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Is Social Awareness a Value, a Virtue or a Second Class "Goodness"

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Is the nature of Man to be Narcissistic?

By Social Awareness I mean knowing that others exist, knowing that you are not alone. Not just a thought, knowing the truth that you are not alone.
Isn't human companionship a requirement for survival and an ethical value and virtue.

My purpose of this thread is to get clarification on it. I also wonder if it is not acknowledged and declared enough in Objectivist circles.

We know that David Kelly has sort of debated the chairman of whole foods about it. But the debate is more like "chill out, reword altruism, do the Philosophy a different way".

Isn't this particular social context (the awareness of others) have to be part of one's personal ethics? Knowing how to choose people around them, best practices etc.

I argue that social awareness is necessary for survival. Not being aware that others exist can be a matter of life and death.

And yet the pitfalls of doing so: "There's a point at which "social awareness" would cease to be healthy, benevolent coexistence and turn into second-handedness (trying to think through another brain, see through their eyes and do whatever you think they'd most approve of); beyond that point human beings stop being helpful or uplifting for each other's lives and gradually become codependent and monstrous." Harrison

"Trying to define the ultimate standard and purpose of ethics in social terms will prevent you from being able to define that cutoff point." Harrison

I wonder if prevent is too strong a word, for now, I can see it hampering and causing confusion.

And then there is the related issue of the value of others which is derivative:

"A rational man does not forget that life is the source of all values and, as
such, a common bond among living beings (as against inanimate matter),
that other men are potentially able to achieve the same virtues as his own
and thus be of enormous value to him. This does not mean that he regards
human lives as interchangeable with his own. He recognizes the fact that his
own life is the
source, not only of all his values, but of his capacity to value.
Therefore, the value he grants to others is only a consequence, an extension,
a secondary projection of the primary value which is himself.
“The respect and good will that men of self-esteem feel toward other
human beings is profoundly egoistic; they feel, in effect: ‘Other men are of
value because they are of the same species as myself.’ In revering living
entities, they are revering theirown life. This is the psychological base of
any emotion of sympathy and any feeling of ‘species solidarity.’ ”" (Virtue of Selfishness, p 42)

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29 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

Is the nature of Man to be Narcissistic?

No. Not if you mean by "Narcissistic" the clinical definition of Narcissistic Personality Disorder:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcissistic_personality_disorder

29 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

Isn't human companionship a requirement for survival and an ethical value and virtue.

Absolutely.

29 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

I also wonder if it is not acknowledged and declared enough in Objectivist circles.

Sure it is!

 

29 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

Isn't this particular social context (the awareness of others) have to be part of one's personal ethics? Knowing how to choose people around them, best practices etc.

Of course.

29 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

I argue that social awareness is necessary for survival. Not being aware that others exist can be a matter of life and death

As those who brought about and voted in Hitler into power found out!

 

29 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

And yet the pitfalls of doing so:

Being AWARE of anything (i.e. identifying reality) as such does not have pitfalls.  Obsessing over anything you can be aware of, being obsessively and continually aware of one thing to the detriment of being aware of anything else, or to the detriment of acting certainly are pitfalls.  Being socially aware if done rationally (like being aware of anything else) should be smooth sailing... the only pitfalls are not to be found in the being aware of something, but in the HOW or WHAT you then think about or evaluate that something of which you are aware.  THAT is where the real error occurs.

In fact, being as fully and accurately and rationally aware as possible of the fact of people's existence and their actual character, value, and relationship to a man is the opposite of a pitfall .. it is VERY useful.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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3 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

Is the nature of Man to be Narcissistic?

By Social Awareness I mean knowing that others exist, knowing that you are not alone. Not just a thought, knowing the truth that you are not alone.
Isn't human companionship a requirement for survival and an ethical value and virtue.

My purpose of this thread is to get clarification on it. I also wonder if it is not acknowledged and declared enough in Objectivist circles.

Social awareness is a virtue which serves the value that other men have to you.

Unfortunately, Ayn Rand did not practice this as well as she could've. She was often very acerbic and rude in public interviews. "Let her make her point!" the host shouts at the interrupting Rand. Maybe she should take Paul McCartney's advice and just listen to what the (wo)man said.

She appeared very cheerless for the spokeswoman of a philosophy that promotes happiness in man's life, with life as the standard. Our beloved babushka was brilliant, but she wasn't always socially aware nor the best spokeswoman for her own philosophy.

Neither was (is) Peikoff or Yawon Bwook, instead preferring to function as ayatollahs who tells people whether it's okay for them to enjoy roller coaster rides or masturbation. If you're an objectivist and you're asking for permission to be happy instead of think for yourself, you're doing it wrong. I fantasize (non-sexually) all the time and I don't give a damn what other objectivists have to say when they tell me that it isn't real. Yeah, I f**ing know, but it's fun, my mind is mine, it can be my playground and I'll do with it what I please, shut the hell up.

We need better marketing as a philosophy, and social awareness is a YUGE virtue in attaining that value. We need to be the fun, energetic philosophy! If you hate Trump, fine, but that man has HIGH ENERGY! He looks like he's having fun at the job... and being a leader of a nation like America should be a fun job because we're such an awesome country! He's not faux stoic like Obama was, he's not a joyless sock puppet like Hillary, he's himself and he loves it. We could learn a lot from the man that we are fortunate enough to have as president at the moment, the valuable ally of the constitution's first and second amendment who will preserve our freedom of speech to spread our ideas, and defend ourselves from aggressors like Antifa when (if) we decide to take to the streets in peaceful protest.

Edited by CartsBeforeHorses

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I notice a problem with my argument, that solely arguing that "others" is a necessity has a tragic flaw. It is only "others that are good for me" that is the necessity. I think that may, in fact, be the argument against saying that "others" are a need.

Narcissism is not a clear word to use but it sure gets attention.

Is a part of the definition self, an entity that requires social interaction for its survival (in all versions of its definition, lived or lived fully)? If a "self" at its core requires interaction, then the awareness of others is a need, like a need for food. Therefore, as one is required to do self-sustenance activity, the virtue of productiveness also includes the virtue of producing friends, community, "good communication" and the value of maintaining friendships etc.

One important element to having a flourishing life is the need to feel "deserving". Going through life with an ethical cloud of "putting myself first is wrong but nevertheless I'm doing it" is a problem. The guilt might not kill you but it is a problem. An ethics of egoism is the only antithesis, a necessity (an antidote as long as rationality is added).

The need for others can imply that it supersedes the need for one's own survival. But is this an overreaction? I claim that major element in the anti egoism attack is our lack of acknowledgment that others are in fact a need. (which may have to be modified to be "some good others").

In defining an ethics of egoism, wouldn't one have to acknowledge that the need exists? That it is part of the identity of "what is Man". The case is made that an ethics of egoism is best-given shape by ignoring the need "for" others (not the need of others). And as a result isn't it based on a false view of the nature of man.

You have to admit, there is a lot of bad press about egoism. It is not entirely a leftist conspiracy in that "ordinary thinking" people come to the conclusion that it is "not good for us". An unfortunate common understanding of egoism/self-interest has embedded in itself, the idea that egoism is a lack or "absence" of awareness of others. The way Objectivism communicates rational self-interest is that it would (by nature) indicate that others are of benefit, not that others are a need. This view makes "others" a derivative/rational value, rather than the "need" view which is that "others" is a primary value.
 

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50 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

I notice a problem with my argument, that solely arguing that "others" is a necessity has a tragic flaw. It is only "others that are good for me" that is the necessity. I think that may, in fact, be the argument against saying that "others" are a need.

Narcissism is not a clear word to use but it sure gets attention.

Is a part of the definition self, an entity that requires social interaction for its survival (in all versions of its definition, lived or lived fully)? If a "self" at its core requires interaction, then the awareness of others is a need, like a need for food. Therefore, as one is required to do self-sustenance activity, the virtue of productiveness also includes the virtue of producing friends, community, "good communication" and the value of maintaining friendships etc.

One important element to having a flourishing life is the need to feel "deserving". Going through life with an ethical cloud of "putting myself first is wrong but nevertheless I'm doing it" is a problem. The guilt might not kill you but it is a problem. An ethics of egoism is the only antithesis, a necessity (an antidote as long as rationality is added).

The need for others can imply that it supersedes the need for one's own survival. But is this an overreaction? I claim that major element in the anti egoism attack is our lack of acknowledgment that others are in fact a need. (which may have to be modified to be "some good others").

In defining an ethics of egoism, wouldn't one have to acknowledge that the need exists? That it is part of the identity of "what is Man". The case is made that an ethics of egoism is best-given shape by ignoring the need "for" others (not the need of others). And as a result isn't it based on a false view of the nature of man.

You have to admit, there is a lot of bad press about egoism. It is not entirely a leftist conspiracy in that "ordinary thinking" people come to the conclusion that it is "not good for us". An unfortunate common understanding of egoism/self-interest has embedded in itself, the idea that egoism is a lack or "absence" of awareness of others. The way Objectivism communicates rational self-interest is that it would (by nature) indicate that others are of benefit, not that others are a need. This view makes "others" a derivative/rational value, rather than the "need" view which is that "others" is a primary value.
 

Only you can find the right balance that works for you. You are like a chameleon. You can put on different colors depending on who you are with. You can be yourself, but not truly show who you are. Truly you always act in your self-interest, but you don't always have to clue people in on what you are doing, especially if you know that they won't approve.

This is an act which takes YEARS of practice. I haven't always been an Objectivist, but I've always been selfish. Always. I cried tears of joy when I found objectivism because it finally made sense to me, that a part of me had always been that way. In my 25 years, I have integrated the act of blending into a non-egoist world into an art form. If you need advice on how to handle certain social situations, don't be afraid to ask me (even if I am younger than you, I am an "old soul" compared to most).

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8 minutes ago, softwareNerd said:

Man is clearly a social animal. Why do you use the term "awareness" though?

My fear is that "Social Animal" is going too far, too soon. It can preclude the possibility of egoism. As in, if you are a social animal then you can't be egoistic.

But by using "social awareness", I am attempting not to wake up the altruism giant.
 

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1 hour ago, Easy Truth said:

My fear is that "Social Animal" is going too far, too soon. It can preclude the possibility of egoism. As in, if you are a social animal then you can't be egoistic.

But by using "social awareness", I am attempting not to wake up the altruism giant.
 

You don't need to be afraid of your own thoughts. You aren't going to magically turn into a socialist if you decide that you want to be a fun person to hang around. We, as a philosophy, need to be more fun. This post wasn't directed at you, but I think there is some good material in there that you could use.

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5 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

Is a part of the definition self, an entity that requires social interaction for its survival (in all versions of its definition, lived or lived fully)?

What kind of social interaction, though? Are teaching, trading, stealing, sex and murder all equally good for you?

The values one can gain from or lose to another person depends on what you do together, and there are plenty of different things to choose from.

 

Why don't you start there?

8 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

In fact, being as fully and accurately and rationally aware as possible of the fact of people's existence and their actual character, value, and relationship to a man is the opposite of a pitfall .. it is VERY useful.

Good catch! Thank you.

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3 hours ago, softwareNerd said:

Man is clearly a social animal. Why do you use the term "awareness" though?

 

3 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

My fear is that "Social Animal" is going too far, too soon. It can preclude the possibility of egoism. As in, if you are a social animal then you can't be egoistic.

But by using "social awareness", I am attempting not to wake up the altruism giant.
 

Being a rational animal (the rational animal) doesn't preclude man from being a "social animal", or (say) a "worrying animal". Nor does it preclude him from seeing his happiness as a primary end.

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4 hours ago, softwareNerd said:

 

Being a rational animal (the rational animal) doesn't preclude man from being a "social animal", or (say) a "worrying animal". Nor does it preclude him from seeing his happiness as a primary end.

You and I know that but I and a bunch of leftist debating the issue is another story. The phrase "social animal" will allow them to say things like "One is nothing without society" or "You didn't build it" etc. 

Nevertheless, this discussion has made something clear, Man is a (life enhancing) Social Animal. Meaning, Man does not survive in unjust societies. I don't have the best phrase to use but Man is a Social Animal if the social environment is moral and life-enhancing. If there are no decent societies, Man is a Hermit Animal.

I just remembered, that Kira, had to die because Rand said that An Ideal person will die in an evil society.(or something to that effect).

Nevertheless, I would still argue that the need for social awareness still holds true. I will see how I can reword my position.

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5 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

Man does not survive in unjust societies

I agree with your post generally, but this is a wee bit of an overstatement, given all of our own personal experiences living in unjust societies. 

Perhaps he does "not thrive", or he "must fight" or "struggle much harder to survive".  A man can survive with a great weight chained about his neck... but he will thereafter only be living as a man... with a great weight chained about his neck.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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On 10/20/2017 at 2:43 AM, Easy Truth said:

I don't have the best phrase to use but Man is a Social Animal if the social environment is moral and life-enhancing. If there are no decent societies, Man is a Hermit Animal.

That's exactly the right generalization; very good. The phrase I've found most useful is that man is a "contractual animal". And being able to respond appropriately to any individual's nature (which can sometimes mean the difference between life and death) requires social awareness.

We don't need each other to survive, though (yet another strike against survivalism), nor should we be each others' primary concerns. Other people can help you to flourish (indeed, I don't know if it's possible in isolation) but you cannot and must not attempt to flourish through them.

The difference consists of autonomy.

 

Human life consists of two kinds of motion. Existentially we walk, eat, breathe, plant crops, make tools, build factories, trade and organize companies (etc); we do all of the countless things we must do to survive. It would be impossible us to flourish if we stopped because we would be very dead. We're also in constant personal motion throughout our lives. We learn and grow, we forget, our preferences wax, wane or change entirely; who we are as people is always changing. And you have no choice about whether to change or not; as long as you're alive, it's built into your nature. The only control you have is in which direction to go.

Now, the key to being a healthy, happy and successful human is to consciously determine the course of your own motion, in both senses. If you take charge of your own personal development and live to be whoever it is you want to be then you'll be able to walk into any job interview or first date with your head high and without a trace of fear, guilt or doubt; if you live your life just doing whatever strikes your fancy then you may or may not become somebody you can tolerate. If you choose carefully when and where to plant your crops and how much to keep in reserve (etc) then you'll always have food on your table; if not then not.

But a choice requires knowledge of and feelings about its consequences. Letting some momentary impulse or habit dictate your behavior is doing what any animal can do; not deciding. And no two people on Earth have the same beliefs or desires to decide by. Even if we somehow cloned a human mind (from childhood memories to their feelings about the previous night's dinner), after any length of separation it'd be uniquely different from the original (since both would've gone on acquiring new experiences and changes independently).

This makes independence essential to flourishing. You have to be able to think for yourself (pursuing in your own way whatever knowledge you find important, revising anything that doesn't make absolute sense to you and maintaining everything that does), want what you want (exploring, evaluating and expanding on your emotional mechanism), "see through your own eyes and think with your own brain", go out to act on your decisions and change your mind as frequently as may be necessary - without having to explain or justify a damn thing to anybody else.

 

If you can't take autonomous action then you're not in charge of your own life and you're screwed.

This is part of why you should never make another person your highest priority (the other part being that to emotionally invest your self in things you can't control -such as other people- is a recipe for frustration and self-torture). We can (and should) value each other to some degree because we can make each others' lives immeasurably better in so many different ways (and, again, I'm not sure it's even possible for us to flourish alone) but at the end of the day each of us has to be allowed to come or go as we please, without restriction.

And that's "the point at which social consciousness becomes second-handedness". That was an extremely sloppy and misleading for me to phrase it, and I'm sorry about any potential confusion; I hope this at least alleviated some of it.

 

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
Concretizations

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7 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

The phrase I've found most useful is that man is a "contractual animal".

This is a fantastic phrase! It's very helpful. Does it come from a philosophy? As in is there more fleshing out of it I can read about?

7 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

Existentially we walk, eat, breathe, plant crops, make tools, build factories, trade and organize companies (etc); we do all of the countless things we must do to survive. It would be impossible us to flourish if we stopped because we would be very dead.

 

Agreed. I am most curious about this word that I see used. "Existentially". I don't know what it really means. Is it "non-epistemologically", "non-psychologically", "non-first person", "without regard to consciousness" etc. As far as I am concerned, everything that exists is existential. So I don't know what the word is trying to highlight.,

I have also seen it here: "Psychologically, the choice “to think or not” is the choice “to focus or
not.” Existentially, the choice “to focus or not” is the choice “to be
conscious or not.” Metaphysically, the choice “to be conscious or not” is the
choice of life or death"  (virtue of selfishness)

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3 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

This is a fantastic phrase! It's very helpful. Does it come from a philosophy? As in is there more fleshing out of it I can read about?

Miss Rand used it in The Ayn Rand Letter
Vol. II, No. 2  October 23, 1972
A Nation's Unity--Part II

Individual rights is the only proper principle of human coexistence, because it rests on man's nature, i.e., the nature and requirements of a conceptual consciousness. Man gains enormous values from dealing with other men; living in a human society is his proper way of life—but only on certain conditions. Man is not a lone wolf and he is not a social animal. He is a contractual animal. He has to plan his life long-range, make his own choices, and deal with other men by voluntary agreement (and he has to be able to rely on their observance of the agreements they entered).

For more on "a lone wolf", consider The Ayn Rand Letter
Vol. II, No. 18  June 4, 1973
Selfishness Without A Self

I consider Selfishness Without a Self a part III of The Missing Link, Vol. II, No. 16 and 17

As to long range planning, it is referenced in Galt's Speech:

"So long as men, in the era of savagery, had no concept of objective reality and believed that physical nature was ruled by the whim of unknowable demons—no thought, no science, no production were possible. Only when men discovered that nature was a firm, predictable absolute were they able to rely on their knowledge, to choose their course, to plan their future and, slowly, to rise from the cave. Now you have placed modern industry, with its immense complexity of scientific precision, back into the power of unknowable demons—the unpredictable power of the arbitrary whims of hidden, ugly little bureaucrats. A farmer will not invest the effort of one summer if he's unable to calculate his chances of a harvest. But you expect industrial giants—who plan in terms of decades, invest in terms of generations and undertake ninety-nine-year contracts—to continue to function and produce, not knowing what random caprice in the skull of what random official will descend upon them at what moment to demolish the whole of their effort. Drifters and physical laborers live and plan by the range of a day. The better the mind, the longer the range. A man whose vision extends to a shanty, might continue to build on your quicksands, to grab a fast profit and run. A man who envisions skyscrapers, will not. Nor will he give ten years of unswerving devotion to the task of inventing a new product, when he knows that gangs of entrenched mediocrity are juggling the laws against him, to tie him, restrict him and force him to fail, but should he fight them and struggle and succeed, they will seize his rewards and his invention.

This should give you a decent start.

 

 

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17 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

I am most curious about this word that I see used. "Existentially". I don't know what it really means. Is it "non-epistemologically", "non-psychologically", "non-first person", "without regard to consciousness" etc. As far as I am concerned, everything that exists is existential. So I don't know what the word is trying to highlight.

Primarily that it's an extraspective (instead of introspective) thing; i.e. it's somewhere out in physical reality, and not in your own head.

As for whether or not everything is existential, that's ultimately true, but it's still a useful concept (like "infinity" or the way a map of a city doesn't account for the curvature of the Earth). The introspective idea of "a concept" looks very different from the extraspective neurons and dendrites it's ultimately composed of.

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