in reality.

It's fairly easy to frame the hypothetical in this case.  Our Hero has been given the opportunity to pursue his life-long dream, which he expects to bring immense happiness.  The gotcha is that the experts tell him it'll likely cut five years off his life.  Other experts tell him that he'll likely suffer from severe depression if he doesn't go, and this will likely knock off a year or so from his life.

As you say, the survivalist, going with the best knowledge available, will stay home. The proper analysis is different, though, and leads to a different conclusion. Before that analysis can be undertaken, your hypothetical needs an additional assumption.

This assumption is that of emotional health. There's no need to get into the details of what constitutes emotional health. Rather, a definition suffices: Emotional health is that state where one's emotions are generally a reliable indicator of ethical action. That is, as a rule, one gets positive emotions from acting ethically and one's positive emotions motivate actions that are ethical. (And conversely with negative emotions.)

On this assumption, Our Hero goes through his life seeking happiness, only occasionally checking to see that doing so is really the right thing. In this hypothetical, Our Hero could actually just follow his emotions and end up doing the right thing. But he would be acting unethically were he to do so; when the possible consequences are so serious, he needs to reason things through.

The reasoning is fairly simple, though. His goal is not simple survival, but continuing to live. He does not ask what will keep him alive longest, because he does not live an abstract "life" where the only factor of significance is whether he continues to carry out the process of life. The question he asks is, instead, what constitutes "continuing to live" for the particular life that is his.

In essence, what he seeks is not longevity but health, in the broadest sense. Health, basically, is the state where each part of an organism carries out its function of contributing to the organism's life. (It's a little more complicated than that, but the difference doesn't matter here.) Our Hero's choice, from this perspective is to go, satisfying his emotions, or to stay, setting them against himself. In either case, he will still be able to effectively carry out the other processes of life, so that isn't a factor.

But there are situations where following one's emotions would not be right. I implied one earlier, where one's emotions are not healthy. An example of another such situation would be one where the trip was expected to be one that would damage his ability to pursue his dream. In that case, his immediate sense that taking the trip would bring happiness would have to give way to the rational conclusion that it would not.
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 hours ago, DonAthos said:

There are ways of understanding the Objectivist Ethics which maintain that quantity or longevity or etc., is the ultimate value; when Kelley describes it as "existence versus nonexistence," I argue that this is his meaning.

I didn't get that from what I read.  But then, I have read very little from him specifically on Objectivism.  What's your source?


 

22 hours ago, DonAthos said:

I have sometimes independently saved my message in a text document, in case something goes awry.

I've decided that I should prepare anything of significant length in a text editor I'm familiar with and then paste it over here.  It's awkward, but there are fewer bugs to deal with........
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, Invictus2017 said:

Emotional health is that state where one's emotions are generally a reliable indicator of ethical action.

Based on what?

To what end?

11 minutes ago, Invictus2017 said:

There's no need to get into the details of what constitutes emotional health.

The problem is that the ultimate goal of emotional health can morph into pleasure/hedonism. Like "I'll know it when I feel it". I am not saying that it is completely irrelevant but there is a problem with it. The same objection to Consequentialism without an ultimate end.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, Easy Truth said:
19 minutes ago, Invictus2017 said:

Emotional health is that state where one's emotions are generally a reliable indicator of ethical action.

Based on what?

Based on a comparison of what a reasoned consideration of the situation would conclude.  So, if  history demonstrates that your emotions generally prompt you to the same action that your reason does, you are emotionally healthy. (Again, it's a bit more complicated than that.  But for present purposes, this suffices.)
 

6 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

The problem is that the ultimate goal of emotional health can morph into pleasure/hedonism. Like "I'll know it when I feel it".

Of course.  That is why emotional health must be defined in relation to one's reason.
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Invictus2017 said:

The problem is not yours, but that reader's. I had no trouble at all understanding your position or that you were agreeing with me.  No other interpretation was possible.

At some point, one must conclude that a particular reader is either too sloppy or too hostile to understand what one is saying.  At that point, further attempts at persuasion are irrational.

I'm heartened that you understood me; I was fearful for a little while, and felt quite discouraged, that I had utterly failed to express my meaning. I'd rather not discuss other members in these threads (I would prefer that we try, as much as possible, to discuss the ideas under consideration instead), but I will say that I consider StrictlyLogical to be very intelligent and reasonable. Though we have had disagreements in the past -- sometimes deeply held -- I rely on his understanding, and I am disposed to believe that any failure in communication between us is temporary, and can be addressed through further patient effort.

If I did not believe this, as you indicate, it would be foolish of me to try to persuade him of anything.

1 hour ago, Invictus2017 said:

I didn't get that from what I read.  But then, I have read very little from him specifically on Objectivism.  What's your source?

The source of the quote (which I have beaten like a drum, perhaps unfairly) is here.

Please allow me to say, however, that whether I am right or wrong (or whether anyone considers me mistaken) as to David Kelley's views, as such, again: my main interest is in discussing ideas, not their proponents. If need be, I would gladly concede my argument that "Kelley believes X," and accept that he means to argue for Y or any other thing; it is enough for my purposes that anyone may potentially misinterpret Rand's views in this way (or even understand Rand's views correctly in this way, if that is the contention). I use him and his quote as a convenient reference point for what we're now referring to as "survivalism," and nothing more.

(I think this caveat is especially important considering how controversial a figure Kelley can be in the Objectivist community; many people have great passions about him, personally, though I do not.)

Quote

I've decided that I should prepare anything of significant length in a text editor I'm familiar with and then paste it over here.  It's awkward, but there are fewer bugs to deal with........

I think this is a wise choice.

1 hour ago, Invictus2017 said:

It's fairly easy to frame the hypothetical in this case.  Our Hero has been given the opportunity to pursue his life-long dream, which he expects to bring immense happiness.  The gotcha is that the experts tell him it'll likely cut five years off his life.  Other experts tell him that he'll likely suffer from severe depression if he doesn't go, and this will likely knock off a year or so from his life.

I accept this framing.

Quote

As you say, the survivalist, going with the best knowledge available, will stay home.

Yes.

(And this is vital for demonstrating the potential for harm that a survivalist understanding confers upon the person who holds it; or, in a word, its immorality.)

Quote

The proper analysis is different, though, and leads to a different conclusion.

Again, I agree; and this is very nearly sufficient agreement, in my opinion, because my central contention is that the survivalist understanding of "life" (vis-a-vis the Objectivist Ethics) is insufficient and thus incorrect. My references to "pleasure" or "happiness" are, in the main, my attempt to describe what I believe is missing. I do not think I have yet found the proper formulation to describe my view on this point -- but then, that's in part why I am so invested in these kinds of threads: to one day achieve that formulation and co-current understanding.

Quote

Before that analysis can be undertaken, your hypothetical needs an additional assumption.

This assumption is that of emotional health. There's no need to get into the details of what constitutes emotional health. Rather, a definition suffices: Emotional health is that state where one's emotions are generally a reliable indicator of ethical action. That is, as a rule, one gets positive emotions from acting ethically and one's positive emotions motivate actions that are ethical. (And conversely with negative emotions.)

On this assumption, Our Hero goes through his life seeking happiness, only occasionally checking to see that doing so is really the right thing. In this hypothetical, Our Hero could actually just follow his emotions and end up doing the right thing. But he would be acting unethically were he to do so; when the possible consequences are so serious, he needs to reason things through.

Let me at least grant a temporary agreement with all of this. I'm not satisfied that I've examined the idea of "emotional health" thoroughly yet, but it raises no immediate red flags either, and seems like it might be useful to our discussion.

Quote

The reasoning is fairly simple, though. His goal is not simple survival, but continuing to live.

This is the crux, both of my argument and (what I take to be) our fundamental agreement.

The goal is not simple survival, but something more than that. And I relate this "something more" to happiness, and yes, to pleasure, but generally I am speaking to the quality of life, as apart from its quantity. (How this precisely relates to what you term "health," is perhaps another conversation -- and not an unimportant one, but perhaps one for another day.)

And thus, when Kelley (or whomever agrees with this quote in the survivalist spirit that I maintain it reflects) says:

"Although Ayn Rand made it clear that she meant her morality to ensure a rich, fully human life, it is the bare fundamental alternative of survival versus death that stands at the root of all values.

Several admirers of Rand’s approach to ethics have debated the sense in which survival can serve the most basic criterion of ethics. Here we have argued that survival is the literal alternative of life versus death, existence versus nonexistence."

I consider him mistaken.

Quote

But there are situations where following one's emotions would not be right.

So that we're clear on this point, I utterly agree.

Through accident, misunderstanding, or perhaps something else, I have found that sometimes others try to portray my conception as something like hedonism, my explicit disavowals notwithstanding; but no, I am not saying that one should blindly follow one's emotions, or one's pleasures, or act on whim, or etc. Rather, I am arguing for a pursuit, in reason, of a (long) life characterized by pleasure and happiness -- which I would broadly term "the good life."

Quote

I implied one earlier, where one's emotions are not healthy. An example of another such situation would be one where the trip was expected to be one that would damage his ability to pursue his dream. In that case, his immediate sense that taking the trip would bring happiness would have to give way to the rational conclusion that it would not.

Agreed.

Edited by DonAthos

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, DonAthos said:

No. That's the very opposite of both what I had intended in your quote of me, and my entire meaning in this, and every other thread in which I've commented upon this subject. Invictus said, "both quantity and quality of life are ethically relevant," and when I responded, "precisely my point," it meant -- as I thought clear -- that I agreed with his statement.

But obviously I have done a poor job of explaining my position, despite all of the pains I have taken. I shall have to reflect upon how I can communicate myself more clearly in the future.

DA I read that very quickly on my phone... was surprised and reacted hastily.  Sorry it irked you. 

Thank you for a measured considerate response, and for responding to me directly.

 

I have a request/suggestion of you DA (in between your conversion here with others) and perhaps this approach would be helpful... or perhaps not. 

Could you formulate your ethics from the ground up, (starting with a choice which gives birth to there being any prescriptions .. i.e. the genesis of the concept of GOOD and the creation of "ought" where previously there was only "IS"... which through the complex nature of man implies a standard etc.)  showing why it is the "best" (to live by) and whether (and why) it is absolutely "objective".

I am in very general agreement with you about the pursuit of life and happiness, the "good life" loosely so to speak, but I cannot bring myself to use an ethics I am not convinced is objective, an ethics as "broad" as yours is unattainable/not usable to me currently because I need to keep the ethics absolutely objective... and I have yet to "see"... I do also recall that you believe your ethics can be shown to be objective.

I have no problem with my non-ethical choices (optional and/or subjective values etc.) being complementary to my ethical choices... but can you make a case (persuade me) to bring them under and into the ethical framework itself... i.e. show that an ethics based on them is not in fact subjective but is still absolutely objective?

Edited by StrictlyLogical

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On ‎10‎/‎8‎/‎2017 at 8:12 PM, Harrison Danneskjold said:

No; I'd like to know your definition of "life as man qua man".

Hello HD

I should have replied directly to this earlier.  I like the meaning of "life as man qua man" as Rand put it in VOS.

There are three excellent quotes from "The Objectivist Ethics" chapter of VOS under the entry "STANDARD OF VALUE" in the Lexicon: http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/standard_of_value.html

These two quotes link together:

The standard of value of the Objectivist ethics—the standard by which one judges what is good or evil—is man’s life, or: that which is required for man’s survival qua man.

and

“Man’s survival qua man” means the terms, methods, conditions and goals required for the survival of a rational being through the whole of his lifespan—in all those aspects of existence which are open to his choice.

For clarity, my understanding of the meaning (according to Objectivism) of this, is to be found wholly in these formulations, which I believe are consistent with OPAR and AS. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, DonAthos said:

The source of the quote (which I have beaten like a drum, perhaps unfairly) is here.

I've read that, and I didn't take it as advocating survivalism.  That said, I'm goiing to reread the relevant parts of LSO and also Rand's essay, whose links SL kindly posted in a new topic.  I'll also post my substantive thoughts there; I'd only been posting here because, "when in Rome...."
 

5 hours ago, DonAthos said:

because my central contention is that the survivalist understanding of "life" (vis-a-vis the Objectivist Ethics) is insufficient and thus incorrect.

Is anyone here actually arguing that mere quantity of life is the goal of ethics?  I haven't seen that from anyone.  Certainly not from me!
 

5 hours ago, DonAthos said:

"Although Ayn Rand made it clear that she meant her morality to ensure a rich, fully human life, it is the bare fundamental alternative of survival versus death that stands at the root of all values.

Several admirers of Rand’s approach to ethics have debated the sense in which survival can serve the most basic criterion of ethics. Here we have argued that survival is the literal alternative of life versus death, existence versus nonexistence."

I don't take that as arguing survivalism; I understand it to mean merely that life/death is at the root of values, not the whole of values.  The rest of his discussion doesn't support survivalism, at least as I recall it.  I'll be rereading it shortly.

5 hours ago, DonAthos said:

I have found that sometimes others try to portray my conception as something like hedonism

You have said things that suggest that you think that happiness is fundamental.  If you did think that, your view would be something like hedonism.
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Invictus2017 said:

Is anyone here actually arguing that mere quantity of life is the goal of ethics?  I haven't seen that from anyone.  Certainly not from me!

I don't know that anyone has been arguing for that position consistently, or has identified themselves accordingly, but yes; for instance, when StrictlyLogical responded to my ice cream hypothetical by saying, "According to my standard of morality, choosing a life of eating ice cream with a slightly shorter duration is immoral," I think that the essence on display is survivalism (as we have been using it).

Quote

I don't take that as arguing survivalism; I understand it to mean merely that life/death is at the root of values, not the whole of values.  The rest of his discussion doesn't support survivalism, at least as I recall it.  I'll be rereading it shortly.

You bypass my express disinterest in trying to determine what Kelley's views are, specifically, to make an argument about Kelley's views? A significant choice.

But okay. If we are to do so, then let us take note of his specific language. He is quite clear in talking about "survival," as a "bare fundamental alternative," as "the most basic criterion." If one accepts this, then it seems clear to me that it would lead one directly to StrictlyLogical's stance regarding ice cream: that is an application of using the bare fundamental alternative of "existence versus non-existence" as one's "basic criterion" for deciding upon a course of action -- whether to eat ice cream or not.

And, too, the Hero should reject the trip into space, because choosing the thing that will kill you more quickly is, to that extent, choosing "non-existence" over "existence." If "existence versus non-existence" is one's "basic criterion," then there should never be cause to take "non-existence" any sooner than is beyond our control: one should always take "existence." (And after all, the province of morality is only that which is in our control.)

If we mean to say that, well, in a sense, "man qua man" ceases to exist somehow when he is unhappy, or acting against "his nature," or something, and therefore the Hero who rejects the trip into space wins himself four more years of technical existence at the cost of who knows how many years of existence in his proper state, and that this therefore represents a sacrifice, well -- that's fine. That's actually something close to my own view. But that is not "the literal alternative of life versus death" to which Kelley plainly refers.

And if, in your reread, you discover material which you consider to be inconsistent with a view of Kelley as a "survivalist" -- that's fine, too. It does not matter to me what our ultimate verdict is on the proper label for Kelley's views, as I had tried to express earlier, and I do not expect him to be a consistent advocate for any position, in any event; I believe that these matters are deeply unsettled for the Objectivist community, generally, and that this results in some of the controversies we can find in this thread and many others across the forum (and beyond).

Quote

You have said things that suggest that you think that happiness is fundamental.  If you did think that, your view would be something like hedonism.

I absolutely do believe that happiness is fundamental to the good life (but that the good life is not the experience of happiness alone); I utterly disagree that this is "something like hedonism."

If Rand was right when she wrote, "Hedonism is the doctrine which holds that the good is whatever gives you pleasure and, therefore, pleasure is the standard of morality," then this is not what I have advocated at all (and moreover, it is a stance that I have explicitly disavowed and argued against, albeit primarily in other threads).

In the same place where Rand defined "hedonism" as above (her Playboy interview), she goes on to say, "I hold that one cannot achieve happiness by random, arbitrary or subjective means," and I agree wholeheartedly. I believe that happiness can be achieved by rational, objective means (that this is, in fact, the only way to achieve happiness) -- and that is what I advocate we do (though again, not this alone: rather, we should strive to live [long] lives characterized by pleasure and happiness).

She then says, "One can achieve happiness only on the basis of rational values. By rational values, I do not mean anything that a man may arbitrarily or blindly declare to be rational. It is the province of morality, of the science of ethics, to define for men what is a rational standard and what are the rational values to pursue," and again I agree. But if the point to this ethical pursuit is the achievement of happiness, then I hope I am not putting too fine a point on it when I say that happiness is not merely some pleasant-feeling emotional byproduct of a life lived according to some other standard (e.g. "survival" in Kelley's "bare" sense) -- let alone a value only because it provides some "fuel" for the task of survival, as I have depressingly sometimes seen argued -- but it is fundamental to our ethics, and indeed it is our essential motivation for creating a "science of ethics" in the first place.

There's plenty of (important, necessary) wrangling that can be done with respect to how precisely happiness relates to one's "standard of value," or "purpose," or how it relates to "life," or "the good life" as I'm using it -- since I am yet in the stage of trying to formulate this to my own satisfaction, I cannot claim to be able to do it with anything like precision yet (and I would not try) -- but yes, I am confident in saying that happiness is fundamental. It is fundamental to ethics, it is fundamental to the choices we make, it is fundamental to the good life, is it fundamental to living on earth (or accepting a mission into deep space) -- and if the Objectivist Ethics (or any other) promised the moon but failed to deliver happiness, it should be discarded immediately for that reason, such is its fundamentality: We judge ethical truth on the basis of its ability to achieve happiness.

That happiness should have to be argued for in this fashion, its fundamentality asserted and defended against the charge of "hedonism," is perhaps in itself a critique of survivalism, and an indication of how far this misunderstanding has corrupted Objectivist thought.

______________________________

And I am again reminded that I had wanted to keep this conversation at something like an arm's length. It is an addiction for me, and I am weak in the face of it; this conversation pulled my thoughts from pleasant dreams tonight (literally), woke me up, and pulled me out of my warm bed.

In my own pursuit of the good life, I may from time to time find it necessary to stop arguing so much for the good life...

Edited by DonAthos

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
52 minutes ago, DonAthos said:
Quote

I don't take that as arguing survivalism; I understand it to mean merely that life/death is at the root of values, not the whole of values.  The rest of his discussion doesn't support survivalism, at least as I recall it.  I'll be rereading it shortly.

You bypass my express disinterest in trying to determine what Kelley's views are, specifically, to make an argument about Kelley's views? A significant choice.

That wasn't what I meant.  What I was trying to convey was that your explanation of what Kelley said has made me want to reread the relevant part of his discussion to see whether I had misunderstood him.That's why I kept qualifying things, as in "I don't take", "I understand", and "as I recall it".  I wasn't trying to start an argument about it.  I might do that after I have done my rereading. :)
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, DonAthos said:
Quote

You have said things that suggest that you think that happiness is fundamental.  If you did think that, your view would be something like hedonism.

I absolutely do believe that happiness is fundamental to the good life (but that the good life is not the experience of happiness alone); I utterly disagree that this is "something like hedonism."

I meant "fundamental" in the sense of "the logical foundation of".  I agree that happiness is essential to the good life, but not fundamental in the logical sense.

To avoid a possible misunderstanding, I want to emphasize that logical priority is not the same thing as value priority.  So, for example, if seeking happiness is down the logic chain from seeking material values, that merely means that the academic exercise of validating happiness as a value requires first validating material values.  But that does not entail the proposition that material values are more important than happiness.

 

The Randian position and, I think, yours could probably be better stated as "happiness is central and essential", rather than "happiness is fundamental".  "Central" because everything leads to and is involved with happiness, and "essential", because an ethics that does not validate and elevate happiness would necessarily be worthless.

As you've noted, your position and mine are not all that different.  It's likely that many of the perceived differences aren't real but are instead an artifact of our differing usages of words.

 

Anyway, to rephrase what I said earlier: Some things you have said suggest that you think that happiness is logically prior to ethics or that happiness is the value for which all other values are the means.  Either of those views would amount to something like hedonism.  However, most of what you say is not really consistent with either proposition.

 

(I'm off to reread The Objectivist Ethics and will post a summary of my understanding of it in the other topic.  Then I'll do the same with the relevant part of Kelley's work.  Then I'll essay my own views.  The point of the first two is not to start an argument about what they say, but to sharpen my understanding of the issues.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/8/2017 at 10:42 PM, Easy Truth said:

Would that mean that the highest ethical question/task be to "know thyself"? (know thy nature, who you really are)

Exactly.

It's very difficult (to say the least) to get what you want without first knowing what you want. So any moral code concerned with the achievement or frustration of an individual's own desires (which I believe includes Egoism) presupposes that the individual has taken the time to analyze and their own emotional responses and take a mental inventory of their desires (all desires, as such, from lifelong ambitions to preferences between flavors of ice cream); to know themselves.

 

Hole-in-one. :thumbsup:

 

On 10/9/2017 at 7:19 AM, StrictlyLogical said:

I disagree.  It's a half brain in a vat it is not a man.  This is a disagreement of plain fact. He ceases to exist as a man when he kills himself and a cyborg is born. 

Which is why I've been asking you to define what you mean by "man". It's obviously not meaningless semantics. I don't think I'd even disagree with it - but I do think you're smuggling certain considerations in through it, above and beyond pure "survivalism", which I'd prefer were made explicit.

 

On 10/9/2017 at 4:12 PM, StrictlyLogical said:

How is one ever to judge?  Is my pleasure really pleasure or veiled pain, am I happy or do I just think I'm happy but really I'm miserable... if have no idea whether these are real how can they form any basis for a guide to action?

 

The state that a Keating or a Boyle call "joy" is not what a Roark or a Rearden call "joy"; it's actually closer to a momentary relief from their chronic state of fear.

How does one know if one is living in a chronic state of fear? One way is to try to enjoy dealing with some aspect of one's real life; if everything one finds any pleasure in is a form of escapism, that indicates some problem with one's psychology.

 

The fact that something pertains to man's consciousness does not necessarily make the matter subjective - unless man's consciousness has no identity.

 

On 10/9/2017 at 7:19 AM, StrictlyLogical said:

I disagree... and this is an example, I have been very clear on this point.  All of these are positive values which support survival.  They are necessary to guarantee the best likelihood of survival long range.

Then this "survival" standard isn't very clear-cut or self-explanatory, either, if it doesn't refer directly to the continuation of one's metabolic functions. And if you actually mean that one's heartbeat depends on one's happiness then I would refer you to Auschwitz. Or living with my ex-wife. :P

 

On 10/9/2017 at 7:19 AM, StrictlyLogical said:

We simply disagree.

I'm very sorry to hear that.

 

I still maintain that conceptualizing Egoism through a survivalist lens (even if it is in name only) will not help you, in the long run. I'd be happy to discuss it (any aspect of it) further if you'd like. If not, that's your perogative.

 

This time I mean it when I say:

Live long and prosper.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/11/2017 at 1:58 PM, Easy Truth said:

The problem is that the ultimate goal of emotional health can morph into pleasure/hedonism.

Not if we weigh any action's forecasted pleasure or pain in terms of our entire lifespan.

 

Should one experiment with heroin? The hedonist might say sure; it'll be fun. The Objectivist says no - because its long term disadvantages will absolutely dwarf any short-range pleasure it may give you. The hedonist might cheat on the love of his life with some slut, for one night of pleasure; the Objectivist would not. The hedonist might rob the rational and productive people in the world around him; the Objectivist would not.

In every instance the key to the Objectivist answer is in the consideration of the action's long-range consequences (ultimately over the span of his entire life) while the hedonist only looks at the range of the moment.

 

And not all choices have to be rationally weighed within the context of a lifespan. Choosing between chocolate or vanilla ice cream simply will not affect your life a year from now (let alone fifty). Choosing between chocolate ice cream and cyanide, however, will. Invictus perfectly nailed the guiding principle involved when he said:

On 10/11/2017 at 1:40 PM, Invictus2017 said:

On this assumption, Our Hero goes through his life seeking happiness, only occasionally checking to see that doing so is really the right thing. In this hypothetical, Our Hero could actually just follow his emotions and end up doing the right thing. But he would be acting unethically were he to do so; when the possible consequences are so serious, he needs to reason things through.

[Bold and italics mine]

 

Holding "happiness" as our ultimate value absolutely will not lead us to ethical hedonism or subjectivism as long as, for any choice with significant long-term consequences, we do not play it short-range.

 

P.S:

 

The best summary I've ever seen draws an analogy between Egoistic evaluation and a hypothetical graph of pleasure-over-years-lived.

 

Sorry, SL. It's really your own fault for explaining my position better than I could. :P

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
PostScript

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

In every instance the key to the Objectivist answer is in the consideration of the action's long-range consequences (ultimately over the span of his entire life) while the hedonist only looks at the range of the moment.

1

If you put it that way, I would have to agree. But that assumes that the pleasure derived is not malleable.

The pain and pleasure in this context are going to be emotional pain or pleasure. That is based on your thoughts. If your thoughts change, your whole view of life can change and your emotions toward your goals can change too. Suddenly, your walking on ice when it was solid a moment ago.

With an objective standard to compare to, you don't have that problem. An objective concept can be counted on. I assume the new thread is trying to answer that question.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
42 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

If you put it that way, I would have to agree. But that assumes that the pleasure derived is not malleable.

The pain and pleasure in this context are going to be emotional pain or pleasure. That is based on your thoughts. If your thoughts change, your whole view of life can change and your emotions toward your goals can change too.

Just so. :thumbsup:

 

And I wholeheartedly agree that "fulfillment" in the sense I mean it (a non-contradictory, non-harmful, pure state of exaltation and delight; the kind of emotion that's worth living for) is to some degree malleable, which I see as the reason why architecture isn't universally right for everybody (no matter how right it was for Roark). I don't remember the technical term for "the problem of socialist evaluation" but Ludwig von Mises wrote at length about why it can never be solved and it's a direct consequence of that very malleability.

Despite the fact that it is malleable, though, I don't believe it's infinitely so. I think there's a (actually rather large) range of things which could never truly fulfill anybody, which can only lead to frustration, despair, self-torture and self-destruction, which we can (and must) observe to be inherently anti-mind, anti-life and anti-happiness and the pursuit of which we must neither indulge in nor sanction. My hypothetical robot would emphatically belong in this forbidden category, as would Altruism, Islam and heroin addiction (I mix and match goals with a few other things, here, but you get the idea).

 

You're absolutely right to mention it, though, because my say-so doesn't prove jack squat. You are, in fact, so right to mention it that at this very moment I'm drafting the post in which I'll attempt to rationally prove just that.

It's gonna take me a few more minutes. It isn't exactly obvious; I've already tried and scrapped three non-sequiturs.

 

Great minds think alike, though, don't we?

B)

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/11/2017 at 4:03 PM, StrictlyLogical said:

I should have replied directly to this earlier.

Well... Yeah, I thought so. It's always better to be late than never, though. :thumbsup: Thank you.

 

And your quotes just fit together so perfectly that I had no choice but to complete the circuit:

On 10/11/2017 at 4:03 PM, StrictlyLogical said:

These two quotes link together:

The standard of value of the Objectivist ethics—the standard by which one judges what is good or evil—is man’s life, or: that which is required for man’s survival qua man.

and

“Man’s survival qua man” means the terms, methods, conditions and goals required for the survival of a rational being through the whole of his lifespan—in all those aspects of existence which are open to his choice.

 

Quote

The standard of value of the Objectivist ethics—the standard by which one judges what is good or evil—is that which is required [by] the terms, methods, conditions and goals required for the survival of a rational being through the whole of his lifespan—in all those aspects of existence which are open to his choice.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/9/2017 at 12:52 PM, StrictlyLogical said:

Suppose there was a man who always enjoyed inflicting pain.  He enjoyed burning grasshoppers with his magnifying glass and torturing tadpoles as a child.  Through adolescence he grew to love horror as a genre and reveled in the fear and suffering of the victims of those stories ... The final risk is for his ultimate pleasure, to lure a woman into his submarine and slowly engage in the terrifying and killing of her.  He knows he has no chance of getting away with it forever but to him this is his ultimate pleasure he will not give up.  He eventually does so by luring a journalist and although he tries to get away with it he fails and is caught.  He thinks that it's worth it even if he is executed for it.

Firstly, I just spent several hours of my life learning about Ted Bundy and Aileen Wuornos, so this:

 

Secondly, I'd have to ask why he enjoyed inflicting pain. Most people naturally empathize with other living things (we may or may not apply the concept of "rights" to them but most of us just wouldn't be inclined to club one to death for kicks); it might make sense if someone knew a particular animal personally ("that llama killed my father!") because antipathy fits right in with something like a feud or grudge, but it's pretty weird for someone to just automatically experience it, in a generalized way. So I'd have to ask what causes that.

And I just did. And out of all the traits shared by all the serial killers I read about or saw in the various journals dedicated to the study of crazy, over the past few hours, these stuck out at me as important.

 

  1. They delighted in controlling other people (almost all were adept psychological manipulators).
  2. Despite being masters of other minds they were, shall we say, introspectively stunted. Their rare attempts at self-reflection were crudely, childishly inept and most suffered from one degree or another of Monophobia. In conjunction with the last point I figured they were probably all second-handers.
  3. They hated "The World" (although no two of them gave it the same name) and drew satisfaction from exacting from "The World" a sort of Revenge-by-Proxy by causing some small part of it to suffer. Essentially "the world has hurt me irreparably, you're one part of the world, I'll have just a little bit of vengeance now by hurting you irreparably".

 

This is my Malevolent Secondhander hypothesis. I can provide sources later (screw you; I already closed the tabs), as well as elaboration, but right now I have other points to make. And I think it's already a damn good hypothesis, anyway.

So if we assume it's true, at least for the sake of argument, then...

On 10/9/2017 at 12:52 PM, StrictlyLogical said:

Is this immoral according to an objective standard which mixes staying alive but trumped by pleasure?  

 

Yes, yes, yes, yes, a million times yes!

 

Many psychological drives (including this one) 'feed on their own satisfaction'; the act of fulfilling them also reinforces them, increasing the intensity of whenever they return. Also, just like anything else in the world, given enough of some *thing* your brain will develop a tolerance to it, requiring more of that *thing* (whether it's crack-cocaine or other peoples' approval) to achieve the same feeling. The combination of these effects makes indulging in sadism a vicious cycle which becomes exponentially more difficult to break, the longer time goes on (much like a video-game-addiction or crack-cocaine); this is also evident in the changing rate of murders committed over each serial killers' career.

 

However, even serial killers have free will. At any point in this slow descent towards suicide-by-cop he'd be capable of taking a step back to do some introspection, analysis and evaluation. 

If he suffered through that (as painful as it'd be at first) he'd suddenly be able to think about his desire - not in terms of some unfathomable and irresistible force of nature, but in terms of "oh, Jesus, is it healthy to want to avenge myself before I'm even dead?" or "don't I still want to be part of The World for just a little while longer?" By stopping to think about his own desires he'd acquire the first toehold from which to (possibly) become the master of his own fate and do something actually FUN with his life!

And every time he failed to do that, and indulged in his dark whims once more, he'd make the habit that much harder to break the next time; he'd doom himself with that much more certainty to a short, British and solitary life.

 

I mean, Hell - just take romance! Some of the psychos I've been reading about we're single, some were married, some even had kids, but none of them actually had anything meaningful with anyone; they surrounded themselves with useful idiots and couldn't conceive of anything else. Which means that the very people who were so hung up on being alone basically chose to spend their entire lives virtually alone.

That is just one of the improvements a sociopath would open up by taking just a few hours to learn what makes himself tick.

That, as opposed to ... not even enjoyment, at all, but the experience of some grim sense of satisfaction.

 

 

So according to eudaimonism, from torturing tadpoles to plotting actual murder (and everything inbetween) such a person would be rejecting a more-pleasurable path (introspection) for a less-pleasurable one (killing strangers for kicks), which would be a textbook sacrifice, which would be blatantly evil.

And if such a person decided that they wanted to die, anyway, I could tell them that they're still being evil because corpses cannot enjoy anything. I definitely wouldn't tell them (because ... you know ... axe-wielding psychopaths) but I could if I had to.

 

What would survivalism be able to tell them if their chosen goal happened to be death?

 

P.S: I know I need to come back and clarify so very many things, at some point, but it's 3:30 and I'm not even done yet. Feel free to ask about anything whatsoever; I'll answer you guys as I'm able.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
Stuff

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm an age where 99 percent of doctors say I need to exercise to stay healthy.  I know if I don't I will likely die much earlier.  I find exercise unpleasant, I am having a much more pleasurable life being sedentary.  Am I morally correct to conclude I should refrain from exercising?

EDIT:  the extra pleasure l get from being lazy is about the same as say... the extra pleasure of living a life eating ice cream in moderation versus complete abstention... unfortunately I have developed a violent intolerance to ice cream and am unable to eat it at all.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

I'm an age where 99 percent of doctors say I need to exercise to stay healthy.  I know if I don't I will likely die much earlier.  I find exercise unpleasant, I am having a much more pleasurable life being sedentary.

I've been trying to show how an emotive moral standard can be Objective for the past 12 hours. I haven't even done it, yet; I've alluded to and hinted at it all over the place, now, but I'll have to come back through later to straighten it out explicitly and properly. I showed how someone could morally reason about one case (sadism, which was an unholy bitch to untangle) but not yet in general. But I get the distinct impression that you have not read it yet.

 

In light of that...

15 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Am I morally correct to conclude I should refrain from exercising?

Newport Red 100's and a black leather Fedora! Captain Morgan (numerically) - 3:39, finally tits. Bonzai!

 

P.S: No hard feelings and I'll be happy to pick this right back up again as soon as we're all up-to-date. :thumbsup:

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
PostScript

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

I'm an age where 99 percent of doctors say I need to exercise to stay healthy.  I know if I don't I will likely die much earlier.  I find exercise unpleasant, I am having a much more pleasurable life being sedentary.  Am I morally correct to conclude I should refrain from exercising?

EDIT:  the extra pleasure l get from being lazy is about the same as say... the extra pleasure of living a life eating ice cream in moderation versus complete abstention... unfortunately I have developed a violent intolerance to ice cream and am unable to eat it at all.

Well in that case I think it'd depend on the current ice-cream-to-excersize exchange rate and one's position in life relative to The Age of Aquarius. ;)

 

You gotta try and keep up, man, or I'll have to start inventing ways to amuse myself in your absence. Like this:

 

P.S: again, if you read my dissertation I will respond appropriately.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To summarize:

  1. The Egoistic standard of value is fulfillment, which is a species of mental state.
  2. Fulfillment is different from and would not lead to hedonism as long as it was applied to the context of one's entire lifespan. [source]
  3. Fulfillment is somewhat malleable. [source]
  4. The realization of desires (any desires, of any kind, as such) is necessary but insufficient to achieve fulfillment. Fulfillment is compatible with certain desires (such as knowing oneself or listening to Harrison's music) but not others (such as shooting puppies with a BB gun), the achievement of which might actively hinder it. [source]
  5. The pursuit of those desires which lead to fulfillment is "good"; their neglect, as well as the pursuit of contradictory desires, is "evil".
  6. The identification of reliable principles and methods for getting fulfillment is the science of morality.

 

That's what I make of the Objectivist ethics, in my own words.

Why would Rand use the word "survival" for this standard? I have no freaking idea. However, I think I can demonstrate the fact that this "flourishing" grasp of Egoism is completely consistent with every single one of Rand's moral principles, while (please excuse me for the sake of brevity) "survivalism" is not.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

Why would Rand use the word "survival" for this standard? I have no freaking idea. However, I think I can demonstrate the fact that this "flourishing" grasp of Egoism is completely consistent with every single one of Rand's moral principles, while (please excuse me for the sake of brevity) "survivalism" is not.

Ayn Rand said that the purpose of morality is to teach us, 'not to suffer and die, but to enjoy ourselves and live.' Well, let's ask whether the purpose of morality is primarily for survival or flourishing. Which is the end and which is the means?

If it's flourishing then our moral code is fully applicable to any action of every single individual*, since there isn't a single choice that doesn't bear some consequence for our psychological equilibrium (indeed, most have a myriad of subtle and intricately multifaceted consequences) - especially those which impact our actual survival! It applies to serial killers regardless of whether or not they're ever caught (for reasons I just sketched, albeit not-too-neatly), to serial killers of the soul (like Kant or Toohey), to giants like Roark and to suicide bombers - equally.

If survival then it doesn't apply to serial killers who don't risk their own capture (or even those who do risk it in a state without the death penalty); you can try to discourage them on the basis of "the survival proper to man" but if anyone presses you on why he has to live as a proper man - good luck. It doesn't apply to Roark's non-survival-related choices and so has nothing to say about him beyond "yeah, that's a good way to do architecture" (and even then there are scenes like his refusal to alter his design for the bank which, like Galt's promise of suicide in the event of Dagny's torture, we'd be hard pressed to even justify). Furthermore, if a suicide bomber doesn't want to live then it doesn't apply to him, either; we can call his actions "unfortunate" or "tragic" but we simply could not call him a bad guy** (a stance which, in terms of moral advancement, would leave us somewhere behind the fundamentalist Christians).

 

But this is what I find truly essential.

When I think of Egoism I think of Howard Roark (specifically Gary Cooper's rendition), the perfect and archetypical Egoist. He doesn't ask what he ought to want because he already knows (not which TV shows he wants to watch or what he wants for dinner but what he wants out of his entire life). He doesn't ask what he should do because he figured that out, too, decades in advance. In fact, he doesn't usually say anything; he mostly just does things (and he does them flawlessly, on the first try, every time). As slippery as the concept of "flourishing" is, what I mean by that is what Roark does, all day, every day, regretting nothing and making it all look easy. Howard Roark could make Chuck Norris his bitch if he ever stopped to notice his existence.

And not a single one of the qualities which make him worth aspiring to have anything to do with his survival!

You could easily survive just fine like a Keating or a Toohey (the literal living proof of that is all around us - literally)! It wouldn't be fun or a pretty thing to look at, but it'd be a life. James Holmes, who took a machine gun to a movie theatre full of strangers, survives in Colorado to this very day! Even Immanuel Kant, the diabolical one himself, could tell you how to survive as long as you truly wished not to!

When we say that morality doesn't apply to non-survival-related issues (or imply it in various ways) we're amputating all of the best parts of Egoism; the very things that make it all worthwhile, worth arguing about and worth fighting for, if necessary. We know that it does matter whether you spend your time sitting around, killing time, or working to better yourself; that it's important because the way you choose to spend your life is important - and that that's important because your own happiness is important! We have the blueprints for how to "flourish" like Roark and we're sitting here asking each other whether the upper half of its skyscraper is really necessary!

 

Given the existential threat that actual suicide bombers could potentially pose to us at some point down the road, it's not necessarily hyperbolic to call our ability to condemn them a matter of life and death (maybe a little bit over the top but not out of the question). To put it perfectly bluntly, though, if we're pulling out the supports which make man-worship conceivable then I really don't give a damn about the Jihadis. And brother, if we're saying that Egoism has no direct (non-instrumental) role in human happiness then we are either messing around with exactly that or else playing some kind of conceptual game which I am not familiar with.

 

---

 

I'm sorry for the length and general tone of that; chopping my thoughts into acceptable-sized chunks was getting to be exhausting.

But I'm done now! :thumbsup:

 

---

 

*This doesn't mean that allegedly-amoral choices, such as which flavor of ice cream to eat, must be carefully pondered for days on end. Rather, it means that there is only one correct answer for you (and for your mood and tastes right now) which you probably already know. If you'd most prefer chocolate today then that's the moral thing for you to get, and any other option would be a sacrifice (and immoral) and don't do that to yourself.

Your emotions are not tools of cognition but they are facts (just like gravitation) which you must take into your consideration of any relevant choice. They would not be "whatever you felt like" if you lied to yourself about them (which regular people do actually attempt alarmingly often) nor will knowledge of them automatically enter your skull if you fail to look inward in the first place; your emotions are specific mental things, with specific identities, as perceived by your (introspective) consciousness. The nature of some emotional responses is immediately self-evident after paying a fraction of a second of attention to them, which is precisely why your preferred flavors of food make such great toy-examples. Knowing the nature of other emotions (romance comes to mind again) will actually demand some careful studying. If you act consequentially (say eating cyanide instead of chocolate ice cream) on some emotion, without understanding what it is or where it comes from, that's whim-worship.

So much for that.

 

**Have I mentioned that I am not advocating ethical subjectivism? B)

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
Organizational Details

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

To summarize:

  1. The Egoistic standard of value is fulfillment, which is a species of mental state.
  2. Fulfillment is different from and would not lead to hedonism as long as it was applied to the context of one's entire lifespan. [source]
  3. Fulfillment is somewhat malleable. [source]
  4. The realization of desires (any desires, of any kind, as such) is necessary but insufficient to achieve fulfillment. Fulfillment is compatible with certain desires (such as knowing oneself or listening to Harrison's music) but not others (such as shooting puppies with a BB gun), the achievement of which might actively hinder it. [source]
  5. The pursuit of those desires which lead to fulfillment is "good"; their neglect, as well as the pursuit of contradictory desires, is "evil".
  6. The identification of reliable principles and methods for getting fulfillment is the science of morality.

Okay, it is plausible. I think many do live their life like this.

Now let us say that 95 percent of society adopts this perspective/philosophy. It seems to be fundamentally introspective. One could make a case for liberty with what you have ... unless many make the case that to live together, a loss of some fulfillment won't kill you.

So the decision is now to take some of your paychecks, against your will, to help with fulfillment.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×