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Dustin86

If Man Has Acted as His Own Destroyer for Most of His History, Why Is He not Extinct?

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In Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, in John Galt's Speech, there is a quote that seems to be central to the Objectivist worldview, but yet seems to be completely self-contradictory.

"Man must obtain his knowledge and choose his actions by a process of thinking, which nature will not force him to perform. Man has the power to act as his own destroyer - and that is the way he has acted for most of his history. A living entity that regarded its means of survival as evil, would not survive. A plant that struggled to mangle its roots, a bird that fought to break its wings would not remain for long in the existence they affronted. But the history of man has been a struggle to deny and destroy his mind."

Clearly according to Ayn Rand, man has done the opposite of what Objectivism says to do, for "most of his history". He has acted "as his own destroyer [...] through most of his history". He has been "a living entity that regarded its means of survival as evil". The next three words in the quote are "would not survive". But wait a minute! We're still here. Not only just man as a species, but Subjectivists and Subjectivism, are still here. Birds that "fought to break [their] wings" and plants "that struggled to mangle [their] roots" died out a long time ago. But Subjectivist human beings are still here. Indeed, the vast majority of human beings are Subjectivists, according to Objectivist philosophers. Assuming that Objectivism is true, how could this be?

Edited by Dustin86

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It isn't. You're right. Not only have you convinced me that Objectivism is wrong, but I now have a sudden urge to hate brown people. So please send me that invite, and help me join the movement and be an alt right troll like you.

Edited by Nicky

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Dustin, your typical questions seem to be of this form:

"The defendant said the suitcase weighed a ton,  but it is well documented that the world record was set in 2016 and it is just a little over 300 Kilograms. Explain this contradiction."

 

Edited by softwareNerd

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snerd,

The apparent contradiction here seems much bigger than your example. We're talking about man's means of survival, not a suitcase.

This is the way I see it; there are tons of people with brilliant minds who would never survive, at least without constant aid and caretaking (e.g., Stephen Hawking). There are tons of completely "Subjectivist" muscley tribesmen who can't read, can't write, would fail an IQ test, but who clearly win the survival test.

Rand clearly tries to draw a link between the necessity of accepting Objectivism or at least some form of Rationalism, and survival, for mankind. And I'm just not seeing it.

This is not to downplay the achievements of mankind's Stephen Hawkings. Not at all. But when we're talking about survival, I'm not seeing the connection between that and Objectivism. And it's a connection that Rand is clearly trying to draw.

Edited by Dustin86

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2 hours ago, Dustin86 said:

In Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, in John Galt's Speech, there is a quote that seems to be central to the Objectivist worldview, but yet seems to be completely self-contradictory.

I answered it before, and you said it sounded right. We already discussed how people can slowly destroy themselves, but sometimes people will also act to help themselves. That's all it is. It takes a long time to go extinct, it doesn't happen in even a century. You were literally saying in one thread how bad things happen like genocides happen as a dangerous issue. How should we interpret this as anything except agreeing that man acts as his own destroyer a lot of the time? 

Also, Rand explains that the more irrational i.e. subjective, people are, the more parasitic they need to be. And as long as there is someone to take from, you could be a parasite. The idea is that this isn't sustainable long-term. So there is a long history of give-and-take, toward a decaying world, or a bright world.

I mean, how long would you think Rand meant that it will take for mankind to be totally destroyed?

EDIT:

" there are tons of people with brilliant minds who would never survive, at least without constant aid and caretaking "

Not sure what your point is? Clearly, there is a tremendous exchange of value to be found even from physically disabled people. It's about flourishing, not merely surviving.

Edited by Eiuol

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20 minutes ago, Dustin86 said:

Rand clearly tries to draw a link between the necessity of accepting Objectivism or at least some form of Rationalism, and survival, for mankind. And I'm just not seeing it.

If you think that Rand could say:

1. I have invented Objectivism; and, also

2. Humanity cannot have survived without Objectivism

Then, you should not bother reading Rand and giving her even a second of your time. How daft would such a person be to claim that they could not exist.

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9 hours ago, Eiuol said:

EDIT:

" there are tons of people with brilliant minds who would never survive, at least without constant aid and caretaking "

Not sure what your point is? Clearly, there is a tremendous exchange of value to be found even from physically disabled people. It's about flourishing, not merely surviving.

Louie, you stopped right before my next part, which would have elucidated more what you want to know, which is:

9 hours ago, Dustin86 said:

There are tons of completely "Subjectivist" muscley tribesmen who can't read, can't write, would fail an IQ test, but who clearly win the survival test.

True or false? Clearly true. So I'm not seeing the link between rationalism and survival.

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58 minutes ago, Dustin86 said:

So I'm not seeing the link between rationalism and survival.

So, you seriously think that man would do just as well with the brain of a lower animal? 

(Hard to tell if you're having a good laugh at folks on the forum taking your posts seriously, or if you really are serious.)

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5 hours ago, Dustin86 said:

So I'm not seeing the link between rationalism and survival.

They both are able to survive and also flourish to the extent they use reason. As I said also, flourishing is what we're after. "Muscley tribesmen" do and have relied on mystics to help them, but they all at least reason to some extent.

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Three points:

1. Galt's speech is part of a work of fiction. Try to keep that context.

2. Galt was speaking after American society had collapsed because the creators, who propped up society, went on strike and left the mooching parasites to destroy one another.

3. How does this apply to the real world? To the extent that the parasites destroy the creators, America will decline into whatever form of tribalism the destroyers can sustain without creators. Maybe they'll be able to keep the streetlights on, by following manuals that the creators wrote. But for how long?

As long as they maintain their hatred for reason, and choose faith or whim, the parasites will continue to decline to the state of savages, as we see happening clear as day in the Middle East right now. As long as the creators continue making things, including rational systems of thought, the destroyers will destroy--a perfect example being these Alt-Right crusaders who have come here to attack Objectivism with thread after thread of desperate nonsense.  

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You're right Dustin. Rand was simply contradicting herself here, and it's kind of funny to watch Objectivists contort themselves around this contradiction.

The truth of the matter is that there or no people who are only producers or only parasites. Everyone, by painful necessity of the logic and reality of survival, needs to do both. Anyone who does just one or the other is pretty dumb (putting all your eggs in one basket and all that).

We humans are macrophagus heterotrophs. That is, we are organisms that loot the flesh of other organisms (mainly plants) for our sustennance. In the animal kingdom, we are truly perfect in our parasitism. We are the most prudent of predators, even going so far as to domesticate, genetically engineer, and otherwise guarantee the survival of our prey populations.

Reason is not our means of survival. Reason is an entirely optional means of improving our actual means of survival (i.e. predation).

Thus, by acting as predator, man is not necessarily destroying himself, and in fact, is almost necessarily surviving. Hence why we're all still here despite our predatory nature.

 

 

Edited by SpookyKitty

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42 minutes ago, SpookyKitty said:

The truth of the matter is that there or no people who are only producers or only parasites.

I'm not a parasite. In any way, shape or form. And I know many others who also aren't parasites.

So speak for yourself.

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Just now, Nicky said:

I'm not a parasite. In any way, shape or form. And I know many others who also aren't parasites.

So speak for yourself.

You had parents didn't you?

You're a parasite.

Do you do photosynthesis? No? You're a parasite.

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2 hours ago, SpookyKitty said:

You had parents didn't you?

You're a parasite.

Do you do photosynthesis? No? You're a parasite.

When Ayn Rand says parasite, she is referring to people who survive by violating other people's rights. Having parents and eating vegetables doesn't make me a parasite.

Really, a year on this forum and you're yet to figure out the difference between being robbed and helping someone voluntarily?

Edited by Nicky
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Just now, Nicky said:

When Ayn Rand says parasite, she is referring to people who survive by violating other people's rights. Having parents and eating vegetables doesn't make me a parasite.

Really, a year on this forum and you're yet to figure out the difference between being robbed and helping someone voluntarily?

No, when Ayn Rand says parasite, she is only usually referring to people who survive by violating other people's rights. The whole reason that this is supposed to be bad is because it supposedly does not require the use of reason. Assuming that it does, the conclusion also depends on the notion that reason is man's primary means of survival. But the concepts of parasitism and production are prior to any specific means of parasitism or production. Hence, there is a pre-moral (i.e. conceptually precedes rights and such) concept of parasitism. A parasite, is simply any organism that survives by taking what other organisms have produced.

Man clearly does this, and is therefore a parasite. Ayn Rand tries to get around this by saying that reason is man's primary means of survival. (In Aristotelian terms, reason is the essential characteristic of humanity). That parasitism is effortless and thus cannot involve the use of reason, hence it is not proper to man, and is therefore immoral. (to condense the whole argument very briefly).

But first of all, what is essential (in the sense of essence or identity) is not necessarily essential in terms of being a necessary condition for survival. The necessary conditions for the survival of a human being are very minimal, requiring no more use of reason than that of a chimpanzee. However, while looting the corpses of other organisms for their flesh may not be an essential characteristic of man, and while it is shared by many other organisms, it is nonetheless a necessary condition for his survival (unlike reason). If one is aiming for a philosophy for living on Earth, than one must recognize that, to live on Earth, we have to parasitze other organisms. If we have no choice but to do this (and we don't), then pretending it is immoral is just another Original Sin doctrine.

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7 hours ago, Nicky said:

I'm not a parasite.

In Spooky'Kitty's language "parasite" is a synonym for "living being"... a useless term that adds no meaning, but it useful to induce guilt.

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On 10/31/2016 at 6:48 AM, softwareNerd said:

(Hard to tell if you're having a good laugh at folks on the forum taking your posts seriously, or if you really are serious.)

sNerd, I'm used to freewheeling debate. I'm not used to "safe spaces". I was fortunate enough to intellectually "come of age" in an intellectual environment that accepted freewheeling debate.

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Spooky Kitty,

Would you be willing to suspend your belief of: man, the parasite? Biology and semantics aside, I'm quite sure that the opening post is little more than an suggestion that reason, as a means of survival, is overrated. Could we stay within that context?

On 10/30/2016 at 4:51 PM, Dustin86 said:

Clearly according to Ayn Rand, man has done the opposite of what Objectivism says to do, for "most of his history". He has acted "as his own destroyer [...] through most of his history". He has been "a living entity that regarded its means of survival as evil". The next three words in the quote are "would not survive". But wait a minute! We're still here. Not only just man as a species, but Subjectivists and Subjectivism, are still here. Birds that "fought to break [their] wings" and plants "that struggled to mangle [their] roots" died out a long time ago. But Subjectivist human beings are still here. Indeed, the vast majority of human beings are Subjectivists, according to Objectivist philosophers. Assuming that Objectivism is true, how could this be?

To be sure, man has been able to survive with the most rudimentary skills. But he must still apply reason to his actions, even when living within a primitive tribal setting with mysticism as its guiding idea of morality. As a lone castaway, he would certainly perish unless he applied his best reasoning skills.

14 hours ago, SpookyKitty said:

You're right Dustin....

...Reason is not our means of survival. Reason is an entirely optional means of improving our actual means of survival (i.e. predation).

Thus, by acting as predator, man is not necessarily destroying himself, and in fact, is almost necessarily surviving. Hence why we're all still here despite our predatory nature.

Reason is and always will be essential to mans' survival. It is a choice, although some choose not to think, and allow or force others to fulfill their needs. Often because of one great thinker, many others survive while they, the many, abandon their own choice of reason. Abandon reason entirely, and man becomes the breakfast of much more physically powerful species possessing claws and fangs. When the only choice for man was to kill or be killed, the guiding moral principal normally was mysticism. If mere survival is the only goal of the collective/tribe, acting as predator was using reason. I don't understand your suggestion that "man is not necessarily destroying himself" by acting as predator. It is not in spite of his predatory actions that he survived, but because of his well-reasoned actions to act as a predator that he survived. Either way, the "tribe" survives in spite of mystic leadership, because someone among the tribe has a higher capacity to reason. Consider this illustration:

It didn't always go so well. As rational as they may have been on occasion, a society ruled by mysticism is a society that destroys the innovator, the deviant intellectual, the seditious critic, and all who challenge the status quo.

I really don't need to defend Ayn Rand's logic. From man's early beginnings where he relied on shamans, to the life in the Workers Utopian Paradise, or to any other subjective philosophy, ideology, and/or theology that relegates man to a subject living at the whim of the king or the state, it usually doesn't end well. In other words, it destroys man.

Edited by Repairman
a minor grammarical correction

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15 hours ago, SpookyKitty said:

The necessary conditions for the survival of a human being are very minimal, requiring no more use of reason than that of a chimpanzee. However, while looting the corpses of other organisms for their flesh may not be an essential characteristic of man, and while it is shared by many other organisms, it is nonetheless a necessary condition for his survival (unlike reason).

Wouldn't it be great if every morning and evening there were fresh corpses lying all around for humans to chew on like wild chimps? Then we wouldn't have to use our reason to make hunting tools or learn to grow crops and stuff.

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21 hours ago, SpookyKitty said:

We humans are macrophagus heterotrophs. That is, we are organisms that loot the flesh of other organisms (mainly plants) for our sustennance.

Eating is looting? This isn't an MMO, where you literally loot a bear for meat.

Talk about contortion!

In the end, you say neither predatory nor parasitic acts are -essential-. Eiitther you deny epistemic essentialism, or there is something more important than both - and reason was not refuted as more essential.

Edited by Eiuol

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56 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

This isn't an MMO

For the acronym impaired among us . . . what is MMO?

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Massive Multiplayer Online (Role Playing Game). So, if you kill a bear, you loot the corpse, and loot an item like bear meat to cook. To call eating prey "looting" is to confuse what it is you take, or how it is taken. A thief stealing from a mark is not the same sort of predatory act as hunting a bear.

The key idea is that to Rand, anything less than flourishing is dying even if slowly. Any act against flourishing leads to destruction or subhuman (subrational?) levels of life eventually.

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4 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

Massive Multiplayer Online (Role Playing Game). . . . and explanation

RPG and philosophy . . . who would have thought . . .

Thanks for the clarification.

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10 hours ago, softwareNerd said:

In Spooky'Kitty's language "parasite" is a synonym for "living being"... a useless term that adds no meaning, but it useful to induce guilt.

No, as I said before, "paraiste" means any organism that takes what another organism has produced. This is not a synonym for "living being" because there are living beings that don't do this. For example, plants, autotrphic microorganisms, and bees, to name a few.

You've basically just stated that my position is the opposite of what it actually is. Calling man a parasite is not meant to induce guilt since that is simply a recognition of his nature and he has no choice with regard to that. If this makes you feel guilty, that's your problem. I certainly feel no guilt when I eat things.

4 hours ago, Repairman said:

Spooky Kitty,

Would you be willing to suspend your belief of: man, the parasite? Biology and semantics aside, I'm quite sure that the opening post is little more than an suggestion that reason, as a means of survival, is overrated. Could we stay within that context?

To be sure, man has been able to survive with the most rudimentary skills. But he must still apply reason to his actions, even when living within a primitive tribal setting with mysticism as its guiding idea of morality. As a lone castaway, he would certainly perish unless he applied his best reasoning skills.

Reason is and always will be essential to mans' survival. It is a choice, although some choose not to think, and allow or force others to fulfill their needs. Often because of one great thinker, many others survive while they, the many, abandon their own choice of reason. Abandon reason entirely, and man becomes the breakfast of much more physically powerful species possessing claws and fangs. When the only choice for man was to kill or be killed, the guiding moral principal normally was mysticism. If mere survival is the only goal of the collective/tribe, acting as predator was using reason. I don't understand your suggestion that "man is not necessarily destroying himself" by acting as predator. It is not in spite of his predatory actions that he survived, but because of his well-reasoned actions to act as a predator that he survived. Either way, the "tribe" survives in spite of mystic leadership, because someone among the tribe has a higher capacity to reason. Consider this illustration:

It didn't always go so well. As rational as they may have been on occasion, a society ruled by mysticism is a society that destroys the innovator, the deviant intellectual, the seditious critic, and all who challenge the status quo.

I really don't need to defend Ayn Rand's logic. From man's early beginnings where he relied on shamans, to the life in the Workers Utopian Paradise, or to any other subjective philosophy, ideology, and/or theology that relegates man to a subject living at the whim of the king or the state, it usually doesn't end well. In other words, it destroys man.

You are conflating mysticism with predatory behavior. Mysticism has never been and cannot possibly be useful in reality. It is reason that tells man to kill his fellow for his stuff.

Just now, MisterSwig said:

Wouldn't it be great if every morning and evening there were fresh corpses lying all around for humans to chew on like wild chimps? Then we wouldn't have to use our reason to make hunting tools or learn to grow crops and stuff.

Chimps hunt, and few would call them rational.

Just now, Eiuol said:

Eating is looting? This isn't an MMO, where you literally loot a bear for meat.

Talk about contortion!

In the end, you say neither predatory nor parasitic acts are -essential-. Eiitther you deny epistemic essentialism, or there is something more important than both - and reason was not refuted as more essential.

Of course not, reason is awesome. But you seem to have ignored my point about the equivocation of two different meanings of "essential".

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7 minutes ago, SpookyKitty said:

You are conflating mysticism with predatory behavior. Mysticism has never been and cannot possibly be useful in reality. It is reason that tells man to kill his fellow for his stuff.

No, not at all. I am asserting that the act of applying reason to its best use, in coordination with man's physical ability allows him to achieve the wonders of the modern world, while mysticism was the dominant idea in man's earliest development. Man's nature is to consume other organisms; you are conflating this fact with parasitism: a contortion if ever I saw one.

Good luck trying to defend your line of "reasoning."

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