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aliveone

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  1. In this Playboy interview, http://www.playboy.com/articles/ayn-rand-p...view/index.html , Rand never advocates the use of force in a revolution, but rather advocates revolutions of the mind, through press or productive power, depending on if there is a dictatorship in power or not. In her Playboy interview, Rand is asked when the Producers should go on strike, and she replies: "The action in Atlas Shrugged takes place at a time when society has reached the stage of dictatorship. When and if this happens, that will be the time to go on strike, but not until then." Also, she says: "A dictatorship has four characteristics: one-party rule, executions without trial for political offenses, expropriation or nationalization of private property, and censorship. Above all, this last. So long as men can speak and write freely, so long as there is no censorship, they still have a chance to reform their society or to put it on a better road. When censorship is imposed, that is the sign that men should go on strike intellectually, by which I mean, should not cooperate with the social system in any way whatever." Most pertinent to your question on the minimum requirement for a revolution is this: "PLAYBOY: Short of such a strike, what do you believe ought to be done to bring about the societal changes you deem desirable? RAND: It is ideas that determine social trends, that create or destroy social systems. Therefore, the right ideas, the right philosophy, should be advocated and spread. The disasters of the modern world, including the destruction of capitalism, were caused by the altruist-collectivist philosophy. It is altruism that men should reject." I believe the minimum requirement of a revolution is met whenever an individual's ability to live rationally is infringed upon by his government. That is, pretty much always. So revolutions are ongoing, and require the voice of whoever sees irrationality dictating lives, and is moved to speak. A government does not have to be overthrown for irrational policies to change, but a revolution in thought may be required. If the government needs to be overthrown, Ayn seems to be saying that those who recognize the dictatorship for what it is should simply protect themselves, withdraw their aid, and let it destroy itself. In Atlas Shrugged many "innocents" do die or live much more primitively as a result of the Producers leaving, but these same people allowed the dictators to rise and leeched off of the Producers. So, in Atlas Shrugged, the non-Objectivists are left to destroy themselves, through mass murders or the inability to provide for themselves. As instigators of force as coercion, dictators do open themselves to being subjected to reactionary force. I am not sure who should ethically apply this force, or when. It seems only those who were still around (not Producers) and who were victims of the dictator should react. Otherwise, if other non-victims step in, they should have to justify the use of their country's resources un-altruistically to be moral. Perhaps they could do this by profiting from the dictator's leftovers, but I am not sure how without infringing on the property rights of those the dictator stole from, or perhaps by destroying a dictator that poses a threat to their country... I would appreciate a quote from Ayn on when force is justified in revolution. I have read that force should only be applied to those who have already used force to sever men from their rights, but I cannot recall from which of her works more detail can be pulled from on this topic.
  2. Hello, I have read that Ayn Rand was a Romantic writer, who used fiction to describe her ideals. In Atlas Shrugged John Galt was the only ideal man because he was the only man who completely believed and lived Objectivist ideals. Other characters were Objectivists, but all had flaws that made them less than ideal. My question is: Could John Galt, as the ideal Objectivist, empathize with those who were not Objectivists? In particular, could he empathize with their fear? Also, to what extent could he empathize with the emotions of other non-ideal Objectivists? Let me define empathy in this thread as Princeton's Wordnet does: "understanding and entering into another's feelings." Please note the "and." I do not think Galt could empathize with the irrational emotions of the non-Objectivists. He did not fear either life or death in the same way as those who had incomplete, irrational conceptions of what life and death are. So, I say he could not empathize with the non-Objectivists, because the basis of their fears was foreign to him, as their fears stemmed from different premises and a more muddled 'logic' than his mind knew. Perhaps he could understand where their fears came from intellectually, as Ayn Rand did, but I do not see him - able and ideal as he was - as able to "enter into" the feelings non-Objectivists, so I say he could not empathize with non-Objectivists. Thus, I say an ideal Objectivist could not empathize with non-Objectivist emotions. Galt could only feel fear "to a certain point," while some of the non-Objectivists were wracked by fears that shook their very core, and once confronted, sundered their tenuous grasp on reason and destroyed their sanity. Galt's core, his sane grasp of reason and his precepts, were never in question in his mind, even when he was tortured and confronted with corporeal death. Thus I say his ability to not fear was fundamentally different than that of the non-Objectivists. He really could not fear as they did, without degenerating metaphyisically, epistemologically and ethically to their level, which would have been impossible for Galt qua Galt. Galt could only empathize with other non-ideal Objectivists to the extent that they were ideal. As I read his history, while he had struggled and worked to find success in the world, in his mind he was always completely rational, living and believing as an Objectivist before he realized he was a breed apart. So, he could not empathize with the struggle to become a perfect Objectivist, as he never had or would enter into that struggle, but he could intellectually understand it. Thus, his ability to empathize with the non-ideal was limited. I would like to clarify the abilities, such as empathy, of the penultimate Objectivist to better understand Objectivist ideals so I can apply them better, and, occasionally, better educate others who I believe misinterpret the Objectivist philosophy. I recently had an argument with a person who claims to understand, admire, and perhaps even follow the Objectivist philosophy. When we discussed Galt and I claimed he could not empathize with non-Objectivists, I was told that my claim was ammunition for those who see Objectivism as cold and antisocial. If misunderstood, Galt's lack of empathy could be used as 'ammunition' against Objectivism, sure. Words and ideas are twisted every day. But a lack of empathy for those who are not good (in this context, akin to those who are not Objectivists), thus for those who are evil, is not an evil thing. Thus, I do not judge Galt's lack of empathy as a bad thing. It is a good thing. Galt was never a mystical god, omniscient and capable of all experience. He is man qua man, capable of only highest human experience internally, regardless of external circumstances, and thus could never lower himself to the level of evil on a rational or emotional level. He is not cold, but glowing warm with the internal light of his rational mind. Similarly, Objectivism doesn't require others be cold, or un-feeling, but to feel the best, and nothing less. If that is anti-social, what does that say about the society being used as context? It certainly isn't anti-man to not empathize with evil. An interesting thread to begin after this one would be What is the extent non-ideal Objectivists (everyone but Galt) should empathize with those who are non-Objectivists? I will leave that for another day, or for another person to start. I am very curious to read your analysis of my question, answer and commentary, and wish to thank you for your effort in advance.
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