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RationalOne - I have no philosophy, so don't assume things. Thanks for replying, but is someone doing something wrong by 'giving a hand out' to one in need, or is it only wrong to force one to do so?

You have a philosophy whether or not you choose to realize it. The wrong is in the forcing. But here's a question for you: If someone doesn't give handouts do they have a right to exist?

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I'm just starting to understand Rand's ideas, but I stick to my position it is more a romantic Ideal then anything else. For these reasons -

1. The only empiracle definition of 'human' is the scientific one, any further definition (man is rational, self interested, etc) is an imaginary image laid ontop of this. For example, if I have a 30 year old truck with 1 tire and bullet holes, it still fits the definition rooted in reality. Now someone else can have this image in their mind of a truck made of gold with a warp drive, this, while the ideal from the definition, it is a leap of imagination. Rand's 'Man' is closer to Michealngelo's David then anything flesh and blood.

"Definitions" are not science, they are a part of the philosophical branch of Epistemology, which is the bridge between Metaphysics and the Normative (evaluative) branches of philosophy: Ethics, Politics, and Esthetics.

What is this so-called "scientific" definition of man?

The ACTUAL definition of man is the "rational animal". This means, not that all men are rational etc. but that man is an animal (the genus) that has the capacity for rational thought (the differentia). As such it subsumes under one concept all men that exist, ever have existed, or ever will exist. That is the determinor of whether a definition is valid, not miscellaneous "empirical" facts.

Oh, and the fact that men are conscious, possesses volition, has valid senses, and the capacity for reason are not imaginary traits.

Heroic men have existed and do exist. They, also, are not imaginary. Ayn Rand was one herself.

2. The fact that something is an imaginary ideal has nothing to do with it being 'untouchable'. The Golden Gate Bridge started out the same way, through human action it was created. Hitler, who was full of romanticism, wanted to create inhuman monsters, with some effort he made the SS. Cicero (at some point early on) no doubt wanted to be a great leader, through will he made it into a reality.

You are contradicting yourself . . . first you say that you reject Objectivism as impractical and idealistic, now you say that ideals need not be impractical. Which is it? If ideals are impractical (which is part and partial to Idealism) then your examples are pointless. If ideals are NOT impractical (Objectivism) then your examples are ALSO pointless because that means you have ceased arguing that supposed Idealism is a reason for rejecting a philosophy.

3. Reason and values are not linked, I think. You can say 'X' is the rational choice while 'Y' meets my immediate disires. If you value immediate gratification more than reason you will choose 'Y'.

And you will achieve precisely what you deserve: destruction, and the end of your ability to value. If no alternative were possible but the rational there would be no need for ethics. Morality presupposes the existence of an alternative and the ability to CHOOSE that alternative.

If you wish to achieve something other than universal devestation your values had damn well better be based on reason.

4. Humans not rational being a sad statement is sad, but true. Look around, you will see what I mean - from the arab world to Jerry Springer, mob mentality has not left.

So, the term "human" is the slovenly, the depraved, the diseased, the brutal, the sick, the weak, the stupid, the vile, the hateful, and the irrational, while the good, the noble, the honest, the proud, the productive, the just, the upstanding, the heroic, the RATIONAL is inhuman?

These bad traits are the product of men that seek to exist as animals, without the use of their mind, without reason. Those are your "inhuman" traits and you should despise them, as apparently you do. That some men choose to be irrational does not mean that men do not have the capacity to be rational.

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GWDS--you didn't just "edit" your last post you completely changed it. I didn't make any "allegations" against you either. To completely have no philosophy as you claim is Nihilism, a type of philosophy. And your ethics seems self-evidently to be altruism based on your own comments.

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Okay, time to question some allegations.

Rational One wrote -

The difference between you and us is we understand your morality and philosophy perfectly, but reject it because it's wrong, you on the other hand do not understand ours and are trying to discredit and rejecting it without first understanding it. See the difference?
This is a series of unfounded assumptions, which I consider personal attack. RO, please suppply me with any text from any of my posts where I say that I have a moral philosophy. When you see there is nothing, take your comment back. Aswell, find any posts where I try to discredit Objectivism irrationally, aswell as the posts where I do not raise questions in an honest fashion. When you find nothing, take that comment back aswell.

Wait, now I see you're accusing me of editing my posts. It takes a long time to reply, and having 5 people browsing the topic when you type makes things rather difficult, wouldn't you say?

Yes, I did drop a question, mainly to deal with your allegations, but then you posted again, which is totally out of my control.

And how exactly do my posts show I'm an altruist?

JMegan wrote what follows -

"Definitions" are not science, they are a part of the philosophical branch of Epistemology, which is the bridge between Metaphysics and the Normative (evaluative) branches of philosophy: Ethics, Politics, and Esthetics.

I'm going to do some digging into this tonight. It seems to me that everytime philosophy tries to play the definition game it gets into Platonic messes. That is why I trust science's definitions, they can be verified, tested, etc. I imagine a scientific definition would be more empiracle - biology, neurology, that sort of thing.

The ACTUAL definition of man is the "rational animal". This means, not that all men are rational
To me this is the problem, this is what I think you just said -

All men are rational

Some men are not rational

Therefore, some men are not men

But as I said, I'll do some digging.

You are contradicting yourself . . . first you say that you reject Objectivism as impractical and idealistic...

I may not have been clear, I did not say idelism is impractical -

I said,

2. The fact that something is an imaginary ideal has nothing to do with it being 'untouchable'. The Golden Gate Bridge started out the same way, through human action it was created.
And you will achieve precisely what you deserve: destruction, and the end of your ability to value.

I was making the point that there is more than one source of value, you can argue which is best, but not that reason is the only one.

As for the charge on humanity being sad, I meant that not all men are perfectly rational.

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More generally, is the point on Rand's Idealism conceded or is no one going to bother addressing it because it's percieved to be irrational?

We are addressing it, just from a different tack so you may not recognize it as yet.

Your perception of Miss Rand as Idealistic is most likely derived from her choice of Romantic Realism as her esthetic school, the portrayal of things as they "could be and ought to be." This, however, is art, and belongs to esthetics, which is all the way at the very very end of the philosophical chain. So, if you start there, you're going to get a very strange picture indeed.

The purpose, in brief, of Romanticism in art, though, can be found in this statement from The Fountainhead:

. . . Let me see it made real.  Let me see the answer to the promise of that music.  Not servants nor those served; not altars and immolations; but the final, the fulfilled, innocent of pain.  Don't help me or serve me, but let me see it once, because I need it.  Don't work for my happiness, my brothers--show me yours--show me that it is possible--show me your achievement--and the knowledge will give me courage for mine.

That is why men need art, and not just any art . . . art that is uplifting, ennobling, heroic . . . Romantic.

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Okay, time to question some allegations.

Rational One wrote -

This is a series of unfounded assumptions, which I consider personal attack. RO, please suppply me with any text from any of my posts where I say that I have a moral philosophy. When you see there is nothing, take your comment back. Aswell, find any posts where I try to discredit Objectivism irrationally, aswell as the posts where I do not raise questions in an honest fashion. When you find nothing, take that comment back aswell.

Wait, now I see you're accusing me of editing my posts. It takes a long time to reply, and having 5 people browsing the topic when you type makes things rather difficult, wouldn't you say?

Yes, I did drop a question, mainly to deal with your allegations, but then you posted again, which is totally out of my control.

And how exactly do my posts show I'm an altruist?

JMegan wrote what follows -

I'm going to do some digging into this tonight. It seems to me that everytime philosophy tries to play the definition game it gets into Platonic messes. That is why I trust science's definitions, they can be verified, tested, etc. I imagine a scientific definition would be more empiracle - biology, neurology, that sort of thing.

To me this is the problem, this is what I think you just said -

All men are rational

Some men are not rational

Therefore, some men are not men

But as I said, I'll do some digging.

I may not have been clear, I did not say idelism is impractical -

I said,

I was making the point that there is more than one source of value, you can argue which is best, but not that reason is the only one.

As for the charge on humanity being sad, I meant that not all men are perfectly rational.

I just wanted to take action to preserve this post before you decide to "edit" it out of existence. And I take nothing I said back, I stand by my statements.

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Yah, okay RO, whatever.

JMegan wrote -

Your perception of Miss Rand as Idealistic is most likely derived from her choice of Romantic Realism as her esthetic school, the portrayal of things as they "could be and ought to be."
I don't know anything about Rand's aesthetics, my opinion comes from what I've read on the forum, ARI, and Wiki. Now, there will prabably be some confusion about my syllogism (that's the right word right? its been a while since I thought about this), so I'll be a little more specific.

This means, not that all men are rational etc. but that man is an animal (the genus) that has the capacity for rational thought (the differentia)

Unfortunatly, Rand uses the term 'Man qua Man' for her Ideal. So we have the homonym from hell here don't we?

So in more detail, I meant the following -

Ayn Rand's 'man' is always rational

All men who exist are not always rational

Therefore, Rand's 'Man' is an Ideal

An Ideal can be reached, there have no doubt been John Galts, Ciceros, Roarks, etc (and I said NOTHING to contradict this in my posts). But Rand is basically talking about what we ought to do to reach this ideal. That seems to me to be the case anyway, but keep in mind this is all very new to me.

Edited for mistyping the last post. Oy. :dough:

Edited by GWDS

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And how exactly do my posts show I'm an altruist?

Your acceptance of issues such as assistance for the sick as moral primaries demonstrates altruist premises. You may not be a self-recognized altruist but, well, as Inspector likes to say, if it walks like a duck . . .

I'm going to do some digging into this tonight. It seems to me that everytime philosophy tries to play the definition game it gets into Platonic messes. That is why I trust science's definitions, they can be verified, tested, etc. I imagine a scientific definition would be more empiracle - biology, neurology, that sort of thing.

Science is based on philosophy. And you don't have to worry about Platonic messes here. Ayn Rand created a unique solution to the "problem of universals" that got Plato into his mess. So, definitions in Objectivism don't work that way.

All men are rational

Some men are not rational

Therefore, some men are not men.

No, no. It would properly read like this:

All men have the capacity for rationality.

Some men use it.

Some men don't.

Rationality is volitional.

I was making the point that there is more than one source of value, you can argue which is best, but not that reason is the only one.

Reason is the only valid one.

As for the charge on humanity being sad, I meant that not all men are perfectly rational.

Which is true. However, not all men are irrational. So, humanity as a whole isn't sad.

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Ayn Rand's 'man' is always rational

All men who exist are not always rational

Therefore, Rand's 'Man' is an Ideal

Please explain the context in which you are using "Ayn Rand's 'man'" in your first premise.

It's important to acknowledge a contextual disctinction between metaphysics, ethics, and aesthetics (I think your confusion is a result of a muddled understanding of these three branches). Metaphysically, man is not always rational. Objectivism holds the nature of man to be that a) rationality is possible to man, and that b ) man has the power of volition. Therefore, in accordance with the nature of reality, man may make irrational decisions. Ethically, man ought to act rationally. This does not mean that man is always rational. In fact, if man were, metaphysically, always rational (and lacked volition) then ethics would be unnecessary. It is the fact that man is not metaphysically always rational that ethics is needed. Aesthetically, man is portrayed in an idealized manner. Again, this doesn't mean that man is metaphysically always rational. It means that the purpose of art is the selective portrayal (on the perceptual level) of a person's normative concepts. If man were, metaphysically, always rational, then selectivity and isolation in art would be unnecessary. It would be unnecessary for the the same reason that ethics would be unnecessary.

Edit: Added a space in "b )" so it would no longer appear as a smiley.

Edited by Cole

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GWDS,

I would like to recommend _The Ominous Parallells_ by Leonard Peikoff. It thoroughly examins the philosophies of the Nazis, and the philosophers that enabled their organization to seize controll of a nation-- from an Objectivist perspective. It is a fascinating book, especially if you're interested in that phenomenon, how it would be veiwed from a standpoint of Objectivism, and how it relates to cultural trends in America in modern times.

A quick answer to your indictment of Rand as an idealist is this: Objectivism rejects the concept of a dichotomy between the "ideal" and the "actual".. or the "theoretical" and the "practical", "neuminal" and "phenominal", or however you want to state it.

She did believe that her ideal man could exist in actual reality.. and that such men have existed, do exist.. and must exist, if mankind is to survive. (Whether you regard her arguments as convincing or not is up to you, of course, but that was her position.) She rejected the idea of original sin. She did not acknowledge any inate flaw in human nature that would prevent a man from achieving his full potential.. this choice, or struggle, she regarded as fully within the realm of volition. Hitler and Rand were philosophical opposites, to the extent to which Hitler could be called "philosophical."

Inspector - Are you saying that my post was meant to say Ayn Rand was a nazi? I really have no idea what you're talking about.

Look at the styles of mythology in the Third Reich. It emphasised heroism as an Ideal which is used to bring us above our base nature into the realm of the 'New Man'. Both Hitler and Rand use the same sort of language, but, as I previously said, so did the Great Men of the Rennaiscance, Roman Empire, and so on.

Further, I said that while Rand and these other figures used the same styles of language, they arrived at very different things. Rand wants, to my knowledge, heroism to result in a rational, non violent sort of being. Hitler wanted crazed murdering psychos.

Edited by Bold Standard

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Ayn Rand's 'man' is always rational

Nope. When Ayn Rand's heroes behave irrationally, though, no Deus Ex Machina comes along to save them from their mistakes; they must fix their own errors and the impediments to their own unhappiness.

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Upon learning further baord rules I would like to issue an apology to the board members.

The post following RO's was originally pertaining to the morality of making an altruistic choice freely versus one which is forced.

This post was edited, as I gave partial reference to in Post #31.

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GWDS-- you never answered the following question, it is essential in understanding the Objectivist ethics and our reactions to things like the Tsunami that you seem to hold against us.

If someone doesn't give handouts do they have a right to exist?

In other words, if a person does not give charity to the "needy" can he be considered moral?

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I have acknowledged in both this thread by implication and in another directly that I have no foundation for moral statements. I beleive all moral language is meaningless in any 'objective' sense.

So, how can I say anything is moral at all? I can't. What I beleive I can say however is simply that it is a sign of heartlessess. The kind of logic that says if you see an old lady boiling alive in a pot of acid you don't have to do anything. The extreme nature of the metaphor changes nothing, the principal is the same.

This is an arguement from feeling, I know that.

I have a theory of morality, but I don't think its relevant here as it is just a theory.

Edited - Wait, I'm going to go into more detail in an incoming post.

Edited by GWDS

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I do notice, simply by the size of the Tsunami thread, there are many who agree that not giving is more a sign of heartlesness then immorality.

I don't see how we have any duty to help someone who has not helped us, if they were a group that had given some essential service than yes, we are obliged to help them.

But to just say you are indifferent, or that it is immoral to help the Tsunami victims, then no. I can not accept that, simply because of the heartlesness involved.

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So, how can I say anything is moral at all? I can't. What I beleive I can say however is simply that it is a sign of heartlessess. The kind of logic that says if you see an old lady boiling alive in a pot of acid you don't have to do anything. The extreme nature of the metaphor changes nothing, the principal is the same.

Your dropping context here. Virtually anyone would help the old lady in this odd imaginary situation if they wouldn't be harmed in the process themselves. That doesn't imply that someone must help all old ladies in any situation though. And you are implicitly saying via the word "heartlessness" that this indeed is a moral situation, how else could this situation be described?

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But to just say you are indifferent, or that it is immoral to help the Tsunami victims, then no. I can not accept that, simply because of the heartlesness involved.

It would be immoral to help them if it was either a sacrifice to yourself or you gained no value from helping them. And value here could be as simple as a positive feeling, even though I also would have a problem with a person do something just for the sake of a feeling. But, I don't want to re-argue a long existing thread here.

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Your dropping context here. Virtually anyone would help the old lady in this odd imaginary situation if they wouldn't be harmed in the process themselves. That doesn't imply that someone must help all old ladies in any situation though. And you are implicitly saying via the word "heartlessness" that this indeed is a moral situation, how else could this situation be described?

We're using different definitions here, perhaps I will clarify.

1. The situation with our old lady and the victims of the Tsunami are basically the same. In both situations we are asked to save someone who does not help us with minimal cost.

2. As far as helping any old ladies, as I said, there is no 'must' or obligation for those who have not helped us. Once again, I am just using the common sense ideas to back that up. If you asked me to prove where duty ends or begins I'd say its all arbitrary, merely that the rationale I described is the generally used one. Or, if you want to challenge the use of 'gernaerally' the I would say, 'The one I find fairest'.

3. I am not implicity saying 'heartlesness' is a moral word. According to dictionary.com it is the following -

" Devoid of compassion or feeling; pitiless."

I mean most of us have basic instincts of empathy which are good because I feel they increase such things as loyalty, oath keeping, etc. If you are heartless you do not have a basic human trait.

I am not using moral language here, if you think I am, I'd encourage you to remove your blinders and read my words on the amoral terms I've stated.

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The language you use to discuss morality, GWDS, is a little cryptic, so let's start over and focus on essentials.

First off, drop what you only believe, or what you think "most moral codes deal with," etc., as this will not help us in this discussion.

Answer the following: What is morality? Does man need it? If he does, for what?

Do not answer these questions with what you feel, nor with what you think most people say. If you don't know, just say so.

Now, do you agree or disagree with the following?:

Since man possesses volition, his actions are not automatic. Whereas value-judgments in animals are automatic, they are not for man. This means that man must learn how to live successfully--meaning he needs a guide. Morality is his guide, and it consists of a code of values for him to live by.

Now, the concept morality presupposes the concept of value, which presupposes a standard by which to determine what is and is not a value, which presupposes the answer to the question:

What is the standard of the good (since a value is that which is good for man)?

Now, what, if anything, do you not understand and/or agree with about the above development? Do you understand what a value is? Do you understand what a standard is? Do you understand the nature of man? If you understand and agree with this reasoning, please answer the fundamental question of morality: what is the standard of the good?

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I mean most of us have basic instincts of empathy which are good because I feel they increase such things as loyalty, oath keeping, etc. If you are heartless you do not have a basic human trait.

I just want to say this is absolutely wrong. Instincts of anything is something humans absolutely do NOT possess. I'll hold up a bit before commenting on some of the other things until I see how you respond to what Felipe said.

Edited to correct Felipe.

Edited by Rational_One

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Felipe, nice to say you join in, I notice there a six people browsing this topic, but will be responding to your post here. Aswell, its getting really late guys, I'll be in REM soon so I apologise for the spelling errors.

First off, drop what you only believe, or what you think "most moral codes deal with," etc., as this will not help us in this discussion.

Well, I knew this would happen. Sorry about killing your thread RO.

I use words like 'beleive', 'general rule' etc because I don't see how morality has an objective meaning. Saying 'X is wrong' is not the same as 'car is red'; the first statment means notta, the second one does.

Very basically, I beleive this because moral language always has to fall back on non moral language. This is a cut and paste from my post on another thread -

It seemed to me that because they have different contexts the moral words "right and wrong" must be basically meaningless on their own. For example (and I apologize as I really haven't thought about this in quite some time), I can think of mathematic, sensory, emotional objects on their own, without having to really base them on some other form of thought. You can not do that with morality however, its terms must always be 'based' on power, 'nature', etc, hence they are meaningless words, in an 'objective' sense.

No absoltist will ever simply reply 'because it is wrong' to any action, they will (in my experiance) always instinctively back up this claim be talking about the extra-moral base of the beleif. To me absolutists may as well have thrown out moral language and simply be pragmatic in the use of such terms. 'Do this to avoid Hell/serve the Volk/help the workers' etc.

Now I suppose one could argue this is true with music, it can be broken down into frequencies, vibrations, etc. But we can successfully define these pitches and frequencies as music without adding any new kinds of premises. That's deductive logic right?

Morality however is different. If you break it down to its parts, killing is wrong because it results in death, you have to conjure up a new type of premise to get back to morality. "the death happens so (then a miracle occurs) it is intrinsically wrong" its circular.

So any intrinsic morality I don't think is valid. I've been thinking of meta-ethics these days. What is it, why do we all have it and need it?

I think it is almost hard wired into our brains like syntax or hunger is. Evolutionary psychologists theorise that it was what allowed us to livein groups, aswell thre is the fact that no group has gone withought some type of morality.

To me it is a technology, the most important that we have. The great statues of the Rennaiscnce and the ideology they convey, the reich chancellery, the statues of Calvin in Europe - these are all parts of this social technology spreading the ideal and the morality it carries.

The problem, as I see it, is finding out how we want this technology to work. So I think we're in values territory, which I take to mean anything we decide to esteem, its a matter of will. Do we want to esteem altruism and shape our technology around that? How about violence, aesthetic beauty, greed, etc?

As far as Objectivism goes, I've seen the phrase 'relativist pragmatism' used, this combined with the 'why do we need morals' arguement leads me to beleive we are basically in agreement here, correct?

The uestion on my mind is - does Objectivism constitute the desireable technology, Rand's 'Rational Man' a desireable ideal?

Edited for Typo

Edited by GWDS

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RO, with all due respect, the instinct issue will make this thread unmanageable with all that Filipe brought up, maybe start a new thread and we'll debate it, or just let it go for now I guess.

Edited for typo

Edited by GWDS

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^ I'm not trying to be rude, but the above post didn't even make sense. I'm done here for now.

Edit: Whoops two posts up.

Edited by Rational_One

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