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Everything posted by KyaryPamyu

  1. This analogy might help you. Think of a piano string, and the sound that it makes. The string (1) and the sound (2) are not identical, they are two different things. You can say that the sound is caused by the vibrating string but you can't say that the sound is identical to the string. The sound is the sound, the string is the string. So you won't describe the sound as 'a very long and thin wire made of steel', and you also won't describe the string as 'a high-pitched squeak'. The sound is irreducible to the string. The same thing applies to matter and consciousness. Certainly consciousness is caused by material things (a nervous system), but the experience of an apple is just that, the experience of an apple. The fact that the experience has material causes does not mean that the brain (1) and the experience of the apple (2) are identical. The brain is the brain, the experience is the experience. When you talk about the brain you talk about neurons, synapses and so on. When you dissect the experience of the apple, you analyse it on its own terms - color, smell, how vivid or clear the experience is etc. It's in this way that consciousness is a thing in its own right, irreducible to its material causes.
  2. It could not, because those particles only act according to what they are, not according to what they aren't. You can't arbitrarily hack anything. You can't do more than its possible to do given the nature of what is, particles and 'meta-energy puffs' included. The fact that things are made of more basic ingredients does not invalidate the existence of those things. Explaining something doesn't invalidate its existence. By the way, Objectivism is not a materialistic philosophy. It holds existence, not matter, as the primary. Matter and conciousness are specific things that exist. No, there isn't. When you say that two bottles of water are the same thing, you're saying that both of them are man-made objects with a shape and material suitable for carrying liquid. You retain those characteristics and ignore their measurements (in reality everything might be different about them: their size, their exact shape, whether they're made of plastic or glass). But those bottles are not the same thing at all, i.e. instances of an Archetype. They are two different concretes which man can classify togheter in order to reduce the complexity of the world. According to your views, if there is a higher-lever 'spec' which defines what things are and ought to be, what is the even higher level spec which defines what the previous spec is and ought to be? In other words, causality. But actions don't cause objects, it's objects that act. Causality is an instance of the law of identity: because something is what it is, it acts according to that. A thing isn't the way it is because it ought to be what it is. What is, is. 'Ought to be' is a specialized category applying only in a specialized context, that of choice. In no way does it apply outside that context. In morality, when you say that you ought to do something in order to achieve a goal (man's life), you mean that you ought to do it because of certain facts, i.e. because of the identity of man and the world. Everything is what it is, i.e. has a nature. Not an abstract nature. Define your terms, otherwise your arguments will go all over the place. The ability to mentally isolate certain characteristics of an object and to contemplate them apart from that object is what abstraction consists of. It allows man to observe similarities and differences between objects and thus to form concepts and the whole body of human knowledge. Abstractions themselves have a nature. For example, they are formed in the brain of a particular living being, they require a certain type of action on the part of that being, they are made possible by a very complex kind of nervous system. In your view, do the abstract universal archetypes which define the nature of things have a nature themselves? In that case, what do you think defines the nature of these universals? Other universals? If those universals are primaries and their identity is not set by previous universals, do you think that by the same token we can dispose with universals altogether and simply accept existence as a primary?
  3. These four objections are common criticisms of the Objectivist ethics which I've encountered in discussions or occured to me in my own study. I sum up the answers as follows: 1. Short and long-term actions are the component and symbiotic parts of one irreducible primary (i.e. happiness). 2. The process of life does not need justification, any more than any other existent. | The emergence of life, consciousness and free will from non-conscious processes is neither miraculous nor signaling the presence of an unconscious intelligence in matter which is blindly striving towards full self-consciousness. 3. The pursuit of excellence is an inherent, necessary and non-optional aspect of what life is (as against existentialism). 4. The metaphysical relationship between man and the universe is also the ideal/absolute best (i.e. that which is - the facts of reality - are the very roots and constituent parts of phenomena such as 'best', 'ideal', 'good', 'bad').
  4. Yeah, as I said my focus is not on Anatta (non-self) because it's radically different from Advaita or Objectivist approaches. It blows my mind how sophisticated schools like Advaita were, since they precede classical german philosophy by more than a millenium. Buddhism is on my list of study though, so I might form my objections to Anatta later, though what you describe seems to be the kind of stuff that would drive any follower of Oist epistemology insane 😂 Well, let's say that a man is born in the US, spends his childhood there and then moves to France to study painting. He gets kidnapped by some mind-hackers and has his memories replaced with memories of spending his childhood in France, having completely different french parents, french friends etc. Would he still be the same person?
  5. Objection #1: Long range philosophies cause people to get stuck in the future while forgetting to enjoy the present moment. Answer to objection #1: Long range planning and productive work are activites that one does for his present-moment happiness, not solely for future benefits. Not planning for the future compromises your immediate enjoyment of life by causing anxiety and worry; planning for the future elevates your mood in anticipation of the good things that will come; finally, if you are able to enjoy the present moment, it's probably because you've done something right in the past, and you are reaping the results right now. There is no real dichotomy between enjoying the present and planning for the future. They are both the integral parts of your moment-to-moment enjoyment of life, since life only happens in the present moment. _________________________________________________________ Objection #2: Objectivism fails to justify the pursuit of happiness. Clause one: if life appeared by cosmic chance and not by some pre-determined universal goal, life has no justification at all. Answer to clause one: the labels 'justified' and 'not justified' are value judgements, and value judgements presuppose the goal of life. Clause one is therefore unintelligible, basically amounting to saying that living is not a good strategy if your goal is to live. Secondly, the way something got here does not invalidate its present, factual existence. Even if life appeared without some pre-determined universal teleology, it still exists and its existence is the starting point of discussion; only the unreal is not a subject of debate. Clause two: In Objectivism, there is no justification for the choice to live. Variation one: you cannot justify choosing to live, because the choice is a primary (it is not necessitated by some previous, higher goal). Answer to variation one: 'justify' is used here as a stolen concept, dropping its root in the concept of life. You are trying to justify why choosing to live would help your goal of living life. Variation two: choosing to live is a whim, because it is a primary (it is not necessitated by some previous, higher goal). Answer to variation two: a whim is a goal for which there is no actual necessity to engage in, relative to a preceding goal which is consonant with the root of values (life). Saying that choosing to live is a whim steals the concept and amounts to claiming that if you want to live, choosing to do so is a whim. Variation three: In Objectivism, the choice to live is defined as an acceptance of reality, of your existence. Therefore, you are merely dutifuly being nature's servant. Answer to variation three: accepting one's own desire to live is not an act of submission to nature, any more than an inanimate object being itself is an act of submission to its identity. The desire to live is a metaphysically-given aspect of living organisms. In accepting this desire, people are not submitting to a natural edict, they are simply observing what is already true, i.e. their nature. Variation four: Choosing to live is a moral choice. Answer to variation four: a moral choice is a choice that furthers man's goal of living a good life (it already presuposes that goal). _________________________________________________________ Objection #3: Objectivism tells people to grow and actualize their full potential. But why should you grow if the path is infinite, there being no particular point at which you can retire and be satisfied? Answer to objection #3. This boils down to metaphysics. The concept of infinity cannot be actualized in practice. No matter how long a counting streak is, its actual lenght is dictated by where you stop counting. If growth was a limited endeavor, it would actually hurt happiness by physically limiting the amount of things you can enjoy. The only way to ensure long-term happiness is by never reaching a dead-end in your possibilities. Asking why you should grow is akin to asking: how will making myself happier make me happier? _________________________________________________________ Objection #4: If existence, not consciousness, is a primary, then the universe is my direct antagonist. It is not aware that I exist. It is not somehow linked to me in a common ground between consciousness and matter. Nothing happens for a predestined purpose or teleological program towards complete self-consciousness/merging with god. It has no ability to protect me. It can't hear my prayers. It has no will to decide against randomly sending a tsunami onto my house. I am to be held responsible for absolutely everything in my life. Answer to objection #4: Man alone has a real, genuine capacity to use the metaphysically-given to further his own personal goals. This is in direct contrast to the universe itself, which is not alive and does not have goals. A universe that is 'separate from man' is implied to be a universe outside his reach, rendering him incapable to use it for his goals. But the universe is here for the picking. In fact, only the universe is here for the picking, being the only reality that exists, and both the source of life and life's value-warehouse. Given that values are a type of fact, choosing the correct values is not an instance of being a slave to the metaphysically-given, but the act of identifing the goodness which is already there for the picking as long as you earn it or work to create it. Saying that the universe limits your options is unintelligible insofar as 'values' becomes a stolen concept - different values are only made possible by a specific context of facts and cannot exist in a vacuum. The enjoyment and meaning of values would be robbed from man if values were arbitrary (not objective, firm, absolute) or if the universe was alive and played favorites (personal achievement plays a big role in the ability to enjoy a value). Luckily, the universe is a given and not the product of the Absolute's fully free (i.e. arbitrary) desire to reach full self-consciousness.
  6. Interesting. I practice a form of IF but only recently started incorporating coffee and tea. The opinions on this seem to be mixed, ranging from 'coffee will break the fast' to 'coffee enhances the effects of fasting'. The latter camp claims that coffee and teas enhance autophagy, one of the major mechanisms through which IF improves overall health.
  7. I've only started drinking the stuff a few days ago, it gives me a nice kick though it will probably get tamer as my tolerance level increases. If you like the subject you can check out this meta-analysis of twenty studies.
  8. Anti-aging studies are all the rage nowadays, and several experimental interventions were proven effective in extending mammalian lifespan (the class to which humans belong). Practices that work on humans include: Drinking coffee Drinking teas (green, red, black, hibiscus, ginseng, mint etc.) instead of plain water, due to their antiadipose quality and antioxidants Intermittent fasting (IF) - having your meals in a restricted window of time, e.g. eating during an interval of 4 hours, fasting for 20 hours. While hunger levels and fatigue drop after months of consistent practice, elevation of ghrelin (the peptide responsible for hunger) increases the expression of BDNF, which heightens neuron proliferation in the brain area associated with learning and memory Fasted exercise. Aerobics sessions deplete the glycogen from your liver and muscles, forcing the body to use its own body fat and labile proteins for energy. Resistence training (weight lifting) during a fasted state can increase HGL levels to exorbitant levels, preserving muscle and aiding the construction of new muscle tissue 30-40% caloric restriction, or more (CR) - consuming all of your essential nutrients, but ingesting less energy (calories) than you burn in a day. This forces the body to cannibalize its old proteins for energy, making way for a faster production of new proteins (and as a result, slowing down aging). Hard to implement in a three-meals-a-day scheme, easy on one meal a day since it's difficult to overeat in a single sitting. In time, your body adapts to caloric restriction by increasing energetic efficiency, slowing down metabolism and decreasing core body temperature. Using less energy to run physiological operations, as well as spending less time assimilating food results in decreased production of free radicals, a major factor in aging. Methionine restriction (MR) - decreasing intake of the amino-acid methionine (currently only practicable by moderating or eliminating consumption of animal products) Protein restriction (PR). Generally, bodybuilders consume 1g of protein or more per lb of bodyweight everyday. This is the surest way to make your liver explode, even if you are healthy. For contrast, you can Google a powerlifter named Dr. Amen-Ra which maintains a muscular body on roughly half a gram of protein per kg (kilogram) of bodyweight. Glycation restriction (GR) - reducing the process in which sugar molecules bind to bodily proteins, rendering them resistant to removal. Can be managed by reducing sugar intake, intermittent fasting, incorporating beans in your diet and supplementation with teas, spirulina, brewer's yeast, isolated amino acids, isolated soy protein Cooking foods in ways that reduce advanced glycation end products (AGEs) Supplementation with various substances: creatine, probiotics, cocoa, ginger, broccoli extract, glucosamine, resveratrol, curcumin/turmeric etc. Stress management, including meditation Reducing the time you spend sitting I currently practice some of those but not others. For example, I still eat animal products, sugary sweets, moderate protein. I tend to skip morning aerobics due to lack of time and I don't really supplement with a lot of stuff. Reducing the time spent sitting is itself a challenge. But in my opinion, the things listed above are all worth a go as long as two golden rules are met: 1. There must be no dichotomy between what you want to do and what those practices entail. For example, a ketogenic/low carb diet can be a nightmare for most people, since it involves giving up on pancakes, bread, sugary foods and basically everything that is nice in the world. However, incorporating coffee and tea in your diet is something people would do regardless of any anti-aging properties. 2. Transparency and ease of implementation. The practices must not take away from the time you would otherwise spend enjoying other activities. For example, aerobic sessions can be a drag for most people, unless they combine health with utility. Brisk walking to your workplace (if it's not very far away) or to your nearby store is just as efficient as a walk in the park or on the treadmill. And people with busy schedules might be attracted to the prospect of freeing up their time by skipping breakfast/lunch and eating a kingly dinner when they get home, especially since fasting can allow them to eat 'bad' foods while decreasing their negative effects. So what is your approach to health? Do you make provisions for your long term health? Do you prefer to live life now and hope for the best?
  9. For this thread, my focus is on denominations (predominantly Hindu, such as the Advaita school within Vedanta) that declare the ego to be a subjective construct and the Witness/Seer to be grounded in (or identical to) Atman or the universal Self. The non-self (Anatta) doctrine of Buddhism isn't of particular debating appeal to Objectivists - after all, if no subject exists, who made the claim that there is no subject? But the ego-self distinction is sightly closer to home given Rand's views. Eastern philosophy is a rich field, so you might disagree with the propositions depending on what you are familiar with. GITS's influences also include elements of eastern philosophy. In particular for this discussion, what defines one's identity/individuality? Just how important is that individuality to which we cling to?
  10. What is the self? The standard line of reasoning in eastern philosophy looks somewhat like this: 1. People associate themselves with their ego, a conglomeration of their beliefs, tastes, ideas, wishes, fears, self-evaluations. 2. The ego, with all of its constituent elements can itself become an object of consciousness. Therefore, the ego is not actually the subject, the observing self. 3. The real self is the pure faculty of awareness which observes the ego and perceptions, unadultered by any other property. The japanese animation film Ghost in the Shell famously tackles this problem without providing a solution. If your faculty of awareness remains intact, but is transfered to a completely diferent (prosthetic) body, your old memories being erased and new fake memories being implanted, are you still yourself considering that the ground (the faculty of awareness) is still exactly the same? Ayn Rand defined the self as: (Note: by perception of reality, she means perception through rational appraisal, not mere observance) Quite a different approach. While buddhists refer to the process of thinking as "monkey mind" (which never stops chattering and giving opinions), Ayn Rand sees the ego or self as one and the same with the process of thinking. Which interestingly, is not the same thing as one's feelings or dreams. That being said, my objections to the eastern view are as follows: 1. It assumes that the faculty of awareness is not tainted by any nature, being featureless and infinite. The empirical ground of this claim is the meditative state, where all thoughts and external perceptions are removed from consciousness and one feels as though the faculty of awareness is at root infinite, limited simply by the brain of whomever that eternal self manifests as (billions of living beings that have this faculty). But actually, the pure faculty itself definitely has a nature, dictated by physiological factors: the integrity of the brain and its qualities, since practices like meditation can improve the sharpness of awareness and focus via physically changing the brain, and other factors can weaken it. 2. It claims that since awareness is our sole contact with anything at all (such as internal thoughts, extenal things), and because the contents of our consciousness are subject to change (self-appraisals can change, our perspective can become broader, perception of external things can itself be muffled through voluntary yogic techniques), only the eternal Self (the subject) exists. The phenomenal world is in constant flux, a mere illusion, but the underlying, observing Self, is the one thing that remains constant, similar to Kant's transcendental apperception. Again, this conclusion implies that pure awareness is not mediated by any material or external factors, which it clearly is. 3. Critics of the primacy of existence sometimes bring out the argument that your sense of self is dependent upon neural networks and structures in the physical brain, which can suffer changes (for example, in an accident), therefore your self-image can't truly be the self. This assumes that since our image of ourselves is a mental appraisal (subject to errors, inaccuracies or accidents), the self is an illusion. This fails to take into consideration that self-appraisals can point to facts of reality. 4. It claims that the self, to be a self, must be a perfect unity. It can not be made of component parts, such as habits, tastes, goals. This is akin to saying that if my body is made of several limbs, organs and cells, it is not a body at all. What surprises me is that Rand's view, while obviously different from the Buddhist view, shares some features with it. For starters, it aknowledges that the self is not your emotions, since emotions are fluid and change according to your appraisal of things. The self is also not your dreams, because what you dream about depends on your values and philosophy, and that aspect is subject to change. But what about memories? Are you still the same person if your memories get replaced? Well, think of it in the following manner. The faculty of awareness is like an organ in your body. If you replaced it but kept the rest of the structure intact - degree of intelligence, memories, tastes, reflexes etc. - You would still be yourself. This is a sort of reversal of the Ghost in the Shell dillema. Rand is ultimately completely correct: your essence does not lie in your accumulated knowledge, skills, beliefs. Those are merely your achievements. It actually lies in the distinct way you are using your mind, which is at the root and cause of any reflexes you might form. So: If you transplanted someone else's faculty of awareness into your brain, but preserved your formed habits including the attitude toward reason, you would be the same person, just as you would be the same even if you got a kidney transpant. Awareness is simply a physiological faculty. Your reflexes are a fact, which will condition that other person's awareness into becoming a replacement part for your own consciousness, like a replacement wheel for a car. If you transplanted your own awareness into a prosthetic body that holds different memories, values and reflexes, it would stop being a part of you immediately. The other person's mental makeup will simply assume it as its own. This is my personal view. What are your thoughts about the self? What is it, and is it real? In closing, just before you think eastern thinkers are weird: According to Fichte, Thesis: When you are aware of yourself, that which has self-awareness (the subject) is identical with the object that's being perceived (the object). Antithesis: But we're talking about two different things here. Subject and object are two different things. But they're the same. But distinct. What is going on? Synthesis: The self and the act of being aware of oneself are one and the same thing. When you are thinking the self, you are not observing it, you are bringing it into existence. The self which you bring into existence is self-aware, so it's also bringing you into existence. You are born from the world and the world is born from you, and that world gives birth to you and you give birth to the world in a neverending loop. This is why subject and object are the same thing, even though they appear to be distinct from each other.
  11. Concepts are formed in the mind. So I assume you mean that the mind is not produced by the brain but is a type of faculty which you somehow have without physical organs to produce it. Well, proof to the contrary is not that tricky. Look at people's abilities to think or form concepts when they miss a lung versus when their brain gets physically damaged. I suggest you study her theory about how concepts of consciousness are formed; either way, your awareness is not limited to sense data, you also have awareness of your own thoughts and emotions. To arrive at a theory of concept-formation you must use introspection.
  12. The problem of induction is in no way a primary. First, the fundamentals must be discovered: the validity of sense perception, concept-formation, the hierarchical and contextual structure of knowledge, the open-endedness of concepts. The fundamentals are non-deductive; they are arrived at by induction. So you can't actually solve the problem of induction until you have performed valid inductions in the areas upon which discovering the solution depends. Peikoff's 'solution' is that there is no problem of induction at all, just like there is no problem of deduction. The real issue is knowing how to perform the induction correctly, i.e. by not dropping the principles of objectivist epistemology. You could write volumes about proper induction, but you would still be merely working out the implications of the basic principles. This is what I meant by 'encyclopedia', a philosophical encyclopedia that fully explains all of those derrivative issues. It's not as much an issue of judgement, but of objective fact. If somebody believes that he practices Objectivism but, without knowing, he is actually largely misinterpreting Objectivism, he is not factually an Objectivist. Sure, he is free to label himself as he wishes, but his belief will not turn his 'version' of Objectivism into the real thing. Now, if he later realizes that he understood the philosophy all wrong and eventually comes to truly understand it, his claims will no longer clash with the facts of reality. I have not adressed his character, unless you claim that if he's wrong in some aspects then it's some kind of purposeful evil on his part. Either way, you do not need to read the whole book before you can spot instances of various claims by Rand and Peikoff being taken out of context or blatantly misinterpreted.
  13. Certainly Objectivist epistemology can be expanded, but only if by 'expansion' you mean a fuller and more detailed working out of the fundamentals. The solution to the problem of induction, which to my knowledge was not adressed by Rand in print, is implicit in her writings on epistemology. Peikoff is merely using the basic blocks in order to figure out what the solution might be. If his solution is in perfect alignment with that base, it can be called an Objectivist solution, but not Objectivism per se. Philosophy is not an all-encompasing encyclopedia, but merely the seeds out of which that encyclopedia is grown. The solution to the problem of induction will vary according to which philosopher tackles it, because it depends on the fundamentals they hold: their view of sense perception, of concept-formation, and of course of metaphysics which by its nature is very tightly linked to epistemology. As far as the additions are consonant with the fundamentals, you can accept any number of them and still call yourself Objectivist. My point is that the validity of the labels we apply to ourselves is still tied to objective facts. So I'd say that, at a minimum, the precondition of legitimately labeling oneself as 'Objectivist' is a true understanding of the principles, not merely acceptance based on how reasonable they sound. If one does not grasp why those principles are true, he cannot truly apply the philosophy, either to his life, or to new issues. Instead of being guided by Objectivism, he is guided by incorrect assumptions of what Objectivism says. I believe that a person who has a solid grasp of the fundamentals will have a much easier time spotting contradictions higher up in the chain, and will have an easier time correcting his own errors because the contradictions will quickly become apparent to him. This is why Rand could easily see why a disagreement in something as apparently optional and irrelevant as aesthetics actually reveals a superficial understanding of the method by which she reached the judgement, as well as of the first three branches of philosophy. She and her associates had a party game which involved putting various principles in a hat, picking up two at random and connecting the two principles in a non-rationalistic way, i.e. private roads + the validity of the senses. For the record, Kelley strikes me as a non-Objectivist, or rather, he's practicing a different kind of philosophical system. I say this because I've skimmed through The Logical Structure of Objectivism and his disagreements with 'official dogma' actually reveal gross misunderstandings of what Rand's actual positions were, a type of carelesness which also points to rationalism.
  14. New knowledge does not not contradict old knowledge. This is a basic principle of her epistemology, which springs from her metaphysics: there are no contradictions in reality. If new scientific discoveries invalidate a single part of her philosophy, the whole system collapses. 'Patching' the philosophy up does not work, for reasons discussed in my previous post. So the question of an open system would not even occur; you would have to renounce the whole system of Objectivism, maybe apart from some ideas that Rand managed to get right by luck, despite her faulty base.
  15. That's true, but that also shows their misunderstanding of what was always meant by the 'closed system' approach. So the 'closed' part applies only to the fundamental principles that shape the more specialized content of the system. If a single fundamental contradicts other fundamentals, the whole thing collapses. So if you can show that the theory of rights somehow contradicts the objectivist metaphysics in practice, then either the metaphysics or the theory of rights is wrong. But the theory of rights also depends on ethics, so it's actually possible that the error in the theory of rights was caused not by metaphysics, but by the system becoming corrupted at some later point in the hierarchy due to errors of reasoning. Thus, a destructive domino effect. Inasmuch as a system of philosophy is truly consistent, it stands as it was formulated by the philosopher. This applies equally to Kant and Rand; the only difference is that Rand's system is an integration of correct principles; Kant's system integrates his errors into an internally consistent totality. Rand was working on some new stuff in epistemology before her death (documented in her published journals) and never made the claim that she discovered everything there is to discover in philosophy. She has fully formulated the fundamentals of philosophy (as seen by her). Assuming that her integration was indeed perfect, any additions which contradict the fundamentals she set out will destroy the system because, apart from betraying a poor understanding of the fundamentals, the corrupted parts spawn more corrupted parts and so on. So it's legitimate to say that those who deviate in fundamentals from Rand's approach are not truly Objectivists, even if they do not contradict the fundamentals directly, but indirectly through ideas that actually nullify the base, whether they are consciously aware of this or not. I recently listened to a Peikoff Q&A where he claims that Rand said something among these lines: she wished there was somebody to take her ideas and make something truly comprehensive out of them. She was probably talking about specialized stuff, such as the relation between mathematics and concept-formation. The reason most people push for an open system is because they do not understand what they are opposing. True, this was also my meaning (setting aside my careless word choice). Given the absolutism of reality, I guess the only optional part is the distinctive names you give to the various principles, although you're not forced to use the 'official' names. Well, as I see it, her assesment of modern art is fully consistent with her ideas. She is merely applying the fundamentals of art to a specific offering of the art world. If art shows a worldview, then the obvious requirement is that you must take the nature of human cognition into account when creating artworks. This is why in painting (for instance), using percepts is not a subjective but an objective requirement. By the nature of the mind, disintegrated sensations and blobs of color cannot be integrated into anything. So the problem per se is not what the artist intended to do, but his faulty technical means.
  16. Objectivism is a system of philosophy originated by Ayn Rand. When you add to it or change it, keeping the 'objectivism' label will make it tricky for people to know what exactly was part of the original system and what was added by future philosophers. Hence, Objectivism as formulated by Ayn Rand is a closed system. When Kant's philosophy became popular, another famous philosopher named Fichte created a new system based on Kant's; however, while his approach was quite different (including dropping the 'thing-in-itself'), he claimed that his philosophy merely carries out the full implications of Kant's own ideas and that it maintains the spirit of the original. Kant rightfully repudiated these claims. In the same vein, the brand of Objectivism proposed by the Atlas Society is not Objectivism, but an offshoot of it. Calling it Objectivism blurs the line between Objectivism, the philosophical system created by Ayn Rand (a historical artifact), and the modified versions. In this respect, the ARI institute is much more respectable because it always makes a point to mention when an idea is derived from Rand's system by another philosopher, but is not part of what Rand actually left in writing or publicly endorsed.
  17. How We Know by Harry Binswanger (Table of contents). OPAR for a very condensed presentation.
  18. "Imagine the whole of Nature stretched blooming at my feet; a line of blue, misty hills encompassed the horizon in the east; the sun was sinking in the west; all Nature's temple lay before our enchanted eyes. Like Thetis, I could have flown down, and sunk into those flowery rivers. [...] At length, when the sun had just set, a mass of blossoming spring roses came floating up out of the dying rays - the tops of the mountains glowing, the woods all aflame - and illimitable Nature melted into soft rosy tints; and as I was gazing into this ocean of purple, [...] all stood enchanted before me, and sweetly smiled at me." — Robert Schumann, from a letter to a friend, dated Aug. 29, 1827 If all life were to disappear off the face of the earth, would beauty still exist? Obviously not. Beauty is an evaluation, made by a mind whose nature allows it to experience the phenomenon of beauty. Thus, one philosopher concludes: "beauty does not actually exist in the world. When the Poet says that roses are beautiful, he is not referring to something that exists out there. He describes a subjective mental construct. To him, either beauty exists out there in the world, just like trees and stars do, or it only exists in man's mind. Only non-mental things are real, and to be of a mental nature automatically means to not have reality or substance. But all mental experiences - whether we refer to sensory form, beauty, intuition, freedom, the grasp of poetic allegory - are real, as real as trees and mountains and stars. Man comes to know them through the ostensive process that stands at the base of all knowledge: direct experience. While his consciousness provides him with valid information about the world, he cannot ever step outside of consciousness. Every experience that he goes through during the span of his life is an experience of consciousness, but for some reason, that dimension has no reality for the philosopher. And nothing is more dangerous for a man's proper functioning than to doubt or deny the validity of his own consciousness. According to our philosopher, only descriptive statements, such as "Today is raining", can be factual. As soon as we enter the realm of consciousness, we aren't talking about reality anymore - we venture into the world of subjective experience. But man's mental faculties are not separate from nature, they are as much a part of it as everything else. The Poet, then, is right. When the Poet's consciousness encounters roses, a real and distinct phenomenon of consciousness occurs. The rose, as perceived and evaluated by a particular man, is beautiful. Or, certain types of daffodils, as perceived by a specific kind of consciousness, are yellow. And further, if life has identity, then its chemical origin and mechanism must be similar on every planet that can give rise to life. And if there are life forms on other planets, their emotions (or equivalent faculties) probably pertain to the exact same categories as earth's animals possess: fear of threats, desire for values, pain, pleasure and so on. If existence is identity, evaluations are not arbitrary. Our philosopher prides himself in doing whatever he can to perceive reality as it really is, without tainting it with his own mental nature. And in doing so, he's willfully suffocating his consciousness. He represses his spontaneous emotional reactions, intuitions and connotative associations. He struggles to express himself in the driest, most 'objective' way possible - after all, he equates the evaluative with the unreal. For each category of value, there are countless options that are just as good as the others - in fact, some tastes and preferences might be randomly shaped by childhood experiences or determined by genetic differences. And this makes the philosopher feel that his personal infrastructure of chosen values is a subjective construct. Feeling emotionally invested into any such infrastructure would mean non-objectivity, an evasion of the arbitrary nature of his choices. Consequently, life to him is just a play, a pretense. In his attempts at making objective choices, he is not aware that objectivity encompasses the entire context - including his psychological makeup and what is possible to him in a world that has identity. When our philosopher discovered that volition can shape man's character and psychology, he formed the unchecked premise that his mind and subconscious do not have a specific nature at all - that they are identity-less and entirely shaped by the self (or the environment). He thinks that there is no need to pay much attention to his own consciousness, because going through a series of proper conceptual and physical motions will eventually culminate in involuntary happiness and conscious-subconscious harmony. In doing so, he misses heaps of important and ostensively available details about himself, information that can be known only by direct introspection. One of the philosopher's contemporaries and friends is a German Idealist. His eccentric and poetically-minded friend believes that reality is a mental construct. To him, Nature's objects, the mind’s abstractions and his evaluative emotional experiences are all equally real and spring from the same source: a supernal productive imagination. Though his philosophy is factually wrong, he is much happier than the first philosopher, as his characteristic way of facing life seems to suggest. So, is it true that ignorance is bliss? If there is no God, immortality or primacy of consciousness, doesn't that make reality... stale? A pointless cycle of survival and reproduction? Our first philosopher objects: you can have all of these things without indulging in mystic fantasies. But in truth, deep down he doesn't feel that this is true. He does feel that his existence is a bit dry and pointless. A man's beliefs about the world shape the way he perceives his environment. His philosophy doesn't affect the raw sensory data, but it does control how he relates to it, what he experiences in his mind's eye. It's not a surprise, then, that when the two philosophers took a stroll through a nearby forest and discussed metaphysics at length, they saw the forest in completely different ways - even though their eyes and minds took in the same sensory data. If we tried to illustrate what went on in their mind's eye, the result would probably look something like this: The first philosopher saw a lifeless chunk of matter. The second philosopher saw Poetry made visible. Their subconsciously integrated and automated philosophy has stylized their consciousness, imbuing objects with connotative meaning, giving Nature beauty and staleness; it made the two men focus on certain aspects that affirmed their own worldview, while ignoring the aspects that seemed to contradict it. The two quintessential preconditions of human happiness are a world that is auspicious to joy, and an exalted view of man's nature. And for some reason, our first philosopher feels that the world is stale and pointless, while the second philosopher is intoxicated by it. Philosophy and religion are important and invaluable sources of information about human psychology. A lot of philosophical systems distort the truth not because man is blind to ostensively self-evident axioms; in truth, a lot of people are afraid that they'll end up like our first philosopher. They create systems that rationalize what they want to be true, worlds in which they intuitively feel they would be happy in. The proper attitude is not to shun those philosophies - but to study them, and learn which human needs are so compelling that they end up tempting people to discard the 'unpleasant truth'. A German Idealist proposes an organic system of Nature, where everything (including inanimate matter) is alive, and all concrete existence is an expression of Self's productive imagination. Why is that appealing to him? Because if everything is a part of him, he is not a tiny little man anymore - he is an all-powerful creative intelligence striving for self-awareness by objectifying himself to himself. This prospect makes his own self-esteem and view of man go up. If what he previously thought of as dead matter is actually organic in some way, he acquires a feeling of kinship between him and the entire Universe. If everything in existence strives for the same goal, the universe ceases to appear frightening or alien to him - it takes on the mantle of a benevolent and even exotic or elevated realm. If pleasure has a forbidden quality to it, values seem to become more tantalizing than if no mind-body breach existed. If the entirety of the universe and human life can be rationalistically deduced and contained by a crow-friendly system, he is at an advantage - because reason is his means of knowledge, and he longs for that type of crystal-clear and unshakably certain conceptual guidance - his need of self-esteem is again peeking through the curtain. What about religion? Man's nature as an integrator pushes him to unify his life into infrastructures such as culture, subculture and religion, infrastructures that integrate most or all aspects of his life (including ethics and very identifiable ways of dressing and behaving) into single, coherent systems. And the prevailing epistemological errors? Some philosophers intuitively feel that a world in which concepts merely classify the world - instead of shaping it – would mean that the nature of the external world is sharply different from the way their own consciousness is naturally built. They perceive a threat to the potency of their consciousness - to their self-esteem. And wouldn't it be nicer if Nature actually was as we perceived it, if sensory form was a myth? That would certainly give objective validity to what goes on in one's inner eye. Man would never have to doubt the metaphysical validity of his richly evaluative experience. A wrong system of philosophy can comfort man in the short-term, but will ultimately lead to existential and psychological turmoil. And a largely correct system of philosophy that was not properly integrated into his mind, can lead to worldly success, but also to the inability to enjoy that success. As man's nature dictates, if he implicitly believes and feels that the truth clashes with the requirements of his life or consciousness, truth will become his enemy. The solution is to identify and correct those faulty integrations, the ones that made the first philosopher discard, among others, the realm of poetry and emotional investment. In poetry, metaphor does not equal non-objectivity - poetic language describes facts of reality, as grasped by a human mind that relates everything to his own life, a consciousness that needs to clarify meaning by comparisons to other objects to which he attaches symbolic meaning. A proper human consciousness is staunchly anthropocentric. In the case of emotional investment, optionality does not equal the arbitrary. The nature of man and the universe dictates that he must achieve and settle for what is, to his current knowledge, the absolute best he can get. If he believes that 'everything could have been different', he is factually wrong - he can only live one life, not an unspecified number of parallel existences. And he is weakening his will to live, because he can't wantonly dive into the pond of Life while not being fully convinced that his particular values allow him to actually make the most out of his existence. Equally important is the issue of human greatness. Does he think it actually exists in reality? Or are humans just cavemen with high pretensions? The truth-loving philosopher does not need to make peace with the staleness of the world. After all, he lives in the exact same universe as his life-loving friend, and if the German Idealist can be happy, he can be happier than him. To unlock the beauty of the world, he must award the same reality to his own inner world as he does to the external world. He must give free reign to the natural realm of his emotions, inclinations, fears, desires, intuitions, yearnings. In every moment and issue of his life, he must be focused not only on growing and optimizing his practical excellence, but also on making the most out of his inner experience. After a full system of philosophy, psychology is the most crucial science that man must develop and master if he is to be fully guided in his life. He must understand the psychological causes of joy in all of its myriad forms: love, excitement, importance, luxury, humor, the Sublime, affection, curiosity, the exotic, the unusual, the cool, the beautiful, the idealized - as well as the nature of personal taste. In doing so, he will eventually tie them back to the two fundamental preconditions of happiness: the feeling that the universe is auspicious, and that man is an exalted being. "Miss Rand used to be a strong advocate of what she called 'the pleasure-purpose principle.' She meant the idea that on any level, whether we're talking about thought or action, you cannot function without a purpose that brings you pleasure, something you want to achieve, that you enjoy achieving. You can see this in an everyday example in the contrast between getting up on a day when there's something that you like [...] as against that kind of gray, dragging yourself through some dutiful routine, which can only go on for a limited period of time, after which you either end up giving up action and giving up generally, or else you say, 'I can't stand philosophy,' and you become an emotionalist. The point here is that pleasure - and we mean here personal pleasure, personal interests, your likes and dislikes - is essential to your functioning, in action and in thought". — Leonard Peikoff, Understanding Objectivism: Lecture Ten "Learn to be at home and well acquainted - I would almost say, be on intimate terms with your emotions. [...] After you've become acquainted with yourself emotionally, when you no longer have any great mysteries to yourself, then you can start to identify your sense of life. And the best - perhaps the only way to identify it - is by observing your own reactions to art." — Ayn Rand, 1974 Q&A session "How comes it that, to every tolerably cultivated taste, imitations of the so-called Actual, even though carried to deception, appear in the last degree untrue - nay, produce the impression of spectres; whilst a work in which the idea is predominant strikes us with the full force of truth, conveying us then only to the genuinely actual world?" — F. W. J. Schelling - On the Relation of the Plastic Arts to Nature (speech on the celebration of the 12th October, 1807, as the Name-Day of the King of Bavaria) The most important insight that a rational philosophy can give you is this: the profound efficacy of consciousness. Here, I am not confining myself to the ability to acquire objective knowledge. I am referring to the whole of human consciousness, including, among others, the perceptual, conceptual, subconscious, evaluative and emotional levels. Life is not a series of empty abstractions and standards of value. Abstractions stand for a rich symphony of specific values and content. Man's god is set by his nature: Joy - or survival, which cannot be legitimately sundered from Joy. His Religion is his particular value infrastructure, his love for everything that he strives to live here on earth. And his philosophy and heroes are the signposts that guide his footsteps.
  19. A similar question came up during a Q&A session of the 1976 Objectivism course. I am quoting the exerpt bellow:
  20. I think this smuggles in the premise that pursuing survival (the 'pure' type) would never require you to temporarily diminish your momentary wellbeing for the sake of increased survival later on. In reality, pursuing survival pretty much requires you to incur 'hits' to your momentary survival. As the norm, I might add. A while ago I heard an anecdote by Harry Binswanger in which Ayn Rand was arguing with somebody who denied the law of Identity (A=A) on the grounds that a moving object has no particular spatial position. Every time you look at the object, it is in a different position, so where is it? Ayn Rand replied that the particular object isn't anywhere, it is in transition. Its identity is that it is changing its location. I think that the same thing can be applied to ethics. In fact, it was captured by Rand in her definition of life: 'A process of self-sustaining, self-generated action'. While it may appear a stationary definition, it is exactly the opposite. Survival is not merely a process of staying alive - it is a constant, never ending departure from your current position to a better state. This fact seems to have a expression in the way our brains are made: once you get where you want, you always have to move higher and higher, because you become progressively desensitized to what you currently have. If you suddenly find yourself without intellectual challenge, or doing the same things over and over, you become bored out of your mind. A lot of enjoyment is derived from the process of moving forward itself, from gaining values as well as enjoying values. Just to be clear, I agree with SL (and even Kelley) that flourishing is not the goal of life. To sunder the two is to ignore the hierarchy: life -> value -> survival -> moving forward (flourshing). Ayn Rand understood survival to be a state of transition from a lower state of robustness to a higher one. Death is also a state of transition, which is why you can't judge somebody's course by the claim that he is 'happy'. If his happiness is a slow march into the Lion's den, he's wilfully undergoing a process of slow death, no matter how well he tends to his physical health in the meantime. The excessive prudence that the' survivalist' displays is the result of his Gryllsian view of survival. He don't see the fact that life is actually a broad timeline filled with factors that cannot be separated from each other. Flourishers, on the other hand, tend to speak on the unstated, or unidentified premise that reality is full of things that conflict with survival while enabling flourishing. The flourishing-survival dichotomy is similar to the classical variants of the mind-body break: love vs sex, percepts vs. concepts. In reality, the thrill seeking & cool things that flourishers say they want to do (insteading of being tied to the 'boring' survivalist view) ARE what survival entails. A lack of pleasure and excitement is anti-life in the sense that it moves you away from survival and proper functioning. Rand captured this in the virtue of Pride: a person of unsundered rationality not only has the best life possible to him at any given moment in time, but he's also necessarily in a state of 'transition' to even higher self-esteem, wealth, health etc. Stilness means death, in the sense that every time somebody tries to remain where he already is ('freezing' his survival in place), he is actively hurting his survival, not maintaining it. In the example above, the hero does not gain five years of life by giving up his dream. Instead, he becomes spiritualy diseased. A person who shortens his life for a fuller experience does not forfeit survival, he acts exclusively on the principle of survival. This is not a negation of A=A. Ayn Rand was clear that the standard of value is survival as a specific kind of being. Survival as man does not mean merely longevity. It means pleasure, challenge, hobbies, love, art, friendship, constantly moving forward and other factors relevant to what he is. The values that man needs qua man are his actual means to longevity. A lot of people turn longevity into a contextless standard and then proceed to seek it in ways that not only hurts their own goal, but makes them survive not as men, but as diseased forms of life. Ayn Rand used the term 'metaphysical monstruosity' in Galt's Speech, and gave the example of a bird struggling to break its own wings, or a plant trying to destroy its own roots. So we can identfiy yet another dichotomy here: the longevity vs identity dichotomy. I think Rand would have agreed with me, since she put some examples in her books. For example, the before-mention Galt suicide threat, which appears in the same book as Galt's speech. Surely she must have counted on the fact that Galt's actions would shed some context on her abstract presentation. Galt is not choosing between death (suicide) and survival. He is choosing between two different types of death: by slow torture, or instantaneous. Galt is not motivated by any flourishing-survival dichotomy. His best use of reason told him that he has legitimate grounds to be 100% convinced that his life would become a living embodiment of precisely the thing that his own ethical code condemned. So paradoxically, his suicide over Dagny was a statement of a moral choice, in total agreement with survival qua man. There are legitimate cases where a change to a different course really isn't possible. Let's look at Galt. He longed for Dagny for a decade, a process that slowly imprinted her into his psyche as each day passed. Every time he had trouble getting motivated, he used her as fuel. He watched her go into the beds of two men he admired. He then got her, but.. what if she died at the hands of a bunch of petty people that represent what he despises the most? 10 years of striving and emotional investment, negated in an instant. A decade of his life, wasted. He probably understood the repercussions on his psychology that her death would have caused. He would lose desire to do anything, no matter how heroically he'd try to get on track. Implying he then wasted 5 more years in depression, and that eventually his desire for women returned, what competiton would there be? If another mercilessly-rational woman with the brains and character to build the John Galt line in a collapsing country was around, he would have known about her. For him, it's either the vice-president or nothing. It would haunt him forever. So, contra SL, I would say that sometimes, but not always, 'pursuing a different dream' can be anti-life. I will go on a limb and say that the pure survivalist, Kelley-type position is really the absolute same as the flourisher position, when all of the factors are brought into question. The most ardent Flourisher is actually the most ardent, pure and bare-bones Survivalist. And all 'self-actualization'-based ethical systems are useless unless people understand that self-actualization is not an intrinsic end in itself, but the effect, the natural result of a survivalist ethics. The alternative is accidentaly pursuing 'self-actualization' in a way that goes against its root (survival), which leads to consequences that are too obvious to mention. The self-realization vs survival dichotomy.
  21. I'll give it a try (speaking as myself). Happiness is an emotional state accompanying the periods of time when things are going well for you, existentially and psychologically. It would be a contradiction in terms to say that happiness is a means to survival, since in the causal chain, happiness is the result of survival. Legitimate happiness cannot ever be in conflict with (or periclitate) survival, period. One of the major virtues of the Objectivist ethics is that it respects the epistemological principle of context. You cannot make valid ethical judgements, unless 1). you hold the entire lifespan in mind, and 2). you hold the entire hierarchy of your (proper) values in mind. In other words, Objectivism is not concerned with half of a lifespan, or with three quarters of it, or with a single year of it. And it recognizes that there are no isolated facts, that nothing can ever happen outside of a context. The need to sacrifice lower values in order to pursue higher values is metaphysicaly inherent in the universe. Time is finite, so you're bound to make compromises upon compromises in order to make all of your values play togheter well. Not all pain is wrong, and not all 'happiness' is right. That you are happy now might be irrelevant - your next 10 years of happiness might lead to disastruous consequences later on, consequences that you cannot justify to your own self. If you endure suffering right now, your effort might lead to a bright future that will be worth every single moment of misery that you endured. How are you to decide? The full context. In some cases, it is right to shorten your lifespan. In some, it is outright insane. Some compromises are worth it, some aren't. Let's assume that the Hero's dream is some kind of career. There are legitimate situations where you might love something so intensely (maybe the love became part of your psyche during your formative childhood years) that you simply can't find a replacement, no matter how long and conscientiously you try. Let's do some horizontal integration and scan for other factors. Quitting his dream in order to live five years longer will not make the Hero live five years longer. The Hero will have to earn a living. If he doesn't resent his new job for always reminding him of his compromise, he will spend around 1850 hours every year doing something that will never give him the same intellectual and spiritual fulfillment that his other job would have given him. His self esteem will run into the ground. His personal sense of identity will suffer, since he can't identity with the job he truly loves. His recreation will become an escape, not a complement and reward for his achievements. He probably won't have the same types of friends or lovers he would have if he had the other job. Your central purpose is a sensitive subject, since it controls an exceptionaly vast array of things in your life. When a person acts immoraly, a chain of factors start to domino into every aspect of his existential and psychological situation. Which in time corrodes his desire to live, as well as his physical and mental health. After many years, the pain might become too great, and the hero might say: 'I could have lived the best life possible to me. Yet, I am here - by my own fault'. If the pain overrides his rationalist/dutiful approach to ethics, he might find himself drinking a lot and escaping into the antipodes of his mind via certain substances - which will further speed up his demise. When people mention survival, they do not actually refer to survival. Their definition is limited to the Bear Grylls type of context where you eat bugs to remain alive for yet another day. If staying alive was the pupose of ethics, everyone in the world right now is a master of the Objectivist ethics. Things change if you expand 'survival' to include the best possible functioning and resillience to adverse conditions, taking in consideration both the mind and the body. When the Hero will understand that each action he takes will get him either closer, or further away from that state, he will know what to do.
  22. Randy, Have you read her own journal entry for September 18, 1943? It's titled Theorem I: The Basic Alternative. As I said above, to my knowledge the claims of those 'philosophical enemies' of Rand are accurate.
  23. It is not my own analysis, but to my knowledge it is accurate. You can read more about it in an article called Ayn Rand’s Ethics - From The Fountainhead to Atlas Shrugged by Darryl Wright. A general discussion of her evolving view of the virtues can also be found on page 12 of this exerpt.
  24. Abstractions point to things in reality, but they are not the things that they point out to. For example, the concept 'cat' is not a cat - it is a mental entity. The concept 'abstraction' is an abstraction of the process of abstraction. It points to the method, but it is not the method itself. The concept and the process it refers to are separate. Abstractions exist - as mental entities. Outside of your head, there are only the concretes that your abstractions are meant to classify. For example, you cannot point your finger to 'mammal' or 'art', only to specific instances - such as a cow or a painting.
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