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tygorton last won the day on January 9 2012

tygorton had the most liked content!

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    I have recently discovered Ayn Rand and the Objectivist approach to life. The realization that I have accepted a false morality most of my life has not been enjoyable ... but awakening to the concept of a life without guilt has quickly dwarfed those feelings of regret. The future has purpose again.
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    Ty Gorton
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  1. In terms of Capitalism vs. Marxism, how does Marxism provide justice? Simply because an idealogy defines its own terms for justice and abides by its own rules, this does not make it "justice" in terms of reality. History provides ample, tangible evidence that Marxism cannot and does not protect individual rights. Instead, it demands individual sacrifice for the greater good of the whole, which can be seen as nothing but immoral and contrary to any concept of justice. Without individual rights, justice cannot exist. Regarding the idea of the spillover of value generated by a successful business, I think you are overlooking the pyschological/social value gained by the businessman. Not all value is measured strictly in monetary terms. A prominent businessman within a community enjoys many benefits from that community which are not directly measurable in a material sense. One successful business can also be leveraged to gain support/investment for another, and so on. The sense of self-worth gained by providing employment and a means of survival to others alone is something that cannot be measured easily. An individual's self-image/self-worth is vital to every action that person takes. The respect and admiration of your peers is rather difficult to quantify in terms of value.
  2. tygorton

    What is love?

    Love is embracing/protecting that which we value, as others have stated above. This means that love can be either positive or negative on extreme ends of the spectrum, and everything in between. If a person's adopted philosophy (whether conscious or, as stated above as being more common, subconscious) places value on virtue, that love will express itself positively. If an individual's philosophy places value on vice, it would be negative. People tend to choose who they love based on their own self-image. Someone who, for whatever collection of reasons, thinks lowly of themselves, often seeks (again, either consciously or in most cases, subconsciously) out people who consistently provide confirmation of their own belief that they are of little value. In contrast, a highly confident person who has a shining sense of self-woth will only offer their love to someone who they know to share a similar "sense of life". 2046's response is superb.
  3. Note: This is a recent post on my blog. The purpose of the blog is more or less personal immersion in Objectivist thought. By engaging the philosophy on a regular basis in order to write these essays, I am working to replace a lifetime of errant philosophy with Objectivism. My total acceptance of Objectivist ideas as truth is only the beginning of a long process by which the end goal is to completely rid myself of emotionism when it comes to making decisions in my life. I do not claim to be an expert on Objectivism and these essays are personal explorations/expressions of my growing understanding of the philosophy. The Myth of Sacrificial Morality It is a commonly held notion within the philosophical context of our age that an intensely moral person is, in essence, a martyr. The prevailing image of an impeccably moral individual is one of suffering, i.e., a religious man living in self-imposed isolation whipping himself for merely thinking about an immoral act. This is a false image and a highly destructive cliché that is accepted by the majority. The truth is in extreme opposition to this deranged fantasy. Indeed, if one measures their morality in terms of an altruistic philosophy, there can be only one resulting image: that of a martyr sacrificing the enjoyment of his life in order to achieve “morality”. To take altruism (defined as: the principle or practice of unselfish concern for or devotion to the welfare of others) to its ultimate end is to, quite literally, DIE. If one considers it moral to sacrifice oneself for the greater good of others, then morality absolutely creates a state of perpetual suffering on two separate fronts. The first front is direct; by sacrificing yourself for others, you suffer the depravation of what is being sacrificed without the possibility of a return. The second front is more abstract. Because no one (except the psychotic) WANTS death, an individual devoted to an altruistic philosophy must decide how far to take their misguided brand of “morality”. This creates a sliding scale in which no moral absolutes are possible. It becomes a matter of individual choice in terms of how altruistic one must be in order to achieve sufficient morality. This contradiction creates immeasurable guilt and mental suffering. The altruistic individual cannot possibly achieve moral perfection without bringing about their own demise, and so they exist in a constant state of guilt regarding their perceived level of morality. The religious man whipping himself becomes a logical extension of such a barbaric view of morality. The reality is: morality is a SELFISH act. A successful, joyous, and healthy individual must have a shining self-image in order to sustain their powerful sense of life. Only a moral person can possess a self-image strong enough to enable their continued success in all aspects of life. Morality breeds confidence. Morality grows strength within an individual in abundance, a strength that is immediately recognizable to all those who come in contact with it. Consider the hypothetical cliché of a parent discovering their child with “their hand in the cookie jar”. A child caught trying to take a cookie when they know it is not allowed becomes visibly guilty. Their entire body language shifts. They understand that they have breached a trust and this generates guilt and self-doubt. In contrast, the child who never breaches that trust, who only reaches into the cookie jar when permissible, fosters trust between themselves and their guardian(s) and as a result, is free of conflict and guilt. Self-confidence is the direct result of successfully navigating moral challenges, even one as (seemingly) petty as deciding whether to take a cookie without permission. When, by contrast, a much larger moral decision is at stake in one’s adult life, the decision one makes will have a lifelong impact (positive or negative) on a considerable scale. It becomes easy to conclude that achieving moral perfection is in fact a selfishly motivated endeavor. Once an individual comprehends that their success in life is reliant upon a glowing self-image and that morality plays a fundamental role in forming that self-image, it becomes selfishly imperative to the individual to achieve moral perfection in their lives. The benefits of being consciously moral are countless. In business, while an individual may gain profit by being immoral in the short term, the long-term result is failure. This failure may not translate into a loss of profits, but it will certainly present itself in every other aspect of that individual’s life. An immoral businessman is incapable of trust because they themselves are not trustworthy, and thusly, they extend that inability to be trustworthy to every individual they encounter. No amount of wealth can appease the mental suffering of gaining wealth by immoral means. History is ripe with evidence in terms of the disastrous personal lives of those who have gained wealth in such a way. What possible benefit can there be to wealth if one’s self-image is so damaged as to make happiness an impossibility? In business, trust is also a considerable factor when it comes to partnerships. A businessman who has betrayed that trust will find it more and more difficult to form business relationships in the future, unless it is with other businessmen who lack morality, in which case both parties are at risk of being swindled and both expect nothing less than betrayal. In the realm of personal relationships, there can be no greater factor than morality. Trust is the foundation of every relationship. Without it, even the most meager of friendships would be impossible, let alone a lifelong commitment that yields positive results. A moral individual is valued by all except those who view it as a threat due to their own unwillingness to lead moral lives. Nothing is more infuriating to the immoral than the impeccable morality they encounter in others. This creates a two-fold benefit for the moral individual. First, because the individual has proven their moral fortitude, their personal relationships will flourish and enjoy the full range of benefits generated by trust. Second, a moral individual will instantly be aware of the immorality inherent in others by their attack of that moral fortitude. This presents itself in any number of ways, sometimes subtle. It may be as “innocent” as someone insisting you take that shot of tequila with them despite the fact that you’ve made it clear you are not interested. Typically, some form of social pressure is applied under the guise of “playfulness”, but this type of behavior is nothing more than the immoral/weak individual’s attempt to bring you down to their level so they can better enjoy themselves free of guilt. Morality is noble and it requires no faith. Moral absolutes are discernible by way of reason, by way of a scientific method of perception and introspection. Once an individual understands that moral absolutes exist, it is in their self-interest to apply those moral absolutes for the reasons specified above and countless more that are unnecessary to describe. Morality is selfish. Only a selfish individual can achieve moral perfection because only a selfishly motivated individual can grasp the immeasurable personal benefits of achieving moral perfection. Across every aspect of one’s life, morality is of vital importance. To achieve universal success in life, from business to personal relationships, an individual’s moral choices are paramount. It is important here to restate the importance of an individual’s means of defining morality. If a person adopts an altruistic philosophy, moral perfection is impossible. The more devoted an individual is to an altruistic approach to morality, the greater their suffering and ultimate failure. It is imperative that one define morality by way of reason. Whether it is a question of taking a cookie without permission or stabbing someone in the stomach, the correct moral decision can ALWAYS be determined by way of reason. The distinction between an individual living according to an altruistic philosophy and a philosophy of reason is fundamental. Only self-destruction can be the result of the former while immeasurable personal reward will be the result of the latter. If humanity is to survive the challenges of our time, the barbaric notion of sacrificial morality must be abandoned and replaced with a morality defined by reason. The morality of reason increases human potential exponentially. An individual’s self-worth grows each time a moral action is taken. Self-worth is the most valuable commodity any individual can obtain. The greater a human being’s self-worth, the greater their contributions will be, both to the larger world and within their own personal realm of existence. Each of us is capable of moral perfection so long as the moral philosophy we adopt is defined purely by reason. The next time you look at yourself in the mirror, take stock of your moral integrity and the impact it has on all aspects of your life. Let go of the image of morality as attainable only by way of sacrifice and depravation. Instead, embrace an achievable moral philosophy that will guide you toward your full potential. Personal Note: I have only just begun this journey in my own life, yet the impact has already been dramatic. The simple decision of accepting that any immoral act, whether you “get away with it” or not, is self-destructive, has made the daily moral choices I face much more easy to navigate. Each time I make the wrong choice there can be no “guilty pleasure” in the act, only disappointment and the instant desire to correct it. There is nothing to get away with. The sacrifice I make each time I act immorally is the sacrifice of my own self-worth. As I apply this philosophy, it becomes more and more difficult to make anything but moral choices inspired by my own selfish desire to gain confidence, even in areas most would consider unimportant “gray zones” that I would not have given a thought to in the past. When it comes to morality, there are no gray choices. You either act in accordance with your moral reason or you do not. To compromise is to fail yourself and to weaken your own self-image.
  4. Ha! Can't argue there. Poop on toast is "art" if someone chooses to place it in a gallery setting. I submit that accepting this kind of pretentiousness as art is about as appealing as, well, eating such an installation would be.
  5. I agree with that, the presentation of the Ayn Rand Campus is ambitious and innovative. It is clear from the emails I received, however, that removing the site after a week due to technical issues was not part of the game plan. I am not trying to diminish the offering. I suppose it is more of a personal frustration because I had marked my calendar and was excited about plowing through the available courses. Any time you are releasing an interactive product with a high potential for glitches, there should be an apple testing period before any kind of open/public release. Why amp up the public for something that has not been properly tested? All of this could have been handled behind the scenes, and I would have been happy to help as a beta tester, as I'm sure many hundreds would have been. Anyway, no point in beating a (temporarily) dead horse. I'm looking forward to engaging the campus again upon its return.
  6. That's an interesting notion, that artists get "paid" Many of history's greatest artists never rose above poverty in their lifetimes. The iconic notion of the "starving artist" is certainly cliche, but like most cliches, it has a foundation of truth. If artists only made art when they were getting paid for it, I'd imagine we'd have 75% less art in the world today.
  7. Agreed. The only way to "fight" altruism is to bring the alternative to life one individual at a time. Fighting any idea head on, especially one so deeply rooted, typically ends in failure. Only the successful implentation of a superior alternative can snap people out of their stupor. Art is without question one of the most powerful ways to influence individuals. Objectivist art is the greatest tool available to opening the human mind to its own potential. I have several art projects underway in my local town that feature Objectivist concepts. If there is to be a viable movement, I believe art must be its foundation, not academia. The recruitment of artists should be an intense focus. Where I live (Chico, CA), art is a substantial piece of the cultural puzzle. Unfortunately, because an alarming percentage of the art being produced is born from the idea of man as a fallen being and a self-sacrificial animal, only the artists themselves are interested in supporting the scene. Before delving into Objectivism, I was baffled by the embarassing lack of support for the arts in my town, despite its overwhelming pressence. Now I understand why people want nothing to do with the arts. So much of what is produced offers nothing but dystopia. It is painfully rare to see an art piece that depicts man as noble and in control of his destiny. Why would the average person be interested in surrounding themselves with images that offer only despair and hopelessness? My end goal locally is to establish an Objectivist Arts Center where artists can learn how to apply the philosophy to their work. I am certain that the public would offer much greater support for the arts if it provided inspiration to them rather than fear and ugliness. Only when Objectivist art permeates mainstream culture can we hope to see a shift toward reason by the majority.
  8. In order to fight against the concept of altruism, reason must fight against hundreds of years of artwork that has worked to romanticize the notion of self-sacrifice. How many films project the lone hero sacrificing everything to save others (often total strangers)? Human beings have been sold the idea that the very essence of their existence IS bound up in the bitter-sweet irony that, despite their greatest efforts, they cannot possibly achieve the highest level of altruism. The important thing to grasp is that it is this precise fact, that a purely altruistic human CANNOT exist, which art has leveraged in order to romanticize the idea. For whatever reason, modern man is obsessed with the unattainable ideal. Hollywood especially has romanticized the notion that the sweetest aspect of humanity is its noble attempt at total self-sacrifice, and inevitable failure. The madness involved in this equation is frightening. Essentially, we exist in a world in which the majority has fully embraced a moral philosophy DESPITE knowing that it is unachievable. Further, it is this unachievable aspect of altruism that makes the idea romantic for people. Somehow, the pre-knowledge of failure makes the whole thing “beautiful”, as though trying to achieve something despite the absolute awareness that you will fail in the end is some kind of heroic gesture. It is a tragedy on the scale of any classic Shakespeare play and it is leading to the end of Capitalism and, subsequently, the end of freedom. How does Objectivism hope to overcome hundreds of years of romanticizing altruism? How do you communicate with a collective that not only understands that the ideal embodiment of their philosophy is unachievable but also believes that there is great beauty in attempting to achieve it regardless; the larger and more devastating the failure, the more romantic a gesture it becomes. This goes far beyond developing a rational counterpoint to an idea. Altruism has been galvanized in the minds of the American public (and much of the world) via hundreds of years of art. The roots are deep, so deep as to make it difficult for people to remove altruism without threatening their entire romantic notion of “being human”. If Objectivism is going to make any impact, it must begin making more art. Objectivist artwork, in the long term, is the only way to bring about change. This is why Ayn Rand’s fictional contributions are so crucial. Art defines every culture… and as of right now, the art of altruism is by far the most powerful in existence. This must change.
  9. I understood that this was a beta release. There is a big difference between a "beta release" and "beta testing". The former is something that is 95% or more ready for public consumption. Essentially, a beta release is something the producers are very confident in and expect to discover only very minor things that need tweaking. The latter (a beta test) is something that is typically done behind the scenes by a group of people specifically signed on to test the product. At the beta testing stage, the product is not ready for public release because there is a high expectation of bugs and considerable work to be done before releasing a polished version for release. If the campus had not been through any form of beta testing, I'm not sure why it was publically hyped and released, even as "beta". It is a free educational offering, and I am still 100% enthusiastic and appreciative of it. I'm looking forward to going through the courses once the site is up and running again. My concern is... when you're the underdog, you simply must do everything BETTER than the rest. The hype and consequent removal of the ARI Campus after a week has the opposite of the intended impact, which I assume is to encourage new minds to gain a better understanding of Objectivism.
  10. I was looking forward to going through the available courses. Unfortunately, the campus has been shut down for now due to technical issues etc. This goes beyond being dissapointing for me as an individual (I was in the middle of a course when I received the notification that the campus would be taken down). Before the campus "opened", the page featured a countdown to its release date which is something you do to build excitement for a project. I received several emails about the campus over the course of a month from ARI. The fact that the campus was not ready for public consumption, despite the insistent hype, is frustrating because this was/is an official Ayn Rand Institute offering. Objectivism clearly has a massive uphill battle in terms of growing its base and missteps like this aren't going to help matters. If the campus needed beta testers, why didn't ARI implement that as part of the development process? Beta testers are free and invaluable to the development of any software. Making a big fuss about the campus and then shutting it down a week after it launches reflects terribly on the ARI site as a whole. The entire missfire is made all the more potent BECAUSE it is an Objectivist offering. If any group should take a scientific and thouroughly exhaustive approach to esnure the relesae of a top notch product, it should be an Objectivist group. To hype something and make it public when it is clearly not ready is the same as evading reality. It reflects poorly on the philosophy. I had let some select people know about the campus in hopes that it would ignite their interest in Objectivism. What will those individuals think about Objectivism after experiencing a buggy website and then the complete removal of the campus? Its not professional by any stretch of the imagination. How do others feel about this?
  11. I did read through many of Jacob's post before entering the discussion and came across the points you bring up above. However, I need to point out that what you offer above does not apply to Jacob's "justified reasons for believing they [the supposed underlying axioms] are universally true". All he has offered is why he believes the Objectivist approach does not have any ground to stand on in regard to these so called axioms. He has neatly kept his "justified reasons" for believing in absolutes to himself.
  12. First, brian is right in his succint statement above. In terms of an ethical question (should I lie in order to gain employment), you must analyze the long term implications of your actions. The fact that you are wrestling with this question at all means that the long term impact pyschologically will be negative. If you haven't already, read Ayn Rand's "Virtue of Selfishness". In essence, any decision you make that harms your self esteem would be an immoral act. Without self esteem there can only be depression. Second, I am sure that if you were to objectively analyze your own efforts in terms of making yourself valuable to an employer, you would find that you have not done all that you could have with your time and resources. I say this as someone who has (before becoming a student of Objectivism) had great difficulty maintaining consistent employment. No matter what justifications I had, I always knew that it was my own subconscious desire NOT to work that caused the problem, usually justified by the sincere belief that capitalism was "enslaving" me, which I now understand to be the opposite of reality. The full range of reasons for my own difficulties are complex and have everything to do with the errant mish-mash of philosophical ideas I held to be true in the past. I do not know what your health issues are and what restrictions they place on you, so I cannot come to any conclusions about how you were limited. However, there are many ways to earn an income outside of the box, in other words, you do not have to be "employed" to bring in money. Becoming skilled at any number of things (Graphic Design, landscaping, computer repair, etc. etc.) would enable you to employ yourself. Be inventive and harness your ability as a human being. As an Objectivist, you comprehend the limitless nature of human potential. Rise to the occassion.
  13. I do not believe Objectivist Epistemology deals in axioms, and I stated my reason in the above post via metaphor. At the most fundamental level, life has only one purpose: to survive. All absolutes within the universe are arranged to offer life that opportunity. Perception is every living oranism's means of survival. If any organism, whether it be an insect, lion, or human being, were unable to hold absolutes based upon their perception, survival would be impossible. A great example of a human being who was unable to use their sensory perception, as Ayn Rand points out in "Philosophy: Who Needs It?" was Hellen Keller. She was blind, deaf, and mute. She was reduced to an animalistic state completely incapable of survival and had no understanding of the world beyond chaotic anger and despair. Only when her teacher, by her endless efforts, was able to leverage one of her remaining sensory perceptions (touch) in order to sign letters of the alphabet into her hand, did Keller have a breakthrough. Once she grasped that W A T E R was connected to the wet liquid on her hands by way of constant repetition, reality sprang into focus. She not only learned how to communicate, she earned herself a college education. Now if you are suggesting that Hellen Keller could have come to any understanding about reality and the world around her WITHOUT her sensory perception of touch, I'd love to have you explain it. The truth is, if she had not had the ability to feel touch, in other words, if she had not been able to feel the signed letters into her palm, she would have forever been locked in total darkness. By what method, if not perception, could she have possibly "acquired" any absolute truths about her world?? Again, perception's primary function is to enable survival. Survival requires absolutes, i.e., this plant is toxic and this plant provides nourishment. If perception were unable to provide absolutes wiith absolute accuracy, survival would be rendered a "guessing game" and we would exist in chaos. From that concrete truth, perception is leveraged by the human mind to gain absolute truths that go beyond mere survival. Because we know our perception provides us with every absolute truth we require to survive, how would perception then become any less capable in providing us with absolutes about those things which do not directly pertain to survival? You are playing this absurd and pretentious game on this forum with the sole purpose of creating doubt in others. You claim that "I've got my own justified reasons for believing they are universally true" but you keep it in your pocket so you can continue this little charade. If you were after a valid debate you would offer your "reasons" and we could move on from there, but you would rather belittle Objectivism and reveal your own petty nature instead.
  14. If a person threatens to press the glowing red tip of an iron poker against your face, would you stop to consider that perhaps it is only your "perception" that makes the iron dangerously hot? No. You would protect yourself as needed each and every time. Perception exists first and foremost as a necessity of survival. The moment human beings mastered nature and rendered survival much less difficult and time consuming, the human mind had more time to turn its powers of perception toward intellectual study. If A can at any time NOT be A, this means that there is a probability that the glowing red iron might actually be cool and therefor non-threatening. Except you KNOW that it is not cool. It will burn you severely every time it touches your skin. No amount of Quantuum mathematical voodoo is going to convince you that the glowing red iron is anything but a threat to you. The moment you create this song-and-dance about perception vs. non-perception, you lose the ability to reason. In a world where A could potentially not be A, there would be no valid cause to take any action because the goal you strive for today could change or completely vanish tomorrow. This is the point. If you are unwilling to accept that sensory perception is the path to absolute truths, than you condemn yourself to an unknowable chaos in which nothing has any meaning and no action can be validated or invalidated.
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