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Subjective vs Objective Theory of Value

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To say that the subject is involved in values is to identify a basic fact; to say that all values are therefore subjective is to form an over-generalization.

It is only an over-generalization if you accept that subjective is a synonym for arbitrary. Rand is certainly consistent in that usage, but that is jargon idiosyncratic to her and the context of Objectivism. The ordinary sense of subjective means personal as in agent-relative and most literally subject-relative. You don't have to go far for ordinary use counter-examples to Rand because Carl Menger used the term subjective in the ordinary sense as mentioned in this very thread.

One could equally say an object is involved in all values and therefore, all values are objective. But such a usage would be meaningless.

I already covered this, it wouldn't be meaningless it would be a variety of intrinsicism because value would be objective in the sense of object-relative.

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It is only an over-generalization if you accept that subjective is a synonym for arbitrary. Rand is certainly consistent in that usage, but that is jargon idiosyncratic to her and the context of Objectivism. The ordinary sense of subjective means personal as in agent-relative and most literally subject-relative. You don't have to go far for ordinary use counter-examples to Rand because Carl Menger used the term subjective in the ordinary sense as mentioned in this very thread.

I already covered this, it wouldn't be meaningless it would be a variety of intrinsicism because value would be objective in the sense of object-relative.

The name of this Forum is "Objectivism Online," subtitled, "Reality, Reason, Rights," so forgive me if I assume that should be the context for discussion here. If it is not, then feel free to use words however you'd like.

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The name of this Forum is "Objectivism Online," subtitled, "Reality, Reason, Rights," so forgive me if I assume that should be the context for discussion here. If it is not, then feel free to use words however you'd like.

Well lets see if that context, and particularly the equating of 'subjective' with 'arbitrary', is adequate to account for all the relevant phenomena.

Emotions are subconscious evaluations based upon one premises and values.

Are emotions also subjective in the sense of arbitrary? Are they subjective in the sense of personal?

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Well lets see if that context, and particularly the equating of 'subjective' with 'arbitrary', is adequate to account for all the relevant phenomena.

Are emotions also subjective in the sense of arbitrary? Are they subjective in the sense of personal?

Are you familiar with Objectivist theories on these issues? Have you read Peikoff's book, Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand?

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Are you familiar with Objectivist theories on these issues? Have you read Peikoff's book, Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand?

Quite. How do you answer the questions: Are emotions also subjective in the sense of arbitrary? Are they subjective in the sense of personal?

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Quite. How do you answer the questions: Are emotions also subjective in the sense of arbitrary? Are they subjective in the sense of personal?

Some emotions may be classified or described as arbitrary, some may be subjective. But it is not an exact description. They are certainly personal in any case: only an individual person can experience the specific emotion. The emotion, as such, is neither arbitrary nor subjective. An emotion is a physiological response to a psychological estimate of reality based upon one's values, either conscious or subconscious. For example, if I see a lion running at me, I feel fear and run away. Also, I may be sitting reading a book, and I suddenly feel fear that the room is closing in on me. The first case, the emotion has a basis in reality; in the second, there isn't. If I want the unearned, I feel that higher taxes on the wealthy is appropriate and right so that I can get health care.

The aspect of the emotion that may be properly classified as arbitrary or subjective is the evaluation involved in the emotion. It is arbitrary when there is no evidence for the evaluation; it is subjective when the evaluation is based upon the contents of one's consciousness with no reference to reality, such as another emotion, desire, whim ("because I feel like it"), context dropping, etc.

If one doesn't know why one is experiencing an emotion and one makes no attempt to identify the reasons behind it, the emotion may be classified as arbitrary in that context. If one feels like going to get drunk before a test because one feels more comfortable being with friends because it takes less effort and thought, then the evaluation (the "emotion") is subjective. If one evaluates work as a requirement for living a productive life and one feels enjoyment going to the office in the morning, the evaluation is objective. Ultimately, a subjective "emotion" is arbitrary: if one attempts to find out what aspect of reality gives rise to the emotion, there is no basis for performing the evaluation. From the example just mentioned, if one values getting good grades because it leads to a degree and a good job, wanting to get drunk before a test, for whatever reason, has no basis in reality within the objective context. Thus it is an arbitrary evaluation.

One cannot simply refer to a person as a subject and conclude that every experience is subjective. You have suggested that "subjective" is an adjective form of "subject". But philosophically, that is not the case. "Subjective" is an adjective form of "subjectivity" or "subjectivism."

To equate the subject with the subjective is an error. Why does Von Mises claim that values or ends are subjective? "They [economists] are fully aware of the fact that the ultimate ends of human action are not open to examination from any absolute standard. Ultimate ends are ultimately given, they are purely subjective, they differ with various people and with the same people at various moments in their lives." (P 95 in Human Action). This is NOT a statement that subjective is simply associated with the subject. Granted that Von Mises does not integrate the philosophic meaning of subjectivism into his economics. And he typically means that the subjective is the personal. This is a wrong reason for making the statement that values are subjective. Values are objective, as Rand has shown.

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The Lexicon says, "The subjective means the arbitrary, the irrational, the blindly emotional." You claim an emotion, as such, is neither arbitrary nor subjective but a causal physiological response. The two senses of the word emotion come form two contexts: emotion is arbitrary and subjective epistemologically while metaphysically emotion is a fact within a causal universe and cannot be arbitrary in the sense of uncaused. The epistemological sense you have equated with the philosophical sense, and deprecated the factual, psychological sense. This is Rand's usage and it certainly prevents equivocation and promotes clarity of expression when a word is used with only one meaning. But facts don't go away when ignored and the factual, psychological sense of the meaning of emotion persists.

In fact Rand did not ignore the causal nature of emotions. The Lexicon also produces this line from Galt's speech: "There can be no causeless love or any sort of causeless emotion. An emotion is a response to a fact of reality, an estimate dictated by your standards." Rand can distinguish between contexts where emotions are arbitrary and where emotions are not arbitrary.

When entire philosophical systems continue to equivocate by equating the personal facts of emotion with epistemological arbitrariness that is a philosophical problem. Exposing the equivocation is enough to refute it, there is no need to eradicate one of the uses of a word and this case there is no justification or possibility of accomplishing an eradication of a fact.

This same pattern of equivocating two senses of meaning applies to the word subjective. There is a philosophic and a common sense of subjective, or as I have identified it an epistemological and metaphysical meaning. People are in fact equivocating subjective as personal and subjective as arbitrary whenever the assertion is made that a personal interest is arbitrary and therefore epistemologically and morally corrupting. This is the essence of Kant's deontological ethics, a very philosophical issue.

edit: deleted unnecessary requote

edit: added last line about Kant's ethics

Edited by Grames
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The Lexicon says, "The subjective means the arbitrary, the irrational, the blindly emotional." You claim an emotion, as such, is neither arbitrary nor subjective but a causal physiological response. The two senses of the word emotion come form two contexts: emotion is arbitrary and subjective epistemologically while metaphysically emotion is a fact within a causal universe and cannot be arbitrary in the sense of uncaused.

I don't see where you're getting these two senses of the word. Where is it cited that emotions have these differences in epistemology and metaphysics? To be "blindly emotional" simply means that one has not thought about where one's emotions are coming from or one has failed to identify one's emotions, and yet one acts on one's emotions without regard to consequences. The arbitrary is an epistemological issue, so I don't follow what connection you are making to causality with respect to emotions and metaphysics.

The epistemological sense you have equated with the philosophical sense, and deprecated the factual, psychological sense. This is Rand's usage and it certainly prevents equivocation and promotes clarity of expression when a word is used with only one meaning. But facts don't go away when ignored and the factual, psychological sense of the meaning of emotion persists.

You have not cited facts that I have ignored. I have not ignored the psychological sense of the term. I have stated that emotion may be called subjective when the evaluation is subjective, that is, unconnected to the facts of reality by an process of identification. It is because the evaluation typically does not occur on a conscious level and the emotion is experienced almost instantaneously that provides the basis for calling an emotion subjective. However, it is not the emotion that is really subjective since it only follows from some evaluation, whether conscious or subconscious.

In fact Rand did not ignore the causal nature of emotions. The Lexicon also produces this line from Galt's speech: "There can be no causeless love or any sort of causeless emotion. An emotion is a response to a fact of reality, an estimate dictated by your standards." Rand can distinguish between contexts where emotions are arbitrary and where emotions are not arbitrary.

When entire philosophical systems continue to equivocate by equating the personal facts of emotion with epistemological arbitrariness that is a philosophical problem. Exposing the equivocation is enough to refute it, there is no need to eradicate one of the uses of a word and this case there is no justification or possibility of accomplishing an eradication of a fact.

This same pattern of equivocating two senses of meaning applies to the word subjective. There is a philosophic and a common sense of subjective, or as I have identified it an epistemological and metaphysical meaning. People are in fact equivocating subjective as personal and subjective as arbitrary whenever the assertion is made that a personal interest is arbitrary and therefore epistemologically and morally corrupting. This is the essence of Kant's deontological ethics, a very philosophical issue.

edit: deleted unnecessary requote

edit: added last line about Kant's ethics

I'm don't understand what point you are making here. Which facts have been ignored? Equivocation (changing the meaning of a concept within a context) is being made on which concept? Which "common sense" usage of subjective have you demonstrated? By giving a dictionary definition and then using the term in a philosophic context, it seems to me that you are the one equivocating on the term's usage. It was Kant who made the objective a species of the subjective, and I reject using the concept in that context.

Show me a common sense context (outside of grammar) where subjective means "of, relating to, or constituting a subject" and there is no philosophic implications relating to subjectivity or subjectivism - the subject creates the conditions of existence apart from external reality.

Edited by A is A
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Sorry for the choppiness, but you asked many questions.

I don't see where you're getting these two senses of the word.

I don't see how anyone could be so obtuse, the two senses come from the first paragraph of your previous post. More specifically, you cited the Lexicon entry for subjectivism, I contributed the line on emotions. How is it possible emotions both are and are not arbitrary? There are two contexts and two senses of the word emotion.

... I don't follow what connection you are making to causality with respect to emotions and metaphysics.

There is no connection, asserting that there is one is the error. The error of equivocation. You apparently think an excellent method to avoid the error of equivocation is to obliterate one of the meanings of a troublesome word. If a second sense truly is invalid then you are correct, but some words have multiple valid meanings and contexts in which case you are incorrect.

It is because the evaluation typically does not occur on a conscious level and the emotion is experienced almost instantaneously that provides the basis for calling an emotion subjective. However, it is not the emotion that is really subjective since it only follows from some evaluation, whether conscious or subconscious.

No, that is completely true but irrelevant to how emotions can be understood as arbitrary or subjective in the epistemological sense. The basis for calling an emotion arbitrary is that relying upon an emotion as guide to the truth about the external world is invalid procedure, emotions tell one nothing about the world. Emotions do not pertain to the world or the objects in it, they inform one about one's own premises and evaluations, they pertain to the subject, they are subjective in the factual, metaphysical sense. Emotions are not intrinsic to objects, nor are they relations to objects as perceptual forms are. Emotions inhere in subjects, they are subjective.

Equivocation (changing the meaning of a concept within a context) is being made on which concept?

I am at loss as to how I could possibly be more clear. The fault is with your understanding: equivocation is changing the meaning of a word within a sentence or a syllogism, not a concept. Equivocation substitutes one concept for another by means of a single word that has multiple meanings, whether those meanings are valid or invalid.

Which "common sense" usage of subjective have you demonstrated?

That there are such things as subjects, that it makes sense to write about subjects and their attributes, their subjective attributes.

By giving a dictionary definition and then using the term in a philosophic context, it seems to me that you are the one equivocating on the term's usage. It was Kant who made the objective a species of the subjective, and I reject using the concept in that context.
I am rejecting Kant's equivocation without taking the absurd measure of denying there are such things as subjects.

Show me a common sense context (outside of grammar) where subjective means "of, relating to, or constituting a subject" and there is no philosophic implications relating to subjectivity or subjectivism - the subject creates the conditions of existence apart from external reality.

That is exactly what this whole foray into emotions is about, I'm sticking with that context.

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Sorry for the choppiness, but you asked many questions.

I don't see how anyone could be so obtuse, the two senses come from the first paragraph of your previous post. More specifically, you cited the Lexicon entry for subjectivism, I contributed the line on emotions. How is it possible emotions both are and are not arbitrary? There are two contexts and two senses of the word emotion.

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Obtuse or not, please cite where I made those implications you claim I did.

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No, that is completely true but irrelevant to how emotions can be understood as arbitrary or subjective in the epistemological sense. The basis for calling an emotion arbitrary is that relying upon an emotion as guide to the truth about the external world is invalid procedure, emotions tell one nothing about the world. Emotions do not pertain to the world or the objects in it, they inform one about one's own premises and evaluations, they pertain to the subject, they are subjective in the factual, metaphysical sense. Emotions are not intrinsic to objects, nor are they relations to objects as perceptual forms are. Emotions inhere in subjects, they are subjective.

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If "emotions do not pertain to the world or the objects in it, then how do you know you are experiencing one? And then how would you know about what it is you are experiencing? How would you differentiate an emotion from another conscious experience? Please tell me exactly what human activity does not "pertain to the subject." Reason, evaluation, thought, value, virtue, desire, wants, needs, goals, purpose, rationality, knowledge, premises, etc. None of these are "relations to objects as perceptual forms are." Are not "premises and evaluation" in reality? And if emotions tell us something about them, they tell us something about reality. If a lion charges at me, does not my fear tell me something about the danger of the lion to my values, as I evaluate it? If "emotions tell one nothing about the world" why would I feel fear after my evaluation? Would I not just run away after my evaluation and feel nothing? That emotions are experienced by subjects and not objects does not make them subjective any more than breathing is subjective because a rock does not have lungs.

Your last three sentences clearly indicate your Kantian leanings and premises. If something is not "out there" then it is "in here" and thus subjective. That you continue to use a dictionary definition in place of the philosophic meaning of the concept indicates who is doing the equivocating. That something is "in here" does not make it subjective any more than if something is "out there" makes it objective. If something is automatic, as perception is, then it is not subjective according to you; if a property of the subject is involved, such as experience, then it is subjective. The issue of subjective vs. objective pertains to the issue of one's method of acquiring knowledge and validating it.

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That there are such things as subjects, that it makes sense to write about subjects and their attributes, their subjective attributes.

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Not when the concept already has a clearly defined philosophic meaning that has been around since the time of Plato, and there is an alternative concept - personal. Using the term as you suggest merely obfuscates matters.

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Obtuse or not, please cite where I made those implications you claim I did.

Sure:

Some emotions may be classified or described as arbitrary, some may be subjective. But it is not an exact description. They are certainly personal in any case: only an individual person can experience the specific emotion. The emotion, as such, is neither arbitrary nor subjective. An emotion is a physiological response to a psychological estimate of reality based upon one's values, either conscious or subconscious. For example, if I see a lion running at me, I feel fear and run away. Also, I may be sitting reading a book, and I suddenly feel fear that the room is closing in on me. The first case, the emotion has a basis in reality; in the second, there isn't. If I want the unearned, I feel that higher taxes on the wealthy is appropriate and right so that I can get health care.
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If "emotions do not pertain to the world or the objects in it, then how do you know you are experiencing one? And then how would you know about what it is you are experiencing? How would you differentiate an emotion from another conscious experience? Please tell me exactly what human activity does not "pertain to the subject." Reason, evaluation, thought, value, virtue, desire, wants, needs, goals, purpose, rationality, knowledge, premises, etc. None of these are "relations to objects as perceptual forms are." Are not "premises and evaluation" in reality? And if emotions tell us something about them, they tell us something about reality. If a lion charges at me, does not my fear tell me something about the danger of the lion to my values, as I evaluate it? If "emotions tell one nothing about the world" why would I feel fear after my evaluation? Would I not just run away after my evaluation and feel nothing? That emotions are experienced by subjects and not objects does not make them subjective any more than breathing is subjective because a rock does not have lungs.

Assuming that our emotions tell us something about reality is the paradigmatic operating method of the primacy of consciousness perspective, i.e. mysticism. Fear tells you nothing except that you are afraid. Your conscious evaluation about the danger of lions is what causes your subconscious automatization of that evaluation and the subsequent emotion. If you later think you are in danger from a lion merely because you feel it, then the circular argument is complete. If your conscious evaluation is corrupted and wrong then the emotion will be as well, you may or not actually be in danger when you feel fear.

Consciousness is an existent and the law of identity applies to it, thus premises and evaluations are in reality. But they are not of the same epistemological status as that reality, they are derivative from it in a manner that may or may not preserve a basis in necessity. A process of reason will preserve that basis in necessity while an appeal to emotion will not.

Emotions can never be objective, they are either properly regarded as facts of consciousness or they are arbitrary interlopers that corrupt a process of thought. As facts of consciousness emotions are always experienced internally, subjectively. As epistemological corruption, they are always subjective. Emotions are subjective, in all ways.

Your last three sentences clearly indicate your Kantian leanings and premises. If something is not "out there" then it is "in here" and thus subjective.

You are accepting and using Kant's equivocation when you assert that if something is "in here" it must be subjectivism. You try to pretend there is no "in here" at all, that all facts are facts of reality in precisely the same way, including facts of consciousness. But consciousness exists, it is real, there really is an "in here" derivative of reality "out there" and correspondence between the two must be willfully caused to exist by a valid method.

That you continue to use a dictionary definition in place of the philosophic meaning of the concept indicates who is doing the equivocating.

"In place of"? No, there are two contexts and two meanings where subjective can be used and I have no trouble keeping the two separated. Etymological monism is impractical in principle and contrary to fact.

That something is "in here" does not make it subjective any more than if something is "out there" makes it objective.

I agree with this, the mere locality is not decisive. Some things are always subjective, such as emotions. Other things are only conditionally subjective, they may be objective if grounded in a basis of necessity by means of perception and reason. Subjectivity is the result of the failure to be objective in method, but both occur "in here".

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  • 2 months later...

For brevity's sake, I will simply say that I think a lot more progress could be made in this discourse (and quite possibly many more), if a general effort were made to replace the use of the word "subjective" with "agent-relative", in the appropriate contexts (props to Eiuol).

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For brevity's sake, I will simply say that I think a lot more progress could be made in this discourse (and quite possibly many more), if a general effort were made to replace the use of the word "subjective" with "agent-relative", in the appropriate contexts (props to Eiuol).

Subjects are agents, so that is why this seems like it might be clarifying.

Subjective already is used as "subject-relative". "Agent-relative" uses a different word so there may be a temporary reprieve in confusion, but it is only a matter of time until the irresistible word formation 'agentive' is used, and we soon thereafter are back in the same place we are now. I can imagine the entire thread recast using 'agents, 'agentivism' and 'agentive' in place of 'subject', 'subjectivism' and 'subjective' and having the meanings of all the sentences and posts preserved intact.

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I can imagine the entire thread recast using 'agents, 'agentivism' and 'agentive' in place of 'subject', 'subjectivism' and 'subjective' and having the meanings of all the sentences and posts preserved intact.

What you should have immediately emphasized to A is A is that you are using "subjective" in the context Austrian economics utilizes. A is A is definitely using "subjective" in the context Ayn Rand utilizes. The fact that neither one of you are willing to recognize and be flexible with those contexts shows that you are either both obtuse, or perhaps just stubborn. With that said, it should be noted Grames, that most people involved with the philosophical (rather than the economic) theory of value, use "agent-relative" to describe the position that all values require a valuer. They do not classify that position as "subjective".

Just for practical purposes, which of the following are potentially less confusing:

All values are agent-relative.

  • A value can be subjective.
  • A value can be objective.

or

All values are subjective.

  • A value can be subjective.
  • A value can be objective.

It's my opinion that the former is a bit more clear than the latter...

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What you should have immediately emphasized to A is A is that you are using "subjective" in the context Austrian economics utilizes. A is A is definitely using "subjective" in the context Ayn Rand utilizes. The fact that neither one of you are willing to recognize and be flexible with those contexts shows that you are either both obtuse, or perhaps just stubborn. With that said, it should be noted Grames, that most people involved with the philosophical (rather than the economic) theory of value, use "agent-relative" to describe the position that all values require a valuer. They do not classify that position as "subjective".

I'll own up to being stubborn, but not obtuse. B) And isn't invoking the "most people" standard subjectivist?

I know and understand well the usage of Rand and A is A. The objective theory of value recognizes that value is essentially and fundamentally relational, while the intrinsic and subjective theory neglect the relation in favor of one pole or the other, the object or the subject.

There are such things as subjects. There is also subjectivism, which derives from the epistemological and metaphysical premise that consciousness is constitutive of reality, or at least constitutive of its own private version of reality. The primary difficulty is to keep clear the distinction between the subject (or agent) and its adjective forms and a methodology which is essentially and fundamentally all about the subject (or agent), and which we can not avoid naming subjectivism, its practitioners and advocates subjectivists, and its products subjective.

Just for practical purposes, which of the following are potentially less confusing:

That's good, but better would be this (along lines advocated by John McVey elsewhere):

All values are relational, or relative.

  • A value can be objective, the product of attending to and identifying the relation by a proper method.
  • A value can be non-objective, mis-identifying the relation due to an improper method or neglect.

This is a taxonomy of the kinds of values that actually exist, not a taxonomy of theories about values. The unavoidable confusion attendant to taking false ideas seriously should be confined to courses on the history of philosophy, not philosophy (or economics) proper. Then we can abolish the distinction between values in the philosophical sense and values in the economic sense, which should never exist in the first place.

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Assuming that our emotions tell us something about reality is the paradigmatic operating method of the primacy of consciousness perspective, i.e. mysticism.

I disagree. If one assumes that what emotions tell us about reality is true with no objective evidence, then the method is relating to the primacy of consciousness. But to assert that emotions as such tell us nothing about reality other than our own emotional state is deny a cause for such emotional states.

Fear tells you nothing except that you are afraid.

Depends upon the cause of the fear. If I'm in an airplane that is about to crash, fear tells me that I think my life is in danger because I'm in a plane that is about to crash. If I'm walking down the street going shopping for some milk and I feel fear that everyone I see is watching me, then there is nothing in reality that is producing the fear, other than some subconscious process of evaluation of something else on my part.

Your conscious evaluation about the danger of lions is what causes your subconscious automatization of that evaluation and the subsequent emotion.

Not fully correct. It is my perception of the lion and then my evaluation that causes the emotion. If I'm sitting here at my desk thinking of how lions pose a threat to my life, I do not experience fear because I do not perceive a lion threatening me.

If you later think you are in danger from a lion merely because you feel it, then the circular argument is complete. If your conscious evaluation is corrupted and wrong then the emotion will be as well, you may or not actually be in danger when you feel fear.

If I'm sitting here at my desk and begin to feel fear of lions without any perception of threatening lions, then I need to do some psychological analysis. I never made the claim that because I experience the emotion that there is a corresponding existential cause. What I said was the existential causes can result in emotional experiences which are not subjective.

Consciousness is an existent and the law of identity applies to it, thus premises and evaluations are in reality. But they are not of the same epistemological status as that reality, they are derivative from it in a manner that may or may not preserve a basis in necessity. A process of reason will preserve that basis in necessity while an appeal to emotion will not.

But I did not appeal to emotion to prove anything.

Emotions can never be objective,

I disagree. Emotions are actions of consciousness, just as evaluation and perception are, just as thought and remembering are.

As Dr. Peikoff brings out:

A feeling or emotion is a response to an object one perceives (or imagines), such as a man, an animal, an event. The object by itself, however, has no power to invoke a feeling in the observer. It can do so only if he supplies two intellectual elements, which are necessary conditions of any emotion.

First, the person must know in some terms what the object is. He must have some understanding or identification of it (whether true or false, specific or generalized, explicit or implicit). Otherwise, to him, the object is nothing; it is a mere cognitive blank, to which no one can respond.

Second, the person must evaluate the object. He must conclude that it is good or bad, desirable or undesirable, for his values or against them.

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Emotions are states of consciousness with bodily accompaniments and with spiritual—intellectual—causes.

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An emotion derives from a percept assessed within a context; the context is defined by a highly complex conceptual content. Most of this content at any time is not present in conscious awareness. But it is real and operative nonetheless.

(my bold)

The object may be real or not real. Dr. Peikoff continues: "Emotion, by contrast [to reason], is a faculty not of perception, but of reaction to one's perceptions. This kind of faculty has no power of observation and no volition; it has no means of independent access to reality, no means to guide its own course, and no capacity to monitor its own relationship to facts." Lacking volition, the concepts of objectivity and subjectivity do not directly apply to emotions as such. It is only the method of regarding an emotion as being true or false that brings up the issue of objectivity or subjectivity.

they are either properly regarded as facts of consciousness

Consciousness' content comes from external reality.

or they are arbitrary interlopers that corrupt a process of thought. As facts of consciousness emotions are always experienced internally, subjectively. As epistemological corruption, they are always subjective. Emotions are subjective, in all ways.

Making an assertion about the point of contention is not a proof. As I have demonstrated, all acts of consciousness, thought, reason, valuing, perception, conceptualization, including emotion, are "experienced internally". So unless you are prepared to say that subjective means "experienced internally", that is, all acts of consciousness are subjective, I think you need to rethink you position. I disagree with such a position.

You are accepting and using Kant's equivocation when you assert that if something is "in here" it must be subjectivism. You try to pretend there is no "in here" at all, that all facts are facts of reality in precisely the same way, including facts of consciousness. But consciousness exists, it is real, there really is an "in here" derivative of reality "out there" and correspondence between the two must be willfully caused to exist by a valid method.

You misunderstand what I said. I never said there is no "in here". Since I'm talking about consciousness, your claim is obviously false. Of course a valid method is needed, but nothing I said implied the opposite.

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I disagree. If one assumes that what emotions tell us about reality is true with no objective evidence, then the method is relating to the primacy of consciousness. But to assert that emotions as such tell us nothing about reality other than our own emotional state is deny a cause for such emotional states.

Well if we cannot rely on emotions being true and reliable reporters about external reality, then knowing they have some cause is pretty useless for deciding what action to take. If the emotion itself is a problem or just a curious contradiction to what you otherwise think, then you ought think about the cause. Generally, you just try not to let the emotion distract from what is to be done.

Depends upon the cause of the fear. If I'm in an airplane that is about to crash, fear tells me that I think my life is in danger because I'm in a plane that is about to crash. If I'm walking down the street going shopping for some milk and I feel fear that everyone I see is watching me, then there is nothing in reality that is producing the fear, other than some subconscious process of evaluation of something else on my part.

If you know you are in a plane about to crash, fear tells you nothing you don't already know. When you feel fear for no apparent reason at all, fear is a distraction causing confusion which is even worse than telling you nothing. The standard of usefulness is external reality. Being informed about your own mental state when confronted with danger is useless, that is not the time to engage in introspection.

Not fully correct. It is my perception of the lion and then my evaluation that causes the emotion. If I'm sitting here at my desk thinking of how lions pose a threat to my life, I do not experience fear because I do not perceive a lion threatening me.
Agreed, I took that as granted.

If I'm sitting here at my desk and begin to feel fear of lions without any perception of threatening lions, then I need to do some psychological analysis. I never made the claim that because I experience the emotion that there is a corresponding existential cause. What I said was the existential causes can result in emotional experiences which are not subjective.

I say emotions are never objective because they are automatic and involuntary, they never follow the method that results in objectivity. I don't know what "not subjective" could possibly mean, what possibility remains? I conclude emotions are subjective by eliminating the possibility of them being objective. Whether or not a particular emotional response is appropriate or inappropriate cannot alter its degree of epistemological usefulness, which is always zero.

But I did not appeal to emotion to prove anything.

If you are going to make a case for objective emotions, then you are laying the groundwork to do exactly that. I await your explanation of a not-subjective emotion.

I disagree. Emotions are actions of consciousness, just as evaluation and perception are, just as thought and remembering are.

I say emotions are never objective because they are automatic and involuntary, they never follow the method that results in objectivity.

The object may be real or not real. Dr. Peikoff continues: "Emotion, by contrast [to reason], is a faculty not of perception, but of reaction to one's perceptions. This kind of faculty has no power of observation and no volition; it has no means of independent access to reality, no means to guide its own course, and no capacity to monitor its own relationship to facts." Lacking volition, the concepts of objectivity and subjectivity do not directly apply to emotions as such. It is only the method of regarding an emotion as being true or false that brings up the issue of objectivity or subjectivity.

Who says emotions have to be graded as true or false? Metaphysically they are facts, neither true nor false. Epistemologically they are arbitrary, neither true nor false. Dwelling on the arbitrary is a way to be epistemologically subjectivist.

Making an assertion about the point of contention is not a proof. As I have demonstrated, all acts of consciousness, thought, reason, valuing, perception, conceptualization, including emotion, are "experienced internally". So unless you are prepared to say that subjective means "experienced internally", that is, all acts of consciousness are subjective, I think you need to rethink you position. I disagree with such a position.

I affirm all acts of consciousness are subjective, of or by an agent or subject, agentive. Some acts of consciousness are also epistemologically subjectivist. Some other acts of consciousness are also epistemologically objectivist.

What do you say about this scheme to dump the use of the word subjective completely when discussing values? This is a taxonomy of the kinds of values that actually exist, excluding false theories about values.

All values are relational, or relative.

  • A value can be objective, the product of attending to and identifying the relation by a proper method.
  • A value can be non-objective, mis-identifying the relation due to an improper method or neglect.

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I say emotions are never objective because they are automatic and involuntary, they never follow the method that results in objectivity. I don't know what "not subjective" could possibly mean, what possibility remains? I conclude emotions are subjective by eliminating the possibility of them being objective. Whether or not a particular emotional response is appropriate or inappropriate cannot alter its degree of epistemological usefulness, which is always zero.

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Who says emotions have to be graded as true or false? Metaphysically they are facts, neither true nor false. Epistemologically they are arbitrary, neither true nor false. Dwelling on the arbitrary is a way to be epistemologically subjectivist.

I affirm all acts of consciousness are subjective, of or by an agent or subject, agentive. Some acts of consciousness are also epistemologically subjectivist. Some other acts of consciousness are also epistemologically objectivist.

What do you say about this scheme to dump the use of the word subjective completely when discussing values? This is a taxonomy of the kinds of values that actually exist, excluding false theories about values.

All values are relational, or relative.

  • A value can be objective, the product of attending to and identifying the relation by a proper method.
  • A value can be non-objective, mis-identifying the relation due to an improper method or neglect.

If that is your view of what subjective means or implies then there is no point in discussing the issue further because we clearly have different concepts of what the word's referents in reality are. I repudiate all of your implications, if not your explicit statements, that there is any such thing as any element of consciousness being metaphysically subjective ("all acts of consciousness are subjective"). That is an invalid use of the term. Consciousness discovers the identity of things. That is its nature. It is part of reality in every way that tables, chairs, the sun, electrons, etc. are. To hold your view is to miss the meaning or Rand's statement: Consciousness is Identification. Objectivity and subjectivity pertain principally to epistemology: the method of arriving at truth, and to ethics: the method of arriving at values. To hold "all acts of consciousness are subjective" is to hold that being objective is subjective. I do not hold contradictions.

And I disagree with your method of arriving at "objective value". Value is not just a matter of relationship (which you leave undefined) but of truth and how it was concluded to be true in relation to a living organism and its requirements for survival. Thus, the relationship for objective value is between truth, the method of establishing the truth, and the life of the organism. A value is simply a fact that stands in relation to an organism's survival (including its purposes, knowledge, goals, etc.). By demonstrating that something (the value) is (in some relation to its life) determines what it ought to do (act to acquire the value or act to avoid it or ignore it).

Edited by A is A
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the original Austrian theory of value propounded by Carl Menger is very close to Rand's model of objective value.

Menger, when you think about the state of human knowledge back then, is brilliant.

EDIT: It is no surprise how much Menger got right, considering he started from the following principle (first paragraph in his Principles of Economics):

“All things are subject to the law of cause and effect. This great principle knows no exception, and we would search in vain in the realm of experience for an example to the contrary.”

Carl Menger

For brevity's sake, I will simply say that I think a lot more progress could be made in this discourse (and quite possibly many more), if a general effort were made to replace the use of the word "subjective" with "agent-relative", in the appropriate contexts (props to Eiuol).

A step in the right direction. I like "individually contextual", because the fact that values cannot be assessed by any other than the valuer himself, the fact that different people's values cannot be equated, added or subtracted all stem from the nature of values.

Values are an appraisal of an individual as to how things promote their own life - in the full context of that life. A context that simply cannot be identical to any other person's (though it can be broadly similar), a context that cannot even be fully expressed in a practical fashion (though in many cases a subset of that context can be sufficient, with regard to a limited issue).

"Individually contextual" clarifies that values cannot be assessed, compared or aggregated between people while steering clear of the discussion of whether a given individual has objectively assessed his own values through reason or whether he is an irrational basket case. The second individual may hold an irrational set of values - that does not impinge on the fact that holding objective values is possible.

While Menger and some other Austrians use "subjective value" to mean "individually contextual value", most people will interpret "subjective value" to mean "all values are equally arbitrary". Including some Austrians and many, many libertarians.

Edited by mrocktor
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