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valjean

Doesn't the end of "happiness" justify any means?

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Do you see a problem here? I do: Fallacy of the stolen concept.

I'll add one to the list: fallacy of begging the question.

The premise that faith makes a person happy (which is a necessary support to the conclusion) is just as much in need of proof as the conclusion itself. The identification of the question as "arbitrary" (to which valjean apparently took offense and thought that such an identification is evidence of not being able to answer the question) is directly tied to the fallacy. The assertion was made with no association to the facts of reality, and is therefore an arbitrary assertion.

The best direction for valjean to go is to prove his "assumption" that adopting faith-based beliefs makes any person more happy than without faith-based beliefs.

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I understood from the beginning that I was asking people to accept a fallacious premise for the sake of my question--of course I was disappointed when they wouldn't, just for the sake of theorizing--but sorry I've complained and I'll not do it again on purpose.

I don't agree with any these statements.  For example, I think it would make me happier to make the assumption that there is a blissful afterlife.  I'm not trying to be stubborn or to "win" the argument--I just don't understand what's wrong with my thinking.

Premises cannot be fallacious. Fallacies exist in the association between premises and a conclusion.

What benefit do you expect to derive from the contemplation of a hypothetical which even you admit is not based in reality?

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You needn't be suspicious of my motives--I know people occasionally appear on this forum who we should be suspicious of, but I'm not one.  I'm simply trying to increase my understanding, and if you look in the past there have been times where I've grasped something I didn't before and admitted that I was wrong.

Then you should understand that "flying off the handle" (as you put it) and telling somebody that they have "very 'Randoid' behavior" is not conducive to your self-described motive.

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I don't agree with any these statements.  For example, I think it would make me happier to make the assumption that there is a blissful afterlife.

Let me add that an individual that decides to accept such fallacious premises exists in his "ignorant bliss" to the extent to which he succeeds at avoiding reality. For example, growing up in an isolated religious sect, one might get away for a long time with believing in nonsensical religious things, so long as within this isolated sect there are some people living life according to reality and supporting this absurdity. In any case, those who evade reality exist really to the extent to which the rest of their lives are reality-based, or, more commonly, to the extent to which others who are reality-based support them. Make no mistake about it, evil exists only with the permission of the good.

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Cole, he was using my wording when he said "flying off the handle."

I saw that you used it first. When he repeated the wording to describe his behavior, I took it as a sign that he felt it was a fitting phrase.

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It does make sense to me that if something makes one happier, one should do it.  At least I've gotten one person to agree with me.

This is the fallacy of hedonism, which confuses the purpose of morality and its standard.

From "The Objectivist Ethics" by Ayn Rand: "Happiness can properly be the purpose of ethics, but not the standard."

Hedonism defaults on the task of determining the values proper for man. Since happiness is the state of mind that results from achieving one's values, hedonism simply tells you to pursue whatever values you happen to want at the moment, be they rational or irrational, consistent with reality or contradictory. Philosophically, hedonism is closer to Russian roulette than it is to morality.

In addition to the sections of The Lexicon recommended by Burgess, see the section on hedonism.

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I think it would make me happier to make the assumption that there is a blissful afterlife.

And how does this belief effect your actions on earth?

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And how does this belief effect your actions on earth?

In order to think that faith makes one happier, one would have to accept that rationality was somehow keeping one from being happy. The primacy of feelings over rationality is the cause of so much trouble and death in the world it is impossible for an objectivist to see how denying the applicability of reason could make any thinking man happy. In order for faith to make a man happy, he would have to willfully ignore a whole world of contrary evidence of the evils attendant on the denial of reason. Desiring that state of ignorance is incomprehensible to me.

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And I stand by that.  I offer as proof the feeling I get when I see a beautiful painting, when I'm around my friends, or, perhaps, when I think about a happy afterlife.  So BurgessLau and JMeganSnow and everyone else--can you explain where I'm going wrong in my take on happiness, and support your definition of it with some kind of proof?

You are conflating happiness with pleasure, here, which I think is where our communication difficulty is coming in.

Happiness is a long-term generalized emotional state. It encompasses, not that you feel enjoyment of a specific object or occurance today, but that you enjoy your ultimate value (that being your life) every day. In order to enjoy life, you must be able to live that life, and long-term survival as a human being requires the exercise of reason.

Michael's comments about hedonism are accurate. From VOS:

. . . the relationship of cause to effect cannot be reversed.  It is only by accepting "man's life" as one's primary and by pursuing the rational values it requires that one can achieve happiness--not by taking "happiness" as some undefined, irreducible primary and then attempting to live by its guidance.  If you achieve that which is the good by a rational standard of value, it will necessarily make you happy; but that which makes you happy, by some undefined emotional standard, is not necessarily the good.  To take "whatever makes one happy" as a guide to action means: to be guided by nothing but one's emotional whims.  Emotions are not tools of cognition; to be guided by whims--by desires whose source, nature, and meaning one does not know--is to turn oneself into a blind robot, operated by unknowable demons (by one's stale evasions), a robot knocking its stagnant brains out against the walls of reality which it refuses to see.

You have said that contemplating a blissful afterlife would make you happy. Why would such make you happy? For what reason? Can you define it? Can you defend it?

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I apologize for not answering for a few days (let's just say I've been in deep thought), and for not having access to most of the Objectivist canon (such as the Ayn Rand Lexicon), and for being harsh earlier.

AisA has pointed out something even I should have been aware of from my readings: "Happiness can properly be the purpose of ethics, but not the standard."

That's why it's arbitrary in this discussion to discuss whether or not faith actually can or cannot make one happier. That doesn't have any application to whether or not one accepts faith--one should only accept faith if this is supported in some way by rationality.

I want to continue to discuss whether or not the practice or process of faith could be supported by rationality. I don't fully accept myself that it can or cannot be, but I'd like to present the argument that it can be to further my understanding.

My argument that the practice and process of faith, although it can have no rational proof within itself, can be rationally justified, can be is divided into two separate parts, as follows:

Part 1: Faith could be used to artistically portray man romantically, not as we rationally know him to be but as he can and aught to be.

Part 2: Life should imitate art because we, as humans, aspire to reach our fullest potential. Thus we should "accept" faith.

I'd like to make some preliminary comments. First, I realize that most of the "faithful" would reject faith made by the rationale I provided as true faith, but that's beside the point. Second, I'd like to provide an example for Part 1. That example is "Religion X," in which the individual is personally "loved" by a beautiful "God" in whose image he was created, and in which the individual (i.e. his consciousness) is reincarnated infinitely (as a human being). (You may personally not agree that my example suffices for you, but it does for me, and that's the point anyway. And I did just make that up as an example, I don't really believe that :D.)

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I think that what you are laking most of all is order and consistency.

All philosophical questions are interrelated, and all conceptual knowledge rests upon earlier knowledge, all the way to perception. Therefore, I'll advise you to study the field in this method, if knowledge is really what you are seeking. Otherwise all you'll find is more and more confusion.

In your statement in regard to afterlife you are wrong in the most crucial way; you are metaphysically wrong! Now, I don't know what is your current knowledge of philosophy, and if you are aware of the difference between the primacy of existence principle VS the primacy of consciousness. But, by claiming that you choose to except a proposition because it makes you feel good, regardless and despite the facts of reality, brings you to uphold the primacy of consciousness.

(which, in this case states briefly that you place your emotions above reality, or in Ayn Rand's formulation, placing an 'I wish' above an 'It is'). As to the question about happiness can/cannot be derived from a fraud, or why is it right/wrong-

it certainly has an answer, but I think you should first focus on Metaphysics & Epistemology. Shortly after you'll tell me yourself.

I would suggest that you read Leonard Peikoff's book: 'Objectivism: The Philosophy Of Ayn Rand'. It is very clearly written and, most importantly, it is very well orgenized. (It is orgenized in hierarchical order, so that every argument rests upon earlier knowledge and validated, starting from the beginning; the axioms.)

Except for a minor mistake in the nature of perception, which doesn't effect the rest of the ideas, this is a great book to learn from. I had to to a lot of dictionary work, but English is my second language; and yet the book was really clear.

I'll be glad to help you where and when I can, time is always a problem. But I don't think anyone can make it clearer then the books themselves. check them out.

Hope it helps,

>>>Edited to correct misspelling of Dr. Peikoff's name--JMeganSnow<<<

Edited by JMeganSnow

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Could someone offer me examples that prove what Felipe has said, or prove why my "assumption that there is a blissful afterlife" would do me more harm than good?
How would you act differently here on earth if there was a blissful afterlife? Would you have to act altruistically? Would you have to submit to God's will? If there are no requirements for entering the blissful afterlife then why not just kill yourself?

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Precisely, Dufresne: thought divorced from action is non-thought. If you have come to some conclusion, you really need to act on it, and history is rife with examples of people acting on some premise other than reason.

Portraying man as a potential hero requires no faith, the evidence is everywhere. What does art have to do with faith? Do you somehow imagine that romanticism is divorced from reality? Is your point then that humans are actually weak, helpless, evil, small, and smutty, and believing anything else requires some sort of mystic pretense? That's pretty low.

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I offered a definition of happiness, from Ayn Rand's writings, as a state of mind that arises from living one's life successfully (that is, achieving one's highest philosophical and personal values). You replied:

I don't agree with either of these definitions of happiness [...].  I think this is where my thoughts diverge from Objectivism.  [...]

I offer as proof the feeling I get when I see a beautiful painting, when I'm around my friends, or, perhaps, when I think about a happy afterlife.  So BurgessLau and JMeganSnow and everyone else--can you explain where I'm going wrong in my take on happiness, and support your definition of it with some kind of proof?

What you are describing (in bold, which I have added) is an emotion arising -- as you yourself tell us -- from particular value accomplishments. I have no disagreement with that observation. I too feel positive emotions (ranging from joy to a sense of peacefulness, as appropriate) in the first two situations.

I feel revulsion when I think about "a happy afterlife" because I know it is a fraud. However, if I recognize a belief in a happy afterlife for what it is -- wishful thinking -- then I can momentarily imagine believing in it and then subsequently feel a sense of euphoria arising at that moment, that is, until I recover context. Likewise, I could imagine being a Nazi and feeling euphoria arising from the "thought" of the mass destruction of "inferior peoples."

The onus of proof is on you. If you do not accept Ayn Rand's concept of happiness -- as a state of mind arising from the achievement of one's basic values -- then what name would you give to that phenomenon?

More pointedly, I would ask you if you have ever experienced a state of mind arising from the achievement of one's basic values? Have you? If so, what do you call it?

I am assuming that you understand the difference between a state of mind and an emotion; if you don't, let's discuss that.

Edited by BurgessLau

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I am not surprised most chose to question the question rather than just answer it. I will, despite the obvious fact that ValJean is simply looking for an excuse for denial. I will answer and base my answer on the assumptions made that in this case religion = a spiritual belief system including a Deity. and that the individual in question has an understanding of rational self determination.

if it makes one happier to follow some religion, wouldn't it be rational to do so?

No: It is never rational to follow a course that is harmful. In order to follow "some religion" one must accede to its dictates. In order to do that one must be willing to deny the rational over the assumed. To the extent that other forms of happiness are jeopardized. Denial of rational truth over assumed truth would lead to conflict, and conflict is not conducive to happiness, therefore simple belief may give some level of comfort but that comfort would then be denigrated by reality.

Happiness (taken here to mean a state of mind) is not a steady state of being and reality is, so the continual flux would eventually force a psychological break wherein the mind would need to rationalize (in the worst sense of the word) the contradictions and would retreat to a state of denial, in effect establishing a fantasy to explain away truth and reality.

Granted this state of denial might generate the allusion of a happy state but delusion of happiness is counterintuitive to reason and you established that the subject is a rational being. In essence your example is simply that of another rational person who lacking the courage to live on their own terms as an individual seeks the solace of the crowd and accepts the torture of conformity over the freedom of purpose.

Now my question is "is it rational a man should eat mass quantities of Little Debbie Fudge Rounds simply because they make him happy...???"

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