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When trying to describe, define, explain, analyze, and evaluate a foreign society, culture, or civilization the desideratum is to be completely objective and neutral. To be fully accurate and just. To see, understand, tell, and explicate the real truth or true truth. And to be wholly and infinitely rational and scientific as you do it. But everyone is morally imperfect. We all naturally have moral failings, as do our societies. We're born biologically defective, and we acquire errors along the way, both of which are exacerbated by our flawed personal and social background and envirornment. Or own weak society, culture, or civilization makes it hard for us to accurately and justly define and evaluate other such alien collectives and societies. The reality is all individuals -- all observers and judges -- are are at least somewhat biased and warped. Thus Marx is slightly right when he says: "The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it." [emphasis added] And the postmodernists are slightly right when they say: All descriptions and analyses of culture are merely "text", based on a biased and warped individual's interpretation of his and others' societies. [emphasis added] Even feminism and Orientalism -- such false, evil, and prejudical belief-systems, generally -- have a bit of truth to them. The fact is that even an objective and neutral viewpoint -- a strictly rational and scientific one -- is a personal and subjective viewpoint of sorts. It's derived from, and reflects, a kind of bias and warp -- a sort of individual prejudice. However, this is emphatically the best bias to have. It's the one most likely to yield and encompass real truth or true truth about how 1) reality and 2) various individuals and 3) different social groups and institutions actually are. It is, at least potentially, fully accurate and just. And the best bias of all -- the most unbiased bias -- is the Western liberal one, which aims at reason, individualism, liberty, justice, goodness, greatness, beauty, happiness, etc.: all perfect things of infinite value which all proper, healthy, and ideal individuals and societies aspire to.
http://www.appliedphilosophyonline.com/independence_day_special_2012.htm Independence Day Special 2012 Losing the Battle By Thomas M. Miovas, Jr. 07/04/2012 I’m hesitant to write much on this Independence Day due to the fact that I think we are losing the battle for individual rights on two fronts: domestically and internationally. On the domestic front, The Supreme Court, through the Chief Injustice, re-affirmed what the anti-rights proponents have wanted all along – the unbridled ability to force us into doing anything they command us to do, so long as it is done through the tax code; internationally, the re-affirmation that individual rights are not the proper standard from which to form a new country, expressed in the positive sanction by our own government that Muslims in the Middle East have a democratic right to form a suppressive government based upon Islamic Sharia Law that subordinates rights to religious edicts. In a more rational time, the Chief Injustice would have been impeached for abrogating rights in such a manner, while the President of the United States would have been put on trial for treason for ensuring that our enemies abroad will win the war. Some people might think that I am exaggerating on both accounts, that insofar as we still have a system of checks and balances in our government that ObamaCare and the rest of the tax hikes going along with it can be repealed, while the War on Terror and seeking out specific terrorists in the Middle East will win the day in the long run. But I think taking this sort of stand obliterates the primary cause of both troubles. That is, by stating that the damage done can be undone, without taking the specific causes into account, will only bring more rights violations, not less. If the proper cause has not been identified, then how can these efforts lead to anything aside from more rights violations? I think the cause of both issues – domestic usurpation of rights and international sanctions of rights violations on Americans – stems from the same source: The refusal to think in terms of rational principles according to objective methods of thought. Individual rights, properly understood, stem from the fact that man is the rational animal, and that he is the rational animal by choice, and that this rationality – of thinking about the facts with man’s life as the standard – can only be suppressed by one means: by the initiation of force; and that a proper government would outlaw the initiation of force or fraud against the individual, giving rational individuals the green light to live their lives as they see fit according to their own self-chosen standards, so long as they do not use force to appropriate their values. Arguably, the United States of America was founded upon such sound principles as elucidated above, though it wasn’t made quite this explicit in the founding documents of this country. The Declaration of Independence set the terms for breaking free from Great Britain, but unfortunately considered the issue of rights to be self-evident, requiring no proof or foundation, and therefore did not need to be expressed as a guide for the formation of new laws in the United States Constitution. Hence, over the centuries -- and while rationality as a guide was swamped with Kantian collectivism and non-reason -- many laws were considered proper, so long as the politicians and the Legislature jumped through the hoops of the Checks and Balances set up to insure that individual rights would be maintained as the proper standard of governance. In other words, the advent of bad philosophy made it possible for law-makers to put forth whatever they wanted, with no standards whatsoever aside from collectivism, so long as they followed the proper procedure outlined in the Constitution. So, on this Independence Day, take a few moments to realize that the proper role of government is to secure your individual rights -- NOT to impose upon the individual whatever the majority deems necessary -- and that if we are to have many more Independence Days to celebrate, then this truth must be re-learned via a new philosophy more explicitly upholding reason and reality as the proper guides to human thought and action. I highly recommend reading the works of Ayn Rand and her philosophy of Objectivism to more fully understand the proper underpinnings and support of individual liberties and proper government – before it is too late.
On Objectivity -- The Method of Thought By Thomas M. Miovas, Jr. 04/06/2012 I just finished re-reading the chapter in “Objectivism: The philosophy of Ayn Rand” by Leonard Peikoff on “Objectivity” and this essay concerns that topic in a shortened form. Dr. Peikoff says that objectivity at root is a relationship between man’s mind and existence with regard to knowledge, neither coming only from reality (intrinsicism) nor coming only from man’s consciousness (subjectivism) – it is a relationship between the facts and consciousness necessitated by the fact that man has no automatic form of knowledge and therefore must volitionally adhere to existence in his thinking in order to be able to comprehend existence, and to live his life in existence. While Dr. Peikoff doesn’t mention it from the following perspective, I think the term “objectivity” comes from the word “object” – as in an entity or a thing one can directly observe (its attributes and its actions); it also comes from the term “objective” as in “taking specific actions to pursue a purpose.” So, at root, to remain objective one must be focused on the facts (entities, objects, things, their attributes, and their actions) in a purposeful manner to obtain knowledge of existence – to think in terms of identity and causality. But because man has no automatic guide in the pursuit of knowledge, and must develop a volitional / free will based methodology, this method must be clearly identified for a man’s mental contents to be based upon reality. The most fundamental component of being objective is to use logic, the art of non-contradictory identification. Contradictions cannot exist in reality, but are only evident in a man’s improper thinking or lack thereof. While Aristotle clearly identified the method and workings of logic (non-contradictory identification of the facts of reality as given by observation), Ayn Rand added two other components to objectivity that were only implicit in Aristotle’s work: context and hierarchy. Thinking in terms of logic implies context, because in order to not be involved in mental contradictions one must take all the facts into account with regard to one’s topic of consideration. For example, if one is thinking about or talking about an apple, it is important to keep in mind that they are edible and grow on trees; whereas if one is thinking or talking about money, it is not edible and does not grow on trees, but is rather a medium of exchange of values in voluntary trade. Thinking in terms of logic regarding all of the relevant facts is a means of remaining consistent with what one already knows, and therefore to avoid contradictions. So keeping the context is a recognition of the fact that reality is one and that everything is relatable to everything else; that to isolate a thought from all others is to belittle this fundamental fact and to create the potential to have contradictions, which would be contrary to the facts of reality – i.e. of thinking that apples are poisonous to man or that money does grow on trees; neither of which would be helpful to one’s living on earth. Hierarchy is a type of context, and refers to the fact that not all knowledge is graspable on the perceptual level. We can see apples on trees or one’s parents giving money to receive groceries, but grasping “farming” or “working for a living” are not immediately graspable or understandable to a young child. In order to reach the stage where someone can understand farming or capitalism requires a long chain of non-contradictory and contextual knowledge building up on previously understood knowledge; this is the role of being hierarchical – of starting with the perceptually self-evident and building up one’s knowledge. For example, a boy can grasp that things can be cut up – like cutting up the apple for a snack – but he cannot grasp that the apple is made of cells, molecules, atoms, and sub-atomic particles until after he has learned to organize his concepts into wider and wider concepts – concepts that are logically dependent on the perceptually self-evident, but not possible to directly point to as he can point to the apple. However, to remain objective, it is necessary to be able to trace the hierarchy of concepts and knowledge down to the perceptually self-evident; a process Dr. Peikoff refers to as "reduction." By using logic, keeping the context, and developing his concepts into wider and wider abstractions, a man can rationally understand any aspect of existence as a single sum of knowledge, a single whole that is his guide to living on earth and enjoying his own life. Note: Thinking in terms of principles is an application of being objective; and so long as one follows the general guidance of objectivity above, one’s principles will be in accordance with existence and will represent a sub-set of one’s knowledge applied to specific cases of the facts.