Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum


  • Content Count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

About TruthSeeker946

  • Rank

Recent Profile Visitors

195 profile views
  1. My apologies, you’re right, it was unnecessarily confusing. I’m in agreement here, though I would say the psychological limitations are ultimately biological limitations and I want to stress that my concern here is the expression of these limitations as an average since these limitations will be different for different people. Yes ultimately the homosexual has to take action on the sexual desires himself so his decision has the final say. But the decision to act or not to act is affected by the biological factors in the sense that the homosexual desires are acting as a pressure toward the decision to act, even if he can overrule those pressures. By overrule I mean ignore them/suppress them. Or more broadly, we can apply this to everyone’s desire to have sex. In other words, as you say, “biological factors create a tendency toward certain actions”. And this is what I mean by a “biological bias”. Or another way of describing that is “temptations” Now you might say “yes we can use reason to not only ignore the desires/temptations and resist acting on them but ALSO to actually eliminate them or change them.” And this is clearly the case BUT to different degrees of ease for different people for different desires ranging from easy to impossible. With sexual desire for basically everyone it’s either extremely difficult or impossible. Which essentially means the human species has an innate tendency toward having sex. But with other things like the desire for nicotine/the act of smoking, it’s slightly easier. I did it myself from reading Allen Carrs brilliant book “the easy way to stop smoking” and I’m not just resisting the temptation, I’ve actually eliminated it. So what are the limits of reason in changing human behaviour? How effective could reason be in maintaining law and order if we removed punishments? As far as I’m aware there’s been tons of study regarding biological bias toward action. (And perhaps this is what I need to study in depth) Jordan Peterson famously compared lobsters to humans in arguing that humans are essentially hardwired to organise themselves into hierarchies. So perhaps you could pick out what you’d like to respond to and then expand on your conception of psychological limitations. And remember the wider context here is that our opinion on the existence or extent of existence of the biological bias toward a variety is human behaviours, or more extreme, hardwiring (determinism) of human nature, fundamentally shapes our philosophy and our politics, and it is a deep understanding of this area that I think Objectivism lacks, and consequently places too much emphasis on the power of reason leading to an overly optimistic view of man. And perhaps Rand knew this with the fatalism she expressed (as quoted earlier): It does not matter that only a few in each generation will grasp and achieve the full reality of man’s proper stature and that the rest will betray it. It is those few that move the world and give life its meaning and it is those few that I’ve always sought to address. The rest are of no concern of mine. It is not me or The Fountainhead that they will betray, it is their own souls”
  2. Good point about technology and thank you - I’m glad someone else here appreciates this issue.
  3. Suit yourself. I’m not going to try to persuade you to engage with the arguments. I’ve put them forward and they stand on their own merit. If you change your mind, I’ll engage with your responses. Fair enough. What do you mean there is no difference? I’m searching for the limits of our nature. I agree these things ultimately manifest themselves psychologically. I don’t deny they manifest themselves psychologically. Ultimately one has to mentally process the action of lying, stealing, killing etc before they do it. The point is to what extent are there deterministic elements in man’s nature, or at least a biological bias toward, certain behaviours that then manifest themselves psychologically with the desire to lie, steal, be irrational, choose mysticism etc? And to what extent is reason alone an antidote to these tendencies? Yes the addict says “just a little more, I’ll be fine” and acts on that belief but is there a biological bias toward accepting that premise over other premises? A homosexual ultimately has to make the decision to take part in homosexual activity but there is a biological bias which manifests itself in a desire to take part in those acts. Also could you expand on your explanation about the limits of reason to deal with addicts?. And also to what extent, therefore, is reason alone an effective method for changing human behaviour? RealPolitik is definitely about compromise. But once you find there is common political ground, what ought you do to? I’ll have to see if I can find Rand’s response to this question. In the home of the enlightenment and capitalism, the western world, the 20th century experienced a staggering expansion in the size of government. The 80s enjoyed a brief resistance to that trend but it didn’t reverse it. We remain a highly statist world and the 19th century remains the high point for capitalism. Of course technology will keep progressing in a semi-free society but imagine where we’d be had we retained the small state of the 1800s. The idea we’re more capitalistic is absurd, certainly for the west. Also religion is growing worldwide and in the west. The more rational part of the human species is dying off, currently being outbred by the more irrational. Yes and there’s nothing wrong with the idea that conclusions derive from premises. But to what extent are we predisposed to favour certain premises? Why do we so often choose short term activities that are harmful in the long run, even though we know it’s harmful? Reason may account for some of this behaviour, but all of it? The passage is pointing out that our conception of the nature of man is fundamental to our conclusions. And I don’t think Objectivism has a strong enough understanding of the nature of man. This can be expressed in two ways: 1. It has the wrong premises 2. It has ignored crucial premises. Consider the following two premises: 1. Reason alone is an effective method for changing human behaviour. 2. Reason alone is not an effective method for changing human behaviour. These two premises lead to radically different conclusions about how society ought to be run and what philosophy one should advocate. So what’s your view? Why do people continually not choose reason, preferring to act on whim and emotion? Are temptations to some degree innate? How effective is reason in convincing them to change course? Is there a biological bias toward Nietsche’s will to power which manifests itself to different degrees in different people? Sowell also says: “It would be good to be able to say that we should dispense with visions entirely, and deal only with reality. But that may be the most utopian vision of all. Reality is far too complex to be comprehended by any given mind. Visions are like maps that guide us through a tangle of bewildering complexities. Like maps, visions have to leave out many concrete features in order to enable us to focus on a few key paths to our goals. Visions are indispensable—but dangerous, precisely to the extent that we confuse them with reality itself. What has been deliberately neglected may not in fact turn out to be negligible in its effect on the results. That has to be tested against evidence. A vision has been described as a “pre-analytic cognitive act.” It is what we sense or feel before we have constructed any systematic reasoning that could be called a theory, much less deduced any specific consequences as hypotheses to be tested against evidence. A vision is our sense of how the world works.” And: “No matter what vision we build on, it will never account for “every sparrow’s fall.” Social visions especially must leave many important phenomena unexplained, or explained only in ad hoc fashion, or by inconsistent assumptions that derive from more than one vision. The purest vision may not be the basis of the most impressive theories, much less the most valid ones. Yet purer visions may be more revealing as to unspoken premises than are the more complex theories.” And: “A vision, as the term is used here, is not a dream, a hope, a prophecy, or a moral imperative, though any of these things may ultimately derive from some particular vision. Here a vision is a sense of causation. It is more like a hunch or a “gut feeling” than it is like an exercise in logic or factual verification. These things come later, and feed on the raw material provided by the vision. If causation proceeds as our vision conceives it to, then certain other consequences follow, and theory is the working out of what those consequences are.”
  4. Your rewrite doesn’t not equate to the essence of what I’ve said. Correct, but it should be cause for pause; for doubt, especially in this case due to the staggering observations in different times and places. I mentioned homosexuality earlier. It’s been observed throughout different ages and peoples, even in animals, and now we know there is at least some substantial biological basis to it. Rand thought it was just down to the wrong premises. She was wrong. I think we should seriously consider the possibility that man has biological “inclinations” in other areas too, lying, stealing, irrational selfishness, irrational aggressiveness, favourably responding to collectivism, mysticism, the religious impulse etc. Yes we may ultimately have volition, but the desires, or bias toward these behaviours may be too powerful for reason alone to constrain them (i.e trying to rationally convince them that 1. Stealing is wrong and 2. Not to do it) and that other methods are more effective like the threat of punishment. (Yes, they are employing reason to determine that theft is not worth the punishment but this is different because it is only being used as a means to discovering the end; punishment in the real world - prison, fine etc - whereas the former has no real world consequence) (As quoted earlier, Rand herself expressed doubt about the power of reason regarding the rehabilitation of criminals) Also mentioned before were the differences between men and women and the biological basis for masculinity and femininity. Men on average are more aggressive and disagreeable. The trends of behaviour in both sexes is not just down to their premises. I’m sure the biological basis for behaviour varies wildly from individual to individual but collectively the result is specific trends of behaviour which continually appear in whichever age or peoples we look at. To the extent that that’s true, I am arguing that due to certain biological factors, man has within him a bias toward certain philosophies over others resulting in the trends we see all around us. Man has to choose reason, he has to choose to focus. That is a fundamental starting point for Objectivism. And yet, in swathes of his life throughout time he chooses not to reason. Why? Objectivism has no answer. It just is. And even when he does choose reason (by this I mean choose to exercise it to a substantial degree in his life, including of course in deciding his philosophy), he comes to wildly different conclusions to other men who also exercise reason. Yes but the problem is Rand has an overly idealistic vision of the foundation of the US. Many of the founders had a fatalistic view of man, like Madison, and it wasn’t much of a radical revolution, more of a preservation and continuation of British freedoms and principles (separation of powers). It didn’t descend into chaos like it did with the French partly because of the continuation of customs, institutions, chains of command etc that were established in the US before the revolution and imported from Britain. The French sought to tear everything up and start again. The Americans sought to preserve. I’m essentially talking about the fatalistic view of man and how Objectivism inadequately accounts for the extent to which man is biased toward certain behaviours. I’m wondering if Objectivists share this concern. See my comments above for a fuller understanding of my perspective. Im also wondering if Objectivists honestly believe the masses will ever adopt the philosophy and if they won’t then clearly it cannot be the right philosophy for society to function. You say you’d support RealPolitik and supporting cons and libs for smaller state policies but that view itself is a particular way of seeing the world and if it is the right course of action then it must be incorporated into your philosophy. It says that compromise can be good, that your enemy’s enemy can be your friend etc... She wrote it 25 years after she released The Fountainhead. She must have been in her mid 60s. She’s clearly expressing a fatalistic view of the masses here. And does again for criminals. I’ve expanded more in my comments above to dream weaver. I’m suggesting biology plays a role, asserts a certain bias resulting in powerful inclinations or desires. I also address the lack of reason - why don’t people choose reason? Objectivism has no answer. It can’t because reason is the starting point. But if most people will continually not choose it then perhaps a proper political philosophy must accommodate mass unreason, irrational selfishness etc. Leo Strauss for example advocates the concept of the “noble lie” from political leaders to the masses. How does it work out? Choosing reason is the starting point. She heavily implies it, as does Peikoff does in his lecture series on the history western philosophy. But she also expresses fatalistic views of man so perhaps she was confused on this. And if one does not believe it is the singular reason then to what extent is it the reason? This is a fundamental question. It really is so crucial. To what extent do ideas, as opposed to his nature, shape the world and man? How constrained is he by his nature? What are his limits? Yes because of the astonishing history of man to continually behave in similar ways throughout the ages. Yes exactly, I believe Objectivism is inadequate here. “The wrong premises” isn’t good enough. It implies that man just needs to be reasoned with and his behaviour will be corrected. If this isn’t so, then to what extent is it not so? Observations of man in the real world suggest it isn’t so to quite a large degree. That leaves biology, innate inclinations expressing themselves in different people to different degrees which produce general trends. But then you’re endorsing a specific worldview in which compromise, realpolitik etc is right and proper. And that the ends justify the means. It’s a departure from Objectivism which is what I believe is the inevitable outcome since Objectivism just doesn’t appear to be adequate for accommodating the real world. At least as it currently stands. (Rand was very clear about not supporting conservatives and libertarians who were pro-free market for their own reasons. She is asked the exact question in “Answers”. I have the book on audible but can’t remember where she’s asked the question) I’ll leave a passage by Thomas Sowell to conclude: This means you have a fatalistic view of man regarding his ability to choose to reason. He never will live up to that. Fair enough. I think that’s reasonable based on man’s track record. The problem with the boat full of Objectivists is that as soon as they have children, their children also have to choose to reason and I imagine at some point some of the children will rebel and reject Objectivism but that is due to my somewhat pessimistic conception of man’s nature. I would have a little more hope for a rational world if it didn’t keep introducing new human beings into it. With each generation there’s the constant pressure to ensure they grow up properly and learn how to behave civilly which itself is no guarantee. I’m not sure they can really act like Objectivists if they don’t have a decent grasp of the philosophy. But I take the general point they might act more rationally overall and I agree there is room for that certainly. The question is where is the limit? How far can we really go with it? How constrained is man’s nature? I appreciate your honesty regarding your expectations of the future. Yes this is a good point. I mentioned something similar earlier. Objectivism doesn’t address why people choose reason. It is the starting point. A fundamental choice. Yes I agree this goes on but within the constraints of man’s nature that asserts a certain bias toward certain behaviours. I discussed my views on this further up. I will finish this pretty big post with a passage from Thomas Sowell: “Social visions differ in their basic conceptions of the nature of man. A creature from another galaxy who sought information about human beings from reading William Godwin’s Enquiry Concerning Political Justice in 1793 would hardly recognize man, as he appears there, as the same being who was described in The Federalist Papers just five years earlier. The contrast would be only slightly less if he compared man as he appeared in Thomas Paine and in Edmund Burke, or today in John Kenneth Galbraith and in Friedrich A. Hayek. Even the speculative pre-history of man as a wild creature in nature differs drastically between the free, innocent being conceived by Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the brutal participant in the bloody war of each against all conceived by Thomas Hobbes. The capacities and limitations of man are implicitly seen in radically different terms by those whose explicit philosophical, political, or social theories are built on different visions. Man’s moral and mental natures are seen so differently that their respective concepts of knowledge and of institutions necessarily differ as well. Social causation itself is conceived differently, both as to mechanics and results...” - A conflict of visions.
  5. Good point. I assume it to mean a world numerically dominated by Objectivists and the application of the political prescriptions she described. In the introduction to the revised edition of The Fountainhead, referring to her husband, she said: “The essence of the bond between us is the fact that neither of us has ever wanted or been tempted to settle for anything less than the world presented in The Fountainhead. We never will.” I haven’t read The Fountainhead (please no spoilers) but whatever she’s referring to here, it’s interesting she used the word “world”. And yet, at the end of the same introduction she says: “It does not matter that only a few in each generation will grasp and achieve the full reality of man’s proper stature and that the rest will betray it. It is those few that move the world and give life its meaning and it is those few that I’ve always sought to address. The rest are of no concern of mine. It is not me or The Fountainhead that they will betray, it is their own souls” And in Ayn Rand Answers she says: “It is not society’s duty to rehabilitate criminals even if we knew how which nobody knows and I highly doubt whether it can be done” This final quote suggests that she herself believes reason is limited. The quote beforehand suggests an almost deterministic view of the masses and that Objectivism really is and always will be the philosophy of the few, of the great men. And yet she talks of this future “world” and offers radical political prescriptions but these prescriptions would require a society with a very large proportion of Objectivists (more on this later) It doesn’t mean that but it suggests it. The evidence of human behaviour towers over us. Civilisations on opposite sides of the world throughout history seem to embrace collectivism. I just don’t think Objectivists should be so quick to rule out the very real possibility that we are, as a species, stuck with certain inherent aspects of our nature which express themselves in certain behaviours. Perhaps the reason some ideas have taken such a stranglehold on mankind for so long is not because people were persuaded by the ideas and then adopted them, but rather the ideas were at least partly caused by observations of man in reality and were articulated expressions of man’s nature and so they stuck because they most accurately and conveniently accommodated for man’s nature. In other words “what worked” I guess I’m talking about RealPolitik. The UK was recently on the brink of the most left wing government in its history. And Socialism is still very popular. Objectivism would have been useless for Boris Johnson in winning the election and now in maintaining the newly won working class seats. He also may secretly prefer a private healthcare system but has to elevate the NHS to sacred status, at least for now. Okay I can get behind your conception of the Objectivist ideal described there but the problem is you would presumably support free market libertarians and/or conservatives? And yet Rand explicitly rejected any such idea. It’s got to be Objectivists building the Objectivist world. I’ve already happily admitted it was me. You must have seen that? I don’t see what the fuss is all about. And yes I’m from the UK. But do you really expect me to believe he remembered a post from over a year ago and noticed a similarity in this new thread. I must have made some really powerful arguments I assume you log IP addresses and can spot alt accounts that way yes?
  6. I have no intention to “escape detection” and it wasn’t why I made a new account, as I’ve explained. Well done, give yourself a pat on the back - I couldn’t care less how many accounts you have. I care about discussing/debating ideas.
  7. That’s not a “real” account. It consists of one thread over a year ago, it’s not my real name and I don’t even remember the email attached to it. So I made a new account, what’s the big deal? I am certainly not a troll. I’m a genuine truth seeker and as I mentioned in that previous thread I really do want Objectivism to work. I have returned to it over the last month, giving it another chance. I come on this forum with the intention of throwing my strongest arguments at Objectivists to see the responses I get, and also to share my thoughts. I truly believe any theory should be vigorously attacked from all angles. One should actively search for weak spots. It’s the scientific method. And I strongly disagree that my ideas on that previous thread were “smashed”. The family remains a serious problem for Objectivism to work in the real world, as it does for other enlightenment/reason-focused philosophies. Finally, do you mind explaining how you knew that previous thread was me?
  8. 1. I don’t have a ‘real’ account. 2. Ideas stand on their own merit, what’s the obsession with who I am? 3. Why so defensive? Have you seriously never considered this most crucial question? Take sex and gender. Studies have clearly shown the differences between men and women, their behaviour, their masculinity and femininity having some serious biological basis. Or does Objectivism hold that gender is a social construct? Just a matter of the wrong premises? Rand thought homosexuality was a matter of wrong premises. Now the evidence suggests at least some significant biological basis. The point is that man’s behaviour is to some degree constrained by his biological make up. Or if not constrained, his biology makes him biased toward certain behaviour. The sort of behaviour an Objectivist would describe as irrational or anti-life etc. The extent of these constraints are probably different to different degrees for different people. There’s so much we don’t understand about our brains and based on the evidence of man’s behaviour, it seems to suggest we have certain inclinations, since certain behaviour continually appears in all times and places, like for example, what an Objectivist would describe as “irrational selfishness”. I’m interested in the existence and extent of influence of these inclinations. They are the absolute key. They drastically alter one’s political philosophy. The views about the potential, limitations, determinism of human nature etc are at the root of the left right political divide.
  9. What on earth is your problem? If you don’t want to take part in an adult discussion, ignore the thread and move on.
  10. I should specify I don’t think mankind can never achieve X (widespread Objectivism) rather that Y (the evidence of our actual behaviour) suggests it is very unlikely without biological manipulation. I’m speaking from my general knowledge about history. Everyone is rational to some degree but nowhere near to the degree Objectivism demands. Surely you would agree that the primacy of emotion, tribalism, irrationalism and mysticism is widespread and always has been? I don’t think this is very controversial. Yes, ideas do matter and can change the world. My concern here is about the limit of ideas, the limits of reason. These limits being defined by the nature of man, which doesn’t seem to clearly reveal itself but surely the long history of man’s behaviour provides some clues. Yes what you’re saying in the last two paragraphs is edging close to a Burkean conception of the world. Societies adapt and change slowly (so long as revolutionaries are kept at bay) and adjust to “what works”. But “what works” appears to be what accommodates the desires, irrationalities, reason and passions of man. When, if ever, will Objectivism prove to be “what works”? One of the biggest issues of the 21st century is mass migration. It’s a problem which is only growing in intensity with rising populations and improving transport technology. The result of this multicultural experiment appears to be rising tribalism and identity politics. What does Objectivism have to offer here? Free movement? Reason? Most of these people simply don’t want to reason their way out of the growing tribalism. So just to clarify, the question I’m getting at is do you honestly believe reason is so powerful, that man’s mind is so malleable, that reason could likely convince the masses to behave like Objectivists? And, furthermore, what do we do now, in today’s world? A prime minister or president cannot espouse and practice Objectivism. They must rule by some other method. They need a guide to action in today’s world. Objectivism is inadequate here.
  11. Really? Projecting my inadequacy? Straight in with the ad hominem from you then... I am simply observing reality, that is, the behaviour of human beings today and throughout time falling well below the standards Objectivism demands. One has to seriously consider if those standards are simply unachievable on a mass scale.
  12. I agree the question should be “Why? What caused it?” Etc but I don’t believe Rand provides a good answer. It cannot all be down to having the wrong premises. In every civilisation throughout history man displays a certain level of tribalism, irrationalism, mysticism etc. The answers must be buried in our biology at least to some significant extent. I think I read Peikoff’s daughter is studying this area. Do you know anything about that? I should say I’ve read Atlas Shrugged, The Virtue Of Selfishness, Ayn Rand Answers, Why businessmen need Philosophy and I’m up to Chapter 7 in Piekoff’s Objectivism but I’ve stopped and thought, isn’t this all futile? Humans just don’t and will not ever behave this way... “I’m not sure most people will have to be convinced” They surely will to realise an Objectivist society? (And yes I agree reason would be the method to convince them but I question the power of it to do that on a large scale in a world where man seems to favour emotion over reason and this may well be the case on a biological basis at least to some significant degree.)
  13. Do Objectivists truly believe people will ever behave like Objectivists on a mass scale? Objectivism teaches us how the world ought to be and how man ought to live but we find ourselves in a world which is nothing like it, and never has been. If mankind can never achieve the Objectivist world Rand envisioned, or even get anywhere near it (where the majority are true Objectivists), then it is surely inadequate as a political philosophy. Of course we can never know for sure but history provides some strong suggestions. Don’t we all have to face up to the fact we have a society far away from the Objectivist ideal and we need a politics to deal with a society utterly dominated by non-Objectivists? A society that responds favourably to the primacy of emotion and irrationalism. Do Objectivists honestly believe most people will one day be convinced through reason and live as Objectivists? Or are you resigned to the likelihood it will always be a philosophy of the few?
  • Create New...