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SELLING OBJECTIVISM

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EdSalti
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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.

I have a t-shirt with "a is a" on it. I get a lot of questions about it, and after the 10th time, it gets a little bit annoying. I still wear it a lot though, it's a great shirt.

And thanks for the compliment. Fransico's and Rearden's rapper names weren't that hard. Galt took a little bit more, but Roark took forever. I wanted to somehow work in his name and the fact he blew up his building, and it took quite a while to come up with "H. Bomb".

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

-- OT

Good points, Toad, and it will take me some thought to craft a response. It is beginning to drift away a bit on my original thread of making Objectivism less threatening to John Doe. I use the (perceived :P ) similarities between religion and Objectivism as a device to open discussions with friends and introduce the principles I live by in such a way that they can relate to them; and, I might add, in such a way that I don't think I am misrepresenting Objectivism.

Over the years, responses to my identifying myself as an Objectivist plot well on TUBC (The Ubiquitous Bell Curve.) Under one flap is a small body who said, "I've heard of that and have been meaning to learn more." Under the other is, "Oh, you're one of those atheists. I don't want to have anything to do with you." The largest response, as our friend, Tenure, pointed out is, "Huh?"

I think it is in our interest to be able to present facets of Objectivism to this largely uninterested body when the occasions permit in small palatable doses. It will be the rare occasion indeed if one of us should cause the philosophically lame to leap up and dance. But, showing that Objectivism isn't a totally divergent path leading straight to hell will be a start.

We are not far apart philosophically or geographically. (Don't you love a good segue?) If you have plans to be in the vicinity of the Hill Country, let me know; and ditto me and Dallas. Later. ES

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<snip>But, showing that Objectivism isn't a totally divergent path<snip>

But it is. Objectivism fundamentally rejects the christian ethos from "Judge not lest ye be not judged" and "turn the other cheek" to as Old Toad suggested "Do unto others". Hell these people consider humility a virtue and pride a vice, a deadly sin actually.

He died for our sins. We are all born sinners in their eyes, there is nothing you can do about it and denying it is in and of itself a sin. I have always believed that I was born sin free and as a seeker of objectivism that fact was reborn in me. Compare that ideal with its born again christian corollary.

Christianity aspires that each man be a sheep of god, docile, meek, led without question with his only hope being that he can attain the unattainable, the unfathomable and the unknowable and enter a fairy kingdom once he is dead. Objectivism demands that each and every man earn, compete, strive to lead and above all that each man uses his reason and the reality of the world that surrounds him to build his own end. Where is the common ground?

I understand what you are saying Ed, but it sounds to me that you want to say to them "look, we're not that bad", but what they are going to hear is not that heartfelt search for common ground but rather an equivocation telling them... "You might be right"

"In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win." TVOS Pg 23

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One reason, that I forgot to mention earlier, is that I think that many people reject Objectivism, is because they misunderstand its "absolutism". When you tell to someones face that their immoral because they are mindlessly gambling away their money, they will reject it, because they only have 2 ways they know, how to deal with such a statement: 1) The religious one: If gambling is immoral, then I will surely burn in hell, but I dont want to do all that crap that comes with religion, or 2) The altruist one: How can i be immoral, i am not hurting anyone with my gambling. Its all my own money. How can he say that im harming someone else.

People need to be explained the relation between being moral and being happy, between being moral and seeing the positive effects it has on ones own existence if one hopes that the other person will understand why he is accused of immorality. Morality, as a concept, is so gravely misused by people, that they need to first understand what it refers to, before they are accused of being immoral.

Also, I like to tell people I "accuse" of immorality, that being immoral is not the "end of the world". All you need to do, is to become moral. There are no burning flames of hell that awaits you after you die, for that affair you had or the money you squandered away. All you need to do, is be honest with who you are, and where you are, and change your ways and live a lifestyle that is consistant with being a prosperous, happy human being. You dont need to go to church and worship any imaginary entities, or feel guilt over not donating your money to Africa or adopting a chinese baby. And more importantly, you shouldn't.

People in general are not all that familiar with the exact meanings of philosophical consepts, and immorality is either seen a religious term, or just as some subjective preference that vary from people to people, and that doesnt really mean anything. So these terms need to be made clear, before starting to use "big words" like morality......

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Maybe we should team up in like groups of 5 and go to other political, ethical and philosphy forums and engage in debate. I cant tell you the number of times I have been on other forums arguing everything from global warming to animal rights and wished other like minded people were there with me. Usually, it is 4 or 5 to 1, me being the one. There are any number of people out there who are receptive to many of the ideas of Objectivism, but have never heard of it. Us going where they are might help bring others to where we are.

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[ How "you" would (or would not) want to be treated is not an objective standard for another man's rights.

I'm afraid I'm going to need an example here. If, as an Objectivist, you would want to be treated according to the principles of Objectivism, to me it follows that is how you would require yourself to treat others. If his perceived rights; e.g., his "right" to demand your money to support national health care, deviate from objective principles, you have no requirement to accede to his perceptions.

Commandments are not absolutes; their status is the arbitrary. This is why institutions—and individuals—cannot practice them and live.

You, sir, are absolutely correct :o . My sentence read that the commandments are "stated" as absolutes and that is precisely why they were almost immediately amended with the "but" and the "and." That they cannot possibly be adhered to in their stated form makes the foundation of the Christian ethic untenable. It has, however, kept armies of shamans clothed, fed, and free of honest work for millenia. The business of approving and explaining the deviations and forgiving the unapproved transgression predates Christianity by a lot of years. The Christian church merely hooked its cars onto a long-running train.

Here's the way I see it: Most of the people we deal with try to live moral, responsible lives. They work to support themselves and their families, try to treat other people with the respect and dignity they expect and they try to teach their kids to do the same thing. They generally subscribe to a version of helping other people that is much closer to what Objectivism says is rational than to what their church teaches. They will gather up old clothes and toys and take them to the church or Goodwill and will drop an extra 20 to help the victims of Hurricane Whatzitsname but they won't dip into the kids' college fund or even that little stash they're setting aside for the new 52" plasma honker. When it comes to "giving til you hurt," most everyone has a very low threshold of pain.

Very few of these good people ever delve into the philosophical basis of their beliefs or the true meaning and ramifications of them. It's just the way things are. It's what they were taught as small kids; it's what their friends were taught; and mostly it works. "Doing unto others" works most of the time. "Thou shalt not kill: 'but,' 'and,'" works most of the time.

I can tell one of these guys that I don't really believe the bit of "doing unto others," going around all the time looking for good that needs doing but I do believe in treating people the way I want to be treated. He won't have a problem with that, because that's pretty much how he sees it too.

I can tell him that I don't believe people should go about killing other people indiscriminately but that there are just some people in this world who need killing to make the world safe for the rest of us. He won't have a problem with that either.

I'm not addressing the shamans. They have a vested interest (should that be "vestment interest"?) in the status quo. They are the problem. I don't run in their circles anyhow. ES

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name='Zip' date='Sep 19 2008, 08:07 PM' post='190520']

We seek the metaphor that works with our mental image of ourselves and our paths. My introduction was via TF so my mental image was of me standing with feet apart, fists on hips, chin up, staring off into the distance at a shining city others could not see. That worked for awhile but when I looked around all my friends and acquaintances were off down the path making the world safe for Democracy, raising kids, etc.

Since that is the same direction I was headed, I had to find another metaphor. What I eventually came up with is not a totally divergent path but a climb up a few levels to a wider and smoother road. I still traveled much in the same direction of job, family, kids, education, etc, but I traveled it without having to thrash through the brambles being hit in the face with guilt and contradictions. There was a great certainty in my Self and fewer unknowns to trouble my progress through life.

I have never apologized for being an Objectivist and don't mean to sound like an apologist. I'm just trying to make the point that the guys we talk to mostly have a belief system that they are very comfortable with, even if it is because they haven't bothered to examine it very deeply. If you assault their beliefs head-on, they get angry and defensive and you've lost any chance to make a rational argument.

I get the impression that you guys might be attempting to engage a more fundamental brand of Christian that I am :o . I'm not that brave. There is a level of fundamentalism that you just can't debate with. Their end game is simply, "...because my Daddy said so, and my Daddy can whup your daddy." Just as I don't try to convert the Shamans, I don't mess with the fundamentalists.

As I've responded to Toad, the guys I deal with are of the Church of Pragmatic Hypocrites. They call themselves Christians and they practice it to the point that it is practical knowing that the ideals of the religion are unattainable and, in reality, undesirable.

I agree completely with your analysis of Christianity. I have for almost 50 years. We see Christianity in the light of reason for the mystical manipulative sham that it because we are student of philosophy. Joe Citizen is not a student and doesn't see it that way. It is a code of ethics and belief system he's known all his life and he's comfortable with it.

Joe Citizen is also prone to pigeonholing concepts so he only has to think about them once. We all are.

"Muslims: 9/11, hate us, mistreat women, chop off head, really nasty;" put 'em in the "Nuke they asses" file.

"Objectivist: Atheists, don't believe in God, hate Jesus, don't know what else, that's enough;" put 'em in the "Piss on 'em" file.

I just think we need to cause Joe to check that file every once in awhile and maybe re-file Objectivists at least to the "Wait and see" file.

Let me close with a posit that is related to this discussion but may lead to another thread and posting:

I am assuming that most of us were raised Christian and were taught the Christian ethic from infancy. Somewhere along the line, we have rejected that teaching in favor of Objectivism, a salient feature of which is the rejection of the concept of a great unknown and unknowable deity to which we owe unquestioning obeisance. In addition to this deity, we owe homage to all of our fellow men; everything and everyone except ourself. These ideas are pre-historic. Christianity is only a relativly new leech on the body of man. "History is the account of Man's struggle to free himself from Man."

Is there a baby in the bathwater we're throwing out?

Playing the age card (got to be worth something besides 10% off at Motel 6), I obviously see threads of commonality in a great many of the world's philosophical bodies, Christianity, Buddhism, Tao, Shinto, etc. All of these religions, considered as philosophies, have guidance on how to relate to one's fellow humans.

Is a piece of advice such as, "In the course of the conduct of one's daily business, one should not make it a habit of randomly slaying one's fellows," invalid because its origin is attributed to Buddha or to a deity?

As Objectivists, we assume that a fellow human is worthy of the respect and rational treatment due all Men until he proves otherwise. We do not treat that person in a disrespectful or irrational manner. "That which we would not have done to us, we don't do to him."

My obvious point is that a principle is not necessarily invalid because its authorship is unknown. We know they all came from wise elders such as myself :P. That they may have been stolen by the Shamans or donated as an offering to the GFPSM, does not automatically render them useless.

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Hello Ed,

The statement is not: “How you, as an Objectivist, would (or would not) want to be treated,” but rather “How you, as a Christian or a Frenchman or Kim Jung-ill or Osama bin Laden or Barack Obama or Jeremiah Wright or John McCain or Jane Doe, would (or would not) want to be treated.” The “you” is subjective—it does not presuppose the “you” is operating from principles of rational self-interest.

When it comes to “giving ‘til you hurt,” most people act on their explicit morality of altruism this way (including by voting): “as long as everyone else is forced to give ‘til it hurts, I’ll let them force me to do it, too.”

-- OT

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I'm not on a crusade to correct the mental gymnastics of others. I associate with many people, I have friends and acquaintances and deal passingly with still more people. But even just considering my friends there are only some to whom I would bother to introduce what I'll call big O - Objectivism (the philosophy) as for the rest I will lead by example but if I tried to go much farther than that my words would soon be reduced to Carlie Brown teachers voice.

I can make a remark in passing or sneak in a tidbit here and there but any serious discussion with the great uninterested is about as useful as a soup sandwich.

The mushheads and fundamentalists are one and the same, they will not/can not be swayed, I don't assault their beliefs. To paraphrase Roark "I don't think of you."

The ones that can think, that apply reason (even if only sporadically) and have already done away with much of the contradictory baggage our society hoists on us are the only ones we can hope to reach, and those people don't need the message to be candy coated in nonsense they have already for the most part rejected.

In my previous post I was not taking exception to your attempts to "convert" but I was taking exception to your assessment that "Objectivism isn't a totally divergent path".

It is, and I want to travel it with people who recognize it as such, not Sunday morning Objectivists who are approaching a fundamentally different philosophy from the same fundamental position. I don't want people who would reject God simply by placing Rand's head on his mystical body.

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It may be time to drop this particular thread. My original intent was to simply explore ways that Objectivism might be presented to those unfamiliar with it in such a way that they would not be inclined to reject it out-of-hand because it threatens the foundation of their own belief system.

Many of the posts in the Forum are about such dilemmas wherein Objectivists trying to do just that run into such a wall of resistance that any rational discussion is impossible. That may be the nature of the beast. I remember that with me it was the messenger as much as it was the message.

I just thought there might be a better way. I am mostly a Type B personality, but there is enough Type A in me that I just hate to see all this brainpower laying around unorganized. B)

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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.

John Galt spent years looking for it. He crossed oceans, and he crossed deserts, and he went down into forgotten mines, miles under the earth. But he found it on the top of a mountain. It took him ten years to climb that mountain. It broke every bone in his body, it tore the skin off his hands, it made him lose his home, his name, his love. But he climbed it. He found the fountain of youth, which he wanted to bring down to men. Only he never came back -- because he found that it couldn't be brought down. [Atlas Shrugged, Chapter VII]

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I found one example of a christian that is probably 10000x times more likely to "convert" to O'ism, than your average relativist atheist.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWDRBAMwyZ8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPyd5wopAO4...;watch_response

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3qmya9iR9o

and

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obD-A2v0rw0

In the last video he commits a couple of the logical fallacies he is trying to argue against in the first three, but this person clearly has some interest in objective reality, even though that may seem quite odd, considering what he is proposing. I sent him a lengthy PM on youtube explaining how the axiom of god does not exist, and how it tries to defy the axiom of existence, and the law of identity while trying to take them for granted at the same time. At least i understand his axiom of god, as "there exists an entity that created existence, the very thing, the concepts "entity" and "create" rely on in the first place". There is obviously a danger that he just uses "fancy talk" in order to sound coherent, and that he actually hasnt done much thinking. Still, its interesting to see what he answers.....

Also, this guy is a great example of why it isnt enough to simply "not believe in a god" to be an atheist, and if all religious people were like this guy, they could easily refute Dawkins idiotic theory of "probabilities" and "level 6" atheism........

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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.

I might be misunderstanding what you mean by, "...why do you think that this person embraces reason as his proper means of existence, when he allows emotion to override his mind?" But if I do understand you, I would largely disagree with your recommended course of action.

If you question their position logically, beginning at a sensible point and proceeding in logical steps, you treat them as equals intellectually, and all the relevant facts and arguments will come to light in an appropriate sequence.

If you set about to untangle their "furball" of errors, your attitude will be patronizing. Let them discover their (false)assumptions as they respond step-wise to a contrary point of view.

Telling other people what their assumptions are, what their motives are, that they are allowing emotion to override their mind, and how bad their thinking is is sure to create animosity, and nothing but animosity.

= Mindy

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