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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"

    Is this about right?

    gurugeorge
    By gurugeorge,
    Hey folks, I'm not an Objectivist but I've always been mentally friendly towards Objectivism.  I actually hung around here some years ago, but I hadn't thought much about Objectivism since then.  I recently got into discussion with a critical philosopher where I was defending Objectivism and I ended up doing a sort of summary of how I understand some key elements of Objectivism.  I'm quite pleased with it and I think it's pretty decent, but I'd like a reality check from experienced Objectivists here, to see whether I'm along the right lines or not.  Here goes:- _____________________ Rand rejects apriori reasoning as a source of knowledge.  For her, all knowledge is gained empirically, including conceptual knowledge, so the tabula rasa concept fits well enough. 

    You have to understand that she's an Aristotelean, so she works with essences and natures, like Aristotle or Aquinas.  She doesn't agree with the idea that concepts are intrinsically detached from perceptions, like random puzzle pieces or algorithms that could happen to fit or not fit with reality.  IOW, she doesn't understand conceptual thinking as being like a set of intrinsically meaningless symbols plus rules for their manipulation, which must then be given an interpretation to connect them to reality (or not) and make them meaningful.  With that view, the only logical necessity is in the rules for pushing the symbols around.  In her view, the logical necessity is in the essence or nature of the object itself.  It's a bit of a strange way of thinking to us nowadays (essence/nature is way out of fashion, especially since the later Wittgenstein), but it makes sense in its own terms.

    This is the mistake that most hostile interpreters of her make who are blind to this aspect of her philosophy because they're so steeped in post-Fregean analytical philosophy.  If you argue with Objectivists you'll always be pointed at and laughed at for not getting this fundamental point: when you perceive or conceive of an object without error, you are grasping its essence or nature, and that's where the logical necessity comes in (A=A).  A thing is what it is, its nature and behaviour is always logically consistent, and that consistent nature/behaviour is what you're getting a glimpse of of via perception, and grasping the whole of via concept (which sums up all your perceptions).

    And that's also why she doesn't hold with the is/ought dichotomy.  Since our essence is to be rational animals, but rational animals whose exercise of rationality is a free choice, the LOGICAL NECESSITY to choose to survive and flourish in order to actually survive and flourish via our only means of surviving and flourishing (our perception/reason - especially with respect to the time-binding nature of conceptual reasoning, on account of our having grasped an essence that is the same in all times and places) is part of our nature, and actually making that choice is what she calls "moral", whereas the choice to not act rationally (i.e. to not grasp and act upon, and in conformity with, our own nature and the natures of things around us) in order to survive and flourish, is what she calls "immoral". 

    Because that choice is part of our nature, then both the moral AND the immoral options are inherent in our nature.  The only problem is that the less we exercise our rational faculties, the more they atrophy.  We become something else, something less than human, with a stunted, slightly different nature.  Eventually we lose even the capacity to choose and we become subhuman, living at an animal, perceptual level only.  We become a thing whose nature is more or less simply animal and reflexive, and we are at the mercy of reality, no longer its master, aware only of present perceptions (having lost our ability to grasp essences, time-bind and predict, etc.) and subject to random whims, pursuing momentary pleasures.

    But note that we only come to understand what our nature is through the perceptual/conceptual knowledge-gathering process itself: at some point we come to maturity, reflect on and realize what sort of thing we are, then we have the choice to act in conformity with our nature or sabotage ourselves.  The prior choice to be and act rationally that enabled us to discover our true nature, supposing we did in fact make it, is then retrospectively understood to have been a moral choice, and we understand that we're perpetually on the hook for that same moral choice now that we've woken up to our true nature.

    For her, education is supposed to give us a "helping hand" to get to the stage of self-realization, to nudge us in the direction of (effectively) choosing to understand our nature and live full lives.  That's why she was incredibly angry at the state of education, which she saw as a form of child abuse and mental torture, because it doesn't encourage us to come to our natural inheritance, it doesn't draw out (educare, root of "educate") what's innate and natural to us.

    It prevents children who aren't strong enough in intellect and courage to go through this process themselves from becoming fully human (analogous with foot binding - she uses a Chinese "making a man in the shape of a jar by keeping a child in a jar until they've grown into that shape" example from Victor Hugo). 

    Incidentally, this is an example of the fact that while she isn't altruistic, she is fundamentally compassionate - although she is on the whole more concerned about the right conditions for the best of us to fulfill our natures, that's partly because movers and shakers' doing well is a precondition for everyone to be able to fulfill their natures, and while the main benefit of that, in her view, is that it reflects benefit back to the movers and shakers themselves (because of human co-operation and interdependence), there are lots of examples in her work where she vividly paints the horror of how the failure of intellectuals to take responsibility for their specialty inexorably results in tremendous suffering for ordinary/weak people who don't have the intellectual's gifts.  She wishes everyone well on their own trajectory, so to speak - to the degree that they are able and willing, and to the degree their capacities allow.
     

    Reblogged:#CapitalistandProud Submission: Celeste Hook

    Undercurrent
    By Undercurrent,
    In the spring, we announced our #CapitalistAndProud Campus Writing Initiative. We’re delighted to announce the continuation of that initiative for a second semester. Pieces published in student publications by 11/30/16 will be eligible to win $1000 in the Ayn Rand Institute’s “Campus Writing Contest.” Well-written submissions will be published on the TU blog, and at least one outstanding entry will be included in the fall edition of our print magazine. All submissions should be sent to [email protected] forget to comment on Facebook or tweet us @tundercurrent to let us know why you’re #CapitalistandProud *   *   * Letter to the Editor by Celeste Hook, a student of philosophy at Okanagan College in Kelowna, British Columbia “I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another to live for mine.” In Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged, these words are the explicit summation of the morality that the novel’s heroes choose to live by. Reading Atlas for the first time at a young age, they had a lasting impact on me. I had discovered the moral code that would guide my life for years to come—a code that is at the heart of all relationships which flourish not by exploitation or sacrifice, but by mutual respect and harmony of interests. Later, while striving to apply it in my own personal and professional life, I realized that this is the morality of capitalism. Indeed, capitalism is the only economic system that is grounded in mutual respect for one another’s equal rights and sovereignty. For this reason, I am proud to say that I am a capitalist: I am someone who believes in pursuing my own rational self-interest while rejecting the moral code of exploitation and sacrifice which lies at the root of all other systems, and in the political system which makes that possible. Capitalism is an economic system in which property is privately owned. The moral and practical consequences of this are visible in nearly every aspect of life. In fact, the morality of capitalism first became vividly clear to me when I began to think about my own future career. I discovered that I am passionate about philosophy; I have a strong desire to understand the fundamental nature of the world and my place in it. Thinking about how I could turn this passion into a fulfilling career as an intellectual, I realized that it would not be possible without capitalism. To begin with, the establishment of private property is what ensures that each individual owns his or her own life. Human survival is not automatic: it requires effort to sustain. Thus the right to life can only exist in any meaningful sense by virtue of the right to keep, use, or dispose of the products of one’s effort; namely, by virtue of property rights. The difference between privately and publicly owned property makes an enormous impact on our lives. It is, as we will see, the difference between freedom and slavery. My own case is a typical example. I work part-time as a studio musician and I invest most of the money I earn towards my college tuition. I am studying philosophy with the aim of preparing myself for an intellectual career. At each step of the way I am making choices regarding the use of my time and effort, to achieve my ends—neither of which would be mine to use or achieve without the rights to life and property. Capitalism secures the necessary conditions for human beings to live and succeed according to their own effort and vision. Specifically, under capitalism, my success depends on my ability to trade a product or service that is of value to others. Because capitalism respects individual rights, I cannot demand that anyone sacrifice their interest for mine, nor must I serve anyone else’s interest unless it can be achieved in harmony with my own. This is the moral code that I choose to live by, and it is only possible when property is privately owned. When property is publicly owned, as under socialism, man is reduced from a sovereign individual to a slave. I no longer have the right to live my life the way I choose; I am merely a brick in the wall of “society,” to be sacrificed for society’s ends. I might want to invest my time and effort in my education, or my career, or helping a friend in need, but instead the wealth that I create is forcibly redistributed towards any number of social programs. Moreover, my success in any profession would not depend on mutual relationships of voluntary exchange, but on whether I am privileged in the overall scheme of redistribution. Such a system is antithetical to human dignity and human life. Ironically, socialism is often hailed as “compassionate” and “humane,” yet its moral code negates the humanity in each of us. Any degree of socialism—any degree to which the products of human effort are publicly owned—is a degree of slavery. In today’s world, it is all too common to hear capitalism denounced as “exploitative” or “inhumane.” To understand the folly of these accusations, it is only necessary to grasp the true nature of capitalism and its major alternative, socialism. Indeed, it is no coincidence that industrial capitalism has historically led to the abolition of slavery where it is practiced, while slave labor has all too often been a harsh reality in socialist countries around the globe. Thus, as the western industrialized world continues to slide further down the slippery path of socialism, it is becoming increasingly imperative to dispel the intellectual fog that surrounds the true nature and importance of capitalism. Appropriately, it is capitalism which makes it possible for me to work towards this goal by pursuing an intellectual career. But regardless of whether I succeed, if at the end of my life I can say with the heroes of Atlas Shrugged that I have never lived for the sake of another man, nor asked another to live for mine, then I will be proud to have lived as a capitalist. *   *   * #CapitalistandProud pieces that are published in student publications by 11/30/16 will be eligible to win $1000 in the Ayn Rand Institute’s “Campus Writing Contest.” Well-written submissions will be published on the TU blog, and at least one outstanding entry will be included in the fall edition of our print magazine. All submissions should be sent to [email protected] forget to comment on Facebook or tweet us @tundercurrent to let us know why you’re #CapitalistandProud The post #CapitalistandProud Submission: Celeste Hook appeared first on The Undercurrent. Link to Original

    Utah?

    Spencer W. Morgan
    By Spencer W. Morgan,
    Anyone in Utah, I'm in the Bluffdale area.

    The Golden Rule as a basis for rights

    Eamon Arasbard
    By Eamon Arasbard,
    This is something I've been thinking about lately, and I'm wondering what other people think of my reasoning here.   So, to start with, I think that the statement "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is not only consistent with Objectivism, but required by it. The way I want others to treat me is my own rational evaluation of the way I should be treated as a human being. Logically speaking, this means that it is the same way that every human being should be treated. So by violating this principle, I am acting in a way which is inherently irrational.   This would also provide the basis for the existence of rights. We want to be free to choose how to conduct our own lives, so we respect that right for others, and expect the political system to do the same. We want people to respect our right to practice Objectivism, even if they disagree with it, so we respect the rights of Christians to practice Christianity, even though we disagree with it. We want the right topublicly express Objectivist ideas, so we expect society to respect freedom of speech. We want the right to due process, so we defend it even when we suspect someone of having genuinely committed a crime.   This principle also exists even in the absense of a likelihood of reciprocity. For instance, there might be a certain group of leftists who are lobbying the government to outlaw Objectivism as "hate speech." A proper adherence to Objectivist principles would require us to respect their right to express their views, even though they want to take away our right to do the same. Individual rights are absolute, even for those who do not respect them.   I believe that this would also provide a basis for resolving a key disagreement between Objectivism and libertarianism -- specifically, each philosophy's differing position on the issue of civilian casualties in war. Objectivism holds that civilian casualties are acceptable, because civilians on the enemy side are responsible the actions of their government. Libertarianism holds that killing a bystander while waging war on an aggressor is an act of aggression. Based on my reasoning above, I would say that the libertarian position is correct, and that in the course of self-defense we only have the right to harm individuals directly engaged in acts of aggression against us.

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