Welcome to Objectivism Online Forum

Welcome to Objectivism Online, a forum for discussing the philosophy of Ayn Rand. For full access, register via Facebook or email.

Szalapski

Line of reasoning from "A is A" and basic observations to the role of government

Rate this topic

8 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

Split from: How Does "A is A" Connect to Government?

Where it isn't clear for me:  suppose I accept that A is A; A thing is itself; Existence is Identity; Consciousness is Identification.

From there, how does it follow that each individual has a right to pursue and attempt the natural actions that enhance that life and cause that life to flourish?  How does it follow that each individual has an obligation not to impede or prevent others attempting such efforts? I have not seen Rand or anyone else explain this step in logic.  I intuitively can accept that it seems fair, but I don't have a firm grasp on the reason behind such a claim.

Edited by dream_weaver

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Szalapski said:

From there, how does it follow that each individual has a right to pursue and attempt the natural actions that enhance that life and cause that life to flourish?  How does it follow that each individual has an obligation not to impede or prevent others attempting such efforts? I have not seen Rand or anyone else explain this step in logic.  I intuitively can accept that it seems fair, but I don't have a firm grasp on the reason behind such a claim.

Here is a good article to get you started:

https://www.theobjectivestandard.com/issues/2011-fall/ayn-rand-theory-rights/

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

On 2/1/2017 at 11:42 AM, Dustin86 said:

Try as I might, I still do not know what laws and theorems in formal logic such as "A is A" have to do with government. To me, it makes as much sense if she started talking about dinosaurs and tried to connect that to how the government should be run. The two seem to have nothing to do with each other.

 

On 4/25/2017 at 9:00 AM, Szalapski said:

Where it isn't clear for me:  suppose I accept that A is A; A thing is itself; Existence is Identity; Consciousness is Identification.

From there, how does it follow that each individual has a right to pursue and attempt the natural actions that enhance that life and cause that life to flourish?  How does it follow that each individual has an obligation not to impede or prevent others attempting such efforts? I have not seen Rand or anyone else explain this step in logic.  I intuitively can accept that it seems fair, but I don't have a firm grasp on the reason behind such a claim.

Neither Rand nor any other Objectivist has explained this because the explanation is outside of the explicit, orthodox philosophy.

Rand's personal philosophy, her intuitive grasp of the connection between "A is A" and the necessity of a governmental justice system, is expressed in her fiction and in her convictions, but it's not explainable in her explicit philosophy. Her *explicit* philosophy, from the metaphysics, to the epistemology, to the nature of man, to the nature of political rights and government, cannot explain the connection.

In her explicit philosophy, in metaphysics, there are no universals, and a statement such as "A is A" is meaningless or even wrong, and the epistemology states that we can only pragmatically make such claims, there is no metaphysical necessity holding them to be true. The tabula rasa theory of man follows from this, and a subjectivist, consequentialist ethics follows from that. On such foundations, there are no individual rights, only pragmatic heuristics telling you that using force probably isn't in your best interest in most situations. Since there's no need for a justice system which consistently defends people's rights, there's no need for a government; whichever system of force which happens to be to one's advantage at any particular time would do.

In her implicit philosophy, however, we find a totally different story. "A is A" is significant because of what is contained in the meaning of "A", much like in Descartes cogito, "I think, therefore I am" is significant because of what is meant by "I". The "A" is a universal, a metaphysically basic universal, with which our epistemological concept of "A" is identical. That is, there is a metaphysical necessity to the essential nature of our concepts. A teleological theory of man follows from this, and an objective (that is, intrinsic and universal) deontological morality follows from that - is implies ought, and therefore we must act consistently with our nature, and indeed must treat everything according to its nature (Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed). For this reason, individual rights are absolute and categorical, and we need a system which will consistently defend people's rights, which can only be accomplished in an integrated, governmental justice system (any other system of force, including anarchy, cannot defend the rights of all of the individuals involved consistently).

Edited by epistemologue

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, epistemologue said:

the epistemology states that we can only pragmatically make such claims, there is no metaphysical necessity holding them to be true.

Why do you think this? Where is it implied or stated by Rand that the pragmatics are a fundamental part of metaphysical claims? Indeed there is no binding THING to unite a set of things to as a CONCEPT, so forming concepts is a matter of agent-focused. But the binding metaphysical fact is that entities and objects have their identity as individual things. The necessity of holding it all to be true is the identity of what you're looking to understand and know about reality.

I agree only in the sense Rand didn't explain it all explicitly in sufficient detail. Perhaps she didn't think about all possible clarifications. My point is that her explicit philosophy doesn't necessarily lead to subjectivity. That isn't the only way to go - but it can.

I don't totally disagree with the last part. Except the phrase categorical absolute, as far as it is -usually- meant. A "metaphysically basic universal" is too vague to comment on as right or wrong.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/25/2017 at 9:48 AM, StrictlyLogical said:

OK, so let me boil this down to an informal line of reasoning that I can ponder and scrutinize:

 - Things exist. A=A.
 - Living things exist and act in order to live.
 - People exist and act on the basis of thoughts.
 - A person's values is the object of his actions--what a person acts to gain or keep.
 - Values would be meaningless without life, but life gives values meaning.
 - Values are moral if they are in line with life.
 - Since people are only individuals, this judgment applies to individuals.
 - The individual's own life is his own ultimate value.
 - Achieving one's values is the way to happiness.
 - Humans must use volitional and abstract thinking to survive.
 - Observation is required, gaining knowledge.
 - We must integrate our observation into concepts, generalizations, and principles that correspond to reality so that we can act.
 - Only physical force (including fraud) from others can prevent such action and cause us to act otherwise, to act in bondage.  A human life is a life guided by the judgment of one's mind.
- Government should exist to prevent such force and not to initiate such force itself.

Did I miss anything?  Where are the logical leaps in the above?  I shall ponder it further.

gio likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A few random things I noticed missing which are important:

Free will

Choice to live

Life makes value possible and necessary (for humans if one chooses to live)

Values are contextual

"Life" of the individual is the standard of morality

 

I'd like to add a little about morality and a subtle distinction between an intrinsic, supernatural, or mystical moralities (which all other moralities are), and a truly objective secular morality (which Objectivist morality is).

There is no mystical or intrinsic imperative to live, or to survive.  You can choose to die, whether consciously through a specific effective voluntary action of suicide, or semi-consciously evading and neglecting your life and what it requires.

If you choose to live, you need to act to bring about and sustain that choice.  Reality, both the identity of you and that of your surroundings sets the terms of action, by causation, and consequence.  You use your mind, your rational faculty, to determine these and the guide you adopt for yourself is your morality. Morality is your guide to action and its standard is your life, long range, and you are its sole direct beneficiary.

Morality here, is reality based and is not some mystical force of the universe that binds you to some duty or holds you accountable.  In this respect it is a broader concept that which is presumed by almost all other philosophies and religions... which is always an intrinsic or mystical emanation (which is God to religionists or simply non-existent to other secular thinkers) it is a truly objective secular morality with no intrinsic, mystical or supernatural source.  It's crucial to understand this, morality is not out there like a set of commandments, it is objective, involving the mind making an abstraction which groups the totality of the facts of reality (whether you know each of them or not) which are relevant to determining and guiding your actions given the goal (life) and reality.  To be useful these are identified and formulated as principles which can appear like imperatives.  Make no mistake the universe does not consciously (or unconsciously) issue imperatives, but equally so, should your actions repeatedly flaunt the identified principles, reality will thwart and possibly destroy your life through sheer causality and the nature of things.

 

The article although very good only describes the essentials for its purpose.  For understanding the philosophy, I really recommend OPAR, and Atlas Shrugged.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

I posted this in a longer thread, but I thought I would bring it up here for further discussion in its own right.

Suppose I try to start with basic priniciples and work my way to more integrated ones through sound reason and small steps in logic.  Informally, my line of thinking is the following.  Is this Objectivism rightly understood?

 - Things exist. A is A.
 - Living things exist and act in order to live.  Their life is their existence
 - People exist and act on the basis of thoughts according to their free will.  Their thinking and their life are their existence, their identity.
 - A person will make choices that enhance or detract from that person's life.
 - A person's values are the objects of his actions--what a person acts to gain or keep.
 - Values would be meaningless without life, but life gives values meaning.
 - Values are moral if they are in line with life--if they are consistent with existence, with reality.
 - Some people may have immoral values: values that contradict life.
 - Since people are only individuals, this judgment applies to individuals.
 - The individual's own life is his own ultimate value.
 - Achieving one's values is the way to happiness.
 - Humans must use volitional and abstract thinking to survive.
 - Observation is required, gaining knowledge, in order to survive.
 - The individual must integrate our observation into concepts, generalizations, and principles that correspond to reality so that we can act in order to survive.
 - Only physical force (including fraud) from others can prevent such action and cause us to act otherwise, to act in bondage.  A human life is a life guided by the judgment of one's mind.
 - Government should exist to prevent such force and not to initiate such force itself.

Edited by Szalapski

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.