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MisterSwig

Rand and Peikoff on the Standard of Value

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22 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

Either a living organism currently exists or it does not currently exist. Does that help?

Perhaps the binary attribute can be applied to the body itself. A body is either living or dead. It's either an organism or a corpse.

The fundamental alternative is existence or non-existence, yes. It would apply to a living body, but it would not apply to a corpse. A living body possesses what a corpse does not possess: life. A living body whose life goes out of existence is a corpse.

Edited by dream_weaver

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13 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

In the case of humans, the inbuilt mechanism for survival as in heartbeat and automatic breath exist.

But as a volitional being, a human can go against the "inbuilt" values.

Even though a person wants to breathe, they can hang themselves, or ingest poison fumes opposing that desire.

Like every other organism, a human body has a proper way of functioning. The heart beats, the blood flows, nerves pulse electric signals, senses receive external stimulation, the brain produces thoughts, etc. Our life depends on this process of the body. Indeed, it is this process. And when something goes wrong, when the heart beats irregularly or our eyes stop seeing, we use the normal functioning of our body as the standard for the way it should function. This is our metaphysical standard of value, which is grasped by every organism relative to its particular level(s) of awareness. Sensory organisms grasp it through the pain-pleasure sensations. Perceptual organisms grasp it through feelings of attraction and repulsion. And we grasp it through conceptual awareness of value and disvalue.

While it is true that humans can choose to hurt or kill themselves on purpose, this is not proof that we lack a metaphysical standard of value. It's proof that we have one. In order to know how to hurt or kill ourselves, we must first know which actions will cause that destructive effect. We must therefore be capable of differentiating life-sustaining actions from life-destroying actions, and that evaluation requires a metaphysical standard of value. Just because we are capable of intentionally destroying our metaphysical standard of value, this does not mean we lack one. We have it until we're dead and our body stops its process of living.

Edited by MisterSwig

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45 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

This is our metaphysical standard of value, which is grasped by every organism relative to its particular level(s) of awareness. Sensory organisms grasp it through the pain-pleasure sensations. Perceptual organisms grasp it through feelings of attraction and repulsion. And we grasp it through conceptual awareness of value and disvalue.

First of all (I think you would agree), "metaphysical standard of value" is metaphorical, not metaphysical.

If you mean biologically based standard of value, meaning based on state or status of biological function, yes that is the only objective way to have a standard of value for living things.

But it seems you are arguing for a "non-volitional and non consciousness based" standard.
As in a plant has no volition and no consciousness but has a standard metaphorically guiding it. (the engineering/intelligent design metaphor). Plants cannot have standards but they behave logically and predictably in the area of survival/(staying alive)

There is a complication in the case of humans, as humans have volition and conceptual faculty that is tabula rasa.
Biology has a direct relationship with ethics, but biological function does not provide a moral code/detailed guidance.
A dog has detailed guidance when a blizzard hits, it (in a sense) knows that it must dig a hole and go into it.
A human does not have that guidance (from emotions, reflexes, or sensations).
Knowing that my body needs to stay alive (feeling pain) does not give any complex actionable instruction to survive.
Where am I, what am I, what do I need to do in order to stay alive is the process used (reason/mind/consciousness).
This process requires a epistemological tool, which is "a standard", to guide toward, a specific target.
If we had sense based targets that would absolve us from thinking, we could use them.
We could count on their standard of values, sit back and let our body do the work.
But that is not the case.

A metaphysical standard of value (a standard of value devoid of volition), in the case of man/humans does not work, it is not adequate, it does not fit.
It exists, but does not apply to man as a whole.
It applies to a lion, tree, or amoeba.

Once volition is brought in to the equation, reflexes don't provide the ethical framework that a human needs.

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1 hour ago, Easy Truth said:

First of all (I think you would agree), "metaphysical standard of value" is metaphorical, not metaphysical.

I disagree, but I don't want to get into a linguistic debate here and now. 

1 hour ago, Easy Truth said:

A metaphysical standard of value (a standard of value devoid of volition), in the case of man/humans does not work, it is not adequate, it does not fit.
It exists, but does not apply to man as a whole.
It applies to a lion, tree, or amoeba.

By metaphysical standard I don't mean "devoid of volition." The mature, human life process includes volition.

I'm going to digest everyone's arguments and points and return to this later. In particular, I need to work on the distinction between the metaphysical and the man-made before continuing at a comfortable level of certainty. My initial question is this: what about man is a metaphysical fact, and what about him is a man-made fact? Is there a fundamental problem with the dichotomy as it pertains to man's existence and his values?

Edited by MisterSwig

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2 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

This is our metaphysical standard of value, which is grasped by every organism relative to its particular level(s) of awareness. Sensory organisms grasp it through the pain-pleasure sensations. Perceptual organisms grasp it through feelings of attraction and repulsion. And we grasp it through conceptual awareness of value and disvalue.

Fine, but you should realize this isn't what Peikoff or Rand said. You are disagreeing with them.

None of the quotes suggests that any organism can grasp a standard of value to any extent, except for a volitional, conceptual consciousness. The word implicit means that there is no grasping. Standards are conceptual, so by definition organisms that lack conceptual consciousness cannot grasp it. Although I disagree with Rand to the degree she says lower organisms operate automatically, it's not as though she says standards of value are the explicit aims of any organism.

It doesn't make sense to me that you could have degrees of grasping. You are attributing the ability to *comprehend* reality to all organisms. This matters, because standards of value are means of measurement and evaluation, so if an organism lacks the necessary characteristics to use that measurement, it doesn't make sense to then say that they have a standard of value. It does make sense, however, to think of a standard of value in a descriptive definition on a broad biological level to convey that organisms act towards ends that can be measured objectively (hence, life is an implicit standard of value). The difference with us is that we can grasp what those ends are (and evaluate any errors when acting with regard to preconceptual awareness). 

Just so you know where I'm coming from, I'm dissatisfied with the way both Rand and Peikoff address the non-conceptual aspects of consciousness. If we want to be consistent that all organisms have at least an implicit standard of value, then we should say that the non-conceptual aspects of human awareness can push or guide actions as well. It just isn't sufficient on it's own for conceptual consciousness.

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31 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

It doesn't make sense to me that you could have degrees of grasping. You are attributing the ability to *comprehend* reality to all organisms.

No. I'm using the primary definition of to hold firmly. Still, it might be an imperfect word choice. I'll work on it.

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The standard of value for a plant is a *biological* standard of value (for "organisms") -- and -- only recognized by an observing consciousness. Of course, the plant in and of itself has no way of knowing and volitionally seeking value and no Plant-standard to measure itself by if it did. (We go into genetics, at this point).

Its own standard to this observer, is - a plant exists qua plant, or it withers and non-exists. Therefore, its own continuing life and maintenance is its clear 'standard of value'. And I argue, not a "metaphorical standard", Easy Truth; any life is actual - (though I'm agreeable with your last post otherwise).

Even unconscious life like a plant exists and flourishes by its standard of value (e.g. enough rain - but not too much).

All life is self-generated ...goal-directed action, right? but which and how "purposive" is a life-form's goal (zero for an organism, the plant), and up the ladder, how much it is non-purposive or purposive for insects, etc. to higher animals, is proportionate (AR) to their level of consciousness: 

All exist by degrees of automatic, sensory and instinctual life-action. Higher, to man and the individual, who's also biological but non-automatized and uninstinctive, who needs to fully activate his consciousness to find his own purpose and is therefore 100% "purposive". His standard of value is then on a highest, abstracted level, according to his consciousness. His own life cannot be his own biological nor metaphysical gauge of value, like a plant's (etc). Biological survival ("enough rain", so to speak) doesn't suffice for a code of values for man and individual.

Edited by whYNOT

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17 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Fine, but you should realize this isn't what Peikoff or Rand said. You are disagreeing with them.

None of the quotes suggests that any organism can grasp a standard of value to any extent, except for a volitional, conceptual consciousness. The word implicit means that there is no grasping. Standards are conceptual, so by definition organisms that lack conceptual consciousness cannot grasp it. Although I disagree...

Just so you know where I'm coming from, I'm dissatisfied with the way both Rand and Peikoff address the non-conceptual aspects of consciousness. If we want to be consistent that all organisms have at least an implicit standard of value, then we should say that the non-conceptual aspects of human awareness can push or guide actions as well. It just isn't sufficient on it's own for conceptual consciousness.

An unconscious life-form, e.g. a plant - viewed by a conscious observer - and equally - viewed from the plant's *own point of view*. 

Integrate those observations, and one can arrive at the standard of value for unconscious, biological life - indeed, its own existence. A standard by a conscious mind on behalf of an unconsciousness.

And since any life is explicit, this is not an implicit or metaphorical standard. The organism acts according to its nature by virtue of its supportive environment, or dies. So actually, does man ... with a distinctly conscious standard of value.

Edited by whYNOT

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23 minutes ago, whYNOT said:

unconscious life-form, e.g. a plant

 

23 minutes ago, whYNOT said:

from the plant's *own point of view*. 

Huh?

24 minutes ago, whYNOT said:

An unconscious life-form

 

24 minutes ago, whYNOT said:

any life is explicit,

Explicit means conceptually and directly grasped.

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32 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

 

Huh?

 

Explicit means conceptually and directly grasped.

Yeah, "grasped" by a conceptual consciousness. 

You mean you don't grasp this concept? 

If the plant cannot grasp its own existence, does it mean a man cannot [grasp its -explicit- existence]?

 

Edited by whYNOT

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Your writing is so sloppy. You said "equally from" the plants point of view, so you are attributing to the plant the ability to recognize its own existence. I'm pointing out that what you wrote doesn't make sense. Not to mention the part of my post that you snipped out already addressed everything you just posted now.

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A "standard" is a concept. Therefore it is not intrinsic or metaphysical.

19 hours ago, whYNOT said:

its own continuing life and maintenance is its clear 'standard of value'. And I argue, not a "metaphorical standard", Easy Truth; any life is actual

The standard of value you are talking about is epistemological.
Swig is making a case for a metaphysical standard of value and I argue that such a thing can't exist.
A standard is a mental entity, and value is also "artifact of consciousness".
Neither (standard or value) is "real" in a metaphysical sense.

The only interpretation of metaphysical standard of value would mean an intrinsic standard of value.

As in "the functioning body" evokes the understanding, the need or love for existing.
That one can grasp the need to survive through observing "visually" a living body.
The "goodness" of life is emanating from the process of life.
In that case, one is motivated to live by looking at a tree.
As if the tree trunk communicates to him that life is valuable (without a need for conceptual activity).
As in the beauty of life is in the functioning body, emanating from it.

But in reality ...

The physical body can evoke a love or indifference or hate toward life (for some people). 
This reaction is varied in oneself or many others.
Since value and concepts are not intrinsic, then standard of value is not intrinsic/metaphysical.

Value is in the eyes of the valuer.
(In a sense) A plant does not have eyes so it can't see value. (this is poetic language) 
To be more accurate, a plant does not have grasping ability.
It cannot grasp value.
A standard is also meaningless to a plant.

It is as you say ,"only recognized by an observing consciousness" (to be specific, human consciousness)
As you demonstrated, to a viewpoint of a (human), the survival drive can be observed in a plant or amoeba. 
Its need or want to survive is your conclusion as a human, it is not the plant's conclusion.

The standard of value for the plant exists in your mind, it is an epistemological artifact i.e a conclusion or concept. 
It is not metaphysical/outside the mind.
 

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1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

Your writing is so sloppy. You said "equally from" the plants point of view, so you are attributing to the plant the ability to recognize its own existence. I'm pointing out that what you wrote doesn't make sense. Not to mention the part of my post that you snipped out already addressed everything you just posted now.

I said: "...viewed by a conscious observer - and equally - viewed from the plant's own point of view".

Who or what do you think is doing all the 'viewing'?

You prefer to interpret that, despite anything to the contrary I've repeated about an observing consciousness - as the plant having its own conscious point of view, feel free. Just more condescending point-scoring, which you seem to believe you can do with me.

I think others understand my writing well enough. 

Apply yourself to the objective ideas, implied OR explicit, and worry less about style. 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

 

The standard of value for the plant exists in your mind, it is an epistemological artifact i.e a conclusion or concept. 
It is not metaphysical/outside the mind.
 

Some strong argument, above, ET. But.

First, does the plant/physical organism "exist in your mind"? No, we know it is metaphysical fact.

Can a plant/organism live when lacking essential nutrients? And/or when not utilizing those effectively (for some reason)? No - correct?

But those nutrients are metaphysically given also: water, soil and suchlike.

If essential (conditional) to the plant's life, they are values to the plant, aren't they?

Therefore is this value to the plant purely an epistemological artefact in one's mind?

[ My usage "to the plant" I indicate as by the identity and existence of an entity's life, as well as for its good.]

No, the water, etc. spell absolute, *metaphysical* life or death for the plant's (metaphysical) state.

You see nothing so far primarily concerns an epistemology, in this. This is totally primacy of existence.

No values - no life. (No life, no value). No values available means that what is "proper" to the plant disappears, and it must die. This death is as automatic as all the plant's automated functions once were: therefore its standard of value - its 'measure of success/failure', in effect -  its own life.

Interesting to note in this context something David Kelley concluded: "value is a species of fact".

Edited by whYNOT

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I think this once looked allegorical/metaphorical to me. Not. Rand "meant it":

("..only to a living entity that things can be good or evil".

Life

There is only one fundamental alternative in the universe: existence or non-existence—and it pertains to a single class of entities: to living organisms. The existence of inanimate matter is unconditional, the existence of life is not: it depends on a specific course of action. Matter is indestructible, it changes its forms, but it cannot cease to exist. It is only a living organism that faces a constant alternative: the issue of life or death. Life is a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action. If an organism fails in that action, it dies; its chemical elements remain, but its life goes out of existence. It is only the concept of “Life” that makes the concept of “Value” possible. It is only to a living entity that things can be good or evil.

Galt’s Speech,

Edited by whYNOT

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32 minutes ago, whYNOT said:

It is only the concept of “Life” that makes the concept of “Value” possible.

Notice the statement is NOT: 

It is only “Life” that makes “Value” possible.

Rather it is:

It is only the concept of “Life” that makes the concept of “Value” possible.

45 minutes ago, whYNOT said:

Interesting to note in this context something David Kelley concluded: "value is a species of fact".

And fact is a species of concept which is an artifact of consciousness, not "outside of consciousness". The particular that is refers to, is metaphysical. It (the fact) in itself is in the mind.

I think our discussion is fundamentally about intrinsicism at this point.

48 minutes ago, whYNOT said:

First, does the plant/physical organism "exist in your mind"? No, we know it is metaphysical fact.

A particular plant does not exist in my mind. But plant-ness or plant-hood does reside in "our" minds.

51 minutes ago, whYNOT said:

Can a plant/organism live when lacking essential nutrients? And/or when not utilizing those effectively (for some reason)? No - correct?

But those nutrients are metaphysically given also: water, soil and suchlike.

If essential (conditional) to the plant's life, they are values to the plant, aren't they?

Agreed. I don't think anyone is arguing about the necessity. The disagreement is about the nature of "standard".

54 minutes ago, whYNOT said:

No, the water, etc. spell absolute, *metaphysical* life or death for the plant's (metaphysical) state.

You see nothing so far primarily concerns an epistemology, in this. This is totally primacy of existence.

Yes, but that does not make the standard metaphysical.

45 minutes ago, whYNOT said:

It is only to a living entity that things can be good or evil.

Are you interpreting that to mean that "good and evil" in this case is INSIDE/PART OF the soil, the water, the sun?

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, whYNOT said:

Apply yourself to the objective ideas, implied OR explicit, and worry less about style. 

I'm not trying to be mean about it, maybe I'm being a little too hard and you about the word choice. So I'm sorry for that. I get what you're saying, but I think there's a better way to go about communicating it on your part. Some of your sentences are confusing. I know you didn't really intend that plants are aware of things, but your wording was saying that.

Edited by Eiuol

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3 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

The only interpretation of metaphysical standard of value would mean an intrinsic standard of value.

Can the process of a living body be intrinsic to itself?

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23 hours ago, whYNOT said:

His own life cannot be his own biological nor metaphysical gauge of value, like a plant's (etc). Biological survival ("enough rain", so to speak) doesn't suffice for a code of values for man and individual.

I basically agreed with you until these last couple lines of the post. If you believe that every organism but man has a metaphysical standard or "gauge," don't you think it's odd that nature created us as the one exception to the rule? I'm not making an argument, just posing the question for you to toss around. Like "inbuilt," I believe "gauge" originally comes from the construction/engineering world as well, meaning a "measuring rod" in old French or English. I note that you didn't mix that concept into your argument until the very end, when you focused on man. I'm concerned that such concepts reflect the vestiges of a religious-supernatural conception of man. He is treated so specially from other organisms, that we have trouble describing him without supernatural or mechanical language.

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You don't consider volition "inbuit", or that nature endowed man with volition?

And "an exception to the rule"? For keeping distance from vestiges of a religious-supernatural . . . speaking of nature as if she has some sort of teleological agenda, (yes, she, as in the metaphorical couching as Mother Nature.)

Edited by dream_weaver

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1 hour ago, MisterSwig said:

Like "inbuilt," I believe "gauge" originally comes from the construction/engineering world as well, meaning a "measuring rod" in old French or English.

Couldn't you say though if standards of value are constructed (a standard is a conceptual and abstract creation by the human mind), then words related to construction are perfectly valid? I just thought now how inbuilt would make sense because that's pointing out a contrast with how people must construct their standard of value. You could say that standards are implicit for all organisms, but those standards will be inbuilt, as in whatever mental mechanism that leads them to act has already constructed whatever it needs to. Or for animals even more primitive than that, their brain will construct a contingent relationship between neurons firing. Notice how I am using even more words relating to construction. That's because different things really are being constructed. 

Edited by Eiuol

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1 hour ago, dream_weaver said:

You don't consider volition "inbuit", or that nature endowed man with volition?

Volition as a faculty (or "mental component") of the human life process could be considered intrinsic to that process. But to what is the process as a whole intrinsic?

2 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

And "an exception to the rule"? For keeping distance from vestiges of a religious-supernatural . . . speaking of nature as if she has some sort of teleological agenda, (yes, she, as in the metaphorical couching as Mother Nature.)

Yes, I must endeavor to check this sort of language. Does it make sense if I just scratch out "to the rule"? Hopefully you get the basic idea.

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I've set down and listened to the audio-book of Atlas Shrugged, while reading the version contained on The Objectivism Research CD-Rom, and comparing it with the print edition on my shelf. (There are decidedly differences.)

Piekoff kept the '76 lectures available for the Q & A portions that Miss Rand participated in, as well as those who might find it instructive to compare the differences between his book and the course material.

In Atlas Shrugged, Galt's speech contains the description of a conspiracy without leader, where the conspirators are drawn to one another by feeling, united by links of evasion. While the '76 lectures are available on the internet, OPAR is not yet in the public domain, and comparing the differences between them, in and of itself, is not what I would categorize as an act of evasion. As she articulated in For The New Intellectual—"The divine right of kings" was not much of a weapon against men who were discovering the rights of man.—such an articulation hardly describes individuals that were out seeking leaders.

 

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2 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Couldn't you say though if standards of value are constructed (a standard is a conceptual and abstract creation by the human mind), then words related to construction are perfectly valid?

Sure, but isn't that like asking, "If standards were birds, wouldn't using bird-related words be valid?

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5 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

Can the process of a living body be intrinsic to itself?

The ironic thing is that you are arguing for vigilance to prevent religious principles entering our thought process.

Your argument could coexist the idea that if no humans existed, god would see that plants have a standard based on life, that a supernatural consciousness would see that plants tend toward life and away from death.

And since this supernatural consciousness is real, the standard exists independent of humans.

Yet ... the plant is silent.

The standard is not inside the plant.

The plant does not shine with the standard.

The standard would be god's conclusion (or creation for that matter). 

The "process of a living body" is perceived directly as a body (absent "living", just experience of body).
You analyze, process and conclude that it is living.
A living body does not tell you I am alive.
You have to conclude/abstract it. (once a person knows how a living body can be identified).

So No, the "process" of anything is not intrinsic (otherwise everyone would recognize it without learning or analysis).

If you are asking "does life happen/exist" if no volitional consciousness observes it? (in a universe where volitional consciousness exists)

Yes life does happen independent of it being identified.

But what if no human consciousness existed, none?
Particular living entities would exist even if not categorized as such.

But it is unidentifiable, categorized, (humanly) invalid and meaningless (and a nonexistent concept) if no humans existed.

As the concept life would not exist.

Why?

Because there are no humans to identify it or appreciate the meaning.

So the question is now: If there were NO humans at all in the universe, would there be a standard of value.

There would be no standard of value.
It does not mean that all plants would die.
There would be plants.

Standards of anything applies only to humans.

In the case of plants, the standard is an "as if"/metaphorical.
The thought process is: If plant bodies were purposeful like human consciousness their standard of value be life as contrasted with death.

Now, evolution has provided a tendency towards life that we humans might say "a desire for life".

Does a plant desire anything?

Go to the time that evolution was not known.

Plants existed and acted in certain ways. 

Any goal ascribed to a plant would have been a poetic gesture.

The plant "acts as if" it were their standard if one has the metaphorical intelligent design perspective.

Remember, Branden argued against the existence of god, but said that he would use god to explain many things.

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