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Everything posted by KurtColville

  1. Force is physical, but it has ethical implications to man's life, because it robs man of his only means to direct his life: his mind. When force is used, it can be different from the actual acceleration of one body (a tree) into another (the ground). If someone slugs you, there is obvious physical contact; there is actual force. But if a menacing stranger points a gun at you or someone makes threats against you, that is also force, because you are faced with the same inability to use your mind to escape it. The aggressor is giving you no choice: deal with me or else. Just because the force is implied and isn't taking place immediately, it doesn't make it any less of a threat to you.
  2. I agree with Megan on No Country For Old Men. It is great at portraying life as a philosophical nightmare, which is exactly what makes it horrible art. This is what the Coen Bros. revel in: life/people are random, weird, and pointless, and we'll entertain you by showing you just how random, weird, and pointless they can be. So what? It isn't true of life as such, nor does it merit artistic attention. Art without fuel for the soul is just nihilistic babbling. I find NCFOM entertaining. It is tense and suspenseful and has some interesting characters. I want to know if Llewellyn will get away with the loot. Will he escape with Carla Jean? Just how crazy can Anton be, and will anyone be able to stop him? Will Ed Tom track him down or stumble around until Anton disappears? What's going to happen to Carson Wells with Anton sitting there pointing the gun at him while the phone rings? All that, with good story flow, is enough to hold my attention, but it isn't even on the radar for great art. P.S. To see just how randomly the Coen Bros. view life, just look at the car accident at the end.
  3. To add to your description, force in a moral context is an action that one takes against one's will, when to do otherwise would lead to one's harm. For example, I'm forced to give the mugger my wallet, because to do otherwise would mean I get shot. I'm forced to pay taxes, because to do otherwise means I go to jail.
  4. Consider this fact. The most important attribute distinguishing one person from another is the contents of one's mind. It is a person's values, their thoughts, all the products of a lifetime of their using their mind to direct their life. It is not the sum of their body parts. Although you have not explained why any one of us is just as capable of murder as anyone else, you seem to be basing this argument on the notion that as physical beings, we are physically capable of murder, and are physically capable of changing from a peaceful psychology to a muderous one, presumably through some change in our brain chemistry. I would reject that by saying that while it's true that anyone is physically capable of murder, that is not what makes your assertion true, because for any person to undergo such a change would require them to essentially become someone else. I, as who I am, am not capable of murder. All my thoughts and values make murder a literal impossibilty. In order for my body to commit murder, my mind would have to be emptied of what makes me me and replaced with the mind of a monster. I wouldn't be Kurt Colville anymore -- I'd be someone else with the same name and body, but a different mind. It is on that basis that your claim is false, and the recognition of which is critical to understanding both Objectivism and human identity.
  5. Fair enough. I'm happy to stipulate all day that there are innocents in the worst hellholes on earth, and to the degree to which they are innocent, I feel terrible for them that they are victims of tyranny. However impossible their fight for freedom is, that does not change the fact that Iran is an imminent threat to this country, and the Palestinians to Israel. You stated here that overthrowing the governments of Hamas or Iran is "no easy task." That is absolute nonsense. The operations and top officials of those governments can be destroyed by us or Israel in a single day with overwhelming air power; the enemy has no capacity to stop it. The only reason people regard it as difficult is because they silently reject using overwhelming force out of concern for the enemy's well-being. Moral certainty and self-defense is apparently of no value to them. That is the idea I am fighting.
  6. I can't tell what you're saying, so I can't respond. Maybe you'd care to state it more clearly? I know you addressed this to Jake, but I'll offer the best answer I think there is. Americans, and citizens of the most civilized countries in the world, do something every day that Iranians and the populations of every other Muslim shithole cannot seem to manage: they refuse to sanction the evildoings of totalitarian, mystical animals. There are plenty of such animals in every civilized country, with aspirations to suck those countries into the Caliphate. But they don't get anywhere (or their battle is incomparably hard next to the Middle East) because the West is filled with good people who won't associate with these animals, who won't entertain the call to Islam, who won't marry their daughters to jihadist scum, who won't listen to jihad spread in houses of worship, who won't attend anti-Western rallies, and who won't give political support to aspiring Islamic tyrants. In fact, the West is dominated by people who not only consciously reject such Islamic poison on a daily basis, they counter it with a significant degree of rationality, selfishness, this-worldliness, justice, individualism, material productivity, and everything else that makes the West great. They don't do it enough, to be sure. The West is a mixed bag, but it isn't nearly as mixed (read: thoroughly corrupted) as the Middle East. These daily, conscious acts of rejecting Islam in favor of a rational morality are the most formidable way to fight for freedom, because they prevent the evil of Islam from gaining the foothold of sanction that it needs before it takes a single authoritarian step. Americans manage to fight this way, and to the degree to which they are consistent, they prevail. Iranians don't fight, and so fail. The fact that some Iranians find the prospect of regime change so daunting now only illustrates the inescapable price of centuries of sanctioning evil.
  7. You keep arguing this point over and over again. It's true -- there are innocent Gazans. Ditto Iranians. So what? Why is this fact relevant to the discussion of Israel's defense against Hamas or our defense against Iran?
  8. I don't disagree at all with the essence of what you've said. My point all along has been that you can't properly defend capitalism by restricting your evidence to various examples of its material success. You can include examples and contrast them with non-capitalistic systems, but your defense must be based on the moral rectitude of capitalism. As you said, your defense for private roads is individual rights, not simply that private roads tend to be "better" than public ones. That's my point.
  9. I think that you're missing the context of my examples here. I'm saying that if, in arguing for capitalism, you limit your evidence to concrete examples of successful capitalist ventures, all your opponent has to do is dredge up a free-market crook to show that capitalism "doesn't work" and that statism better achieves "social justice". Without basing your defense of a philosophical ideal on principle, you can't be right, and you're left arguing that the ends justifies the means, and that man should pursue whatever system best achieves those ends, and you're back to pragmatism, as I said.
  10. Thanks for elaborating on your view of philosophy. We've hit on a lot of points, and as you posted this as an introduction, I don't want to derail it into a bazillion different arguments. I see some good things and some bad things in your view. I'll try to address them briefly, and in the spirit of keeping a lid on this thread, leave it to you to investigate them further. Well, a philosophy may be complete, even without an understanding of everything in our universe. Because philosophy is an integrated view of man's nature and the nature of reality (as a whole, not item by item), those are the two things which must be understood completely. Today, man does know enough about them to formulate a complete philosophy, even though there are plenty of areas of human inquiry yet to be explored. For example, every time we look, we see that man must use reason to survive; nothing else will do. The fact that we can't pin down the rest mass of a top quark does not change this fact. Similarly, all we see in reality is that contradictions don't exist. We can look forever, but we'll never see otherwise. There's no reason to think that future human inquiry will change this fact. We can use it as a basis for an objective philosophy. The logical/emotional setup is a false dichotomy. What man is, fundamentally, is volitional. His means of survival is reason, which uses logic as its tool for handling the data provided by man's senses. Man also has emotions, but they aren't his means of survival, but rather an automatic response to his values. You automatically feel love for something you value most highly, anger towards a threat to your values, and so on. First comes your valuation of some thing in reality, and your emotions necessarily follow. Our personal satisfaction with life (happiness) comes from the achievement of our values, not our particular emotions. If you're good at something you want to be good at, you'll be happy, and you'll experience the emotions associated with being happy. I think if you do a little introspection, you'll see that one's state of happiness doesn't start with emotions, it "ends" with it. How could you make a rational decision that would make you sad and not be the best decision for you? I could see how bad premises could lead you to feel sad about something that was rational (such as feeling sad about getting a dear friend out of your life who was a jerk), but if it's rational, it can't be bad for you. The rational is the good. There is a distinction worth noting. Often, "ethics" refers to a system to guide human action. It could be good, it could be bad. "Morality" refers to the proper system to guide human action -- the one needed for man's survival and determined by man's nature -- as opposed to an improper one. Oy. Well, without objective truth (a redundancy), morality isn't possible. Man becomes a quivering, helpless heap of body parts who manages to survive by luck alone. I think all the examples of human advancement, not the least of which is Objectivism, refutes that claim. Additionally, and not to be coy, but the claim that there is no objective truth is itself a claim of objective truth. And certainly there is a way to determine which evolutionary adaptations are more advantageous to a given species. I'm not even sure why you would posit such a thing, or even if you believe it. Absolutely! The very reason to advance a particular social system (or idea, in general) is that you will benefit, by your nature as a human being, from it becoming a reality. That's why Objectivists are so passionate about Ayn Rand's philosophy: we have everything to gain from it! Well, it may well be that for the forseeable future, a good chunk of humanity will be indifferent to integrating a rational philosophy, but that isn't a problem for those who are, as long as they're allowed to live free. The problem starts when the irrational folks replace indifference with force. And society isn't "a collective" that you can treat as an actual entity apart from everything else. It's a shorthand way of saying "a group of individuals", but should not be thought of as some kind of human entity. There is no "collective consciousness" or "collective mind" or any of that nonsense. The concept of the individual is important to man as such, full stop, for each and every man, past, present, and future. Oh, boy, I'm not even gonna touch this one, but you're essentially right! P.S. If you're really interested in understanding Objectivism, keep reading Ayn Rand. You'll get it!
  11. Seek out those who are willing to reason, to evaluate ideas honestly, and who want to know the truth and want to live. Skip the rest -- they'll just give you a headache.
  12. So what? That isn't saying anything. They're anti-Western enough to support a rabidly aggressive Muslim police state. That's what counts. Yeah, and there's no reason to think that they'll be good changes. The philosophy of those coming into power, in both the West and the Middle East, is overwhelmingly nihilistic, collectivist, mystical, and pragmatic. It's an all out battle for the biggest gun, to be won by those with the biggest will to use it. Great... the pragmatic solution: if it's hard, it's wrong. Overthrowing Iran's government is no easy task precisely because it has the support of so many Iranians, who don't deserve our patience, sympathy, or restraint. We shouldn't even be concerned with overthrowing their government, but with annihilating their will to threaten us with force. Let them worry about how they're governed, and if they do want to live free, they can check out our founding documents. Whatever pro-Western Iranians exist are too few and too ineffective to matter. They haven't stopped the jihad, they aren't going to stop the jihad, and they can't hold their lives as a claim against ours in the vain hope that they can stop their leaders from nuking us or Israel. As a political and cultural entity, Iran must be obliterated.
  13. It may beg that question, but my point was that in discussing the merits of capitalism, the question isn't even relevant. The moral rectitude of capitalism does not hinge on whether government or private individuals are more successful at achieving "social justice", however it is defined. Any discussion of "social justice" that isn't a rephrasing of a morality based on, and limited to, reason and individualism, is a waste of time and contradicts the only way for man to live. It does one no good to entertain notions of "social justice" and its possible morality. All one needs to know is why capitalism is right and everything else that is at odds with it should be given no credence. Once you accept the premise that a given moral system is justified by certain beneficial outcomes, you argue for the ends justifying the means, and open the doors wide open to accepting (if even partially) every nightmarish social system in man's history that claimed to be moral.
  14. Well, it's good that you see that there doesn't have to be a First Cause, but there's a real problem in ignoring the question. By ignoring it, you are implicitly saying that the question of a First Cause is either knowable, but not worthy of knowing, or it is unknowable. If it is the former, then you are evading a potentially hugely important fact about reality. If a question is worth answering, it is not at all best to pretend that the question doesn't exist just because you can't currently answer it. They right thing to do is to put it on the shelf until you gather enough information to answer it -- like the question, "Is there life on other worlds?" However, if it can't be answered -- like the question, "What were the first words uttered by the first homo sapiens?" -- you don't ignore the question, you properly label it as unknowable, and you specify why it is unknowable, so that you can properly put it out of consideration for all time. The question of First Cause is knowable, though, and the answer isn't just that there doesn't appear to be one or that we haven't identified it yet, but that there can't be one. It is a flat out contradiction to assert that some thing caused all of existence. If such a thing existed to cause existence, then it would exist in existence, too. It would be a part of existence, not an outside, causal agent. If it existed "outside of" or "prior to" existence, then by definition, it didn't exist and hence couldn't have "caused" anything. Grasping this demonstrable fact of reality is key to grasping the eternal, uncaused nature of the universe. The question should not be ignored, because doing so takes facts that are comprehensible to man's mind and crucial for his existence (philosophy), and replaces them with arbitrary assertions about reality that cripple man's ability to live (religion).
  15. How true! If you don't mind a little critique, why is a complete worldview important to you? How do you determine when a worldview is complete? Practical ethics -- good! Merely another system against which to measure your own morality -- not so much. If your own ethical system was moral, of what value would an immoral ethical system hold for you? Why do you want to advocate political views? Do you want those views to square with a particular worldview, or just come from any old view? How will you determine which political views to advocate? 1)Why is emphasis on the individual important to you? Is it important to just you or is it essential to everyone as a basic philosophical fact? 2)Excellent. Do you understand why morality must be derived by reason and not religion? 3)Again, excellent. Do you understand what is fundamentally wrong with egalitarianism and fundamentally right with individual merit? The purpose of my asking is not to provoke you with skepticism, but to indicate what kinds of basic questions one must ask and answer in evaluating a philosophy based on reason and tied to reality. Put in simpler terms, these are questions that one must answer in order to live. I hope this helps!
  16. While I agree with everything else, I wouldn't even ask them for evidence to support their argument against a moral system. All they have to do is conjure up some out-of-context example like Bernie Madoff or somebody they know who is literally too poor to feed himself, ostensibly to demonstrate that capitalism necessarily produces victims, and that therefore no system is perfect and that the goal then should be the system that best achieves "social justice". And what do you say to that? The best approach, in my view, is, as you said, to recognize that any consideration of a moral issue begins with fundamental, principles. I would say to this person that capitalism doesn't guarantee prosperity and happiness for all, it guarantees justice. That's what makes it moral and the right system. If they still want to argue with you and say that the have's must give up something to the have-not's in order to prevent suffering, I think of confronting them with the idea that this requires putting a gun to some people's heads as part of a "proper" social system. If they are still okay with this and can't see the contradiction, or can and don't care, then I am done talking to them and they can drop dead.
  17. Welcome to the forum, Talya, and to discovering Ayn Rand's philosophy. In reading your post, I wondered, "What do you wish to get out of philosophy, and what about Objectivism appeals to you or do you agree with?"
  18. He is absolutely, 100% right. Any discussion of morality must tie situations to fundamental principles. As principles are universal truths upon which validity specific moral cases (like slavery) depend, the recognition of such principles must come first, and are used to determine the moral course of action. Ignoring principles, or treating them as optional considerations, necessarily obliterates morality, reducing it to a pragmatic, emotionalistic roll of the dice.
  19. Yes, context. A government's response to terrorist attacks exists within the context of that country's philosophy. It is the philosophy of a country that determines who it sanctions to govern it. Governments don't exist on philosophical islands detached from the people they govern. They must rely on the cooperation, or at the very least apathy, of the population in order to govern. In the history of man, no government has existed that was able to subjugate a population that opposed it. Thus, the fact that India is willing to put up with Pakistani aggression demonstrates that Indians are willing to put up with it, just as America is willing to put up with Islamic aggression. It's great that some Indians are willing to defend fellow citizens with their lives in a moment of peril. It's not great that they fail to demand that their government smash the enemy to prevent such peril from happening in the first place. Both actions involve Indians surrenduring their lives -- the one, a long, agonizing surrendur to Islamic animals, and the other, a desperate, altruistic surrendur to the terrorist attack du jour. India will have come a long way when its people begin to think long-term about protecting themselves from animals by annihilating them and breaking their will to threaten, rather than bravely and unnecessarily throwing themselves on grenades every couple of months. The same goes for America.
  20. "...And the trees are all kept equal, by hatchet, axe, and saw."
  21. They both do. German and English speakers are using the same sound to denote a different concept. They are every bit as true and logical as "poison" and "Geschenk".
  22. Obama isn't a pragmatist in the sense that he's liable to take any position whatsoever that meets the criterion of political gain. There are plenty of policy positions that he could take that would get him political support: easing gun control laws; easing regulations on small businesses; occasional, highly pulicized "tough talk" about Iran and North Korea followed by feckless diplomacy (a la Bush); minor restrictions on abortions and federally-funded stem cell research, and others. But he won't be taking any of those positions, and instead will be opposing them, because he is opposed to those values. Pragmatism occupies the full political spectrum in America. At the ends of the spectrum are liberals and conservatives. Obama sits on the leftist side; he is a leftist pragmatist. He will fight the conservative pragmatists. He will compromise in all kinds of ways in his drive to institute socialism in America, but they will be compromises in which socialism, not freedom and not conservatism, comes out ahead.
  23. When they start killing these animals and condemning radical Islam for the savagery that it is, then they'll have come a long way.
  24. Wow, David, that is a great story. Good for you! I know it had to be agonizing listening to all that garbage, but you must feel great, knowing that you didn't budge on justice.
  25. I would offer this explanation: he doesn't care about the free market or contradictions; he only wants to regulate the economy and to have it "somehow" work. The same could be said for most poeple.
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