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  1. Like
    DonAthos reacted to Harrison Danneskjold in Pleasure and Value   
    Because it doesn't have to be rare or ephemeral. As @DonAthos observed, although you may or may not be able to find happiness in the next few hours or days, in the long run your overall quality of life (the quantity of joy you can experience) is in your own hands. 
    That's exactly what the purpose of Egoism is; for you to learn how to correctly apply your brain and your hands to the pursuit of consistently-experienced happiness.
    For example, I'm at work right now (on my lunch break). I've been working 10 hours a day, five or six days a week, and frankly it sucks. As much as it truly sucks right now, though, I know it'll be worth it on payday; it'll result in a net gain of my own happiness.
    This is exactly analogous to your working out in order to pick up hot chicks. The trick to doing it correctly is to understand which desires are worth pursuing (will lead to happiness) and which aren't, and that's where Egoism comes in.
    Whether it's worth it to pursue your own happiness, in the first place, is something you have to judge for yourself. All I can try to give you is hope.
  2. Thanks
    DonAthos got a reaction from Nerian in Pleasure and Value   
    I want to tread lightly here, because personal advice is often not so great (especially in a forum like this, between two people who don't really know one another) -- and also because, it sounds like you might be going through something. Depression is serious business. Many people require professional help to break through the negative thought/emotion cycle that depression represents. I have no idea whether that applies to you, but if it does, don't be afraid or too proud to seek it out.
    To be honest, my experience is 1) happiness is not "rare" and 2) I don't experience much "mental suffering." Were it otherwise, I would look to make some changes in my life.
    Instead, happiness is a (mostly) persistent state for me. Recently, I was involved in a small auto accident. It sucked. But even then, I didn't really experience what I could describe as "mental suffering," and it was not long after the accident that I was again enjoying my life in a characteristic fashion. Earlier this year, I went through some severe medical problems. It sucked. A lot. And I suffered a lot, too. But my "mental suffering" was mostly confined to finding some way out of my physical distress, and when I finally managed that, things quickly got back on track for me. There have been other challenges, of course; life is full of them, and some can be very tough to deal with. Some days, I'm not particularly happy; but when that happens, I rest assured that whatever mood or funk will soon pass, like the rain.
    But I am fortunate to have been able to surround myself with things that, on a day to day basis, provide me with enjoyment, such that I can weather these storms. These include my work, my environment, my daily routines and hobbies, and (powerfully) my family. I've worked hard to make each of these contribute in a positive fashion to my life, as best as I know how, and I think that they give me support against most of the shocks of daily life.
    Now, all that said, there has been a period in my life where it was mostly mental suffering, and not so much enjoyment... many, many years ago, I suffered a bout of severe depression. At the time I did not, but if I thought something like that were threatening me today, I would strongly consider going to a therapist for assistance; it was the worst part of my life, and nothing I intend to revisit.
    In the event that you do not consider yourself to be so depressed that you need such assistance (or you are set against the idea, for whatever reason, though I would advise you to reconsider if so), and if you're in the market for advice (keeping my caveats in mind), I would recommend that you investigate the possibility of making some changes for yourself. Try to adjust the ratio of enjoyment to suffering. This may require big changes and/or small alterations to what you already do and experience. (Probably you should not make big changes to your life without due consideration.)
    Some concretes that you could look at immediately are: are you getting enough sleep? Are you getting daily exercise (even as little as a 10 minute walk)? Are you eating healthfully/well? Getting enough sunshine/vitamin D?
    After that (or maybe before), I'd wonder if the mental suffering you're experiencing is attributable to anything specific and correctable. If you have a thorn in your paw, best to pull it out.
    Then, I would probably look at career/school. Does your vocation excite you? Is it something that you're passionate about? Or if it's not, is there something out there you've discovered that would excite you, and inspire your efforts daily? (And if you haven't found something like that, can you take steps to continue to look?) What is the mountain that you yearn to climb? What steps can you take in the near future, or today, to put you on the path to climbing it?
    Maybe you're already on such a path, but you dislike the grind required to get you to where you want to be. In my experience, we must all of us spend some time in the quarry. If so, be on the look out for all of the small things you can do -- the small rewards and treats you can provide yourself -- to lighten the load. Once upon a time, I had a two hour commute; four hours daily, in Los Angeles traffic. That was... not pleasant. So I subscribed to an audiobook service, and managed to change my commute into something I could (at least somewhat) look forward to. There were times when it was the best part of my day.
    I could go on in this fashion (and if you would like more suggestions, let me know), but the overall point is that... a good life has to be worked for, and achieved, step-by-step. It's not enough to learn that A=A; you don't just wake up the next day with a smile on your face (though the thrill of that initial discovery is pretty majestic). It takes a lot of work (and thought, and time) to create the kind of life that will provide you with a happiness that is more substantial and enduring than "a rare ephemeral scrap of mental enjoyment." But in my experience, it is worth it.
  3. Like
    DonAthos reacted to dream_weaver in All About Evasion   
    Perhaps this will be clarifying. I've tended to be more of an agnostic in the privacy of my mind along life's way. I can see the allure of agnosticism, and it took time to get Rand's criticism of the agnostic. Peikoff discusses it rather succinctly in chapter 5 of OPAR. Rather than quote it, the passages head up the term Agnosticism in the lexicon.
    The struggle for me was coming to grips with what constitutes itself as evidence. (I just noticed there's no lexicon entry for "evidence".) It played a role in my general dislike of "what if's" outside of tightly regimented scenarios. This has been evolving into seeking more clarity in my own mind before pontificating something outright.
    As I become more knowledgeable, the "agnosticism", if you will, is a check on another couple of elements. It takes time and interest to examine and connect the available evidence to my satisfaction. As Mark Scott once noted, it is the finiteness of life that puts the kibosh on omniscience, or as the Bill Murray line in the movie Groundhog's Day put's it, "Maybe God isn't omnipotent. Maybe he's just been around so long, he knows everything.”
    I'm not at odds with the fact that errors are possible. I'm applying the law of excluded middle to the proposition that "man has to be 'proven wrong'" best I know how. Ultimately, man has to discover error before he can be cognizant that it even exists.
    PS: In evaluation of that last sentence, I had to have erred at least once, unless one can discover error simply via the evidence of error in others.
    “Don't refuse to go on an occasional wild goose chase. That's what wild geese are made for.”
    Read more at http://izquotes.com/quote/328886
  4. Like
    DonAthos got a reaction from 2046 in Pleasure and Value   
    Over the last few threads in which I've participated substantially (here, here, and here), I've been pushed to look more and more into a conception of ethics that I've been developing for quite some time. A conception I've temporarily labelled as "life-as-experience," which I contrast with the "life-as-survival" view I attribute to David Kelley1, among others -- where "life-as" refers to my understanding of what "life" in "life as the standard of value" means.
    I hold that Kelley, et al., contend that Rand truly means that survival is the standard of value; whereas I think this fails to express Rand's full meaning, and moreover fails to express the truth of ethics, which is that it is not survival alone which is the standard of value, but "life as it is experienced." By "experience," I primarily mean as it is characterized by pleasures and pains.
    I'm not yet ready to try to describe this idea in full. I have not yet settled on a terminology. I haven't satisfied myself that I even understand what I'm driving at, in totality, let alone thought the whole thing through in all of its application. I don't know whether I will finally accept this burgeoning concept or modify it substantially or discard it altogether. I don't know whether I will come to find that it still fits with Rand's ethics (though so far I think this is the case), or whether it will finally constitute a breach with Objectivism and the emergence of some new philosophy more reflective of reality.
    This thread, then, is an attempt to try to "think out loud" about some of these issues -- it is an "exploration," rather than an argument (though arguments for or against my position are welcome in response). Specifically, I would like to explore the relationship between pleasure and value. It is my current position that there is a a deep and abiding relationship between the two. One that is under-realized and consequently underappreciated, or even absent from the stated ethical reasoning of other Objectivists. (I have even seen some Objectivists display what I would call hostility, or suspicion at the least, against the pursuit of pleasure.2 I believe that this sort of attitude is deeply misplaced.)
    One of the key confusions that often plagues this sort of topic, I find, is that "pleasure" can refer to a variety of experiences. Eventually I mean to speak to all that sort of thing "pleasure" represents, in totality, but first and foremost we should consider pleasure in its most basic sense: a positive physical sensation. This is the pleasure of the taste of good food, or the soft caress of satin sheets, or the cooling of the skin from a breeze on a hot day, or the whole-body lightning of orgasm.
    In the first place, we should wonder whether there is any relationship at all between such pleasure and value. Value is, as always, "that which one acts to gain and/or keep," but it is more to the point to ask whether there is any relationship between pleasure and that which a rational man values: value consonant with Rand's conception of ethics, holding "life as the standard of value."
    I say that there is. Moreover that Rand was aware of this, describing this relationship thusly (in "The Objectivist Ethics"):
    Consider first that this observation implies that it is pleasure (i.e. physical pleasure) which allows a man to have some conception -- any conception at all -- of "the good." It is through the experience of such pleasure that teaches man to discern good from evil (which finds its corresponding analogue in physical pain).
    Now, this cannot be the end point of ethics. Moreover, the standard Rand refers to in that final sentence (His life.) is not describing the full standard of the Objectivist Ethics, where "life is the standard of value." If it were, then ethics would be as simple as equating pleasure to good and pain to evil: Objectivism would be hedonistic.
    What we come to learn, however, is that some things our "natural standard" pronounces good (which is to say, that which we find physically pleasurable of our nature) will lead, in time, to pain and death. Even that which is very pleasurable, should it ultimately lead to pain and death, cannot be "the good," then, as we come to understand it conceptually, abstracting away from our experience of temporary, momentary pleasures -- which, remember, is our source of the very concept of "the good" in the first place.
    How would this operate in a person? Rand describes the experience of pleasure/pain as the "first step in the realm of evaluation." Well, what are the subsequent steps? And where do they lead?
    Consider a child. Or a baby. There are pleasure and pain for the baby ("innate," as Rand has it), and though the baby has no conceptual understanding of it initially, what these sensations communicate are the launch points for "good" and "evil." Pleasure is the good, it is what is desired, it is what is wanted, it is what is valued. And pain is not simply the lack of such pleasure, or a "neutral" state, but it is a negative analogue to pleasure. (Pain is no less "real" for that, and matters just as much as any other fact... despite any admirable sense of life which may eventually inspire a man to act as though some pain is "less important" than a corresponding pleasure). Pain is thus the evil, it is what is shunned, what is avoided, and I believe it sensible to say that it is disvalued in consequence.
    The baby grows and matures. With experience and development comes the understanding that certain things cause pleasure and others cause pain. Concrete values follow suit, as the baby comes to value those things that bring pleasure and disvalue those that bring pain. Such simple associations develop and grow into childhood and can persist well beyond, into adolescence or even adulthood. The young child will, more than likely, not wish to go to the dentist. The young child sees no good in it, whatever lecture he hears, because for him the dentist is simply a bringer of pain. The young child wishes instead to eat ice cream, morning, noon and night. Ice cream is pleasurable, and the young child cannot conceive of even the mid-range consequences of overeating ice cream, let alone the long-term effects of habitual poor eating. Those long-term effects have no reality whatever to him.
    But as the child grows, and acquires perspective (and continues to gain experience, and continues to develop mentally), he may come to see the sense in putting down the ice cream from time to time and going to the dentist. He understands that his forbearance from eating ice cream comes at the cost of some "good" now (i.e. pleasure), but will help him to avoid even greater "evils" (pains) to come. So, too, the dentist, such that eventually the mild pain of a regular cleaning may be borne for the sake of avoiding worse pains later, or to continue to enjoy the pleasures that having healthy teeth affords. It may be, in time, that the child can pronounce going to the dentist as "good" and eating too much ice cream as "evil" (though "bad" is more likely, but amounts to the same) -- just as an adult might -- because he finally and thoroughly understands the actual relationship these activities have with pleasure and pain, long-term.
    As I'm describing it, it is not that man acquires some perspective which completely divorces pleasure from "the good" (or pain from evil), but that he comes to understand that the simple equation of pleasure to good (which is natural, "innate") will not serve him long-term, because it will lead to far more pain than pleasure. If he would like to have more pleasures as he lives, and fewer pains, then he must learn to value accordingly.
    These are the "next steps" of evaluation.
    But is it the last step? Is it ever the case that good and evil stand free and clear from pleasure and pain? (For instance, does the final conception of "life as the standard of value" have anything at all to do with pleasure and pain, apart from heritage? Or are they utterly separate by that point, such that one may evaluate "good," qua the Objectivist Ethics, without ever any need to consider such pleasures or pains, or even reference them?)
    I will most likely approach this question more substantively in a later post, but for now, let me introduce another quote from Rand (per the Lexicon, from "Our Cultural Value-Deprivation" in The Objectivist, 4/66; and please note Rand's use of the term "experience" here, which obviously predates my own adoption of the term to express my meaning, but was wholly independent of it, as I was completely unaware of this quote at the time):
    I am open to the interpretation of other intelligent, rational minds (as I always strive to be), but this suggests to me that the relationship between pleasure and "the good," or value more generally, is not just that pleasure provides some initial spark for evaluation, before they go their separate ways... but that there is an ongoing, vital relationship between them.
    I would go so far as to say that a life without pleasure (again: this is "just" physical pleasure in my current usage, though I mean to argue that there is also a vital relationship between such physical pleasures and those of the corresponding cognitive/emotional/spiritual kind -- including happiness) is not worth living. The consequence of a life filled with pain is something else entirely, and far, far worse.
    1) Kelley's written position is a convenient way to address what I consider to be a widespread understanding (or misunderstanding) of the Objectivist Ethics, where he's written (in The Logical Structure of Objectivism):
    2) The pursuit of pleasure can sometimes be misread as "hedonism," but these two things are not -- or need not necessarily be, at least -- the same thing. Hedonism is, as Rand writes, "the doctrine which holds that the good is whatever gives you pleasure and, therefore, pleasure is the standard of morality." Yet it is possible to reject the idea that "the good is whatever gives you pleasure" and that "pleasure is the standard of morality," while still wanting to experience some particular pleasure consonant with life, with man's nature, and with a rational standard of morality.
    Pursuing such a pleasure, even for the sake of that pleasure alone, is not "hedonistic" but life-affirming.
  5. Like
    DonAthos reacted to StrictlyLogical in All About Evasion   
    I believe that the particular psychological defence mechanism you have identified exists.  I also am quite sure of its effects as well.  I am equally certain of the existence of the psychological defence mechanisms I have identified and their attendant effects.  What is to be sure, is that all of them enable a person psychologically to hold a disconnect with reality in the form of some contradiction, that disconnect "allows" them to "get away with it" psychologically... ie evade the issue.  What of all of this we call True evasion, and whatever species or type (eg conscious or subconscious) we are particularly interested in, it's clear as the authorities of Objectivism say (and independently I agree) that these are at the root of almost all vices plaguing a struggling mentality in the world today.
  6. Like
    DonAthos reacted to Easy Truth in All About Evasion   
    There is a paradox about (internal) evasion that makes the process of dealing with it very hard. It is at the core of the philosophical question "How can a person lie to themselves?". How does a consciousness prevent consciousness of what it is conscious of?
  7. Like
    DonAthos got a reaction from Easy Truth in Is objectivism consequentialist?   
    In what way? If this is what you mean, no debate around here (or as far as I can tell, in the world) is ever settled such that all parties are agreed.
    It's easy enough to say that, from the point of view of the innocents harmed, blowing up a bus is immoral. But ethics, per Objectivism, are based upon self-interest. The moral prohibition against the initiation of the use of force is meant to be as self-interested as anything else -- not fashioned to protect "others," or the wider world, but for the sake of the person who abides by it.
    But does the suicidal man stand to gain anything (in reason) by refraining from hurting others upon his exit? (I say that he does.)
    Right, that's the way the logic goes. So when you've decided that you're no longer playing to win (or that you cannot play football), then you can run any formation you'd like; you may even blow up the stadium. It's anything goes from there on out.
    In theory, this should also mean that a person with a terminal illness is no longer bound by morality (because they understand that they are never going to play football again, no matter what play they run). Some suggest that such a person will continue to drift along on their habits... and so we shouldn't expect too much chaos. However, someone who has given these matters sufficient thought (and with the proper philosophical perspective) ought to be able to recognize their changed context...
    Yes -- this is my essential answer. "Legacy" runs the risk of implying that this is "for others," but then you continue to identify the true root of it: that it is the experience of value in the present, the pride, the pleasure, the happiness that moral action brings, which continues to make our decisions morally significant, even in the face of (nigh) instantaneous death.
    In another thread, discussing this same issue, I raised the Buddhist parable "The Monk, the Tiger and the Strawberry " as an example of moral action in the face of extremity. I believe that, so long as there is a self -- so long as life remains, so long as choice remains, and so long as our choices matter to our experience of life -- then there is the possibility of moral action, to wring out for ourselves the best possible experience of life, whatever our present context happens to be.
  8. Haha
    DonAthos got a reaction from Harrison Danneskjold in All About Evasion   
    It's the honorable thing to do...
  9. Like
    DonAthos reacted to Easy Truth in All About Evasion   
    Yes, a specific purpose, the one that fits best is the protection of one's self-worth. An attack on self-worth is a trigger for evasion. In general, the more attacks on self-worth in a discussion, the more evasion there is. Old world cultures know this fact so their public deal making takes (the other's side's) "saving face" into consideration. As far as I can remember Branden did make a reference to that.
    The other purpose of (internal) evasion is to prevent the possibility of one's worldview to fall apart. Just imagine, if one day, you found out that socialism in fact worked. It would feel like you are being tricked, "it can't be true" etc. Suspicion can be overwhelming. Leftists also go through that too, they think "what my parents told me, what my tribe believes, all the people I admire told me that socialism works and that capitalism is a virus that needs to be stamped out".  If one piece of the fabric of knowledge goes in doubt then, what else did these "admired people" say that was wrong. Now I can't count on anything. I am suddenly nothing if I believe that Capitalism works. I have to start all over, all the respect I have accumulated is gone. No, No, it is easier to push the thought away and push the people that bring the thought away too.
    Which means that it is to an Objectivist's self-interest to be gentle/understanding in these types of discussions otherwise the opponent is cornered/encouraged to evade.
  10. Like
    DonAthos got a reaction from Harrison Danneskjold in All About Evasion   
    Insofar as "being right is a choice," as you say, we must identify the requisite elements to be right (inclusive of all that man requires habitually to be right). The mindset I advocate is not an "inversion" of this, but an expression of it. Or in other words, if you choose to be right (generally speaking, or characteristically), then you should not despise the experience of being proven wrong, but value it -- because I believe that such a mindset or orientation will assist you in the lifelong project of recognizing contradictions among your thoughts.
    And insofar as you despise the experience of being wrong, or being shown wrong, as so many do, I believe you will be more prone to the phenomenon of evasion, which is not under direct conscious control but can be addressed obliquely through the conscious choices you make, and the attitudes you cultivate within yourself.
    But this is taking responsibility for one's own rightness. To get recursive for a moment, if I am right about this (as I believe that I am) and you do not heed me (accounting to a lack of focus), then you have failed yourself in your responsibility; you will not be correct, so often or so much as you could have been -- accounting to your own choice.
    It's not a question of delegating one's responsibility to others. That's like saying that the CEO delegates the success of his concern to his workers; but no, it is through the rational management of his workers (in part) that the CEO accepts responsibility for the success of his concern and fulfills it.
    The phrase "being proven wrong by others" is furthermore specific to the context of debate and conversation (such as this forum hosts), which I thought particularly relevant and worthy of consideration, but that's not the only context in which the mindset I describe is necessary. A man alone on a desert island must be searching for his mistakes just as much, or more, and he must greet the discovery of these mistakes (so long as he can survive them) with something like gratitude; it is the scientist's mindset, who does not look at the "failure" of a given hypothesis as bad, but as knowledge gained, and a necessary step taken towards further or eventual success. (I would expect that in the history of science, there have been scientists who either so desperately wanted to be right -- or not to be wrong -- that they made critical and uncharacteristic failures in their interpretation of vital results; fundamentally, this is the same sort of phenomenon.)
    Evasion, at its heart, is a kind of "looking away." And I maintain that the reason why people look away in this fashion -- albeit subconsciously -- is because they do not want to be wrong, on a deep level. And so, I believe that one large part (though not the entirety) of the battle against evasion is to cultivate an appreciation for the experience of being wrong -- said appreciation to be gained by understanding the vital role of being sometimes wrong in the pursuit of knowledge, and finally being right.
  11. Haha
    DonAthos got a reaction from Harrison Danneskjold in All About Evasion   
    That's my idea of, er, humor. See? I'm a fun guy!
    That potentially gives us something to discuss.
    I agree that "the potential to be wrong" isn't grounds for thinking that we hold any wrong belief, in specific. But I do believe that this potential necessitates a certain general mindset which is constantly on guard for, and even probing for, the possibility of error. Besides which... how can I put this...?
    Sometime ago, when discussing the arbitrary, I raised the question as to whether the (somewhat absurd) statement of, "At the moment, someone in Sweden is eating an egg," is a proper example of the "arbitrary." For I would lay money on the claim that there is someone in Sweden eating an egg, right at this very moment, although I have no specific evidence of any individual currently doing so. Yet perhaps it is evidence of a kind in knowing how many people there are in Sweden, and knowing human dietary habits, and so forth, which justifies that sort of claim. And so, while I don't know the contents of anyone's mind in total, such that I could enumerate every last belief (not even my own), I feel confident in saying that among that vast multitude of beliefs, with respect to any individual, some beliefs are bound to be wrong.
    Or another way of approaching this is, consider this forum. Note the multiplicity of opinions here, and disagreements -- and this is among people who (at least to some degree) identify with the same core philosophy. I would dare say that an average adult human holds what we might consider to be thousands (or perhaps orders of magnitude more) of distinct beliefs. And if you were to compare the beliefs of any two people -- any two people in the world -- the odds are strongly against their aligning perfectly, down to the very last. Now I suppose, even given all of this, it is possible that one individual may, in his beliefs, be 100% correct. Perhaps that person is you. Or perhaps it is me. But even were it me (and I do consider myself correct in all of the beliefs I currently hold; that's the very thing it means to "believe" them), I would still want to be on guard against the possibility of error, just as I may have the constitution to be able to smoke, eat, drink, never exercise, and still live to 100, fit as a fiddle... but regardless, I still plan on exercising, refraining from smoking, eating sensibly, and etc.
    Just as we should have good physical habits, should we wish to remain healthy, we also need good mental habits, to guard against error.
    I agree with you that, should a person discover an internal contradiction and fail to correct it (to the extent that he is able), this would represent a moral failure. The thing is, with respect to this thread, that evasion works against an individual's ability to recognize that he is holding a contradiction in the first place, by keeping him from focusing on some particular evidence, argument or what have you, sufficiently to see it.
    And so, we cannot wait for the insight of seeing an explicit contradiction among our conscious thoughts -- not if we mean to work against our own potential to evade. We must be sensitive to more subtle clues, focusing and guiding our thoughts accordingly, such that we can come to discover any contradictions in our thought -- and then work to correct them.
    I think that what I mean by pursing the experience of being proven wrong by others is to create a general attitude or mindset that fosters the ability to recognize a contradiction; so I don't see this as choosing one versus the other, but aspects of the same general approach. This is in contrast to those who dread being proven wrong (I suspect a common condition), which I think hampers and impairs the ability to recognize a contradiction through evasion.
  12. Like
    DonAthos got a reaction from SpookyKitty in All About Evasion   
    I've threatened to do this for quite some time... so I guess now is as good a time as any.
    There's been some discussion on this topic recently, and I'm not opposed to importing quotes -- but for this OP, I'd like to start fresh. I don't have a particular thesis or argument, but I would like to explore the topic of "evasion," and importantly how it intersects with ethics. That is, given "evasion" (however we conceive of it, though obviously that's central to the discussion) what do we do about it? How do we recognize and deal with evasion in others? How do we recognize and deal with evasion in ourselves.
    Let me back up for a moment. The first time I ever dealt with evasion, and recognized it as such, was long before reading Rand/discovering Objectivism. I'm sure I didn't use the word "evasion" to describe the phenomenon -- probably something like "denial" would have been quicker to my mind -- but I was debating the Biblical story of the Garden of Eden with a Christian friend of mine, and I wished to make a point by reference to the text of Genesis. I didn't have a copy on-hand, but I was certain that my friend must keep a copy (and we were at his home). I asked him to break out his Bible, so that I could demonstrate the textual basis of my argument -- show that the Bible really did say what I claimed that it did -- and... my friend refused. He did not want to look at the Bible, to see whether I was right or wrong. He didn't want to know.
    Now, I know that many people will think that this is besides the point. "Evasion" is an internal phenomenon, a subconscious phenomenon, and so it is. You can't see it happen. I agree. But I have come to believe that evasion often has surface features and effects which may be recognized and addressed. It's kind of like a "tell" in poker: you can't see the other person's cards, but you can see their reaction to their cards, and often people have a characteristic reaction, depending on their hand. That is information, and just like any information, we can try to make sense of it through our best use of reason (bearing in mind the context that we may easily make mistakes in doing so; and sometimes you bet in poker on the basis of what you think you know, and lose).
    Usually, this doesn't take the form of someone specifically refusing to look at something -- refusing to look through the proverbial (or literal) telescope -- though sometimes it does. But especially through a long history of debate and conversation, on this forum and elsewhere, what I've found is more often a pronounced reluctance or resistance to specific argument. There are untold arguments where someone has made a claim of, "I will get to that point soon," and then they never, ever do. Not even if it is brought up time and again, or made a point of emphasis. This is not, in itself, proof of anything, let alone "evasion," but especially in context I consider it my best means of determining when a partner in conversation is focused and oriented (in the manner that they would need to be to determine their own error, should I be correct) or otherwise. When examples go unaddressed, when my arguments are paraphrased incorrectly (sometimes wildly so), when questions are asked but never answered, and so forth, it is all information that helps me to see whether someone is engaging with the discussion... or perhaps deflecting it.
    And then, in myself, I wonder: how should I know it, if I evade? Because I take it for granted (though perhaps I shouldn't) that a person does not have conscious awareness of his own evasion; if he had conscious awareness, it wouldn't be evasion. That's what makes it so damned troublesome!
    What I have found in others, I look for in myself. I look for the effects of evasion, rather than counting on my ability to detect it, as such (or rather than what I fear most do, which is to implicitly assume that I am the only human on earth somehow immune to evasion, of my nature). When I feel reluctant to address some argument or answer some question directly, I try to make it a point of emphasis to do exactly what I am initially disinclined to do. If a question is asked of me, and I fear that my answer will somehow put me at a rhetorical disadvantage, because my instinctive answer somehow "sounds bad" for me or the point I'm trying to make, I consider it doubly important to answer the question directly, and to try to assess whether what I consider a "rhetorical disadvantage" isn't actually just me being wrong about something. I may also choose to answer such a question at length, in an attempt to explain myself more fully, or provide the proper context for interpreting my answer, but I don't let it pass unaddressed because it seems "easier" or feels more comfortable. I fear that those emotional cues, sometimes, may actually be symptoms of an attempt at evasion.
    For as I'd recently mentioned elsewhere, I have come to regard evasion as a sort of psychological self-defense mechanism. I think no one is immune. When I try to imagine the extremes of evasion, what I come up with is something like "dissociative identity disorder." To be very honest, I'm not certain whether that's a real phenomenon or not (or the extent, at least, of its "reality"). But suppose that it is. My layman's perspective on it is that it might make sense for a person, in a given context, to "go to war with reality" to some certain extent in order to preserve one's sanity otherwise. To pretend that some outrageous forms of abuse (especially in early childhood) are not truly happening to the self, but "someone else." It is a desperate measure in the face of the truly horrendous, and it portends a lifetime of difficulty and recovery, but in some cases it might still be better than the alternative.
    I think that, to lesser or greater extents, evasion is a subconscious means of such self or "ego" preservation.
    With my Christian friend (and I sorely wish that I had this level of insight then), it's worth asking: what would he need to defend? What vested interest does a teenager (as we both were) have in the details of the story of bleeding Genesis, such that his emotions would scream at him to avoid looking at his own professed Holy Book? Well, only everything. He'd been raised Christian, in a Christian family, in a Christian community. Though it may not be so simple as this, he regarded his own understanding of the universe -- and his own morality, his own self -- as being based upon his beliefs in the Bible. So... if he were wrong about that, even to the smallest degree, what would that mean for... his beliefs about literally everything else? What would it mean for his regard for his family, for his friends, for himself (in that he had been so thoroughly taken in)? Having been so wrong about this, how could he ever again trust himself going forward?
    It's an immensity to consider. And I think that this lies at the heart of the pushback against thought, against evidence, that evasion fundamentally represents. Our survival, our happiness, our lives and all that this represents, depends upon our ability to think, and to be right. And so the possibility of being wrong (and sometimes thoroughly wrong) feels like an attack on our very lives. Evasion, then, is the fear of pain that being wrong, and all that it entails, made manifest at the subconscious level... and then represented at the conscious level by emotional reactions and biases that shade our responses, choices and actions, whether it be something so striking and obvious as an explicit "refusal to look," or something so subtle as an indirect answer to a direct question.
    Beyond looking for the "tells" I'd mentioned, resolving to answer questions directly, and etc., what can one do to fight against this tendency? I think that some of my conscious convictions have helped (or at least, so I hope). My conviction, for instance, that being wrong is no moral crime. That it is, in fact, a wondrous joy to discover my own errors -- not a slight against my ego or value, but a tribute to my ability and intelligence. This is how I have come to view debate and argument, not as a contest between enemies, but as a collaboration between allies. I do not feel put off by challenging material; I am drawn to it. (And indeed, I read Rand initially, not because I thought she would agree with me or provide me with some defense of already-held arguments... but because I thought she would disagree with me utterly, and I looked forward to the project of identifying her errors!)
    There is an analogy to be made here with my experience of playing games with my daughter. She does not like to lose. Of course. Nobody does. But over the course of my life -- and reflective of what I hope to instill in her early on -- I have come to view losing at games (or "failures" more generally) as being instrumental to the course of improvement... and eventual winning/success. So it is with being wrong. We are all wrong, at times. We are all probably wrong, right now, with respect to some of our beliefs. It is no moral failure to be wrong about things. But the right way of viewing this, in my opinion, is to deeply value the experience of being proved wrong. To then put ourselves in the best position possible to be proved wrong, and to embrace that feeling, embrace the difficult emotions associated with a stern challenge to one's ego, as being part of the true path towards success. And then, also, to look for the concrete manifestations that I have mentioned -- and seek out and discover others, and amend our actions accordingly.
    It ain't easy. I'm not always successful, either. But I believe that it's the key to addressing one's own evasion and pushing past it to discover and embrace the truth.
  13. Thanks
    DonAthos got a reaction from Harrison Danneskjold in We Should Be Fun People. We Aren't. Let's Change!   
    I do agree that doing the same thing that's been done while expecting a different outcome isn't rational, very generally speaking, but not that there's nothing that Objectivists can do about the state of the world, or the direction it's currently heading in. (Medieval Europe, perhaps, didn't look so rosy until Aristotle's rediscovery; why oughtn't the world enjoy a Randian Renaissance?)
    I think, rather, that Objectivists should take stock of the methods we've used, our approach in engaging the wider world, the way we communicate ourselves and our ideas, and make some changes.
    One of my takeaways from reading Rand is that philosophy has the power to move the world; I still believe that's true.
    Are we including Rand's own efforts in writing essays to describe her philosophy, and etc.? Because as far as I can tell, she designed arguments in order to convince others of what she believed to be true, which is part and parcel to what I consider "proselytization." For what it's worth, that worked for me.
    I believe that changing peoples' minds is a difficult task, but if we instead frame this in terms of learning how to make arguments (and other sorts of presentations; "argument," as I conceive of it, need not be so formal as an essay or a debate), how to approach people and groups diplomatically or tactfully, how to make better use of academic infrastructure or the media, how to make inroads into the culture, and such -- if that's how we think of our efforts, then I think we stand a better shot of success, on our own terms.
    It's kind of like, if I ask how I can force students to learn some given material... well, that's a difficult notion. Just like you can lead a whore to culture (which conjures Allen's Whore of Mensa to my mind) but you cannot make her think, so too you cannot make a student learn. Yet teachers can (and ideally do) strive to sharpen their pedagogical skills, so that they can make the best use of whatever skills the students provide, leverage whatever efforts the student is willing to perform, and hopefully incite further effort.
    There are reasonable people in the world, some to a lesser extent, some to a high degree -- and not all of them are Objectivists (to put it lightly). I'm not satisfied that, because we have not yet figured out the best means of outreach, that means that we will not be able to do so going forward.
    You're doing fine. I'm weighing my options about starting the thread I've long had in mind... but I enjoy and appreciate the conversation in the meantime.
  14. Like
    DonAthos reacted to dream_weaver in Is it time, is the hour striking?   
    You describe a man-made issue, then offer the "solution" is to accept it as one ought the metaphysically given.
  15. Like
    DonAthos got a reaction from Harrison Danneskjold in We Should Be Fun People. We Aren't. Let's Change!   
    I don't think this is true.
    I think it's an interesting notion, being "committed to evasion."
    Someday -- and it's sooner now than ever -- I plan on opening up a topic to really try to explore evasion... but in the meantime, do we think it's true that people are committed to evasion? Were it so, how could any of us survive? We depend upon reason for survival itself (whether or not we account "survival," in any sense, the standard of value ). And so I think that we in the West, as elsewhere, must be open to reason to some certain extent. And if we manage marvels, like constructing skyscrapers, conquering disease, etc. -- and we do -- then that is all the more evidence that reason carries great sway among men.
    And Objectivism, as truth, has literally everything worth valuing to offer. If we can get it right -- as we must attempt to do for ourselves, our own sakes, let alone proselytization -- then we have the formula for earthly happiness, inclusive of all values and virtues, including "fun."
    I'm taking a bit of a flyer, and I'd rather discuss this in full when I do commit to a topic on evasion, but I suspect that it does not come out of nowhere, unmotivated. I suspect that it's something like a psychological defense mechanism... and as such, I think that there are means by which we may come to understand evasion, such that we could be more or less effective in communicating our message.
    I don't think it's hopeless or fruitless. I think we can do better.
  16. Like
    DonAthos got a reaction from Easy Truth in We Should Be Fun People. We Aren't. Let's Change!   
    I don't think this is true.
    I think it's an interesting notion, being "committed to evasion."
    Someday -- and it's sooner now than ever -- I plan on opening up a topic to really try to explore evasion... but in the meantime, do we think it's true that people are committed to evasion? Were it so, how could any of us survive? We depend upon reason for survival itself (whether or not we account "survival," in any sense, the standard of value ). And so I think that we in the West, as elsewhere, must be open to reason to some certain extent. And if we manage marvels, like constructing skyscrapers, conquering disease, etc. -- and we do -- then that is all the more evidence that reason carries great sway among men.
    And Objectivism, as truth, has literally everything worth valuing to offer. If we can get it right -- as we must attempt to do for ourselves, our own sakes, let alone proselytization -- then we have the formula for earthly happiness, inclusive of all values and virtues, including "fun."
    I'm taking a bit of a flyer, and I'd rather discuss this in full when I do commit to a topic on evasion, but I suspect that it does not come out of nowhere, unmotivated. I suspect that it's something like a psychological defense mechanism... and as such, I think that there are means by which we may come to understand evasion, such that we could be more or less effective in communicating our message.
    I don't think it's hopeless or fruitless. I think we can do better.
  17. Like
    DonAthos reacted to StrictlyLogical in Is Social Awareness a Value, a Virtue or a Second Class "Goodness"   
    I agree with your post generally, but this is a wee bit of an overstatement, given all of our own personal experiences living in unjust societies. 
    Perhaps he does "not thrive", or he "must fight" or "struggle much harder to survive".  A man can survive with a great weight chained about his neck... but he will thereafter only be living as a man... with a great weight chained about his neck.
  18. Like
    DonAthos got a reaction from 2046 in Is objectivism consequentialist?   
    From another thread, I found this fascinating:
    I don't want to read too much into this podcast, or to put too much upon one man's experiences (even if that man is Leonard Peikoff), but really, I found this not only fascinating in itself but that it speaks directly to -- not necessarily the technical specifics of this ongoing conversation, but -- my basic approach and motivation.
    Peikoff describes himself as finally fully happy at age 81 (though I'm certain he must have enjoyed himself to some extent throughout his life), and he attributes this to having discovered what he "really wants to do in life" (as opposed to at least some portion of his work theretofore, which he "dreaded"). To me, in my life, such a thing is simply unacceptable. I would not want to wait until I'm 81 to be able to describe myself as "finally fully happy" and in fact I have not waited. Though I have challenges and setbacks from day to day, as I expect everyone must, and sometimes severe or lasting ones, I consider myself happy in all of the major areas of life.
    In part, I believe this is because I have always paid careful attention to my own experiences, cared about them, and have taken action accordingly. When I have pursued paths that I dreaded (and I have), including career aspirations or personal relationships, etc., I took that as a cue that there was something fundamentally amiss, and in need of investigation/change. I did not accept my own unhappiness as being somehow the price of moral action, but I sought (both without and within) to make things better for myself, as much as within my power, as soon as possible. I have put nothing higher than my own experience of life -- to make it as positive as possible -- and I think that this emphasis has rewarded me.
    If Peikoff could not have described himself as "fully happy" before this late juncture, then I suppose we must be thankful for his longevity. What a tragedy it would have been, had he died never being able to say that about himself. I'm middle-aged, myself. A week ago, I was involved in a car accident -- that's one of those pesky challenges/setbacks! -- and actually, it was a situation that I've often brought up in various discussion about ethics: I was stopped, behind some other cars, but another car (a couple back) failed to stop, and there was a domino effect, leading to my being rear-ended. No one was injured, thankfully, but sometimes things don't work out so well. Can we imagine if I were pursuing an ethics that might not lead me to happiness until I'm in my 80s (if ever)... and then I die decades beforehand, whilst dreading my daily work? What a waste that would be. No thank you. I would rather enjoy myself along the way, as much as possible, so that on the day I die (be it tomorrow or fifty years from now), it will always be correct to say that I was happy.
    From yet another thread, I recently found this:
    I don't know what dream_weaver had specifically in mind when he wrote this -- and frankly I don't know what to make of it, if we are disinclined to discuss various interpretations of Ayn Rand's wording on a board such as this -- but I will say that I believe it really, deeply matters how we understand and approach ethics. I think it can make the difference between being able to achieve happiness now, or having to wait until old age... if we ever reach it at all, if we don't die first, our attempts at "survival" notwithstanding.
    If the Objectivist community has a hard time winning converts -- and based on many threads here lately, and based on the overall state of the world, and the way things appear to be trending, I'd say that we do -- then maybe part of it is that we don't manage to produce very many well-adjusted, friendly, happy people. Maybe the confusion at the heart of our approach to ethics, a confusion reflected in this thread and many others on the board, is playing a role in that, inspiring people to fight for "survival" (whatever that should mean to them) at the cost of the things which might otherwise bring them happiness in the near(er) future or present. I'd say that if, when people met Objectivists, they were inspired to think, "Wow! That person really has life figured out; look how well they're doing! Look how happy!" that this would go at least as far as a free copy of Atlas Shrugged in convincing them to investigate the nature of the underlying philosophy. Maybe farther.
  19. Like
    DonAthos reacted to Invictus2017 in Is objectivism consequentialist?   
    OK, I see that I must clear something up, a bit of sloppiness that I am as guilty of as anyone else.  Otherwise, this discussion is just not going to go anywhere.
    The Objectivist ethics comprises a set of conditional statements, each of which is of the form, "If I choose to exist, X."  Existence not being a floating abstraction, to exist is to exist as something.  So those conditionals really mean, "If I choose to exist as a human being, X."
    One attribute of humans is that they die.  Dying is as much a metaphysical fact as breathing (and I don't need to be told that technology might change this.  But for now....)  Choosing existence is necessarily to choose that one will die.  What matters in the Objectivist ethics is not that one dies -- that is not open to choice -- but how one dies.
    The contrary to the Objectivist ethics is not choosing to die.  It is choosing to live in a way that is not proper to a human being.  So, the death question confronting an Objectivist is not whether he will die, but whether he will die as is proper to a human being, or not.
    The relevant consequence here is that, if a person abandons life as a human being, none of those conditionals imposes a "should" on him.  So there are no validly reasoned ethical conclusions that apply to him.
    But this applies to abandoning life as a human being.  Not to choosing the manner of one's death.  The person who decides that his values are best served by his own death is still choosing existence as a human being, albeit a shorter one than his biology would have allowed.  His actions therefore do satisfy the conditionals of the Objectivist ethics.
    The contrary is a bit more complicated. It is hard to imagine a person consciously choosing against his own values in order that he die. His is not the case that really matters, though.  Instead, it is the person who chooses a value that is contra-life (his life) that is said to have chosen death.
    I think this is an unfortunate wording, as it simply doesn't reflect reality. If I'm brought up Christian and follow its morality, I have chosen an anti-life morality, but I haven't rejected life itself; I have no idea that my morality is anti-life.  To the contrary,  I would believe myself to have chosen life, the life promised by my religion. Not only that, I probably only give lip service to the worst aspects of what I assent to, implicitly choosing life in doing so.
    My point here is that I think it would be a good idea to drop the whole "choosing life/death" thing.  Whatever rhetorical value it may have (and I think it has little), it causes immense intellectual confusion.
  20. Like
    DonAthos got a reaction from Harrison Danneskjold in Is objectivism consequentialist?   
    My apologies for the confusion. Rather, I was asking from the point of view of the suicidal man. Invictus had responded to Harrison, saying that to the man who no longer wishes to live, the choice of whether to blow up a bus of innocents alongside himself has no "value significance," meaning (as I take it) that such an act would be neither moral nor immoral (again: from the suicidal man's perspective), but amoral.
    My observation, meant to challenge this (if lightly), is that I do not believe that in reality people who decide to commit suicide would attach zero "value significance" to their method of suicide; I think that most suicides, even in their last moments, would consider drinking hemlock to be far more ethical than blowing up the proverbial (or literal) nuns and orphans.
    But is this irrational? If an Objectivist were to decide to commit suicide, making whatever "amoral" or "pre-moral" decision no longer to value life that we imagine such people do (which I am not convinced is actually a thing that exists, but whatever) -- then should that Objectivist consider all potential manners of exit (including the slaughter of others) ethically equivalent?
    Though based on my own understanding of "life as the standard of value," I would argue that I yet have reasoned value significance for opting not to harm those I love, even in the event of taking my own life... it is only the survivalist perspective, I believe, that necessitates that the suicidal man has no moral reason to prefer one method of suicide to any other.
    Just then as a psa, if I ever decided to take my own life, it would still be safe to sit next to me on the bus; but I would not necessarily sit by a survivalist and count upon his "emotion and habit."
  21. Like
    DonAthos reacted to KyaryPamyu in Is objectivism consequentialist?   
    I think this smuggles in the premise that pursuing survival (the 'pure' type) would never require you to temporarily diminish your momentary wellbeing for the sake of increased survival later on. In reality, pursuing survival pretty much requires you to incur 'hits' to your momentary survival. As the norm, I might add.
    A while ago I heard an anecdote by Harry Binswanger in which Ayn Rand was arguing with somebody who denied the law of Identity (A=A) on the grounds that a moving object has no particular spatial position. Every time you look at the object, it is in a different position, so where is it? Ayn Rand replied that the particular object isn't anywhere, it is in transition. Its identity is that it is changing its location.
    I think that the same thing can be applied to ethics. In fact, it was captured by Rand in her definition of life: 'A process of self-sustaining, self-generated action'. While it may appear a stationary definition, it is exactly the opposite. Survival is not merely a process of staying alive - it is a constant, never ending departure from your current position to a better state. This fact seems to have a expression in the way our brains are made: once you get where you want, you always have to move higher and higher, because you become progressively desensitized to what you currently have. If you suddenly find yourself without intellectual challenge, or doing the same things over and over, you become bored out of your mind. A lot of  enjoyment is derived from the process of moving forward itself, from gaining values as well as enjoying values.
    Just to be clear, I agree with SL (and even Kelley) that flourishing is not the goal of life. To sunder the two is to ignore the hierarchy: life -> value -> survival -> moving forward (flourshing). Ayn Rand understood survival to be a state of transition from a lower state of robustness to a higher one. Death is also a state of transition, which is why you can't judge somebody's course by the claim that he is 'happy'. If his happiness is a slow march into the Lion's den, he's wilfully undergoing a process of slow death, no matter how well he tends to his physical health in the meantime.
    The excessive prudence that the' survivalist' displays is the result of his Gryllsian view of survival. He don't see the fact that life is actually a broad timeline filled with factors that cannot be separated from each other. Flourishers, on the other hand, tend to speak on the unstated, or unidentified premise that reality is full of things that conflict with survival while enabling flourishing. The flourishing-survival dichotomy is similar to the classical variants of the mind-body break: love vs sex, percepts vs. concepts. In reality, the thrill seeking & cool things that flourishers say they want to do (insteading of being tied to the 'boring' survivalist view) ARE what survival entails. A lack of pleasure and excitement is anti-life in the sense that it moves you away from survival and proper functioning.  
    Rand captured this in the virtue of Pride: a person of unsundered rationality not only has the best life possible to him at any given moment in time, but he's also necessarily in a state of 'transition' to even higher self-esteem, wealth, health etc. Stilness means death, in the sense that every time somebody tries to remain where he already is ('freezing' his survival in place), he is actively hurting his survival, not maintaining it. In the example above, the hero does not gain five years of life by giving up his dream. Instead, he becomes spiritualy diseased.
    A person who shortens his life for a fuller experience does not forfeit survival, he acts exclusively on the principle of survival. This is not a negation of A=A. Ayn Rand was clear that the standard of value is survival as a specific kind of being.
    Survival as man does not mean merely longevity. It means pleasure, challenge, hobbies, love, art, friendship, constantly moving forward and other factors relevant to what he is. The values that man needs qua man are his actual means to longevity. A lot of people turn longevity into a contextless standard and then proceed to seek it in ways that not only hurts their own goal, but makes them survive not as men, but as diseased forms of life. Ayn Rand used the term 'metaphysical monstruosity' in Galt's Speech, and gave the example of a bird struggling to break its own wings, or a plant trying to destroy its own roots. So we can identfiy yet another dichotomy here: the longevity vs identity dichotomy. 
    I think Rand would have agreed with me, since she put some examples in her books. For example, the before-mention Galt suicide threat, which appears in the same book as Galt's speech. Surely she must have counted on the fact that Galt's actions would shed some context on her abstract presentation. Galt is not choosing between death (suicide) and survival. He is choosing between two different types of death: by slow torture, or instantaneous. Galt is not motivated by any flourishing-survival dichotomy. His best use of reason told him that he has legitimate grounds to be 100% convinced that his life would become a living embodiment of precisely the thing that his own ethical code condemned. So paradoxically, his suicide over Dagny was a statement of a moral choice, in total agreement with survival qua man.
    There are legitimate cases where a change to a different course really isn't possible. Let's look at Galt. He longed for Dagny for a decade, a process that slowly imprinted her into his psyche as each day passed. Every time he had trouble getting motivated, he used her as fuel. He watched her go into the beds of two men he admired. He then got her, but.. what if she died at the hands of a bunch of petty people that represent what he despises the most? 10 years of striving and emotional investment, negated in an instant. A decade of his life, wasted. He probably understood the repercussions on his psychology that her death would have caused. He would lose desire to do anything, no matter how heroically he'd try to get on track. Implying he then wasted 5 more years in depression, and that eventually his desire for women returned, what competiton would there be? If another mercilessly-rational woman with the brains and character to build the John Galt line in a collapsing country was around, he would have known about her. For him, it's either the vice-president or nothing. It would haunt him forever. So, contra SL, I would say that sometimes, but not always, 'pursuing a different dream' can be anti-life. 
    I will go on a limb and say that the pure survivalist, Kelley-type position is really the absolute same as the flourisher position, when all of the factors are brought into question. The most ardent Flourisher is actually the most ardent, pure and bare-bones Survivalist. And all 'self-actualization'-based ethical systems are useless unless people understand that self-actualization is not an intrinsic end in itself, but the effect, the natural result of a survivalist ethics. The alternative is accidentaly pursuing 'self-actualization' in a way that goes against its root (survival), which leads to consequences that are too obvious to mention. The self-realization vs survival dichotomy.
  22. Thanks
    DonAthos got a reaction from Easy Truth in Is objectivism consequentialist?   
    Of course. The document to which I've been referring can be found here, and the quotes I've provided starting on p.73 (under the heading Flourishing and Survival).
  23. Like
    DonAthos reacted to 2046 in Is objectivism consequentialist?   
    Yes! I agree with the other flourishers in this thread, that the idea that one's flourishing won't ever decrease life span or survival even infinitesimally (microscopically small!) to be wildly implausible. To a classical eudaimonist, especially a rational egoist, this would be just downright boring! Such a conception would be somewhere between a Bear Gryllsian and a Stoic, one should survive as long as possible without even microscopically lessening survival, achieving maybe a long, careful life of peaceful comfort and equanimity.
    I say, F that. Galt, for example, threatens to kill himself if Dagny (his highest value) is harmed by the Thompson regime. He also risks and endures torture to stand up for his values. 
    By what measure? Since life always involves trade offs, one is forced to choose between acceptance of minor values and major ones. I think choosing as much and as intense values as possible is a part of the nature of choosing. No truly human life can confine itself to activities pursued merely to keep yourself safe from the smallest of risks. 
    I agree with Aristotle that a short, intense life more accurately embodies the fully self-actualized human life than a long, mild one. A truly human self-actualization includes a tense state of striving and alertness for value achievement that embodies a heroic vision. In fact, I think the requirements of flourishing demand of us to accept risks, certainly infitessimal (and sometimes more) to our survival.
    In order to fulfill the requirements of courage, integrity, productiveness, pride, we should, as Nietzsche says "Live dangerously! Build your cities on the slopes of Vesuvius! Send your ships into uncharted seas!" This should, of course be moderated by consequentialist (!) concerns (i.e., unity of virtue) of rationality, temperance, prudence. This, in the typical Aristotelian way, avoids the twin pitfalls of foolhardiness and timidity. 
  24. Like
    DonAthos reacted to StrictlyLogical in Is objectivism consequentialist?   
    Hero or no, I as a Minimoralist could not tell this man what to do.  He may be a Subjectivist, a Survivalist, an Intrinsicist or a Mystic for all I know.   I can only to advise what I believe is consistent with Minimoralism.  Were he to say that he is a Minimoralist and wanted to know my advice this is what I would say:
    Life is full of uncertainty, the possible outcomes and their various causes, are too many to analyze with certainty the full consequences of any single action, or a single eventuality from a given number of known staring conditions.  At best we have limited knowledge, and more or less can know of the general magnitude of the likelihood of events.
    It is in this way that a man devoid of all hope in a concentration camp might yet live in the face of unsurmountable odds by the unforeseeable consequence of human action and the volition of unknown people.  It is in this way that a man of the 1600s would, based on his knowledge have no rational inkling that a man would eventually set foot on the moon... the actions, discoveries, and accomplishments of other men, because they are moved by free will are not easily predictable.
    You, who have this particular life-long dream would likely not be able to replace that specific dream with a brighter one, but it is not impossible.  It is precisely the capability of each of us to learn and to change which makes so much of life unpredictable, and if not the spontaneous self-generated change that you yourself make, then changes in you in response to the unpredictable and unforeseeable inspirations, innovations, and creations of others.  Some new art form or discovery yet to be made by another may be more compelling to you than you could possibly imagine now... because of the very fact that you personally cannot imagine this new possibility.
    Perhaps you did choose to pursue the specific life-long dream, perhaps it does not meet your expectations, perhaps you find upon your return a greater dream that you would have wished to live longer to enjoy, and you live the rest of your shortened life not with satisfaction but with regret.
    The experts cannot know whether the pursuit of your singular dream will actually cut five years off your life.. even if they were 99% sure, there is an actual 1% chance that it will not...  the experts also cannot know that you will necessarily be severely depressed, nor the exact reduction of the term of your life which would result from its effects.
    There are so many questions.  What could you do to change yourself, your pleasures, your dreams?  What could you do to minimize the chances that the so called one dream would result in loss of years of your life?  What could you do to reduce your depression (should you choose to forego the specific dream) and/or its effects on your lifespan? 
    So much is uncertain, and yet so much hangs in the balance.  It IS your very life after all.
    I would ask you to think, given the risks and the chances involved,
    If you are uncertain about your particular dream and whether you could find an alternative to it, then by all means try to live your life on terms which exceed your expectations but in a safer way.  One which multiplies your ability to live and to experience your joys.  There are a humanly uncountable number of dreams, experiences, and pleasures to choose from.
    IF, on the other hand, you know yourself with enough certainty to claim that NO OTHER LIFE would be worth living at all.  That no matter what the chances, that you would rather die if forced to give up your specific singular dream for any other alternative.  If so, you have already made the choice to renounce all of life’s possibility, to renounce Minimoralism, and its principles.  Your obsession, your purpose, your choice, and your end, is your one dream and it is more important to you than yourself and your survival.  You are no longer an end in itself to you, your specific dream IS... you are now merely the means. Clearly then, Minimorality could not serve you from that moment on, it could not serve your choice, your end, your dream... it thwarts it, and you should simply give Minimoralism up and use something else in its place as your guide to that single end which is your particular dream.
    IF, on the other hand, you know yourself with enough certainty to claim that IF THERE IS JUST ONE CHANCE no matter how small that you can have your dream and live your life too, you would want to take that chance no matter how small because that life which includes your dream means too much to you, then I say take that risk.  Do everything in your power to maximize the chances of having your dream as well as those five years, even if all you can do is change those chances by the most miniscule amount, it may make the difference in the end.  You are not a helpless passivity in a malevolent universe (or some philosophical hypothetical), you can nudge the needle onto the camel's back, you can affect the outcomes in reality...   Pass through the eye of the needle of uncertainty (I know a second needle analogy), come out the other side, and maybe, just maybe you can die an old man with the knowledge you fought for your life with your dream, that the chances, although insurmountably low, were never impossible, and that you overcame the odds and won, and the fight was worth it.  And if you fail, know in your last moments, that that small chance was worth it to you. 
    The main thing to be certain of that that the specific dream is important enough to take that chance.  If it is not important enough, find another dream!
  25. Like
    DonAthos reacted to KyaryPamyu in Is objectivism consequentialist?   
    I'll give it a try (speaking as myself). Happiness is an emotional state accompanying the periods of time when things are going well for you, existentially and psychologically. It would be a contradiction in terms to say that happiness is a means to survival, since in the causal chain, happiness is the result of survival. Legitimate happiness cannot ever be in conflict with (or periclitate) survival, period.
    One of the major virtues of the Objectivist ethics is that it respects the epistemological principle of context. You cannot make valid ethical judgements, unless 1). you hold the entire lifespan in mind, and 2). you hold the entire hierarchy of your (proper) values in mind. In other words, Objectivism is not concerned with half of a lifespan, or with three quarters of it, or with a single year of it. And it recognizes that there are no isolated facts, that nothing can ever happen outside of a context. The need to sacrifice lower values in order to pursue higher values is metaphysicaly inherent in the universe. Time is finite, so you're bound to make compromises upon compromises in order to make all of your values play togheter well. Not all pain is wrong, and not all 'happiness' is right.
    That you are happy now might be irrelevant - your next 10 years of happiness might lead to disastruous consequences later on, consequences that you cannot justify to your own self. If you endure suffering right now, your effort might lead to a bright future that will be worth every single moment of misery that you endured. How are you to decide? The full context. In some cases, it is right to shorten your lifespan. In some, it is outright insane. Some compromises are worth it, some aren't.
    Let's assume that the Hero's dream is some kind of career. There are legitimate situations where you might love something so intensely (maybe the love became part of your psyche during your formative childhood years) that you simply can't find a replacement, no matter how long and conscientiously you try.
    Let's do some horizontal integration and scan for other factors. Quitting his dream in order to live five years longer will not make the Hero live five years longer. The Hero will have to earn a living. If he doesn't resent his new job for always reminding him of his compromise, he will spend around 1850 hours every year doing something that will never give him the same intellectual and spiritual fulfillment that his other job would have given him. His self esteem will run into the ground. His personal sense of identity will suffer, since he can't identity with the job he truly loves. His recreation will become an escape, not a complement and reward for his achievements. He probably won't have the same types of friends or lovers he would have if he had the other job. Your central purpose is a sensitive subject, since it controls an exceptionaly vast array of things in your life.
    When a person acts immoraly, a chain of factors start to domino into every aspect of his existential and psychological situation. Which in time corrodes his desire to live, as well as his physical and mental health. After many years, the pain might become too great, and the hero might say: 'I could have lived the best life possible to me. Yet, I am here - by my own fault'. If the pain overrides his rationalist/dutiful approach to ethics, he might find himself drinking a lot and escaping into the antipodes of his mind via certain substances - which will further speed up his demise. 
    When people mention survival, they do not actually refer to survival. Their definition is limited to the Bear Grylls type of context where you eat bugs to remain alive for yet another day. If staying alive was the pupose of ethics, everyone in the world right now is a master of the Objectivist ethics. Things change if you expand 'survival' to include the best possible functioning and resillience to adverse conditions, taking in consideration both the mind and the body. When the Hero will understand that each action he takes will get him either closer, or further away from that state, he will know what to do.
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