Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
Rubal Sher

How does Objectivism handle public interactions

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

3 hours ago, DavidOdden said:

I do however agree that there is a danger in having a loose understanding of the concepts “force” and “rights”, where one can easily employ the equation “I don’t like X; therefore X is a kind of force”. An inadequate but reasonably close characterization of “force” is “physical contact” (including the threat of force). This sharply narrows the discussion, and precludes characterizing wearing a burqa (or not wearing a burqa), parading with swastikas, or questioning the claim that our society systematically victimizes a particular demographic, as initiation of force.

I don't think there is a more radical solution than Objectivism: maybe the problem is, identifying what you're looking for a solution to. Problems in interpersonal relations aren't answered the same way as problems in electoral politics, which are different in problems in law. Objectivism does have all of the answers to the most important questions in life, but the details of that answer depend on the particulars of the context that you're asking about. So the question "what should the criminal law be?" is answered differently from "how to I change the criminal law?", or "how do I change other people's philosophy so that...?".

I just read this post and agree with you and this is what I am trying to convey. The dangers of loose definitions that can easily be modified over time. I am mainly looking for a philosophy that lets me live my life in peace and I don't want to bother anyone else either. The moment I am being told by either my neighbors, or the town, or the state or the govt or the courts that I cannot sunbathe in the nude in the open or that I cannot hang a Nazi flag or criticize a religion or eat beef, etc, then I find it highly unjust but to my surprise I get told that I am being shut down because I was being unjust. 

Share this post


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

If I may take this example: "an Islamic Objectivist world." Simply put, these two terms contradict each other.

You made me laugh with the footwear comment and I seem very aligned to the entirety of your post. But here is what I have summarized so far from the various discussions in this thread.

Objectivism codifies a set of values that are just and prevent harm to individuals and initiation of force is limited to trespass of these values. Everyone seems to be saying this but dig a little deeper, the chaos starts right away. Everyone has a slightly different understanding of the terms I have underlined and I have not seen unity being reached from simple issues like nudity to complex ones like climate change.
My interpretation is that the entire dialogue seems subjective because if you keep stripping harm down to molecules, it can easily be shown that literally anything can cause harm, albeit in infinitesimally small levels. So it is only a matter of drawing the lines in sand and I am highly wary of any philosophy that claims it alone knows exactly where the lines should be drawn. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Idk what to tell you man. People have disagreements because that's part of being human. Objectivists believe that the principles of justice are discoverable by human reason, the method of finding stuff out. Everyone's not going to always agree. You will be left alone by objectivists on your own property, but if you are looking for something with no laws and license to, say, blast your neighbor with 140 db (120-130 I'd generally the threshold of pain), then don't be shocked when the cops storm your property cause you like totally "weren't touching them." 

Noise vibrations that are invasive, surely we can discern the difference between this and say, "my feelings were hurt," and can go with something like "uninvitedly altering the physical integrity of someone elses property" or something like this as the basis of our tort claim. There's always going to be all sort of legal issues involving civil torts, what constitutes fraud, threats, breach of contract, incitement, negligence, what is proportionality, strict liability, what kind of restitution, etc. These legal issues are only just going to confuse you if you don't grasp "I have freedom so that I can pursue my human flourishing without interference and everyone else in society has that same right." Understand the basic issues of political science first. What grounds your right to do X, or what forms the basis for you to say "no one can stop me from doing X!" If you're looking for something to justify "I want to do X because I feel like it and no one can stop me!" well, you don't need objectivism for that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
26 minutes ago, Rubal Sher said:

I dont read books and havent read any including Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. I devour videos on topics instead and have seen many interviews and discussions featuring Ayn Rand and Yaron Brooks. 

So, if we got rid of governments but anyway used the courts to lay down the same laws, how does it help? How does one reach the conclusion that the laws being enforced (by courts or govt) are unjust? Take the example of nudity. I see a sharp divide among well respected Objectivists in this forum on whether nudity is just or not. If we cant agree on a simple matter like nudity, how do we objectively reach just conclusions on anything else?

Honestly, I have no opinion with regards to the thread on the subject of nudity. With regards to government, as I've said before, there would be government, albeit, a little as necessary. Citing your example of using the courts as the primary form of government, (a method I would not trust to remain free of corruption), court rulings would serve the same function as legislators passing laws. In any case, it would not in my best interest, nor anyone's best interest to get rid of government. It would be a good idea to read some of Ayn Rand's non-fiction, particularly The Virtue of Selfishness, or Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal. Both of these collections of essays have a chapter describing the Proper Role of Government. I'd rather not take up specifics, such as the argument over nudity, although I think nude beaches are great to visit, as long as I'm allowed to wear my choice of modesty garment. And "Gentlemen's Clubs" are a perfect affirmation that some form of freedom still endures to these United States. But Rubal Sher, I strongly recommend doing some study into the finer points of the teachings of Ayn Rand before you jump to any conclusions. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, 2046 said:

Idk what to tell you man. People have disagreements because that's part of being human. Objectivists believe that the principles of justice are discoverable by human reason, the method of finding stuff out. Everyone's not going to always agree. You will be left alone by objectivists on your own property, but if you are looking for something with no laws and license to, say, blast your neighbor with 140 db (120-130 I'd generally the threshold of pain), then don't be shocked when the cops storm your property cause you like totally "weren't touching them." 

Noise vibrations that are invasive, surely we can discern the difference between this and say, "my feelings were hurt," and can go with something like "uninvitedly altering the physical integrity of someone elses property" or something like this as the basis of our tort claim. There's always going to be all sort of legal issues involving civil torts, what constitutes fraud, threats, breach of contract, incitement, negligence, what is proportionality, strict liability, what kind of restitution, etc. These legal issues are only just going to confuse you if you don't grasp "I have freedom so that I can pursue my human flourishing without interference and everyone else in society has that same right." Understand the basic issues of political science first. What grounds your right to do X, or what forms the basis for you to say "no one can stop me from doing X!" If you're looking for something to justify "I want to do X because I feel like it and no one can stop me!" well, you don't need objectivism for that.

I hear you loud and clear and this would have been my argument some time back too, but you are fortunate to live in the West where current freedom and values are way more liberal than the rest of the world. You have to put yourself in my shoes and understand that your exact argument is used to justify the ban on sale & consumption of beef, among many other outrageous things. And in a few decades, this exact same argument can be used to shut down free speech and the process is already underway.
Religion started with this very argument thousands of years back, peppered with a liberal smattering of the divine to make the masses fall in line and the results are for everyone to see. It seemed like a good idea at the time and it was. All I am saying is that if you keep the definitions subjective based on trends, norms & precedents, Objectivism even if it came into effect would be hijacked faster than you could say bazinga and we will be left with the hangover that religion has given us today.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 minutes ago, Repairman said:

Honestly, I have no opinion with regards to the thread on the subject of nudity. With regards to government, as I've said before, there would be government, albeit, a little as necessary. Citing your example of using the courts as the primary form of government, (a method I would not trust to remain free of corruption), court rulings would serve the same function as legislators passing laws. In any case, it would not in my best interest, nor anyone's best interest to get rid of government. It would be a good idea to read some of Ayn Rand's non-fiction, particularly The Virtue of Selfishness, or Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal. Both of these collections of essays have a chapter describing the Proper Role of Government. I'd rather not take up specifics, such as the argument over nudity, although I think nude beaches are great to visit, as long as I'm allowed to wear my choice of modesty garment. And "Gentlemen's Clubs" are a perfect affirmation that some form of freedom still endures to these United States. But Rubal Sher, I strongly recommend doing some study into the finer points of the teachings of Ayn Rand before you jump to any conclusions. 

You at least have strip clubs, prostitution, nude beaches, casinos for gambling, liquor flows freely etc. Back in India, most of this is non existent or tightly regulated to the point of choking. My point is that all these liberties could disappear too in the US when someone comes along that demonstrates all of this causes harm & rape towards women or something on those lines. There is no dearth of people who can tell you about the harm caused by these activities in the rest of the world. Plus the demographic is changing everywhere and the immigrants in Sweden, Germany and UK have shown that they can make local norms bend to their whims and fancies. Keeping open ended values, in my opinion, is just asking for trouble.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
34 minutes ago, Rubal Sher said:

I hear you loud and clear and this would have been my argument some time back too, but you are fortunate to live in the West where current freedom and values are way more liberal than the rest of the world. You have to put yourself in my shoes and understand that your exact argument is used to justify the ban on sale & consumption of beef, among many other outrageous things. And in a few decades, this exact same argument can be used to shut down free speech and the process is already underway.
Religion started with this very argument thousands of years back, peppered with a liberal smattering of the divine to make the masses fall in line and the results are for everyone to see. It seemed like a good idea at the time and it was. All I am saying is that if you keep the definitions subjective based on trends, norms & precedents, Objectivism even if it came into effect would be hijacked faster than you could say bazinga and we will be left with the hangover that religion has given us today.

Using my argument? So the SJWs are using my arguments to shut down free speech? That's quite impressive, I didn't know Ayn Rand was so popular amongst Antifa. 

Of course anyone can define "harm" or "violating rights" or "force" in any such what that would constitute any meaning whatever. I remember one of the Jan Helfield interviews with some Democratic Congressman and Helfield got the Congressman to admit that stealing was wrong, just that taxes weren't really theft because the government owns all the money and so they're just taking their own money back from citizens. People will claim all kinds of things to avoid cognitive dissonance. The question is what arguments are they making? Are you sure you're representing them correctly, and are these arguments the same one Ayn Rand made to justify egoism and the non-aggression principle? And what would you substitute in its place if not? I think you'll find they are influenced by a specific philosophy called postmodernism and not the individualists.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Rubal Sher said:

My reasoning for nudity to be acceptable is because I define harm as one caused only by physical force. Nothing else equates to harm. Not nudity, not burqas, not 140 dB sounds, not pollution, etc.

Before getting into details about nudity, there is a prior question that needs to be cleared up. What exactly is physical force? For example, is surreptitiously poisoning a person physical force? Is shooting someone with a megawatt laser physical force, is shining a flashlight on someone physical force, what about shaking their hand? I'm just looking for an objective definition of physical force, as you see it. There is the related question of how burglary / shoplifting or fraud would be subsumed under physical force, in your philosophy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Rubal Sher said:

You at least have strip clubs, prostitution, nude beaches, casinos for gambling, liquor flows freely etc. Back in India, most of this is non existent or tightly regulated to the point of choking. My point is that all these liberties could disappear too in the US when someone comes along that demonstrates all of this causes harm & rape towards women or something on those lines. There is no dearth of people who can tell you about the harm caused by these activities in the rest of the world. Plus the demographic is changing everywhere and the immigrants in Sweden, Germany and UK have shown that they can make local norms bend to their whims and fancies. Keeping open ended values, in my opinion, is just asking for trouble.

Rubal Sher,

If I interpret your argument as: There are so many subjective, religious, and in some cases, radically irrational people in the world making it impossible for even the smallest minority of Objectivist to flourish, well I would agree. I hope by now we have the understanding that America is not an Objectivist society, anymore than is India. (I should point out that prostitution is illegal the US, although there is the State of Nevada, where there are only the minimum restrictions, and I understand Canada has decriminalized prostitution.)

On the other hand, if you are arguing that chaos would ensue if society were to pursue a body of governmental laws based purely on objective reality, I do not agree.

8 hours ago, Rubal Sher said:

So it is only a matter of drawing the lines in sand and I am highly wary of any philosophy that claims it alone knows exactly where the lines should be drawn. 

The philosophy of nature, science, can and is a philosophy that not only improved the material standard of living for society in the West, it has also been the bane of religion. Religion is the traditional obstacle impeding the integration of knowledge. There are more modern forms of mysticism, such as socialism, but to the point, Objectivism is as far from socialism and religion as one can get. Through objective research, evidence, and a well-presented argument based on solid evidence, you can prove the the Earth is not the center of the universe, or that microbes exist, or any other absolute truth you deem worthy of governance. With regard to "offensiveness," I believe the others are addressing that question. Also, I believe it is worth mentioning that objectivity does not necessarily equal Objectivism. One may hold a body of evidence, objective evidence, and yet, not arrive at the objective or complete truth. You may closer to it than before the discovery of solid evidence, but Objectivism is a philosophy, presupposing a process by which one lives.

Edited by Repairman
minor grammarical corrections

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, 2046 said:

Using my argument? So the SJWs are using my arguments to shut down free speech? That's quite impressive, I didn't know Ayn Rand was so popular amongst Antifa. 

Of course anyone can define "harm" or "violating rights" or "force" in any such what that would constitute any meaning whatever. I remember one of the Jan Helfield interviews with some Democratic Congressman and Helfield got the Congressman to admit that stealing was wrong, just that taxes weren't really theft because the government owns all the money and so they're just taking their own money back from citizens. People will claim all kinds of things to avoid cognitive dissonance. The question is what arguments are they making? Are you sure you're representing them correctly, and are these arguments the same one Ayn Rand made to justify egoism and the non-aggression principle? And what would you substitute in its place if not? I think you'll find they are influenced by a specific philosophy called postmodernism and not the individualists.

You are correct in understanding what I meant. Words get hijacked and I did not claim that Antifa believes in Objectivism but your paragraph could have been written by Antifa with obviously a very different meaning attributed to those words. Why I am trying to point this out is because even Objectivists do not seem to agree from within on their exact definition, so who gets to decide who has cognitive dissonance? Think of it as a scale, with Antifa on one end and the Objectivists on the other end for let us say defining the word "harm". The Objectivists are clubbed together but still not at a single point on that scale. Over time, this scattering could widen and leaving the door open to interpretation is what worries me. This is how religion and Antifa and the autocrats have played the game so far, constantly shifting goalposts and who is to say that Objectivists wont do it either when the very definition of the word "harm" is up for debate from within, among many others.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Words do get hijacked, meanings change and get debated, people have differing interpretations of meanings. Certainly, part of what we do when we do philosophy or exchange ideas is deliberating over meanings and interpretations. As Locke wrote in "Essay on Human Understanding" and the "Letters Concerning Toleration," these are just parts of being human, knowledge is not automatic and reason is not automatic, nor does it function without effort. People are doing to disagree on ideas. So tell me, how exactly do you plan on getting around this little fact?

Your question of "who decides" is ill conceived, the real question is what decides and on what basis. You wouldn't build an engine and go "Even physicists disagree on how physics work, and well, who decides how internal combustion works anyways? These are constantly shifting goalposts, guess I'll walk, or use a horse and carriage."

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, 2046 said:

Words do get hijacked, meanings change and get debated, people have differing interpretations of meanings. Certainly, part of what we do when we do philosophy or exchange ideas is deliberating over meanings and interpretations. As Locke wrote in "Essay on Human Understanding" and the "Letters Concerning Toleration," these are just parts of being human, knowledge is not automatic and reason is not automatic, nor does it function without effort. People are doing to disagree on ideas. So tell me, how exactly do you plan on getting around this little fact?

Your question of "who decides" is ill conceived, the real question is what decides and on what basis. You wouldn't build an engine and go "Even physicists disagree on how physics work, and well, who decides how internal combustion works anyways? These are constantly shifting goalposts, guess I'll walk, or use a horse and carriage."

Thank You for humoring me so far and I can see your points of view. I do understand your line of reasoning and my natural thought process is inclined in the same direction. I was just trying to brainstorm to see if there is a better solution and maybe there is and maybe there isn't but I can see these issues run much deeper than I had previously thought.

Appreciate your inputs and your time. Thanks a lot.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 hours ago, DavidOdden said:

Before getting into details about nudity, there is a prior question that needs to be cleared up. What exactly is physical force? For example, is surreptitiously poisoning a person physical force? Is shooting someone with a megawatt laser physical force, is shining a flashlight on someone physical force, what about shaking their hand? I'm just looking for an objective definition of physical force, as you see it. There is the related question of how burglary / shoplifting or fraud would be subsumed under physical force, in your philosophy.

You really got me thinking and I realized even I am not sure on what constitutes physical force. How about a nerve gas like sarin? According to me, my neighbor is free to produce any amount, wear a mask and kill me. Doesn't sound right, isn't right but still got me thinking. In the alternate version, he can still do all of this until he gets caught beyond a reasonable doubt. Honestly, I have no idea how to objectively define force and the harm it causes. All I can say is that I see more and more people claiming psychological trauma and some of them are perhaps even right. I personally know of people that are highly disturbed at the sight of animal cruelty or even trees being cut down. Sooner or later, all of this will count too and maybe rightly so. We have come a long distance from the days of gladiators & public beheading etc that people enjoyed to becoming overtly sensitive about almost everything. I think I am no closer today than when I started. but I do appreciate the time and patience you have shown and the guidance that you provided. 

Cheers!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 hours ago, Repairman said:

Rubal Sher,

If I interpret your argument as: There are so many subjective, religious, and in some cases, radically irrational people in the world making it impossible for even the smallest minority of Objectivist to flourish, well I would agree. I hope by now we have the understanding that America is not an Objectivist society, anymore than is India. (I should point out that prostitution is illegal the US, although there is the State of Nevada, where there are only the minimum restrictions, and I understand Canada has decriminalized prostitution.)

On the other hand, if you are arguing that chaos would ensue if society were to pursue a body of governmental laws based purely on objective reality, I do not agree.

The philosophy of nature, science, can and is a philosophy that not only improved the material standard of living for society in the West, it has also been the bane of religion. Religion is the traditional obstacle impeding the integration of knowledge. There are more modern forms of mysticism, such as socialism, but to the point, Objectivism is as far from socialism and religion as one can get. Through objective research, evidence, and a well-presented argument based on solid evidence, you can prove the the Earth is not the center of the universe, or that microbes exist, or any other absolute truth you deem worthy of governance. With regard to "offensiveness," I believe the others are addressing that question. Also, I believe it is worth mentioning that objectivity does not necessarily equal Objectivism. One may hold a body of evidence, objective evidence, and yet, not arrive at the objective or complete truth. You may closer to it than before the discovery of solid evidence, but Objectivism is a philosophy, presupposing a process by which one lives.

Very well said and all I would point out is that I understand we don't have Objectivist societies yet. I was just trying to visualize how one would look like and the framework it would employ. I am all for a privatized world minus any public money or even governments (maybe minimal) run on the principles of free markets. I am all for people being allowed to choose for themselves (good or bad) and yet I can see how human beings will constantly generate friction among each other and the resolutions may still be muddy. Having said that, I am pretty sure these ideas are the best we got and it is a shame that we don't have people in vast numbers backing this up.

Thanks for you time, cheers!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think you are closer, since you now realize that there is a problem with one of your fundamental concepts, and you know this by identifying a specific instance that leads to a contradiction in the concept “wrong”. It’s all about concept-formation: identifying what these two things have in common that sets them apart from that thing. So for example, beheading, nerve gas versus hurting someone’s feelings. What other things are like beheading and nerve gas, and what things are like hurting someone’s feelings? Eventually, Peter Schwartz’s essay “Free minds and free markets” would be very useful in filling in that gap.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Rubal Sher, The society you indicate presupposes a majority of people who have desired freedom and know the nature of freedom - objectively - or, how and why it is rooted in the nature of man -- so, Objectivists who understand as did Aristotle: "I have gained this from philosophy: that I do [and don't do] without being commanded, what others do only from fear of the law". [my insert]

The individual's conviction that the freedom to act is the absolute necessity for all men, precedes, but of course doesn't preclude, individual rights and non-initiating of force. The latter are justified by and reinforce that reasoned conviction, to my mind.

It's one's rational selfish morality which is the primary. There's no "thou shalt" and shalt not, but an "if" - if you want that, do this. Being rationally selfish means being in the knowledge of what "that" (entity) and "this" (action) entails and of its objective 'good' for one.

As a behavior, say you want to take your clothes off in public, well, your choice: who'd stop you in such a free society? Being Objectivist doesn't specify one's private and public behavior in 'liberal-permissive'/Puritanical-conservative 'moral' terms. But almost like having the right to freedom of speech - and while equally a rational person does not deliberately set out to offend others gratuitously or nastily, under that right - why would you want to? Although I think the act is not initiating force, what does it gain you to possibly offend someone by being -perhaps- self-indulgent in that manner? Do you see my meaning?

Edited by whYNOT

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A debate that comes to an abrupt halt again. What did I say? Hah! 

To round up I have noticed that not all instances or scenarios can be resolved by raising "non-initiation of force". There is a vast range of human interactions which fall beneath that radar. When attempted, such an argument often seems to be quite a stretch to involve "force". Non-initiation of force is after all a low bar of expectation for men (but an important one, nonetheless) more suited to libertarians (for whom, I may be wrong, it seems to be elevated to the status of a morality...).

Objectivists conversely are intimately aware of the reasoned derivation, from the metaphysics to ethics, which leads up to this final principle - and therefore hardly ever to need to be reminded of the immorality of force by them to others.

And also in the mix, there are many areas of conduct we observe in which it's fully within one's rights to act in a certain way, but would be irrational and self-less, or just malicious or mean to do so. Rights are a moral concept, but cannot be 'a moral code', per se. One is not ever guided by what one ~should~ do by individual rights, and certainly not by NIOF. One's rational morality remains central and predominant.

""Rights" are a moral concept--the concept that provides a logical transition from the principles guiding an individual's actions to the principles guiding his relationship with others--the concept that preserves and protects individual morality in a social context--the link between the moral code of a man and the legal code of a society, between ethics and politics". [Man's Rights, CUI]

Edited by whYNOT

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 15/03/2018 at 9:24 PM, whYNOT said:

But almost like having the right to freedom of speech - and while equally a rational person does not deliberately set out to offend others gratuitously or nastily, under that right - why would you want to? Although I think the act is not initiating force, what does it gain you to possibly offend someone by being -perhaps- self-indulgent in that manner? Do you see my meaning?

The issue I have with this statement is that it defines wearing clothes as non-offensive and being naked as offensive. How did we come to this conclusion?

Naked or being clothed is just one example. If we start extrapolating this, I might end up on the offensive side on many matters and that is why maybe it is important to be naked in public, to help people be more tolerant of each other, whether you are wearing clothes or not, etc.

P.S. Sorry for the delay, I was pre-occupied elsewhere and lost track of this forum.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/5/2018 at 6:57 PM, Rubal Sher said:

The issue I have with this statement is that it defines wearing clothes as non-offensive and being naked as offensive. How did we come to this conclusion?

Naked or being clothed is just one example. If we start extrapolating this, I might end up on the offensive side on many matters and that is why maybe it is important to be naked in public, to help people be more tolerant of each other, whether you are wearing clothes or not, etc.

P.S. Sorry for the delay, I was pre-occupied elsewhere and lost track of this forum.

Well, wearing clothes IS non-offensive isn't it (to nudists)? Being naked -can- be offensive to many, but to go further we'd have to dig into the evolution of clothing and its practicality, religious mores, status display - etc., etc. - and for me, a little more important, the value of privacy, mine and others. As well as the fact that the human body is not always attractive.

I'm more interested in why you think tolerance should be desired in people, at large. (And if and how being naked would accomplish such). Tolerance/toleration is defined roughly as forbearance, enduring others and their beliefs, unjudgmentally. Hasn't it become clear that after decades of heavily advocated "toleration", people everywhere are no more accepting of others than before, but only worse? All it's achieved is growing public resentment and divisions, much less respect, and a greater hypocrisy from people burying their honest thoughts. Objectivists, to whom tolerance is a zero standard for human contact, I think - and who will be explicit in justly assessing other individuals' character, ideas, philosophy, actions, (Etc.) - could have predicted the apposite consequences. I believe I'm correct that toleration is an "anti-concept" in Objectivism, countered by benevolence.

Then as to helping others to tolerance, there is a degree of altruism in such a 'moral' duty to anyone and everyone. It has the presumption that you know better than others, what's good for them.

Edited by whYNOT

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Most people do or believe something that I wish they wouldn’t do or believe, and this includes being irrational even when it doesn’t directly affect me (e.g. people who just can’t stand the color yellow). I would like to live in a world where everybody is as rational as I am. Most of the time, however, it would be irrational for me to rant about other people’s irrationality, primarily because most people don’t actually have the rational response “Oh my God, was I really that irrational!? I’ve gotta change my ways”, when confronted with their irrationality. In other words, getting up in people’s face about their irrationality as a way of encouraging rationality is itself irrational.

I am not suggesting that irrationality should be tolerated, instead, particular instances of irrationality have to be judged on their demerits, so you have to decide whether it’s worth getting a divorce because your spouse doesn’t like your favorite musician. “Tolerance” implies a complete lack of judgment, whereas “temperance” means that you have judged and decided that the costs outweigh the benefit (“breaking point” likewise implies a judgment, and in this case the benefit outweighs the cost).

Let’s take a clearer case, such as a person publically advocating a racist and statist Nazi agenda: it would be well worth countering this person. How can you counter them? Shooting them, for one: but that’s clearly irrational; so is throwing rotten tomatoes, or threatening their life. So is trying to shout them down. In fact, prancing around with counter-protest signs saying “Say No To Nazis!” is at best a minimally rational response.

The rational response is to argue against them, perhaps in the hopes of changing their mind (as though they had somehow been misled by some factual error), or more likely, to persuade someone in the audience who is undecided. Throwing tomatoes might “persuade” a member of the audience, and you don’t want to appeal to such irrrational low-lives, so always take the high road.

Strolling in public in the nude, in the hope of offending some person, is not a rational response. It does not appeal to reason, it appeals to emotion, and what you will most likely do is simply anger the anti-nudity person, and possibly embarrass others who might be more or less on your side. It is actually perfectly reasonable to have an ideology about nudity where it is a highly personal and intimate thing, as sex is. If your goal is to educate society, use your mind, and not your naked butt.

There is zero debate among Objectivists over whether it is okay to be naked at home (it is), or to be naked at someone else’s home (it is not unless you have permission). The only discussion is over the problematic notion of public nudity, that is, projecting your nakedity at others, against their will, when (a) you’re on a dispassionate third party’s property – a business – and that property owner sets the rules; or (b) when you’re on government property, e.g. a government park. But as you know, the government shouldn’t be running a park service. There is one final problem area, namely the case where A and B have adjacent lots, and A like to prance nude on his property, where B can see him from his porch while enjoying the sunset. If B is offended at seeing A, does B’s interest (in not seeing A nude) create a duty for A to erect a screen? Or should B erect a screen on his property, to shield himself from seeing A. Indeed, what if A is offended at B seeing him? Does A’s offendedness impose a duty on B?

Let he who is offended build the screen on his property, in conformity with his values.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/04/2018 at 10:33 PM, whYNOT said:

Well, wearing clothes IS non-offensive isn't it (to nudists)? Being naked -can- be offensive to many, but to go further we'd have to dig into the evolution of clothing and its practicality, religious mores, status display - etc., etc. - and for me, a little more important, the value of privacy, mine and others. As well as the fact that the human body is not always attractive.

I'm more interested in why you think tolerance should be desired in people, at large. (And if and how being naked would accomplish such). Tolerance/toleration is defined roughly as forbearance, enduring others and their beliefs, unjudgmentally. Hasn't it become clear that after decades of heavily advocated "toleration", people everywhere are no more accepting of others than before, but only worse? All it's achieved is growing public resentment and divisions, much less respect, and a greater hypocrisy from people burying their honest thoughts. Objectivists, to whom tolerance is a zero standard for human contact, I think - and who will be explicit in justly assessing other individuals' character, ideas, philosophy, actions, (Etc.) - could have predicted the apposite consequences. I believe I'm correct that toleration is an "anti-concept" in Objectivism, countered by benevolence.

Then as to helping others to tolerance, there is a degree of altruism in such a 'moral' duty to anyone and everyone. It has the presumption that you know better than others, what's good for them.

Ok, I am lost somewhat now. Letz say two neighbors have a smell free barbecue, one cooks beef, the other cooks pork. But they see each other and know what is being cooked by both. One may have a belief that nobody should eat pork, the other may believe that nobody should eat beef (and for the moment, let us just say none of them is religious at all and the reasoning is solely based on their love for the animal). My definition of tolerance is that neither neighbor has the right to force the other to stop cooking. I eat what I like and let my neighbor eat what he likes. 

You seem to be advocating that we all know beef is the right meat to cook for a barbecue and I get a sense you are suggesting that Objectivists would argue for the guy cooking pork to stop in some manner. Now apply the same to nudity or not, for me, both instances are exactly the same. It is personal preference and if anybody comes along with a pre-conceived notion that one is already better than the other, then I just dont see the need for Objectivism or how it differs at all from the current state of the society.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@DavidOdden

Couple of things.

1. The definition of irrationality. How does one decide what is rational or not. Over time and societies, what is considered rational today, may not be tomorrow and vice versa. I cannot understand why Objectivism would care about rationality. Let everyone do as they choose, rational or not. What may be rational to you may not be to someone else, so why even bother.

2. My goal at being naked is not to offend, my goal is to just do things I like. So if I like being naked where I am allowed to be, I would. It should not matter to me if everyone around me is uncomfortable, it is their headache, not mine. Trouble is, once I cede territory on me liking to be naked because of a pre-conceived notion at large that nudity is offensive in some form, then there is no end on what may be demanded of me. I used the word tolerance in this context, people need to start respecting my boundaries, whether I like to be naked or spew Nazi propaganda or be religious or be a Democrat. I dont want to be educated on my beliefs and their rationality unless I explicitly solicit help.

3. I agree that let he who is offended fix his circumstances to conform to his values. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The definition of irrationality is “not following reason in chosing actions”. How to determine if you or someone else is following reason is a separate problem.

I think the first step that you have to take is to mentally get rid of everybody else on Earth, so that your postulate “Let everyone do as they choose, rational or not” doesn’t make any sense, because there isn’t anyone else, there’s just you. So why should you be rational? Why should you follow logic, in chosing your actions? Why for example should you not jump off a cliff and scream “Fly!” in the hopes that you will actually soar like an eagle (which would be objectively cool)? Because in fact you will hurtle down to the rocks below and kill yourself. You would have made an identification that is contrary to reality, and any identification that contradicts reality is illogical, and irrational. Having resisted the temptation to leap off a cliff, you eventually discover that choices can and must be evaluated, with reference to your primary choice, which is to exist. Lamb kebab is good, and cliff-jumping is bad. These are objective facts, conclusions reached by integrating all of your knowledge of reality. Please note that things themselves are neither good nor bad, the only thing that is good or bad is a choice made by a man. Sheep and cliffs simple are.

Now you can add some people. Adding people adds something special to the mix, that man’s actions must be chosen. Because of man’s nature, cliff-jumping is always bad, and lamb kebab is generally good (save for unfortunate allergy cases, which an individual must discover). There can be variations in what is objectively good and bad that pertain to the fact that nobody is an exact duplicate of anybody else. Waking up before dawn may be good for you and bad for me.

I will massively abbreviate the discussion and simply point out that overriding another person’s choices by force is bad, indeed bad enough to be called evil. In a social context, this fact of man’s nature is recognized, and we reject the credo “Let everyone do as they choose”, because that is bad. It is bad for me if you beat me up or steal my lamb. That moral principle is so important that we have the institution of government which recognizes and protects people’s rights. Initiation of force is the greatest evil, and the worst irrationality. It is an irrationality because it willfully sets aside your knowledge of reality and the use of logic, and allows you to treat another being contrary to his nature and, additionally, contrary to your nature (man is not a parasite: but by nature, a remora is).

Eventually we get to annoying forms of irrationality, such as the belief in gods. Such beliefs are potentially dangerous, because they can and have very frequently overridden valid moral principles regarding the rights of others – in their place, we get corrupted irrational pseudo-principles like “Only Muslims have rights”, or “Only Christians have rights” or “Only Hindus have rights”. But even if religionists suppress the urge to violate the rights of others, they are still being irrational in believing in a four-armed blue dude whose body is the universe. A person who believes that is not practicing the art of non-contradictory identification of the undeniable (that which he can perceive). A person who denies logic at such a fundamental level on that one issue will deny logic on any number of other issues, and they cannot be trusted. We generally care, because every man is a potential trade partner, offering something of greater value. Irrational people make lousy trade partners.

As for how you deal with an apparently or actually irrational person, one solution is for you to take your nature to define the standard of reality by which you judge others’ actions. That, b.t.w., is irrational (I hope that is obvious). You may find that all of the butchers in your town pursue a particular religion, and all of the butchers are somethat irrational. You have to decide whether your anti-religionist principles are so high that they override your recognition of the objective value of a good kebab. Likewise, you have to decide whether your desire to be nude is so compelling that you are willing to trade in your job or your flat, in case your employer or landlord are prudish. Your hedonism may have consequences for you, which you need to rationally consider, and which you should not rationalistically dismiss. If those people are not a value to you, then they don’t deserve your consideration.

I don’t care if you don’t care to be educated on your beliefs: I don’t want you imposing your intolerant tolerationist belief on me. So now we have a stalemate: you don’t want to be judged, and I don’t want to be told not to judge. Who wins? Should I give in and not point out the error in your ways, or should you give in and consider my advice? I think the answer to this comes in each of us evaluating the other as a potential trade partner. In the final analysis, my way is conducive to existing in a social context, and your way is only conducive to living alone on a mountaintop. I conjecture that you don’t actually want to live the mountaintop hermit lifestyle, because if you did, you’d head for the hills right now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@DavidOdden

  1. I am not debating what is rational or not? All I am asking is that does Objectivism care whether or not an individual makes rational choices or not? My interpretation of Objectivism is that selfishness matters more than rationality. So, if an individual wants to jump off a cliff, whether he knows the consequences or not, all Objectivists would support that action.
  2. When you say eating a lamb kebab is generally good, how exactly do you mean. In India, where hundreds of millions of people do not eat meat, eating a lamb kebab is outright yucky to the senses. I have seen friends who have vomited after attempting to eat their first ever piece of lamb kebab. Point is, that outside of the open and shut cases of jumping off cliffs, eating kebabs, being naked, wearing a burqa, sex outside marriage, etc are not universally classified as rational beliefs. Surely, each society today has its own defined version of rationality (usually codified as laws) but it is not universal and definitely not objective. I fail to understand how Objectivism claims to be any different than what currently goes on if we have already reached a conclusion that eating kebabs is good. My interpretation of Objectivism is that it does not care whether you eat kebabs or not, as long as there is no unsolicited initiation of force. So, I am not sure why rationality is being thrust into the discussion. Let people jump off cliffs or eat kebabs.
  3. I am with you on your comment about belief in Gods.
  4. I also agree that my actions can have consequences, even though they may be legal. I understand that I can be evicted by my landlord or employer if they doesn't approve of my nudity or eating kebabs (there are institutions and landlords in India who will evict you for eating meat). So, I understand that I need to weigh my choices before acting, all I ask is that I be given the choice. In the current non-Objectivist world, I dont even have these choices by law.
  5. I understand your comment on trade, which in an Objectivist world will bring people together. Having said that, if I was paying twice the amount for an item compared to someone else who was clothed and I was naked, do you think the seller would care who is clothed or not. I believe a lot of noise is generated by a very small set of people in driving the social discourse today, precisely because we dont have free markets. In an Objectivist world driven by free markets and free trade, my opinion is that merit and trade will trump most social issues without batting an eyelid. The only currency in a free market is money and not your clothing or eating habits. And this is why your conclusion about mountaintops and social contexts is premature.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The reason why rationality is being thrust into the discussion is because this pertains to the fundamental identification of man’s nature made by Objectivism: it is man’s nature to survive by reason. That means, quite literally, that to survive qua man, you must act rationally. I’m afraid that your interpretation of Objectivism in in error. Rationality is more important than “selfishness”, because selfishness is in fact rational self-interest.

The philosophy that says you should do whatever you feel like doing, that philosophy is hedonism, not Objectivism. To quote from “The Objectivist ethics”,

Quote

Rationality is man's basic virtue, the source of all his other virtues. Man's basic vice, the source of all his evils, is the act of unfocusing his mind, the suspension of his consciousness, which is not blindness, but the refusal to see, not ignorance, but the refusal to know. Irrationality is the rejection of man's means of survival and, therefore, a commitment to a course of blind destruction; that which is anti-mind, is anti-life.

In choosing one action over another, one need principles and especially a purpose: you make a particular choice as a means of achieving your ultimate purpose. Again to quote from “The Objectivist ethics”,

Quote

The Objectivist ethics holds man's life as the standard of value—and his own life as the ethical purpose of every individual man…The basic social principle of the Objectivist ethics is that just as life is an end in itself, so every living human being is an end in himself, not the means to the ends or the welfare of others—and, therefore, that man must live for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. To live for his own sake means that the achievement of his own happiness is man's highest moral purpose.

As to the question of whether Objectivists universally “care” about some random other person, they do not. Although we are a decent and charitable bunch, we don’t have the insincere universal “caring” attitude that recognizes neither vice nor virtue. Whether or not many Objectivists would support a person’s decision to jump off a cliff depends on the nature of that person. Probably most Objectivists would support Kim Jong-Un’s decision to jump off a cliff, and would oppose Yaron Brook’s decision to do likewise (assuming that it was indeed an irrational choice). Generally, the attitude would be “That’s stupid”, “it’s no skin off my nose”, and “I have more important concerns”. All Objectivists would, however, support a person’s right to choose to jump off a cliff.

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.

×