Objectivism Is The Everyman's Philosophy
In the universe, what you see is what you get,
figuring it out for yourself is the way to happiness,
and each person's independence is respected by all
Rand's Philosophy in Her Own Words
- "Metaphysics: Objective Reality" "Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed/Wishing won’t make it so." "The universe exists independent of consciousness"
- "Epistemology: Reason" "You can’t eat your cake and have it, too." "Thinking is man’s only basic virtue"
- "Ethics: Self-interest" "Man is an end in himself." "Man must act for his own rational self-interest" "The purpose of morality is to teach you[...] to enjoy yourself and live"
- "Politics: Capitalism" "Give me liberty or give me death." "If life on earth is [a man's] purpose, he has a right to live as a rational being"
Objectivism Online Chat
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In TVoS 10, in response to the question, "In a Objectivist society, what will happen to the poor?", Rand cites Barbara Branden approvingly saying, "If *you* want to help them, you will not be stopped." Rand goes on to say that nature makes no provision for providing basic needs, so neither should the collective "society". Does it matter that more and more people will never find this convincing, that such an argument will never win the day? In other words, do you admit that, while perhaps Rand is right, it will never matter enough to make a difference? Does it matter that most people are willing to accept the "degree of force" required to sustain a program like Medicare? That they have made the judgment that giving up 2.9% of their income (for now) is worthwhile so that the old and disabled can have health insurance, as long as everyone else is forced to as well? If so, does the sheer inability of the Objectivist argument to carry the day--the impracticality of it--indicate at all a flaw in Objectivism? Shouldn't a philosophy be convincing and persuasive and not just right?
I am not sure how life can give values meaning or morality. I'll start with an Objectivist example as follows. I value eating lots of doughnuts, but pursuit of this value is unhealthy and therefore contradictory to having a flourishing life. I also value eating lots of lean protein, and pursuit of this value is healthy and generally contributes to a flourishing life. That much is clear. However, I am having trouble moving from "is" to "ought". What if I want to indulge the unhealthy value? What if I decide that my short-term enjoyment is better--the emotions and the sensations I get from frequent doughnut treats is worth whatever unknown distant health drawback that might occur? What makes the pursuit of this value immoral? Is it only that I am doing something that is contradictory to my life? If so, does not subjectivism creep in? After all, I cannot hope to judge that which is contradictory to my life, but only to judge my own compromised, biased, flawed understanding of what is contradictory to my life.
In TVoS 11, Rand decries both outright socialism, for example in Nazi Germany and the U.S.S.R. Since her writing, its failure has been made even more clear by the horrible results in the U.S.S.R. and more recently in Venezuela. She was equally vehement against the failings of the democratic socialism in the U.K. in the 40s and 50s, but Britain's outcomes did not head in the same direction as the Soviet Union's. Instead, democratic socialism has been firmly established as perhaps permanent in nearly all of Western Europe, especially U.K., France, Germany, and the Nordic countries, but these nations have had nowhere near the same downward spiral as the U.S.S.R. or Venezuela. Far from the disasters that full socialism brings, these "mixed" social democracies seem to have a somewhat sustainable model in place. At least in the countries with some degree of work ethic and natural resources, they have achieved more than Rand might have predicted. It hasn't worked in Spain, Greece, or Italy as well, but isn't Sweden is rather capitalist overall even with high government spending and regulation? Isn't Germany's economy is strong despite pessimism there? And doesn't Brexit show the strength of the U.K. economy to blaze a middle road with indeed lots of government spending though determined by themselves and not by the community of nations? In short, it seems that the looters and moochers have found a system that they can at least claim works well and is flexible, unlike the despair and hopelessness found in, for example, *We The Living*. In TVoS 13, Rand claims that all mixed economies are either on the road to freedom or full dictatorship. Since most countries in the world are in this state, and many are stable, hasn't she been proven wrong? Or do you really believe that the whole world will eventually be ruled by dictators? So should we continue to make the same doom-and-gloom argument against social democracy that we can more easily make against full socialism? Or is the current state of Europe one that doesn't quite fit Rand's model, and so we should adjust it?
By William O,
The way contemporary academic philosophers usually think about self evident truths, as opposed to Objectivists, is: They are a priori and independent of experience. They are abstract "truths of reason," not on the perceptual level. Often they are regarded as defeasible in principle. Their truth is not necessarily immediately obvious to everyone. For example, an academic philosopher would say that it is self evident that first cousins have a pair of grandparents in common. I'm taking these claims from Audi's introduction to epistemology (p. 94-96). It seems like Objectivists don't regard anything as self evident in the sense most academic philosophers use that term. There are axioms in Objectivism, but they are grasped by perception, not by seeing intrinsic connections between concepts. However, that is how Audi seems to characterize the academic concept of self evidence. Am I correct in drawing this conclusion?