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Szalapski

I have made "Objections to Objectivism", a podcast that examines problems with Objectivism, as a way myself to learn it. Would love feedback.

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It seems I missed an error in my earlier post:

3 hours ago, Repairman said:

 If you wish to start a discuss relating to the inner working of the mind, go ahead; I would stop you. Neither will I join you.

It should read: "I won't stop you."

So, without further comment, let us proceed down the rabbit-hole. As they say in show biz: "Take it away, Ilya..."

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2 hours ago, Ilya Startsev said:

“the independent man is as alone in society as on a desert island”

What did he mean? What is the context in which he states that? How does this relate to man's primary orientation to reality, excluding other men? (These are just rhetorical questions, as the answer is identified in the end.)

Ayn Rand's, Leonard Peikoff's, and even your own writings reveal their respective essences for what they are, once properly understood.

On 4/25/2017 at 3:30 PM, Szalapski said:

Sure, I will post questions in new threads, as time allows.

I should have also added to my earlier response to you, welcome to OO.

 

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Quote

 

> it seems apparent that you have a desire to undermine the validity of Objectivism.

No, that is not my agenda; it is more to explore and have a conversation, skeptical of Objectivism but open to it.  I'll take your questions as sincere though I realize some may be rhetorical.

> Do you really believe that someone seeking a rational explanation for the general insanity of the world would be best served by presenting "Objections to Objectivism" without a firm grasp of the concept of Objectivism?

No, my goal with this podcast is not to best serve anyone except for myself, to understand these things better. 

> How does Zack Schmitt qualify as an expert on Objectivism?

He is not and did not claim to be, and neither do I.

> an admitted mystic who claims "we can't know your own selves," (paraphrased)

I see that you like to use that word "mystic" like Rand did--I'm still not sure that every religious person ought to be dismissed as a mystic.  I myself am agnostic, but I am not convinced that the religious have no place to argue with me or have nothing to teach me.

> If you have arguments with Ayn Rand's metaphysical or epistemological assertions, I recommend you address these concerns directly; perhaps these more scholarly participants could help you with these more abstract fundamental, however I always recommend some self-study followed by your own independent contemplation before engaging in any argument.

I'll study some, but I think I'm at the point were I need to reason things out with smart people.  I could read forever without arguing or making a podcast, but conversation will steer the learning in a better direction, as I suspect (unlike Roark or Galt) that I can understand the world better by deferring to others--not all the time, nor to the full extent, but sometimes and to some degree.

 

 

Edited by Szalapski

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18 hours ago, Ilya Startsev said:

I hope the OP would elaborate on whether this interesting paraphrase reflects the actual standpoint of someone with whom he agrees. I see two ways in which to take such a position involving questions of self-hood. The way I prefer is that it is very difficult for us to not merely know but understand our own consciousness without relating to consciousness of others.

I did not really follow where you were going with the rest of that post, but I will respond to this.  In its barest strict form, I'd presently, tentatively agree that "I cannot fully know my own self" and "I can better know my own self with the help of others than I can without."  I do not think Zach was claiming that one ought to substantially subvert most of one's own ambitions or judgments and substitute others.  To speak for myself, I wonder if it would be wise, not to try to be 100% Roark and 0% Keating, but instead 90% Roark and 10% Keating.  It strikes me as extreme and foolhardy to trust one's own judgments so much that one would never deign to let anyone else overrule unless you can first admit inferiority in that area.

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On 4/25/2017 at 10:07 PM, Eiuol said:

Pyramid of ability you get a bit wrong - it's just to say that greater intellectual effort has an incalculable value.

...

Good idea on the podcast - thinking out loud is a good way for some to learn.

 

Thanks for the encouragement.  I will try to work in at least a note on the Pyramid of Ability in a future episode.

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1 hour ago, Szalapski said:

I did not really follow where you were going with the rest of that post

I really don't understand why no one could understand such a simple argument that consisted of showing two ways of interpreting the statement "we can't know ourselves":

  1. We know ourselves from interactions with others, and if we don't interact with others (because we are a priori 'independent' of them), then we cannot know ourselves;
  2. We know ourselves from interacting with environment and not others, but by reducing ourselves to a priori tools of reason independent of others, then we cannot know ourselves.

The rejection of my argument as incomprehensible can be interpreted as anti-intellectualism, which may be quite dominant among Objectivists, although they, unjustifiably, think of themselves otherwise.

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1 hour ago, Szalapski said:

No, my goal with this podcast is not to best serve anyone except for myself, to understand these things better. 

> How does Zack Schmitt qualify as an expert on Objectivism?

He is not and did not claim to be, and neither do I.

> an admitted mystic who claims "we can't know your own selves," (paraphrased)

I see that you like to use that word "mystic" like Rand did--I'm still not sure that every religious person ought to be dismissed as a mystic.  I myself am agnostic, but I am not convinced that the religious have no place to argue with me or have nothing to teach me.

> If you have arguments with Ayn Rand's metaphysical or epistemological assertions, I recommend you address these concerns directly; perhaps these more scholarly participants could help you with these more abstract fundamental, however I always recommend some self-study followed by your own independent contemplation before engaging in any argument.

I'll study some, but I think I'm at the point were I need to reason things out with smart people.  I could read forever without arguing or making a podcast, but conversation will steer the learning in a better direction, as I suspect (unlike Roark or Galt) that I can understand the world better by deferring to others--not all the time, nor to the full extent, but sometimes and to some degree.

I hope you understand my defensive post regarding your conversation with your friend. Much of what I heard on your podcast was defense of the altruistic status quo. There was no context provided in the criticisms made by Zack Schmitt; as remember it, there was no defense of Objectivist ethics worth mentioning. To the point that you or your friends are not experts, this is quite apparent, and I did not assume that to be the case. Without an advocate to defend the opposing view, the conversation becomes an indictment of Objectivism rather than an argument or discussion. I take a strong position in defense of reason, individualism, and capitalism. Your guest was an advocate of mystical, altruistic, and collectivist rhetoric, all too common in our society.

Ayn Rand points out that throughout the ages, man has followed a moral code rooted in either the spiritual or the social. Identifying oneself as holding Judeo-Christian beliefs is sufficient evidence that one is religious, and, (at least in case of Judeo-Christian beliefs) this suggest that one receives one's code of morality through mystic revelations. Some people will go through life meditating on mantras such as: "Who knows?" or "There's nothing I can do about it." or "Everyone does it." To say that: "We can't know ourselves," may be true for some people, but I know who I am, and anyone making any  claim to the contrary certainly does not. If others hold their own opinion of me, I can do nothing about that, other than to alter my behavior accordingly. If I have no respect for an individual's opinion, I make no compliance or behavioral correction; if the person holds some value and/or authority over me, be they a client, a dear friend, my boss, a law officer, then I take into consideration the changes necessary to improve our relations. I might dress myself in more sophisticated clothes for a special occasion. But it is the very height of absurdity to cater to the opinions of every Minnie, Moe, and Jack. But at least Minnie, Moe, and Jack are people, and not ghosts.

After one accepts these truths as self-evident, one may find oneself on the proverbial horns of a dilemma. What is morality, and why am I certain as to what morality is? Objectivism answers those question and many more without contradiction. While you certainly will find disagreement among the participants in this forum, you make your own rational judgements, with or without this forum. Rationality does not come about automatically; it takes practice. Inasmuch as you've identified yourself as agnostic, it should be pointed out that holding ambiguities as to the existence of supernatural forces may lead you to errors in judgment, as well as errors in actions. Moral ambiguities are at the very center of chaos. I, too, was for many years ambiguous about the existence of God; my experience has been that I am far better off with objective reality as my moral set-point. You be the judge of that which is best for you.

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5 hours ago, Repairman said:

. Without an advocate to defend the opposing view, the conversation becomes an indictment of Objectivism rather than an argument or discussion. I take a strong position in defense of reason, individualism, and capitalism. Your guest was an advocate of mystical, altruistic, and collectivist rhetoric, all too common in our society.

So if Zach or myself were more Objectivist than 99% of the population, the remaining impurity you would emphasize and argue against?

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5 hours ago, Repairman said:

correction; if the person holds some value and/or authority over me, be they a client, a dear friend, my boss, a law officer, then I take into consideration the changes necessary to improve our relations. I might dress myself in more sophisticated clothes for a special occasion. But it is the very height of absurdity to cater to the opinions of every Minnie, Moe, and Jack. But at least Minnie, Moe, and Jack are people, and not ghosts.

Why is it strictly either-or on this one?  Why can't I "cater" (I might say "defer")
to others to a limited extent. When I am most uncertain of my own position, when their influence is weighty and proper, when "I need it most"--presuming that I think critically about their influence and question it and attempt to judge it as I go?

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2 hours ago, Szalapski said:

So if Zach or myself were more Objectivist than 99% of the population, the remaining impurity you would emphasize and argue against?

I listened to your podcast once; it was 25 minutes or more of my time, from which I drew the impression that two men were having a discussion about Ayn Rand, and her philosophy of Objectivism, presenting the same trite oversimplifications I've heard uttered on anti-Rand Youtube videos. I have no idea what my reaction would have been to "the remaining impurity," to which you refer. I would never expect anyone to qualify as "more than 99% of the population," because I don't know what that means. If someone had never heard of Ayn Rand, but the actions and opinions of that person could be characterized as one of rational self-interest, that person would be OK by my estimates, and I would have more respect for that person as a result. If a person arrives at the same level of intellectual honesty without studying philosophy, I would strongly approve of that person.

2 hours ago, Szalapski said:

Why is it strictly either-or on this one?  Why can't I "cater" (I might say "defer")
to others to a limited extent. When I am most uncertain of my own position, when their influence is weighty and proper, when "I need it most"--presuming that I think critically about their influence and question it and attempt to judge it as I go?

Here, you seem sincere about your interest to discover something. What that something is can only be answered by you. Some people join this forum with the intent of finding support of something they feel very strongly about, only to find that Objectivism doesn't deal in their pet peeve. On the subject of seeking clarity on Objectivism, you may be well on your way via the study of more Objectivist literature. As you read more, you will find that there is no compromise with religionists (if that term works better than "mystics"); there is no compromise with socialists or anyone advocating for the common good. If that's what you're looking for, there are plenty of other "great minds" to support subjective premises. Objectivism is based on objectivity. Without the basic principles (one being, "A is A"), one stands on a weak argument, proceeds on a misguided sense of direction, and consequently loses focus of one's desired outcome. That outcome for me is my happiness, and the continued love of my life. I would be happy to address any point of misgiving you may have with Objectivism to the best of my ability, but please be specific.

Edited by Repairman
speling correction

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2 hours ago, Repairman said:

two men were having a discussion about Ayn Rand, and her philosophy of Objectivism, presenting the same trite oversimplifications I've heard uttered on anti-Rand Youtube videos.

Some people do better when they present arguments against the very thing they are learning about. Perhaps the objection is trite to the more learned person, or oversimplified, or confused, but this is how learning works. When a kid learns astronomy, there may be weird objections that are bizarre, asking about how aliens built the solar system. Clearly, Szal's objections are more sophisticated than that. But by presenting the objection, often that suggests wanting to learn more. Szal probably has some good questions, and also errors in reading Rand as people do with any philosopher.

A good way to find contradictions in oneself is to use one's ideas "above" their knowledge level. To do well in that setting, you need to say what you understand and your issue with it, even before a strong foundation. When you get something totally wrong, errors become clearer. If you learn to cook, say, sometimes deliberately ignoring an ingredient or technique, objecting to fantastic advice from pros, helps you learn why those techniques are used.

 

Edited by Eiuol

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Eiuol,

I shall give your perspective due consideration. I find it difficult to respond to an audio conversation, especially when I detect "loaded terms," or indications of bias against Objectivism. It is impossible to insert commentary into such a dialog as Szalapski's podcast, that is, commentary requiring context related to the opposing statement. Perhaps this is merely a matter of different techniques of learning, as you've suggested. The advantage of this forum is the option of isolating a comment (particularly one that may require clarification or context), and responding to the specific portion of the entire statement. It is not my intent to discourage the recently-interested from exploring the ideas of Ayn Rand. Quite the opposite, there are times when I need clarification in order to judge the intent of the other person. 

Szalapski,

Was there anything I said that appears to need clarification or context?

6 hours ago, Szalapski said:

So if Zach or myself were more Objectivist than 99% of the population, the remaining impurity you would emphasize and argue against?

I am still somewhat mystified by this reference: "...more Objectivist than 99% of the population," and the element of "remaining impurity." Could you explain?

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7 hours ago, Repairman said:

I shall give your perspective due consideration. I find it difficult to respond to an audio conversation, especially when I detect "loaded terms," or indications of bias against Objectivism.

If Szal is like me regarding learning, it helps to have a healthy bias against what I am learning. Eventually, if the idea is validated, I'll deeply integrate it into my thinking. When I say bias, I mean not being skeptical of your own beliefs. Being skeptical of new ideas by being willing to lay out all my existing ideas. Since not all people share this cognitive style, the important thing is to read their tone. 

Anyway, yeah, general podcast advice: if you want comments, ask one or two specific questions at the end (like a talk or lecture), then encourage people to answer.

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13 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Anyway, yeah, general podcast advice: if you want comments, ask one or two specific questions at the end (like a talk or lecture), then encourage people to answer.

Is this podcast advise for my benefit? Or, for the benefit of the person(s) creating a podcast?

I think I'll stick with the written form of communications. The written form is less ambiguous, in that I don't have to be concerned about the "tone" of my interlocutor, and instead, focus on literal meaning. 

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On 4/30/2017 at 3:23 PM, Repairman said:

Eiuol,

I shall give your perspective due consideration. I find it difficult to respond to an audio conversation, especially when I detect "loaded terms," or indications of bias against Objectivism. It is impossible to insert commentary into such a dialog as Szalapski's podcast, ...

I am still somewhat mystified by this reference: "...more Objectivist than 99% of the population," and the element of "remaining impurity." Could you explain?

Thanks for listening, and I hope you will continue to listen and respond however you see fit.

I will try to post some objections (or antiobjections) in forum format to encourage written dialog.

One motive for this podcast is that I think Rand's ideas need to be considered more seriously among the less philosophical, more conservational crowd.  To many of my friends and deeper thinking acquaintances never have considered anything other than conservatism, leftism, Christianity, or centrism. As such, although I am not an objectivist, I am not anti objectivist.  I think we need more Rand in the discussion, but so many are opposed to her extremism that they won't consider the core of her argument.

I fully expect that I have many red herrings or straw men mixed in with good objections, so maybe I can get to a better place after several episodes more.

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6 hours ago, Repairman said:

Is this podcast advise for my benefit? Or, for the benefit of the person(s) creating a podcast?

Would Rand want me to make a podcast mainly for the benefit of others?

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20 minutes ago, Szalapski said:

Would Rand want me to make a podcast mainly for the benefit of others?

Rand would want you to either a. Gain a benefit or some value yourself by virtue of your doing the podcast or b. Gain value (monetary or spiritually) by trading with others the value they find in your podcasts.  If you cannot create value for others you can derive no monetary or spiritual benefit of type b.  If you can derive benefit from a) without it being objectively useful to anyone else then you might as well just do for yourself at home without uploading to the internet.  Ideally you would be exchanging value under b. That's what I think Rand might think but certainly she would express it much more eloquently.

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2 hours ago, Szalapski said:

Would Rand want me to make a podcast mainly for the benefit of others?

Regarding this answer, I was responding to a comment by Eioul under the heading: "General Podcast Advise."

22 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Anyway, yeah, general podcast advice: if you want comments, ask one or two specific questions at the end (like a talk or lecture), then encourage people to answer.

At this point, I fully understand that your (Szalapski's) objective is clarity on the subject of Objectivism. So, if you could, please ask one or two specific questions, and perhaps at the end I would be interested in answering your questions or comments. Or maybe not. So far, it has been established that a podcast exists, and that some of the content motivated me to respond with protest. The use of the term: "Extreme," for example, when describing Ayn Rand and her works, reminds me of a clever statement used by Barry Goldwater way back in 1964: "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vise; moderation in pursuit of justice is no virtue." While this turn of a phrase did not help Goldwater win the presidency that year, (in fact he suffered an overwhelming defeat at the hands of a president who may hold a record for expanding the social welfare state), it is an endearing and enduring truth. Szalapalski, to whatever or wherever your queries might lead you in your quest for clarity, please understand, the world is not suffering for lack of technology, nor a lack of people who use it to their best advantages, (whether they be ill-conceived short-term advantages or constructive and long-term profitable advantages). The world is suffering from a lack of moral certitude. I recently hear a radio newscast. The opening sound bite: "There are no absolutes." Does this seem a bit extreme? It certainly does to me, and yet it is a widely accepted notion, not extreme to the mainstream. The world is suffering from a lack of philosophy, i.e., non-contradictory philosophy. I know of only one source which provides the proverbial arsenal of defense of liberty. And that source is Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand. Call me extreme, anytime.

Edited by Repairman
I jumbled some word

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I am glad you agree with the label "extreme", and I also agree that I mean "extreme" while I withhold judgment as to whether it is substantially right or wrong.  However, I do mean that I personally hold it to be extreme in my opinion, and as such, would require extra scrutiny for me to accept it, as against a non-extreme philosophy, which might be easier to accept.  However, I also think it merits this scrutiny and consideration, and so here we are.

Edited by Szalapski

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6 hours ago, Szalapski said:

I think Rand's ideas need to be considered more seriously among the less philosophical, more conservational crowd.  To many of my friends and deeper thinking acquaintances never have considered anything other than conservatism, leftism, Christianity, or centrism. As such, although I am not an objectivist, I am not anti objectivist.  I think we need more Rand in the discussion, but so many are opposed to her extremism that they won't consider the core of her argument.

I have several recommendations.

First, Rand's philosophy is a kind of a dark tunnel that leads you away from correctly identifying and understanding other, more academic, philosophies, especially Kant's. This means that if you want to get serious about philosophy, it's better to start with historical philosophers, like Rand had done by reading Aristotle, than with Rand herself. You can always return to her when you think you have a better grasp of others' philosophies. This was actually my mistake, since now I want to get an education in philosophy, but I realize that I've started off with the wrong foot.

Second, it sounds -- from 'other than' the four identified groups -- like you may be thinking of grouping with or at least comparing Objectivists to libertarians or anarchists because, for starters, Rand is one of the three founding mothers of libertarianism. However, Rand's philosophy has nothing to do with libertarianism or anarchism, but it is, at the core, a minarchist philosophy, just as the other two founding mothers, Isabel Paterson and Rose Wilder Lane, weren't anarchists.

And third, Rand's core shouldn't be confused with pure objectivity. Many people think of themselves as objective, such as Marxists, but they also ignore the subject-object interface represented epistemologically. To think of Rand less extremely, I prefer calling her philosophy Randian idealism rather than Objectivism also for the reason that many subscribe to philosophy based on title and not the core. Not all Objectivists are Randian idealists, just as followers of other philosophies do not subscribe to the same tenets as the founders.

6 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

a. Gain a benefit or some value yourself by virtue of your doing the podcast ... If you can derive benefit from a) without it being objectively useful to anyone else then you might as well just do for yourself at home without uploading to the internet.

Nice. So you are basically saying that there is no need to communicate if he is as self-sufficient as you are.

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4 hours ago, Ilya Startsev said:

Nice. So you are basically saying that there is no need to communicate if he is as self-sufficient as you are.

You misunderstand.  This has nothing to do with sufficiency, but proper human relationships.

The choice is between a. non-trading b. non-sacrificial trading.  The choice is between dealing with people only on a proper basis (trader principle i.e. b) and keeping to yourself (a).

By definition, b. requires some value going in each direction.  Even charity has spiritual values flowing back to the benefactor.  Having someone willing to help you in exchange for appreciation, or when both are interested in exchanging ideas to mutual benefit, are good examples. 

The case of a. is one which is chosen either when b. is not possible or not desired, and is the only valid alternative to proper human interaction.

 

As to this exchange between you and me, whether you judge that you or I have chosen the route of a. or b., I am writing this in response to what you initiated (however you wish to characterize it).

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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18 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

The case of a. is one which is chosen either when b. is not possible or not desired, and is the only valid alternative to proper human interaction.

The issue is in the bolded words. What you don't desire may be against your better judgement. This relates to Derek Parfit's criticism of self-interest as self-defeating. Besides, if the OP initiated this thread then he surely desires communication, advice, and criticisms. The point of him going back to the hole from which he came is abnegating the entire point of this thread.

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16 hours ago, Szalapski said:

I am glad you agree with the label "extreme", and I also agree that I mean "extreme" while I withhold judgment as to whether it is substantially right or wrong.  However, I do mean that I personally hold it to be extreme in my opinion, and as such, would require extra scrutiny for me to accept it, as against a non-extreme philosophy, which might be easier to accept.  However, I also think it merits this scrutiny and consideration, and so here we are.

Szalapski,

I my estimates, this statement presents an adequate opportunity to address an authentic exchange of ideas. Let's take the adjective: "extreme." For many folks, to use the term "extreme" is interpreted as pejorative, much the way "radical," or "polarizing" might be interpreted, and for the same reason. These adjectives have no meaning whatsoever, unless understood within the context in which they are used. Extreme as compared to what? If I were to say, "This ideas is extreme in its accuracy," it would be the same as saying, "This is correct." (Example: 2+2=A; A=4. Damn! That's extreme.) Now you might say, well, philosophy is theoretical and can't be judged in the same way that one can judge mathematics. Objectivism is more close to mathematics than any other philosophical school of thought. In an earlier post, I mentioned a commonly held notion supporting the subjective school of morality: "There are no absolutes." The context of this utterance was one of judging the legal status of an immigrant. Is it possible that no one could be an illegal immigrant? According to this opinion, no: it is not possible that anyone could be an illegal immigrant. Using your independent judgement, would you say that that statement is true? Disregard any assumptions as to where the conversation may lead, could any rational person accept this premise?

18 hours ago, Szalapski said:

One motive for this podcast is that I think Rand's ideas need to be considered more seriously among the less philosophical, more conservational crowd.  To many of my friends and deeper thinking acquaintances never have considered anything other than conservatism, leftism, Christianity, or centrism. As such, although I am not an objectivist, I am not anti objectivist.  I think we need more Rand in the discussion, but so many are opposed to her extremism that they won't consider the core of her argument.

I fully expect that I have many red herrings or straw men mixed in with good objections, so maybe I can get to a better place after several episodes more.

I can't say that I understand your reference to a "more conservational crowd," but as for the less philosophical, they will never figure it out for themselves anymore than a typical lay-Catholic will be able to figure out how it is that he has freewill, while at the same time, God rules over everyone. Catholics need priests who've studied for many years for the purpose of keeping the faithful in their place. We could address each of the belief systems of your acquaintances for there extreme weaknesses, if that would help clarify the extreme correctness of Objectivism. But I wouldn't waste my time trying to convince an altruist that he/she will never save the world by making his/herself, or anyone else, into a sacrificial animal. If one is not willing to devote the necessary time to think through an idea, one is merely following directions of someone else who has. Objectivism is not intended for the less philosophical. However, the lives of those who are more philosophical would improve greatly through the study of Objectivism. In addition, it is quite possible that a popular trend in extreme reason just might improve the lives of the less philosophical. But don't take my word for it. Make your own study of it and judge for yourself, for your own sake.

Edited by Repairman
after though

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