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ragnarthefirst

Religion for Psychological Reasons?

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Then Nicky, I also used it for "explanation purposes".

I don't think you did.

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If time, (along with virtues, conviction, thought, focus, etc.) is a currency we spend on our values, would unlimited time devalue our values?

There can never be such a thing as "unlimited time"!

If we have about eighty years, or about five hundred years, or any other number you can think of, our time will ALWAYS have SOME upper limit.

You cannot compare this number or that number to infinity!

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold

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"Infinity"? How do you get to that? A moment's reflection should have led you to the realization, that by "unlimited time" I meant from the point of view of an individual -- a thousand, a million (or other fantastical amount) of years ahead--'seems' unlimited. Liken it to an average ten year-old who today couldn't conceive of living to 80 - an adult cannot ever possibly conceptualize of his lifespan lasting into the several hundreds of years.

 

All of this is getting fixated on TIME, dropping the context of consciousness and value.

 

My interest is in both, the relationship between values and time. (A correlation, as Rand saw it). Without taking into account the nature of man's consciousness, all this conjecture becomes a surreal, floating abstraction.

 

Has anyone actually tried to conceive of any of man's values, in that "seemingly unlimited" life?

 

One example, romantic love. I ask how possible would it be for an individual to stay in love with his-her partner for several hundreds of years?!

Given which, one must assume that many scores of romantic relationships will be started, ended and started again, by that individual (or by his partners). But, would anyone imagine that the x-th marriage or relationship has the same mental and emotional intensity as the first few? Or that falling in and out of love doesn't take an emotional toll? Even with a -basically - overhauled body every so often. Perhaps a regular brain transplant will do it, though...

 

The old truism "nothing focuses the mind like knowing you are going to be hanged in the morning", is essentially true. Value is all the more magnified by acknowledging the limitation of time.

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Has anyone actually tried to conceive of any of man's values, in that "seemingly unlimited" life?

One example, romantic love. I ask how possible would it be for an individual to stay in love with his-her partner for several hundreds of years?!

So there's this book called the Fountainhead. . .

Edit: you don't understand what it means to be human, in Rand's sense, if you think that. I really just don't care to try to explain any more.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold

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So there's this book called the Fountainhead. . .

Edit: you don't understand what it means to be human, in Rand's sense, if you think that. I really just don't care to try to explain any more.

 

:) In The Fountainhead, does Roark's and Dominique's intensity of love for each other sustain for hundreds (or thousands) of years? Nope.

Implicit in the novel - as in philosophy, and all art and any human activity and thought, and "man as end in himself" -  is the reality of man's mortality and his modest lifespan. Therefore - outside of what we know to be true, that some couples never cease to love for 50 or so years - this observation divulged from literary art is lost on me.

 

I take Rand's novels as a portrayal and embodiment of her ideas. Her concepts in action, so to speak. Her characters ARE "concepts" who depict, by AR's Romantic Realism, man as a being of volitional consciousness. I.e., Faced with adversity, distractions and enticements, her heroic characters stay true to their principles and brilliantly succeed. To me the novels are inspirational, not methodological. The methodology to create one's own concepts is in Rand's non-fiction, you'll know. Personally, I think that much rationalism has its roots in not delineating Rand's theory from Rand's art.

 

You can have little knowledge of what I know or don't know about "what it means to be human in Rand's sense". I view it then as an arbitrary assertion. It seems that you have been rejecting, with little consideration, my valid, reality-based inquiry into the *capacity* of man's consciousness ("self-generating and self-directing") to continuously - for an incredible period - sustain values.

 

If the physical body is able and vigorous, appears to be the thinking, man's consciousness will automatically follow. Despite Objectivist tenets - of reason, identification, evaluation preceding action. 

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:) In The Fountainhead, does Roark's and Dominique's intensity of love for each other sustain for hundreds (or thousands) of years? Nope.

Implicit in the novel - as in philosophy, and all art and any human activity and thought, and "man as end in himself" - is the reality of man's mortality and his modest lifespan. Therefore - outside of what we know to be true, that some couples never cease to love for 50 or so years - this observation divulged from literary art is lost on me.

. . .

You can have little knowledge of what I know or don't know about "what it means to be human in Rand's sense". I view it then as an arbitrary assertion.

In one breath you say something about human nature and in the very next you deny that I can know your opinions about it. Call it whatever you want to; I take your own words to be genuine representations of your thoughts. If they are then they constitute evidence of what you think, believe, feel and grasp (or fail to). If they are not then all of your denials are meaningless, anyway.

---

"I often think that he’s the only one of us who’s achieved immortality. I don’t mean in the sense of fame and I don’t mean that he won’t die some day. But he’s living it. I think he is what the conception really means. You know how people long to be eternal. But they die with every day that passes. When you meet them, they’re not what you met last. In any given hour, they kill some part of themselves. They change, they deny, they contradict–and they call it growth. At the end there’s nothing left, nothing unrevered or unbetrayed; as if there had never been any entity, only a succession of adjectives fading in and out on an unformed mass. How do they expect a permanence which they have never held for a single moment? But Howard–one can imagine him existing forever."

-Spoken by Steve Mallory in a little book called the Fountainhead

Ask yourself why.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold

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-Spoken by Steve Mallory in a little book called the Fountainhead

Ask yourself why.

But Howard–one can imagine him existing forever."

 

"Ask yourself why"-- what?

 

Why did Mallory speak this way of Roark?

 

Why did the author 'put the words in his mouth'?

 

??

 

I'd answer the questions in terms of Roark's remarkable integrity imparting on him a sense of consistency or "permanence", but in this context, I don't believe this is relevant. I can only assume it is the references to immortality and "existing forever" which are relevant (to you).

You do know these are metaphors? In a way, an entire work of fiction is one big metaphor, "a re-creation of reality" in word-concepts. From this passage one shouldn't derive that Rand was promoting or wishing for immortality, or even an extensively long life - by her words! It simply isn't true. She was painting a picture of a man through the dialogue of his friend and admirer (rather than stating the facts in plain narrative).

 

If anything, the character of Roark 'shows' that quality is more important than quantity.

Maybe this is bearing out what I said, about not confusing art's inspiration with philosophy's methodology?

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If Roark lived million years he would not lose his beliefs, desires, values or (through losing them) his identity; he would remain Roark.

"Ask yourself why"-- what?

Why did Mallory speak this way of Roark?

Why did the author 'put the words in his mouth'?

I'm sorry. I meant that you should ask yourself why the description is true of this fictional image of a man, but not to others; what causes the difference.

Yes, Ayn Rand caused the difference, but not arbitrarily; she was trying to give you the resources with which to discover something. I've also been trying to imply the answer, instead of spoonfeeding it to you, and I'm sorry for that.

Your moral code dictates your values and emotions, over a long period of time, and adhering to a good one will preserve the good; betraying it will destroy them, one after another, until there is only abject despondence- like your vision of an increasing lifespan.

That is why "by my life and my love of it"; your love of it follows from what you choose to do.

---

Roark is fiction. If we call him fantasy (which you haven't done explicitly) we are saying that time erodes all of our hopes, dreams and principles and that we are all doomed- not to die, but to sit around in apathetic stupor and slowly lose the will to live.

Have fun with that.

Live long and prosper.

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Have you applied yourself for one second to the thoughts I've brought up? 

Does it satisfy you rather to condescend to me and to attack straw men arguments I have not made, and do not stand for?

 

 

But you have definitely shifted your goal posts quite a lot since it became clear your position wasn't so tenable.

I quote you:

 

"...abject despondence- like your vision of an increasing lifespan".

 

Oh yeah..! Merely, "increasing"? Not multiples, of multiples of years?

 

"...that time erodes all of our hopes, dreams and principles..."

 

A few thousand years living might have that effect. But wait -  now it seems you are back on earth, talking about a normal lifespan. Do you usually change contexts at will, without warning, for the sake of taking the moral high ground? That is- because I have doubts in one context (1000's of years life) it follows I'm also a skeptic in another context (life as it is)!?

This is a dishonest tactic. Bait and switch, I believe it's called.

 

Back to Rand on the subject:

 

"A value is that which one acts to gain and/or keep and the action is limited by one's life time

--so life and its time correlate directly to values".

 

(For just one aspect, if ten years is dedicated by one to a major value in real time, today - it corresponds to, say, 100-200 years in one's vastly extended lifespan.)

 

Yes, you've read all the same books we all have, and can expound on "by my life, and my love of it".

There is no monopoly on the Objectivist ideas of morality and 'the good'. Spare me.

But how well do you know ItOE on consciousness?

 

Because - all along you've avoided my main point, which is to query the CAPACITY of man's consciousness to hold values (for that million years). Re: Rand, above.

 

Also -"My life", i.e. Galt's life, is a metaphysical given and has always been physically limited, in Rand's day as now.

Not one thousand years, or ten thousand, even for John Galt. Jump between the two and you drop context again.

 

 

Faced with any argument you find unmanageable, you have evaded and then leveled "apathetic stupor" at me, in place of a rational and civil reply. It indicates to me you are over-emotionally invested - and rationalistic, in all this.

 

Try objective reality as an antidote.

 

 

(I'm out of this one).

Edited by whYNOT

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We are all in the process of dying and truth is more comforting than falsehoods. Love is what endures in life and memory. Comfort those in the last moments of their life with love.

Agree why would you spend your last moments with someone trying to dupe them into believing in something you know is a lie. Share what values you have left together.

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My grandmother was religious and I read her some passages from the Bible that she requested on her deathbed. The content of the passages was religious - basically, they said that God is in control of everything, so don't worry about the suffering you're currently going through. I can't say I regret doing it. She was a wonderful person, and if I could comfort her a bit in her last hours then I'm glad I did so.

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... if I could comfort her a bit in her last hours then I'm glad I did so.

Yes. I agree completely.

The death-bed example actually illustrates the fact that Objectivism is not an intrinsic system, but contextual. The death-bed scenario is not a run-of-the-mill hardship where one sticks to one's principles: it actually invalidates much of the context on which those principles are based. And, it invalidates them permanently from the viewpoint of the person who is dying.

 

I would extend this beyond the death-bed, to what is often an extended period of dying that many humans go through, sometimes lasting weeks. For many people, even without a particular disease like cancer, the last few days or weeks of their life are a process of finally giving up on even small purposes like taking a bite of food. At some point near the end, they basically begin the process of dying and an ethics related to staying alive is of no significance (except that other people still hold it, and even apply it to them, more as a mark of respect for who they were.)

 

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.... if I could comfort her a bit in her last hours then I'm glad I did so.

 

Indeed. On her death-bed you cannot possibly be trying to persuade her of anything. If you can comfort her in the manner she requests, then you are showing her human compassion and respect. Isn't this objectively the right thing to do? Besides, you are not practicing religion for your own sake by reading religious passages to a dying woman. You are enabling your grandmother to practice her own faith. Well done.

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Faced with any argument you find unmanageable, you have evaded...

No.

Faced with any argument you find unmanageable, you have ... leveled "apathetic stupor" at me, in place of a rational and civil reply.

Yes.

I am emotionally invested in this and I did allow that to overrun my judgment (ironically enough, right around the point where I expressed the desire to make it "very clear"). Sorry.

How much capacity for value does one consciousness have?

That depends on what is "value".

If "value" is literally "that which one acts to gain and keep" (regardless of what one acts to gain and keep) then "value" means whatever you want it to mean. If "value" means "that which one invests one's time into" then it remains "whatever feels valuable to you".

If "value" means whatever you want it to mean then nobody can claim that anything is or isn't valuable. All we can claim is that Reason and Independence feel valuable to us; but if someone wants to kidnap strangers and sacrifice them to the weather-gods then that's of value to him.

An ultimate value is that final goal or end to which all lesser goals are the means—and it sets the standard by which all lesser goals are evaluated...

Without an ultimate goal or end, there can be no lesser goals or means: a series of means going off into an infinite progression toward a nonexistent end is a metaphysical and epistemological impossibility. It is only an ultimate goal, an end in itself, that makes the existence of values possible.

She makes it clear that the proper "ultimate value" for every man, which is worthwhile for him to spend every waking moment in pursuit of, is his "life" - not his survival per se, but his life as a man qua man.

By the grace of reality and the nature of life, man —every man— is an end in himself, he exists for his own sake, and the achievement of his own happiness is his highest moral purpose.

But neither life nor happiness can be achieved by the pursuit of irrational whims. Just as man is free to attempt to survive in any random manner, but will perish unless he lives as his nature requires, so he is free to seek his happiness in any mindless fraud, but the torture of frustration is all he will find, unless he seeks the happiness proper to man. The purpose of morality is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and live.

This would imply that happiness (pride, exaltation, etc.) is the product of virtue. If so, then "how much capacity for value does one consciousness have" means "how good can one man be?"

This is why I mention Howard Roark.

I have anecdotal evidence of this correlation, too, from my own experiences. Those times in my own life when I've been a rotter, I've barely had any capacity to enjoy anything. Those times when I've been more virtuous that capacity has seemed practically infinite, to me.

I don't believe I'll ever feel old (drained), no matter how old and senile I get, so long as I strive to be the best person that I can be.

How good can I be?

While I don't believe I've ever been a Roark, even at my best points, I don't see any reason why I couldn't be that virtuous, if I work for it.

I don't believe there is any inherent limit to how much I can enjoy; the only limit is how much effort I'm willing to put into it.

The same applies to everyone else on Earth, regardless of whether they know it.

“It’s only human,” you cry in defense of any depravity, reaching the stage of self-abasement where you seek to make the concept “human” mean the weakling, the fool, the rotter, the liar, the failure, the coward, the fraud, and to exile from the human race the hero, the thinker, the producer, the inventor, the strong, the purposeful, the pure—as if “to feel” were human, but to think were not, as if to fail were human, but to succeed were not, as if corruption were human, but virtue were not—as if the premise of death were proper to man, but the premise of life were not.

Our proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. It's our birthright; it belongs to us (every single one of us) as long as we can reach for it. Edited by Harrison Danneskjold

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The imagination of humans, as it relates to speculation in place of facts, is perhaps curious intellectually.  But not a substitute for philosophy. Debate in philosophy ideas is not the same as debate in paranormal ideas.  All human ideas are not to be judged as equal.

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But you see, Harrison, there is not a word I doubt or disagree with in your post. Grandma and eggs comes to mind... Seriously, you seem to think I haven't also thought long and hard about - Life. Value. Purpose. Rational Egoism.  Add in plenty of experience and observation to that. ("An intransigent mind..." etc.)

 

So what's the point under contention? Remember where it began, with a radically extended life-span posited.

From Aristotle to Rand, the metaphysically given and presumed length of life has not really changed that drastically. All philosophy has been based on the premise of man's limited life span. Call it 'x' years. 
What has been hypothesized is that man is on the brink of extending life further: 2x ... 10x ... 50x ... etc.

(In reality, I can't see it: I'd accept x + 20, x + 60 ... in that vicinity. But never mind.)

 

Leaving aside the feasibility of this, for the sake of argument, I made the observation that consciousness (with the best motivation possible) will not keep up with physicality. That eventually a mind-body split will occur.

 

There is no value without the valuer. Life as the absolute value is the source of all other values. Value without life is impossible, life without values is non-life, a nihilistic existence. Do you accept these?

 

But value, Rand at least intimated or said outright, is time-dependent and time-contextual. In my experience this is true. One values most what is rare, not what is common. A vastly-elongated lifespan does not correlate with vastly-increasing values. Never did Rand place quantity above quality, nor do I.

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... Seriously, you seem to think I haven't also thought long and hard about - Life. Value. Purpose. Rational Egoism.

I was only attempting to make myself as clear as possible.

There is no value without the valuer. Life as the absolute value is the source of all other values. Value without life is impossible, life without values is non-life, a nihilistic existence. Do you accept these?

With the possible exception of "life as the absolute value" being the source of all other values (depending on whether or not it entails 'survival at any price').

 

Leaving aside the feasibility of this, for the sake of argument, I made the observation that consciousness (with the best motivation possible) will not keep up with physicality. That eventually a mind-body split will occur.

...

But value, Rand at least intimated or said outright, is time-dependent and time-contextual. In my experience this is true. One values most what is rare, not what is common. A vastly-elongated lifespan does not correlate with vastly-increasing values. Never did Rand place quantity above quality, nor do I.

Your first point, that consciousness will not keep up with physicality, implies that mental states do not influence brain structure. That's false, but not (I believe) essential.

 

Your second point implies that a vastly-diminishing lifespan would correlate with vastly-increasing values, since it would make them vanishingly uncommon, which further implies a course of action: to actualize that possibility.

Is it moral to deliberately infect yourself with a terminal illness?

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