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Traditionalist Critique of Objectivism

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"My entire life I've been coerced. From the time my mother gave birth to me to the time I graduated from High School, people have been telling me what to do and often not giving me any sort of choice whatsoever. Most specifically here I'm referring to my parents, my teachers, and other close mentors (like grandparents).

My entire life I've been coerced by my culture. The hundreds upon thousands of people before me have been thinking and contributing (at least the best of them) to the incredible culture of the West which I inherited. When I was raised, it really wasn't even my parents who raised me. It was the traditions, habits, and practices that they learned from their parents that they passed down to me and so on. Great thinkers and practiocioners added to these practices and traditions, but it was still through a process of raw, coerced inheritance.

My entire life I've been thinking in terms of Western concepts (including every concept given to me by Objectivism especially). The way I approach everything, I use a certain set of tools: the tools of language, reason, starting premises, etc....all of these things have been granted to me through the blessings of those before me. If I ever question my intellectual inheritance, indeed even challenge to change it, I will be using the concepts that it granted me to do so.

I, nor anyone else, can escape this inheritance. If someone is born on a dessert island and then left to fend for himself, he will die within hours unless he is engaged by those before him in the extensive communal coercion of parenthood: raising him, feeding him, teaching him how to read, how to get food, how to think for himself, etc. What any baby needs, and what we all had, was the gift of inherited coercion by a culture built upon for centuries through a communal effort.

Now I'm approaching the "age of rationality." According to all of the branches of philosophy which stem from the concepts of enlightenment liberalism, including Ayn Rand's Objectivism, I am told to separate myself from community. I am told that the true emphasis lies in my own atomistic needs apart from others. Using the mental resources gained by communal coercion, I am told to denounce coercion en totale as an immoral evil practiced only by collectivists and the weak-minded. I am told that what is important is not "men," but "man." "Man" is responsible for all of the greatness we see before us. "Man" is responsible for every achievement and greatness of my culture.

The problem is that it was never "man" who did anything alone. Everything, and I mean every damn thing we have, has been gained through the process of communal effort. Not a single achievement that was ever performed was done alone - because every achievement was a buildup upon something that came before him. It was never "man" in the state of nature that engaged in "voluntary" communal interactions, it was "men" in the communal context, period, that were able to build upon the greatness of their inherited culture.

I reject Objectivism and its enlightenment premises, without which the entire philosophy falls apart. Just because I reach some magical age of "rationality" I am not much different than I was before. I am still going to look to my culture for guidance and stability and truth. My life is not for my own happiness nor is it the sequence of trades between atomistic individuals. It is one giant web of communal effort which stems back for thousands of years, and if I break it now for some radical philosophy which tells me to separate myself from everyone else through a system of individual rights, I will only destroy everything which I inherited to replace it with something much bleaker: a philosophy of long-term hedonism which calls itself Objectivism. "

Edited by GreedyCapitalist
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I don't know what you mean that actions are never done alone. Men don't literally perform a Vulcan mind meld to solve problems together. They use their own minds and judge for themselves. They rely on their own ability to reason. They don't forfeit that effort to someone else (if we all did that by nature, we would all die very quickly). The point is that literally, we cannot let someone else judge facts for us, because they cannot literally be us. They simply are unable to judge things instead of us. They can make a judgement and we can choose to accept that, but they cannot literally feed their reasoning directly to our brain.

I also find it strange that you see Objectivism as being 'atomistic', since I don't see where she supported this, nor where any other Objectivist scholar supported this. Sure, we support individualism, but that's not the same as being a hermit. We recognise that men do trade ideas and values and that men flourish by living in a free society -- the point is that they flourish by living in a free society, i.e. that they are able to engage in voluntary trade.

I am still going to look to my culture for guidance and stability and truth. My life is not for my own happiness nor is it the sequence of trades between atomistic individuals.

Wow, talk about giving up at the first hurdle. 'I just simply do not believe I can judge anything for myself, therefore I will ask everyone else to decide what is true for me. I am unable to know happiness or how to achieve it, so I will live dutifully serving the people around me.

In short, this piece isn't an argument; it's a collection of fitful statements without any reasoning behind them. At best, it is a complete misunderstanding of Objectivism.

Edited by Tenure
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I, nor anyone else, can escape this inheritance. If someone is born on a dessert island and then left to fend for himself, he will die within hours unless he is engaged by those before him in the extensive communal coercion of parenthood: raising him, feeding him, teaching him how to read, how to get food, how to think for himself, etc. What any baby needs, and what we all had, was the gift of inherited coercion by a culture built upon for centuries through a communal effort.

I reject Objectivism and its enlightenment premises, without which the entire philosophy falls apart. Just because I reach some magical age of "rationality" I am not much different than I was before. I am still going to look to my culture for guidance and stability and truth. My life is not for my own happiness nor is it the sequence of trades between atomistic individuals. It is one giant web of communal effort which stems back for thousands of years, and if I break it now for some radical philosophy which tells me to separate myself from everyone else through a system of individual rights, I will only destroy everything which I inherited to replace it with something much bleaker: a philosophy of long-term hedonism which calls itself Objectivism. "

You might want to read -The Nichomachean Ethics- by Aristotle. Aristotle works out a system of ethics based on virtue, yet he maintains (correctly) that man is a political animal. That means we are, by our nature, social beings who function best when we live and work in communities (polis in Greek). We are of such a nature that we really cannot live truly human lives atomistically. A few of us might survive as hermits, but our energy would be almost entirely consumed by the task of staying alive. Ugh! Society can have a dark side, but it is the only environment in which humans can live as humans.

Aristotle is a terrible physicist, but his grasp of human psychology is first rate.

I will also offer a piece of wisdom that goes back 2200 years from R. Hillel.

R. Hillel used to say:

If I am not for myself, then who is for me?

If I am only for myself what am I?

If not now, then when?

Bob Kolker

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"My entire life I've been coerced...
(bold mine)

There. In the very sentence, it engages in the unmitigated nonsense of using commie-weasel-speak to equate conditions of existence with physical force.

It's dishonest and a butchering of the English language. "Coerced" here is equating the two definitions of the term "force." Obfuscating the difference between "I'm all out of strawberries so I am 'forced' to eat blueberries" and FORCED as in burly men have strapped you to a table and are cramming blueberries down your throat. (a la the donut-chair in The Devil and Homer Simpson)

So right out of the gate, this is total nonsense that can be completely dismissed as the childish gibberish that it is.

Edited by Inspector
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mb121, I notice that your post is a quote from elsewhere; not your own opinion.

In the future, I suggest you don't ask your question in the topic-title. Instead, place the text you're quoting inside QUOTE tags, and put your request for help in the body of the post itself. That way, the authorship comes across unmistakably.

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(it) wasn't even my parents who raised me. It was the traditions, habits, and practices that they learned from their parents that they passed down to me and so on. Great thinkers and practiocioners added to these practices and traditions, but it was still through a process of raw, coerced inheritance.

Then just how did these great thinkers manage to become great? They were just as "coerced" as you claim you are. You really should not waste time bemoaning the fact that you grew up in a particular social matrix. Better to spend your energy by making your own space within that matrix or moving to a society that suits your temperament better. Your place in the world is primarily your responsibility. In a semi-free society no one is really preventing you from doing anything you really want to do and have the talent for doing.

And for pity's sake don't whine. Whining in an adult is very unattractive.

Bob Kolker

Edited by Robert J. Kolker
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mb121, I notice that your post is a quote from elsewhere; not your own opinion.

In the future, I suggest you don't ask your question in the topic-title. Instead, place the text you're quoting inside QUOTE tags, and put your request for help in the body of the post itself. That way, the authorship comes across unmistakably.

David seemed to fix the problem. But, coming into this thread after that and seeing everyone directed there criticisms at mb121 is kind of funny.

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There. In the very sentence, it engages in the unmitigated nonsense of using commie-weasel-speak to equate conditions of existence with physical force.

Or, as Ayn Rand would put it, it is failure to distinguish between the metaphysical and the man-made. She wrote an entire article about this, it's not like it's not a hugely obvious and available part of Objectivism. Sheesh.

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Or, as Ayn Rand would put it, it is failure to distinguish between the metaphysical and the man-made. She wrote an entire article about this, it's not like it's not a hugely obvious and available part of Objectivism. Sheesh.

We just discussed this essay at the Plano OPAR Study Group. We finished OPAR, so we started to read and then discuss articles by Ayn Rand.

She's got some beauties in there, like [paraphrased] "Man is neither to be obeyed nor commanded" and "Some people claim they would have the courage [of their convictions] in a perfect world, where everyone agreed with their principles, but lose their courage in the world as it is." Which are probably some of the relevant parts Megan is talking about.

Edited by Thomas M. Miovas Jr.
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  • 2 weeks later...
What exactly is a traditionalist? I know Bill O'Reilly say he is one, last time I checked. Is it a contextual thing, like Traditionalist Americans aren't the same as Traditionalist Englishmen

As a stereotype, consider them to be intellectual conservatives (esp. found at Ivy League universities).

They reject the enlightenment as a huge, rationalistic movement that has no bearing on man's true nature. In fact, most of what they accept you can think as a reaction to the specifics of Lockean enlightenment principles:

1) "Man" never existed in the state of nature. This is bullshit. Man has always existed within the context of a community because that is how man survives and (most importantly) thrives. Enlightenment-based philosophy (ie, objectivism) emphasises man as a victim to the coercion of others, sort of a struggle between atomistic man and everyone else. While this sentiment is cool as a reaction to left-liberalism, it's an intellectual fad that can actually lead to corruption in the long run in terms of intellectual honesty.

2) [similarity between objectivism]: They halt absolute truth, absolute morality, and an objective reality as the hugest premise of all philsophy.

3) "Individual rights" are a silly concept derived from the enlightenment which, although neato sounding, aren't actually grounded in reality. Again, it's cool to believe in rights as a reaction against left-liberalism in America, but an honest intellectual might find rights language distracting to what's actually important to do with one's life. In other words, you spend all your time bitching about how man needs to be left alone and respected that you eventually find yourself building up this conception of man as an atomized individual separate from his community and incapable of thriving. The enlightenment, and left-liberalism which is logically derived from the enlightenment, is all about individual empowerment. Empowerment! Give me my rights! Get out of my wallet government! Get out of my face religion! Get out of my way gender-roles! It's all about empowerment and it never talks about what to do when you have your empowerment. At least objectivism attempts to answer this.

4) One's own reason is insufficient to explain the universe. Yes, this sounds repulsive as we have all inherited enlightenmenet sentiment if we have found ourselves pulled into the Objectivist school. Unfortunately, traditoinalists have to emphasise (because everyone has forgotten) that the inherited traditions of the past (particularly the West) represent the knowledge and wisdom of billions of men, and the foundation of our entire civilization. Enlightenment impulses tell us to reject traditions as (just like everything else) stifflers on our "individual empowerment". Traditionalists look first to tradition as a starting point to build up from with reason and rational inquiry. Don't mistake: reason is still the medium of truth seaking. It's just that one starts with one's inherited traditions as a starting point.

5) Emphasis on law and order, aristocracy (literally we might htink of it as meritocracy although meritocracy has the enlightenment connotation that one should ignore birth differences and act as if we are all born equal which is not true).

I could go on, but to sum up: traditionalism is intellectual conservatism which primarily reacts against the enlightenment. One could identify William F. Buckley and Edmund Burke as two famous traditionalists.

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5) Emphasis on law and order, aristocracy (literally we might htink of it as meritocracy although meritocracy has the enlightenment connotation that one should ignore birth differences and act as if we are all born equal which is not true).

I could go on, but to sum up: traditionalism is intellectual conservatism which primarily reacts against the enlightenment. One could identify William F. Buckley and Edmund Burke as two famous traditionalists.

Meritocracy does assume inequality. It is a position that advocates social inequality should be correlated with innate talent and ambition, not with one's family pedigree. The best and the brightest should rise, like the cream of milk, to the top rather than being homogenized. Meritocracy is as inegalitarian as one can get. The Aristocracy of Merit (vs The Aristocracy of Pull) insists that there be no artificial barriers (such as family background, race, religion) to how far one can advance.

Bob Kolker

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The Aristocracy of Merit (vs The Aristocracy of Pull) insists that there be no artificial barriers (such as family background, race, religion) to how far one can advance.

I will have to critique you on this one. Family and especially background do matter, almost more than pure genetics. The way we develop when we are young depends almost entirely on how much our parents/elders stimulate us. For example, I am now ~20 years old and therefore am almost incapable of ever becoming 100% fluent in Chinese. If, however, my parents taught me Chinese when I was younger I could be fluent easily in both English and Chinese. This is one tiny example, but think of how this vibrates to nearly every part of us. What you advocated was therefore not a "pure" definition of meritocracy even though you thought you did because "family" and "background" are not "artificial barriers" at all.

The connotation of meritocracy is premised on the false enlightenment principle that all have an equal chance of raising to the top.

Aristocracy (literally: rule by the best) is truly blind. It is not afraid of recognizing that factors like a superior family background make one superior to others in terms of what makes one "the best." By the way, capitalism is good because it functions like an aristocracy as well (or, 100% true meritocracy w/o enlightenment connotations).

By the way, someone mentioned earlier that Bill O'Reilly was a traditionalist. Bill O'Reilly is just a demagogue conservative. Traditionalism is totally different than knee-jerk reactionary conservatism (although it certainly is reactionary in many ways).

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The connotation of meritocracy is premised on the false enlightenment principle that all have an equal chance of raising to the top.

You are mistaken. Meritocracy is not based on that assumption. People, their ability, their character, and their circumstances, are not equal in many ways. There is no such thing as equal chance, or equal road to achieve anything in life. It is however incorrect to say, based on massive empirical evidence, that poor background eliminates that chance for those of ability. It just makes things more challenging for some. That is life.

Aristocracy (literally: rule by the best) is truly blind. It is not afraid of recognizing that factors like a superior family background make one superior to others in terms of what makes one "the best."

Right, like Paris Hilton.

Properly the term "best" is assigned based on existing qualities and not possible qualities.

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Right, like Paris Hilton.

This was unnecessary. Exceptions don't prove rules, and you basically agreed with my point that aristocracy and meritocracy are the same in literal terms.

Tell me though, would you rather us randomly pick a human being and place him in a position of power, or randomly pick a human being from an esteemed background and family? Fortunately this is not how the world works, but the point is that culture and upbringing mean a lot and classical enlightenment impulses make us want to ignore this.

Most of the time you'll hear left-liberals nagging about this to advance their socialism, it's not often you hear a traditionalist saying we need to recognize these forces to actually work with them.

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By the way, capitalism is good because it functions like an aristocracy as well (or, 100% true meritocracy w/o enlightenment connotations).

Maybe we should define our terms (from Wikipedia).

Aristocracy - refers to a form of government where power is held by individuals from a social elite or from noble families. The transmission of power is often hereditary.

Meritocracy is a system of government or another organization wherein appointments are made and responsibilities are given based on demonstrated ability (merit) and talent rather than by wealth, family connections, class privilege, cronyism, popularity (as in democracy), or other historical determinants of social and political power.

The word "meritocracy" is now also often used to describe a type of society where wealth, position, and social status are in part assigned through competition or demonstrated talent and competence, on the premise that positions of trust, responsibility and social prestige should be earned, not inherited or assigned on arbitrary quotas.

Clearly those two terms are not equal.

Capitalism is a meritocratic system in which people raise mostly based on demonstrated competence. The system however does not guarantee success for those of ability. Will there be people of ability who won't raise as far as they could due to environmental factors? Yes. Again that is life.

The key point is that those at the top will mostly be those of proven ability and competence, which is just and to the selfish benefit of everyone.

This was unnecessary. Exceptions don't prove rules, and you basically agreed with my point that aristocracy and meritocracy are the same in literal terms.

This is not an exception. Just a well known example.

Tell me though, would you rather us randomly pick a human being and place him in a position of power, or randomly pick a human being from an esteemed background and family?

Randomly is not a proper method by which we should place people in a position of power.

Edited by ~Sophia~
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You just used Wikipedia? really? lol. How about Merriam-Webster.

aristocracy

One entry found.

aristocracy

Main Entry: ar·is·toc·ra·cy

Pronunciation: \ˌa-rə-ˈstä-krə-sē, ˌer-ə-\

Function: noun

Inflected Form(s): plural ar·is·toc·ra·cies

Etymology: Middle French & Late Latin; Middle French aristocratie, from Late Latin aristocratia, from Greek aristokratia, from aristos best + -kratia -cracy

Date: 1561

1: government by the best individuals or by a small privileged class

2 a: a government in which power is vested in a minority consisting of those believed to be best qualified b: a state with such a government

3: a governing body or upper class usually made up of a hereditary nobility

4: the aggregate of those believed to be superior

But really owning you in some definition war isn't the point. The point is that the connotation and the general meaning that the word "meritocracy" brings to mind (caused by enlightenment influence) is based on false principles of human nature.

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You just used Wikipedia? really? lol. How about Merriam-Webster.

There are other sources which define both terms as above (go to the website onelook.com) and that is the definition I was using. It is precisely because people may assume different definitions that it is important to define one's terms.

Your argument boils down to bluring a distinction between two concepts.

The point is that the connotation and the general meaning that the word "meritocracy" brings to mind (caused by enlightenment influence) is based on false principles of human nature.

It has not been my experience that that in fact is happening. It maybe a false argument used against it. But it is false so what is the problem?

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... the connotation and the general meaning that the word "meritocracy" brings to mind (caused by enlightenment influence) is based on false principles of human nature.
What is this connotation? When I think of giving a person what they merit, I am thinking in terms of what they are, not how they came there. If good family rearing is one cause for the person's merit, then so be it. Perhaps you're saying that people think of meritocracy as some type of system that recognizes (say) smart poor kids and gives them a leg up. Is that the type of connotation you're speaking of?
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1) Man has always existed within the context of a community because that is how man survives and (most importantly) thrives.

Man survives by the use of his reason. Due to the division of labor, living in a community makes things easier, but it is not a necessity.

Enlightenment-based philosophy (ie, objectivism) emphasises man as a victim to the coercion of others, sort of a struggle between atomistic man and everyone else.

If you meant Objectivism then that is not true.

2) [similarity between objectivism]: They halt absolute truth, absolute morality, and an objective reality as the hugest premise of all philsophy.

3) In other words, you spend all your time bitching about how man needs to be left alone and respected that you eventually find yourself building up this conception of man as an atomized individual separate from his community and incapable of thriving.

Also false.

4) One's own reason is insufficient to explain the universe. Yes, this sounds repulsive as we have all inherited enlightenmenet sentiment if we have found ourselves pulled into the Objectivist school. Unfortunately, traditoinalists have to emphasise (because everyone has forgotten) that the inherited traditions of the past (particularly the West) represent the knowledge and wisdom of billions of men, and the foundation of our entire civilization.

Man's survival does not require him to discover all of the possible truths about reality only enough to survive and that is done but the use of his own reason (not a communal ability).

If this is an argument against an objectivist principle - which one and how?

Enlightenment impulses tell us to reject traditions as (just like everything else) stifflers on our "individual empowerment". Traditionalists look first to tradition as a starting point to build up from with reason and rational inquiry. Don't mistake: reason is still the medium of truth seaking. It's just that one starts with one's inherited traditions as a starting point.

People should be truth bound not tradition bound. Whatever the past brings it is valuable to the extend that it is true (which is an Objectivist position re: tradition).

5) Emphasis on law and order, aristocracy (literally we might htink of it as meritocracy although meritocracy has the enlightenment connotation that one should ignore birth differences and act as if we are all born equal which is not true).

I already addressed that one.

Your critique here is based on incorrect assumptions about Objectivism.

Edited by ~Sophia~
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Your critique here is based on incorrect assumptions about Objectivism.

I've read my OPAR and have a somewhat-decent-understanding of objectivism. I was not criticizing objecting though, only the broader enlightenment heading which Objectivism is definitely nestled under. You might be slightly annoyed that I nestled Objectivism as just some school under the enlightenment. Traditionalists tend to do that (look philosophies in a broader sense) to find their historical context.

To review, here is what a traditionalist reacts against:

1) Man has rights.

Traditioanlists think that men have conditions under which they flourish, but nothing like Lockean rights that are just granted to them because they are men. Objectivism at least understands that rights are conditions of flourishment and not some gift granted from the heavens.

2) Man's own reason is sufficient to understand the truth.

Traditionalists obviously accept reason as a mode of finding the truth, but they use their inherited traditions as a starting point for exploration. De facto, this is mostly what everyone does anyway, but traditionalists emphasize it because it plays into their overall reaction against the enlightenment.

3) It's man vs. all.

Traditionalists think that the language of American liberalism (classical and modern) has deemphasized the important task of living: pursuing the good. When you talk constantly about the politics of empowerment, you tend to forget what it is you want to be empowered to do. Objectivists aren't necessarily in this camp but most certainly the libertarians are (ie, at least objectivism is a comprehensive philosophy that proscribes what one is to do once he is empowered with his "rights").

Now on to a few specific things as this is an interesting discussion.

Man survives by the use of his reason. Due to the division of labor, living in a community makes things easier, but it is not a necessity.

Now this is the single most important thing you stated in your response. What exactly do you mean here? Man cannot under any circumstance survive or thrive without a community.

Even if you were stranded alone on a desert island and managed to live a somewhat-fulfilling life (say eating, building, and thinking), you would have depended upon your parents and former community for giving you the capacity to fend for yourself, and you most certainly would have depended on your cultural inheritance to be given the ability to think and meditate productively.

Objectivists, and indeed most members in the school of enlightenment premises, have a very hard time explaining child-rearing. Everyone here knows that Rand brushed this issue aside. But even after that, nobody has given much of a sufficient explanation for why children have rights or even basic dignity. Most objectivists admit that they don't based on their lack of rationality (although some have given silly defenses for child protection laws).

In conclusion:

Why have children, Mr. Objectivist?

Answer: Well, I don't know. Maybe it might add to your long-term-self-interest by giving you a fulfilling experience? (never mind that in reality this would not hold water, at least it certainly didn't for Howard Roark or Hank Reardon). Families in Rand's novels, like in most enlightenment settings, are mostly portrayed as stifling, archaic institutions that hinder one's ability to be fully empowered (aka, Reardon’s family, Keating's family, etc.)

Again, for my entire life as well as for the entire life of everyone on this forum, we have been "coerced." We have been guided. We have been taught. Now that we are capable of being self-sufficient with the great inheritance of our culture and traditions, we are told by the enlightenment to free ourselves from the bonds of the very communities that got us here to begin with.

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Now this is the single most important thing you stated in your response. What exactly do you mean here? Man cannot under any circumstance survive or thrive without a community.

Even if you were stranded alone on a desert island and managed to live a somewhat-fulfilling life (say eating, building, and thinking), you would have depended upon your parents and former community for giving you the capacity to fend for yourself, and you most certainly would have depended on your cultural inheritance to be given the ability to think and meditate productively.

It is true that a human newborn is not able to survive by itself but that is due to the fact that his mental capacity is not fully developed. The extend to which a man can reason is proportional to the extend he can survive on his own. So that is where that capacity comes from. The ability to think does not come from cultural inheritance.

Objectivists, and indeed most members in the school of enlightenment premises, have a very hard time explaining child-rearing.

What do you mean? There is a multitude of selfish benefits that come from having a child. I know I have one.

I obtain a great value from teaching and directing my child; from watching rational human life evolve and flourish. It is also an opportunity to learn through 1) the process of teaching and 2) by understanding child's innocent perspective on life. This innocence combined with my child's uninhibited display of love (which is not unconditional if the child has been taught a proper meaning of love), is a source of pleasure for me. I find that adults hold back for various reasons (I do not get what I deserve as much from adults). It is a rational and very much earned pleasure which touches very deeply inside. It is hard to match. It is a source of great psychological visibility. It is a constant reminder of my admirable characteristics. There is also pride from meeting the challange of the whole undertaking. All of those are pretty selfish, no?

But it is an optional value.

But even after that, nobody has given much of a sufficient explanation for why children have rights or even basic dignity. Most objectivists admit that they don't based on their lack of rationality (although some have given silly defenses for child protection laws).

There are many discussions here on this topic (have you read them?). Chidren have rights because they are human. Rights are granted based on the nature of man as a rational being and extended to those members of the same species who have the potential for rationality (someone born without a brain would have been excluded but that is pretty much the only exception I am familiar with). It would be the same for any species with rational capacity.

Why have children, Mr. Objectivist?

Answer: Well, I don't know. Maybe it might add to your long-term-self-interest by giving you a fulfilling experience? (never mind that in reality this would not hold water, at least it certainly didn't for Howard Roark or Hank Reardon). Families in Rand's novels, like in most enlightenment settings, are mostly portrayed as stifling, archaic institutions that hinder one's ability to be fully empowered (aka, Reardon’s family, Keating's family, etc.)

There is no maybe about parenting being a rewarding, life enhancing experience for some, like me. I could bring Francisco's father and Dagny's mother as examples of good family influences. Your family members (as anyone arround you) will be a hindrance to the degree they are irrational.

Rand's choices for her fiction were directed by her goal of presenting man as a heroic being. She also did not write about many other optional human values as it was not necessary.

Again, for my entire life as well as for the entire life of everyone on this forum, we have been "coerced." We have been guided. We have been taught. Now that we are capable of being self-sufficient with the great inheritance of our culture and traditions, we are told by the enlightenment to free ourselves from the bonds of the very communities that got us here to begin with.

Yes we all have been exposed to various environmental influences but the point is that we are not bound by them. As a rational, mature human being you are free and able to evaluate everything which you have been taught and only accept those things which you find to be true.

Objectivism does not say that we should live as hermits (but that has been already pointed out to you.)

Edited by ~Sophia~
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Very interesting discussion so far. I have a few things to add.

1) I have read many objectivist attempts to justify child rights (and for that matter the rights of the mentally handicapped). They mostly rely on the "potential" for rationality which is a very vague standard. There are also objectivists who flat out deny that children have rights, instead replacing them pseudo-rights (again on the standard for potential rationality). Do I really have to point out why this is silly?

2) Child-rearing is a fulfilling experience for you. For that I am glad. But I just want to note (although this is not your intention) that when you make a list of X, Y, and Z of how raising a child adds to your hedonic calculus it sounds almost repulsive. What happens when it stops being "fulfilling"? You might argue that you would still be "committed," but based off of what? If objectivists quip and quabble all of the time about the very status of rights for Children, is this really what you want to base your human instinct for procreation on? Forgive the traditionalist rhetoric, but I think there is something deeper in your desire to raise children. Surely you would fight like hell to save your kid's life. Prove to me, as Rand would say, that the rational reason for you to do so is that you would not be able to live a moral life afterwards without his existence? What about your siblings? I don't know about you, but I would fight like hell to save my sister's life.

3)

The ability to think does not come from cultural inheritance.

Really? How do you think we are talking to each other right now? Language, as Peikoff writes in OPAR, is integrally connected to our ability to think in conceptual terms. Scientifically, by the way, it is impossible for someone to become fluent in any language unless they are exposed to it before the age of 10. Using Objectivism, could you prove to me why someone would be morally compelled to teach their child how to speak and read via language if they correctly deemed it not in their long-term rational self-interest? If you need me to think of a situation where exposing my child to English would not be in my rational long-term self-interest I can give you one.

The point is that my ability to think is in every way shape and form connected to my cultural inheritance. Thank God for the West.

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