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Talya

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  1. ...i think you're misrepresenting something I've said there. I do not believe it's really possible for christianity OR buddhism to be "truth" from the standpoint of reason. I believe there is objective truth. It's just mathematical and obvious. "The ball is all red" can be proven, it's objective. 2+2=4 is an objective truth. The sun fuses hydrogen into helium is an objective truth. "Murder is wrong" is not an objective truth. It is something I agree with, but there's nothing objective about it. Morality/Ethics, philosophy, religion...they're thought experiments, but there's no objective truth to any of them. Some parts of them might be objectively WRONG (eg. "Noah and his 3 sons, in addition to their wives, built a big box out of wood and saved all life on earth t hrough a flood that covered the entire planet." *Bzzzzt.* Physically impossible), but objectively true? I don't see how that any objective truth can exist from the entirely human construct of "right and wrong." Let's first address an uncommon assumption. I actually believe some animals are far more sentient than some of my coworkers. In all seriousness, the Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin, as one example, is said to have the approximate cognitive and reasoning ability of a human 3-to-5 year old. My three year old daughter is most assuredly sentient. And humans most assuredly are still governed to an extent by instinct, even if we have a greater capacity for learning than most species. There is not this wide gulf between ourselves and other creatures that most people think there is. We are certainly the pinnacle, at least for now, of evolution on earth. People read a lot more into that distinction than there is. Anyway, as to the morality of that elephant's decision: wouldn't whether it helps or hinders him depend on what his purpose is? Assuming a greater level of sentience than elephants possess, propogation may not be that particular elephant's goal. Assuming a particular goal with which to judge objective morality that is common to all is rather ... anti-individualist. You're assuming a collective goal...and for darwinian natural selection, perhaps there may be one. But we are individuals, not collectives. If one man's goal in life happens to be going out in a blaze of glory gun battle with Los Angeles cops, his morality will be very different than mine. Everyone is an individual, and will end up deciding on their own morality based on their own values and goals.
  2. I'm aware of that. No, that's not at all what relativistic time means. Time, like space, can be curved, warped, changed. Einstein proved beyond doubt that time is not a constant...and in fact his theories are mathematically essential in several human technological endeavors. For instance, time literally moves faster at sea level than it does in orbit. Earth's mass actually influences the flow of time, to the point where the differences need to be built into the clocks of GPS systems to avoid inaccuracy creeping (rather quickly) into the system. A singularity would actually cause such issues with the flow of time for objects within the event horizon that, assuming the big bang was the only one in our reality, would represent the literal beginning of time.
  3. I believe that there are such contradictions, and there is often no clear "best" answer. I also believe that this is how it will always be, when it comes to philosophical endeavors. Asking "what is the best philosophy" can often be like asking "what is the best color." Before you see that as criticism of objectivism, it's entirely possible to have "favorite colors." Interesting. I am very epicurean in my approach to life, my values are rather simple, which make it easy to acheive that happiness. Ah, which is why there is no difference to me. They are all just "a system to guide human action." If I believed in the existence of a "proper system to guide human action," I'd be a lot closer to objectivist. By your definition above, this is true. Ethics would still be possible. I see those advancements as just evidence of natural selection. From an evolutionary perspective, as a species we have survived through "luck" alone. And I see our slide toward socialism as evidence that our dominance in the role of earth's greatest evolutionary success may be in the decline...I am hopeful, but not optimistic, that we can avoid extinction even long enough to get out of Tsiolkovsky's cradle of humanity and expand throughout the stars. We may be an evolutionary dead end. It's probable that when the universe reaches the cold death it is destined for, humanity will likely not even be a footnote in its existence. There are plenty of objective truths. I just do not believe it is logically possible for a particular philosophy to be one of them.
  4. Most certainly not. In jest, I'd call myself a militant agnostic. ("I don't know if a god exists, and neither do you!") In seriousness, I'd add "Apatheist" to the description.
  5. Atlas Shrugged, of course (but that was back in High School. I need to read it again someday, but reading it is a ... formidable effort, in a setting and story that doesn't appeal to me, however much the message does.) I've recently taken a liking to the Fountainhead. I haven't read any of her earlier works, I'm afraid. (I wish one could get more than an cursory introduction to Objectivism by watching "The Incredibles." I read for escapism, and prefer sci-fi or fantasy settings if I'm going to read a book, but sometimes it's worth it.) Any reason why I reject the idea that humans are rational beings? I think we can be rational beings, but I don't believe that is our natural state. Call me a cynic, but I have a fairly low opinion of humanity as a whole. I don't really see the majority of us as having done much to differentiate ourselves from the other animals that inhabit our world. (And in fact, less than many of them.) Even the best of us often make decisions based on our hearts rather than our heads. Howard Roark is a fascinating protagonist, but he didn't seem entirely, well, reasonable. Perhaps more subjects for another thread, though. I certainly appreciate the value of reason, and the dangers of not using it. I think it's a matter of personal integrity that I admit none of us our entirely logical beings. (Being an old trekkie, I'll have to say I thought, intentional or not, the failings and advantages of the two very different allied worlds, Earth and Vulcan, always resonated with me. Spock in the end seemd the most ... complete character on the show, for learning to utilize the advantages of both.)
  6. I said "feels complete." I don't believe a complete understanding of our universe is possible in my lifetime, but if the philosophy I live by is both satisfying and stands up to logical scrutiny I suppose it would feel complete. We talk about reason and logic--for good cause, admittedly--but we are not logical creatures, but rather emotional ones. Our personal satisfaction with life is very much dependant on emotion. I don't think the two things should be completely divorced. If I make completely rational, reasonable decisions and yet they leave me depressed and sad, then they probably weren't the best decisions for me. A "worldview that feels complete" is just that--something that I can rationally and logically defend and agree with, yet that also resonates with me on an emotional basis. I know some people make a distinction between Ethics and Morality, but when reading my words, know that I don't. I see them both as the same thing: human constructs, products of our evolution that vary from person to person, with no absolute objective (sorry) truth, any more than there's a way to determine if the bright colored "warning" skin of the tree frog is a more effective evolutionary adaptation than the more subtle skin of their camoflauged amphibious cousins. Anyway, the "touchstone" comment is implied that if something in my ethical values conflicts with another, I need to investigate how, and why, and if there is a practical, logical reason why one could be considered superior to the other...and then to adopt whichever I consider superior. If I believe that a society in which objectivism or something similar was the basis for all law would be a better place to live for me and my family, and future decendants, would it not be to my benefit to attempt to promote or advance such a view in the hopes, however slim, that they will take hold? (Unfortunately, I do not believe that democratic government forms will ever provide this--"democracy can only last until enough voters realize they can vote for largess to be awarded to themselves from the public trough." Still, one can hope.) I would say primarily the latter. That said, i believe there will always be "worker drones" in human society that either are unable to or are too apathetic to embrace that philosophical fact. I believe, ironically, that the concept of the individual is important to society as a collective, and to the individuals that embrace it. I could write pages on these two. I should perhaps save them for another thread. Thanks. It's a fun thought excersize anyway. On "First Cause," I'm actually suspicious that the answer to first cause lies in the relativistic nature of the space and time. In the singularity that would have existed prior to the big bang, time would not flow like it does here, and in fact would be curved to such a degree that any measure of it would meaningless. Both Quantum Mechanics and Relativity break down at the singularity level, the laws of the universe as we understand them simply do not work. The very concept "What came before the big bang?" is a logically incorrect question -- "What came before the beginning of time?" The "First" in the phrase "First Cause" is a temporal measure, and therefore the very "First Cause" would be that which existed at the moment time began. We are beings that live a linear temporal existence, and the idea of time not existing is not something we can wrap our minds around easily. Asking what happened before time started is not a rational question.
  7. Has to be? No. The lack of one just ends possible use of reason to investigate the subject. As someone who believes that everything has a logical explanation (which is the whole basis of using our powers of reason at all), that's not really acceptable. At the same time, we do not have the information needed in order to reason through the question at all. In either event, neither religion or science can answer the question of First Cause, so there's no logical way to debate it. It is best to pretend the question doesn't exist, and deal with what we can reason on. So for practicality alone, lets ignore first cause.
  8. Good questions. I never think about what I "get out of philosophy." But it's true, it's about selfishness--if there wasn't something to get out of philosophy, we wouldn't create it. What do I get out of it? A worldview that feels complete. A practical set of ethics and/or morals (or merely a touchstone against which I can check the morals I already possess.) Political views to advocate and promote. I'm sure I could come up with more things given time. Objectivism appeals to me primarily in three ways (in no particular order): (1)the emphasis on the individual rather than the collective, (2) on practical ethics and morality that are shaped by reason and reality rather than nebulous religious concepts of right and wrong, and (3) on the recognition of merit and excellence, rather than the egalitarian ideals becoming so prominent that promote mediocrity.
  9. I suppose that depends on what you believe God is. My father believes in an omnipotent, omniscient being. There's no way to say such a belief is incompatible with the universe as it exists, because no matter how you argue, the answer can be "God made it that way." My counter to that, is if the deity my father believes in truly exists, that deity is an {insert condemnatory epithet here}. Lacking either proof (or even evidence) that He exists, and a desire to worship Him if he does, it seems easier to simply go with the "He doesn't exist" scenario than to scream against the injustices perpetrated by an invisible man in the sky who may not be there. Now, on the other hand, I once saw an interview with Stephen Hawking (a man whose mind can reason on levels none of us can even dream of) where the interviewer asked him outright, "Do you believe in God?" His (non)answer was, for me, at any rate, thought provoking. "If I say yes, you will assume that I believe in the same type of divine creature that you do, which would be horribly incorrect. If I say no, you will assume I have no faith. So I decline to answer that question." "God" can simply be defined as "first cause," and many of the neo-pagan beliefs I walked through seem to mesh more with how nature truly exists, than the beliefs of my father. That said, there's still no proofs for any of them. They are much like your "gas creatures on Jupiter" example. Science or religion both run into the same problem of "First Cause," neither provides an answer. It is likely no science we discover ever will. I identify more with the non-answers of Stephen Hawking than the dogmatic answers of Richard Dawkins.
  10. Hi, there. You can call me Talya. I'm a 35 year old mother of two, who has gone through an evolution in religious, political, and social views over the years. I find myself admiring Ayn Rand's objectivism more and more, without necessarily agreeing with or espousing all of her views. Of course, in the points where I differ, it's often more of a theoretical disagreement, than a practical one. I often find myself using objectivist philosophy in debates and disagreements, to the point that I sometimes consider identifying myself as Objectivist, but there are enough differences I do not want associated with me that I end up shunning such collectivist groupings in favor of my own unique individual interpretations. Let's start with who I have been. I was born in Ontario, Canada. My parents are first generation immigrants from Northern Ireland, my father is a very "orange" Irish loyalist and an Anglican priest as well. (Uh oh, the preacher's kid...betcha she's fun, eh?) I abandoned the beliefs of my father fairly early in life, and as a teenager began investigating "new age" religions that fit with my sense of self identity...Druidism and Celtic paganism in various forms. In the end, though, it would seem I never really had faith in a God. You can read my very sporadically updated blog if you'd like to know how that came about, but suffice it to say, I'm quite Agnostic now. Atheist? I object to the term. I cannot prove that there is no God, any more than my father can prove that there is one. Atheism requires the faith that God does not exist. I merely know that the existence of God is no more likely than the existence of the invisible pink unicorn, or the flying spaghetti monster. God may exist or may not, but I see no evidence of Her existence, nor do I see a reason to put faith in one. The universe exists how it exists, whether due to divine intervention or not, and any God who may or may not have existed has long since abandoned us. Politically? As a teenager, I was quite "left wing," bleeding heart socialist in my views--because to a teenager, who doesn't see the whole picture or understand economics, that seems like the moral, good thing to be. But life is so much more complex than the way its seen in youth, and over time, I've drifted toward the "right," in a somewhat "libertarian" direction, going more and more for individualism and freedom over the collective. So here I am, the almost-atheist who believes in individualism, rewarding excellence, and generally stamping out the mediocrity-inducing snare of socialsim. How can I not be objectivist? Well, for one, I'm a moral relativist (isn't relativist the opposite of objectivist?). I have my own personal morality that agrees for the most part with what Rand believed, but I do not believe in intrinsic "right" or "wrong." I'm a social darwinist (really, a darwinist in every possible way) who believes that humans have evolved the concepts of "right" and "wrong," (and indeed, that all of our behavioral mores are evolved social traits) and that there is no objective morality...there is merely what helps us advance both as individuals and as a society, and that which hinders us. It just so happens that I believe that many of Rand's philosophies are the most helpful to human advancement. How can I be a relativist objectivist? It doesn't work. So I've never identified that way. Then there are some minor issues. I believe in providing equality of opportunity in society, not equality of outcome. The disadvantaged may have excellence that surpasses those born with advantages, if given the opportunity. As such, I end up believing in certain small social structures and safety nets (far less than what most governments offer today, so I end up on the same side of most political beliefs anyway.) I am not a true "laissez-faire" capitalist, although I strongly believe that we should head a lot more towards governmental non-interference than what we see around us in developed nations today. In a group consisting otherwise of a combination of Libertarians and Objectivists, I'd definitely be the "bleeding heart left-wing" voice. On the other hand, in a group consisting otherwise of neo-cons and liberals, I'd be the "evil godless/right-wing nazi." I'm really without a political place that I fit into. But then again, isn't that rather a point that Ayn Rand would have agreed with? Was not individualism and finding your own path, rather than parotting and following the beliefs of others something she would have agreed with? Even if she didn't agree with all of my positions, would not we have had more common ground than differences, and out of respect for the individual, been happy to agree to disagree (even as we could debate such things forever?) So in the end, am I an Objectivist? Or do such distinctions matter, and is the need to belong to a collective think-tank and all be in agreement in itself something that Rand would have despised? I don't know. I just know that I have more in common with you guys than I do with society at large.
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