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Rubal Sher

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Everything posted by Rubal Sher

  1. According to you, what does Ayn Rand mean by selfishness and how does she know she has made all the right rational decisions? If selfishness is tied to rationality, then no human being has ever been truly selfish because being rational is an endless journey of learning. Every single human being who has walked the earth has been irrational at some point, knowingly or not, and continue to do so. You are making the argument that the mullahs make, women all across the world should be covered in burqas. Why in an Objectivist world will I worry about retaliation or how others view my choices. I am guaranteed that I will have all choices available for all time to come, and as long as that is the case, I can pretty much decide for myself what is rational or not. You may be better at rationality than I am, but there is nothing in an Objectivist world that gives you the right to choose for me. I can live with that.
  2. I saw this after I replied to your other post and I pretty much agree with everything you have said here. Looks like, we may be saying the same thing. You are obviously much more educated on the subject matter and I am just a novice and it is possible that I am not yet able to grasp fully some of the things that are being discussed. In any case, thank you for your time and patience in replying to me.
  3. I agree with you when you say that selfishness is rational self interest. I dont disagree with the definition, all I am saying is that not everyone is aware of what is in their rational self interest. So a person is very likely to choose a path which is not in his rational self interest but he believes it to be so, thereby making it a selfish choice. Ergo, selfishness will always be present but rationality may be not and any Objectivist should be fine with this disparity. You say in the end that all Objectivists would support a person's right to choose to jump off a cliff, which is exactly what I am saying. Having agreed to this, and having understood what you mean by rationality, my question is what exactly do you propose should be done by an Objectivist if he sees a person who is about to jump off a cliff? As long as the rationality argument is not used to encroach on my freedom to jump off a cliff, then I take no issue with it. Trouble is, I am sensing that the rationality argument is in the works to somehow stop people from jumping off cliffs or to make them eat kebabs or to prevent them from being naked. I sense that your version of Objectivism has already decided that being naked is the wrong thing to do and I cannot understand how you even got there. How is being naked getting defined as an irrational choice, something that risks a man's survival according to the definition you provided. The only reason I take issue is because I have lived in a society where eating meat is frowned upon (as an example). Now, this may look downright silly to you, but the number of people who dont eat meat in India is bigger than the entire population of the US. They can use all the fancy words & definitions that you have used above and believe me, they will cite medical research that shows the harm in eating meat. So, according to them, if rationality (using your definitions) is to be given a legitimate place in the legal discourse, all meat eating will be banned. This may be a bummer to you, but having lived in a society which is far regressive than the US, I am highly wary of anyone else telling me the choices I need to make, rational or not. And this is why, I believe the freedom of choice (what I call selfishness, rational or not) should never be stopped by any argument that cites rationality (because rationality comes in many hues and colors and will always have opposing views).
  4. @DavidOdden I am not debating what is rational or not? All I am asking is that does Objectivism care whether or not an individual makes rational choices or not? My interpretation of Objectivism is that selfishness matters more than rationality. So, if an individual wants to jump off a cliff, whether he knows the consequences or not, all Objectivists would support that action. When you say eating a lamb kebab is generally good, how exactly do you mean. In India, where hundreds of millions of people do not eat meat, eating a lamb kebab is outright yucky to the senses. I have seen friends who have vomited after attempting to eat their first ever piece of lamb kebab. Point is, that outside of the open and shut cases of jumping off cliffs, eating kebabs, being naked, wearing a burqa, sex outside marriage, etc are not universally classified as rational beliefs. Surely, each society today has its own defined version of rationality (usually codified as laws) but it is not universal and definitely not objective. I fail to understand how Objectivism claims to be any different than what currently goes on if we have already reached a conclusion that eating kebabs is good. My interpretation of Objectivism is that it does not care whether you eat kebabs or not, as long as there is no unsolicited initiation of force. So, I am not sure why rationality is being thrust into the discussion. Let people jump off cliffs or eat kebabs. I am with you on your comment about belief in Gods. I also agree that my actions can have consequences, even though they may be legal. I understand that I can be evicted by my landlord or employer if they doesn't approve of my nudity or eating kebabs (there are institutions and landlords in India who will evict you for eating meat). So, I understand that I need to weigh my choices before acting, all I ask is that I be given the choice. In the current non-Objectivist world, I dont even have these choices by law. I understand your comment on trade, which in an Objectivist world will bring people together. Having said that, if I was paying twice the amount for an item compared to someone else who was clothed and I was naked, do you think the seller would care who is clothed or not. I believe a lot of noise is generated by a very small set of people in driving the social discourse today, precisely because we dont have free markets. In an Objectivist world driven by free markets and free trade, my opinion is that merit and trade will trump most social issues without batting an eyelid. The only currency in a free market is money and not your clothing or eating habits. And this is why your conclusion about mountaintops and social contexts is premature.
  5. @DavidOdden Couple of things. 1. The definition of irrationality. How does one decide what is rational or not. Over time and societies, what is considered rational today, may not be tomorrow and vice versa. I cannot understand why Objectivism would care about rationality. Let everyone do as they choose, rational or not. What may be rational to you may not be to someone else, so why even bother. 2. My goal at being naked is not to offend, my goal is to just do things I like. So if I like being naked where I am allowed to be, I would. It should not matter to me if everyone around me is uncomfortable, it is their headache, not mine. Trouble is, once I cede territory on me liking to be naked because of a pre-conceived notion at large that nudity is offensive in some form, then there is no end on what may be demanded of me. I used the word tolerance in this context, people need to start respecting my boundaries, whether I like to be naked or spew Nazi propaganda or be religious or be a Democrat. I dont want to be educated on my beliefs and their rationality unless I explicitly solicit help. 3. I agree that let he who is offended fix his circumstances to conform to his values.
  6. Ok, I am lost somewhat now. Letz say two neighbors have a smell free barbecue, one cooks beef, the other cooks pork. But they see each other and know what is being cooked by both. One may have a belief that nobody should eat pork, the other may believe that nobody should eat beef (and for the moment, let us just say none of them is religious at all and the reasoning is solely based on their love for the animal). My definition of tolerance is that neither neighbor has the right to force the other to stop cooking. I eat what I like and let my neighbor eat what he likes. You seem to be advocating that we all know beef is the right meat to cook for a barbecue and I get a sense you are suggesting that Objectivists would argue for the guy cooking pork to stop in some manner. Now apply the same to nudity or not, for me, both instances are exactly the same. It is personal preference and if anybody comes along with a pre-conceived notion that one is already better than the other, then I just dont see the need for Objectivism or how it differs at all from the current state of the society.
  7. The issue I have with this statement is that it defines wearing clothes as non-offensive and being naked as offensive. How did we come to this conclusion? Naked or being clothed is just one example. If we start extrapolating this, I might end up on the offensive side on many matters and that is why maybe it is important to be naked in public, to help people be more tolerant of each other, whether you are wearing clothes or not, etc. P.S. Sorry for the delay, I was pre-occupied elsewhere and lost track of this forum.
  8. Very well said and all I would point out is that I understand we don't have Objectivist societies yet. I was just trying to visualize how one would look like and the framework it would employ. I am all for a privatized world minus any public money or even governments (maybe minimal) run on the principles of free markets. I am all for people being allowed to choose for themselves (good or bad) and yet I can see how human beings will constantly generate friction among each other and the resolutions may still be muddy. Having said that, I am pretty sure these ideas are the best we got and it is a shame that we don't have people in vast numbers backing this up. Thanks for you time, cheers!
  9. You really got me thinking and I realized even I am not sure on what constitutes physical force. How about a nerve gas like sarin? According to me, my neighbor is free to produce any amount, wear a mask and kill me. Doesn't sound right, isn't right but still got me thinking. In the alternate version, he can still do all of this until he gets caught beyond a reasonable doubt. Honestly, I have no idea how to objectively define force and the harm it causes. All I can say is that I see more and more people claiming psychological trauma and some of them are perhaps even right. I personally know of people that are highly disturbed at the sight of animal cruelty or even trees being cut down. Sooner or later, all of this will count too and maybe rightly so. We have come a long distance from the days of gladiators & public beheading etc that people enjoyed to becoming overtly sensitive about almost everything. I think I am no closer today than when I started. but I do appreciate the time and patience you have shown and the guidance that you provided. Cheers!
  10. Thank You for humoring me so far and I can see your points of view. I do understand your line of reasoning and my natural thought process is inclined in the same direction. I was just trying to brainstorm to see if there is a better solution and maybe there is and maybe there isn't but I can see these issues run much deeper than I had previously thought. Appreciate your inputs and your time. Thanks a lot.
  11. You are correct in understanding what I meant. Words get hijacked and I did not claim that Antifa believes in Objectivism but your paragraph could have been written by Antifa with obviously a very different meaning attributed to those words. Why I am trying to point this out is because even Objectivists do not seem to agree from within on their exact definition, so who gets to decide who has cognitive dissonance? Think of it as a scale, with Antifa on one end and the Objectivists on the other end for let us say defining the word "harm". The Objectivists are clubbed together but still not at a single point on that scale. Over time, this scattering could widen and leaving the door open to interpretation is what worries me. This is how religion and Antifa and the autocrats have played the game so far, constantly shifting goalposts and who is to say that Objectivists wont do it either when the very definition of the word "harm" is up for debate from within, among many others.
  12. You at least have strip clubs, prostitution, nude beaches, casinos for gambling, liquor flows freely etc. Back in India, most of this is non existent or tightly regulated to the point of choking. My point is that all these liberties could disappear too in the US when someone comes along that demonstrates all of this causes harm & rape towards women or something on those lines. There is no dearth of people who can tell you about the harm caused by these activities in the rest of the world. Plus the demographic is changing everywhere and the immigrants in Sweden, Germany and UK have shown that they can make local norms bend to their whims and fancies. Keeping open ended values, in my opinion, is just asking for trouble.
  13. I hear you loud and clear and this would have been my argument some time back too, but you are fortunate to live in the West where current freedom and values are way more liberal than the rest of the world. You have to put yourself in my shoes and understand that your exact argument is used to justify the ban on sale & consumption of beef, among many other outrageous things. And in a few decades, this exact same argument can be used to shut down free speech and the process is already underway. Religion started with this very argument thousands of years back, peppered with a liberal smattering of the divine to make the masses fall in line and the results are for everyone to see. It seemed like a good idea at the time and it was. All I am saying is that if you keep the definitions subjective based on trends, norms & precedents, Objectivism even if it came into effect would be hijacked faster than you could say bazinga and we will be left with the hangover that religion has given us today.
  14. You made me laugh with the footwear comment and I seem very aligned to the entirety of your post. But here is what I have summarized so far from the various discussions in this thread. Objectivism codifies a set of values that are just and prevent harm to individuals and initiation of force is limited to trespass of these values. Everyone seems to be saying this but dig a little deeper, the chaos starts right away. Everyone has a slightly different understanding of the terms I have underlined and I have not seen unity being reached from simple issues like nudity to complex ones like climate change. My interpretation is that the entire dialogue seems subjective because if you keep stripping harm down to molecules, it can easily be shown that literally anything can cause harm, albeit in infinitesimally small levels. So it is only a matter of drawing the lines in sand and I am highly wary of any philosophy that claims it alone knows exactly where the lines should be drawn.
  15. I just read this post and agree with you and this is what I am trying to convey. The dangers of loose definitions that can easily be modified over time. I am mainly looking for a philosophy that lets me live my life in peace and I don't want to bother anyone else either. The moment I am being told by either my neighbors, or the town, or the state or the govt or the courts that I cannot sunbathe in the nude in the open or that I cannot hang a Nazi flag or criticize a religion or eat beef, etc, then I find it highly unjust but to my surprise I get told that I am being shut down because I was being unjust.
  16. I dont read books and havent read any including Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. I devour videos on topics instead and have seen many interviews and discussions featuring Ayn Rand and Yaron Brooks. So, if we got rid of governments but anyway used the courts to lay down the same laws, how does it help? How does one reach the conclusion that the laws being enforced (by courts or govt) are unjust? Take the example of nudity. I see a sharp divide among well respected Objectivists in this forum on whether nudity is just or not. If we cant agree on a simple matter like nudity, how do we objectively reach just conclusions on anything else?
  17. I have read the thread on nudity exhaustively but did not see any conclusion being reached. Some advocated it to be acceptable with strong arguments and some did not with their reasoning. So, if we cannot measure harm where nudity is involved, what hope do we have to measure the infinite interactions and reactions human beings generate? My reasoning for nudity to be acceptable is because I define harm as one caused only by physical force. Nothing else equates to harm. Not nudity, not burqas, not 140 dB sounds, not pollution, etc.
  18. But we already have laws that disallow use of physical force against others. What did I miss?
  19. And how does one answer that? You cant have an Objectivist world if measuring offense is the key and we both know humanity will never reach a point where offense can be actually measured. The rest of your post seemed to be driving at this point but hinting that the current Western values are not offensive but what goes on India and the rest of the world is (for the most part, not in entirety). This is a recipe for disaster because even if the entire world converted to Western values right away, we know from History that the values keep changing constantly over time. So, what may be acceptable to you today may get legally banned tomorrow. This is how the older generation feels on the subject of for example, gun controls today, among many others. I do have a problem with laws being defined based on societal conformance. It suppresses those who don't conform for no fault of their own. For example, I see no issue with being naked on my lawn or hanging a Nazi flag and yet I wont be allowed to do that in the supposedly Objective US today. How do you square that with Objectivity? From what I hear, you are perfectly defining subjective offense. Nothing objective about it at all.
  20. I think I was told the opposite of what you are telling me. My question pertained to what I could do let us say in my front lawn visible to all my neighbors. In this regard, I was told that I cannot barbecue beef on my front lawn because it is seen as an initiation of force by me onto their visual and olfactory senses thereby creating a nuisance which is not legally allowed in an Objectivist India but will be allowed in an Objectivist US.
  21. I really dont see what the difference is then between Objectivism and the current system? The one difference I can tell is that we get rid of governments and privatize everything. This has been espoused by economists like Milton Friedman without having to touch Objectivism. It is not going to stop women being forced to wear a burqa outside their homes or for me not being allowed to have a barbecue on my lawn (coz I am cooking beef) and if the latest trends in US colleges is anything to go by, I have to monitor my speech so as not to hurt feelings and so on. You are choosing to define force today that does not include feelings but I can easily see how feelings will get clubbed by the next generation as a means of force. The problem I have with this line of reasoning and the current system is that it works well for those who conform. People like me who like to think and do things differently are always up against a challenge and in most cases, the system and the regulations are so designed so as to even discourage alternate lines of thought and action. I am just confused. Maybe I am looking for a more radical solution than Objectivism.
  22. @2046 Are you suggesting that in an Objectivist world, prevailing culture supersedes individual freedom. For example, would I have to ask my women to wear a burqa in an Objectivist world where Islam is the predominant faith over centuries and highly regarded? Or are you saying that current Western values take precedence in all Objectivist worlds? So my women should be fine wearing a bikini in an Islamic Objectivist world but Muslim women cannot wear a burqa in their own land. From the majority of the posts I have read, it is clear that most of the contributions are from people with a Western upbringing who understand some smattering of Islam now. What I did not see for the most part is let us say the understanding of culture and ethos that is prevalent in India and the rest of the world. It does not only boil down to a burqa vs a bikini but there are infinite variations of culture that many are even unaware of. For example, as I said earlier, eating beef is highly frowned upon in India and India is the only country with such rigid ethos on beef consumption. So, would a Westerner be asked to give up eating beef in an Objectivist India? If this is thrust, then I am afraid there is no Objectivity here. It is the same old stuff packaged in a new bottle and smacks of subjectivity, not otherwise. Cars emit noxious fumes. Why haven't we banned them yet under this interpretation? Somewhere in the future, we will have a device that measures gravitational pull between two objects and fat men will be shown to trespass on leaner folks. There is no end to trespass and the current day regulations in all spheres of life are stemming from interpretations of trespass. I was hoping that Objectivism will do away with taking offense under the guise of nuisance but I don't see any difference at all. I honestly did not understand the difference, more of the same sounds more like it. The current centralized regulations did not appear from thin air. They did come in the form of some feedback from the lowest levels and in part based on generally accepted and known principles. I was hoping that Objectivism does away with legal messes that are costly and time consuming in a simple manner by upholding the rights and self interest of every individual in any given circumstance. So I could be naked or burning greenhouse gases or emitting X-rays and it was up to those affected to figure out a fix for themselves. Practically, if someone was being a genuine nuisance, you could not take him to court but he could be denied access to the private road in front of his house by a collective approach. It already happens in the modern world where neo-Nazis or hate preaching Muslim imams are shunned by the majority of the population without taking them to court. Isolation, rather than illegality is the answer in my opinion combined with technology that should help. Agree with you on these. And thanks a lot for the links as well. Cheers!
  23. Yes I do understand that not all politicians have crooked intentions but it varies from country to country. The politicians in India are almost universally crooked whereas it may be less so maybe in the US. The need to be crooked in modern politics arises from the amount of money it takes to get elected. Nobody gave billions of dollars to Hillary for charity (not picking on her but she is an easy example to understand) unless they expected returns, which are usually at the cost of the general public. In either case, the end result as you said is the same and we can agree on that. On the subject of the spread of Objectivism, I am the only guy I know who is remotely close in trying to understand this philosophy out here. I am sure there will be others but the majority of the billion plus population have so far only gone on to realize the perils of governance and mostly seem confused about how to solve it. I tried getting across my point to the enlightened few out here about smaller governments and it is very hard to try and make them grasp the concept even though they are highly educated. Maybe they are being realistic and understand that no such change will happen in our lifetimes but for me it is more about making peace with my inner voice.
  24. @2046 Thank you for the detailed reply. I went through a couple of old threads and it was an eye opener. I am still thinking on where I stand but I have been drawn to the Objectivism in recent times and here are some of the reasons why: Bloated governments: I think smaller or no government is the best way to human progress, combined with free markets of course. Individual rights: I am from India and even though it is broadly a secular and tolerant society, individual rights get trampled by a majority voice in many areas. So for example, I love eating beef, but it is banned in most parts because the cow is considered as a sacred animal by a large majority of the population. Free speech: India has the right to freedom in its Constitution but free speech is getting more and more regulated under the guise of hate speech laws. Religion and government at times use these laws to curb or discourage free speech. Religion run amok: India has seen a rise in Islamic terrorism and the country is virtually paralyzed in dealing with it effectively and even preventing the spread of extremist views and followers. With a population of a billion plus, India is a rife playground for Hinduism, Christianity and Islam to exert as much influence as they can and this is bringing the nation down. Taking offense: I hear of safe spaces and trigger warnings in the US and the perceived psychological aggression that is getting shut down in the name of taking offense. Indian society may not have safe spaces yet but we have been on the same path for way longer. If this continues unabated, it poses a serious risk to our overall freedom and rights. Now that I am here and still ruminating in my head, here are some thoughts on where I am at. Objectivism: I see there are varying interpretations/conclusions and the dust has not settled yet on the finer points/thorny issues. On such issues, I would go back to the meaning of the word Objective. It stands for not being influenced by emotion, representing facts and is likely to be a constant over time and space. For example, 1 + 1 = 2 and it was the same 10,000 years back as well. It is the same in India, Iran and USA. It doesn't change whether a person is emotionally distraught or not. So, if your line of reasoning changes over time and place, it cannot be an Objectivist solution. For example, having sex 10,000 years ago on your property with a neighbor watching was perfectly acceptable and nobody felt queasy about it. Fast forward to today and I see many advocating it not to be acceptable in an Objectivist world on the grounds of nuisance or queasiness. Since the behavior has obviously changed over time, I don't believe this line of reasoning to be Objective at all and consider it Subjective. Same goes for nudity or wearing of a burqa. Nudity is quite welcome still in parts of the world where aborigines live and burqa is very much prevalent in Islamic countries as a norm. If the Objectivist view allows for prevalent local norms as an excuse, then we would have a different Objectivist law in different parts of the world, and to me, this goes against the very idea of Objectivism. As an Objectivist, I should be able to go to any part of the world and know exactly what I could or could not do. Sounds, smells & discomforting Visual imagery: How then, does one deal with rotting carcasses, Nazi symbols, 140 dB sounds, etc in my neighborhood. Step back 10,000 years when humans lived in the open. Maybe I was uncomfortable having sex with others watching or taking a shit in the open. What happened since? Technology happened. Humans learned how to build houses and toilets. Now I can have sex and take a shit in comfort. Apply the same logic to 140 dB sounds. If we let people blast sounds at such levels without putting them in jail, I can bet technology driven by demand in no time will provide us with a solution so that my property will be able to filter out all sounds greater than a certain dB level. Because we let the government regulate sounds, nobody has had the incentive to build such a device. Once the regulation is taken off and certain people wish not to be annoyed, technology combined with markets shall provide the solutions. It wont happen in one day, but the Objectivist world is not a solution to our problems, but a way of life. Same applies to smells and imagery that can easily be tuned out by technology in the future, if we create a market for it. Force and Harm: I see a debate going on about what constitutes force. To me force should be restricted to the use of physical force. Any other means that include perceptions interpreted as force can be easily taken care of by future technology by blocking out the perceptions as needed. In my Objectivist world, the onus should never be on me to explain any action that I commit on my property or actions on other's property that they allow. As such, if I am harming the environment by running a factory that produces greenhouse gases, the onus is not on me to do anything about it. The moment you regulate the levels of greenhouse gases I produce considered as harmful, not only would it go against free market principles whereby I would have to add more cost, but it could also go against my self interest which is one of the cornerstones of Objectivism. Which brings me to my final point, Self Interest. Most humans already have self interest as a topmost priority and the reason I gravitated towards Objectivism is because it advocates self interest unabashedly. Self Interest means different things to different people. To me it could mean having sex in the open on my property or playing music at 140 dB or wearing a burqa. Nobody has the right to tell me or force me not to pursue my self interest and if someone finds it in conflict, he needs to innovate to survive. Kind of goes down well with Darwin too and should be a good motivator for vast and quick developments in technology which will eventually help mankind. An individual and his property trumps everything. The moment something gets higher precedence than the individual or his property, we open ourselves up to the kind of society we are living in today and it is not Objective at all. As of today, the politicians in cahoots with big business and religion for the most part have fine tuned the system to work quite well towards their self interests at the cost of the majority of the remaining population. When Iran advocates burqa for all women, make no mistake, the rulers of Iran see propagating Islam in their self interest and that is why they subjugate hapless women. If we want to break free from the tyranny of a few driven by their self interest alone, we will have to replace it with individual Life, Liberty & Property as non-negotiable facets under any situation. I hope I have opened myself up to debate and would welcome opinions to shoot me down. I am pretty sure a lot of this has been discussed in older threads, but I needed to have a say and those threads seemed dormant. If there is a parallel thread right now where this is being discussed, I would be more than happy to take this there. And more than anything, I am open to all sorts of ideas and may even change my thought process as we go along. And lastly, I am still a noob, so please go easy, if you can Thank you for your time.
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