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SELLING OBJECTIVISM

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EdSalti
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HOW DO WE GO ABOUT INTRODUCING OBJECTIVISM TO THE AVERAGE PERSON? Is this even something we want to do?

For most Objectivists, the principles of Objectivism, once understood, are so obviously right that the desire to share them is overwhelming. The apathy with which they are usually met is monumentally frustrating at the very least. Maybe it’s in the presentation?

I have spent a fair amount of time visiting assorted sites dedicated to Objectivism. The impression I come away with is that Objectivism is viewed as a Golden Tabernacle on a High Hill. Those willing to make the climb are welcomed in but I have found little effort to make the way inviting.

Ayn Rand’s plot line in AS was a world-order crisis brought on by a global march toward Collectivism and speeded to its climax by The Strike. I’m not quite ready to go on strike just yet; as if the loss of my tiny mind would make a difference.

It is my contention that most people in the world who subscribe to some major religion are more in touch with the principles of Objectivism that we give them credit for. I have posted the point several times in my brief association here that The Golden Rule, stated as, “That which you would not have others do to you, do not to them,” is a very handy basic principle to follow as a practicing Objectivist. I have noted that this principle in some form or another is a key tenet in seven of the world’s major religions. Objectivism departs from religious beliefs mostly in the realm of the mysticism that clings to religions from their origins. In guidance on how to deal with your fellow humans, the similarities are greater than the differences and should provide a foundation for spreading the word.

If there is a consensus that it is in our interest to introduce people to the truths of Objectivism as we see them; and if we agree, at least for the sake of argument, that there is a shared core of values among Objectivism and other philosophies based on religion; what we can contrive through this Forum is something in the way of a checklist that will help us all present Objectivism to others in a way that makes it more palatable and less threatening.

If I can convince someone of the true meaning of man’s inalienable right to life and property; that no man has a claim on another man’s life; that all transactions among men must be voluntary; that the purpose of government is the protection of an individual’s rights; I shall be pleased. If he wants to cling to his concept of God as the creator, I am happy to let him have his security blanket.

If there is a thread here, and I suppose it should have one, it might be: HOW CAN WE PRESENT OBJECTIVISM TO OUR FRIENDS AND ASSOCIATES IN THE MOST POSITIVE LIGHT; AND HOW CAN WE BEST AVOID ALIENATING THEM TO THE IDEALS OF OBJECTIVISM?

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Respectfully, I happen to just recently come across this from Ayn Rand regarding the "Golden Rule" (in the form commonly used in religions):

Regarding the golden rule: "Do unto others as you'd want them to do unto you." This is used in support of altruism. In that way, it would imply that you must give out to charity because you want to be an object of charity yourself. Or—you must sacrifice yourself to others because you want them to sacrifice themselves to you. Actually, the golden rule can work only in application to my morality: you do not sacrifice yourself to others and you do not wish them to sacrifice themselves to you. You may want to be helped in an emergency or a catastrophe—but only in such cases. You consider such cases a calamity—not your normal and proper state of existence. You do not wish to live as an object of charity—and you do not hand charity out to others.

The Journals of Ayn Rand, Part 3 - Transition Between Novels, 8 - The Moral Basis Of Individualism

Also, I do not think "there is a shared core of values among Objectivism and other philosophies based on religion." To the extent there is a shared core of values with many of our fellow Americans, it cannot be based on their religion—but rather on their common sense.

But I certainly agree it is in our best interest to promote Objectivism. In response to your question about how, I think a major mistake we make is not recognizing and being respectful of how much time it takes to learn about and adopt a new philosophy.

Edited by Old Toad
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If there is a thread here, and I suppose it should have one, it might be: HOW CAN WE PRESENT OBJECTIVISM TO OUR FRIENDS AND ASSOCIATES IN THE MOST POSITIVE LIGHT; AND HOW CAN WE BEST AVOID ALIENATING THEM TO THE IDEALS OF OBJECTIVISM?
With reason. I won't deny that there are enemies of reason coming by here who find trolling to be great sport and who are proud of their skills in deception and denunciation, but they shouldn't be our main concern. We're talking about our friends and associates. So having correctly identified that we're dealing with a friend and associate, either they understand and agree with specific aspects of Objectivism, or they don't. If it's the former, great! If it's the latter, then you have to try to understand what the problem is -- not understanding, not even having the most basic knowledge of, or some form of conscious rejection? As an example, some people simply do not know at all what the Objectivist position on intellectual property is; some people reject it. If you are dealing with simply not-knowing, it's very simple to just say what the Objectivist position is. Rejection OTOH is hard to deal with because it means that the person is holding contradictory positions, and you have to unwind their furball of assumptions to see where exactly the contradiction is. Unfortunately, many people are deeply offended at the idea that they could possibly have unresolved contradictions in their thinking, and when actually presented with that evidence, they can turn from being reasonable to being snarly. At this point one should simply re-evaluate the evidence that you are aware of -- why do you think that this person embraces reason as his proper means of existence, when he allows emotion to override his mind? What made you think that he was in some sense a friend of Objectivism? Simply focus on those specifics that you can be certain of, and slowly build on that to resolve the contradictions in his thinking.
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I find it very difficult to "explain" Oism, to most of my friends and associates, simply because it takes more then just "explaining". The least difficult way that I have found to "pass it down" is by my actions and behavoir in any situation. Showing my general positive outlook on life and my "need" for it to be better, seems to have more effect on the people around me than trying to explain why or how right out of the gate. If someone asks me how or why, I explain to them some of the core values I carry very minimally.

In less words: Show then tell.

Be a Oist Ninja :lol:

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If you would like more information on what you can do so spread O'ism, or at least the ideas, you could watch “Cultural Movements: Creating Change” by Yaron Brook and Onkar Ghate on aynrand.org (about halfway down the page.) For other ideas or areas of activism, you could sign up at http://www.olist.com/oactivists/ to get on an activism mailing list.

During one of Dr. Andrew Bernstein's lectures, he mentioned he is writing a book that is a lay person's introduction to Objectivism. I'm eager for that to come out so my mother will quit bugging me. :lol:

And finally, although I have yet to read it, someone lent me a copy of Craig Biddle's Loving Life and said that is a good summary, of sorts, to Objectivism. It's a short, easy read, so would be a lot less to hand to someone than Atlas Shrugged.

Edited by K-Mac
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During one of Dr. Andrew Bernstein's lectures, he mentioned he is writing a book that is a lay person's introduction to Objectivism. I'm eager for that to come out so my mother will quit bugging me. :lol:

It's called "Objectivism in One Lesson," and it looks really good. According to that page, it'll be coming out tomorrow. I plan on getting it as soon as I can afford it, myself. Bernstein is great.

I'm afraid I find it hard to reach people myself. Sure, I send LTE's, make short posts introducing people to Objectivism, etc, but when it comes down to it, it's very hard to get someone interested enough that you can explain some of the core values to them, or get them to read AS. It becomes especially frustrating when these are people you care about, whom you know are good people, but simply do not think philosophy is anything they need to think about.

As a matter of fact, I think it's this type of outlook -- that philosophy is just something for those crazy grad-students and professors to babble about -- that is most difficult to deal with. At the very least, someone who is holding false-premises or is slightly hostile to Ayn Rand's ideas knows the importance of ideas, and can be engaged and debated with (And possibly converted). But when all you have to work with is one big wall of indifference... It's annoying, to say the least.

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Respectfully, I happen to just recently come across this from Ayn Rand regarding the "Golden Rule" (in the form commonly used in religions):

The Journals of Ayn Rand, Part 3 - Transition Between Novels, 8 - The Moral Basis Of Individualism

Also, I do not think "there is a shared core of values among Objectivism and other philosophies based on religion." To the extent there is a shared core of values with many of our fellow Americans, it cannot be based on their religion—but rather on their common sense.

But I certainly agree it is in our best interest to promote Objectivism. In response to your question about how, I think a major mistake we make is not recognizing and being respectful of how much time it takes to learn about and adopt a new philosophy.

Re: Ayn Rand's quote: Exactly the reason I stated the maxim the way I did and not the way it's given in Christianity. It's been a good many years, but I remember that most religions state it the way I did. You don't go around spring-loaded to do good; you just treat people the way you would be treated.

As to shared values in many religions, I agree with the "common sense" statement. That is precisely why the same principles show up in so many otherwise dissimilar and unrelated body of ethics. Don't kill. Don't steal. Don't lie. These are basic rules for getting along with other people you must live with.

My point in all this is that too often we dwell on the differences between Objectivism and the belief system of whomever we are discussing it with. Universal Health Care is a hot topic that can generate a spirited argument on both sides of the aisle. If you state flatly that you are against it and it is another step on the road to Socialism (which I am and it is), you immediately set up an adversarial discussion and you are unlikely to convince anyone of your position or change theirs. However, you can very easily lead someone from an agreement on man's inalienable right to his life to no one having a claim on someone else's life to the true nature of universal health care. You may not kick any doors down, but you may get it opened a crack so a little light can shine in.

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It's called "Objectivism in One Lesson," and it looks really good. According to that page, it'll be coming out tomorrow. I plan on getting it as soon as I can afford it, myself. Bernstein is great.

I'm afraid I find it hard to reach people myself. Sure, I send LTE's, make short posts introducing people to Objectivism, etc, but when it comes down to it, it's very hard to get someone interested enough that you can explain some of the core values to them, or get them to read AS. It becomes especially frustrating when these are people you care about, whom you know are good people, but simply do not think philosophy is anything they need to think about.

As a matter of fact, I think it's this type of outlook -- that philosophy is just something for those crazy grad-students and professors to babble about -- that is most difficult to deal with. At the very least, someone who is holding false-premises or is slightly hostile to Ayn Rand's ideas knows the importance of ideas, and can be engaged and debated with (And possibly converted). But when all you have to work with is one big wall of indifference... It's annoying, to say the least.

A good lead. Thanks. I'll put a copy on order.

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many people are deeply offended at the idea that they could possibly have unresolved contradictions in their thinking, and when actually presented with that evidence, they can turn from being reasonable to being snarly.

I had the impression from reading a variety of posts here that many Objectivists receive the same kind of reaction I used to get. I could shut down a good bull session in two minutes flat :P. Too much aggression and intensity. I don't get into to many bull sessions any more. More often, it's a more concrete discussion on the topic du jour in the news. Gay marriage, health care, energy, etc. It can get pretty intense when I tell a very conservative friend that his position is merely the flip side of the liberal position on a very thin coin. Focussing on similarities and quitting while I am ahead works better than most other things I've tried.

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However, you can very easily lead someone from an agreement on man's inalienable right to his life to no one having a claim on someone else's life to the true nature of universal health care. You may not kick any doors down, but you may get it opened a crack so a little light can shine in.

I think that is right. Boil the issue down to a discussion of rights. If you can reach an agreement as to what rights are and what rights you have, you can apply that to the issue you are discussing. If the person you are talking with doesnt accept your position on rights or believes that the state can breach those rights if circumstances demand it, then you are not likely to agree on much.

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Objectivism departs from religious beliefs mostly in the realm of the mysticism that clings to religions from their origins.

Mysticism is a horrible sign of irrationality but it isn't the fundamental problem, altruism is.

Most people have to be at least semi-rational in order to survive and many can be convinced on many issues by a rational argument. However the only other morality out there that claims to be absolute is altruism and no one sees an alternative to it.

If an Objectivist and an altruist agreed on the golden rule it wouldn't matter because they would still be talking about two entirely different things.

The complete depravity of altruism and how it inevitably leads to totalitarian enslavement is what must be demonstrated to people before they will drop it.

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Hello Ed,

It appears the "negative" form is common in religions other than Christianity, as you say. In the United States, however, Christianity is the dominant religion.

I do not know how scientific this is, but I made quick Google® searches on the following fragments of the two versions of the "Golden Rule":

1) REGARDING THE "POSITIVE" VERSION: "do unto others" resulted in 1,310,000 hits or "as you would want them to do" resulted in 75,100 hits

2) REGARDING THE "NEGATIVE" VERSION: "that which you would not have them do" resulted in 27,100 or "that which you would not have others do" resulted in 1,380 hits (one of which was this thread).

I also found this quote: "The law is negative, the gospel positive; the law says "do not unto others that which you would not have others do unto you," while the gospel declares that we should "do to others that which we would that others should do unto us." The Law and the Gospel, by William J. Bryan (1896) http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Law_and_...illiam_J._Bryan

In addition, at least regarding the Christian Bible:

Several passages in the New Testament quote Jesus of Nazareth espousing the ethic of reciprocity, including the following:

Matthew 7:12

"So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets."

Luke 6:31

"Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethic_of_reciprocity

It appears that the "positive" form--a blantant plea to altrusim--is the most widespread, by far (on websites in the English language). Regarding people in the United States, I think we are dealing predominantly with the Christian "positive" form, which is not a common ground with Objectivism. (I am not sure the "negative" form is consistent with Objectivism, either, but it seems less relevant to promoting Objectivism and I have not analyzed that form tonight.)

I agree it is imperative that we look for ways to be more persuasive in selling Objectivism. I don't mean to quibble with you; I am questioning a factual premise that affects the strategies we should consider in trying to sell Objectivism to people around us here in the United States.

Edited by Old Toad
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Im fairly new to Objectivism myself, and "refuse" to call myself one yet, because I haven't yet fully integrated it in my own life. I am still in the process of reading other philosophers works, and only after I have a full understanding of what the philosophies O'ism "attacks" are about, can I honestly call myself a "true" Objectivist. I don't like when people talk about Rand's work on the basis of what they have heard from others, so therefore im going to read Kant, Hume, Plato etc. myself, to get the full view.

However, after this brief introduction, I have became enough of an O'ist to accept the basic axioms, and the basic principles of Objectivism. Therefore I have found "succesful" ways of making people recognize the contradictions and "grey areas" their philosophies hold, and usually that is far more important, than to "teach" them what O'ism says about every topic imaginable. Usually when I debate someone, and we hit a "rough spot", I try to vigorously challenge my opponent to explain why he holds that view, and on what it is based. Quite often the opponent will struggle to find any sort of non-contradictory explanation, and after that it is extremely easy to pick apart his/her points and show where the contradictions lie. Actually....this was the way i was originally "converted" :) buy one of my friends......

Even though there has been some debate here about the value of "dumbing down", I find it quite useful. Not only because I myself am not that familiar with all the definitions, but moreso of the reason that simplifications and examples are quite good to show a person where his contradictions lie. In the case of people spouting stolen concepts like it was going out of style, I usually show their error by giving easy examples. In Finland we have this semi-famous paralyzed athlete(from the waist down) called Leo-Pekka Tähti, who has won some paralympic medals in the sport where they sprint with wheelchairs(i dont know the official name of the sport), and a few years ago he was somewhat of a household name. When someone doesn't understand why i oppose their stolen concepts, i tell them something like: "I heard Leo Tähti is a really fast runner" or "I heard Leo Tähti shoots an amazing free kick(soccer)". In other words "A person who can't move his legs, is very good at moving his legs to propel a ball forward or carry his body with high speeds". Then i show him how the concepts "run" and "free kick" depend on the concept of "use of legs", and that if there is no use of legs, there can't be "run" and "free kick".

This is actually fairly succesful in making the person at least question his premises and notice his contradictions, and in my opinion there is nothing more important than that, in order to become an Objectivist. It's impossible to convert someone in a day, and for me it took months to notice all my contradictions, after some of them had been shown to me.

The positive part is, that there is no need to rush anyone into anything, because the facts wont suddenly dissappear. As the quote says, that sometimes appears at the top of the page(roughly): "Reality is the thing that doesn't go away, when you stop believing in it". Of course it requires an honest effort by a person to rigorously challenge his own premises, and many will just give up. But the first and possibly only step required is to fight the contradictions and fuzzyness in other peoples philosophies.

However, this part is important when debating someone: Dont let your opponent jump from one topic to another unrelated one over and over again. When you discuss a topic, stay on it until you have come to some sort of conclusion. If your opponent tells you "America is rich because of slavery", and you answer "Well, slavery has existed pretty much everywhere and everytime, and still exists in some parts of the world, and there is no correlation between wealth and use of slavery", then don't let him jump to something like "America just bombs everyone and steals their natural resources". Demand him to either accept that slavery is not the reason for the wealth of the US, or demand him to refute your claim.

This is extremely important, because if you don't do this, no debate has taken place. If someone makes a claim that is countered, he has to either accept he was wrong, make a counterargument of his own, or explain that he isn't currently able to give you an answer, but that he will look into it and get back to you. So, stick with the topic, and force your opponent to do the same.

Even if becoming an O'ist requires time and work, it isn't all that hard to make people at least somewhat rational.....

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Hello Ed,

It appears the "negative" form is common in religions other than Christianity, as you say. In the United States, however, Christianity is the dominant religion.

I do not know how scientific this is, but I made quick Google® searches on the following fragments of the two versions of the "Golden Rule":

1) REGARDING THE "POSITIVE" VERSION: "do unto others" resulted in 1,310,000 hits or "as you would want them to do" resulted in 75,100 hits

2) REGARDING THE "NEGATIVE" VERSION: "that which you would not have them do" resulted in 27,100 or "that which you would not have others do" resulted in 1,380 hits (one of which was this thread).

I also found this quote: "The law is negative, the gospel positive; the law says "do not unto others that which you would not have others do unto you," while the gospel declares that we should "do to others that which we would that others should do unto us." The Law and the Gospel, by William J. Bryan (1896) http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Law_and_...illiam_J._Bryan

In addition, at least regarding the Christian Bible:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethic_of_reciprocity

It appears that the "positive" form--a blantant plea to altrusim--is the most widespread, by far (on websites in the English language). Regarding people in the United States, I think we are dealing predominantly with the Christian "positive" form, which is not a common ground with Objectivism. (I am not sure the "negative" form is consistent with Objectivism, either, but it seems less relevant to promoting Objectivism and I have not analyzed that form tonight.)

I agree it is imperative that we look for ways to be more persuasive in selling Objectivism. I don't mean to quibble with you; I am questioning a factual premise that affects the strategies we should consider in trying to sell Objectivism to people around us here in the United States.

You make some good points and perhaps this very discussion would be a good device for a discussion with someone most familiar with the Christian version. Pointing out that the alternate vesion of the Golden Rule is the predominant one in most religions and getting a reaction on that. I think most people practice the alternate version more so than the Christian version. People respond to others needing help in the face of catastrophe. Hurricane Ike, or Katrina a few years ago, are perfect examples. Objectivism doesn't discourage helping people suffering from unusual circumstances. It does discourage giving more than you can afford to give or feeling obligated to give to someone you judge unworthy of the gift. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, we assume a person is worthy of being helped return their life to a state of normalcy but we don't create an abnormal state in our own life to do so.

I think this is an excellent example of showing someone that they are more in tune with the principles of Objectivism than they realize.

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I appreciate your thoughts. You seem to be well on your way to achieving your goal. I don't recall at what point I considered myself an Objectivist rather than a student of Objectivism. I don't think there is a definitive line that you cross from one to another. It is how I identify myself and have for a lot of years no matter how imperfectly I may adhere to the principles.

I deleted too much. This is in response to JJJJ. ES

Edited by EdSalti
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I've got two words - Objective Rap.

The Destroyer, Big Franko, Steel Hank, and - of course - The H. Bomb. All produced by Dr. A (this works on SOOO many levels).

(Galt, Fransico, Rearden, and Roark. Yes, I know I'm terrible with rap names).

Or, we could do what the Christians do - hand out hundreds of free copies of Atlas Shrugged out to starving Africans.

Seriously, though, I think we have to integrate it into art. We're kind of in the midst of a music & movies revolution, and if we can get Objectivist Singers or Actors out there, I think we could reach a lot of people. I've noticed we've been moving in a semi-objectivist ethical base in a lot of those areas, but the (still unidentified) problem is that culture is divided along the line of art advocating self respect and independence and art arguing the exact opposite. Look at the artists and listeners, though, and you will find that they are almost all standing with one leg on each side. They don't quite understand selfishness and selflessness, though, and that's a major problem.

But, to sum up, Objectivist Music and Movies.

The question is - how do we sell it to them? Just show them how we roll. The Objectivists who are out there publicly link their happiness and success with inspiration from Ayn Rand.

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[name=Devils_Advocate' date='Sep 16 2008, 08:24 PM' post='190118]

I've got two words - Objective Rap.

The Destroyer, Big Franko, Steel Hank, and - of course - The H. Bomb. All produced by Dr. A (this works on SOOO many levels).

(Galt, Fransico, Rearden, and Roark. Yes, I know I'm terrible with rap names).

A touch of humor there, but actually not too far off the mark. I've noted that I fairly recently returned to this academic exchange of Objective ideas after a 27 year hiatus I call "my life." I visited quite a few sites professing an association with Objectivism and, with the exception of ARI, found very little being done to present the philosophy to the great unwashed. To my tiny mind, the possibilities are extensive. Rappers? Why not? Christians got rappers. Comic books. Series of children's books on the order of The Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew. Saturday morning cartoons. G-rated movies for kids and pre-teens. Maybe I missed something, but I haven't found any of these things.

Obviously, this is going to be my message. GET THE WORD OUT!!

How 'bout everybody wear a teeshirt or sweatshirt with the logo, "A is A."

When some poor fool asks, "What the hell zat mean?", you can pound him/her into insensibility with your brilliant oratory and irrefutable logic.

BTW, "Steel Hank" is good. Got a nice edge to it.

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In my experience, it is difficult to get Objectivist ideas across. The reason being that so many words of the English language have been packaged by the altruists to include concretes that are irrelevant to the actual definition (off the top of my head, the words 'selfish' and 'moral' for example). Thus, I typically get one to two sentences out before having to debate the meaning of some particular word.

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I think we should identify certain words as 'hot words' such as selfishness, altruism, etc. If we can devise a group of statements that includes what these words -really- mean, without mentioning them, once people understand how we mean them, they can be stated.

Honestly, altruism has so many meanings that it will be difficult, but you could also start by asking the person what altruism and selfishness mean to him or her. Some people think of altruism as giving a gift in general, some people see it as a gift without expectation of -material- gain, so it's okay to give your girlfriend flowers so you get to make out on the couch that night, but not expecting her to buy you something nice for your next birthday. Some see the sacrifice as the more important component, such as a priest, giving up worldly posessions, giving up pleasures, in exchange for being a conduit for 'god' to communicate with laymen. Once you have a grasp on what they define those words as, you can deduce how to proceed. If the person extols the virtues of complete self sacrifice as the only true good man can achieve on earth, then you're probably already done with the discussion and don't really need to go further. I have found, however, that the average American is not so 'idealistic' and may just let you in to have a cup of tea and steam clean their philosophy.

A friend of mine says that he feels that in the Michael Crichton movie The 13th Warrior the Viking king Buliwyf (this story is parallel with beowulf) goes to help the Danish king in an act of altruism. In the future, I will ask him why he thinks that is a noble deed, and whether he thinks it would be any less noble if Buliwyf expected payment, or if he was counting on the glory he would receive, or possibly to increase and help maintain relations with a neighboring kingdom. He's a practical guy so I think I can convince him that helping someone isn't any less right if you expect something in return. Look for common movie or literature references to help solidify your stance with your non Objectivist friends, try to ask a lot of questions about his or her philosophy, and avoid becoming emotional. If you're going down a line of discussion you're not familiar with or that is heating the conversation up, try and end it, think about it, maybe ask here or read up, and broach the topic later.

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Hello Ed,

I continue to question the premise of the question regarding how to we can better promote Objectivism, which is that we should focus on the common ground with religion—any religion. There is none.

Of course, the “ground” of Objectivism is the axiom existence exists. The “ground” of religion is primacy of consciousness. There is no common ground between these metaphysical views. The difference in metaphysics necessarily leads to differences with every aspect of every other branch of philosophy, from epistemology and logic, to the nature of man, to politics, to art, and to all the specialized sciences.

Under religion, the “common sense” principles – “Don't kill. Don't steal. Don't lie.” – are subordinated to altruism: Don’t kill—except for crusade or jihad or inquisition or the master race or family dishonor; Don’t steal—except from the rich to give to the poor; Don’t lie—except to shield others from painful truths.

Even the principle of reciprocity is meaningless without a standard. If a person thinks it is proper that any person–including himself–should be sacrificed for others, the reciprocity principle will not help in dealing with him.

“Common sense” is not grounded in religion. It is grounded in reality. It is the departure from religion.

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Hello Ed,

I continue to question the premise of the question regarding how to we can better promote Objectivism, which is that we should focus on the common ground with religion—any religion. There is none.

Of course, the “ground” of Objectivism is the axiom existence exists. The “ground” of religion is primacy of consciousness. There is no common ground between these metaphysical views. The difference in metaphysics necessarily leads to differences with every aspect of every other branch of philosophy, from epistemology and logic, to the nature of man, to politics, to art, and to all the specialized sciences.

Under religion, the “common sense” principles – “Don't kill. Don't steal. Don't lie.” – are subordinated to altruism: Don’t kill—except for crusade or jihad or inquisition or the master race or family dishonor; Don’t steal—except from the rich to give to the poor; Don’t lie—except to shield others from painful truths.

Even the principle of reciprocity is meaningless without a standard. If a person thinks it is proper that any person–including himself–should be sacrificed for others, the reciprocity principle will not help in dealing with him.

“Common sense” is not grounded in religion. It is grounded in reality. It is the departure from religion.

Toad,

You are leading me into the field of epistomology and it's an area where I am pretty weak. I read TOE twice, years ago, understood less than half of it then, and have forgotten most of that.

But, onward into the quicksand: I still disagree. How well the tenets of a philosophy are practiced has no bearing on whether or not they are the same or similar. I grant you that the Christian version of the Golden Rule is incompatible with Objectivism in that it encourages an altruistic approach to it. The version I used, "Don't treat people the way you wouldn't want to be treated," is completely compatible, and, to me, very much the essence of Objectivism.

I don't follow that the prohibitions against killing, stealing, lying are necessarily tied to altruism. In the Ten Commandments and in most other religions, they are stated as absolutes. That the Heirarchy of Shamans (Shamen?) has amended these with small print doesn't make them in their original form and intent less valid or less compatible with Objectivism.

Religions as Institutions quite naturally have institutional leaders who always manage to find loopholes through which to violate the very principles of their foundation. Strictly for the good of the institution, of course. That doesnt invalidate the principles, it invalidates the institution.

The aspect of religion we have a problem with is the institutional hypocracy of the shamans who run it. Absolutes have a way of becoming very inconvenient. "Thou shalt not kill" works pretty good nearly all the time; but there is always a"but." And once the precedent is set, it gets easier to amend the "but" with an "and." The names we have for random, unsanctioned killing are the names of crimes, the names for institutionalized killings are glorious achievements.

I continue to support my position that there are enough similarities in the core principles to use these as a launching point to convince our Christian friends that Objectivism isn't a divergent path leading straight to hell but a smoother path leading to a happier and less traumatic life. A significant difference between their ethical base and ours is that theirs is impossible to live up to; ours is not.

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name='Jackethan' date='Sep 18 2008, 12:26 PM' post='190346']

I think we should identify certain words as 'hot words' such as selfishness, altruism, etc. If we can devise a group of statements that includes what these words -really- mean, without mentioning them, once people understand how we mean them, they can be stated.

Wanted to acknowledge your input. I like your thoughts on the discussion of "altruism." In a world getting more accustomed to 10-second sound bites, you have to make your points simply and quickly. And try to pretend it isn't "philosophy." What's the phrase du jour? Lipstick on a pig. <_<

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Hello Ed,

But, onward into the quicksand: ...

<_<

… How well the tenets of a philosophy are practiced has no bearing on whether or not they are the same or similar. …

… A significant difference between their ethical base and ours is that theirs is impossible to live up to; ours is not.

Q.E.D.

... "Don't treat people the way you wouldn't want to be treated," is completely compatible, and, to me, very much the essence of Objectivism.

Briefly, the source of individual rights is reality, reason, the nature of man, and the requirements of man’s life. To live, a man must act to provide himself with sustenance and shelter. For this, it is right that he be able to keep the products of his own efforts. Man's rights are independent of any other man’s agreement or reciprocity. The nature of man and the requirements for his life provide the objective standard for each man's rights. Another man might respect or try to violate his rights, but is not the source of his rights. How "you" would (or would not) want to be treated is not an objective standard for another man's rights.

... In the Ten Commandments and in most other religions, they are stated as absolutes. …
Commandments are not absolutes; their status is the arbitrary. This is why institutions—and individuals—cannot practice them and live. This is why the amendments and fine print are made--but also are inconsistent with reality, reason, the nature of man, and the requirements for man’s life. The problem is not with institutions—which are merely organizations of individuals—it is with religion, i.e., it is with the root idea that everything—from existence to ethics to politics to law—is a matter of arbitrary commandment from a consciousness that is “above” and “beyond” reality and reason.

P.S. It would be a pleasure to meet you sometime.

-- OT

Edited by Old Toad
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Just to cut in past the religion stuff here (I say: the only possible way to communicate with Christians is to target those that hold the right values, but have been taught the only basis for those values can be religious, for example, a 'puritan' hardworking attitude, which doesn't have to have anything to do with God) I wanted to say something.

My biggest problem in selling Objectivism, is actually getting someone interested in the issue of Philosophy altogether. 'Oh, concepts are things that go on in our heads as opposed to some mystical realm. How fascinating'. The only time I've ever had success in really spurring on a conversation is in beginning with ethics or politics and then moving back to the actual Philosophy stuff.

It's just annoying, because Objectivism is not just about being selfish or about respecting rights - it's about a principled, rational, honest view of the only reality you live in - yet one can't help giving that impression or saying just that, to catch someone's interest rather than bore them with metaphysics.

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