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Lone Cypress

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  1. I am not sure what to say. It seems that in this case you are misunderstanding what I have been saying. Do you really mean to say that I have made no conclusions or presented no answers, no matter how feeble they may have been, to the questions under discussion? I am somewhat confused and disappointed. While it is true that I may ask more questions than give answers, I would have to ask what you believe philosophy to be. For me, it is primarily about asking questions, without the need or possibly unrealistic expectation to finding any particular answers. It is an inspiration and an opportunity to think of concepts and the perspectives of others and to make an attempt to learn something from the experience. Perhaps that means answers, and maybe just more questions. That is my reality One only needs focus if it is a subject that interests them and they wish to pursue the investigation for whatever reasons. I have no obligation to explore everything simply because someone else wishes to do so. I don’t have the time to do so in any case. Life will always be a matter of priorities and ironically, that is a fundament precept of Objectivism as well. We look at and question those things that have relevance and significance for us. That is the beauty of philosophy. Someone else can look at those subjects that are outside of our interest, and we may someday learn from their efforts, even though we did not partake.
  2. Speaking of ‘twisted’ those that have no compunction to killing mice or even lower life forms like insects, without reason or need, are something less than human. Animals and plants are alive and deserve respect for their lives as they exist. They may not have rights in the same sense that we do, but laws exist for many of them, both plant and animal, that makes it an actual ‘crime’ to exterminate them which seems to disagree with much of your premise. If we just dismiss what we don’t like or agree with, we are simply irrationally self-interested individuals of little consequence.
  3. Upon again reading the passage I may have misinterpreted the line. It may have been better not to call into question something that does not exist. If I may, I believe my point was that Rand believes many things to be ‘objective’ when they are not. The truly objective are more rare than she wishes or presents. I don’t believe that human nature can be codified to any great degree. Agreement does not signify objectivity. As with science, things become considered factual when any random individual that does an experiment will come up with the same results. I fail to see something similar with objectivity. It remains highly subjective. This does not mean that I do not strive for objectivity in my own deliberations, but acknowledge that since little of the mind can truly be defined and demonstrated we have to live with approximations and reasoned conclusions.
  4. We need to determine at what point an individual is alive and considered human. That was ‘my’ interpretation of the OP. Rights in the way I see them being portrayed here are arbitrary, subjective and legal, unless we speak of natural or intrinsic rights which would be something more organic, fundamentally philosophical and morally based, which indeed is again somewhat personally arbitrary and subjective, with whatever objectivity we may derive from our abilities and whatever data is available to us. Your opinion notwithstanding, if the determinate reality is our ‘use’ of our faculty of ‘reason’ that eventuates our ‘rights’ then the human in a vegetative state, those with dementia, those in the womb and even those below the age of let’s say five to seven are not using their ‘faculty’ of reason to any significant extent. Are they available for post-birth abortions or executions? I know adults that have not demonstrated any real use of reason or intelligence. Are they available as well? You seem to be creating your own standards and using them as absolutes and from my perspective they are not. What is the significance of have the faculty of reason to possess rights? Some people drown kittens and puppies in bags because they are inconvenient to them. Is this acceptable behaviour to you? Does this demonstrate the ability to reason in any substantive way? You state that some ‘legal line’ needs to be drawn at some point but you neglect to explain why. I see no legitimacy in the position, only opinion. I see no attempt at persuasion, only an attempt to create a paradigm with no foundation. I still don’t understand why we are speaking of rights in some legal sense when it is the right of existence that needs to be addressed. Whether an individual has the right to terminate something with life is another matter and each needs to accept responsibility for the decision, whether it be to terminate the life of an unborn human individual or the eating of animal flesh, which I do and struggle with continually. I think that the unnecessary taking of a life is debatable and complex. Legal rights are a human construct and prone to corruption, ideology and irrational self-interest.
  5. I may well have not understood Rand correctly over the years, but I have been studying and investigating her positions for over fifty years and feel as qualified as anyone else in my interpretations of her realities. I agree with some, and disagree with others. I am not infallible or incapable of making mistakes, but I also am confident that much of what I think that I have comprehended is valid, significant and relevant. At least to me, and that is what philosophy is all about. I was attracted to Objectivism because it is self-actuated, without the need for dogma and ‘scriptures’ although some may disagree. I never felt pressured to do anything particular, and there were no lists or manifesto that need be embraced or proselytized. I was not required to ‘donate’ or pay a monthly subscription fee. The fundamental that impresses me the most was that the philosophy suggested that the individual was completely responsible for their own decisions and actions, and would have to accept responsibility and obligation for the consequences and ramifications of those thoughts and actions. I was more than a little impressed. It was what I was looking for, and I would embrace no other. When I speak of Rand and her overzealousness when it comes to objectivity, perhaps I was not clear. I think she clearly said that she was not the be all and end all of information but her positions and perspective was simply a source for contemplation and investigation. Another aspect of the ideology that I appreciated. My comments were simply to the point that she seemed to be a bit irrational with the degree of objectivity that exists in the world around us. She was perhaps too optimistic and I can understand why. With objectivity comes something more relevant and explicable that may be understood and accepted by a wider audience. I think that is what she wanted. I have found that subjectivity is much more prevalent and like the concept of freedom, interminably ‘messy’. My conclusions are somewhat more pragmatic and possibly realistic. Nothing more. I would never presume to say that I know the genesis of what Rand believed, only what I can glean from it with the abilities I have, which changes every day. I revisit and reevaluate my own positions with each new piece of data and comment I see from whatever source, and do my best to comprehend myself and others to the best of my ability. I find this comment tremendously interesting. If what you say is true, than Rand does in fact believe that she is omnipotent or infallible, since she would have to have intimate and irrefutable information to make the determination that this ‘other’ objectivity, which you infer indeed exists, is ‘beyond or transcends’ the human mind itself. That seems to suggest that she recognizes an objectivity that exists outside of her ability to ‘perceive’ and for it to be a twisted nothing, it means that she dismisses it out of hand. That seems highly hubristic and that is not my interpretation of the woman. There are always things that we do not know or understand, or have not yet perceived in whole or in part. We come to conclusions, and the future gives us more opportunity to learn and to grow. Since we continue to develop, does this mean that we are not yet alive or human? I think not.
  6. I again find difficulty is simply accepting the comment that is ‘seems’ that the nonconscious cannot function without some prior perceptual content. Why? A human being in a vegetative state can feel pain without perceptual content, at least the body can. Are we suggesting a separate state between mind and body? I would find that another distraction to the focus of the original question. I am not trying to be contrary or argumentative, but what does content have to do with the state of being alive or being human? My examples of nonconscious perception were not meant to be in respect to a fetus or an infant, but of an adult, and my abstractions may not make sense but they are real and have been created and ‘perceived’, probably with some level of content, but exactly what and how is unknown or unknowable to us as conscious beings. You say that thinking requires perception? I would like to have more information before I can be persuaded of this reality. You say there is no example of a living thing that does not perceive but I see no legitimate evidence of that. I am sure many agree but I see nothing to convince me to that end. Do ‘all’ people in vegetative states perceive? How do we know this? If an individual cannot express this perception to another through some communicative process, how can we know this?
  7. Is it truly significant to talk of the ‘untrained’ mind in this respect? Does not ‘habitual’ infer some learned action, and if so, then is not learning something an attribute of cognition. I have more questions than answers to your comments. I find little or nothing definitive to the question at hand. I may certainly be wrong, but I see no absolutes here about life or humanity, only stages and positions about when certain attributes first become evident. Interesting, but not compelling.
  8. Perhaps they may be a stretch but I think they are valid nonetheless. I find it hard to not accept that some form of perception is indicated with their existence. The simple connotation of ‘perception’ is, of course, more easily understood when connected to sensory organs but if not perceived I would have to question how these things exist at all. I think I understand that you are looking at this from a distinct perspective, but I am not sure that perception has to be cognitive in nature. All of this seems to be with the intent to show that reason and intellect and cognitive abilities are directly linked to being alive, but I find that interesting but not definitive in any way. The fetus knows when it is uncomfortable and may change position, it hears sounds from outside the body, as well as inside I would presume. It feels heat and it can feel pain. It does not need to categorize these things to be able to perceive them. Perception is one of the most fundamental and simple of human attributes. I think this line of thinking, while fascinating, is distracting from the initial focus of the OP and that would be to determine if the fetus is alive and if it is human. It has already been stated that existence is identity, with which I completely concur. Without complicating the concept, I find that existence is proof of life, and that the existence of human DNA from conception is proof of humanity. There is no evidence that I have seen to this point (throughout my life, not just these comments) that dissuade me from this positon. Nothing more than idle contemplations. Quite specific and well-considered, but nothing more than opinion and theory. The issue of abortion revolves around coming to these conclusions before it can even be considered or determined. If it is not just an amalgam of random cells, then the decision has much greater consequences than many seem to conclude. Al of these other considerations are valuable in speaking of the development of a human being, but if the fetus is not human or alive, then there has to be a specific ‘and’ demonstrable point in time when these things are introduced, and this has not been made evident. We actually develop from 50 to 70, even if many of these developments are deterioration. We change as well from 30 to 50 and from 10 to 30. I find this irrefutable. There is a tremendous amount of development from birth to 10, and incredible amount of new and, if I may say, miraculous changes and abilities come into play, but that time in the womb, from -9 months to that birth, are simply another stage of development, nothing more, nothing less, and the life and humanity that exists is simply another ‘stage’ of growth, not matter how fundamental and primitive it is at that time. I am willing to admit that my ‘perceptions’ are perhaps not what you were talking about but still think they are relevant, and examples of perception. They are not legitimate reasons in any case to dismiss the reality of what the fetus actually is.
  9. As a child I had little choice but to accept what was presented to me as selfishness. It was difficult to argue the point with no developed reason or experience, and a strong liberal and religious base that preached a perspective of selfishness that was not really open to discussion or debate. I was always confused as to the veracity of the concept, and with the first introduction to the philosophy of Ayn Rand, it soon became apparent that others have questioned the concept of ‘only’ a negative selfishness, and have come to conclusions more in line with whatever ‘intuition’ I may have had up to that point. Selfishness is not, and never was, a single interpretation of a fundamental concept. We can talk forever on the differences that are demonstrable and irrefutable. If it were not for liberalism and religion, Christianity specifically, trying to control and manipulate the philosophy of ‘self’ then it would have been obvious that selfishness, or rational self-interest as Rand eventually characterized it, was and is never something that by definition has to be a negative quality or a deliberate action that results in harm and disadvantage to another individual. In fact, from my experience, it is almost exclusively a benefit to the individual, and those within family and community to act in a way that is selfish, or rationally self-interested, as opposed to irrationally self-interested, as I like to characterize the mirror image of Rand’s depiction. What is selfishness? Oxford Languages says it is ‘the quality or condition of being selfish’. I find no fault with that, and no negative aspects either at this point. Merriam-Webster’s primary definition is ‘concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself’. Also not a negative implication although the words excessively or exclusively imply a negative, but is it really a prerequisite in any way? I have always questioned such a perspective. Dictionary.com says it is ‘the quality or state of caring only for oneself or one's own interests’. Once again nothing that declares any negative actions or even thoughts that are implicit in the concept. Now, second definitions bring up some different perceptions, albeit unfortunate and unsubstantiated. Merriam-Webster saying that it is ‘seeking or concentrating on one's own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others’ while Dicitionary.com offers that it is ‘concerned primarily with one's own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others’. I have to ask where this interpretation, this insinuation comes from? Is it an imperative of the condition of selfishness or is it simply that selfishness, in conjunction with unethical, immoral and immature and psychologically damaged individuals is responsible for the negative consequences of this ‘selfishness’. Rand and Objectivism never suggest or promote the negative actions that are described here, only the positive and beneficial ones that we determine for ourselves. Why is the negative version that has no reasonable connection to the person or philosophy, always held up as some excuse for the illegitimacy of the ideology when it espouses the complete opposite? Our lives are centered on being selfish from the moment we come into the world. While it is true that babies and children simply want that they want, at this point they have achieved no command of their thoughts or actions and especially whatever philosophical abilities they may have in relation to those around them, whether known or strangers. They are not responsible for their paradigm. If anything, it is the parents and extended authority structure around them that has the obligation and culpability for whatever they do. My day is focused on selfish necessities that make life manageable and hopefully enjoyable to some degree. I try to get enough sleep so my health does not suffer and my metabolism and physical needs can get their minimum daily requirements not just of sleep, but of exercise, nutrition, and personal bodily care activities. All of this is selfish by any definition and none of this is at the expense of others in any way and only results in a healthier and happier person, which translates into an individual that probably has less conflict with those around them. I work hard trying to get an education, and achieve some recognition and the ability to think and discuss and engage with others is matters of import. Perhaps I gain a scholarship through my efforts and inevitably (hopefully) a position of some importance with a company that allows me to pay my own way, so to speak. Highly personal and selfish. It provides me with the means to pay for whatever items and even luxuries that I may desire without the need to steal or coerce anyone else to cover my needs. Selfish and yet beneficial to those that would have had to help me or support me directly or indirectly in any sense. Again, obviously selfish and without any harm to another. I have children, which may be one of the most selfish acts someone could possibly envision, taking care of another human being with my blood, my own DNA and working to take care of all his needs, as well as the rest of the family, without the need for anyone else to become involved on any level. Selfish, no harm once again. I could go on and on. Reading a book, taking a drive in the countryside, learning to paint or perhaps to play a musical instrument. Taking a vacation, building or buying a house, helping others through volunteerism or charity. Offering advice to those that may need it, assistance of some physical nature when necessary. All of these things are selfish to some degree, some intensely so. No harm, no foul. All selfish and all are the obligation of the individual who never reneges on his obligations so as never to put anyone else at a disadvantage of any kind, physical, financial, psychological or philosophical. What is wrong with this? There is no intent to harm, and no harm is inflicted. Where does this criticism come from that selfishness is bad and harms others? It only harms others when the ‘actor’ is an individual of little or no integrity, with a horrible character and no moral foundation which results in unethical activity. Someone who cares little for others, and finds nothing to stop them from taking advantage and hurting others in a myriad of ways, with no remorse, no respect and no concern for those others. This has nothing whatsoever to do with Rand or Objectivism. Rational self-interest is what we need ‘more’ of in this society, not less. We need individuals that strive to be a better person today than they were yesterday, with the expectation that it will continue into tomorrow. I not only intend to continue to be rationally self-interested till the day I cease to exist. I reject and condemn irrational self-interest and those that practice such a disgusting habit. The problem is that I cannot stop them, we cannot stop them, and we can only prevent ourselves from being like them. If we can somehow re-energize our educational system to produce more independent critical thinkers that will not consider such behaviour as normal or acceptable then maybe we have a chance to change the paradigm. If not, then we are lost, and the future will only be more of the same. I don’t see any other alternative.
  10. Rights should always be the focus of any argument, unfortunately it is the perspective of the individual that controls the ‘recognition’ and ‘upholding’ of rights, notwithstanding the conflicting interference of government in the definition and implementation of those rights. Consensus seems to be a necessary evil, but rarely a definitive resolution. The majority of citizens or of politicians is fleeting and can change without reason at times. But a majority, as much as we like to think it relevant, is simply that, a majority, and it never in any way means that the determination are correct, moral or valid. Only that the system has spoken, even if it be with a forked-tongue.
  11. Some use concepts to bring clarity and comprehension while others use them to create chaos and opportunity and ignorance. The final arbiter is the individual.
  12. I am somewhat confused as to your term of inversion. Could you clarify? I found her conflict with the use of the concept to be insightful and legitimate. I have watched over the years as so many words have been co-opted by certain movements and ideologies that has perverted the arguments themselves by inciting a certain ignorance of the fundamentals of the issues. I realize that language is fluid and dynamic and a degree of evolution is to be expected, but I find myself considering that it was a strategic move to manipulate and oppress those that are not paying attention or do not have the abilities to discern that there are often multiple definitions for specific concepts. I have to congratulate them if that is the case, since it has irrefutably helped their causes. Her willingness to do combat with her opposition over such a concept was legitimate and genius in essence since it has initiated and continued to be a focal aspect of Objectivism, which it is anyway, but an issue that demands investigation and contemplation. I would have hoped that it would have resulted in a greater understanding of the differences, but we often cannot predict the outcomes of philosophical conflict. The masses are often not easily reached, although many believe that they can be controlled through intimidation and violence mush easier than through reason and intellect. It seems that history makes that apparent.
  13. I am not confident about perception and interpretation in any real sense. I find the terms to be nebulous and again, subjective. Is perception a direct link to the event, or do anecdotal and ‘obvious’ information as valid as objective? I think it is a combination of both. It is the best conclusions that we can make depending on our own abilities and personal knowledge-base as well as our best reasonable guesses as to whatever issue is under consideration. Perception, interpretation, cognitive, conscious. All of these things are difficult to define under the best conditions. As with Rand’s rational self-interest that I have watched being debated throughout my entire adult life, the issue remains unsettled and a matter of conflict between so many. If an objective answer exists, I have yet to see it, but that does not conflict with my own considered opinion. But that may well be subjective. So, . . . . You conclude with comments about perception and forms, and I must admit, this is when philosophy makes my head spin. I am not sure that it brings clarity, and yet it needs to be done if there is to be understanding at some point. I am just not sure I am the one to do so.
  14. I would posit that dreams, intuition, memory, innovation and creativity, among others, are, or can be, examples of nonconscious perception. Of course, there needs to be some kind of baseline definition to give context. I like your use of ‘nonconscious’ versus ‘un’conscious or ‘sub’conscious. The concept of conscious would conventionally suggest awareness and perhaps response to various inputs and I would tend to agree, but we have to consider and conclude what it is that this awareness is accessing. Normal consciousness is using our senses to perceive what is around us, but, in my opinion only, I agree with those that make the case that everything we have ever experienced, every event we have been a part of, is indelibly etched into our minds, and the difference between awareness and this nonconscious is the ability to access this information at will, but there are only a few individuals that can do that volitionally. Most of us struggle with pulling up this information, but it exists nonetheless, and is a part of each and every issue that we think of, that we contemplate, and arguably is a component of every decision and conclusion that we make. While this may or may not be true, it seems a reasonable position. I find it challenging to agree with or accept that this unconscious is something independent and not-of-our-own-volition which would make it mystical and somewhat irrational. I think that is what Rand presents with her aversion and criticisms of mysticism towards religion. Not that religion is dangerous per se, but that it promotes beliefs in things that are simply unprovable, hence not objective, and therefore suspect. I personally find her attitude towards an objective existence possibly overly optimistic. While it would be beneficial if everything had an objective reality, my experience suggests otherwise. Mankind is based on subjectivity and most conclusions are based, at least in part, on belief and past experience and not necessarily any absolute truths. Still valid, and still able to be used in prosecuting our life decisions, just not infallible or without exception.
  15. I would tend to agree with you, but what is the answer to even attempting to engage with a reasonable and legitimate conversation about the subject. I find that there is no quarter given with the ‘terminology’ because there is little to be gained by ‘allowing’ some divergent definition of terms, such as Rand’s experience with trying to take on the conventional interpretations with the term ‘selfish’ even when it was redefined as rational self-interest. To accept the opposition definition, with all the corollary assumptions, it only gives credibility to what she tried to convey as to her vision and interpretation of the issue, and that was not to the advantage of her opposition. I find that the ability to accept contrary concepts and definitions was something that was not acceptable because it could only diminish whatever legitimacy they believed was achieved without it. The whole issue of debate and reasoned argument is to make a case for your own position and let those, not who are involved in the debate, but those who stand on the sideline listening, to determine for themselves the credibility and the legitimacy of the various perspectives and philosophies. I don’t think of this as a game, although in some ways it may be, but a concerted effort to bring understanding and possibly a practical resolution to these issues. Without an open-minded and respectful debate, this will simply not happen. If it is to be a battle, then it needs to be a reasoned and intellectual one, and not one of emotion and mindless invective. I look for resolution, even if it is not within the debate itself, but a real consensus of the majority of the members of society, and our conversation does not encompass a large enough segment to make it relevant or legitimate. Look at the current anger and confrontation coming from the leaking of a possible overturn of Roe vs. Wade. This was obviously not a legitimate finding from the beginning. The Supreme Court, in my opinion, does not have the authority to decide some vague right of privacy to allow something of the magnitude of the right to abortion. Nine individuals should never be the determining factor in such a decision. It should have been sent back to the legislatures to decide and determine, with the SCOTUS determining if it is indeed constitutional, nothing more. From my perspective, that is what their mandate demands. From the comments from the left, the majority of America is completely in sync with their perspective, so it would be a matter of weeks or months before something substantial and durable would be produced by the House and Senate which would certainly be able to stand the test of time. But we both know that this is not the reality or they would have done so already. Fifty years, and they could have, at any time, resolved the issue, basically permanently. I fail to understand the reticence and reluctance to do so. Is it possible that America is not in lockstep with their philosophical intent? Is what I suggest really that impractical or unreasonable?
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