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The Laws of Biology

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  1. Charles Darwin did use the words “fighting,” “struggle,” “battle,” and “war” in describing how all individual biological beings (including human beings) engage in life-or-death competition with each in order to obtain the limited available resources necessary for survival and reproduction: Darwin quote #1: “These STRUGGLES are generally decided by the law of BATTLE; but in the case of birds, apparently, by the charms of their song, by their beauty or their power of courtship, as in the dancing rock-thrush of Guiana. Even in the animals which pair there seems to be an excess of males which would aid in causing a struggle: in the polygamous animals, however, as in deer, oxen, poultry, we might expect there would be severest struggle: is it not in the polygamous animals that the males are best formed for mutual war? The most vigorous males, implying perfect adaptation, must generally gain the victory in their several contests. This kind of selection, however, is less rigorous than the other; it does not require the death of the less successful, but gives to them fewer descendants. This STRUGGLE falls, moreover, at a time of year when food is generally abundant, and perhaps the effect chiefly produced would be the alteration of sexual characters, and the selection of individual forms, no way related to their power of obtaining food, or of defending themselves from their natural enemies, but of FIGHTING one with another. This natural STRUGGLE amongst the males may be compared in effect, but in a less degree, to that produced by those agriculturalists who pay less attention to the careful selection of all the young animals which they breed and more to the occasional use of a choice male.” (From an essay by Charles Darwin in the book “The Foundations of the Origin of Species”) Darwin quote #2: "It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent upon each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with reproduction; Inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; Variability from the indirect and direct action of the conditions of life, and from use and disuse; a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a STRUGGLE for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less improved forms. Thus, from the WAR of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows.” (From the last page of Darwin’s book titled “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the STRUGGLE for Life.”)
  2. First, thank you for your further answer to my question. I found value in your answer. Now, let me say that I hope am not being obstinate for the sake of being obstinate, and hope that I am not falling into the "oneupmanship" that is so common in online discussions. I believe all philosophical discussions should be about working individually and interactively to see and discover the truth about reality; philosophical discussions should not about winning arguments and defeating others (i.e., philosophical discussions should not be like an NFL game). Now then, let me say this: I do now think that I see a logical problem with the answer that no force is involved in the gaining of property in NFL games, or in high stakes poker games, or in other contests that involve 2 or more parties competing fiercely, passionately, and furiously to obtain a limited amount of property that only one party can end up with. Here's the possible logical problem I see: What if most people have no choice but to participate as a player in some economic game that has all the essential qualities of an NFL game? What if most people do have some choices about which economic game they will enter (e.g., I can apply for work at McDonald's, or apply for work at Apple Computer, or I can offer my services as a mower of lawns as a freelance businessperson), but they do not have the choice not to enter or try to enter some NFL-like economic game. Of course, any person could say, "I will not enter or try to enter any economic game." But if they do that, and if they do not have a trust fund or inheritance from a rich relative, they will end up in the misery of being homeless and living on the street, and so risk premature death. So, I guess I am logically contesting the factual premise that everyone has a choice about whether or not to participate in an economic game that has all the essential elements of a brutal NFL game or of a high-stake poker game. Since most people don't have trust funds or inheritances to live on, and most people don't want to become homeless or die prematurely, the free choice about this matter really seems to be an illusion. This is, I think, a point that the Socialists make. They further point out that, under Capitalism, the infrastructure of all or most of the economic games is owned by the Capitalist Owners (a small percentage of the citizens). The Socialists have the idea that if the ownership of the infrastructure of all economic games could be democratized, then the working conditions and the standard of living of workers could be improved. Of course, this was tried in the USSR and in Mao's China, and results were quite different (mass poverty; mass murder; no human liberty or human rights). But the abysmal failure and immorality of all actual socialist systems does not logically prove that Ayn Rand's theory of the perfect ethics of Capitalism is correct. Logically, it could be the case that Socialism is a great moral evil and that Capitalism is a lesser moral evil, and that some as-yet undiscovered/invented economic system could be morally superior to Capitalism. At least, so it seems to my mind, at the present time. Why assume that Capitalism is the final and greatest economic system? Homo Sapiens existed 40,000 years ago but, as far as a I know, they did not have Capitalism at that time. So, since there has been progress or evolution in human civilization, economics, culture, and philosophy in the past, why could there not be further such progress or evolution? Why does Ayn Rand assume that there will not be or cannot be any further such progress or evolution? Thank you for your consideration of these issues.
  3. I stand in awe of the great accomplishments of Ayn Rand in philosophy. I stand by that, regardless of whatever else I may think. I know of no better way of living than the way of Objectivism. Thank you, Objectivists, for making knowledge of Objectivism available to me.
  4. I suppose my proposition here, for discussion, is that Ayn Rand's theory of Capitalism fails to take into consideration the natural, unavoidable, animalistic, aggressive instincts of human beings. Communist theory contains the same error. The philosophy of Aristotle contains the same error, though no one can blame Aristotle for not studying Charles Darwin's books, since they weren't written yet. Karl Marx did read Charles Darwin's books, but he badly misunderstood them. Marx thought Darwin's theory supported Communism. From what I've been able to find out, Ayn Rand did not study Charles Darwin's books, at least not to any significant extent, but dismissed them and their ideas as irrelevant to her philosophical work.
  5. All over the world, people have an intense love of watching games such as NFL football, soccer ("futbol"), traditional boxing, MMA fighting, and so on. What do all these have in common? Opposing men seeking the same pot of money (property), but only one winner gets the prize (property) or the biggest prize. I just don't see Ayn Rand's Trader Principle being involved in how the winner wins the prize and denies the prize to the opponent(s). I love Ayn Rand's Trader Principle. It's a beautiful, moral principle. It is the opposite of being a moocher, welfare recipient, subsidy recipient, thief, fraudster, etc. Ayn Rand's Trader Principle is based on dedicating yourself to being a productive person. But then I think about all the super passionate love that people have for NFL, MMA, high stakes poker games, and so on, and it dawns me that that Ayn Rand's Trader Principle does not describe everything that goes on in a Capitalist economy. No one spends hours in front of the TV watching people engage in Ayn Rand's Trader Principle. People get excited by seeing the use of force to gain property. People love aggression. We are all conquistadors, by nature. In ancient Rome, they had a saying: "Homo homini lupus," which means "Man is wolf to man." We are all wolves. This is why the supposedly humanistic and benevolent Communism led to the mass murdering monsters Stalin and Mao. Man is wolf to man. And in a Capitalist system, though it is far superior to Communism, still, under Capitalism, "Man is wolf to man."
  6. In the game of poker, the winner of the game did seek to obtain, and did obtain, the property that the other players put into the game. How did this winner obtain this property? He outplayed them. How did he outplay them? Was it not because he had, and he exercised, superior mental skills? If a man in a physical fight has Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) training, and the other men in the fight do not have such training, the man with superior physical skills (MMA) will defeat the others. We don't hesitate to say that the MMA guy used "physical force" to defeat the other men. Why not say, then, that the poker player with superior mental skills (innate or learned) used "mental force" to defeat his rivals and move their money from their wallets into his wallet? And isn't the case of the poker game similar to a great deal of what goes on in a Capitalist economy? And isn't this the element of Capitalism that most Socialists focus on with their objections and criticism?
  7. Again, thank you for you answer to my question. Consider the case of a poker game organized by the players themselves. Imagine that the poker game is being played for money, and that each player puts his own money into the game. At the end of play, suppose one player has won all the money of all the other players. Now, how did this winner gain all that property? By exercising superior physical force over the other players? No. How then did he end up with all the property that they put into the game? Luck? No, not entirely luck. Chance is a factor in poker, but not the only factor. Mental skill and the will to win are also big factors. One online encyclopedia says: "In physics, a force is an influence that can change the motion of an object." Now, this winning poker player managed to move all the property from the wallets of his rivals into his own wallet. Wasn't it force that moved the property from their wallets to his wallet? Wasn't it a superior mental force?
  8. First, thank you for your answer to my question. If a man uses a gun in the real world to shoot another man and take his money, that is physical force. If a man uses a virtual gun in a video game to shoot another man's avatar in the video game, and thereby wins a monetary prize for being winner of a video game competition, isn’t that a case of property being gained (and denied to rivals) by use of mental force and physical force (since the players of video games use not only their brains but their arms and hands to operate the video game controller device)? The winner of monetary prizes in a video game competition has not obtained that property entirely by means of the Trader Principle, even though all players voluntarily entered the competition, and so entered into a Trader Principle relationship with each other and with the organizer of the competition. To win, the winner also has to deploy superior force, with his body (hands, arms) and with his mind. I have seen that there now exists a device that allows a paralyzed person to control and move his wheelchair or his bed with his thoughts alone. Now, suppose that device was connected to a gun, and this device allowed the paralyzed person to fire a gun and shoot a person. Would we say that this paralyzed man did not use force to harm the other person? Thus, mustn't we acknowledge that "mental force" is a form of force? If what I am calling "mental force" is not properly categorized as force, when what is it? How should it be properly categorized? Is it nothing? Is it something magical or mystical or supernatural? If we agree that deliberate, intentional mental activity that is orientated toward gaining property in the real world by defeating rivals who are seeking that same property—if we agree that that is not nothing, is not something magical, mystical, or supernatural, then what is it? It has to be something, right? And if we agree that it is something, can it not be classified and categorized along with other things of its kind?
  9. I thought of two more examples to add to those above: Here’s a fourth example: Politicians and their close allies typically end up gaining a great deal of private property as a result of obtaining public offices. But politicians do not obtain public offices by the Trader Principle, but by defeating rivals in elections for the offices. So, public offices are obtained by force; not physical force, but force of mind (strategy; tactics; etc.), force of words, force of efforts, etc. Many politicians employ deceptions (e.g., promises they know they cannot and will not keep) in their political campaigns, and so use the force of fraud (fraudulent speech) to defeat their rivals and gain public offices. But even politicians who win offices without use of deception are still winning by force, not by the Trader Principle. Politicians don’t force voters to vote for them, so don’t use force in that sense. But in relation to their political rivals, politicians do seem to be using a form of mental force in order to outplay their rivals, just as NFL players use mental force (along with physical force) to defeat their rivals. Here’s a sixth example: Chess competitions with monetary prizes. Those financial prizes are not gained by the Trader Principle. So, how are they being gained? It must be by force—superior mental force.
  10. Please consider the logic of this idea that I am here proposing. As I understand it, Ayn Rand and Objectivists justify Capitalism as being ethical on the ground that property is gained through the Trader Principle, which is the voluntary exchange of property and services in free market context. And I agree that Capitalism does include that aspect. But today I was thinking that Capitalism also seems to include the legal gain of property by the use of force. Here's one example: NFL football games. NFL teams succeed, and gain property, through defeating other NFL teams. They don't win games by use of the Trader Principle. They win games by use of physical force, brute force. Fans watch NFL games specifically to see teams apply brute force to each other. Now, it is true that no person is forced to participate in NFL games. But, once players are inside the games of the NFL, property is gained by brute force. And fans derive much pleasure from watching the NFL players obtain property by brute force. Now a second example: In the school system, full-ride scholarships are given to the few students who end up with the highest grades. It is impossible for every student to end up with the highest grades, even if they all worked as hard as possible in their studies. This is because it is well known that academic ability is distributed as per a "bell curve." So, a few students will always defeat the other students in academic performance. And so we can see that the large property value involved in getting a full-ride scholarship to college is not obtained by the Trader Principle, but by the force of superior academic ability defeating others on academic tests. Here's a third example: Some aspects of investing in the stock market are game-like with players trying to outsmart and outplay each other. And so, here too, property is not gained by the Trader Principle, but by force (force of mind, not brute, physical force). Well, thoughtful comments on this proposition would be most welcome. Thank you, best wishes.
  11. From a strictly logical and practical point of view, I think it is better and safer for the powerful and rich people to govern by means of tyranny, deception, and authoritarianism, teaching the "little people" to sacrifice themselves for God and the Nation, than to try to liberate the masses by teaching them to live by liberty, personal agency, selfishness, rationality, sanity, and so on. Any philosophy that fights tyranny and promotes liberty, selfishness, and rationality to the masses has, as one of its premises, an orientation of altruism toward the "little people." At least, I think so. If every American refused self-sacrifice for God and the Nation, and pursued radical self-interest in a truly rational way, that would create a very dangerous situation for the billionaires: their lives and fortunes would be in danger from these liberated masses who would say, "Why should we honor the private property rights of these billionaires? Why don't we just take it for ourselves, if we can come together as a group and overpower the billionaires?" All through the history of human civilization, including right up to the present time, I think the powerful and rich people have ruled by means of tyranny, deception, false propaganda, mythology, fake democracy, and authoritarianism, and this has been true in Capitalist nations in which the rich have ruled (Rockefellers, J.P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, etc.), in Communist countries in which leaders of the Communist Party ruled, in medieval Catholic Europe in which very often the Pope of Rome had decisive, tyrannical ruling power, and in ancient Imperial Rome when the Emperor had total power. I know I have not answered this matter fully.
  12. I know you might say that Objectivists have a self-interested reason in saving the world from tyranny--that in so doing, they are also saving themselves from tyranny. But doesn't the best and safest position, from the point of view of pure practicality (if we take survival and prosperity of ourselves and our small circle of loved ones as the goal of ethics and of life), lie in being one of the tyrants? Don't we see that well-dramatized in the movies (and novels) "The Hunger Games" and Orwell's "1984"? Isn't it against the self-interest of leaders to teach the whole population of the earth to pursue self-interest and to never sacrifice themselves for the Nation, the People, the State, the Party, the Leader, the Corporation, the Team, the Movement, or the God of one's religion? Haven't leaders in all periods of human history found it advantageous to train the masses to believe in sacrificing themselves for some higher cause, purpose, or person? How else could the ancient Egyptian pyramids have been built? Aristotle was a firm believer in permanent enslavement for most of the people, so that the few aristocrats could lead lives of intellectual leisure, engaging in civic leadership, philosophy, the arts, and so on. It seems like the Objectivist's educational activities directed to saving the world from tyranny go against what's best for the natural aristocracy, doesn't it? It seems like the teachings of Objectivism should be kept within a small elite, and not disseminated for free to the masses as a sort of liberation campaign, which does seem like what is being done by leading Objectivist educational institutions and websites. Anyone can get a complete, full, and deep education in Objectivism for free with all the videos and texts made available on the Internet by Objectivists. It is understandable that the Marxists would want to spread their doctrines to the masses, since their ethical aim (at least on paper) is the liberation of every person, and the improvement of the standard of living of the poorer people on the planet earth. Marxists, on paper at least, are altruists. Christians also want to covert everyone to Christianity, and, again, they have openly altruistic motives (at least on paper). But Objectivists shun altruism. Yet, in seeming contradiction to that, Objectivists seem intent on saving the world (every single person) from tyranny. To me, this makes the Objectivist Movement look like a Liberation Movement for all the people of the earth. Didn't John Galt give his big speech to the masses, to the whole nation, over the mass medium of radio? Wasn’t he trying to convert every American to the Objectivist philosophy? Wasn't John Galt and his small group working to liberate all of the people of the USA from the tyranny of socialists? Wouldn't it have been better, from a purely practical point of view, for John Galt and his small group to have replaced the socialist tyrants and to have become the tyrants themselves? (While of course using intense propaganda to make the masses believe that that U.S. Constitution was still being followed). Isn't that essentially what the leaders have done in present-day nations such as Russia and China? Isn't that model of governance possibly coming to the USA as well, through certain well-known authoritarian "populist" leaders? Isn't this a natural development that makes perfect sense from the point of view of the self-interest of the leadership class (the so-called "one percent")? I entirely agree that it is a great advantage (in business, politics, romance, the joy of living, etc.) to a person to be well-educated in Objectivism. But why would Objectivists want everyone to possess that advantage? Why would Objectivists want more people to be effectively and rationally competing against them? This desire to educate the whole world in the philosophy of Objectivism seems to ultimately work against the self-interest of Objectivists. And the only explanation I can find for this anomaly is: unconscious altruistic impulses toward the great mass of people. In the Christian Bible, there is this passage: “When Jesus...saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.” There we see a leader feeling pity and having thoughts and feelings of altruism regarding the great mass of people, and commencing to teach them things that would liberate them. Aren’t Objectivists feeling and thinking a similar altruism regarding “the people”? Compare the Objectivist Movement to the Freemasonry Movement, back when men like George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere, John Hancock, John Marshall, James Monroe, and Andrew Jackson were Freemasons. In this era, the men of the Freemason Movement were very influential in government and business. The Freemason Movement taught a philosophy of reason, and subtly opposed the ancient superstitions of religion. But they did not attempt to disseminate the philosophy of Freemasonry to the masses. Only certain men were invited to join and to learn. The philosophy of Freemasonry was kept secret from the masses. Well, what do you think? Is this a reasonable philosophical analysis? Do the seeming anomalies described in this comment point to a potential contradiction and hidden (unconscious) altruism within Objectivism? Does the drive within the Objectivism Movement, to save the world (the whole world) from tyranny and to educate every person to pursue self-interest and shun self-sacrifice for others, constitute a subtle form of altruistic sacrifice of self-interest?
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