Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
Sign in to follow this  
MisterSwig

Rand and Peikoff on the Standard of Value

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

You might be interested to know how Peikoff changed a particular paragraph on the standard of value between his 1976 lecture "The Philosophy of Objectivism" and his book OPAR, published in 1991. After arguing, in '76, that lower organisms act automatically and that "implicitly life is the standard of value guiding their actions," he continues:

Quote

Man, however, is the living being of volitional, conceptual consciousness, and that means a profound difference on this issue from the lower species. Man has no built-in, pre-programmed standard of value. He has no automatic code of survival or course of action or set of values. (Now I'd like you to note parenthetically that this statement includes, among other things, the fact that man has no instincts--a point discussed in the Objectivist literature--including no instinct of self-preservation. To want to live, and to learn and know how to do it, is an achievement, not an innate endowment. [Lesson 7, 21:43]

Fifteen years later, in OPAR, he says that for plants and animals, "implicitly, life is their inbuilt standard of value, which determines all their goals and actions." He added "inbuilt," and changed "guiding their actions" to "determines all their goals and actions." Then the following paragraph looks like this:

Quote

Man, however, is the living being with a volitional, conceptual consciousness. As such, leaving aside his internal bodily processes, he has no inbuilt goal or standard of value; he follows no automatic course of action. In particular, he does not automatically value or pursue self-preservation. The evidence of this fact is overwhelming; it includes not only deliberate suicides, but also people's frequent hostility to the most elementary life-sustaining practices. As examples, one may consider the Middle Ages, or the more mystical countries of the Near and Far East, or even the leaders of the modern West. For a human being, the desire to live and the knowledge of what life requires are an achievement, not a biological gift. [OPAR, p. 213]

Note that he added the phrase "leaving aside his internal bodily processes," which did not appear in his 1976 lecture. I find this to be a strange revision. Let's imagine that we keep man's internal bodily processes with the rest of him, would he now have an inbuilt standard of value, like the lower animals? Why must we disregard such a large part of him? It seems to me that my internal bodily processes make up the bulk of my existence. What would I be without them: a disembodied mind? Is it just my mind that lacks an inbuilt standard of value? Or am I allowed to retain my external bodily processes? Though I'm not sure what that would mean, since even hair growth involves internal processes below the surface of the skin.

I might consider the rest of those quotes later, but right now I'll turn to the question of whether Peikoff has accurately represented Rand's philosophy. Because she approved of and attended his '76 course, it can easily be argued that she agreed that "man has no built-in, pre-programmed standard of value." However, those are still Peikoff's words, despite Rand's endorsement. So let's also consider what she, herself, wrote in The Objectivist Ethics (1961):

Quote

 

...if an organism fails in the basic functions required by its nature--if an amoeba's protoplasm stops assimilating food, or if a man's heart stops beating--the organism dies. In a fundamental sense, stillness is the antithesis of life. Life can be kept in existence only by a constant process of self-sustaining action. The goal of that action, the ultimate value which, to be kept, must be gained through its every moment, is the organism's life.

An ultimate value is that final goal or end to which all lesser goals are the means--and it sets the standard by which all lesser goals are evaluated. An organism's life is its standard of value: that which furthers its life is the good, that which threatens it is the evil. (VOS, p. 17)

 

Here she makes no initial division between the lower species and man, and she doesn't use words like "implicit" and "inbuilt." She talks generally about an organism, from an amoeba to a man. And she argues for its life being its standard of value. She must mean "standard of value" in the widest, biological sense of the concept. For it isn't until later in the essay that she narrowly identifies "the standard of value of the Objectivist ethics," which, of course, is "man's life." (p. 25)

It seems to me that Peikoff conflated the biological standard of value (an organism's life) with the Objectivist standard of value (man's life), in his attempt to reformulate Rand's philosophy. And since Rand apparently approved of his '76 formulation, Objectivists will likely debate this issue until the end of time.

Edited by MisterSwig

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The copy of the '76 lectures I possess has a disclaimer stating that the formulations in the book were superior, and the course was made available for those who might find it instructive to compare the differences.

Perhaps the credit that Peikoff deserves is not for his ability to have preserved the "letter of the law", but to have captured the "spirit" of Objectivism in a well organized presentation.

Her redacted public notice came out prior to the '76 lectures. As the composer of Objectivism, hers are the official scores. Furthermore, her verbal endorsement here was affixed to his verbal delivery.

If anything, more benefit could probably be derived grasping the steps and criteria that establishes what can be taken as objectively true, and being able to communicate it in such a way that others find enrolling.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On ‎11‎/‎13‎/‎2019 at 6:19 AM, MisterSwig said:

Note that he added the phrase "leaving aside his internal bodily processes," which did not appear in his 1976 lecture. I find this to be a strange revision. Let's imagine that we keep man's internal bodily processes with the rest of him, would he now have an inbuilt standard of value, like the lower animals? Why must we disregard such a large part of him? It seems to me that my internal bodily processes make up the bulk of my existence. What would I be without them: a disembodied mind? Is it just my mind that lacks an inbuilt standard of value? Or am I allowed to retain my external bodily processes? Though I'm not sure what that would mean, since even hair growth involves internal processes below the surface of the skin.

I think Peikoff is being careful about the scope of the subject to be discussed.  The realm of ethics in a philosophy (the study of knowledge) can only pertain to a volitional consciousness.  The fact that unconscious life... AND unconscious processes are "determined" by "inbuilt" natures should be carefully separated from the task at hand, to discuss ethics and philosophy.

This in no way implies that a man should ignore his knowledge about how his heart functions, in fact such knowledge can be crucial, but how his heart functions, like anything else a volitional consciousness can observe, is to be the subject of separate study.. study of the heart is part of the special sciences... To be sure what we glean from that study will become knowledge, but that study is not the science and study of how we validly obtain and apply knowledge (in general): which is philosophy.

On ‎11‎/‎13‎/‎2019 at 6:19 AM, MisterSwig said:

It seems to me that Peikoff conflated the biological standard of value (an organism's life) with the Objectivist standard of value (man's life), in his attempt to reformulate Rand's philosophy. And since Rand apparently approved of his '76 formulation, Objectivists will likely debate this issue until the end of time.

Funny. from the same quotes I am lead to believe Peikoff got it right.  I do not think any "standard" guides something which is non-thinking.  In the same ways "laws" and "principles" do not "guide" anything in physics... those things simply act in accord with their natures... they "follow" nothing, they are determined.  We identify, conceptualize,  and abstract... to understand... and those understandings take the form of laws and principles which connect things now with what we predict them to be later... or connect things now with how they were previously.  So all life, like everything else, exhibits identity and causality and "lawful" behavior (a plant does not randomly grow up to be Hegel).  They do not act the way they act because of the abstractions we have in our minds.   We have formed those abstractions in our mind because of the ways they act.

Now, only humans conceptualize, abstract, and can recognize and use standards or principles or laws of any kind.  I believe Rand was being a bit metaphorical (and a little poetic) with her use of the term "standard of value" in the context of plants etc. because she wanted to relate and/or ground humans (who have unfortunately identified themselves only with the mind and not their biological metaphysical totality) back to reality and biology,  So in the context of a plant, a "standard of value" must be a mental projection on our part on the behavior of the plant... which is not volitional in any way on the part of the plant. 

Plants cannot have standards.  They have natures and deterministic processes.  In the right environment they flourish, in the wrong ones they struggle or die... they simply cannot choose anything or adopt any standard.

 

Peikoff changing to "implicitly" "inbuilt" standard "determining" from just "standard" "guiding" is a good thing... perhaps not going far enough... but then again, he could not have strayed too far from Rand's poetry, so maybe he found the right balance.

Edited by StrictlyLogical
Added "implicitly"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Funny. from the same quotes I am lead to believe Peikoff got it right.  I do not think any "standard" guides something which is non-thinking.

You think he got it right in '76? Because that's where he said that "implicitly, life is the standard of value guiding their actions [meaning the 'lower organisms']." And that is the formulation that Rand apparently approved. We might ask what it means to implicitly guide an action, but I want to understand your basic position first. When you say that Peikoff got it right, do you mean in '76 or '91--or both?  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

You think he got it right in '76? Because that's where he said that "implicitly, life is the standard of value guiding their actions [meaning the 'lower organisms']." And that is the formulation that Rand apparently approved. We might ask what it means to implicitly guide an action, but I want to understand your basic position first. When you say that Peikoff got it right, do you mean in '76 or '91--or both?  

Rather than interject before you have a chance to read my entire post, I'll just say the substance of my post makes my position unambiguously clear.  My last paragraph sums it up.

:)

Edited by StrictlyLogical

Share this post


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

I do not think any "standard" guides something which is non-thinking.  In the same ways "laws" and "principles" do not "guide" anything in physics... those things simply act in accord with their natures... they "follow" nothing, they are determined.

I agree that non-thinking things act in accord with their natures, but so do thinking things. I therefore don't understand the relevance of this point.

I believe the relevant distinction here is that lower organisms aren't conceptually aware of their standard of value. They act to keep their lives (or not) automatically. Their automatic action, however, is not automatically beneficial to their lives. They might be an unfit mutant. Man, on the other hand, can be conceptually aware of his standard of value and can, as a maturing adult, learn to maintain his life by rational choice. (As a baby, he maintains his life by reflexes, and later mimickry, much like our primitive progenitors.)

21 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Now, only humans conceptualize, abstract, and can recognize and use standards or principles or laws of any kind.

This view seems based on "standard" as merely an abstraction with no concrete units in reality. I could say that the lower organisms don't use food, because only humans have the concept of "food." But I would be wrong, because "food" refers to actual, particular things (leaves, bugs, mice, deer, wheat) that exist in reality and function as food relative to the user. The user needn't be aware of what humans call the thing in order to use the thing. And so a lower organism can use its particular life to react automatically without knowing that humans refer to its life as its standard of value in that context of acting to gain or keep something.

21 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

I believe Rand was being a bit metaphorical (and a little poetic) with her use of the term "standard of value" in the context of plants etc.

I disagree. She repeated the exact same idea at least three or four times in the context of plants and lower organisms. I see no indication of metaphorical usage. She initially used it to refer to a particular thing (an organism's life), and later she used it to refer to an idea (man's life). Because man is conceptual, he has both standards, his own life and his concept of life. It is up to him to ensure that his concept does not contradict his reality.

Edited by MisterSwig

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

I agree that non-thinking things act in accord with their natures, but so do thinking things. I therefore don't understand the relevance of this point.

I believe the relevant distinction here is that lower organisms aren't conceptually aware of their standard of value. They act to keep their lives (or not) automatically. Their automatic action, however, is not automatically beneficial to their lives. They might be an unfit mutant. Man, on the other hand, can be conceptually aware of his standard of value and can, as a maturing adult, learn to maintain his life by rational choice. (As a baby, he maintains his life by reflexes, and later mimickry, much like our primitive progenitors.)

This view seems based on "standard" as merely an abstraction with no concrete units in reality. I could say that the lower organisms don't use food, because only humans have the concept of "food." But I would be wrong, because "food" refers to actual, particular things (leaves, bugs, mice, deer, wheat) that exist in reality and function as food relative to the user. The user needn't be aware of what humans call the thing in order to use the thing. And so a lower organism can use its particular life to react automatically without knowing that humans refer to its life as its standard of value in that context of acting to gain or keep something.

I disagree. She repeated the exact same idea at least three or four times in the context of plants and lower organisms. I see no indication of metaphorical usage. She initially used it to refer to a particular thing (an organism's life), and later she used it to refer to an idea (man's life). Because man is conceptual, he has both standards, his own life and his concept of life. It is up to him to ensure that his concept does not contradict his reality.

Peikoff is no chump.  I think what he did to change those formulations is objectively more correct.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Miss Rand, in her essay on The Objectivist Ethics added the following footnote:

* When applied to physical phenomena, such as the automatic functions of an organism, the term “goal-directed” is not to be taken to mean “purposive” (a concept applicable only to the actions of a consciousness) and is not to imply the existence of any teleological principle operating in insentient nature. I use the term “goal-directed,” in this context, to designate the fact that the automatic functions of living organisms are actions whose nature is such that they result in the preservation of an organism’s life.

She added that footnote at the end of this paragraph:

Only a living entity can have goals or can originate them. And it is only a living organism that has the capacity for self-generated, goal-directed action. On the physical level, the functions of all living organisms, from the simplest to the most complex—from the nutritive function in the single cell of an amoeba to the blood circulation in the body of a man—are actions generated by the organism itself and directed to a single goal: the maintenance of the organism’s life.*

Peifoff added "leaving aside his internal bodily processes". The paragraph leading up to and containing this is separating the volitional from what is not volitional, or in the terminology he used, "inbuilt". 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/17/2019 at 5:36 AM, dream_weaver said:

The paragraph leading up to and containing this is separating the volitional from what is not volitional, or in the terminology he used, "inbuilt".

I don't think Peikoff is using inbuilt to distinguish between a non-volitional or volitional standard. He might be using it as a synonym for inherent, but I still don't like the word choice. Etymologically, inbuilt comes out of the world of engineering and construction. It appears in newspapers as early as 1906 in ads like this one:

448305182_Screenshot_20191118-0943562.thumb.png.84c25ed75c9f4b058eb26520433baae0.png

 

I'm concerned that Peikoff's use of this word confuses the metaphysical with the man-made. Life is not like a furnace built into a wall of a house. This is the sort of mystical notion about life that we find in Genesis, where God builds Adam by shaping some dust into a body and blowing life into it. Such echoes of religion should be abandoned. And, generally, we should probably avoid using these engineering concepts in a philosophical context. Man is not a building or a machine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Words have their precise as well as their colloquial usage. In writing,, especially in book form, precision is what Peikoff touted in his course on Objective Communication while the colloquial form is more appropriately reserved for the extemporaneous, or public speaking venue were circling around and groping for the word to use is not unexpected.

Until seeing the objection raised here, it had not occurred to me to consider "inbuilt" in the manner suggested. 

For just the word "inbuilt" itself, the following entry, attributed to Oxford was returned:

existing as an original or essential part of something or someone.

As such, this seems quite adequate.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

For just the word "inbuilt" itself, the following entry, attributed to Oxford was returned:

existing as an original or essential part of something or someone.

As such, this seems quite adequate.

Your life is not a part of you. It is a process which involves all your parts. It is you living. When Peikoff says "inbuilt standard" he is conflating a process with a part, because "standard" here refers to your life.

I'm saying that engineering concepts like inbuilt, when applied to man, are critically problematic, because they contain an essentially flawed assumption about man: that he is like a man-made object. Or in religion: man is like a god-made object. Today's secular idea of man as machine is a vestige of religion, and the sooner we rid ourselves of it the better--the quicker we can get on with gaining knowledge.

Man is not made, he's grown. He is like the tree that grows from a seed, only he is much more evolved. Nature does not put us together like a bookcase from IKEA. Nature grows us like all her other living organisms.

Rand was on the right track, conceiving life as a process. But Peikoff confused this idea by conceiving the standard of value as some kind of part. The standard of value is not a part. It's life seen from the context of value-seeking.

Edited by MisterSwig

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

Your life is not a part of you.

I have some affinity for the point you are making but I have an objection to this last post in that:

Life (as an attribute) is a part of you.

The whole exploration here is about differentiating "standard" from "purpose".
From certain perspectives/context they are the same.

If life is a self sustaining activity, then that is a process.
But life is also a "state of being", as in, living or dead.
Isn't aliveness or deadness ultimately a binary standard.

From the "binary state perspective", life is clearly a standard that can be compared to.

A standard and a purpose can be a "direction".
A standard can be a fixed point to compare to, a direction can be timeless (nothing specific).
A standard can define a unit, a direction can't.

Based on that, one can come up with unit s of aliveness. (as in how alive are you?)

Ether "Inbuilt" or "by conscious choice", life is a workable standard. (identifiable, definable. can be worked with).

Then the question expands social/political into incorporating "my life", "your life", "our life" and beyond "my human life", "your human life", "our human life".

In a political context, "Your" life, by definition and implication, is a part of you (as in belonging to you).
As in, your arm is a part of you. (but I don't want to go on a tangent here)

Without Life (binary state) as the standard, value seeking, is arbitrary.

A volcano is not the earth seeking the value of volcano mountains, it is simply natural process. In that sense, process does not indicate standard.


 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/16/2019 at 6:10 AM, MisterSwig said:

(As a baby, he maintains his life by reflexes, and later mimickry, much like our primitive progenitors.)

Just to start out, please stop repeating this. This is not actually true, babies don't maintain their life by reflexes, and mimicry serves the function of cognitive development (it is a method of learning that is not associative). 

 

Consider these two thoughts first:

On 11/13/2019 at 6:19 AM, MisterSwig said:

Note that he added the phrase "leaving aside his internal bodily processes," which did not appear in his 1976 lecture. I find this to be a strange revision.

It's not strange. In the revision, he removed the potentially confusing portion about lower organisms. He originally points out that man has a volitional, conceptual consciousness. This is different than lower animals, which is not to say that lower organisms lack any kind of consciousness, or that they operate only automatically. People might misconstrue that as saying that lower organisms operate only automatically, which isn't what he said. You misconstrued it that way. So of course it is better to eliminate the potential confusion (or sidebar debate)  and keep the focus only on man's volitional, conceptual consciousness.

12 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

Nature does not put us together like a bookcase from IKEA. Nature grows us like all her other living organisms.

Actually, we are put together like bookcases from IKEA. Not that there is a creator piecing together everything with an explicit goal in mind. Many individual living cells work together to gradually construct each part of the body. Yes, I do mean construct. The cells respond to the environment such as proteins, they are self-sustaining, and they are teleological. In this way, inbuilt makes sense. There are things that are already built before you begin thinking. However, there would be a better word. Innate is a better term, which essentially means "pre-existing without any learning or other directed behavior". It's a better fit for biological things.

With that in mind, it's easier to answer the questions in your first post:

On 11/13/2019 at 6:19 AM, MisterSwig said:

Why must we disregard such a large part of him?

Internal body processes are not being ignored. They are abstracted away as not relevant to the discussion. He is just saying that automatic processes do have an implicit standard of value, but we are concerned about volitional and conceptual processes. Implicit would mean that it is not actually a standard of value, because standards must be held explicitly. If standards are not held explicitly, they are not there. But there is something like a standard, because they have a teleological end, maintaining and continuing their self generated actions.

Rand uses the word implicit when discussing concept formation. There are implicit concepts, which exist before concepts are formed. Implicit concepts are not actually concepts, but they contain all the necessary material for a concept. It makes sense to me that Peikoff would use the word implicit with the same meaning in mind. 

On 11/13/2019 at 6:19 AM, MisterSwig said:

It seems to me that my internal bodily processes make up the bulk of my existence. What would I be without them: a disembodied mind?

That's correct. But see above.

On 11/13/2019 at 6:19 AM, MisterSwig said:

Is it just my mind that lacks an inbuilt standard of value?

Exactly! Tabula rasa. 

 

Edited by Eiuol

Share this post


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

Life (as an attribute) is a part of you.

What is the difference between you and your life? You are not your body. You are the process of your body. When that process stops, you die, and your body remains to turn into something else of material existence. You are a process. You are life. But in order to exist, you require matter, because only matter can engage in a process. But let's not confuse our matter with our life. Our life is not an attribute of our matter. It's an action of our matter.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

Our life is not an attribute of our matter. It's an action of our matter.

Actions are attributes of an entity, as indicated by saying "of".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
46 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

What is the difference between you and your life? You are not your body. You are the process of your body.

The conflict partially seems to be over the definition rather an actual disagreement.

Perspective (or definition) 

A.    Life is an action.

B.    Life is a state.

With version B: Life is the binary state where the action “is or is not” taking place. It is binary, it is either true or false, and one is either alive or dead.

You seem to reject version B as a valid definition or perspective on “life”.

If we use version A as the definition then yes, “one is not identical to the action”. But if I exist, my life exists. If my life exists, I exist. Therefore, my life and I, are concomitants (not identical as you say).

And “You are the process of your body.” Is false in the same sense, of you are NOT identical to the process of your body. It may accompany it in an epistemological sense, but you are not identical with your life. You have “your life”, you are not “your life”.

So … what should have been said by Peikoff? Regarding the ultimate argument in this thread.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

If life is a self sustaining activity, then that is a process.
But life is also a "state of being", as in, living or dead.
Isn't aliveness or deadness ultimately a binary standard.

I dealt with this "binary" objection on another thread. I'll add that describing life as a "state of being" should not conflict with the definition of life as a process. Everything that exists is a state of being. If it's not a state of being, then it doesn't exist. To be is to be something, in some respect, at some time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

Everything that exists is a state of being. If it's not a state of being, then it doesn't exist. To be is to be something, in some respect, at some time.

Why are you throwing away the most important argument explaining the necessity of values? 
Life (and/or death) is what makes values possible. (Not different kinds of life)
At its core, values is about the need to AVOID the state of nonexistence.

You said in one of your posts "But I disagree with the way you're using the concept binary in relation to things." 
Why the disagreement? Choosing your perspective is like choosing a perceptual handicap, like partial blindness.

In other words, ignoring non existence as a state of being prevents "awareness of death" within this context.

To see states of being as ONLY (existent/existing/alive) states does not allow an awareness of life as the standard of value.

States of being also includes a non existent state as one of the states.

The binary aspect of life is not 2 "existing" states.
As in, the binary state is not life vs. "good life". 
It is life vs. death!
Existing state vs. non existing state.
When it comes to life, something is alive or NOT alive (that much you agree).
Existence and non existence are the two states that make it binary (which may be what you disagree with).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

Why are you throwing away the most important argument explaining the necessity of values? 
Life (and/or death) is what makes values possible. (Not different kinds of life)
At its core, values is about the need to AVOID the state of nonexistence.

You're conflating a state of being with a state of nonexistence. Living organisms face the alternative of life or death, but that doesn't mean life is binary, because death is not a kind of life. If anything, it's a kind of absence of life. Besides, only man has a concept of life or death. Lower organisms don't pursue values in order to avoid death. They pursue values automatically because that is the nature of lower life forms. Our volition, however, gives us a choice in the matter.

Edited by MisterSwig

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

You're conflating a state of being with a state of nonexistence. Living organisms face the alternative of life or death, but that doesn't mean life is binary, because death is not a kind of life. If anything, it's a kind of absence of life.

Yes that is at the core of the disagreement.

I agree that death is not a kind of life and I would say that you are conflating "state" with "type/kinds/subspecies". "State" is simply an identifiable condition of x.

And i will counter by saying:

"No, you are mistaken about 'states of being' by excluding non existence as a state of being."

Kind of like saying the states of truth only include "true", rather than "true" and "false".

Or unconsciousness is not a state of consciousness.

Or someone saying "bankruptcy" is not a state of being of a business, since it is not a functioning business.

A state of something is a standard one compares it too.
It can be "whatever" is observed as its identifiable condition.

But ... one can limit the standard by which states are identified. (this can be done purposefully)
As in one can limit the standard numbering system to include zero or not include zero.

You are limiting the definition of "state of being" (the standard) to the point that it cannot allow awareness of (distinguish) the necessity for values.

It is your definition that makes it too restrictive and is causing you to question.

I believe, that's what is going on here.
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/20/2019 at 8:52 AM, Easy Truth said:

I agree that death is not a kind of life and I would say that you are conflating "state" with "type/kinds/subspecies". "State" is simply an identifiable condition of x.

When you say "state of being," your variable "x" is "being." So what do you mean by "being"? To me it means existing.

Addendum: Also, are you saying life qua process is binary or life qua standard is binary--or both?

Edited by MisterSwig

Share this post


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

What is your stance on the law of excluded middle? Or how might you couch life as it pertains to a living organism in terms of that law?

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.

Edited by MisterSwig

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

A body is either living or dead. It's either an organism or a corpse.

Well yes, and those two states, (binary alternative) is not available to an inanimate object.

No rock corpse.
No sky corpse.
No glass corpse.

There is no value system, no self interest, no concept of benefit related to these things, because the alternative of life and death do not exist.

The concept of "mistake" or survival is meaningless in relation to these inanimate entities.

But they have meaning when applied to a living thing.

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.

Maybe because they think there is a supernatural world, better than this one to go to.

A plant, or animal, or amoeba cannot commit suicide due to lacking certain human capabilities.

A human can choose to commit suicide, therefore, in that sense a human does not have an inbuilt value system. 

Notice, I said, in that sense.

Rand's whole thesis rests on this because if your values are built in, if the desire for staying alive was unchanging, guaranteed, then self interest is guaranteed too. 

Selflessness becomes meaningless.

Why write a book on the virtue of selfishness when selfishness is built in?

As humans, we can act against our life, as in we can believe that everyone else's interest comes before our own interest.

And to illustrate the evil of it, if one perpetually gives away their paycheck, they will starve.

Since you can go against your "inbuilt values" or tendencies, there has to be an objective guide, or target.

The standard of value based on life or death is objective.

And when applied to humans, survival is much more complex than what it means to a plant.
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...