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Eiuol

Objectivism and Political Action

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Harrison, I was asking largely about political action to attain political goals. I am not asking how best to talk about Objectivist ideas to convince people of them. I'd say most people are missing the essential question, and only answering as if persuasion to individualism is the point of politics. The point is to protect individual rights, and getting there involves persuasion as well as ignoring people as appropriate, or provocation at other times. That all people are able to be rational does not mean they all are rational.

The hard part is looking at principles to guide us, not merely looking at a desirable end. Using ONLY persuasion is naive (i.e. let's all hold hands and talk it out!).

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On 8/5/2016 at 0:52 PM, DonAthos said:

...who usually call her "Anne" and believe her philosophy is "Randism," or similar...

I think she would've been delighted with her Americanized name. :thumbsup: 

 

On 8/5/2016 at 2:11 PM, epistemologue said:

Given the unprincipled nature of [consequentialism], and the embrace of egoism, the only logical conclusion is to assume Objectivists are the brutish egotists they deny they really are. And if you look at responses to lifeboat situations, you often find that conclusion is actually true.

Actually, that's an excellent point.

We need to stop trying to deny that we're an affront to the conventional codes of morality. We need to flaunt it.

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There are only two ways for men to deal with each other: words and guns. If words will no longer work then neither will any nonviolent form of tomfoolery; if that's where we are then it's time to buy a gun.

 

28 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

The hard part is looking at principles to guide us, not merely looking at a desirable end.

What do you think I'm doing?

 

Forgive me for trying to exhaust every possible word before I risk my life for this. I'm rather attached to my life.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
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3 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

I am neither comfortable with proselytization nor renunciation. Both smell like church, to me. I don't think either side of this debate is correct (although I've seen substantial progress being made, over the course of this thread).

I disagree: I think proselytization is a fine thing. I understand how it might "smell like church." There's even some truth to that. But then, not everything that has to do with church is necessarily evil or wrong of itself.

Where proselytization is concerned, I rather look at it like this... suppose you were a scientist who discovered through your research that some "knowledge," commonly held among the scientific community, was wrong. This error is significant and it retards progress generally. Well, what would you do? You might publish your findings -- yes? Give lectures. Answer people's questions and challenges. Perhaps you might submit to yourself to a debate of some kind, or etc., should you encounter significant resistance (as sometimes happens).

And you would do all of this, in part, based upon your conviction that you had discovered the truth of things. Also your confidence that adherence to the truth is generally important... and specifically important within your discipline of science. Part of your love for science itself (along with your love for other things) makes you want to see progress within the scientific community, and your discovery of some portion of truth creates within you the desire to see that truth acknowledged, and that progress take place accordingly.

Usually we take all of this sort of thing for granted, of science. When someone goes out to show the world the truth of the heliocentric theory or evolution via natural selection, or etc., we don't conceive of it in evangelical terms. Conversely, philosophy and its subfields like metaphysics or ethics, are typically held to be more the purview of religion and faith -- things that may be argued one way or another, yet never proven, never established. And so to those who are hostile to religion and faith, there may be a general skepticism towards anyone who looks to spread ideas in those areas.

But Objectivism is not faith-based. We do not ask for belief without evidence, but we mean to attempt to prove what we say, treating philosophy as a science (indeed: "the science that studies the fundamental aspects of the nature of existence"). Our proselytization, say against the morality of altruism, is that of the scientist who argues against phlogiston.

On 8/2/2016 at 6:55 AM, Harrison Danneskjold said:

Secondly, I don't think that changing people's minds is the right approach to this. We're acting like insurance salesmen and people can sense it, which ultimately makes it self-defeating.

[...]

However, as William O pointed out, there's no reason to limit ourselves to personal acquaintances when we have the internet. A message of "we're here to discuss the meaning of life, whenever you're interested" is a message that we could send pretty rapidly to billions of people, without sounding like salesmen.

For what it's worth, I agree that we ought not "act like" or "sound like" insurance salesmen. :)

But it is not anti-sales to reject the appearance of the salesman; it is an evolution of sales, an improvement upon it. ;) And if "sales" sounds demeaning, I would rather we approach it like education (although I can see that as sounding demeaning as well... yet let us run with it for now). Education exists. Pedagogy exists. While there's some truth to the aphorism you've cited -- "when the student is ready, the master/teacher will appear" -- we yet believe in sending people to school, do we not? And we recognize that there are better and worse methods of instruction, that some teachers are (generally) good at what they do and others are not.

It is one question as to whether or not there is any value in sales, in proselytizing, in teaching or instructing, in sharing or spreading that which we believe to be true. But then, if we do, it is another question as to the ways and means by which we propose to do so. If we are to be teachers, or salesmen, or however we should like to look upon it, then let us trouble ourselves to be good.

19 minutes ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

Anyway. By that standard, Objectivism has already broken every historical precedent. I mean - Rand died around the same time I was born, and around 300 million people already know her name. Every other moralist combined wouldn't even come remotely close to that.

Well, but these are somewhat humble benchmarks in the modern era, are they not? 300 million people known Rand's name? That's an modest total for Justin Bieber YouTube views. :)

19 minutes ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

We can't use their methods, though. We can't threaten people with violence or send missionaries to their doorstep; just as new materials require new shapes and forms, so do new philosophies. We have to spread our ideas in our own way.

Agreed.

19 minutes ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

The Atlas Shrugged movies and the YouTube channel 'Yaron Answers' are exactly the sort of thing we need (to get people initially interested in Rand's literature); we just need more of it.

I don't know if the Atlas Shrugged movies, themselves, are what we want (though in fairness, I have not seen them... but from what I've heard, I'm better off for that). But yes, these are the directions we should be thinking in. How can we increase, not only awareness of Rand or Objectivism specifically (and I think it's worth discussing, at some point, whether these are the same thing), but also how can we promote critical thinking and reason itself. It seems to me that the spread of reason is the key for remaking the world.

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10 minutes ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

There are only two ways for men to deal with each other: words and guns.

This is a gross simplification. I suggest going back to page one, where I am trying to tease apart -all- the ways to take political action. When is force appropriate? When is it not? What is the proper time to employ provocative measures?

(Please just make a new thread if you only want to drunkenly [as you yourself said your posts usually are] ramble about spreading Objectivism. There are already threads about it, too. Talk about what you want, but I want to keep this organized.)

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9 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Please just make a new thread if you only want to drunkenly [as you yourself said your posts usually are] ramble about spreading Objectivism.

I did not say "usually". It's something I've been trying to avoid - not because it makes me "incapable of reasoning" but because it hurts the quality of my reasoning, and I'd prefer not to make a public spectacle out of that.

I'd like to drop it too, buddy, and will gladly do so as soon as you do.

 

9 hours ago, Eiuol said:

This is a gross simplification. I suggest going back to page one, where I am trying to tease apart -all- the ways to take political action.

OK, then. Have it your way.

 

Suppose we shut down some evangelical TV channel through nonviolent means (ala Black Lives Matter). That makes it into the newspapers, of course, and millions of people are first introduced to the Objectivist movement through the scandal of police barricades and lawsuits. The political backlash would take us one step closer to a civil war (in the same manner as the actions of Black Lives Matter) and I cannot even predict the depth of the cultural backlash - the possibilities range from very bad to an unmitigated disaster. Two or three more steps in that direction (we're talking about less than five years) and we will get that civil war.

 

Our options are words or guns. Any middle road solution is a range-of-the-moment solution, which cannot work in the long run.

 

Now, do you want to organize your thread around the nonexistent or do you want to "take chances, make mistakes, get messy" - and find some real solutions?

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12 hours ago, DonAthos said:

Our proselytization, say against the morality of altruism, is that of the scientist who argues against phlogiston.

That depends on your definition of what "Objectivism" is. If you mean certain key truths and its general outline (and certainly our disputation of Altruism) then yes; we don't need to ask for anybody's faith in order to prove those. If you mean every word Rand ever wrote then not so much. For example, we've all seen the argument being made that women are "metaphysically inferior" to men (whatever that means) and if I had to try to prove that, I'd have to ask for some amount of faith.

So, yeah. I guess whether Objectivism equals Rand is actually pretty relevant to this (which is interesting, considering how it factored into Fact and Value).

 

12 hours ago, DonAthos said:

Well, but these are somewhat humble benchmarks in the modern era, are they not? 300 million people known Rand's name? That's an modest total for Justin Bieber YouTube views. :)

Touche. However, I am not aware of Justin Beiber developing any systematic approach to life.

 

... Or did he? :mellow:

 

---

 

On "proselytizing", though, I'm not sure we're referring to the same thing.

Part of what it means to be a scientist is to have that passion for truth, since that is the entire purpose of science. So whenever one argues with another, they already share a personal interest and a certain code of conduct; a common frame of reference, from which to proceed. The same seems to be a requirement of any human cooperation, regardless of which beliefs and desires the participants happen to share

Now, when I mention proselytizing or acting like a salesman, the characteristic which distinguishes it from legitimate conversation is lopsidedness. One of the participants has no idea what the other is talking about, or no desire to hear about it, or both. It's what a telemarketer, a missionary and the OP all have in common.

This isn't to say that people are right to dismiss Objectivism or that we don't actually have the answers. Rather, in the words of Robert Heinlein: "Never try to teach a pig to sing. It'll waste your time and annoy the pig." Incidentally, I would argue that Heinlein was another closet-Objectivist.

 

 

The point I keep coming back to is this:

12 hours ago, DonAthos said:

And you would do all of this, in part, based upon your conviction that you had discovered the truth of things. Also your confidence that adherence to the truth is generally important... and specifically important within your discipline of science.

We need to be reaching out to those people who do care about truth. It really doesn't matter whether or not they agree with every little detail, as long as we can teach them what Reason is and why it matters.

Even if they ended up spouting abject Communism, afterwards - they would do so by appealing to reason. And that, alone, is another step forward.

12 hours ago, DonAthos said:

t seems to me that the spread of reason is the key for remaking the world.

Exactly.

 

12 hours ago, DonAthos said:

I don't know if the Atlas Shrugged movies, themselves, are what we want (though in fairness, I have not seen them... but from what I've heard, I'm better off for that). 

Hey! The second one was great!

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
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10 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

That depends on your definition of what "Objectivism" is. If you mean certain key truths and its general outline (and certainly our disputation of Altruism) then yes; we don't need to ask for anybody's faith in order to prove those. If you mean every word Rand ever wrote then not so much.

I don't believe either of these formulations hit it exact, but if I had to choose between them, I would choose the former over the latter... and I think that the former is close enough. A world where (most) folks are guided by the key truths which underlie Objectivism? That's what we're aiming for: the end of our social efforts.

10 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

For example, we've all seen the argument being made that women are "metaphysically inferior" to men (whatever that means) and if I had to try to prove that, I'd have to ask for some amount of faith.

Yes, well, the reason why you would have to ask for faith on that point is because Rand was in error. :) (Though I do not mean to argue this specific issue, here; there are plenty of other threads for that purpose, and I've commented in most of them.)

The key is not for Objectivists to cling to their beliefs and support them via faith when unable to establish them through reason; it is to reject those beliefs which require faith, and which are unreasonable, whether "Objectivist" or not. (Though for the record, most Objectivists seem to believe that Rand's views on sex/gender don't qualify as Objectivism to begin with, because it is not accounted "philosophy"... which sounds a touch convenient to me, but there it is.)

10 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

...I am not aware of Justin Beiber developing any systematic approach to life.

He's young. Give him time.

10 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

On "proselytizing", though, I'm not sure we're referring to the same thing.

Merriam-Webster's "simple definition" of proselytize reads "to try to persuade people to join a religion, cause, or group," which is near to what I mean. I'm speaking more to the spread of truth, generally, and less about a specific desire to have people call themselves "Objectivist," or donate to ARI, or whatever.

What I mean by "proselytize" is that we believe ourselves to know something true: do we try to convince others of this truth which we know? I say yes. It then becomes a question of means, which is where I stand opposed to Eiuol's suggestion of shouting people down, and so forth.

10 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

Part of what it means to be a scientist is to have that passion for truth, since that is the entire purpose of science. So whenever one argues with another, they already share a personal interest and a certain code of conduct; a common frame of reference, from which to proceed. The same seems to be a requirement of any human cooperation, regardless of which beliefs and desires the participants happen to share

Yes, precisely. The promotion of "reason" and "critical thinking" and "logic" and so-forth is the promotion of the ground rules -- the "code of conduct" you mention -- whereby we can win subsequent debates regarding specifics in ethics or politics or etc.

I've found that very often, surface debates over political figures or measures, or what-have-you, resolve into deeper and more fundamental conflicts with respect to politics (qua philosophy). Go further/deeper and you might find a disagreement about ethics or metaphysics, or eventually, epistemology, which gives rise to all of the subsequent controversy. We succeed everywhere, ultimately, by applying ourselves to root issues. (It is not that we should ignore debate about politics, but that we must recognize that very often the solution to a political disagreement first requires attention to underlying matters.)

But tactics like "silencing"/shouting down opposition (or traditional Objectivist favorites like shunning or excommunication -- talk about "smelling like church") rejects all of that. It is an admission of persuasive impotence and the capitulation of reason.

10 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

Now, when I mention proselytizing or acting like a salesman, the characteristic which distinguishes it from legitimate conversation is lopsidedness. One of the participants has no idea what the other is talking about, or no desire to hear about it, or both. It's what a telemarketer, a missionary and the OP all have in common.

I think that just about nobody likes salesmen (especially telemarketers) or missionaries, as such, though for sure people get sold and converted. I don't suggest we adopt their tactics necessarily, and absolutely we should reject the "lopsidedness" you mention, which perhaps is what gives those folks their unsavory character.

Instead, I believe that one of the keys to persuasion is to understand what makes conversation "legitimate," and embrace that. We must be able to talk to one another in reason, and in fellowship, and these are notions that have actual meaning and shape. People... not everyone, but the best, the brightest, the ones we need most on "our team"... can see through bullshit. We ought not bullshit. But being polite and sincere and respectful in our persuasive efforts is not bullshit -- it is, rather, that which allows us to persuade.

In order to persuade you of something, in reason, I must first believe in you and your power to reason. I must communicate that belief in everything I say, and the manner in which I say it -- which means I must hold it sincerely. (I also must open myself to you and your arguments, but now I'm getting too specific and granular...)

Shouting you down conveys nothing of that, but rather the opposite. I make of you an enemy, and I make myself suspect (at least) to all those who value reason.

10 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

We need to be reaching out to those people who do care about truth. It really doesn't matter whether or not they agree with every little detail, as long as we can teach them what Reason is and why it matters.

Yes. And those who "don't care about truth"? We must demonstrate to them that they do care about truth, implicitly (to the extent that they do; and I would argue that everyone who survives for any length of time on Earth must care about truth, fundamentally, in some measure: survival is too difficult, too improbable, otherwise). And then we must tease that regard for truth out, make it explicit and general and then develop its implications, which include reason and everything else.

10 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

Even if they ended up spouting abject Communism, afterwards - they would do so by appealing to reason. And that, alone, is another step forward.

God yes. Over many years, I've found that my allies are not necessarily "the Objectivists" and my enemies are not necessarily "the Christians" or "the Liberals" or whatever. Within every group, there are people who are more or less honest, more or less rational. My allies are the honest and the reasonable, whatever their claimed "explicit philosophy" might happen to be at a given moment in time.

And an honest and reasonable Communist won't be a Communist for very long, insofar as circumstances require him to confront his own views. (I'm glossing over a lot in saying this, but I believe that the core contention is correct.) We therefore best advance by promoting honesty and reason, and by dealing with the Communist (among others) via persuasion before we are compelled to deal with him via force.

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13 hours ago, DonAthos said:

I don't believe either of these formulations hit it exact, but if I had to choose between them, I would choose the former over the latter... and I think that the former is close enough. A world where (most) folks are guided by the key truths which underlie Objectivism? That's what we're aiming for: the end of our social efforts.

But tactics like "silencing"/shouting down opposition (or traditional Objectivist favorites like shunning or excommunication -- talk about "smelling like church") rejects all of that. It is an admission of persuasive impotence and the capitulation of reason.

But you see, you've switched contexts here to talk about the idea that there are no conflicts of interest among rational people. This is not a statement of the type of political system we seek to create. A government in fact forcibly deals with a class of irrational people - those who violate rights. That's what we want it to do. It's not about persuading people to a set of ideals. The proper aim of social efforts is to make a life of flourishing. You seem to be implicitly applying that idea in a communitarian way, such that social efforts - political included - are for a communal flourishing. (I'd say law is a social effort, too.) This would mean part of social ends is to persuade all people to attain a belief system for their belief system.

It's fine to talk about what would lead to flourishing on a large scale. It's not fine to forget that there are aspects of social efforts that does not intend to persuade. Law doesn't persuade at all, nor does the law care if you've been rationally persuaded of their justification. Not all non-persuasion is forcible at all - ignoring a person is non-persuasive action. Even more, social efforts really do need to end up with a force response at times. After a legal punishment, it's not really a proper goal to persuade that person to become reformed. 

I have a lot to add, but I want to make sure I understood properly. The ultimate social end you seem to be speaking of is a rational agreement among all people. I really think this implies a Rawlsian egalitarian society - in all the ways Rand rejected it.

Edited by Eiuol

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9 hours ago, Eiuol said:

This is not a statement of the type of political system we seek to create.

Not it isn't. I was not addressing myself to political systems, or "the type of political system we seek to create"; I was discussing "proselytization" with Harrison, and persuasion more generally. That's the salient context of my remarks.

9 hours ago, Eiuol said:

A government in fact forcibly deals with a class of irrational people - those who violate rights. That's what we want it to do. It's not about persuading people to a set of ideals.

That's right. Force is not persuasion. For instance, the last sentence of my post reads, "We therefore best advance by promoting honesty and reason, and by dealing with the Communist (among others) via persuasion before we are compelled to deal with him via force."

I did not further explore the proper response to those who violate rights because I was discussing persuasion, not force.

9 hours ago, Eiuol said:

You seem to be implicitly applying that idea in a communitarian way, such that social efforts - political included - are for a communal flourishing. (I'd say law is a social effort, too.) This would mean part of social ends is to persuade all people to attain a belief system for their belief system.

[...]

The ultimate social end you seem to be speaking of is a rational agreement among all people. I really think this implies a Rawlsian egalitarian society - in all the ways Rand rejected it.

It invariably happens, Eiuol, when we discuss things beyond any cursory fashion, that I reach the point of having no bloody idea what you're saying.

9 hours ago, Eiuol said:

It's fine to talk about what would lead to flourishing on a large scale. It's not fine to forget that there are aspects of social efforts that does not intend to persuade.

You appear to have keyed in on my use of the phrase "social efforts" and ignored every other whit of context (not alone in my post, and in this thread, but in my entire participation on this forum, over years), in order to make some claim that... what? I'm arguing against retaliatory force?

This is intellectually dishonest and, to be frank, kind of gross. I would advise you reconsider your approach.

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1 hour ago, DonAthos said:

You appear to have keyed in on my use of the phrase "social efforts" and ignored every other whit of context (not alone in my post, and in this thread, but in my entire participation on this forum, over years), in order to make some claim that... what? I'm arguing against retaliatory force?

This is intellectually dishonest and, to be frank, kind of gross. I would advise you reconsider your approach.

Implications aren't always -intended- (we've discussed that before, and I would be wrong to think your beliefs are identical to the implications). I'm suggesting that the logical end of your position implies an egalitarian standard. So I'm explaining what I see in your statement about the purpose of social efforts. As far as the purpose of persuasion, I would agree, but you said social efforts, which is broader and includes politics.  If you mispoke, fine, no problem.

It's fine to delimit your thinking to persuasion towards Objectivist-type ideas, but it doesn't make sense to me to say this: " A world where (most) folks are guided by the key truths which underlie Objectivism? That's what we're aiming for: the end of our social efforts. " It's certainly egoistic to attain a world that has more rational people than not, but it's more like a really nice addition that comes with attaining the purpose of social ends. The purpose is always about your life entirely, and social efforts should be for that that, too, as long as action is well integrated. More specifically, socially, it's about trade being the primary value a society provides. If you agree with that so far (I imagine you do), I do not see how or why it is also compatible to stick to persuasion virtually all the time. I'd say non-persuasion is sometimes principled, just as retaliatory force is principled despite force often being unprincipled. You seem to say non-persuasion is inherently unprincipled, only retaliatory force is principled. That belief, in turn, seems premised on the idea that ultimately, rational agreement in a society is all one needs to seek socially speaking.

Edited by Eiuol

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1 hour ago, DonAthos said:

It invariably happens, Eiuol, when we discuss things beyond any cursory fashion, that I reach the point of having no bloody idea what you're saying.

Just to separate my posts a bit: I'm wondering what you found hard to understand about the part you quoted when you said this?

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39 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

Implications aren't always -intended- (we've discussed that before, and I would be wrong to think your beliefs are identical to the implications). I'm suggesting that the logical end of your position implies an egalitarian standard.

Don't "suggest." If you think there's some "logical end" to my position, attempt to establish it directly.

(And try to do so with greater clarity, please. For instance, "the logical end of your position implies an egalitarian standard" is utterly opaque. What "egalitarian standard"? How does whatever-it-is relate to my position? What are you talking about? I've read everything you've written here, and I still have no idea.)

39 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

So I'm explaining what I see in your statement about the purpose of social efforts.

But while "explaining what you see" in that statement, you are purposefully ignoring the context of that statement, including the sentence I'd quoted of my own post where I contrast persuasion to force, the other posts in this very thread, and what you already know me to believe through hundreds of other posts on this forum.

39 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

As far as the purpose of persuasion, I would agree, but you said social efforts, which is broader and includes politics.  If you mispoke, fine, no problem.

Misspoke, hell. I said "social efforts" in the context of a discussion about proselytization and persuasion, Eiuol; whatever you think "social" to imply otherwise, divorced of all context, in this case it is meant in contrast to political efforts (i.e. persuasion vs. force), as clearly demonstrated by the context I've mentioned. As a responsible reader -- and in an effort to "understand" my meaning -- you are expected to retain that context in mind when you attempt to parse individual aspects or statements.* To instead take that phrase out of context and reply to it, base an entire post around it, in fact, is utterly disingenuous. There's no attempt at "understanding" there, or even if there is, there's no hope of success.

__________________

*It might be different if you came in off the street, so to speak, came into the thread without having read any of the preceding posts, and just responded off-the-cuff... though that's usually a breach of forum etiquette, and this is why: because without having that context, it is too easy to misunderstand/misinterpret (and also, of course, there is the annoying repetition of asking questions already answered, raising points already raised, and etc.) But for someone who is privy to all that context to choose to ignore it for the purpose of "making a point" is mind-numbing.

39 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

It's fine to delimit your thinking to persuasion towards Objectivist-type ideas, but it doesn't make sense to me to say this: " A world where (most) folks are guided by the key truths which underlie Objectivism? That's what we're aiming for: the end of our social efforts. "

It doesn't make sense to you that we should desire a world where people generally know truth and act upon it, in reason? You don't see the benefit to the individual of that?

39 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

It's certainly egoistic to attain a world that has more rational people than not...

Yes, it is.

39 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

...but it's more like a really nice addition that comes with attaining the purpose of social ends.

Are you kidding? No, dude, a world of (mostly) rational people is not "a really nice addition" to anything -- it is a vital state of affairs for any given individual to be able to live with some measure of stability and security (and potentially so much more than this). It is the foundation of civilization.

Where others initiate the use of force against us, we may (and arguably must) retaliate where and when it is in our power and interest to do so (meaning: so long as we can get away with it), but we would prefer things not come to that. Retaliating against force is our backup plan. It isn't the ideal. And in fact, retaliatory force -- and the threat of the same -- is itself geared towards the elimination of force from society.

From "The Nature of Government":

Quote

The precondition of a civilized society is the barring of physical force from social relationships—thus establishing the principle that if men wish to deal with one another, they may do so only by means of reason: by discussion, persuasion and voluntary, uncoerced agreement.

That's what we're after. The barring of physical force from social relationships.* (Perhaps you can write Rand's grave to let her know that you consider law, and retaliatory force, "social," too. Perhaps she "misspoke.") We don't treat "retaliatory force against the initiation of force," and "resolving conflict by means of persuasion and discussion" (meaning: before force is involved), as equivalent, though both may be moral in their relevant circumstances. Yet the latter is dramatically superior to the former.

An ethical peace is superior to an ethical war, just as an ethical government is superior to living as best as one can within a tyranny.

_____________________

*And because I recognize that I must elaborate upon every obvious thing anew in every single post, and possibly every single paragraph, lest you pull it free from context to make it the centerpiece of your next reply, yes it's true -- we will never completely eliminate force from relationships. We will always need a military, and a government with police and courts, prepared to retaliate against force, with force.

Yet the more we can do to use "discussion, persuasion and voluntary, uncoerced agreement" to govern our affairs -- as opposed to resorting to force in self-defense -- the better-off we will be.

39 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

The purpose is always about your life entirely, and social efforts should be for that that, too, as long as action is well integrated.

Yes, that's right. Spreading Objectivism -- and reason and truth more generally -- is about my life entirely. Yes, no one should make himself a martyr for "the cause"; yes, all of our actions ought to be well integrated (or as best as one may manage) to his own existence, his own hierarchy of values, his own happiness. Yet other people, both before my time and currently, have ostensibly made it a goal to spread Objectivism, or reason and truth, via persuasive efforts: publishing novels, drafting essays, participating in debates, forming clubs, hosting shows, answering questions, offering classes, spreading literature, and engaging in discussions on online fora, among other things.

Clearly I'm not alone in wanting the truths of Objectivism to be more widely adopted, and I think that there is good (perhaps even profound, and maybe even unavoidable) reason for that. Where we decide to be persuasive, we may discuss the nature of persuasion and the suitability of individual tactics, the consistency of our means to our ends.

For instance, in this thread, it is necessary to observe that "shouting people down" does not persuade reasonable men of anything, but repels them. And if you say that such a tactic is not meant to be persuasive, I agree with you to that extent: your proposed tactics are not persuasive, and neither are your arguments for adopting them.

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1 hour ago, DonAthos said:

Misspoke, hell. I said "social efforts" in the context of a discussion about proselytization and persuasion, Eiuol; whatever you think "social" to imply otherwise, divorced of all context, in this case it is meant in contrast to political efforts (i.e. persuasion vs. force), as clearly demonstrated by the context I've mentioned.

You see, I don't think I dropped context at all, as much as I pointed out a misleading word choice. You know, misspoke, like not saying something as clearly as possible the first time where people misinterpret. The context of your post seemed to be attempting to integrate persuasion into a wider context of social ends. So sure, it'd look like I'm context dropping, as I am insisting that social ends MUST integrate politics - it's not politics in contrast to social ends. To integrate would mean abstracting away some parts of earlier context, so in a sense, yes, I deliberately "dropped" some of context. Your post to me looks a bit like compartmentalization in a thread -about- politics. (With all the usual caveats of me possibly being wrong).

You should've said earlier thought that you didn't understand the deeper stuff I mentioned. I really thought you understood, I spoke about egalitarianism and Rawls like on page 1 and you didn't say it was unclear, that's what I was building on. I'll get to it another day.

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On 8/10/2016 at 10:10 AM, DonAthos said:

Yes. And those who "don't care about truth"? We must demonstrate to them that they do care about truth, implicitly (to the extent that they do; and I would argue that everyone who survives for any length of time on Earth must care about truth, fundamentally, in some measure: survival is too difficult, too improbable, otherwise). And then we must tease that regard for truth out, make it explicit and general and then develop its implications, which include reason and everything else.

This seems to be the point to focus on (at least as far as this thread is concerned):

How can we tell which people are basically interested in truth? Is everybody (as you've claimed); if so then what are we to make of those conversations where somebody's behavior seems to indicate otherwise?

 

On 8/11/2016 at 3:46 PM, Eiuol said:

You see, I don't think I dropped context at all, as much as I pointed out a misleading word choice.

Perhaps DA needs to lay off the alcohol, as well. ;)

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8 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

How can we tell which people are basically interested in truth? Is everybody (as you've claimed)

Hmm, well... here's how I see it (though I must admit, the term "everybody" has me a bit spooked; I don't ordinarily like to try to speak about "everybody"):

As I've said, I think that survival (alone -- forget "flourishing") is too difficult on planet Earth without some measure of respect for truth. Sometimes Objectivists speak metaphorically about taking care to avoid "poison." (For instance, Rand on compromise: "In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win.") But this isn't metaphorical alone. There are literal poisons, literal deadly dangers, that one must navigate on a daily basis in order to keep on breathing for any length of time. Even the guy with an "explicitly-held philosophy" which negates reason or reality, seemingly committed to his beliefs, is taking substantial care to keep the cyanide and water separate and clear in his mind. If he doesn't, of course, he'll die... and on some level, he knows this. (As feared, this puts the lie to "everybody," potentially: people who are utterly managed/cared-for -- as perhaps in an asylum, or on some bedridden, strapped-down suicide watch -- may not be interested in truth, at all. Or at least, there is no evidence for such an interest.)

What does this mean for persuasive effort? I'm not entirely sure. It's a tricky topic, because we must keep in mind the self-generated nature of thought. If a man "decides" (in whatever manner we account volition to function, especially on this level) to evade, or not to make some connection, draw some inference, think, then no amount of pushing or pulling or prodding will succeed in thwarting him. It is his decision alone which carries the day.

On the other hand, it is clear to me that education, or persuasion generally, is a relationship -- and that both sides of the relationship matter. It matters whether you have a good or a bad teacher. Rand's specific persuasive arguments, the care that she used to present her reasoning and evidence, mattered to my ability to adopt her conclusions. I worked to reach the point where I could agree with her, but even that work I didn't do alone, unaided. My education, over the course of my lifetime, was the product of many, many peoples' efforts. I followed the slender thread of reason through my particular circumstances, though difficult at times -- and that was my contribution, and mine alone, and I own it and take justified pride in it -- but I also required sufficient information and help around me to succeed. Had Rand never existed, had she never sought to persuade others of the truths she had discovered, I would not currently believe as I do.

What was my state prior to reading Rand? Would I have been judged by others as a "reasonable person," despite holding explicit beliefs which I now know to be wrong (or even immoral)? Fortunately for me, Rand was never in a position to judge me personally, or whether I was worth her time -- her books did not discriminate. What would my state be like today, all of these years later, had she not existed, or not written her essays, or had I not made the decision (never fated; never guaranteed) to pick up The Virtue of Selfishness? Would I now be judged to be among the number of those "fundamentally irrational," or "uninterested in truth," or unreachable?

Granted that some people are more or less sensitive to truth, or to argument, or to a given argument at a given time. Some fruit is low-hanging, but others require much, much more effort to reach -- so much so that it might not always be worthwhile. How can we tell which is which? Since so much of this is internally driven, I don't know that there is any shorthand for it, except in the manner by which we get to know people generally: slowly and carefully and always bearing in mind the possibility of misstep.

Quote

...if so then what are we to make of those conversations where somebody's behavior seems to indicate otherwise?

Have anything particular in mind? ;)

It's always tempting, given a failure of conversation, to conclude that the other person must have something fundamentally wrong with him or his ability to understand. Maybe this is even so, at times, or at least not everyone will be able to understand some specific, particular argument, at a given time in their life, given their personal context.

Upthread, I'd linked to a remarkable story about a man who has made some sort of headway, on a person-to-person basis, arguing against members of the Ku Klux Klan! Craziness! I would never try such a thing, I would never even bother. And likely, if I tried, I wouldn't succeed. I don't think the way I would approach a member of the KKK would stand much of a shot of convincing them of anything. I don't think dumping The Virtue of Selfishness in their lap would work either. So... despite the temptation I would certainly feel in such a scenario ("he's joined the KKK; he is fundamentally irrational; there's simply no reaching him!"), I must not draw the (unsupportable, yet emotionally satisfying) conclusion that no one would be able to do what I am unable (or unwilling) to do.

And thus, what are we to make of those conversations where someone seems to evince a disinterest for truth, or an insensitivity to it, or even outright evasion? At the least I may conclude that I cannot get through to such a person. Not now, not in the manner I've chosen -- or what I'm currently capable of -- or that which is worthwhile for me at present. (Keeping in mind what we've also discussed elsewhere -- that coming to truth is a process, and does not always happen in an instant, even for those who are reasonable and making a sincere effort.) Could it also be that my partner is fundamentally broken, or evasive to such a degree that no other approach could conceivably work? Perhaps it could, but I balk at that conclusion for the reasons I'd discussed above (my partner is yet managing to avoid the worst poisons of daily living: somewhere inside of him there is a respect for truth, reason and reality -- there must be).

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Perhaps DA needs to lay off the alcohol, as well. ;)

I wish I had such an excuse! :) Regrettably, all of my failures are stone-cold sober...

Edited by DonAthos

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On 8/9/2016 at 10:27 AM, DonAthos said:

I don't know if the Atlas Shrugged movies, themselves, are what we want ...

 

He hit so many of the points we just covered, in this thread, that it almost seems like he read it. I know that's astronomically improbable, but it seems that way.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
Remark

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