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Karma and Objectivism

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Hi folks! I would like to know what is Objectivism's take on Karma or causality? Why do some people get rich and some are poor and why some people are healthy and some are not. Why do children suffer from cancers?

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Hi folks! I would like to know what is Objectivism's take on Karma or causality? Why do some people get rich and some are poor and why some people are healthy and some are not. Why do children suffer from cancers?

Your questions are way too broad to answer, but I would like to ask one question first that may help; are you suggesting Karma and causality are the same thing?

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Your questions are way too broad to answer, but I would like to ask one question first that may help; are you suggesting Karma and causality are the same thing?

I've conversed with someone who is familiar with Indian philosophy, and depending on what schools you are referring to, karma can mean anything from the colloquial notion where how you act (morally) determines your destiny, to just causality.

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I've conversed with someone who is familiar with Indian philosophy, and depending on what schools you are referring to, karma can mean anything from the colloquial notion where how you act (morally) determines your destiny, to just causality.

Thanks. This is kinda why I'm trying to nail down what the poster means by the two terms. Additionally, it would seem to me that the most common usage, at least in the US, seems to be that there is some overseeing hand of justice that rewards or punishes accordingly. So since Karma is such and ambiguous term, and since the OP's other questions are so overly broad, some clarification is needed to attempt to answer his/her question(s).

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Hello! I meant Karma in colloquial sense of 'As you sow so you reap'.

Okay, let's look at this with a literal example of "reaping what you sow".

Suppose Farmer John, a good farmer, knows the ins and outs of farming, plants properly, tends to his crop properly and the crop is growing fine. Then, just before harvest time, the crop is destroyed by a terrible storm. Has the farmer in fact "reaped what he has sown"?

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Hi folks! I would like to know what is Objectivism's take on Karma or causality? Why do some people get rich and some are poor and why some people are healthy and some are not.

Justice is a fact of reality. But that's not saying much, at least not until one properly understands reality, and how it affects us. And that's gonna take more than a few paragraphs by a single person.

The fact is, reality is very complex. Ridiculously complex. And it doesn't conform to anyone's simplifications. It's certainly not as simple as "farmer John will always get a plentiful harvest just because he tended to his crops properly". It's not even as simple as "Karma", unless you define it very broadly as "that aspect of reality which causes people's choices to have consequences" (a synonym of justice).

But it (justice, Karma, whichever you want to call it) does exist. Not only does it exist, it permeates every aspect of human existence. Including children getting cancer.

Why do children suffer from cancers?

Specific children get cancer because of bad luck, and others don't because of good luck. But that has nothing to do with justice. That's just plain reality, before we make any choices to affect it. Justice comes in when you ask "Why do children still suffer from cancer (or why does child cancer still exist as a debilitating and life threatening illness)?. The answer to that is indeed human choices, and "justice".

Children still get cancer because we all failed to cure cancer. Over the years, enough people have chosen irrationality (be it by refusing to think themselves, or even worse by crushing those who would have been willing to think) that it's still not cured. And that is "justice": because of those bad decisions, children get cancer.

You may be revolted by it, but if you set your emotions aside, it should be obvious that a cure is what's required to live in a world where children don't suffer from cancer, and Reason is what is required to find that cure. No Reason, no cancer free world. Wanna invent a morality by which children "shouldn't get cancer", because that's just wrong? It won't help, your morality is made up. Wanna pray to God to "spare" them? It won't help, the closes thing to God is reality, and it doesn't respond to prayers.

Wanna look at reality objectively, analyze the cold hard facts without letting your emotions dictate your conclusions, and make decisions to adapt to that cold reality? That's called Reason, and it's the only thing that will help. Reason brings great Karma :).

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Children still get cancer because we all failed to cure cancer. Over the years, enough people have chosen irrationality (be it by refusing to think themselves, or even worse by crushing those who would have been willing to think) that it's still not cured. And that is "justice": because of those bad decisions, children get cancer.

).

Hi Tanaka

Thanks for your kind efforts to explain. My point is why do only specific children get cancer and not all? Is life purely a game of chance? Is it like playing dice or there is some reason and method behind it.

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Hi Tanaka

Thanks for your kind efforts to explain. My point is why do only specific children get cancer and not all? Is life purely a game of chance? Is it like playing dice or there is some reason and method behind it.

Specific children get cancer due to a number of reasons. Genetic disposition, radiation, chemical exposure, smoking parents, etc.; all reasons children, or anyone, get cancer. Of course, there is always random cell mutation, which isn't so much a roll of the dice as it is a fact of biology. Biology and science, biology and science.

As far as I know, Karma means many things to the many different sects of Hinduism (though all are ultimately of a spiritual nature). But if you're asking "does what goes around, come around?", go be an ass to everyone around you, and find out.

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Specific children get cancer due to a number of reasons. Genetic disposition, radiation, chemical exposure, smoking parents, etc.; all reasons children, or anyone, get cancer. Of course, there is always random cell mutation, which isn't so much a roll of the dice as it is a fact of biology.

I don't think it is that simplistic my friend. Why does a specific child get bad genes while most don't. Why do specific people meet with accidents. Why do specific people die of calamities while most don't?

Edited by ketansolid

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I don't think it is that simplistic my friend. Why does a specific child get bad genes while most don't. Why do specific people meet with accidents. Why do specific people die of calamities while most don't?

You keep asking such incredibly broad questions that only incredibly broad and simple answers apply.

If you don't think it is that simplistic, why then do YOU think a specific child gets cancer? Why do you think specific people meet with accidents? Etc.

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If you don't think it is that simplistic, why then do YOU think a specific child gets cancer? Why do you think specific people meet with accidents? Etc.

Sorry If I've made this complicated or too broad. I'm trying to figure out these questions and have no answer myself.

Possibilities:

a) Law Of Karma applies. This means people who are suffering are being penalized for their deeds in this life or past life (If you believe in Karma you might have to believe in reincarnation).

b)Life is a roll of dice and things just accidentally happen without any reason.

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I don't think it is that simplistic my friend. Why does a specific child get bad genes while most don't. Why do specific people meet with accidents. Why do specific people die of calamities while most don't?

RationalBiker's answer wasn't simplistic. He listed five reasons children get cancer, all of which are extremely complex scientifically and depend themselves on a number of factors.

Belief in causality is not a belief in some sort of cosmic scale of justice. It's not a choice between "there is a mystical force of justice that gives meaning to every accident in human life" and "reality is random." Causality is nothing more or less than the principle that all entities act according to their natures. It's not a guarantee that everyone who suffers somehow deserves it.

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Hi Tanaka

Thanks for your kind efforts to explain. My point is why do only specific children get cancer and not all? Is life purely a game of chance? Is it like playing dice or there is some reason and method behind it.

There isn't any "reason" behind it, in the sense that nature has some kind of a plan, and that is a part of it. But there is a cause for it. And just like with anything, causes and effects can be understood.

It isn't like playing dice, because a die is designed by humans with the specific purpose to be too difficult to figure out. If someone figures out how to understand the physics of a set of dice, he will knows ahead of time how they will fall, and it ruins the game.

This is different. Aside from the cure I mentioned, we could also try and figure out the causes for specific children getting cancer, and taking preventive measures in high risk cases. There is already some research going on, with scientists trying to look at people's genetic makeup to make predictions. That could be extended to looking at fetuses, and possibly even to just the potential parents, before conception.

But, just like with the search for a cure, irrational savages are throwing up roadblocks. It's both socialist health-care laws which strip private companies of the incentives to invest in research, and the religiously motivated ban on crucial research.

P.S. If you think my refusal to consider the possibility of a conscious plan behind nature makes my answer simplistic, it's on you to offer evidence of a conscious plan. Until you do, there isn't one. Your idea of karma is just a made up concept, just like the Christian God.

Edited by Tanaka

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RationalBiker's answer wasn't simplistic. He listed five reasons children get cancer, all of which are extremely complex scientifically and depend themselves on a number of factors.

Just for clarities sake, I think you may be referring to WilliamColton's response.

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I don't think it is that simplistic my friend.

Tanaka's provided a very good response above. However, when you say this (I don't think it is that simplistic my friend), it suggests you think that for a reason. What is the reason that you consider "karma" to be a viable reason? For instance, do you believe in karma because that a significant cultural influence where you live? Why do you think that total randomness is the ONLY other possibility? Then again, perhaps considering Tanaka's response will change this.

We think about things for a reason, generally speaking anyway. I suggest considering the answers other people are giving you, but I also suggest challenging the premise of "Karma" to begin with. Do you think there is some "cosmic scale", some unseen hand, some grand purpose for which human affairs must be overseen to ensure a particular result? Is Karma a mystical thing beyond comprehension, or is it a metaphysical thing which can be demonstrated and observed? These are not things that you necessarily have to answer back to me, but things that perhaps you should spend time reflecting on yourself.

Edited by RationalBiker

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b)Life is a roll of dice and things just accidentally happen without any reason.
This is a false dichotomy. Imagine the god does roll dice and pick off people to whom he will give cancer. That is a reason. There are even complex laws of physics that relate the shaking of his divine hand with the number that will be on the top face of the dice.

Secondly, and perhaps more important, just because some things in life are not under our control, it does not imply that most things are like that, nor that all things are like that. The biggest factor at play is knowledge versus ignorance. Things that appear "random" are often things whose processes we do not understand yet, and have thus not learnt to subject to our will. There was a time, say 3000 years ago, where so many things must have seemed 'random". It is quite natural for such ignorant folk to look for completely arbitrary "explanations" like god or karma. There is no excuse today.

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This is a false dichotomy. Imagine the god does roll dice and pick off people to whom he will give cancer. That is a reason. There are even complex laws of physics that relate the shaking of his divine hand with the number that will be on the top face of the dice.

Secondly, and perhaps more important, just because some things in life are not under our control, it does not imply that most things are like that, nor that all things are like that. The biggest factor at play is knowledge versus ignorance. Things that appear "random" are often things whose processes we do not understand yet, and have thus not learnt to subject to our will. There was a time, say 3000 years ago, where so many things must have seemed 'random". It is quite natural for such ignorant folk to look for completely arbitrary "explanations" like god or karma. There is no excuse today.

This is not a false dichotomy as I have not offered an 'either - or' choice. These were 2 probabilities which came to my mind which is open to accept any other possibility. I still need to know what are the other options if not randomness (I presume the idea of Karma may be to0 far-fetched for people here).

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Let's keep my childhood cancer argument aside as a lot of people have tried to attribute it to biological/external reasons. How do we explain accidents happening to people?

Existence exists and man is not omniscient.

Because we are not omniscient, "accidents" are causality (entities acting in accord with their nature) viewed as an event (a causal event or occurrence, etc.), typically with negative consequences (although there are "happy accidents" or fortunate occurances, accidents with positive consequences) that happens by chance (chance being epistemological, not metaphysical) or that is without apparent or deliberate cause, i.e., we do not know the cause.

If I am driving along a road and I do not know that the bridge just around the blind curve is out and I do not have time, once I become aware that it is out (which normally it would not be and I have no reason to think that it is out: collapsed), to avoid doing so, then when I run off the bridge and crash below, that's an accident.

Edited by Trebor

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Trebor Thanks for trying to explain accidents! Think of this scenario , You're driving on the bridge and the bridge caves in. What would you attribute it to?
There are set of reasons why the bridge caved in... there are a set of reasons why that particular person was on the bridge at that time.

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Trebor Thanks for trying to explain accidents! Think of this scenario , You're driving on the bridge and the bridge caves in. What would you attribute it to?

You're welcome.

I would attribute the cave in of the bridge to whatever it was that caused the bridge to cave in, determined after the accident.

Was the bridge too weak to sustain the forces of the high waters flowing past it, for instance (were their flooding)? Had it aged in a manner that caused it to be weak? Had someone blown it up using dynamite? Had there been a previous accident there that had caused serious damage that was erroneously considered to be only slight and inconsequential damage (not needing repairs)? Etc.

If a particular raindrop hits me on the top of my head (not hurting or causing damage, just a typical raindrop hitting me on top of my head while out in the rain), what caused it to hit me? Why that particular drop at that particular moment on that particular day in that particular year in that particular location? Why didn't it happen somewhere else at another time?

It happened as it did because (was caused by) it was raining and I went out into the rain without a hat or umbrella. Etc.

Everything that happens is caused. Accidents are just those happenings (caused events) for which we lack sufficient knowledge of to be able to predict and therefore avoid. [Or embrace if they are good accidents: good luck, chance, etc.]

Edited by Trebor

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Assume for the sake of argument that there is such a thing as karma, a force of justice which ensures that good things happen to those who, due to their past good actions, deserve good, and bad things happen to those who, due to their past bad actions, deserve bad.

If karma is such a force, then either it always rules or it does not, either it determines the good and bad that occurs to people all of the time or only some of the time.

If it always rules, if it is a force that is always the ultimate factor in determining what happens to people, then nothing bad happens to good people and nothing good happens to bad people. If someone is murdered, then they deserved it. If someone wins the lottery, then they deserved that. Karma rules.

If there were such karma (always the ultimate cause of justice), then in fact all bad things that happen would be merely people getting their just desserts, and likewise for all good things that happen to people. But if that's the case, then why have a legal system? Why ever punish anyone for doing anything bad? After all, bad people, people who do bad things to others, are mere acting out the rule of karma. Likewise, there are no victims of injustice. So-called "victims" are merely getting what they deserved.

If karma is not always in play (sometimes bad things happen to people who do not deserve them, and sometimes good things happen to people who do not deserve them), then how do we distinguish when karma is and when it is not in play, when an injustice has occurred? For example, if a person has been murdered, how do we distinguish between the two: whether it was karma and therefore just dessert (deciding to leave the "murderer" alone), or whether it was an injustice which was not driven by karma, and therefore punishing the murderer?

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Trebor, Thanks again for your elaborate efforts to explain. In eastern philosophies Karma goes hand in hand with reincarnation and deeds of your past lives. Either you pay for your sins in the same life or carry it forward and pay for it (or reap benefits if the deeds are good) in future lives.

Softwarenerd

//there are a set of reasons why that particular person was on the bridge at that time.//

Isn't this what we would call chance? Now is it utter randomness or there is some method behind it?

Edited by ketansolid

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