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Melchior

Honest Analysis with Questions

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So you would vote for someone just because you thought they had a chance of winning?

You can't separate that statement from my previous one: it depends on it. What I'm saying is that one of the candidates is truly horrible. I would then vote for the leading opposing candidate, simply to ensure the truly bad one didn't get elected. In this case, voting for a candidate that doesn't stand a change won't do anything to keep the really bad guy out of office.

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I'm still curious as to why libertarianism is evil (with a lower case l), it is merely a word loosely associated with those who advocate free-will and its political implications--that is that freedom to act is a requirement of life, and thus all people should be free to act in so far as they don't impede someone else's freedom--because it is a requirement of all human life. Now that is not word for word what an Objectivist would consider the basis of political philosophy, but I don't see it as evil. And now that term is even more mainstream and merely means advocate of small government.

It think it is like being opposed to atheism because some atheists have bad arguments for not believing in God.

What am I really missing? Is this merely a practical stance, that some libertarians are nut jobs, therefore its best to stay away from the fanatics with bad logic?

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But from my understanding in order for something to be evil it has to affect more than just the person committing the act.

If you think about it, our position follows logically from the base of egoism. Evil is that which harms the self.

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As an practical of Inspector's principle, imagine that polls taken the day before the election for mayor of your city show Ellsworth Toohey with 49% of the voters' support, Robert Stadler with 49% of the voters' support, and John Galt with 2% of the voters' support. It would be in your best interest to vote for Stadler instead of Galt, so that Toohey would not get in. Galt is obviously better than either of the other contenders, but it might not be best to vote for him.

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You can't separate that statement from my previous one: it depends on it. What I'm saying is that one of the candidates is truly horrible. I would then vote for the leading opposing candidate, simply to ensure the truly bad one didn't get elected. In this case, voting for a candidate that doesn't stand a change won't do anything to keep the really bad guy out of office.

I see.

As an practical of Inspector's principle, imagine that polls taken the day before the election for mayor of your city show Ellsworth Toohey with 49% of the voters' support, Robert Stadler with 49% of the voters' support, and John Galt with 2% of the voters' support. It would be in your best interest to vote for Stadler instead of Galt, so that Toohey would not get in. Galt is obviously better than either of the other contenders, but it might not be best to vote for him.

Is that not choosing the middle ground, the lesser evil?

Edited by Mimpy

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That is correct. I think Ayn Rand said it was one of the toughest philosophies to adopt because it is so integrated. Everything is related to everything else very tightly, and on first principles.
Like a bowl of soup rather than a salad I can pick apart?

It's certainly unique, unlike anything I've seen.

As per evil. The term is ethical in nature, and ethics involves both actions that affect oneself alone as well as others. i.e. What is the right thing to do? wether or not it affects someone else. In fact the most fundamental virtues are defined relative to oneself first, and others as secondary. Take honesty as an example. In Objectivist terms it is not faking reality in any way. Before you lie to other people, you lie to yourself, and in fact, that first lie to yourself is the one that makes all other lies possible. So honesty is first to yourself.

That was deep, I certainly believe it. Lying to yourself makes it easier to do the same to other people.

I only say self-destructive actions aren't immoral because they are contained, and that morality is integrated with the issue of choice.

hmmm. yeah. From an Objectivist point of view, right understanding comes from the presence of reason (as opposed to the absence of something) integrated into all aspects of ones life. From living life according to rational principles.
I see.

What if I said that we are all capable or reason and rationality, but that it was just clouded by other things such as ignorance and extremism? Someone once said all humans are born enlightened, the rest of the bad stuff comes later to envelope it. I wouldn't think right understanding comes from the presence of reason, so much as right understanding, reason, wisdom, etc, are what's left after the mist is cleared.

The mind is something more radiant than anything else can be, but because counterfeits -- passing defilements -- come and obscure it, it loses its radiance, like the sun when obscured by clouds. Don't go thinking that the sun goes after the clouds. Instead, the clouds come drifting along and obscure the sun.

Partially correct. Any act of self-sacrifice is anti-life, and anything anti-life is immoral, and therefore evil. In the case of drugs, you are sacrificing the real for the unreal. You are sacrificing a clear mind for a clouded mind that warps your otherwise accurate perceptions of reality, and it's capability to comprehend those perceptions...they are by definition anti-reality, and therefore immoral.

Suicide, however, as the single most self-sacrificial (therefore immoral) thing anyone can do, CAN be justified given the context. If committing suicide will spare you the pain of being tortured to death, or if it can save the life of someone whom you love (and couldn't bare to live without), then suicide in that context could be justified, but it requires a context, and is almost always immoral.

I think we can both agree that such self destructive acts are not enlightened. The difference is I don't think someone who wants to commit suicide or take drugs is an evil or immoral person, I think such a person is suffering and needs help.

My understanding of what is more or immoral is mostly rooted in what affects people besides yourself. There is a difference between killing yourself in private or killing yourself and everyone else in a suicide bombing.

Of course, you can argue that your friends and family are affected by self-destructive acts.

I'm not sure what you mean by this, exactly. So are you claiming that evil doesn't exist?

Trying to avoid semantics here... I'm saying that evil as we all know it is essentially illusion, "evil" is born out of ignorance and distracting emotions, while good is the nature of right understanding. This is just my view though, it all depends on what your definition of evil is.

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It's chosing the least evil, since if you vote for Galt, it may be the case that you're electing Toohey. Voting for Galt is choosing evil as surely as voting for Stadler or Toohey, since voting for Galt means you're contributing to either Toohey or Stadler getting elected, since there's no way that Galt will be elected even with the votes of everyone who would support him.

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Like a bowl of soup rather than a salad I can pick apart?

It's certainly unique, unlike anything I've seen.

I like that metaphor!

What if I said that we are all capable or reason and rationality, but that it was just clouded by other things such as ignorance and extremism? Someone once said all humans are born enlightened, the rest of the bad stuff comes later to envelope it. I wouldn't think right understanding comes from the presence of reason, so much as right understanding, reason, wisdom, etc, are what's left after the mist is cleared.

Well, I'd say if you were using it as a metaphor, fine. If you are trying to describe literally what is going on (as I get the feeling some Eastern religions do) then I'd say what is your basis for this as the mechanism?

Isn't it more integrated to reality if you think that people are born tabula rasa, and must learn rationality, just like any other skill. If one doesn't what is there is there in the absense of learning rationality. The difference would be that meditation, or some other sort of "mind clearing" exercise does not make you any more rational than you have already learned to be. It might help make you able to attain whatever level of rationality you were capable of, but it will not give you more than that. The "perfect you" is not waiting underneath all that baggage to be "demystified". The perfect you is something you have to work at, by learning the skill of reason, and integrating it.

By the way, my wife is a big yoga buff. I buy some of the physiological benefits of meditation, and such things, but not the philosophy behind it.

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It's chosing the least evil, since if you vote for Galt, it may be the case that you're electing Toohey. Voting for Galt is choosing evil as surely as voting for Stadler or Toohey, since voting for Galt means you're contributing to either Toohey or Stadler getting elected, since there's no way that Galt will be elected even with the votes of everyone who would support him.

I can understand the logic behind that. But aren't you basing your knowledge on a public poll? People can lie in polls. People can choose not to voice their opinions. Polls can easily reveal skewed results. Unless you knew for fact exactly who was voting for who, you couldn't use that logic effectively. You can only know the true results after the voting has been done, obviously. So how can you vote based on the results of a poll that may have skewed results? There'd be no way to logically go around finding out the truth about who'd vote for who...even if you asked people personally, they could lie. If we lived in a truly Objective world, I'd know that everyone would be honest. But unfortunately, I wouldn't be able to base my vote on a poll taken in the kind of world we live in today.

Edited by Mimpy

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I think a better comparison, Melchior, than the soup and salad one is this:

Most philosophies are piles of gravel. Some are made all one type of gravel, some have different peices of gravel of different types. The better ones are piles of rocks, much fewer peices and much bigger peices than the piles of gravel. Each of these rocks or peices of rock are separate ideas that are parts of the philosophy and connected to other ideas that are part of that particular peice of rock or gravel.

These philosophies you can examine by taking a particular peice of rock, examining the ideas that are connected under the principle the rock represents, and what that rock represents isn't dependent on any of the other peices of rock that make up a particular philosophy. Many people examine many philosophies, and take bits and peices of each to make their own philosphy at their leisure. You've combined Buddhist ethics with Libertarian politics and a few peices of sand and gravel from various modern philosophies, though you may not realize it completely.

Objectivism is a marble statue. Every part of it depends on every other part. There are arms and legs that branch off, but everything is connected to, and cannot be separated from, the core. You can't take peices of Objectivism. You can't combine it with other philosophies. It is complete in itself, and trying to combine it with anything else nullifies every part of it. You can examine the grain, and how each part connects, but you cannot examine each bit in a vacuum. It must be examined in the context of the overall work. That's a quality of Objectivism that is very rare these days: Completeness. There are rough edges to be smoothed out, but the overall work is an integrated whole.

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I'd say with the basic questions answered, it would be best at this time to let Melchior see for himself what Objectivism is all about by reading the books.

Melchior, how do you like to learn? There are many different approaches to learning about Objectivism. You could read Atlas Shrugged, and enjoy it as romantic fiction that demonstrates the philosophy, and later read the formal texts, or you could approach it as a scholar with the non-fiction, and later reward yourself with the treat that is Atlas.

It depends on how you like to do things.

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I'd say with the basic questions answered, it would be best at this time to let Melchior see for himself what Objectivism is all about by reading the books.

Here is the ARI's recommended reading list.

While I personally loved Atlas and it was my introduction to Objectivism, it is quite a brick, so you'll probably want to skip to some of the other books on the list.

By the way, please call us Objectivists, not 'followers of Ayn Rand'. :thumbsup: You're not one of those pesky Badnarikians, are you? :lol:

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...from my understanding in order for something to be evil it has to affect more than just the person committing the act. ... but it seems from the Objectivist's (uppercase right?) point of view, even taking drugs or committing suicide is evil. I did not expect a philosophy built on individualism to have such a point of view, ...
It's interesting that you'd say that; because this is exactly what a philosophy based on rational individualism would say. In understanding Objectivism's ethics, it's really important to understand that it does not say: "do whatever you feel like doing". A better summary would be along the lines of: figure out what's good for you, and do it. To an Objectivist, the questions of morality confront even the proverbial Robinson Crusoe on the proverbial desert island.

Think of yourself as a pot... full of dirt. The dirt represents all the distractions and negativity you harbor, all the anger, suffering and sadness, the clinging and ignorance. Once the pot is empty, all that's left is happiness and clarity. You can say from the Buddhist point of view right understanding and right thought come from the emptiness or absence of these negative things.
The analogy of the pot does not work too well, because it implies that the emotions (good and "negative") are just there in the pot, as a given; as a causeless, unquestionable primary. However, emotions are caused by something. Some people might have causeless emotions because of some medical problems, but the norm is for emotions to be reactions to real things and real events. For instance, you get something you really desire, and it makes you happy; you lose it and it makes you sad. There is a cause.

In essence there are two ways to reduce one's "negative" emotions. The first way is to act in ways that further one's values. The more one's values are furthered, the more positive emotions in one's life. The other way is to detach oneself from reality as much as possible. The downside of that is that one detaches oneself not simply from "negative" emotions, but from all emotions, including the positive ones. The latter strategy would make sense if one lived in a malevolent world filled with evil and depressing things. However, if one assumes that one lives in a world where one has the capacity to fill one's life with many values, and that sadness or worry or anger is an occasional emotion, then it's better to relish life to its fullest, and attach oneself to it, rather than to detach.

As Auden wrote:

'O plunge your hands in water,

Plunge them in up to the wrist;

Stare, stare in the basin

And wonder what you've missed.

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I'm still curious as to why libertarianism is evil (with a lower case l), it is merely a word loosely associated with those who advocate free-will and its political implications--that is that freedom to act is a requirement of life, and thus all people should be free to act in so far as they don't impede someone else's freedom--because it is a requirement of all human life.
You can't be accidentally evil. Many people, especially when they are young, have this partially-formed recognition of the truth and somehow get associated with libertarianism. There is nothing evil in recognizing that man has free will or in trying to relate that fact to political principles. There is also nothing evil in being unable to make that connection on your own, in a rational fashion. Many quite moral people dabble in libertarianism for a while, until they finally learn enough about it to see that the doctrine itself is evil. For a comparison, consider Andrei in WTL: despite being a commie, he was a very nice commie who engaged in world-class evasion.

It comes down to this: libertarianism, the doctrine, holds the referent of liberty to be self-evident, and denies that it necessary or possible of justifying the elevation of liberty to the status of ethical primary. The idea of having the right to do as you choose as long as you don't affect another person without their permission is basically an evil idea, because it makes a mockery of and corrupts the concepts of reason and rights. [You presumably recognize why it's a falsehood, and hopefully will recognize it as one of the common sound-bite summaries of libertarianism]. A doctrine which is destructive of rights and reason is destructive of man's means of survival, thus evil. Or, to put it in more practical terms, the doctrine of libertarianism says "as long as you can dress it up in the cloak of liberty, it's okay".

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...the doctrine holds the referent of liberty to be self-evident, and denies that it necessary or possible of justifying the elevation of liberty to the status of ethical primary. The idea of having the right to do as you choose as long as you don't affect another person without their permission is basically an evil idea, because it makes a mockery of and corrupts the concepts of reason and rights. A doctrine which is destructive of rights and reason is destructive of man's means of survival, thus evil. Or, to put it in more practical terms, the doctrine ... says "as long as you can dress it up in the cloak of liberty, it's okay".
Doesn't this also describe the doctrines of the major parties?

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Doesn't this also describe the doctrines of the major parties?
Chris's question was about libertarians, not the LP. The answer to the question "Why not vote for the LP candidate" is different. Note that the major parties do not have doctrines.

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...

Even then, Libertarians go above and beyond the call of duty to emphasize the ethical importance of non-violence, the efficiency of the free market, and the power of civil disobedience.

...

Still, I do not even believe in the concept of evil, because as I said in order for something to be evil it must acted out of negative intentions and cause suffering to more than just yourself, but negative emotions such as anger, hatred, or any that cause suffering is are an illusion of the ego-self.

You can say from the Buddhist point of view right understanding and right thought come from the emptiness or absence of these negative things.

- - - - - -

Itallics added by me

Hello and welcome, Melchior

I couldn't find a response amongst the replies to a few of the things that jumped out at me from this post. so I decided to try and address them myself.

As far as Objectivist ethics go, there is no importance to a belief in non-violence. For us, the initiation of the use of force is unethical but the retaliatory use of force is not only justified, but indeed moral. This, like any Objectivist position on ethical questions, is derived from the metaphysics/epistemology that leads us to Rights as they are properly defined. This is the step that leads to the Objectivist political position on the proper role of Government.

Since uncontrolled and unregulated use of retaliation would lead to chaos, as it would lead to a 'He-started-it-first' round-a-bout, we insist that the purpose of Govenment is to hold the monopoly on the retaliatory use of force and to use it's power, within objectively-defined limits and with objective laws, to protect the rights of the individuals of the country. the government would do this through the Police - to be a front-line response to crime and to investigate after the fact; the Courts - to enforce justice for both criminal acts and contractual law; and the Armed Forces - to protect each individual of the state threatened by an outside aggressor.

The second point I'd like to address is about the 'negative emotions'. These, like all emotions, are not an 'illusion of the ego-self', but the end result of lightning-fast calculations weighing the considered object/idea against your system of values. If I feel fear, it is because something (a direct threat or an immediate danger) is perceived to be being posed to something I value highly such as my life, or that of those I value most and love. That is not an illusion, just the end result of the weighing-up process.

Hope that wasn't too off-topic, but I thoought they were worth a mention. :thumbsup:

Edited a spelling error

Edited by Hakarmaskannar

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The second point I'd like to address is about the 'negative emotions'. These, like all emotions, are not an 'illusion of the ego-self', but the end result of lightning-fast calculations weighing the considered object/idea against your system of values. If I feel fear, it is because something (a direct threat or an immediate danger) is perceived to be being posed to something I value highly such as my life, or that of those I value most and love. That is not an illusion, just the end result of the weighing-up process.

I'd like to add, and I'm sure Hakarmaskannar will agree, that this "emotional computer" is "programmed" by our conscious thoughts, beliefs, and decisions. If those are mistaken, then so too will be our emotions. Emotions are not infallible. Bad emotions* are caused by bad premises, bad ideas, and bad decisions that we make. They can be purged only by correcting our conscious thoughts and ideas. (and this takes time; it is not always instant) No amount of "emptying the pot" will do a lick of good, if you continue to fill it with dirt by harboring incorrect ideas.

*(that is, unjust, inappropriate, or otherwise not-in-accordance-with-reality emotions. By "bad," I don't mean simply anger or sadness, which are often appropriate and healthy.)

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