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Inevitability of death

* - - - - 2 votes survival rowling harry potter entropy death life emotion fundamental sacrifice morality

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#1
human_murda

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My first thread made me realize my mistake : I thought my own sense of morality was consistent with Objectivism. I just discovered that there is a fundamental difference between my own morality and Rand's and it just made me realize how much of a Potter fan I am. (I'll be quoting Dumbledore , Rowling's equivalent of Galt, here). The post is sufficiently long. Anyone who does not want to consider even the possibility that my argument can be true can move along.

So, the fundamental problem I have with Rand's philosophy is the assumption that survival is the ultimate purpose of a living being and the sole measure of the worth of existence. The problem is that an individual's survival is impossible given a long enough time frame. Every living thing (and consequently all species including us) must cease to exist at some time in the very distant future due to the increasing entropy of the Universe ("Thermal death" or "Heat death" of the Universe), assuming some "Big Crunch" hasn't happened already. So the point is : life cannot exist for eternity.

So I asked myself the question : 'If I am going to die anyway, why don't I [or any body] just kill myself [or themselves] and be done with it?'. The answer came as quickly as I had asked it [a testament to how much I used to like the Potter series] : 'The question is not about how long you live, but what you did while you where alive'. There is a simple analogy to computers ; Someone may ask : 'If I am going to shut down down my computer anyway, why should I switch it on in the first place'. The conclusion is similar : 'The purpose of switching on a computer is not to shut it down, but to do whatever you want with it, although it must necessarily to come to an end'.

The effect of these simple questions made me realize the root cause of my disparity [Yes, everything I said in the previous thread was ultimately a derivative of these ideas. Simple difference, really, but far-fetching consequences] with the Objectivist philosophy [although there is much in common]. Basically, morality is not based on a question of life and death. Survival is not a fundamental. The question is not about how long you survive [as even the most moral person must die], but what you do so long as you are alive (such as aquiring knowledge 'additionally' as a matter of curiosity rather than as a means for survival. It is this additional part that matters. Knowledge used for survival is only like the electricity used to run a computer. Both are only the pemises, not the main feast). Rand's morality is based on an unachievable dream [survival], finally giving no incentive to the practitioner [DD : " Time is making fools of us again " & "It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live"]. A hint of such existence where survival is the only concern is hinted at in the third HP book, probably the only reason for introducing the dementors : ["You can exist without your soul, you know, as long as your brain and heart are still working. But you'll have no sense of self anymore, no memory, no ... anything. There's no chance at all of recovery. You'll just exist. As an empty shell. And your soul is gone forever ... lost" -Lupin].

Before I state more, I shall say : Survival is important. But it is only a premise to achieving something else : positive emotions. There, I said it [a crime, isn't it?]. This was also the moral foundation for the Harry Potter series - this was something that Voldemort ignored : he went in search of immortality while he slighted the importance of love [positive emotion] and the message is this : the preference goes to positive emotions over survival . Voldemort had additional evils, which where shared by many characters, such as Dumbledore himself and countless others. But it was only he who despised love [so don't go assuming his problems lie elsewhere]. Harry's mother sacrificed herself out of love for Harry. Harry sacrificed himself out of love for everybody. Even Rand said something about self-sacrifice for a loved one [superiority of positive emotions, which might have lead me to believe that our beliefs overlapped]. Basically employing reason is a means to achieve survival, a premise for achieving positive emotions [knowledge, love, curiosity, even sadness, what are poems for?]. The desire to survive ceases immediately when it is to be achieved at the cost of positive emotions [which happens often, if you apply the principle to everything you come across], taking "surival" off the pedestal as a fundamental.

Do not confuse positive emotions with Rand's concepts of "happiness" & "love", which are basically physical manifestations of the mind's pursuit of survival [which can never be achieved, but only a false assurance] and which gives a sense of selfishness [in case of pleasure], or productivity [drinking, smoking, etc - they used to hint productivity]. My case of morality is where positive emotions are a fundamental and although survival is necessary to achieve it [you can't feel anything if you're dead], our survival upto now has no effect on it [the same reason why every living person, although obviously surviving, experience different emotions], making positive emotions more fundamental than survival itself [even Rand's evil characters had negative emotions while the good characters had positive emotions]. These are achievable while survival is not.

Before people start bashing, try to see from this perspective [and allow a few days to get used to it]. And don't assume I am one of the "altruists", just because I am not an objectivist. Actually I hate altruists more than anything [another thing that convinced me that my morality may be similar to Rand's]. You will see that the Harry Potter series retains some of the best aspects of Objectivism : Rational self-interest [Harry, Hermione], fight against altruists [in the form of slytherins], individualism [Dumbledore, Hermione], free will [courage is emphisised as a means to make individual choices; for gryffindors], second chances [which death does not give], protection of minorities [house elves] and majorities [muggles] through reasoning, rejection of mysticism [divination] etc. Sure, both philosophies deal with death. But Rowling accepts that death is inevitable and trying to conquer it is an unrealistic motivation, which must end sooner or later. Young people are more prone to the convicton that death can be somehow overcome, through power, popularity, etc (DD - "Youth cannot know how age thinks and feels, but old men are guilty, if they forget what it was to be young.")

Rand claimed that emotions are not reality. Well, negative emotions are not a reality [it does not allow any kind of suvival, which is a premise to experiencing positive emotions]. Long term survival is also unrealistic, a foolish motive to base your life on if you ask me. Consider a similar analogy to reproduction: Sure food is important, but it is foolish to consider food more fundamental than reproduction. Food is only the premise to achieve reproduction, the ultimate aim : this is also because group survival is more attainable than individual survival. [But survival of any type is unattainable. What I presented is only an analogy]. One of the things that Objectivism allows is power [see my previous thread]. Although it allows survival [strictly because the kind of power I am speaking of does not involve force, but rather the lack of it, which is actually quite dangerous], it stifles up positive emotions.


Some DD quotes:
We both know there are other ways of destroying a man, Tom,…Merely taking your life would not satisfy me, I admit—”

There is nothing worse than death, Dumbledore!” (voldemort)
You are quite wrong,…Indeed, your failure to understand that there are things much worse than death has always been your greatest weakness—”

The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” (meaning, death is inevitable. Although death is contradictory to our will to survive, there is no way around it. So by accepting death, by accepting the fact that it is impossible for you to survive, you shall have conquered death - a major theme in the book)

"You are the true master of death, because the true master does not seek to run away from Death. He accepts that he must die, and understands that there are far, far worse things in the living world than dying"

"Your father is alive in you, Harry, and shows himself most plainly when you have need of him." (emotions can be used as a means to pretend that survival can be achieved, although it cannot be truly achieved)

Its our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities” (suggesting that there are non-altruists, who have the ability, but go out of their way to achieve an unattainable ideal - survival).

"It's the unknown we fear when looking upon death and darkness. Nothing more"

"Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it." (Putting all your energy on survival can numb the pain for a while, but death is inevitable)


I have one theory why Rand considered survival so important (and this influence can't be neglected) : her experience with Russia. She could have had a great fear for death, basically convincing her of the existence of only two entities : survival vs. death; intelligence vs. stupidity; selfishness vs. altruism; America vs. Russia. She then constructed an entire philosophy based on this assumption and made a crude mistake : she forgot that electricity is not merely enough to justify the existence of a computer. Survival is not merely enough to justify the existence of life.

I'll reply when someone actually considers/understands my argument [that survival is not fundamental] objectively and then replies. If anyone intends to quote Rand, justify how it relates to the topic and the basic argument [as I have already considered that Rand if fundamentally wrong, you should attempt to directly tackle the fundamental problem. Avoid using derivatives of her philosophy which are based on this fundamental assumption. Using derivatives of an argument to prove the original argument is a flaw in logic].

#2
brian0918

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So, the fundamental problem I have with Rand's philosophy is the assumption that survival is the ultimate purpose of a living being and the sole measure of the worth of existence.

This is not correct. The existential alternative of life or death makes value possible, but Objectivist philosophy does not claim that mere survival is the "ultimate purpose" of a living being. I would recommend Tara Smith's Viable Values as a starting place, although even OPAR covers this distinction. "Life" as the standard of value in Objectivist philosophy is not equivalent with simply having a pulse. That this is the case should be apparent from Rand's fiction/non-fiction, in instances where an individual is willing to die for another.

Edited by brian0918, 25 April 2012 - 06:22 AM.

The problem with reality is that it only works in practice. In theory, it can never work. ;)


#3
Hotu Matua

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So, the fundamental problem I have with Rand's philosophy is the assumption that survival is the ultimate purpose of a living being and the sole measure of the worth of existence.

The effect of these simple questions made me realize the root cause of my disparity... with the Objectivist philosophy... Basically, morality is not based on a question of life and death. Survival is not a fundamental. The question is not about how long you survive [as even the most moral person must die], but what you do so long as you are alive (such as aquiring knowledge 'additionally' as a matter of curiosity rather than as a means for survival. It is this additional part that matters. the fundamental problem. Avoid using derivatives of her philosophy which are based on this fundamental assumption. Using derivatives of an argument to prove the original argument is a flaw in logic].


I see no fundamental disparity between your view and that of Objectivism.
Maybe it will be useful for you to remember that a thing that exists does not only exists, but it exists as something. It has an identity.
In this same sense, survival means survival as something. In the case of man, survival as a man, and as a particular man, a unique person. Survival means survival as a value-seeking being with volition and intelligence. A being who can produce, create, understand, learn, share, love and be loved.

Another dimension of the issue is that a person does not only exists. Persons become. Persons change themselves, sculpt their characters, write their biographies.

A horse is what a horse is. A horse cannot become more of a horse or less than a horse out of its own will.
Men, on the contrary, become. They do it out of their volitional and rational faculty. They can become more rational or less rational, more benevolent or cruel. They can select memories, culture emotions and preferences, achieve things, make money. They can even extend their lifespan and improve their bodies!
Survival qua man, in this context, also means becoming. Life means becoming.

People who choose not to think, become less human. That is possible only because they are human in the first place: because they chose.
That's why Ayn Rand uses strong terms (even "anthropoids") to show contempt for these people, and that's why she uses "hero" as the concept associated with man qua man.

So, survival in Objectivism is survival qua hero.
A is A. An enchilada is an enchilada.

#4
Nicky

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I will say that the thread title is wrong: death is not inevitable. Death is plenty evitable. Just because we won't live forever, that doesn't mean we don't need to act to avoid death tomorrow, or a year from now, or 20 years into the future.

You should try acting as if living or dying isn't your concern, for a while. See what happens.

#5
DonAthos

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My first thread made me realize my mistake : I thought my own sense of morality was consistent with Objectivism. I just discovered that there is a fundamental difference between my own morality and Rand's and it just made me realize how much of a Potter fan I am. (I'll be quoting Dumbledore , Rowling's equivalent of Galt, here). The post is sufficiently long. Anyone who does not want to consider even the possibility that my argument can be true can move along.


I am an Objectivist, I love the Potter series, and I consider myself reasonable (which means that I endeavor to be swayed by any true argument), so hopefully I qualify to answer.

So, the fundamental problem I have with Rand's philosophy is the assumption that survival is the ultimate purpose of a living being and the sole measure of the worth of existence.


I disagree that "survival" is the ultimate purpose. Happiness and pleasure are also vital considerations. We must simultaneously recognize that, without survival, there can be no experience of either happiness or pleasure. So to put either of those as one's goals above survival, as in hedonism or in the idea of just doing "whatever makes you happy" is misguided. We're looking for a "life" with these factors to some extent maximized, though I'm not certain that I can yet formulate this precisely.

But you're right that what we do with the computer on matters. In fact, we do not have the computer on for its own sake, but for the sake of what we do with it. Simultaneously, we recognize that we must have the computer on to do anything with it at all, and that use of our computer willy nilly (picking up viruses, triggering FBI raids into our home, etc.) is unwise. To use our computer well, we must use it wisely. To me, Objectivism is not (at all) about "survival at all cost," but living wisely and living well.

The problem is that an individual's survival is impossible given a long enough time frame. Every living thing (and consequently all species including us) must cease to exist at some time in the very distant future due to the increasing entropy of the Universe ("Thermal death" or "Heat death" of the Universe), assuming some "Big Crunch" hasn't happened already. So the point is : life cannot exist for eternity.


Rather than approach this as a "problem," let's say that it gives us some urgency. ;) That we must die inspires us to get on with living.

Before I state more, I shall say : Survival is important. But it is only a premise to achieving something else : positive emotions. There, I said it [a crime, isn't it?].


Positive emotions are pleasant, and we should like to have them. They are a key component to one's enjoyment of life, and I certainly don't think it a crime to say so. However. At some point, it *is* important to understand what they are, where they come from, and how they operate (to the best of our ability).

People can do great damage to themselves in a pursuit of (say) a partner's love or a parent's approval, or other things that they consider to be an experience of positive emotion. And what's more, Rand observed that emotions "are not tools of cognition" (which is not to say that they are "not real"; they are quite real) -- that they are reflective of a process of thought, but not thought itself -- and I think that this is true, too. Because something "makes you happy" (howsoever temporarily), that doesn't necessarily mean that it's "good" for you ("good" in the sense of using your computer as you'd ideally wish to use it). We strive to understand things such that ultimately we take our pleasures and find our happiness in those things that maximize our experience of life -- a selfish pursuit, truly, but not one that discounts love, or anything else. Rather, when I love, I want to know what that means, and to love well, truly, and deeply. (If my wife is to be believed, I succeed.)

#6
Spiral Architect

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You are reading Nicky's post wrong - He is simply telling you that you should choose to live and do something about it (versus nothing). Death doesn't have to be hastened is his point.

As the others have said, Objectivism is centered around the idea of life being your ultimate standard of value and the good is to live it. To live is to not just survive, but thrive. Grow, be happy, achieve values, do whatever it is that makes life worth living. Ethics is about rationally accomplishing that in accordance with the nature of being a man. Politics is the social application of that ethics (which if you follow you will get the root of why you and Nicky disagreed in that thread).

Edited by Spiral Architect, 25 April 2012 - 10:42 AM.

Volition = Cognition - A deterministic philosophy is a contradiction in terms

#7
human_murda

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The existential alternative of life or death makes value possible, but Objectivist philosophy does not claim that mere survival is the "ultimate purpose" of a living being. "Life" as the standard of value in Objectivist philosophy is not equivalent with simply having a pulse. That this is the case should be apparent from Rand's fiction/non-fiction, in instances where an individual is willing to die for another.

There is only one fundamental alternative in the universe: existence or nonexistence—and it pertains to a single class of entities: to living organisms. The existence of inanimate matter is unconditional, the existence of life is not: it depends on a specific course of action. Matter is indestructible, it changes its forms, but it cannot cease to exist. It is only a living organism that faces a constant alternative: the issue of life or death. Life is a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action. If an organism fails in that action, it dies; its chemical elements remain, but its life goes out of existence. It is only the concept of ‘Life’ that makes the concept of ‘Value’ possible. It is only to a living entity that things can be good or evil.” -Galt

Yes, survival is the fundamental and the question is between life and death [as Rand says]. "Growth", "Flourishment" etc is a measurement of the capability of survival, which has been accepted as a fundamental. Sure a pulse is not enough : its the ability to keep the pulse going for as long as possible. A pulse is momentary. Survival is not. Rand was going for survival, not pulse [every living creature, even the brutes Rand spoke of, had a pulse, but their capability of survival was pretty low]. You must understand that "growth" and "productivity" [as considered by Rand], is only to further survival. They are not beyond survival. They are just means to achieve survival, the fundamental. "Productivity", "Growth", "Flourishing",etc is a derivative of this fundamental by applying reason and therefore cannot be used to justify the original argument [as stated earlier]. More of what Rand's quotes:

"It does not mean a momentary or merely physical survival. It does not mean the momentary physical survival of a mindless brute, waiting for another brute to crush his skull. It does not mean the momentary physical survival of a crawling aggregate of muscles who is willing to accept any terms, obey any thug, and surrender any values for the sake of what is known as survival at any price, which may or may not last a week or a year." (Its obvious from Rand's words that she thinks a being's standard is based on how long the organism survives [forgetting that death is inevitable])

An ultimate value is that final goal or end to which all lesser goals are the means - and it sets the standard by which all lesser goals are evaluated. An organism’s life is its standard of value: that which furthers its life is the good, that which threatens it is the evil.”(Again, Rand's establishment that survival [which cannot be equated to a pulse] is the fundamental, the ultimate)

"The virtue of Productiveness is the recognition of the fact that productive work is the process by which man's mind sustains his life" (basically, Rand's assertion that productive work ["productivity", "flourishing", etc] is the means for survival, the fundamental)

"Productive work is the central purpose of a rational man’s life, the central value that integrates and determines the hierarchy of all his other values." (productive work, the only means of survival, is the ultimate purpose of living, Rand feels)

"To lose your ambition for values is to lose your ambition to live" (again, the assertion that values are derived from the desire to survive).

"You must, if - and the if stands for man'schoice: - if you want to achieve a certain goal. You must eat, if you want to survive. You must work, if you want to eat. You must think, if you want to work. You must look at reality, if you want to think -- if you want to know what to do -- if you want to know what goals to choose -- if you want to know how to achieve them." (Note how all other values are derived from survival, the fundamental)

"Life or death is man’s only fundamental alternative. To live is his basic act of choice. If he chooses to live, a rational ethics will tell him what principles of action are required to implement his choice. If he does not choose to live, nature will take its course." (survival again)

Man has been called a rational being, but rationality is a matter of choice—and the alternative his nature offers him is: rational being or suicidal animal. Man has to be man—by choice; he has to hold his life as a value—by choice; he has to learn to sustain it—by choice; he has to discover the values it requires and practice his virtues—by choice. A code of values accepted by choice is a code of morality.” (Galt; simple life or death again)

"If life -- existence is not accepted as one's standard, then only one alternative standard remains: non-existence. But non-existence -- death -- is not a standard of value: it is the negation of values."


Maybe it will be useful for you to remember that a thing that exists does not only exists, but it exists as something. It has an identity.
In this same sense, survival means survival as something. In the case of man, survival as a man, and as a particular man, a unique person. Survival means survival as a value-seeking being with volition and intelligence. A being who can produce, create, understand, learn, share, love and be loved.

But you must know that a being's identity, its nature, is judged based on its capability to survive, which is the standard of value. The mere fact that something exists does not enable us to judge that something. But the fact that its [an organism's] existence can be furthered gives the values, which can be used to understand, using a being's consciousness, its identity.

"man’s survival qua man" means the values required for human survival, such as growth, productivity etc, which are derivatives of the fundamental guiding principle of survival [which is different from a pulse, which is momentary], after applying reason . By "qua man", i.e what is proper for man, Rand was talking about reason, which is used to further his survival (look at above quotes). It is through the application of reason that man can achieve the ultimate ideal of survival, if he chooses to live [so Rand says]. Productive work is the manifestation of the said application of man's mind [and is derived from survival]. I am not really contesting free will, but why survival is the basic standard for exercising that free will. I am contesting the morality of "survival as the ultimate aim" ideal.

Edited by brian0918, 25 April 2012 - 12:07 PM.
removed inappropriate content


#8
Eiuol

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Objectivism is not (at all) about "survival at all cost," but living wisely and living well.

I think this line can be elaborated much further. Survival is totally relevant and important, yes, but stopping there to say "right actions are whatever provides the most survival utility" is missing the point of what Rand is saying. Objectivism is not consequentialism. There are consequentialist aspects, but it's relevant to point out Rand's Aristotelian side which is more about virtue, cultivating character, and flourishing. Having a positive emotional state is simultaneous when you are flourishing/living/surviving. A bare minimum of survival would be more like slow death, even if of indefinite length of time. Flourishing is a forward process with a lot of potential, not a state of pure equilibrium. So in some sense, yes, productivity only furthers survival in the long run. Flourishing is only to further survival in the long run. Still, when you do these things effectively, the result is a state of happiness, and self-esteem. Subjective well-being is a recent "in" term to use to refer to the same idea.

Rather than approach this as a "problem," let's say that it gives us some urgency. ;) That we must die inspires us to get on with living.

I don't think it's anything at all inspirational. That living is a process that I want to further and experience is inspirational. You won't start living until you start doing, no matter how smart you are.

Edited by Eiuol, 25 April 2012 - 01:45 PM.

"Soldiers: don't give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you and enslave you, who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel, who drill you, diet you, treat you as cattle, as cannon fodder!" -Charlie Chaplin

#9
DonAthos

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Rather than approach this as a "problem," let's say that it gives us some urgency. ;) That we must die inspires us to get on with living.

I don't think it's anything at all inspirational. That living is a process that I want to further and experience is inspirational.


I'm not sure that I've devalued the inspiration of living... but on the subject of death, here's the way I see it. We are finite. We have a time limit. And knowledge of the fact that things are limited does lead me to make some choices that I might not otherwise (which I would term "inspiration").

When I was a senior in high school, recognizing that my experience was soon to end, I approached my classes and relationships there in a way that I might not have done otherwise.

My wife and I are expecting our first child soon. Our decision to start a family now, rather than wait, is partly based upon our ages, and our knowledge that her child-bearing years do not extend indefinitely.

If I were diagnosed with some fatal disease tomorrow and given a year to live, I expect that I would live this year of my life differently than otherwise.

And if I thought I was likely to live for five hundred, or a thousand years, I might pursue certain subjects or career paths with greater leisure, or a different intensity, or other subjects altogether than I do right now.

It seems to me that limits of these kinds are generally "inspirational"; as you and I both enjoy writing, I can tell you that writing with a thousand word limit leads me to make different choices than when I have five or ten thousand words at my disposal. Innovations are often required, to do what I want to do given my particular circumstances. Knowing that I do not have an infinity of words to communicate inspires me to select those words I do use with greater care.

Edited by DonAthos, 25 April 2012 - 02:27 PM.


#10
Eiuol

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I think this is misapplying the lessons of morality being about achieving a flourishing existence. The nearness of the end is wholly irrelevant because life, itself, is motivation enough. I don't really care about death, but I care about my well-being. Your identity as a living person makes it so that there are considerations to be made so that you will flourish. That's my point about survival. Yes, it is about long-term survival. I can rephrase that as "life", which is about pursuit of existence. The pursuit is only because existence is a fantastic thing. There is not a rational *justification* to pick life. Some people look for reasons, such as "death is coming!" But there is no justification! I can be more nuanced on that, and I have plenty of explanations as to why most people choose life, so don't presume that my claim is too strong here. You pursue life furthering things not because they prevent death, but because the whole experience of life is great. Lest that comes across as intrinsicism, my point is that life is good for you - the individual - and feels good.

That the end of anything is near may perhaps motivate you to try harder. Why is that? I see that mostly as a realization that an opportunity has been lost. You want to make sure you did all you could, so you'll try harder now. Is the motivation there still primarily "the end", or that the experience itself sounds really nice, so you want to try? Both have the same consequence, but in terms of Objectivist ethics, the better, more integrated option is to pursue a value because of its ability to enhance your life as a whole. Constraint doesn't have to be a motivating force. An experience itself is best off as the focus. You want to experience senior year a certain way. You want biological children. You want to experience all that life has to offer. Death need not be motivator for any of these. If you want to experience sky diving, should having a fatal disease motivate you to sky dive this year rather than in ten? I'd hate to save the "good stuff" for last. I'd rather have the good stuff as soon as possible.
"Soldiers: don't give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you and enslave you, who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel, who drill you, diet you, treat you as cattle, as cannon fodder!" -Charlie Chaplin

#11
DonAthos

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I think this is misapplying the lessons of morality being about achieving a flourishing existence. The nearness of the end is wholly irrelevant because life, itself, is motivation enough.


To be honest? I'm not 100% certain as to the source of apparent disagreement here, but a statement like "the nearness of the end is wholly irrelevant..."? That just doesn't strike me as true. I treat the fact of death as a fact like any other -- it's information that I use in my plans. The "nearness of the end" is as relevant as anything else; it's part of the context. It's part of reality.

My wife and I were recently discussing the necessity for us to make out our wills at some point in the near-ish future. That's not something I would have thought to do when I was fifteen, but it may be an appropriate thing to do at this stage in my life. And I use the term "stage" to indicate something I consider meaningful: as a human being, we progress through different stages, and those stages are defined in part in terms of a consideration of a human life as a whole, with a beginning, a middle, and an ending. (Or seven stages, if you believe Shakespeare.)

I don't really care about death, but I care about my well-being.


Neither am I certain as to what all might be entailed in "caring" about death. What I'm talking about isn't "caring" about it so much as it is a recognition of it, and using that information just as we use all information. I don't think it's any disservice to or misapplication of "the lessons of morality" to know that "all men are mortal," or to apply that knowledge to our plan-making.

Your identity as a living person makes it so that there are considerations to be made so that you will flourish. That's my point about survival. Yes, it is about long-term survival. I can rephrase that as "life", which is about pursuit of existence. The pursuit is only because existence is a fantastic thing. There is not a rational *justification* to pick life. Some people look for reasons, such as "death is coming!" But there is no justification! I can be more nuanced on that, and I have plenty of explanations as to why most people choose life, so don't presume that my claim is too strong here. You pursue life furthering things not because they prevent death, but because the whole experience of life is great. Lest that comes across as intrinsicism, my point is that life is good for you - the individual - and feels good.


Nor do I know what this is in response to. :)

Have I been looking for "justification" or "reasons" to "pick life"? Have I said anything that can be construed as meaning that "the whole experience of life" is not great? Or that existence is not "a fantastic thing"? I feel the force of your argument here, but I don't know where, or at whom, it is directed.

That the end of anything is near may perhaps motivate you to try harder. Why is that? I see that mostly as a realization that an opportunity has been lost.


Nor do I believe that this is in response to what I've said.

For instance, knowing that my wife's "biological clock" is ticking motivates us to have a child now as opposed to later (and as opposed to "too late"), but I don't know that this is "trying harder." It just seems... like a smart thing to do, if we want to have children. Am I missing something?

You want to make sure you did all you could, so you'll try harder now. Is the motivation there still primarily "the end", or that the experience itself sounds really nice, so you want to try? Both have the same consequence, but in terms of Objectivist ethics, the better, more integrated option is to pursue a value because of its ability to enhance your life as a whole. Constraint doesn't have to be a motivating force. An experience itself is best off as the focus. You want to experience senior year a certain way. You want biological children. You want to experience all that life has to offer. Death need not be motivator for any of these.


No. It's not that "death" is a motivator to having children, but that there are factual constraints (such as menopause) which *do* factor into our specific decisions. Death is similarly a factual constraint.

Among other things, seniors in high school have ditch day, and senior day, and prom. Reflective conversations abound around yearbook time that are unlike similar conversations in the grades previous. I don't think that this all exists in violation to any ethical code, Objectivist or otherwise -- I don't think it represents some sort of hidden immorality. I think that these symbolic and sentimental celebrations are rather borne from a realistic understanding that certain experiences do come to an ending. And that understanding matters.

Recently, my wife and I watched through Star Trek: The Next Generation. The final episode (beautifully done) is entitled "All Good Things..." The creators of this episode were fully conscious that this was their last episode, and that finality (the movies notwithstanding) is reflected in specific plot choices they made. Those choices add a lot to the episode. It's not that they "tried harder" to make a good episode of television (although that's also perhaps true), but that the very fact of the series ending was part of the context that they needed to consider and address.

If you want to experience sky diving, should having a fatal disease motivate you to sky dive this year rather than in ten? I'd hate to save the "good stuff" for last. I'd rather have the good stuff as soon as possible.


Some of the "good stuff" I might have, if I were to try to have it immediately (i.e. "as soon as possible"), might be disadvantageous to me in the long run -- over the course of a life of twenty, thirty, forty years longer or more. I must take the long view... so long as taking that sort of long view makes sense. It might be thrilling to travel through Europe. But if I'm looking at having a family, saving money, building my career, etc., then perhaps travel through Europe right now doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

However. If I had that fatal disease (which will yet somehow allow me to travel)....? Then maybe it wouldn't make sense for me to put off traveling for the sake of laying down foundations for a thirty year career.

#12
human_murda

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You pursue life furthering things not because they prevent death, but because the whole experience of life is great.

True, except Rand's concept of "greatness" of life is derived from the ideal of survival. A "great", "heroic" person, according to Rand, is someone who has the capability to achieve production, growth; someone who can make proper long-term survival possible. Rand only accepted greatness/achievement as a derivative of survival (the fundamental), not as a separate concept (so you see Taggarts, Galt, etc). This leads to civilization (a sing of 'proper' survival). Anything not derived from the absolute [existence and pursuit of it, survival] is what she considers mysticism. Her concept of "happiness" is also derived from long term physical survival. (quotes by Rand:)

"Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values." (As stated earlier, Rand thought that achievement of values was based on the fundamental of survival : "An organism’s life is its standard of value: that which furthers its life is the good, that which threatens it is the evil.” Happiness is gained in pursuit of survival in a way proper to man, reason)

"Achievement of your happiness is the only moral purpose of your life, and that happiness, not pain or mindless self-indulgence, is the proof of your moral integrity, since it is the proof and the result of your loyalty to the achievement of your values." (again, the implied survival ultimate and its correlation with survival).

My happiness is not the means to any end. It is the end. It is its own goal. It is its own purpose.” ("happiness" achieved through long-term survival goal is a being's purpose, Rand feels)

Joy is the goal of existence, and joy is not to be stumbled upon, but to be achieved, and the act of treason is to let its vision drown in the swamp of the moment's torture.

I don't really care about death, but I care about my well-being.

Doesn't caring about well-being mean that you care enough to keep decay at bay, you care about survival (in the proper way). Wouldn't that imply you care about death?


More on Rand's quotes about survival :

Abortion:
"The task of raising a child is a tremendous, lifelong responsibility, which no one should undertake unwittingly or unwillingly." (Implying that a mother has the right to abort, which would increase her chance of surviving [as resources are limited]. An embryo (<3 months) has no life, so its survival is irrelevant. The survival of the parents is more important than any positive emotions the parents may harbor for the embryo)

"The question of abortion involves much more than the termination of a pregnancy: it is a question of the entire life of the parents." (survival)

"As I have said before, parenthood is an enormous responsibility; it is an impossible responsibility for young people who are ambitious and struggling, but poor; particularly if they are intelligent and conscientious enough not to abandon their child on a doorstep nor to surrender it to adoption. For such young people, pregnancy is a death sentence: parenthood would force them to give up their future, and condemn them to a life of hopeless drudgery, of slavery to a child’s physical and financial needs." (long term survival again)

"For conscientious persons, an unwanted pregnancy is a disaster; to oppose its termination is to advocate sacrifice, not for the sake of anyone’s benefit, but for the sake of misery qua misery, for the sake of forbidding happiness and fulfillment to living human beings." (implying survival)


Other quotes:
"Rights are conditions of existence required by man's nature for his proper survival."

"The concept value is not a primary; it presupposes an answer to the question: of value to whom and for what? It presupposes an entity capable of acting to achieve a goal in the face of an alternative. Where no alternative exists, no goals and no values are possible." (values derived from survival, which is based on an organism's life)

Man cannot survive except through his mind. He comes on earth unarmed. His brain is his only weapon. Animals obtain food by force. man had no claws, no fangs, no horns, no great strength of muscle. He must plant his food or hunt it. To plant, he needs a process of thought. To hunt, he needs weapons, and to make weapons - a process of thought. From this simplest necessity to the highest religious abstraction, from the wheel to the skyscraper, everything we are and we have comes from a single attribute of man -the function of his reasoning mind.” (survival is the root)

The basic social principle of the Objectivist ethics is that just as life is an end in itself, so every living human being is an end in himself, not the means to the ends or the welfare of others—and, therefore, that man must live for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. To live for his own sake that the achievement of his own happiness is man’s highest moral purpose.” (life is long term physical survival and happiness, the derivative)

"Achieving life is not the equivalent of avoiding death." (avoiding death is momentary. achieving life is long-term survival)

"If life on earth is his purpose, he has a right to live as a rational being." (Reason comes after survival)

Productiveness is your acceptance of morality, your recognition of the fact that you choose to live--that productive work is the process by which man's consciousness controls his existence"

Don't forget Rand's psychological influence, her experience in Russia.

#13
Eiuol

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"Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values." (As stated earlier, Rand thought that achievement of values was based on the fundamental of survival : "An organism’s life is its standard of value: that which furthers its life is the good, that which threatens it is the evil.” Happiness is gained in pursuit of survival in a way proper to man, reason)

Right, that's what I'm saying. The positive emotions you described are achieved by standards that further your existence. I agree that this is derived from long-term survival. In what way is that a problem? I'm not sure if you missed post #9, but I'm not sure where exactly the disagreement is.
"Soldiers: don't give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you and enslave you, who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel, who drill you, diet you, treat you as cattle, as cannon fodder!" -Charlie Chaplin

#14
bluecherry

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Nutshell = The goal and standard is life as the unique, individual human person that one is and as long as one is doing well by that standard, then good feelings are pretty much an inseparable, inevitable, simultaneous consequence.

A little elaboration: The same thing applies in reverse where if you are doing awfully by that standard then you'll be miserable. More erroneous conclusions are come to about Objectivism due to overlooking the part about "as yourself" from the whole standard of life thing than anything else. So, no, Objectivism wouldn't demand one, say, hang on suffering hopelessly with terminal cancer for months longer because supposedly the only concern is lasting as long as possible no matter what. You do not have to, nor should you, ignore who and what you are, how you feel, and what you want. These things aren't irrelevant or even negligible. You just have to make sure that you don't put the cart before the horse and do just whatever you feel like doing whenever you feel like it without any further questions. That's a recipe for disaster like running blindly into a room of pointy objects without turning the lights on first because you smell something good in there. Check your feelings and desires, make sure that they and how you plan to get them aren't irrational and harmful, hit that light switch to see where the dangers are before proceeding to go get whatever is giving off that heavenly aroma -- THEN go after it full speed ahead. ;)

By the way, has anybody mentioned yet that there is somebody who follows Objectivism that has actually written a book about the good morals demonstrated in the Harry Potter books? If not, thought that might interest you.

#15
human_murda

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The positive emotions you described are achieved by standards that further your existence.

No. For two reasons:

(1) I am saying that there is a reality to emotions "outside" the goal of survival. To understand this let's compare ourselves to a [hypothetical] alien species. The survival fundamental and the emotions derived from it would be the same for both species. But there are positive emotions which can be felt by one species which the other can't feel depending on how their brains are wired. For example : consider the poem "Tintern Abbey" by Wordsworth, which is about him making a connection with nature and his sister. To me, the poem conveys several positive emotions such as mystery, a loneliness that is almost mystical, nostalgia and also some spiritual aspects. Consider "Ode on a Grecian Urn" by John Keats, which describes a longing for immortality that is almost sad; Or "I'm getting old now" by Robert Kroetsch about a narrator remembering his mother, his root, when he is getting old. Now some [or all] of these particular emotions may not be felt by the alien species depending on their environment and how their brain is wired [if their environment is very hostile, they would have no use for nostalgia or mystical/spiritual aspects]. These emotions don't improve my chances of survival [sadness and nostalgia is felt for something which is lost/unattainable] but that doesn't stop me from pursuing them. The alien species may have some other emotions they value and it is part of their reality and they pursue it. Another thing is knowledge that may not increase our chances of survival. For example, scientists are looking for a particle called "graviton" which might explain how gravitation works. Its discovery would not change the laws of physics [Einstein's's gravitation still holds] but only our understanding of it. Another possible explanation for gravitation can be achieved with Einstein's theory of relativity, which he extended to gravity [so that gravity is not due to "gravitons" but it causes a curvature of space-time, making gravity a part of mechanics]. The point is, the concept of "graviton" can explain gravity as well as the general theory of relativity can. Both arrive at the same "laws of physics" (which is the only thing concerning our survival). But there is a part of physics which questions how these laws come about or why they exist [theoretical physics]. But even if we understand the "why", the "how" part still remains the same [such as for gravity or the root of any physical laws]. It is the "how" part which concerns our survival [Every good character in "Atlas Shrugged was concerned with this "how" part]. The "why" part is curiosity, a positive emotion outside of survival-goal. Objectivism's pursuit of knowledge is fully mechanical, concerned with productivity/growth/flourishing limited by the survival goal. Knowledge in Harry Potter is much more encompassing [hence the reason for the introduction of Luna Lovegood, who is in search of knowledge solely outside the realm of survival. Hermione (an objectivist type) initially despised this, but later come to terms with it, accepting that Luna was simply "different"]. Objectivism does not advocate knowledge for the sake [curiosity] of it, but that which furthers survival. The knowledge of the greatest person according to Rand would be solely mechanical. (Some education experts even advocate that "mechanical" knowledge is rote learning, because brain is wired to work with meanings [the "why"s] rather than simple logic[the "how"s], which according to Rand, is required for survival while everything else is "mysticism"). I am saying that just because anything is outside a survival ideal doesn't mean that it is mystical [as Rand believed]. The only way to bring this about is to consider survival as a premise rather than as a fundamental.

(2) As stated in the beginning, survival is an unachievable ideal. One consequence of this is that a mere productive/flourishing life [within the limits of survival] does not make me that happy [a motivation factor is also lacking as survival unachievable]. An unproductive life [a life without consideration for survival] makes me unhappy. A productive life [one where survival is fundamental] makes me neutral [as survival itself is not an achievement but just a premise, as I feel]. A productive life [i.e, with survival] with "outside" positive emotions [outside the survival fundamental] makes me happy. No, I don't believe positive emotions outside the survival fundamental is "mystical" (as Rand feels). Sure, they may be mystical for an alien species or a non-living thing. But they are very much real for a human being [Rand never considered the possible differences between different thinking beings/species, which hints at a reality outside of the survival fundamental, which would be the same for all thinking beings].

#16
human_murda

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So, no, Objectivism wouldn't demand one, say, hang on suffering hopelessly with terminal cancer for months longer because supposedly the only concern is lasting as long as possible no matter what. You do not have to, nor should you, ignore who and what you are, how you feel, and what you want.


Except terminal cancer [or any other terminal illness] cannot be treated. Treatment does not improve your chances by much [or the improved chances are negligible], hence the term "terminal" and death is certain. So your assumption that treatment allows you to "hang on suffering hopelessly with terminal cancer for months longer" is wrong. Terminal illnesses aren't usually treated anyway because of this. They are given palliative care. Any disease [even cancer], which is treated, is assumed to be non-terminal [i.e, there are treatment options available, improving your chances of living]. Only terminal diseases are "hopeless". Non-terminal disease [where treatment is available] is a hopeful case.

Simultaneously, we recognize that we must have the computer on to do anything with it at all, and that use of our computer willy nilly (picking up viruses, triggering FBI raids into our home, etc.) is unwise. To use our computer well, we must use it wisely.

I don't think you get the different levels at which the comparison is being made. A computer is not a living organism. So, you can't kill/stop a computer by running a virus on it. A computer can run a virus as good as it can run a video game. But neither affects its survival. A video game is an "extra", outside the survival ideal. The only thing that affects its survival is electricity. The only thing that has to be taken care of is how long this electricity is supplied. The wisdom of a computer is to make sure that electricity is supplied [but being a non-living thing, it can't make that choice anyway]. Now we can compare this to a human : Now unlike the computer, we have a choice that can make sure that the "electricity" is supplied constantly. Living wisely [along with several other Objectivist ideals], for us, means long term survival. The point is that all the objectivist ideal is only comparable to, at a maximum, the electricity used to run a computer. Positive emotions outside the survival ideal can be equated to the "video game", a feast outside of the survival fundamental. So the comparison is:
(1) Electricity of a computer to Productivity/growth/happiness/wisdom [within the survival fundamental]
(2) A Video game to positive emotions (outside survival fundamental)

[I realize that a computer can't run a video game by itself nor enjoy anything by running it. But I am only making an analogy here, only for the purpose of understanding. There is no direct relation btw. the two]

#17
human_murda

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For example : consider the poem "Tintern Abbey" by Wordsworth, which is about him making a connection with nature and his sister. To me, the poem conveys several positive emotions such as mystery, a loneliness that is almost mystical, nostalgia and also some spiritual aspects.

By "mystical" (here) I meant something unknown as opposed to something unreal.

#18
bluecherry

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XD Man, human_murda, you got what I was saying about terminal cancer AAAAALLLLL wrong! I was saying that Objectivism would be a-okay with somebody opting to call it quits on life sooner rather than later when their life has been reduced to such a hopeless terrible condition. Objectivism would NOT say somebody has to drag it out as long as possible existing in such an inhumane condition. This results from the fact that Objectivism advocates living consistent with who and what you are. The kind of conditions in which one may exist while terminal cancer is running its course are ones that are pretty surely not consistent with the kind of person you are, the cancer having robbed you of your ability to live as yourself ever again before finally taking away your ability to live at all, in any manner.

#19
Eiuol

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To be honest? I'm not 100% certain as to the source of apparent disagreement here, but a statement like "the nearness of the end is wholly irrelevant..."? That just doesn't strike me as true. I treat the fact of death as a fact like any other -- it's information that I use in my plans. The "nearness of the end" is as relevant as anything else; it's part of the context. It's part of reality.

Well, it was mostly directed at murda rather than you as a means to present other questions. Basically, what I'm saying is that attention can be given towards life or death primarily. If focusing on flourishing, death only matters to the extent certain actions lead towards self-destruction, not that you're fleeing death. Really that's a matter of psychology and how to maintain a goal of flourishing. Death avoidance doesn't work, because it frames the goal wrongly. Perhaps the consequences are the same, but that's where Rand's Aristotelian influence comes in. Achieving a good character with good virtue includes how one operates psychologically, so framing the goal well makes a big difference. I'm not saying you disagree, I'm only pointing out a better way of expressing what I think you're getting at.
"Soldiers: don't give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you and enslave you, who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel, who drill you, diet you, treat you as cattle, as cannon fodder!" -Charlie Chaplin

#20
human_murda

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I was saying that Objectivism would be a-okay with somebody opting to call it quits on life sooner rather than later when their life has been reduced to such a hopeless terrible condition. Objectivism would NOT say somebody has to drag it out as long as possible existing in such an inhumane condition. This results from the fact that Objectivism advocates living consistent with who and what you are. The kind of conditions in which one may exist while terminal cancer is running its course are ones that are pretty surely not consistent with the kind of person you are, the cancer having robbed you of your ability to live as yourself ever again before finally taking away your ability to live at all, in any manner.

But cancer [or other terminal diseases] leads to inhumane conditions only in the most final stages. Before that these diseases are difficult to cope with, but not inhuman. Again I don't get how Objectivism advocates suicide [your cancer is definitely a part of who you are, isn't it? It's part of your reality, your identity and you have to deal with it]. Also cancer isn't hopeless until it becomes terminal. So if you decide to "call it quits on life sooner rather than later", you would be yielding to your fear of the unknown.

#21
human_murda

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If focusing on flourishing, death only matters to the extent certain actions lead towards self-destruction, not that you're fleeing death. Really that's a matter of psychology and how to maintain a goal of flourishing. Death avoidance doesn't work, because it frames the goal wrongly. Perhaps the consequences are the same, but that's where Rand's Aristotelian influence comes in. Achieving a good character with good virtue includes how one operates psychologically, so framing the goal well makes a big difference.

But you're still focusing on survival in the best way, right? Also, on a second note, I am not sure that "a good character with good virtue" [when it is limited by the survival ideal] appeals much to psychology. You would still be aware that you're basically trying to survive wouldn't you [especially if you are using that ideal as a basis to making every decision in your life]?

Edited by human_murda, 27 April 2012 - 06:21 PM.


#22
human_murda

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@bluecherry : I think you should answer this as well : do you think Shakespeare's Macbeth should have committed suicide just like Lady Macbeth? I don't, because of the importance I give to another positive emotion, 'hope'. I find the following line by Macbeth truly inspirational : "Why should I play the Roman fool and die on mine own sword? Whiles I see lives, the gashes do better upon them". Fortune has been downhill for Macbeth ever since Act I, Scene 4; but this line was said in the scene in which he dies. In fact this hope is the characteristic I find the most admirable in Macbeth. Needless to say, I would advocate the same to cancer patients.

This 'hope' is also covered in detail in Harry Potter and began with the character of Sirius Black, who was not affected by Dementors even while he was in Azkaban, because of his conviction that he is innocent and that he still has a chance of redemption by killing Pettigrew.

#23
Spiral Architect

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@bluecherry : I think you should answer this as well : do you think Shakespeare's Macbeth should have committed suicide just like Lady Macbeth? I don't, because of the importance I give to another positive emotion, 'hope'. I find the following line by Macbeth truly inspirational : "Why should I play the Roman fool and die on mine own sword? Whiles I see lives, the gashes do better upon them". Fortune has been downhill for Macbeth ever since Act I, Scene 4; but this line was said in the scene in which he dies. In fact this hope is the characteristic I find the most admirable in Macbeth. Needless to say, I would advocate the same to cancer patients.

This 'hope' is also covered in detail in Harry Potter and began with the character of Sirius Black, who was not affected by Dementors even while he was in Azkaban, because of his conviction that he is innocent and that he still has a chance of redemption by killing Pettigrew.


I would agree about being positive and not giving up. It is the desire to live is the desire to live. While the choice to live or die is very personal (and context driven based on circumstances) I'd be inclined to fight death all the way to the end. I've always admired the quote from Marshall about the death of Theodore Rosevelt - "Death had to take Roosevelt sleeping, for if he had been awake, there would have been a fight."
Volition = Cognition - A deterministic philosophy is a contradiction in terms

#24
Dante

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So, I'm going to reply to the OP here, although probably some of what I will say has been said already in another way. Also let me say that I share your regard for the philosophy underlying Rowling's HP series. So here goes.

Basically, morality is not based on a question of life and death. Survival is not a fundamental. The question is not about how long you survive [as even the most moral person must die], but what you do so long as you are alive (such as aquiring knowledge 'additionally' as a matter of curiosity rather than as a means for survival. It is this additional part that matters. Knowledge used for survival is only like the electricity used to run a computer. Both are only the pemises, not the main feast). Rand's morality is based on an unachievable dream [survival], finally giving no incentive to the practitioner [DD : " Time is making fools of us again " & "It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live"]. A hint of such existence where survival is the only concern is hinted at in the third HP book, probably the only reason for introducing the dementors : ["You can exist without your soul, you know, as long as your brain and heart are still working. But you'll have no sense of self anymore, no memory, no ... anything. There's no chance at all of recovery. You'll just exist. As an empty shell. And your soul is gone forever ... lost" -Lupin].


First of all, I think you have to see the same sentiment in Rand's writings. Her ideal characters are willing to live life only on their own terms, not on anyone else's. They are clearly not aiming at 'mere survival,' but something more. So let's explore this a little. She certainly states that her morality is based on the alternative of life and death, and yet her morality does not seem to result in people who are willing to prolong their life at all costs. Whence the disconnect?

When she says that the fundamental alternative is life or death, she is attempting to give some guidance as to what is a value or not. It's fine to say that love is what is worth living for, but that leaves the deeper question: what is worthy of love? Even love can be directed at the wrong people or things. There are any number of people who would swear that they love people who treat them badly; abuse them, cheat on them, etc. Voldemort himself harbors a love for power (which Rand herself illustrates as wrong through the character of Gail Wynand). We need standards for love just like any other emotion; this is what Rand means when she says that emotions are not tools of cognititon.

You write as though it's a crime for Objectivists to say that emotions are what's worth living for, but Objectivism does not denigrate emotion. Emotion is critically important, and those that disregard it do so at their own peril. And yet, we need standards to tell us what it is proper to feel positive emotions for, and we know from experience that emotion itself does not provide these standards. So what is the ultimate standard that tells us, no matter how good it might feel, that things that detract from our overall well-being are not good? What tells us that (to use an extreme example), no matter how good heroin feels, it's not ultimately a value?

It's our long-term well-being; as Rand would say, our own life, lived over the long term. Survival isn't precisely the right word, because once we invest in a certain value that is concordant with our long-term well-being (like a person, or an ideal), we might very well sacrifice our own life for that value. Rand gives numerous examples, such as John Galt, who is willing to die to save Dagny, or a rational soldier who might be willing to die for the sake of preserving freedom in his nation. The Harry Potter series gives us more: defeating an enemy who seeks to subjugate all before him. In all such instances, what is common among the things worth dying for? It is the fact that these are the things that promote human life, or the kinds of people or relationships that promote our own individual lives. Those things that promote human life (as over the alternative of death) are the things ultimately worth fighting (and dying) for. In that light, let's look at some of your HP quotes (quotes that I wholeheartedly agree with):

“There is nothing worse than death, Dumbledore!” (voldemort)
“You are quite wrong,…Indeed, your failure to understand that there are things much worse than death has always been your greatest weakness—”

"You are the true master of death, because the true master does not seek to run away from Death. He accepts that he must die, and understands that there are far, far worse things in the living world than dying"

"Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it." (Putting all your energy on survival can numb the pain for a while, but death is inevitable)


Rand seeks to provide the philosophy for living a truly human life. Her ultimate goal is to provide the philosophy for achieving happiness and success on this earth. All of her characters accept the fact that they will eventually die; and yet, their achievements in their own lives are of paramount importance to them. She goes one step further in asking, what is the root of human achievement? Her answer: it makes life better for us all, it prolongs our life on this earth, it furthers the goal of human health and well-being. And what is the root of the concepts of health and well-being? It is the fundamental alternative of life or death. That's what she means when she says that all we do should be ultimately to promote our own lives.
"What kind of idea are you? Are you the kind that compromises, does deals, accommodates itself to society, aims to find a niche, to survive; or are you the cussed, bloody-minded, ramrod-backed type of damnfool notion that would rather break than sway with the breeze? – The kind that will almost certainly, ninety-nine times out of hundred, be smashed to bits; but, the hundredth time, will change the world." - Salman Rushdie

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bluecherry

bluecherry

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But cancer [or other terminal diseases] leads to inhumane conditions only in the most final stages. Before that these diseases are difficult to cope with, but not inhuman. Again I don't get how Objectivism advocates suicide [your cancer is definitely a part of who you are, isn't it? It's part of your reality, your identity and you have to deal with it]. Also cancer isn't hopeless until it becomes terminal. So if you decide to "call it quits on life sooner rather than later", you would be yielding to your fear of the unknown.

How bad is one's quality of life? How bad are the odds of survival and for how long? How bad are the side effects of treatments? What is one still capable of for how much longer? There are plenty of variables from one case to another including variation in the individual characteristics of the people involved, so it isn't like every time somebody is told they have cancer there is one same conclusion according to Objectivism. There is no commandment that one commit suicide at any time, just recognition that conditions may become such that the standard of life qua oneself is no longer realistically feasible and when and if such a point comes up you've exited the realm in which Objectivism is applicable. When such a point has been reached depends on those above mentioned variables, but once that point has been reached, it means Objectivism can't say what one should do nor can it condemn one for what choices one does make. It's kind of like life boat situations or inseparable conjoined twins.



Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: survival, rowling, harry potter, entropy, death, life, emotion, fundamental, sacrifice, morality

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