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Jason Hunter

The family cannot survive without duty.

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1 hour ago, Jason Hunter said:

Its almost as if Objectivism is saying "if only humans behaved this way, there wouldn't be any wars, crime, lying, no conflicts of interest no contradictions etc and society would be at peace etc" but the problem is they simply don't think and act that way and they never will. 

It's like saying "if only humans didn't act like humans". 

This is a bald-faced false allegation.  If you knew anything about Objectivism you would know that.

 

It is not the responsibility of anyone here to justify YOUR invocation of the term "DUTY", it is your responsibility and yours alone, IF you are to defend or persuade anyone of your CLAIM that "family cannot survive without duty."

 

You've made the claim that "X cannot survive without Y",

and in the face of argument about other alternatives (Z, K, C) to fully support the survival of X... you maintain as a bald allegation that

"NO those are not sufficient, indeed Y IS required for X to survive".... 

but when asked about Y you cannot or will not identify what you mean by Y. 

IF you cannot or will not define what you mean by Y, ANY argument that Y is necessary as opposed to the alternatives is simply EMPTY and invalid.

 

Your entire argument is a non-argument, it amounts to no more than a bald assertion.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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9 hours ago, Jason Hunter said:

Let's put it this way, human behaviour is seen as far more malleable for Objecivists (and many of the englishtenment thinkers). It stems from a firm belief in the power of reason to overcome human flaws and irrational behaviour. 

I think this is an accurate description of Enlightenment thinkers. But Objectivism is not a philosophy based on Enlightenment philosophy. For some of its political philosophy, maybe, but not for ethics or anything else. There is no belief that reason is needed to overcome human flaws or irrational behaviors. It's more that reason is necessary to exist at all, going all the way back to Stone Age man and before. Reason isn't for the betterment of man; reason is a natural thing that we all must pursue individually and follow individually. 

In this way, Objectivism is a Romantic philosophy. Individually, we are all good enough, and where we go is our responsibility. Although Rand would be unique among romantic philosophers in her emphasis of reason, she emphasizes heroic ideals, the power of the individual, the creative genius. These heroes are not people who overcame human flaws and irrational behavior. Rather, they use reason and personal pride to be their best self. They use great ability. If anything, irrationality is unnatural, an error - a mistake.

Instead of saying the power of reason, I should have said the fundamental importance of reason. Not only is it important, we would be dead without it. 

You're right then that Wells and Lenin both thought that, for whatever reason, they were more enlightened than the rest, as if they had a special gift of reason. They thought reason had power. But they didn't think that reason was fundamental to man's nature. The masses were stupid, or irrational, and that's how they always would be. That was my point. Reason had its uses, but only at an enlightened minority had this gift. 

By the way, when I said Fascism, I was referring to Italy. Less about building a new world, but rebuilding the world into what it once was. A return to Roman ideals, and definitely some maintenance of Christian traditions. Fascism isn't really a hybrid of anything, it's a third way. To be sure, there were some radical origins. Still, it emphasized tradition and family values as intrinsically necessary and critical. Not just a respect for these things, but that these things even supersede reason.  

The conservatism view you referred to is more like the Enlightenment ideal, but you temper it with a little bit of what I would call "pessimistic acceptance" that on average, people are hopelessly irrational and can't be shown the light. You might not emphasize the pessimistic part right now, but I think that's where your logic leads eventually. 

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2 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

This is a bald-faced false allegation.  If you knew anything about Objectivism you would know that.

That's not an argument. How is it false? If we were all Objectivists, society would be in peace and harmony. No lying, stealing, killing etc. The trader principle would reign in both economic and spiritual relationships. There would be no conflicts of interest or contradictions among rational men in a free society either, according to Rand. 

When you start saying "If you knew anything about Objectivism you would know that" you're losing the argument. 

Quote

 

It is not the responsibility of anyone here to justify YOUR invocation of the term "DUTY", it is your responsibility and yours alone, IF you are to defend or persuade anyone of your CLAIM that "family cannot survive without duty."

 

You've made the claim that "X cannot survive without Y",

and in the face of argument about other alternatives (Z, K, C) to fully support the survival of X... you maintain as a bald allegation that

What alternatives are you referring to? 

Quote

"NO those are not sufficient, indeed Y IS required for X to survive".... 

but when asked about Y you cannot or will not identify what you mean by Y. 

IF you cannot or will not define what you mean by Y, ANY argument that Y is necessary as opposed to the alternatives is simply EMPTY and invalid.

 

Your entire argument is a non-argument, it amounts to no more than a bald assertion.

I have been clear. Duty is an unchosen obligation separate from any value calculation. (unless those value calculations are extreme). 

Asking me for a rational justification of its source is a separate matter. 

It is hardly a non-argument that throughout history people have judged relationships on more than just rational value calculations. Duty has been a consistent thread. The blood connection has always had what one might consider a "mystical" element. I have even provided a rational explanation for why the family is meaningless if only judged on value calculations as well as appealing to history. 

Edited by Jason Hunter

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Jason, I think your question is an interesting one, especially in terms of Objectivist ethics--thanks for asking it.  I wonder if it can be asked more broadly, though?   Not just does family require a notion of 'duty,'  but does anything?  There may be no innate moral obligation to do anything beyond keeping ourselves alive, if in the Randian sense, 'individual' life=value.  But things suffer when you don't tend to them, and some quality-of-life is perhaps just as important as quantity-of-life.  So could 'duty' just be a more deterministic way of looking at 'responsibility?' For example, I'm not sure if it is 'duty,' but I want to take care of my mom when she gets older, if I have to and I am able, because she took care of me when I couldn't-- this feels more like a trade or responsibility to me than something I HAVE to do-- I just WANT to it, to return the favor.

And just as a family may require certain things be done that any member may or may not want to do at a particular time, so do most accomplishments or productive achievements.  Productive work is often not easy, often requiring hard work and hard decisions to get to a desired result.  So you could ask why anyone would want to accomplish anything if it is so difficult?  Because 'productive' work should enhance the quality of our lives, right?  I have no kids, but I do understand as a teacher the benefits of being around (most of) them, if you enjoy seeing children grow, just like an any idea, into fruition.  I've learned a lot from students, gained new perspectives, laughed a lot.  So I think raising a family can be 'productive' work, despite the costs and risks involved, and the fact that children don't always grow up the way we expect they should (which can still be beneficial).  Of course it's not for everyone, me included, but I'm confused-- do you not see how a 'family' (not necessarily genetic) can enhance people's quality-(and/or quantity) of-life?  

Edited by dlewis

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3 hours ago, Jason Hunter said:

That's not an argument. How is it false? If we were all Objectivists, society would be in peace and harmony. No lying, stealing, killing etc. The trader principle would reign in both economic and spiritual relationships. There would be no conflicts of interest or contradictions among rational men in a free society either, according to Rand.

When you start saying "If you knew anything about Objectivism you would know that" you're losing the argument. 

Wow. You went from this:

Quote

Hi this is my first post. I've recently read Atlas Shrugged, Why Businessmen need philosophy and The Virtue of Selfishness. I've also read many parts of the lexicon and scanned forums etc. If my understanding of Objectivism is wrong please correct me. I'd like to hear responses to this issue. I am seriously struggling to get past some fundamental problems. 

 

to only being interested in who's "losing the argument".

So which is it? Are you here for help with your "struggles with fundamental problems", and to have your misunderstandings corrected? Or are you here to win arguments?

They're not even debates anymore, now they're full blown arguments...give it two more pages, and you're at war.

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4 hours ago, Jason Hunter said:

Duty is an unchosen obligation separate from any value calculation.

I see.  Sorry to throw a plucked chicken at your feet but...

I DO declare that it is your obligation to sweep my front steps every Wednesday evening henceforth.  Whereas this constitutes an unchosen obligation separate from any considerations of value to you, it therefore IS your Duty to do so.

 

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6 hours ago, Jason Hunter said:

I have even provided a rational explanation for why the family is meaningless if only judged on value calculations as well as appealing to history. 

For what it's worth, you stopped discussing this part when people mentioned how you are mistaken about the reasons why family isn't meaningless if judged on Objectivist premises, and also that some type of calculation isn't the whole story. 

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8 hours ago, Nicky said:

Wow. You went from this:

to only being interested in who's "losing the argument".

So which is it? Are you here for help with your "struggles with fundamental problems", and to have your misunderstandings corrected? Or are you here to win arguments?

They're not even debates anymore, now they're full blown arguments...give it two more pages, and you're at war.

You again. What on earth do you want from me? 

I've already answered your question when i replied to your previous outburst. 

And in my original post I said "My argument is as follows:" and I have used the words "I argue" many times in this thread. Besides, it was StrictlyLogical who said "your argument is a non-argument" and I was replying to that. I also found his approach to be rather aggressive with all the unnecessary caps. 

Your behaviour is embarrassing - personally attacking me, refusing to debate (fair enough) but then coming back to "crash" the thread declaring it's nonsense (despite refusing to actually debate it) and now again you're back to attack me and bicker. Grow up. 

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8 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

I see.  Sorry to throw a plucked chicken at your feet but...

I DO declare that it is your obligation to sweep my front steps every Wednesday evening henceforth.  Whereas this constitutes an unchosen obligation separate from any considerations of value to you, it therefore IS your Duty to do so.

 

Again, you're asking for a rational justification for the source of duty. This is not what this thread is about and I have never made that argument. I am saying the family needs it whether it is a delusion or a truth. (And not just the family but society as a whole - extending up to duty to country). 

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11 minutes ago, Jason Hunter said:

I am saying the family needs it 

I’m saying it’s meaningless to claim family needs any IT unless you identify what you mean by IT.  Are you backtracking now re. your identification of the meaning you ascribe to the word Duty, ie representing WHAT YOU have chosen to claim family needs?

Furthermore, given YOUR understanding of what YOU MEAN mean by “Duty”, why don’t you now have a duty to clean my steps every Wednesday?

Furthermore

IF you actually do not know WHAT YOU MEAN TO SAY whenever you use the word DUTY, not only do you have NO argument when you state “family needs duty”, you are stating the literal equivalent of “family needs [email protected]&ufkrb5&/!”... which states nothing of MEANING, even to YOU.

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As Objectivism becomes more widely understood, people will have better tools than they had before to guide their actions, and we will get better results.

There will probably always be some criminals, liars, and what have you.  Thus we will always need deterrents and other countermeasures.  At the very least, parents should discipline their children in a way that teaches them to refrain from destructive wrongful actions.  Communication is a more important part of discipline than punishment.

If the concept of duty is invalid, then appealing to it is immoral and does more harm than good.

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1 hour ago, StrictlyLogical said:

I’m saying it’s meaningless to claim family needs any IT unless you identify what you mean by IT.  Are you backtracking now re. your identification of the meaning you ascribe to the word Duty, ie representing WHAT YOU have chosen to claim family needs?

Furthermore, given YOUR understanding of what YOU MEAN mean by “Duty”, why don’t you now have a duty to clean my steps every Wednesday?

Furthermore

IF you actually do not know WHAT YOU MEAN TO SAY whenever you use the word DUTY, not only do you have NO argument when you state “family needs duty”, you are stating the literal equivalent of “family needs [email protected]&ufkrb5&/!”... which states nothing of MEANING, even to YOU.

I already have identified it. 

To fill in your sentence: 

"The family needs unchosen obligations" 

A conception of the family which only consists of value calculation is not sustainable. 

The duty is usually derived from blood (whether this is rational or not is a separate matter). 

This is just how humans behave and have always behaved.

At the very least, I'll put it this way:  The family needs an element of mysticism. The key point here is that value calculation alone is not enough. 

There must be a special meaning placed in blood, in helping blood relatives, in passing on your genes, continuing the family name, connecting generations rather than breaking the link etc and a resulting motivation to do these things which usually takes the form of an obligation or duty although I concede it may not. It may take the form of a desire in the belief that passing on the genes is the right thing to do. But I think it may just be semantics at play here. 

Now perhaps there is a way to rationally justify all of this and bring it outside the realm of mysticism. That would be great. I hope it's possible.

The Intrincist explored something alone those lines earlier in the thread when he talked about grounding reproduction in human nature and rationally justifying it from there. 

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I agree that SL is being wayyyyyyy too harsh. I mean, I think it's clear by now you're making the argument that although duty is irrational, it is a necessary evil for the maintenance of society. You're not saying duty in the sense of unchosen obligation is morally good. We've discussed a great deal by now, and I think you made some simple but understandable misunderstandings about Objectivism. I hope that you'll take the time to think about it more. 

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42 minutes ago, Jason Hunter said:

I already have identified it. 

To fill in your sentence: 

"The family needs unchosen obligations" 

A conception of the family which only consists of value calculation is not sustainable. 

The duty is usually derived from blood (whether this is rational or not is a separate matter). 

This is just how humans behave and have always behaved.

At the very least, I'll put it this way:  The family needs an element of mysticism. The key point here is that value calculation alone is not enough. 

There must be a special meaning placed in blood, in helping blood relatives, in passing on your genes, continuing the family name, connecting generations rather than breaking the link etc and a resulting motivation to do these things which usually takes the form of an obligation or duty although I concede it may not. It may take the form of a desire in the belief that passing on the genes is the right thing to do. But I think it may just be semantics at play here. 

Now perhaps there is a way to rationally justify all of this and bring it outside the realm of mysticism. That would be great. I hope it's possible.

The Intrincist explored something alone those lines earlier in the thread when he talked about grounding reproduction in human nature and rationally justifying it from there. 

"Family" is in no way threatened by a lack of "mysticism", any more than hobbies, sex, cuisine, entertainment, romance, or the keeping of pets.  "Ignorance" and "mysticism" are not the reasons why we act to gain and keep these things... we act to gain and keep these things because they make our lives better.

 

Speaking of which, if an association of worried dogs and cats got together, concerned about the rise of secularism and the rejection of mysticism because they conclude pet ownership requires a sense of "mysticism" in the form of "unchosen obligation" and hence people will no longer own pets and they are all about to be turfed, I would very seriously tell them all to calm down. 

"You have nothing to worry about my fine furry friends.  We humans have always chosen to form families with you because we love you and value the kind of life we can have when we chose to share it together with you.  We may not all choose such a life but there are vast numbers of us who always do choose it, ask any Cat or Dog owner.  Do not despair that we no longer believe in any God, nor any mystical, or intrinsic influence imposed upon us... do not despair that we have awoken to the fact and realize that we freely choose you... it is BECAUSE we freely choose you that you should rest assured."

When hobbies, sex, cuisine, entertainment, romance, and the keeping of pets are in catastrophic decline... then I'll talk to you about how a lack of "mysticism" is a threat to family.  Until then, my value judgments are telling me its time to bow out of THIS...

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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6 minutes ago, Jason Hunter said:

There must be a special meaning placed in blood, in helping blood relatives, in passing on your genes, continuing the family name, connecting generations rather than breaking the link etc and a resulting motivation to do these things which usually takes the form of an obligation or duty although I concede it may not. 

 

The logical consequences of an obligation to passing down the family's genes are pretty striking. It means for instance that an adopted child can not be part of the family. It also means that people unfit to have children should bring them into the world, and raise them in misery and abuse, rather than just "break the link".  It also means that family supersedes justice, and powerful families have a duty to protect a criminal son or daughter from the consequences of their actions, lest that breaks the genetic link. Conversely, it means that children born into dysfunctional or criminal families (like the Mafia) should remain in the fold, and lead the irrational, destructive way of life that family imposes on them.

34 minutes ago, Jason Hunter said:

The duty is usually derived from blood (whether this is rational or not is a separate matter). 

This is just how humans behave and have always behaved.

Some humans. Not all. There are plenty of examples, throughout the ages, of people who've been able to remain rational in the face of cultural pressure to set reason aside when it comes to family.

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9 hours ago, Jason Hunter said:

To fill in your sentence: 

"The family needs unchosen obligations" 

A conception of the family which only consists of value calculation is not sustainable. 

This presupposes that a family has to be sustained.  Why is that necessary?

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On 10/23/2018 at 10:55 PM, Eiuol said:

I think this is an accurate description of Enlightenment thinkers. But Objectivism is not a philosophy based on Enlightenment philosophy. For some of its political philosophy, maybe, but not for ethics or anything else. There is no belief that reason is needed to overcome human flaws or irrational behaviors. It's more that reason is necessary to exist at all, going all the way back to Stone Age man and before. Reason isn't for the betterment of man; reason is a natural thing that we all must pursue individually and follow individually. 

Rather, they use reason and personal pride to be their best self. They use great ability. If anything, irrationality is unnatural, an error - a mistake.

Instead of saying the power of reason, I should have said the fundamental importance of reason. Not only is it important, we would be dead without it. 

This is bordering on pure semantics. Rand says most people are like mindless zombies caught up in a whirlwind of confusion and contradiction. They behave irrationally guided by their "whims". She recommends her philosophy as the antidote. 

To solve their problems they must first think. They must reason. They must reconsider their premises and use reason to extrapolate the correct conclusions. This requires real work and mental effort. 

In doing this, they will see the absurdity of lying, stealing, killing etc. Reason will show them it is against their own interest and they will not want to do it. 

This is exactly like the enlightenment thinkers and the modern left wing who have inhereited this viewpoint. 

The League of Nations was created on this very idea and it was a spectacular failure. 

It all centres around the power or importance of reason in solving human conflict both domestically and internationally. 

Leftists to this day believe criminals can be rehabilitated using reason. 

Quote

You're right then that Wells and Lenin both thought that, for whatever reason, they were more enlightened than the rest, as if they had a special gift of reason. They thought reason had power. But they didn't think that reason was fundamental to man's nature. The masses were stupid, or irrational, and that's how they always would be. That was my point. Reason had its uses, but only at an enlightened minority had this gift. 

By the way, when I said Fascism, I was referring to Italy. Less about building a new world, but rebuilding the world into what it once was. A return to Roman ideals, and definitely some maintenance of Christian traditions. Fascism isn't really a hybrid of anything, it's a third way. To be sure, there were some radical origins. Still, it emphasized tradition and family values as intrinsically necessary and critical. Not just a respect for these things, but that these things even supersede reason.  

As much as I'd like to discuss this further, it's probably too far off topic and could easily spawn a massive debate. 

Quote

The conservatism view you referred to is more like the Enlightenment ideal, but you temper it with a little bit of what I would call "pessimistic acceptance" that on average, people are hopelessly irrational and can't be shown the light. You might not emphasize the pessimistic part right now, but I think that's where your logic leads eventually. 

I've emphasised the pessimistic part quite strongly. Human nature is inherently flawed - this is a key part of conservatism. In what way is Conservatism like the enlightenment ideals? Check out the famous debates between Burke and Paine who best represent the enlightenment view vs the conservative view. 

If you mean support of free markets, the reasons are very different. Adam Smith supported them as a systemic process that produced the most good for society as a whole, not on the basis of individual rights. 

The decenetralisation of power and free markets is crucial to Conservatism. It is only in modern times that they've been forced to move leftward because of the success of leftists. The conservatives in Britain today are basically a centrist party. 

I think we're probably just crossing wires here over time periods/definitions. 

Edited by Jason Hunter

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5 hours ago, Jason Hunter said:

This is bordering on pure semantics. Rand says most people are like mindless zombies caught up in a whirlwind of confusion and contradiction. They behave irrationally guided by their "whims". She recommends her philosophy as the antidote. 

She doesn't mean though that man is a flawed creature by nature that needs to be improved. When Rand talks about irrational people, she usually discusses that in the context of cultural norms, especially when talking about altruism. That is, irrationality is a consequence of poor thinking rather than a fact of our nature. It's also why no one is 100% irrational; everyone is rational to some degree. The important point is that we are all sufficiently "enlightened" people, every one of us, we just need to choose to be rational. It's not that reason helps you see the light, it's that reason is a fundamental requirement. 

I'm trying to emphasize that Objectivism is a Romantic philosophy with a unique appreciation of reason. That's how it can be so individualistic. It's not an Enlightenment philosophy.

Edited by Eiuol

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3 hours ago, Eiuol said:

She doesn't mean though that man is a flawed creature by nature that needs to be improved.

irrationality is a consequence rather than a fact of our nature.

we are all sufficiently "enlightened" people, every one of us, we just need to choose to be rational. It's not that reason helps you see the light, it's that reason is a fundamental requirement. 

I'm trying to emphasize that Objectivism is a Romantic philosophy. 

Of course, this is what I've been saying; the blank slate view of human nature. Man has no inherent flaws. This is a fundamental premise shared with the enlightenment era. It is a romantic view of man because it sets no limits. (Read Paine and tell me he doesn't have a romantic view of man and society)

Peikoff's words on the era: 

"Just as there are no limits to man’s knowledge, many [Enlightenment era] thinkers held, so there are no limits to man’s moral improvement. If man is not yet perfect, they held, he is at least perfectible." (Thus, no inherent flaws). 

"Whatever the vacillations or doubts of particular thinkers, the dominant trend represented a new vision and estimate of man: man as a self-sufficient, rational being and, therefore, as basically good, as potentially noble, as a value." (Starting to sound like Objectivism?)

Man's behaviour is malleable and reason is the tool. We are not "all sufficiently enlightened people", we have the potential to be and we can realise it by choosing to exercise reason in every area of our life. Reason does help you see the light. Rand recommends the mindless zombies use reason to correct their chaotic mind. 

Peikoff even refers to reason as a force and a power:

"Reason, for so long the wave of the future, had become the animating force of the present" 

"In epistemology, the European champions of the intellect had been unable to formulate a tenable view of the nature of reason or, therefore, to validate their proclaimed confidence in its power."

Edited by Jason Hunter

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2 hours ago, Jason Hunter said:

Of course, this is what I've been saying; the blank slate view of human nature. Man has no inherent flaws. This is a fundamental premise shared with the enlightenment era. It is a romantic view of man because it sets no limits. (Read Paine and tell me he doesn't have a romantic view of man and society)

Peikoff's words on the era: 

"Just as there are no limits to man’s knowledge, many [Enlightenment era] thinkers held, so there are no limits to man’s moral improvement. If man is not yet perfect, they held, he is at least perfectible." (Thus, no inherent flaws). 

"Whatever the vacillations or doubts of particular thinkers, the dominant trend represented a new vision and estimate of man: man as a self-sufficient, rational being and, therefore, as basically good, as potentially noble, as a value." (Starting to sound like Objectivism?)

Man's behaviour is malleable and reason is the tool. We are not "all sufficiently enlightened people", we have the potential to be and we can realise it by choosing to exercise reason in every area of our life. Reason does help you see the light. Rand recommends the mindless zombies use reason to correct their chaotic mind. 

Peikoff even refers to reason as a force and a power:

"Reason, for so long the wave of the future, had become the animating force of the present" 

"In epistemology, the European champions of the intellect had been unable to formulate a tenable view of the nature of reason or, therefore, to validate their proclaimed confidence in its power."

I've been following the thread (somewhat), but I don't see what this has to do with either family or duty. In any event, what is your essential criticism with the notion that reason "helps you to see the light"? Set aside for a moment whether man is "perfectible" (which I think a tricky notion at best, and often unhelpful) but do you disagree that man is improvable (meaning: some given individual, in some set of circumstances, may improve himself) -- or that reason is his best means of so doing?

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1 hour ago, DonAthos said:

I've been following the thread (somewhat), but I don't see what this has to do with either family or duty. In any event, what is your essential criticism with the notion that reason "helps you to see the light"? Set aside for a moment whether man is "perfectible" (which I think a tricky notion at best, and often unhelpful) but do you disagree that man is improvable (meaning: some given individual, in some set of circumstances, may improve himself) -- or that reason is his best means of so doing?

The point is that ones view of human nature leads to very different conclusions and this is at the heart of the conflict. 

My criticism is not with reason helping mankind but with everything having to pass the bar of reason, or at least articulated reason. The problem with this is that it destroys social institutions and traditions;  the very things which have evolved over a long time to deal with human nature and they contain far more knowledge and wisdom than a single person can rationally articulate. In much the same way, the widespread dispersal of knowledge in the free market is far more wise than the articulated rationality of a few intellectuals pulling the levers of the economy. 

Removing the special meaning of blood in the family, the passing of genes/continuing of generations is a devastating blow and all because it cannot pass the bar of reason. But perhaps reason has its limits. Perhaps "irrational" loyalty to family, community and country is a vital mechanism. What use is a society that adheres completely to articulated reason if it destroys itself? 

I do believe man can improve himself absolutely. But only within certain constraints. This probably vary among individuals but mankind as a whole appears to be inherently flawed. Stealing lying and killing will never cease without deterrents other than reason. 

And by the way, it's not like I take pleasure in this view. It's difficult for me to accept because I want everything to be explained through clean hard logic. But looking at the way humans are and have always behaved is clearly at odds with all these rational theories. 

Edited by Jason Hunter

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On 10/24/2018 at 5:29 AM, Eiuol said:

For what it's worth, you stopped discussing this part when people mentioned how you are mistaken about the reasons why family isn't meaningless if judged on Objectivist premises, and also that some type of calculation isn't the whole story. 

 

On 10/24/2018 at 1:09 AM, dlewis said:

Jason, I think your question is an interesting one, especially in terms of Objectivist ethics--thanks for asking it.  I wonder if it can be asked more broadly, though?   Not just does family require a notion of 'duty,'  but does anything?  There may be no innate moral obligation to do anything beyond keeping ourselves alive, if in the Randian sense, 'individual' life=value.  But things suffer when you don't tend to them, and some quality-of-life is perhaps just as important as quantity-of-life.  So could 'duty' just be a more deterministic way of looking at 'responsibility?' For example, I'm not sure if it is 'duty,' but I want to take care of my mom when she gets older, if I have to and I am able, because she took care of me when I couldn't-- this feels more like a trade or responsibility to me than something I HAVE to do-- I just WANT to it, to return the favor.

And just as a family may require certain things be done that any member may or may not want to do at a particular time, so do most accomplishments or productive achievements.  Productive work is often not easy, often requiring hard work and hard decisions to get to a desired result.  So you could ask why anyone would want to accomplish anything if it is so difficult?  Because 'productive' work should enhance the quality of our lives, right?  I have no kids, but I do understand as a teacher the benefits of being around (most of) them, if you enjoy seeing children grow, just like an any idea, into fruition.  I've learned a lot from students, gained new perspectives, laughed a lot.  So I think raising a family can be 'productive' work, despite the costs and risks involved, and the fact that children don't always grow up the way we expect they should (which can still be beneficial).  Of course it's not for everyone, me included, but I'm confused-- do you not see how a 'family' (not necessarily genetic) can enhance people's quality-(and/or quantity) of-life?  

Sorry I didn't reply. There's so many I lose track. My answer here applies to both of you. 

Rand:

"In spiritual issues—(by “spiritual” I mean: “pertaining to man’s consciousness”)—the currency or medium of exchange is different, but the principle is the same. Love, friendship, respect, admiration are the emotional response of one man to the virtues of another, the spiritual payment given in exchange for the personal, selfish pleasure which one man derives from the virtues of another man’s character."

Its important not to confuse positive externalities as a reason for doing something back for someone, certainly not as an obligation. If you gain value from the actions of someone you know and therefore you've "gained value", this has nothing to do with the spiritual relationship - whether you consider them a friend or love them.

If they buy you a gift, it doesn't mean you owe them a gift back or any spiritual payment. One cannot buy respect from another person, only virtues can do that. If they do something for you, they gain selfish pleasure out of it. The trade is finished. Why do they do it? Because of your values/virtues. 

And this where the entire relationship stems from.

Rand herself declared very few people deserve love (because they have the wrong virtues). Friendship would still require a strong appreciation for someones virtues, family even more so. 

So it begs the question. Why would you want to do something for someone if their virtues don't pass the bar? You wouldn't according to Objectivism. And judging by Rand's comments and written work, it appears that bar is pretty high. 

Dlewis you said one could conceive of family like hard work. I totally agree this conception holds true in the traditional sense. But the motivation derives from the blood connection. "They're blood". That's where the extra push comes from to work hard at the relationship. 

But for an Objectivist, it makes no sense when you're not "stuck" with your family and can readily choose whoever you like to be close to. Why put up with the hard work of changing someone's views when you can instantly find connection with other people who share your values?

Perhaps there is some wiggle room to work with somewhere in all of that. But what I've laid out there is guaranteed to be a heavy blow to the unity of the family. 

But that's not even the worst part. Everything I've said so far is only the secondary problem. 

The primary problem is having the children in the first place. And this is an even bigger challenge to overcome. I agree there is some value in seeing children grow but without the blood connection? Without any meaning whatsoever in passing on the genes, in continuing the generation etc? This would be an even bigger blow. 

Adoption agencies are always struggling to find homes for their babies/children. People care about the blood connection. It means something to them. They want to raise a mini version of themselves and their lover. 

There is just little justification for an Objectivist to commit to raising children (a monumental commitment) when productivity is the highest good. I've said more on this earlier if you can find it. (And raising a family cannot be seen as productive in an Objectivist sense)

Rand: 

"In comparison to the moral and psychological importance of sexual happiness, the issue of procreation is insignificant and irrelevant, except as a deadly threat"

The bottom line is an Objectivist society disregards the family, just like Rand did in her life and work. 

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On 10/24/2018 at 11:41 PM, Craig24 said:

This presupposes that a family has to be sustained.  Why is that necessary?

I've discussed this earlier in the thread. Perhaps a society can flourish without the family. No society ever has but I don't completely rule it out. With developments in bio-engineering and AI, who knows. But all of that is entering the realm of science fiction. 

At present, the family is a vital social institution for a number of reasons. This is widely accepted. It is even acknowledged in the Atlas Society link in my original post. 

But it's good that you're asking that because Objectivists should to start thinking in that direction or find a way to include reproduction and the family in the philosophy.

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5 hours ago, Jason Hunter said:

the blank slate view of human nature. Man has no inherent flaws.

Moving the goalpost. You now changed what you mean by tabula rasa. Before you suggested in this context it meant no innate tendencies. Now you say it means having no inherent flaws. Which is it?

5 hours ago, Jason Hunter said:

It is a romantic view of man because it sets no limits.

I'm not saying it's a romantic view of man. I'm saying it specifically falls into Romantic philosophy, which is different enough from the Enlightenment to be considered a different movement. Actually, if Peikoff is arguing that Objectivism is and Enlightenment philosophy, I think he's simply wrong on the history. 

5 hours ago, Jason Hunter said:

We are not "all sufficiently enlightened people", we have the potential to be and we can realise it by choosing to exercise reason in every area of our life.

Well, this is the whole reason I think you miss the point. We are all sufficiently enlightened in the sense that we need to use reason and have the capacity to reason. While there are cultural trends that reflect irrational action, zombielike behavior, acting like the herd, all these people use reason some amount at the very least otherwise they would be literally dead. In other words, it's not that they need to see the light; they need to realize what they already are and seek rationality throughout all of their life for their own good. 

This is all relevant to family, at least in the sense you will necessarily get the view on family wrong. We aren't arguing for overcoming irrationality. If anything, we call for a more consistent and pro-life view of family. 

1 hour ago, Jason Hunter said:

Why would you want to do something for someone if their virtues don't pass the bar

Because the bar is lower for non-romantic relationships. You've already been corrected that valuing another person is not based on the values that *they* hold. It's relevant information, but there is plenty more information to think about. 

1 hour ago, Jason Hunter said:

(And raising a family cannot be seen as productive in an Objectivist sense)

I'm not the go to person for this, but I'm sure that DA has a good response to this.

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1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

Moving the goalpost. You now changed what you mean by tabula rasa. Before you suggested in this context it meant no innate tendencies. Now you say it means having no inherent flaws. Which is it?

One or the other, or both. It doesn't matter. The blank slate view is that man has no inherent limits holding him back. 

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I'm not saying it's a romantic view of man. I'm saying it specifically falls into Romantic philosophy, which is different enough from the Enlightenment to be considered a different movement. Actually, if Peikoff is arguing that Objectivism is and Enlightenment philosophy, I think he's simply wrong on the history. 

I don't know what your criteria is to be called an "Enlightenment philosophy" but that is irrelevant. Objectivism shares some fundamental views of man with the era as articulated by Peikoff and that's the point. It would not have been out of place had it been conceived during that time. Trying to distance Objectivism from the enlightenment is absurd. Even Rand had high praise for the era. And Peikoff describes Arsitotle as the father of that era, the same father of Objectivism. 

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Well, this is the whole reason I think you miss the point. We are all sufficiently enlightened in the sense that we need to use reason and have the capacity to reason. While there are cultural trends that reflect irrational action, zombielike behavior, acting like the herd, all these people use reason some amount at the very least otherwise they would be literally dead. In other words, it's not that they need to see the light; they need to realize what they already are and seek rationality throughout all of their life for their own good. 

This is all relevant to family, at least in the sense you will necessarily get the view on family wrong. We aren't arguing for overcoming irrationality. If anything, we call for a more consistent and pro-life view of family. 

Here you are just performing rhetorical somersaults rewording the same thing. 

According to you, an enlightened individual is someone who has the potential to live a rational moral life if only they'll realise what they are (a rational being) and seek rationality. 

This is no different to the enlightenment thinkers. There is nothing unique in what you have said (except reinventing the word enlightened which serves no purpose except obfuscation) 

It appears you think the unique twist is that they just need to realise "what they already are" which isn't unique at all. This is the same point as thinkers like Paine. Man is a rational being. If only he'll exercise that reason, he'll fulfill his potential. 

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Because the bar is lower for non-romantic relationships. You've already been corrected that valuing another person is not based on the values that *they* hold. 

You're right its based on the value you gain. Which is based on what? The virtues they hold. See the Rand quote. 

She set the bar extremely high for love. I'd assume the bar is still very high for friend. Besides, family falls in the category of love. 

And the point still remains, you'd have no reason to want to do something for them if their virtues don't pass the bar (unless you made a promise to do something for them). 

And as has been a recurrent theme in this thread, the issue of having children in the first place is hardly replied to - the bigger problem. 

Edited by Jason Hunter

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