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  1. The reason your first statement is a denial of consciousness and free will is that if you say, "This person with this particular nature will make this particular choice at this particular time in this particular context," there's no choice about it: it's only a choice if he can do both, i.e. his nature is such that he can do both, but he chooses to do one. The man-made is not metaphysical. For example, if I (to use a racist argument) say, "Blacks steal. It's just in their nature," I am implying that blacks do not possess consciousness or free will, that they are a lesser form of life than myself (which, needless to say, is false). For a man to have a choice whether or not to steal, his nature must be such that he can either steal or not, depending on the choice of his consciousness. Now, you can speak of a tendency to choose one type of thing over another, but this is simply an empirical observation based on prior actions. For example, it is true that blacks commit more crime in the U.S. on average than other races/ethnicities, and there are many non-racist reasons to explain why they would choose to do so. However, it is invalid to speak of such "tendencies" having on active role over human choice. If man has free will, he has free will (see here). The choice that occurs is not determined by nothing; it is determined by man's conscious faculty. The trap I believe you are falling into is the idea (in fact, supported by Aristotle) that consciousness, if it is to be objective and to perceive "reality as it really is", it must have no nature in itself. So if you believe man is conscious and has free will, according to this theory (widely accepted on all sides), you must deny that consciousness is anything in particular, that it works in any particular way, that it is dependent on any enabling factors (and such people usually hold that it is a divine miracle; in fact, this is a key component of the Catholic acceptance of evolution: lower animals can evolve, but consciousness is a "divine spark"). Thus, when scientists attempt to explain consciousness, it is viewed as a threat to free will because to explain something is to show that it has a nature and to define that nature. The assumed premise of this argument is false, as demonstrated by Objectivism, which is one of its greatest contributions to epistemology. Man's mind, his conscious faculty, is a real thing which, according to its nature, has the ability to choose among alternatives. Its nature does not determine what choice it will make. The act of choosing determines which choice it will make, not its nature, not "nothing". What sub-processes and rules does a man use to decide? That is precisely what psychology is supposed to discover.
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  2. Avila

    Can an Altruist be happy

    If the definition of altruism is as broad as some here would have it, then John Galt's willingness to die to shield Dagny would be an act of altruism. Now, because I think the definition of altruism is a lot narrower, I don't think Galt was acting altruistically, but rather in accordance with his hierarchy of values: a life without Dagney is of little value to him. As for "well-known Objectivists", I am thinking of Diana Hsieh working on a big paper against the personhood movement. She mentioned, in the process, that it took a lot of time and effort (time away from other projects) and so she would appreciate any financial contributions. Is that being altruistic? I don't think so -- she is sacrificing her time because it is of value to her. But if your definition of altruism is broad enough, her working on something to benefit others, that takes away from her own productive work, would appear to qualify. The original question was, can altruists be happy? If you're using a very broad definition, then yes, many are, and the research shows that altruism leads to greater happiness. I don't think true altruists, using the narrower definition that was mentioned previously (quoting Rand) could be happy. I also don't think there are that many of them. Again, unless we are using the same definition of altruism, then it's difficult to discuss this with any clarity. But, in a broader sense, if charity towards others rewards the actor with greater happiness, and if that actor is a Christian who believes that charity will be rewarded in heaven, then clearly it is beneficial to him first, and others secondarily. So why should that bother Objectivists so? This is rather all quite dramatic, though I've never seen it (and I know a lot of serious Christians). But at any rate the same sorts of actions are quite visible in the non-religious -- athletes, for example, give up food and perform all kinds of mortifications that the rest of us wouldn't care to do, in order to achieve a goal which is valuable to them. From where I'm sitting, I can look out the window and see five of my neighbors' homes. All of them are Christian: three are Catholic, one is Methodist, and another is Lutheran. They are all fine, upstanding, intelligent people. They contribute to our little Midwestern town in a number of capacities. They all take their faith quite seriously, and yet haven't done any of the things you claim they do. You're sounding a bit hysterical. Certainly one can think of happy, prosperous, productive Christians: C.S. Lewis, G.K Chesterton (both ex-atheists), Tolkien, etc. I can think of happy, prosperous, productive atheists. Having meaning and purpose in one's life is conducive to happiness and joy, and whether one has that through a devotion to Objectivism or a devotion to God -- so what? Why do you care so much? Euiol, since you're plainly incapable of mature discussion (one without distorting the positions of those you disagree with), I won't be replying to your posts.
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