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valjean

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

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Ayn Rand stated that it is imperative that we do not deny reality. I understand the importance of this in developing a system of rational philosophy, of course, but not necessarily in everyday life.

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

Lets assume that the person in question rejected religion on the basis of Rand's philosophy (i.e. accepted that blind faith is irrational because there is no proof of it) but then decided that accepting that faith again might make them more happy.

Please answer my question (yes/no) and state your reasons.

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Ayn Rand stated that it is imperative that we do not deny reality.  I understand the importance of this in developing a system of rational philosophy, of course, but not necessarily in everyday life. 

Philosophy is divorced from everyday life?

The whole purpose of philosophy is to act as the integrator of man's ideas in order to enable him to live. A philosophy that fails in this goal, i.e. that is divorced from everyday life, is worse than useless.

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

Advocating irrationality for medicinal purposes? Get a dog instead--having a pet has been shown to make you better off more ways than religion is purported to.

Remember that Objectivism stresses the importance of having a personal foundation in reality, and any attempt to substitute your rational judgment with that of another can only hurt your long-run happiness. Your happiness is the purpose, and your life is the standard that all your goals should aim at and be judged by.

Building your beliefs on faith, that is, beliefs that you hold without evidence, or in the face of conflicting evidence, can only distort your perception and understanding of reality. Reason and faith do not and cannot mix.

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Felipe--I started to answer your question, but I suspect that you're trying to say that having some sort of faith cannot actually make one more happy, and that's a good topic for a different thread. I don't want to be rude, I just don't want to get too off topic. And if I'm wrong in that suspicion, please tell me your take on happiness.

JMeganSnow--I agree with you. I didn't say that philosophy should be divorced from everyday life. I'm questioning whether having faith can be philosophically justified.

DArcMatter--You're just trying to argue that having faith cannot make one happier. That's a good question for a new thread (the same one I suggested in response to Felipe's question).

Before we start a thread on whether or not faith can make one happier, I'd like to answer the question:

For the purposes of this thread, if we assume that faith does make a specific person happier, is it rational for him to have faith?

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For the purposes of this thread, if we assume that faith does make a specific person happier, is it rational for him to have faith?

That is a loaded question, completely divorced from reality. It's like asking "If anchovies tasted like chocolate wouldn't you like them?". It's a completely arbitrary question. Denying reality in any form should never make a rational man feel happier and if it does then he needs to check his premises and convictions for contradictions.

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if we assume that faith does make a specific person happier, is it rational for him to have faith?

If we assume that injecting coke does make a specific person happier, is it rational for him to do it?

I think this is why Felipe asks you to define happiness.

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Rational_One and Nxixcxk:

Asking questions about faith is an important part of philosophy because, as JMeganSnow has said, philosophy is all about solving the problems of everyday life, and faith is definitely a problem of everyday life. You shouldn't just shrug off my quesion without answering it. That makes me assume that you can't answer it, and I'd consider it a very "Randoid" behavior.

If people on this forum cannot answer me with a yes or no and a reason, I will assume that the answer is yes. I'll also assume that it's not worth my time to create the other thread asking whether or not happiness can be increased by having faith. I am asking a serious quesion and I am a serious participant in this forum; I'm not just a troller and I'm not just spouting absurdities. Please take me seriously.

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Wow, why are we flying off our handle? Who here has expressed non-seriousness toward your question? As my PhD advisor always does with me when I ask him questions, I'm asking you to answer a different question that is crucial to discovering the answer to your initial quesiton. By doing so, I'm forcing you to go through the process of learning why the answer many of us here can so easily give you is the right answer. So, what is happiness?

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You shouldn't just shrug off my quesion without answering it.

I thought I did.

Just as the coke user winds up truly unhappy, since his taking of coke inhibits his life, so the faith believer winds up unhappy, since his taking of faith inhibits his life.

(Both the injection of coke and the use of faith in order to be happy are two sides of the same coin; the coin being an idea not grounded in reality)

Argh...my written communication is horrible...hopefully you understand what I'm trying to say, I give up :lol:.

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Wow, why are we flying off our handle?  Who here has expressed non-seriousness toward your question?

I'm flying off the handle because I don't want my question to be marginalized as "arbitrary" and "a loaded question, completely divorced from reality," as Rational_One accuses, because it is an important question to me. Pardon me for being harsh; I just felt that it might be necessary. I understand that my question is arbitrary once one fully accepts some things that I haven't gotten around to accepting yet, and this is just the first step, perhaps, to my accepting those things.

I'm forcing you to go through the process of learning why the answer many of us here can so easily give you is the right answer.  So, what is happiness?

Sorry I didn't just give you the benefit of the doubt on that. I don't have a definitive answer. Happiness is partially the fulfillment one feels after having produced or achieved some value; it's also a general feeling of satisfaction or metaphysical joy one feels independent of anything he or she actually does. Please give me a more correct summation of what happiness is and if that doesn't clear up my question, please help shed some light on it.

Just as the coke user winds up truly unhappy, since his taking of coke inhibits his life, so the faith believer winds up unhappy, since his taking of faith inhibits his life.

That is possible, but I don't accept it as true that accepting faith inhibits one's life, necessarily. I feel like my question is just the first necessary step towards understanding why faith may or may not inhibit one's life.

It may be that the answer to my question is yes, but that shouldn't undermine anything Ayn Rand said in itself, because almost everyone here has probably found that accepting faith does inhibit one's life, although obviously it's something I'm questioning at the moment.

EDITED to try to fix formatting. I don't know why the quotes aren't working.

Edited by Felipe

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A Baptist minister may be happily married and have three kids that he loves very much. This man may in general be very "happy". But that doesn't negate the fact that he is limiting his potential happiness by embracing the irrational. While he indeed may be a relatively happy man, by not completely engaging in reality he will never become as happy as he could be and ought to be. Only a truly rational man who accepts nothing without verification by the most careful, rigorous, and logical means can be truly happy, because only a fully rational man understands what it takes and how to achieve true happiness, i.e., a state of non-contradictory joy.

By the way, I meant no disrespect in my previous reply. I just tried to provide an answer to why nobody was directly answering the topic's question.

Edited by Rational_One

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Rational_One:

I agree with you about the Baptist minister. Still, I think some aspects of faith could be beneficial. For example, if someone simply decided that they thought heaven was a wonderful place and that they were going there--and that was the sum total of their religion--that might make them happier and thus it might be a valuable, rationally justified decision to make. Still, I am really trying to hold off on this discussion until we establish that it would be rational to have faith if it did indeed make one happy. Can't we please save this for another thread? We have to limit ourselves to one question at a time.

Nxixcxk:

In your last post, you're again getting off topic (or perhaps getting on topic with Rational_One but off my topic), and if you really want to discuss that, go ahead and make a thread questioning whether or not faith could make one happier.

Sorry to both of you for being harsh, just trying to get my question answered.

Which is again:

For the purposes of this thread, if we assume that faith does make a specific person happier, is it rational for him to have faith?

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Until and unless you see the direct connection between happiness and rationality, hypotheticals like "assuming that faith does make a person happier" will seem plausible, when in fact they are not. This thread should not go on until happiness is understood.

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

Lets assume that the person in question rejected religion [...] then decided that accepting that faith again might make them more happy.

Please answer my question (yes/no) and state your reasons.

No. My reasons follow.

The title of your topic is: "Question: Rationalizing Faith." "Rationalizing Faith" isn't a question, just a phrase. So, apparently your question is the one I have quoted above: Is following faith-based religion a rational step if religion makes one happy?

Happiness is the state of mind that comes from living successfully. To live successfully requires acting virtuously -- including the virtue of rationality. Accepting anything on faith is abandonment of rationality and therefore a vice.

So, your question amounts to this: Is it rational to act viciously, specifically by following the vice of abandoning reason? In other words, is it rational to be irrational?

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

For anyone seriously interested in the philosophy of Objectivism and its relation to this subject, I suggest reading these articles in The Ayn Rand Lexicon, as a start: "Faith," "Happiness," "Religion," "Reason," and "Stolen Concept, Fallacy of."

P. S. -- In your title, what do you mean by "rationalizing"? Are you aware of the ambiguity of that term in this topic? Please resolve the ambiguity. Please state your choice and give your reasons.

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For this topic generally, I would like to offer a distinction that may clear up some confusion.

There is a big difference between these two statements:

1. Faith-based religion can make a person happy.

2. A religious person can be happy.

Faith-based religion can never make a person happy. However, some religious people -- that is, some individuals whose explicit "philosophy" is a religion -- as they have selectively adopted it -- can be happy. Their happiness does not come from the religion but from their actual, implicit philosophy. Such individuals may pick up words or even some ideas from a religion but still have an actual, objective, but implicit philosophy that they live by -- and that leads to happiness to some, limited degree. One can be rational and mistaken.

Reason is a process, not a particular conclusion or set of conclusions.

Some individuals whose actual philosophy is basically objective start from wrong premisses. That doesn't mean they are irrational.

Edited by BurgessLau

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Lets assume that the person in question rejected religion on the basis of Rand's philosophy (i.e. accepted that blind faith is irrational because there is no proof of it) but then decided that accepting that faith again might make them more happy.

I wonder, too, if there is another ambiguity in your terminology. In the first use of "faith," above, the term on first reading seems to name the idea of accepting a conclusion without or contrary to evidence. That is a process of mind.

Sometimes the term "faith" names another idea, the idea of a set of beliefs. For example, some individuals speak of the "Christian faith" as superior to other faiths. That use refers to a system of beliefs (based, of course, ultimately on the process of faith, at least in part). In all my conversations with religious people, I have never head even a single one claim that his faith -- as a process -- was superior to the faith of other religionists.

In your second use of "faith" above, I am unsure which meaning of the term you intend. Elsewhere you give the example of belief in heaven. Many religious individuals would say that that belief is part of their "faith," that is, part of their system of beliefs.

Which meaning(s) did you intend for your two uses of the term "faith"?

P. S. -- Strictly speaking the phrase "blind faith" is redundant. In the meaning which Ayn Rand attaches to the term, faith is blind and willfully so.

Edited by BurgessLau

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Mr. Laughlin appears to have taken on this question quite satisfactorily, but I'd like to add my two cents as well.

Happiness is a derivative, it is a result of a particular course of action. It is a value to be achieved.

One of the most difficult parts of the Objectivist ethics for people to grasp (at least in my experience) is the idea that values, like concepts, are objective. They are a perspective on things that exist on reality based on the needs of human survival. Reason is the means of human survival and thus the arbiter of value. Establishing that something is a value can only be done by a process of reasoned thought, of rationality.

Choosing as a value or as a means to a value something that contradicts your means of survival is to turn against the source of value, it means to cut value off from reality and thus render it invalid. It means to give up on the principle of principles, hierarchy, knowledge, and context, and to philosophize in a vacuum.

Values can no more exist in a vacuum than can human beings.

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valjean, then I shall give you my direct answer: If we assume injecting coke makes a man happier (this premise apparently being unquestionable in the context you have specified), then it is rational for him to do so.

To me it seems like the thread should be "can faith lead to happiness?" Obviously if something trully makes one happy, as properly defined, then he ought to pursuit it. Which is why I am doubtful of your motive of asking the question, "If we assume faith makes one happy, should he pursuit it?"

That's all I have.

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One might find happiness in religion (or at least what he thinks is happiness), but I would first challenge that person to look deep within themselves and ask "Am I really happy, or do I want to think that I am?". Alot of religous people I have met claim to be happy, yet when you look at it, this does not seem to be the case.

If they are happy, it is not because of their religious belefs. Religous philosophy (ie in the supernatural) be definition is irrational. Therefore in denying reality, and contradicting mans means of survivual (rationality...) it is incapable of bringing them true happiness.

However, such people can still be happy. Happiness can come from less irrational sources than beleiving in gods etc. They might be religous but they might have some correct philosophies that do bring them happiness. They might still be fairly rational in non-religous aspects. They might have jobs they excel at, this can bring happiness. They might be great acheivers, great parents... it is possible that the religous can be happy for many reasons other than their religous beleifs.

Of course, the extremely religous, whom live every aspect of their lives according to a religous beleif (ie them all) that tries restricts their ability to live (of course it is they themselves whom restrict their ability to live), cannot be happy. Oe cannot be happy if he chooses not to live life to the fullest, but only to stay alive as a slave to someones delusions.

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Nxixcxk--thank you for finally answering my question. You're the first person to actually go along with my given assumption, rather than trying to argue that my question's invalid because I don't understand happiness. 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.

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. I'll go ahead and assume that I'm correct on that point, and I'll go ahead and address the question that almost everybody else has in this thread: can having faith actually make one happier?

BurgessLau--I intended faith to mean both an irrational set of beliefs and the process by which these beliefs are derived and held, depending on context. Also, you're right that "blind faith" is redundant--pardon me for using that term.

Happiness is the state of mind that comes from living successfully.

Happiness is a derivative, it is a result of a particular course of action.  It is a value to be achieved.

I don't agree with either of these definitions of happiness (which I understand to be the same). I think this is where my thoughts diverge from Objectivism. Earlier I said:

Happiness is partially the fulfillment one feels after having produced or achieved some value; it's also a general feeling of satisfaction or metaphysical joy one feels independent of anything he or she actually does.  Please give me a more correct summation of what happiness is and if that doesn't clear up my question, please help shed some light on it.

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?

EDITED to add clarity

Edited by valjean

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Happiness is an emotional state of mind. Happiness and sadness are to the mind what pleasure and pain are to the body. Emotional states are lightning quick calculations made by your subconscious, lightning quick value-judgements that give you an estimate of a state of successful value-achieving vs. unsuccessful value-achieving. The values these calculations are based upon live in your subconscious, but they are placed their by your conscious mind.

Values have a basis in objectivity. The good is that which is for man, the bad is that which is against him. What is for vs. what is against man is based on his identity as the rational animal. Therefore it is good for him to use reason, it is good for him to consider his life worth living, and it is good for him to sustain his life with his own effort. Any values coded into one's subconscious which aren't based on man's identity will inevitably lead to a conflicted, crippled mind that exists in a constant state of confusion when it comes to values and his emotions.

It is not possible to divorce happiness, a derivative state of mind based on values chosen through a conscious application of rationality, from rationality. Therefore, it is impossible to make hypotheticals like "suppose sticking a 10foot poll where the sun doesn't shine makes one happy, is it then rational to pursue such an activity."

Yes it is rational to pursue happiness as an end in itself, provided it is a proper happiness one pursues as I described above.

There no doubt is a thing such as "a state of ignorant bliss" but this is nothing but a short-lived escape from reality. A person who evades the effort of integrating reason-based values into their subconscious, as I said, lives in a horrible state, and so moments in which they manage to evade this state of mind, through some short-lived respite, will inevitably feel like "happiness" to them. Clearly it isn't.

From now on, please don't complain that people don't provide you with the answers you wish when the question posed requires the acceptance of a fallacious premise.

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I intended faith to mean both an irrational set of beliefs and the process by which these beliefs are derived and held, depending on context.

The process by which an irrational set of beliefs is held is much different than the irrational set of beliefs itself...so it would make sense to have two different definitions here. For instance, the process by which one comes about an irrational set of beliefs could be faulty logic, whim, or some type of emotionalism--but these are all different than a belief say in God, or gremlins, or human rats.

valjean, why can't we ask if faith can lead to happiness? Wouldn't that be a more useful question? If you don't care if faith actually leads to happiness, then let us change faith to something more egregious...like cutting off a finger every day or any other self-mutilating technique. Wouldn't you find it preposterous if someone asked you, "If a man skins a 2x2 section of his body everyday and it makes him happy, is it rational to do so?"

Your first response would probably be, "Wait, this man skins himself and that makes him happy!?" I have that same first response, only mine is, "Wait, this man uses faith most of the time and he is happy!?"

Happiness is partially the fulfillment one feels after having produced or achieved some value; it's also a general feeling of satisfaction or metaphysical joy one feels independent of anything he or she actually does.

So, say you have achieved some value, is this feeling you get from achieving a specific value the same feeling you get from the "general feelings of satisfaction" independent of anything you have done?

I would think that the feeling you get from seeing a beautiful picture or contemplating a wonderful afterlife would be much different than the feeling you get after setting a goal and achieving it.

You may see a painting and think, "Wow, this painting makes me happy." You may accomplish a goal and say, "Wow, accomplishing this goal made me happy." But I would say the above examples differ. In the former you felt a certain emotion based upon something you saw. In the latter you felt a certain emotion knowing that you set a goal and accomplished it--all the while knowing that you must have some control over the reality you inhabit, simply b/c you were able to set a goal and accomplish it.

Hopefully I'm not getting side tracked, but I challenge you to introspect heavily into why a painting brings you happiness. When I see children playing, I feel much happiness in that simply b/c it reminds me of my childhood--and then I think of all I have learned, all I have accomplished, and how much my perspective on life has grown since then, and that feeling...as a RESULT of those memories and thoughts (memories and thoughts of goal-oriented action), is a feeling of profound happiness.

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From now on, please don't complain that people don't provide you with the answers you wish when the question posed requires the acceptance of a fallacious premise.

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.

Any values coded into one's subconscious which aren't based on man's identity will inevitably lead to a conflicted, crippled mind that exists in a constant state of confusion when it comes to values and his emotions.

It is not possible to divorce happiness, a derivative state of mind based on values chosen through a conscious application of rationality, from rationality. 

...

There no doubt is a thing such as "a state of ignorant bliss" but this is nothing but a short-lived escape from reality.  A person who evades the effort of integrating reason-based values into their subconscious, as I said, lives in a horrible state, and so moments in which they manage to evade this state of mind, through some short-lived respite, will inevitably feel like "happiness" to them.  Clearly it isn't. 

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.

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? Also, if you all think I'm just too stupid to understand, you can just give up--and I mean that--I know I look like an idiot right now, although I know I'm actually quite intelligent and I don't see that my thinking is flawed.

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