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This point was raised during a much larger philosophical discussion. I took the line that the definition of a word is subjective, it exists within the mind of the user. The object it is describing is objective (naturally), the word itself is objective (so long as it is written down or remains as sound waves in the air), but what you take the word to mean is subjective. The fact that there are very common definitions is a result of linguistic communication and dictionaries but that does not mean that that is what you take a word to mean, the definition exists only in your mind. I thought that for a definition to be objective it would have to exist pre-human thought. I am very new to philosophy and objectivism. I was looking for some input on the question and also my reasoning.
A major criticism of Objectivism is that Rand talks a lot about the objective value life, yet fails to recognize (or intentionally leaves out) that production and creation do not follow from this value of "life." Do men need reason to survive? Yes. But if it's necessary to use Rand's philosophy to survive, this premise begs the question of how men survived before Rand came along. I think this argument is flawed in many ways, but it does point to a flaw I feel is in Objectivism. Yes- we need reason to survive. But how does it follow production is a moral virtue? Rand defines virtue as how one acts to attain a value. A value is that which one acts to gain and/or keep. If building skyscrapers is something to be admired- why? Why is the person who builds a skyscraper more virtuous than a Transcendentalist who goes to live in a shack in the woods? The problem here, I believe, is the failure of Objectivism to explicitly state a "lemon test" on how and why a certain value would be objective instead of mindlessly self-indulgent. If I wanted money, would this be a legitimate value or not? Would it virtuous for me to become a porn director? What if I value lying in the sun instead of making steel? Why is the Objectivist hero the man that moves the world? What if I feel my happiness can be better served doing nothing? I'm assuming Objectivism's answer to this is that life must be furthered. Just as a lion does not have the leg of a deer and say "I'm done", as a tree doesn't grow 4 feet tall and die, man too must further his life and survival. Steel mills, smokestacks, industry, and skyscrapers are all examples of this. The critic could ask that life would be furthered in what way? How has Objectivism come to the conclusion that the furtherment of life entails industry? Again the question must be asked whether these other things would be valued by Objectivists. It is because man survived by adjusting his background to himself that industry is desirable? What of the men before technology? -- While you're contemplating your answer to that question, I would like to talk about this in terms of the whole Mises economic theory. If I understand it correctly, (Which may or may not be true) Mises held that values were ultimately subjective- that what they value today they may or may not value tomorrow. Additionally, how they act and what they buy today may or may not be the same as tomorrow, and even if they were consistent in simple situations, that does not mean they will be consistent in complex situations. Thus his support for "a-priori" knowledge and opposition to empirical evidence. I'm not exactly sure what the Objectivist take on this would be. Do the values that Mises talks about mean economic values (i.e. Pepsi or Coke), whereas Rand is referring more to abstract, philosophical values? Can they co-exist? Are they in complete opposition? What is the Objectivist view of Emprical Evidence in economics? I know there were *some* threads about this, but none really made sense to me. When talking about the last part, please try to dumb it down please and thanks.