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Welcome to Objectivism Online, a forum for discussing the philosophy of Ayn Rand. For full access, register via Facebook or email.

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     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"

    You should choose to live

    By epistemologue,
    Man's life is the standard of moral value, and his own life is his moral purpose. So morally speaking, choosing to live is the most basic moral choice, that is the most basic thing that you should do. Anyone who chooses not to is abdicating their moral values, and contradicting their moral purpose.

    Taxation is not theft

    By epistemologue,
    The normal, dictionary definition of "taxation" is "the practice of a government collecting money from its citizens to pay for public services." "compulsory" is not in the definition. There's absolutely no necessity for it to be compulsory, in fact it should not be, as that contradicts the entire concept of a government based on the consent of the governed. Taxation is, properly, a contractual payment due. A proper government should have an explicit contract with its citizens, and allow them to leave the contract at any time. In the case of a rights-respecting government, the payment that is "demanded" by the government is demanded contractually. The contract between citizens and government is special for a lot of reasons, that's why we have a special word for the collecting of funds. The term only applies to the funds collected by the government from its citizens, and can only take a certain form. Donations or lotteries are not a tax, and it's not just a generic "fee" of any kind. Taxation is legally defined policy of government funding that you agree to pay on an ongoing basis. Of course a voluntary contract can be revoked at any time, when the citizen terminates their agreement with the government that's called renouncing one's citizenship, and no further taxes are due. "citizenship" is a term indicating the special relationship between the citizen and the government, which properly should be a voluntary one, based on contract. It is not an arbitrary designation. In the US you are opted-in automatically by birth, and there are fees and restrictions associated with renouncing one's citizenship. I disagree with these policies, I think they are improper, and to some extent definitely unjust. Citizenship should be a written contract that every individual has to qualify for and agree to in writing, and someone should be able to leave at any time without onerous fees or restrictions. But that doesn't change the fact that the US is essentially a government based on the consent of the governed, despite its flaws. One can condemn the individual instances of injustice and work to resolve any ongoing issues within the system without having to "surmise that America is currently in a state of anarchy", or "dedicate one's life to abolishing our wicked 'government' and to exposing those Satanic politicians". In summary, compulsion is not essential to the definition of taxation; there can be such a thing as a government based on the consent of the governed, where citizens are citizens of the government by voluntary, contractual agreement, and the taxes that the government levies (and the penalties applied for not paying them), are agreed to in advance by the citizen, who can terminate the contract at any time. Taxation is not theft, it is consensual. If Netflix is charging your credit card every month and you want them to stop, you can't just declare "I don't consent!", you have to actually go in and unsubscribe. Netflix will stop charging your credit card, and you will no longer be a member who has access to their services. The same principle applies here. If you don't want to pay taxes then renounce your citizenship, and you will no longer be protected by the government. Nobody is forcing you to be a citizen.

    What would you do in this situation?

    Heinrich Dorfmann
    By Heinrich Dorfmann,
    Hello everyone. First, some background. I live in Germany, I'm 25 years old and currently in the last year of my economics degree. I have never identified what most people refer to as “passion” and what people in this forum refer to as “CPL”.  When I chose economics as a major, it wasn’t because I loved it, but rather because I was very curious about it and had no strong interest in other areas. I must say that I was also curious about writing, specially screenwriting, but ended up choosing economics because of the higher money upside. Today, almost 4 years later, my interest in economics has not evolved into a passion. I still like it, but I wonder if I would be happier If I had pursued writing. I was thinking about getting a day job to pay the bills and start exploring/studying writing (and other things) on my free time to see if I really like it. However, I was approached by some friends with an offer to partner up in a certain business venture. The investment would be within my means and the returns seems to be amazing. If everything goes well and I sell my share of the business 8-10 years from now, I would become a millionaire (I’m talking about 8 digits). However, it would require 8-10 years of intense, mostly boring, work. I would have little or no time to pursue other interests. With the proceeds from this venture I would never have to worry about money in my life. I would have the freedom to explore my interests and maybe find a passion without having to work at a boring day job to pay the bills. Whatever I decide to do with my life, the money would make it 100x times easier to succeed. If I decide to become an investor I would have tens of millions to invest. If I decide to become a writter, I would be able to produce my own movie.  I understand that if I had a passion and had been presented with this opportunity, it would be immoral to accept it, given that I would be unable to pursue my passion for 10 years. But I don’t have one. Writing is merely a hint, like economics was 4 years ago.  I would love to know your opinions about this. If you were on my shoes, what would you do? Would you spend 10 years doing work that you don't particularly like? Is 34-36 years old too old to start pursuing interests, trying to find a passion?  P.P.S. There is very little risk involved in the business. I am very confident by my own judgement, that the business will succeed.    

    Reblogged:#SelfishAndHappy Submission: Tyler Ashby

    By Undercurrent,

    At The Undercurrent, we recently launched #SelfishAndHappy, our national initiative rallying college students to write to their campus papers explaining how reading Ayn Rand has benefited their life. We’ve committed to posting well-written submissions on the TU blog.  * * * The following is a letter to the editor from Tyler Ashby, a student of psychology, YouTube podcast host of Objectivist Discussions, and moderator of the Objectivism Q&As at STRIVE. Like many Americans, I was raised Christian. Growing up, God was the center of the universe, and so I sought to learn everything I could about him. Around the age of 13, I began studying the works of famous apologists who argued for the existence of God and the validity of his doctrine. As a consequence of my devotion, I became very fundamentalist, convinced that if the Bible were true, it should be the guide to my life. However, the more I studied, the more I began to experience a deep sense of cognitive dissonance. I felt something was terribly wrong with the code of ethics that I was learning. I was being taught that one’s purpose in life is to serve others, but a value I held even more strongly was that I had a right to my own life and liberty. This contradiction led me to seriously reevaluate my convictions. At age 16, I began dropping the arguments for God’s existence that I had studied one by one, as the criticisms I had encountered struck me as too compelling to ignore. Eventually, I saw flaws in the last argument I had and I dropped my belief in God rather abruptly. In doing so, however, I had taken a sudden step into personal chaos and uncertainty. I started reading Ayn Rand, along with many other philosophers, around the time that I was leaving Christianity, in the process of becoming an atheist. I did this because I knew that I needed help. I knew very well what the consequences of killing God were, so to speak. It meant abandoning the basis for my entire view on morality and how I came to understand the world. After all, according to the Christian worldview, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom.” I understood the necessity of having an explicit philosophy, or of having an integrated view of existence as Rand would put it. She argued that everyone has an implicit philosophy, a set of ideas and premises that directs how one thinks and draws conclusions about the world. Even if one isn’t self-aware enough to identify their most basic convictions, there are fundamental ideas and values one must either accept or reject in the process of living one’s daily life. As a Christian, I believed my purpose was to serve God’s will and serve others as a consequence. I became confident in my convictions by praying to God and trusting the gut feeling that came from that. I judged the actions of others based on biblical scripture, pride and self-esteem were indistinguishable but nonetheless sinful, and moral guidance primarily meant what I ought not to do. Without a belief in God, however, the basis of all those convictions was lost. So, I turned to secular philosophers to find help in reshaping my view of life. The New Atheists such as Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens were incredible inspirations to me, but I found their cases for morality to be unsatisfying. They argued that benefiting human life should be the purpose of morality because it’s intuitive and useful, but I felt this argument was inadequate. Rand’s argument was a lot more persuasive to me because it detailed how moral values are necessitated by the requirements of man’s life, how pursuing one’s goals in life requires taking a particular, moral course of action, and how this gives rise to human life as the standard of value. What attracted me to Rand’s philosophy was that it argued that reason can be a means to discover morality, and also that reason can be a means to knowledge, that one can be confident in their understanding of the world. Morality didn’t feel like a compromise of rationality, and as a consequence, my moral values were something that I could refine or reconsider, rather than merely dogmatically assert. I was also more confident in asserting myself in moral arguments about politics and other issues because I no longer had to argue from a religious faith I struggled to prove. I had secular reasons for my views, and those reasons applied to everyone, not just those within a religious sect. Rand’s philosophy gave me a new focus in life: living the best life that I could for myself, without the guilt of knowing that I could never do enough to make others happy. I could strive for my own happiness, not by ignoring others in the process, but by befriending only the people that I care about, those that bring value to my life, not take it away. This was a life to be celebrated, not a vale of tears, with many achievements to be made and values to be created – and this life was mine to live on my own terms and for my values. I came to see virtue as primarily a means of achieving positive values, not negating what’s evil in the world. Justice for example, to me, is not primarily about punishing criminals, but about promoting and building up the virtuous people around you. Honesty is not primarily about not lying, but about allying yourself with the facts of reality, and accepting that doing so is the only way we can succeed and thrive. I’ve benefited the most from Rand by obtaining a better grasp of what I want from life and knowing how to achieve it. To conclude, I’d like to say that I’ve been greatly inspired by Rand’s profoundly positive outlook on life, and so I’ll share a quote from Atlas Shrugged that’s stuck with me since the day I read it: “Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it’s yours.” The post #SelfishAndHappy Submission: Tyler Ashby appeared first on The Undercurrent. Link to Original

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