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The Laws of Biology

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  1. This whole response is very well argued and very well written. I will have to study it and contemplate it further so that I may really grasp the flaws in my reasoning, in my data, or in my soul or character. My initial thought is that Ayn Rand and Aristotle disgreed with Darwin and Freud on the matter of human nature. Whereas Ayn Rand and Aristotle viewed human nature as essentially rational, just, ethical, and peaceable, Darwin and Freud viewed human nature as essentially and irredeemably irrational, injust, unethical, and aggressive. The view of Ayn Rand and Aristotle can be seen in the 1949 movie "The Fountainhead" (based on Ayn Rand's book). The view of Darwin and Freud can be seen in the 1968 movie "Planet of the Apes" (written by secular humanist Rod Serling and the one-time Communist Party member Michael Wilson). I find it fascinating that Shakespeare has his character Hamlet express both views of human nature in this passage (and elsewhere in the play, too): "What a piece of work is man, How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty, In form and moving how express and admirable, In action how like an Angel, In apprehension how like a god, The beauty of the world, The paragon of animals. And yet to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me." But how shall any rational person decide, with integrity (and not arbitrarily, and not with mystical faith, and not with wishful thinking) between the optimistic and the pessimistic view of human nature? I have always thought that modern science, and empiricism, as found in modern biology, psychology, sociology, anthropology, is the way to decide with integrity. (I.e., lots and lots of data; and data collected and organized meticulously and analyzed mathematically and statisitically, as per the modern scientific method; I think here of Francis Bacon's criticisms of those of his era who clung to the methods of Aristotle to reach their conclusions about phenomenon in nature and in Man) Also, the modern story of the history of humankind is helpful. Our modern historians know so much more than the ancient historians (e.g., the historians who wrote in the times of ancient Greece and Rome). But isn't there a danger that people with a pessimistic view of human nature will enact a "self fulfilling prophecy," and thereby prevent the creation of a better future society due exactly to that pessimism? Yes, that is a danger, and that danger is pointed out by the Ayn Rand Objectivists, and also by others, such as the Democratic Socialists, the Rosicrucians, the Catholics for Social Justice, Secular Humanists, and so on. As for me, I feel torn, like Hamlet. I want a better future. I want an ethical society. But I also want to shun delusions and noble lies. I'm tired of being deceived and deluded by all sorts of utopian and idealistic promises of a better world, and I don't want to join in movements and philosophies that deceive and delude others, even if doing so might be of some materialistic advantage to me. Furthermore, I tend to think that whatever better future is possible will be achieved by having leaders that shun delusions and noble lies, and who face and deal with the hard realities of existence for biological beings (in this vein, I think of Francis Bacon's praise of Machiavelli's book The Prince for reminding him of how men often or usually tend to act, even though Francis Bacon did not himself approve of cynical, dishonest, manipulative leadership).
  2. Just looking around the present world, and looking back at history, it seems that tyranny is far and ahead the dominant form of government. Just today I saw a news report that a gov't official in Russia had said that domestic opponents to Russia's current war in Ukraine will be sent to concentration camps. What was achieved in the USA in 1789 (when the U.S. Constitutioin was instituted) may be really anomolous and unsustainable. Even in ancient Greece, in places like Athens, they had democracy from time to time, but I think more often they had tyrants, oligarchs, and so on, and eventually they got Alexander the Great (just as later on other locates got the various Caesars, Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Putin, and so on). Maybe tyranny just follows from the dominant human nature. Thus, the January 6, 2020 riot at the U.S. Capitol can be viewed as a preview of the coming tyranny, oligarchy, or whatever you want to call it. (cf. Beer Hall Putsch of 1923) Maybe the Objectivist conception of a better future is just a beautiful dream. Maybe it is comparable, in a sense, to the very different beautiful dream a better future held by the Democratic Socialists. Maybe. But, in any case, Ayn Rand is definitely a great novelist and a great philosopher.
  3. I suppose this is one of those occasions in which different people are using the same words/phrase to mean different things. Yet, this whole activity of "philosophy," whatever it really is, involves, necessarity, tedious and wearisome definitions of terms. Didn't Wittgenstein write something famous about how philosophy is all sort of word games and is ultimately, mostly meaningless? And then there was that famous instance in which President Bill Clinton said, "It depends on what the meaning of 'is' is." I've heard this all goes back to philosophical topic of "Nominalism" which may have its origins in Plato's theory of forms in which there is, in the abstract heavens, a perfect, eternal, unchanging, unchangeable, ideal form of everything (justice; truth, the good; reason; beauty, honor, love, etc.). But don't trust me. I'm just some random guy on the Internet. But I will admit to liking lately the thought of Francis Bacon.
  4. The Ayn Rand Lexicon does have an entry titled "Subconscious." So, Ayn Rand did recognize the existence of a subconscious part of the mind in the human mind, and so, in a general sense, did agree with Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung on this point. The decision of an individual or a group of persons to operate only at a rational level, and to recognize as real and important only rational arguments, propositions, facts, and conclusions, seems to me to be arbitrary. I recently watched a lecture by a Harvard professor of psychology who stated that much of the general theory of the subscious as articulated Freud has been verified by repeated scientific experiments. Any Rand and others can dismiss the Freudian or Jungian theory of subconscious as "mysticism," but while the reality of God, gods, angels, and demons, as found in religions, CANNOT be verified by scientific experimentation, the dynamics of the subconscious mind HAVE very definitely BEEN verfied by scientific experimentation. Again, one can decide to ignore or reject that science, if one chooses to. But that decision seems aribitrary. Also, that decision may ultimately lessen one's ability to survive, thrive, and to be an effective leader of others. I can't help but speculate that if Aristotle were alive to today, and if he had a chance to learn all there is know in the modern fields of biology, psychology, sociology, anthropology, physics, and chemistry, he would not stand by his ancient writings on ethics and metaphysics. During World War II the U.S. government hired a psychoanalyst to produce a analysis of the psychology of Adolf Hiter, so that U.S. government leaders could make the best possible predictions about what Hitler might do in various scenarios as the war proceeded. As I see it, this was wise, and shows the value of recognizing that human beings operate at more than a rational level. As I see things, the value and necessity of rational ethics for producing and inspiring good behavior, success, self esteem, personal responsibility, social responsibility, personal produtivity, law-abiding conduct, etc., is not diminished by the recogntion and understanding of powerful irrational dynamics in every human mind (some of these dynamics having their origin in early childhood, when the boy or girl was unable to process events, needs, loves, desires, fears, traumas, relationships, etc., in the manner of Aristotelian logic)
  5. I clicked that link and found the text written by Ayn Rand. It looks interesting. I will study it this evening. Thank you.
  6. When I read depictions of how Ayn Rand often spoke to students or learners at her meetings, I get the impression that Ayn Rand was indeed trying to save those students from unreason. She would strongly and passionately urge her students to "Check your premises!" for example. Now, this is just an impression of mine. Yet, I think it is reasonable to observe someone's behavior and draw logical conclusions about what is probably motivating the person. From these descriptions that I have read (from what I think are credible, accurate sources), I can't help but conclude that Ayn Rand cared about the present and future well-being of her fellow human beings, men and women. She seemed very passionate about saving people ("saving the world," if you like) from bad philosophy, precisely because she did care about her fellow human beings and wanted to see them flourish, prosper, and be happy, rather than seeing them being enslaved, suffering, being the cause of unjust suffering in others, being abused, abusing others, being lied to, tricked, bullied, lying to others, grifting, mooching, being mooched on, and so on. I speculate that Ayn Rand's care and concern about the well being of other human beings is one of the things that ultimately led her to distance herself from the misanthropic, sadistic principles sometimes enunciated by Nietzsche. But did Ayn Rand ever say, expressly and directly, that she valued and cared about the well-being of other human beings in a way that was independent of her calculations of her own self-interest? No, not that I know of. So, I suppose I'm speculating that this was a dimension of Ayn Rand's psyche of which she herself was not aware. So, in these comments, I am playing the role of a psychoanalyst (Freudian, Jungian, Adlerian, etc.), rather than the role of Aristotelian philosopher. Aristotelian philosophy is very logical in its own way. But there is a certain logic in the newer science of psychology as well. Even the name "psychology" breaks down into "psyche + logic." Blaise Pascal wrote in his famous book Pensees: "The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing". In much the same vein, Shakespeare has his Hamlet say, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." I can't help but wonder what Ayn Rand would have learned about herself and her motivations, and about other people, if she had undergone psychoanalysis (Freudian, Jungian, Adlerian).
  7. Wow. 😄 I found this whole answer to be fascinating, poignant, sharp, rich, deep, and insightful. I will study it further and contemplate how I can integrate this into observations and concepts that I have been holding, or, perhaps, use this to correct or replace certain conclusions I've been holding.
  8. It occurred to me that Ayn Rand's Objectivism has a metaphysical sanction (authorization, justification, proof) of its ethical system, and, by contrast, some other ethical systems are sanctioned by reference to one of these: Supernatural revelation (example: Judeo-Christian Natural Law theory, as held by Supreme Court Justice Amy Comey Barrett) Pragmatic reasoning (example: the philosophy of William James--the view that we must settle for "truth" being merely whatever works best in a given time and place, and that nothing more definite, permanent, or grand can be said about what is the "truth") Biological programming (DNA; evolution) (example: the philosophy of Professor Larry Arnhart, as expressed on his blog named "Darwinian Conservatism"; the philosophy of Dr. Jordan Peterson is another example of the biological sanction of an ethical system) Some people object to Ayn Rand's Objectivism because they object to all metaphysical sanctions of ethics as a matter of principle. In short, they view metaphysics as a semi-secularized form of supernaturalism. In this view, the ancient Greek philosophers took the primitive Greek religion (what we now call myths) and rationalized that religion. Socrates was executed by religious fundamentalists for promoting the rationalization of religion, and, in the view of those fundamentalists, was weakening traditional religion and thus weakening the authority and legitimacy of the Greek city-state and its culture and form of government. But, according to those who reject metaphyics, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle retained within their phillosophical systems key elements of the basic supernaturalism and mysticism of the ancient, pre-scientific world. All three of them spoke/wrote about the reality and importance of the supernatural God within their philosophical systems. During the Middle Ages, leading scholars (e.g., Thomas Aquinas, Averroes ) viewed Aristotelian metaphysics to be fully in harmony with fundamentalistic Christian and Islamic supernatural revelation. Proponents of metaphysics assert that the basic approach and tools laid out by Aristotle in his treatise which is called "Metaphysics" provide a basis for making definite statements about the fundamental nature of Being/Reality, and, furthemore, that every human being always has explicit ideas or implicit assumptions about the nature of Being/Reality, and so metaphysics is necessary and inescapable. Ayn Rand was very critical of Kant because Kant cast serious doubt on the ability of humans to reach definite knowledge in the realm of metaphysics. Marxism seems to be based on what can be termed a historical sanction. Karl Marx believed that he had discovered the true Laws of History, and he thought he could project those laws forward in order to predict and/or prescribe what will happen and/or ought to happen in human society. Is this comment an accurate statement of things?
  9. One source states this: Conditional love Some authors make a distinction between unconditional love and conditional love. In conditional love, love is "earned" on the basis of conscious or unconscious conditions being met by the lover, whereas in unconditional love, love is "given freely" to the loved one "no matter what". Loving is primary. Conditional love requires some kind of finite exchange, whereas unconditional love is seen as infinite and measureless. Unconditional love should not be confused with unconditional dedication: unconditional dedication or "duty" refers to an act of the will irrespective of feelings (e.g. a person may consider that they have a duty to stay with someone); unconditional love is an act of the feelings irrespective of will. Unconditional love separates the individual from their behavior. However, the individual may exhibit behaviors that are unacceptable in a particular situation. Humanistic psychology Humanistic psychologist Carl Rogers spoke of an unconditional positive regard and dedication towards one single support. Rogers stated that the individual needed an environment that provided them with genuineness, authenticity, openness, self-disclosure, acceptance, empathy, and approval. Also, Abraham Maslow supported the unconditional love perspective by saying that in order to grow, an individual had to have a positive perspective of themselves. In Man's Search For Meaning, logotherapist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl draws parallels between the human capacity to love unconditionally and living a meaningful life. Frankl writes: "Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality. No one can become fully aware of the essence of another human being unless he loves him. [...] Furthermore, by his love, the loving person enables the beloved person to actualize ... potentialities." For Frankl, unconditional love is a means by which we enable and reach human potential. Christianity In Christianity, the term "unconditional love" can be used to indicate God's love for a person irrespective of that person's love for God. This comes from the concept of God sending His only Son, Jesus Christ down from heaven to earth to die on a cross in order to take the punishment for all of humanity's sins. If someone chooses to believe in this, commonly called "The Gospel", then Jesus' price on the cross pays for their sins so they can freely enter into heaven, and not hell. The term is not explicitly used in the Bible, and advocates for God's conditional or unconditional love, using different passages or interpretations to support their point of view, are both encountered due to confusion about God's nature. The cross is a clear indicator of God's unconditional love in that there is no way to earn one's way to heaven, one must simply believe. In all other religions cited below, there is a conditional striving to achieve a sense of unconditional love, based on one's own efforts and understanding. In Christianity, it all depends on Jesus, not the person's effort nor understanding. A passage in scriptures cites this "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—" Ephesians 2:8,9, NIV. God's discipline can be viewed as conditional based on people's choices, and this is where some may become confused. His salvation is a free gift, but His discipline, which is shaping of good character, can look more conditional. Ultimately, knowing God and free passage to heaven have already been supplied by a God of unconditional love. One can simply choose to believe in order to receive such love. The civil rights leader and Pastor, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was quoted as saying "I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality".
  10. I know someone, who I'll call Helen, who hates her grandfather because he (her grandfather) gives only criticism and scorn to Helen's father, but showers Helen's father's brother (Helen's uncle) with praise, honors, affection, and responsibilities within the family business. Helen claims that her grandfather, who is the "patriarch" and founder of the lucrative family business, should have "unconditional love" for all of his children. She sees her grandfather as engaging in a serious violation of the principle of "unconditional love" by showing such favoritism to her uncle (as compared to her father). Helen claims that her father is just as competent and responsible in business as is her uncle. However, Helen's grandfather sees Helen's uncle as much more competent and responsible in business as compared to her father. I think Helen's basic ethical view is that even if her uncle was more competent than her father, her grandfather should nevertheless have "unconditional love" for all of his children and so give the roughly same level of praise, love, acceptance, encouragement, and opportunities to all of his children. Although a high degree of the ethics of "unconditional love" can be found in the Christian religion, Helen is not religious. Helen obtained her ideas about the necessity and righteousness of "unconditional love" from her university studies of psychologists Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow. I am conflicted about all this. I can empathize with how Helen feels when she sees her grandfather giving her father nothing but criticism and scorn, but giving her father's brother nothing but praise, encouragement, and affection. And yet, "unconditional love" seems to be a highly impractical and unworkable ethical system.
  11. Did Sigmund Freud misuse the ancient Greek legend of Narcissus as a false basis to establish, in 1914, the diagnosis of “Narcissism” as a supposed psychological disorder, and did Freud do this because Freud was an Altruist devoted to the ethical philosophy of Altruism, and as such Freud wanted to denigrate and pathologize the cultivation and exercise of Self Esteem? Or, does the concept of "Narcissism" have, in some cases, a degree of legitimacy, usefulness, helpfulness, and applicabiity? One source I found states this: Freud theorized that narcissism is normal, healthy, and present from birth in all humans (primary narcissism). It evolves in time to include affection for others. Secondary narcissism, a neurosis, occurs when individuals reverse course and turn their affection back onto themselves. That same source goes on to say this: Normal and healthy levels of narcissism Narcissism is an essential component of mature self-esteem and basic self-worth. In essence, narcissistic behaviors are a system of intrapersonal and interpersonal strategies devoted to protecting one's self-esteem. It has been suggested that healthy narcissism is correlated with good psychological health. Self-esteem works as a mediator between narcissism and psychological health. Therefore, because of their elevated self-esteem, deriving from self-perceptions of competence and likability, high narcissists are relatively free of worry and gloom. Destructive levels of narcissism Narcissism, in and of itself, is a normal personality trait, however, high levels of narcissistic behavior can be damaging and self-defeating. Destructive narcissism is the constant exhibition of a few of the intense characteristics usually associated with pathological Narcissistic personality disorder such as a "pervasive pattern of grandiosity", which is characterized by feelings of entitlement and superiority, arrogant or haughty behaviors, and a generalized lack of empathy and concern for others. On a spectrum, destructive narcissism is more extreme than healthy narcissism but not as extreme as the pathological condition. Pathological levels of narcissism Extremely high levels of narcissistic behavior are considered pathological. The pathological condition of narcissism is, as Freud suggested, a magnified, extreme manifestation of healthy narcissism. Freud's idea of narcissism described a pathology which manifests itself in the inability to love others, a lack of empathy, emptiness, boredom, and an unremitting need to search for power, while making the person unavailable to others
  12. Yes. Though "altruism" is not a term or concept used by Karl Marx or the classical Marxist-Leninists, it may be the case that Ayn Rand was very astute and wise in perceiving that Comte's conception of "altruism" was operative and dominant with the traditions of Socialism, Marxism, Communism, Christianity, Humanism, Fascism, and Progressive Liberalism. Today's Marxists might object that Ayn Rand is attacking a "straw man," since they (today's Marxists) don't use the terminology or concept of Comte's "altruism." But the beauty of philosophical, psychological, and scientic analysis is that it can accumulate data, logically develop workable hypotheses to optimally explain that data, and thereby penetrate below the level of what other parties express verbally or think consciously.
  13. This thread has, for me at least, brought to light and to focus one profound difference between the philosophical system of Ayn Rand and the philosophical system of Aristotle. As can readily be seen on the wonderful Ayn Rand Lexicon website, Ayn Rand expressed much admiration for Aristotle's system. But she also stated her view that Aristotle made some mistakes in philosophy. I find that one way to increase my understanding of what is a philosophical system really is and what it really does is to strongly focus on the system's points of strong conflict with other philosophical systems that have are considered valuable and respectable by many people (or at least by noteworthy people). In this vein, Ayn Rand's selection of August Comte's 1830 coined term "altruism" seems very important. One hardly ever sees anyone writing about Comte or hears anyone talking about Comte. The world is full of comments on Marx. But hardly anyone every mentions Comte. Yet, as I look into Comte's thought, and into the history of the influence of this thought, I see that Comte is a signficant figure. I think the thought of Comte may indeed shed much light on Ayn Rand's Objectivism.
  14. One possiblity: "Narcissism" is a concept and term invented and used by people who promote the ethics of Altruism-as-a-Virtue and so are determined to denigrate those who promote the ethics of Self-Esteem-as-a-Virtue. Another possiblity: "Narcissism" is a concept and term that is legitimately used to describe a man or woman who displays a very high level of Self Esteem BUT ALSO also displays these behaviors: Has great contempt and disgust for nearly everyone else (due to their alleged inferiority) Does not respect the rights of others, whenever respecting those right gets in the way of him or her getting or maintaining the status, power, or wealth that he or she desires. Unwilling or unable to empathize with the feelings, wishes, and needs of other people Becomes wildly enraged with others, and obsessed with revenge, when others do not respect and defer to his or her greatness (e.g., Hitler, Stalin) Intensely envious of others, and the belief that others are equally envious of them Pompous and arrogant demeanor Grandiosity, with expectations of superior treatment from other people Fixated on fantasies of power, success, intelligence, attractiveness, etc. Self-perception of being unique, superior, and associated with high-status people and institutions Needing continual admiration from others Sense of entitlement to special treatment and to obedience from others Exploitative of others to achieve personal gain
  15. So Aristotle's ethical philosophy was and is wrong, bad, evil, and deadly?
  16. Yes, thank you. I have started reading some of the article of Mr. George H. Smith, and they answer many of my questions. Thanks again.
  17. That is unquestionably true. It can be readily observed. Very nearly every human being engages in philosophizing, particularly when they are suffering, afraid, or frustrated. But what is disputable, I think, is whether philosophy is the decisive factor, or any factor at all, in the fate or outcomes of nations or individuals. And, along the same lines, there are psychologists (e.g., Dr. Jordan Peterson) who argue that humans need religion, God (or gods), and religious faith in some supernatural life or realm. These psychologists argue that humans evolved naturally and biologically to operate according to religious conceptions. They do not argue that God, gods, or the supernatural realm actually exist. They argue that in the history of evoluion of life on earth, the hominids that developed and practiced religion prevailed over and drove to extinction the hominids that did not develop and practice religion (or who developed a less functional religion). Notice during the Cold War, the U.S. Government added "In God We Trust" to our money, and then we ended up winning the Cold War. These psychologists would say that this isn't because some deity helped the Christian West, but because religion is more functional than atheism or agnosticism.
  18. Aristotle taught that the earth was the center of the universe and that the sun and all the stars and planets orbited the earth. That legacy of Aristotle was carried forward for about a thousand years. Galileo was almost executed for disputing it. Aristotle also taught that the philosophical system held by the ruling class in each nation determined the fate of the nation. (Aristotle had no interest or concern regarding belief systems of the non-aristocrats, since he taught that most men were "natural slaves" and their role was simply to be tools and instruments to serve the aristocrats, who were the only people who really mattered. This ancient Greek social system was recently depicted in the "Hunger Games" movies.) While Aristotle's earth-centric view of the cosmos has been left behind for several hundred years now, due to data and theories that are part of modern science, Aristotle's antique philosophy-centric theory of the history of human civilization remains dominant and popular. According to Aristotle's philosophy-centric theory of the history of human civilization, the reason for all the great evils of the Communist regimes was (and still is, in the case of Cuba and a few other places) bad philosophy, and the reason for all the great evils of Nazi Germany was bad philosophy, and even the explanation of Putin's recent invasion of Ukraine is chalked up to bad philosophy of Russia's ruling clique (and/or, some might say, the bad philosophy of the leaders of NATO). According to Aristotle's philosophy-centric theory of the history of human civilization, the USA has had such a remarkable history of general prosperity and liberty because the U.S. Founding Fathers developed, fostered, and implemented a superior political and ethical philosophy, drawing from Aristotle, Locke, Adam Smith, etc.. And so, many people today, who feel that the traditional prosperity and liberty is jeopardized by unAmerican philosophies gaining a foothold in the USA, are interested in developing, fostering, spreading, and implementing the philosophy that will make America great again. Archimedes, an ancient Greek philosopher who was born a little after Aristotle, said, “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.” Many today assume that philosophy is the lever by which to move culture, economics, politics, war and peace, and everything. And they act on this assumption, and become activists in the cause of philosophy or in the cause of a particular philosophical system that they have been convinced is the final and salvific philosophy of humankind. The problem, as seen by some, is that Aristotle and all the ancient Greeks had a terribly foreshortened view of the history of human civilization. They imagined human history to be only a few thousand years old. But since around the time of Darwin, and with ever more clarity since then, we now are able to know that the history of human civilization begins between 3 and 4 billion years ago on the earth. That's because we humans are in one continuous lineage going back to the very earliest life forms on earth, which may have been similar to today's bacteria. Bacteria are our ancestor. We have the same basic DNA as bacteria and all biological beings. Yet, philosophy only goes back around 8 or 10 thousand years. For most of the history of life on earth, life has not been guided or controlled by philosophy. Well, by what then was life guided or controlled for all those billions of years? Beginning in 1859, Charles Darwin explained that life (all life, including human life) was always and only under the control of the Laws of Biology. These laws are encoded into our DNA and the DNA of every biological being. The Laws of Biology, as discovered and explained by Darwin and by many other scientists since Darwin, is the objective basis for everything pertaining to life (including politics, religion, philosophy, culture, arts, poetics, etc.) But just as in Galileo's day the ruling class was not ready to accept the debunking of Aristotle's earth-centric view of the cosmos, so most of society today is not yet ready to accept the debunking, by Darwin, Einstein, and other scientists, of Aristotle's philosophy-centric view of human history. But some people have already set aside the antique, obsolete, pre-scientific theories of the past, and maybe more will do so in the future. But wait! What will become of humankind if humankind no longer believes in the ancient myths? I recall the strenuous objections that the character John (from the "Savage Lands") expresses to the World Controller, Mustapha Mond, in Huxley's novel "Brave New World." John finds the de-mythologized, science-based new civlization of that novel to be unbearable. In the end, John kills himself. Perhaps our rulers will have to follow the example of Dr. Zauis in the 1968 film “Planet of the Apes,” and keep certain scientific and historical information away from the masses, and even away from most of the rulers, in order to preserve human civilization. But is it too later for that? Is the cat already out of the bag?
  19. Imagine that a freshman student majoring in Physics at a university approached one of his professors and asked, "Sir, what is the objective basis for Physics?"
  20. "Altruism" is a term that was coined or popularized by the philosopher and scientist August Comte in 1830. Before 1830, "altruism" did not exist, at least not as a word, and perhaps not even as a concept. "Altruism" has never been a word or concept that has been widely used in Marxism, Communism, or Christianity. Yet, "altruism" is the word and the concept that Ayn Rand chose for use in the philosopical system to describe the key vice or the key philosophical error. To me, it is noteworthy that August Comte strongly asserted, in his philosophy called Positivism, that each human being is ethically obligated to live 100% according to altruism. He did not believe it was correct for a person to try to find a healthy balance between altruism and seflishness. Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism asserts the mirror image of Comte's philosophy: She says that each human being is ethically obligated to live 100% according to selfishness. She did not believe it was correct for a person to try to find a healthy balance between altruism and seflishness. By contrast, Marx and Lenin never taught that people must be 100% altruistic and live always and only for others. Aristotle taught people to find the "golden mean" between miserliness and prodigality. The ancient Greek temple of Apollo at Delphi had the inscription "Moderation in all things." (or "Nothing in excess") Classical Christianity also taught that most Christians living in the world need to find a workable, practical balance between unselfishness and self-serving acts. (Monks and nuns were held to a much higher and stricter standard of unselfishness called "The Evangeical Counsels"). So, it seems that, in the history of Western philosophy and religion, ONLY August Comte and Ayn Rand proposed, as an ethical ideal, either pure, unadulterated Altruism or pure, unadulterated Selfishness. One scholar has written that Comte's philosophy of Positivism, though mainly forgotten now, "was even more influential in Victorian England than the theories of Charles Darwin or Karl Marx." And so I wonder if, in some sense, Auguste Comte the real philosophical nemesis or antagonist of Ayn Rand? Was she mainly writing against the philosophy of August Comte? (And thus Marxism, Leninism, Communism, Christianity, New Deal-ism, etc., were not the real or essential villians in her system.)
  21. In my above statement, I now think that I should NOT have written "traits or habits that are not consciously chosen." For the purposes of this present philosophical inquiry, I think it is NOT relevant whether any person's "Narcissism" is consciously and deliberately chosen, or whether it is something not consciously chosen by the person. In general, the question as to whether personality types (and/or personality disorders) are chosen or acquired by genetics or by environment just isn't the issue that interests me at this time and I don't think there's any need to address it in this inquiry. Rather, the issue of interest to me at the current time is whether the concept or phenomenon of "Narcissism" is something that is objectively real. Does "Narcissism" exist? Do "Narcissists" exist? Is "Narcissism" a legimitate and meaningful category? Most people would agree that the debate over whether Pluto is a planet or not is meaningless and unimportant. Pluto is what is it. Pluto is real. Pluto can be observed and has been observed. Much has been discovered about Pluto. The precise bounds of the concept of "planet" are not important as regards Pluto, I would say, and I think most people would agree. But not meaningless are the differences between elements as described in categories such as "Noble Gases" and "Heavy Metals." "Heavy Metals" (e.g., mercury and lead) and "Noble Gases" (e.g., helium, argon) are generally recognized as legimate and meaningful categories. These categories help scientists and engineers make predictions about how elements will act or react under various conditions. Is "Narcissism" a legimitate and meaningful category? Does it help us make predictions about how certain people will act or react under various conditions? Does it help us understand oher people? Does it help us understand ourselves?
  22. In the field of professional, licensed psychology/psychiatry, narcissism is a stable personality type or stable cluster of behavioral or mental traits or habits that are not consciously chosen. My question is: As used by these mental health professionals, does the term "narcissism" describe an authentic human phenonemom that a rational personal can observe and recognize as a valid type or category? For example, when observing clouds in the sky, a meterologist will put clouds into various categories or types, such as Cumulus, Cirrus, and Stratus. Identifying cloud types helps the meterologist make accurate predictions about weather patterns and events. So, I think no one disputes that the system of categories, classes, or types of clouds is a legitimate, scienetific, and useful system of taxonomy. Can the same be said about human personality types in general and in particular about the type called "Narcissist"? NOTE: At this point, I'd like to side-step the issue as to whether being or acting as a Narcissist is ethical or unethical, moral or immoral, productive or constructive, happy or unhappy, or good or evil or neutral or "beyond good and evil." As I see it, a logically preliminary and distinct issue is whether "narcissism" is a legimate concept or category. Only after one takes a position on that issue does it make any sense to possibly make a moral/ethical/political judgment about the phenomenon. Also, at this point, I'd also like to side-step the issue of what is the correct or best defintion of "narcissism." There are some debates and disputes, even with the mental health profession, about how "narcissism" should be defined. But I think there is such a strong common core in how "narcissism" is defined that I think there is no need, for the purposes of this present inquiry, to get into that. Whether one looks into a respectable dictionary or into the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders" (the "Bible" of most mental health professionals), the basic concept of "narcissism" is basically the same, I believe.
  23. Very good questions. Before I say anymore, I see that I should obtain a genuine and thorough education in the subjects traditionally called, within the Western Philosophical tradition, Metaphysics and Epistemology . I need to stop proposing questions and dispensing my initial impressions as answers. I am acting like a philosophica impressionist, like a philosophical Monet or a philosophical Renoir, with everything painted in a fuzzy, hazy manner. What's the good of that? Nothing. I do like the impressionist paintings, but I don't see them as providing any objective knowledge about reality or objective guidance for living. They are just pretty pictures, in my estimation. So, off I go to my studies! I respect and admire the philosophy of Objectivism. I appreciate the high level of philosophical competence among Objectivists. Thank you.
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