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Leonid
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Dakota, which specific premise of Objectivism are you having trouble accepting, i.e., verifying for yourself?

If you cannot identify such a premise which appears whack to you, then do you have trouble accepting logical conclusions based on Objectivist premises? Are the methods of logic suspect, in other words? If so, what is the logical flaw?

Having reread the material I considered relevant in this thread, I still think you are being too vague, and if you could be more specific it would further the discussion.

Thanks,

- ico

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This is quite a remarkable statement! Tell me, when was reason invented? Give me a date, please. How did anyone survive before then -- did they just get by on emotion? How exactly did that work? And aren't you contradicting your earlier statement that reason is necessary for survival, since these pre-reason people survived well enough to give birth to the person that did invernt it?

I consider the ancient Greeks the inventors of reason. Before that there was thinking, but not formal reasoning as we think of it today.

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"If Ayn's ethical code appears to contradict objectivity, or rely in any way on subjective, i.e., non-reproducible, representations, then please can you give me a single solitary example?"

OK, I'll try again. Sorry about the delay, by the way -- computer problems.

First, let's be clear that I am using the terms "objective" and "subjective" in the general sense of those terms: Objective -- not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts. Of or pertaining to something that can be known, or to something that is an object or a part of an object; existing independent of thought or an observer as part of reality. Subjective -- existing in the mind; belonging to the thinking subject rather than to the object of thought. Pertaining to or characteristic of an individual; personal; individual.

With that in mind, let me go back to one particular example that I gave you, the situation of the Objectivist daughter of a friend of mine. (It's this situation that prompted me to examine Objectivism again after many years.) She is nearing the end of her peak fertile years (she is in her mid-thirties). She wants a family, and wants to be home with her child. Her separated husband is not interested in either being a father or supporting her, so she became pregnant by another man. She is now on the New York welfare sysytem, which is known to be very generous. She has been living on the New York unemployment system, mostly on but sometimes off, for much of the last five years or so. She claims that she is still a good Objectivist, because she has used reason to attain her goal. I didn't think she was quite right about that, which is why I came here. But, on the face of it at least, she did indeed use reason to accomplish out her goal: she needed reason and discernment to find a guy who would be happy to father a child, and she needed reason to figure out whether or not the welfare check gives her the living standard she wants (it does), and then go through the process of getting on it. She did attain her highest goals -- she is now happily pregnant, which is what she wanted.

Now, you and I no doubt agree that we ought not have to foot the bill. She is compelling others to sacrifice for her, which strikes me as being very un-Objectivist, but she insists that no, she is an Objectivist still. Her credentials appear to be impeccable: she was very active in Objectivist circles in New York, attended conferences, meetings, etc. -- so she claims her interpretation of Objectivism is informed and sound, and much more reliable than mine (she's probably right about that.)

And here is where it I see subjectivism: it is my OPINION that she ought not to deliberately choose to be on welfare. I cannot point to some set of scientific data that shows that, contra Objectivism, she won't be continue to live -- she may well live a long and happy life. Lots of people do live off of others, and if it really were an objective fact that it is the wrong way for people to live, then I would expect to see the results of that show up in some scientifically verifiable way. It would be objective if science showed that all of those who wrongfully sponged off others died young. That would be measurable, reproducible proof that it's not right to do so. Otherwise, it's just you and me and Rand thinking that her parasitical life is wrong. A good opinion, maybe even a wise one, but NOT scientifically verifiable. Subjective, not objective.

While looking for some Rand quotes to give her, I came across this from a Playboy interview Rand gave:

RAND: If they place such things as friendship and family ties above their own productive work, yes, then they are immoral. Friendship, family life and human relationships are not primary in a man's life. A man who places others first, above his own creative work, is an emotional parasite; whereas, if he places his work first, there is no conflict between his work and his enjoyment of human relationships.

And this surprised me. I've read a lot of Rand, but I hadn't come across this before. I did pass it on to the woman in question (and received no answer...), but I did think it an extraordinary statement, and one that simply was not objective. I know of many, many people who value family and friends over their jobs. Many have jobs solely inorder to provide for their families, their highest value. That Rand thinks they are all immoral is astounding -- and where is her objective, scientific proof that people who put family and friends over their jobs are immoral? What proof exists?? It is simply Rand's OPINION that "friendship, family life and human relationships are not primary in a man's life". It is not an objective fact.

Does that help?

I consider the ancient Greeks the inventors of reason. Before that there was thinking, but not formal reasoning as we think of it today.

But again -- doesn't that go against your contention, and the contention of Objectivists (and all sane people...), that reason is necessary to survive? If reason wasn't around before the Greeks, then no humans could have could have survived because reason, the means of survival, hadn't been invented yet. This makes no sense.

Edited by dakota
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She's not an Objectivist. Doing no work to support herself and having a baby on top of that is ridiculous. The welfare system she participates in is what destroys the productive spirit. To be productive is to live, to participate in reality as a human being in the full sense of the word. As I mentioned before, even primitive nomadic tribes people live a life more moral than hers.

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First, let's be clear that I am using the terms "objective" and "subjective" in the general sense of those terms: Objective -- not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts. Of or pertaining to something that can be known, or to something that is an object or a part of an object; existing independent of thought or an observer as part of reality. Subjective -- existing in the mind; belonging to the thinking subject rather than to the object of thought. Pertaining to or characteristic of an individual; personal; individual.

See, there are still some problems here to the extent subjective is meaning personal. By objective I essentially mean based on fact. There is a problem, I hope you recognize, that Rand needed to use SOME kind of word to distinguish her thoughts from a subjectivist approach and people who claimed to have an objective approach. Rather than using some new word for objective, the idea is that most people who claimed to use objective thought should be called intrinsicists since the basis of standards were often arbitrary. God, for example (intuition is another); but god doesn't exist, so really that's a version of subjectivism that's more particular. Objective - based on fact - is the only word that makes sense in an attempt to use standards based on facts. There is no reason to say personal context is also subjective, since people are capable of thought based on fact rather than emotion.

the situation of the Objectivist daughter of a friend of mine.

I would ask her WHY having a kid is her highest priority. HOW is her life being furthered? That's the only question that needs to be asked. Using reason to attain a goal is how people DO anything, but the point here is that life is a proper STANDARD to decide which choices to make. Any other standard besides life is subjective because there is no consideration to the nature of humans. There are particular ways to go about furthering your existence. By the sounds of it, a baby may be the worst possible choice given that situation. Maybe she'll be happy for 5 years even, but we're talking about long-term existence. I don't mean to imply there is a life and death existential struggle over each choice in someone's life, but there are still implications on a person's life for ALL decisions made. Indeed, this woman used reason to figure out how to best have a kid given her situation, but we're not discussing that really. Is the decision to have a kid even life furthering here? The bottom line is that you're asserting life as a standard of value is also subjective, and I'm saying it isn't subjective.

Now, you and I no doubt agree that we ought not have to foot the bill. She is compelling others to sacrifice for her, which strikes me as being very un-Objectivist, but she insists that no, she is an Objectivist still.

It's actually not even the welfare I have a primary issue with, but her wanting to be a mother under the conditions you presented.

What proof exists?? It is simply Rand's OPINION that "friendship, family life and human relationships are not primary in a man's life". It is not an objective fact.

"Job" and productive work in this context are not identical. People may get a job as a waiter to support themselves while their career goal is that of movie director. The point is to see family and friends as MORE important than your goals in life is altruistic to the extent that it would suggest one takes relationships with others to be a primary. That conclusion was based - just like every other ethical assertion made by Rand - on the identity of humans.

But again -- doesn't that go against your contention, and the contention of Objectivists (and all sane people...), that reason is necessary to survive? If reason wasn't around before the Greeks, then no humans could have could have survived because reason, the means of survival, hadn't been invented yet. This makes no sense.

I imagine he means reason was conceptualized later, but people exist AT ALL by using reason. It would be silly to claim that no one used reason until the concept of reason was formed.

Edited by Eiuol
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She is compelling others to sacrifice for her, which strikes me as being very un-Objectivist, but she insists that no, she is an Objectivist still. Her credentials appear to be impeccable: she was very active in Objectivist circles in New York, attended conferences, meetings, etc. -- so she claims her interpretation of Objectivism is informed and sound, and much more reliable than mine (she's probably right about that.)

This idea of Objectivist credentials being seriously considered in a philosophical dispute is ridiculous. Attending meetings does not make one's argument valid.

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Attending meetings does not make one's argument valid.

I agree -- I mentioned her "credentials" because that was what she relied on when I challenged her assertion that she was living by Objectivist principles. Her argument could be boiled down to: "I used reason to attain my highest value", and "I know what I'm talking about, because I've gone to such-and-such conference; I've attended meetings and lectures; I've been so devoted that I made a pilgrimage to Ayn Rand's gravesite, so I know more than you do about Objectivism." Again, she's probably right about the last bit, but otherwise her argument wasn't persuasive.

Eiuol -- I don't have the time to answer you now, as it will take more time than I have tonight. Thanks for your explanation, but it doesn't convince me. I'll address your post tomorrow or Saturday, but I think we'll have to agree to disagree: though I admire Objectivism in many areas, I don't see it as objective as you claim.

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But again -- doesn't that go against your contention, and the contention of Objectivists (and all sane people...), that reason is necessary to survive? If reason wasn't around before the Greeks, then no humans could have could have survived because reason, the means of survival, hadn't been invented yet. This makes no sense.

I think people survived using religion and other more primitive philosophical systems. *To the extent* those systems were rational they enabled survival and to the extent they weren't they didn't, but people didn't know that until the ancient Greeks.

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I think people survived using religion and other more primitive philosophical systems. *To the extent* those systems were rational they enabled survival and to the extent they weren't they didn't, but people didn't know that until the ancient Greeks.

The Greeks were NOT atheists. They were a polytheistic society, which recognized many gods in a hierarchy.

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Ironically the Greeks and Romans called the first Christians "Atheists" because of all of the pagan gods, Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Amon Ra, Mithra etc., etc., that the Christians did not believe in. Paganism in the ancient world pretty much believed in the existence of any god that came along; which god you worshipped today was based on your context (e.g., no need to worship Poseidon in a desert but one was perfectly willing to believe his existence). You'd also take care to worship whatever the patron god was, of the city you were in. It seems pretty anarchistic to people raised in a monotheistic culture, but (to rephrase what I have just said) classical pagans didn't argue over which god--or even which pantheon--was the true god or pantheon, they were all considered valid.

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The Greeks were NOT atheists. They were a polytheistic society, which recognized many gods in a hierarchy.

The Greeks who became famous as philosophers had a reputation for undermining respect for the gods with their arguments. That is why Socrates was killed, and why Aristotle had to flee Athens for a time.

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Objective simply means pertains to reality. Objectivist ethics pertain to reality-life itself and the nature of man qua man. People, however, possess volition and may choose to live by subjective standards of value-whatever they may be. Soon or later reality will slap on their face this way or another.Contradictions don't exist, one cannot live as non-man and remain a man, that is-rational being. ( BTW, I use "man" in traditional sense-individual, human being. I know it's not PC, but for the old dog like me it is difficult to learn new tricks). Man is independent living being who lives by his own mind. The process of learning from others is also an active process which requires the application of one's mind and involves trade principle. Man acts in order to achieve values, and, if a child is a value, then child-rearing is a proper moral action within Objectivism.

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See, there are still some problems here to the extent

subjective is meaning personal. By objective I essentially mean based

on fact. There is a problem, I hope you recognize, that Rand needed to

use SOME kind of word to distinguish her thoughts from a subjectivist

approach and people who claimed to have an objective approach.

I provided you with dictionary definitions of how I am using the

words, so that we can be on the same page. Yes, I know that Rand means

different things by those words, but that's not the way I am using

them. I am using them in the generally accepted meaning of the words,

according to the definitions I gave. Why and how she asssigned

different meanings isn't useful to this discussion, as it only creates

confusion. Why she chose to create this confusion is another topic.

I would ask her WHY having a kid is her highest priority. HOW

is her life being furthered? That's the only question that needs to be

asked. Using reason to attain a goal is how people DO anything, but

the point here is that life is a proper STANDARD to decide which

choices to make.

We agree about this. However, this is the crucial point: when you say

"life is a proper standard", that's objective only to the extent that it

refers to biological life. If you don't do particular actions such as

eating or drinking, you will die. That you will die is objective proof

that eating and drinking is necessary to sustain biological life. But

you go beyond objective as soon as you modify this basic standard by

adding the word "proper". "Proper" according to whom? Again, you and I

would likely agree on most of what a "proper" life consists of, but it

isn't scientifically verifiable as objective. You can be a parasite

and live. You might not live as I would like you to, but you would

live.

Maybe she'll be happy for 5 years even, but we're talking about

long-term existence.

If you can scientifically demonstrate that she will not live beyond 5

years, then we can agree that the "standard of life" is usefully and

objectively applied to this situation. You can't.

The bottom line is that you're asserting life as a standard of value is also subjective, and I'm saying it isn't subjective.

I would agree that a standard of biological life (i.e., if you don't do this, you will die; if you do this, you will live) is in fact an objective standard of life. Science supports you in that. But as soon as you start talking about the type or quality of the life lived, you go beyond what can be proven scientifically. Your idea of what the ideal ife looks like is simply subjective.

"Job" and productive work in this context are not identical. People may get a job as a waiter to support themselves while their career goal is that of movie director. The point is to see family and friends as MORE important than your goals in life is altruistic to the extent that it would suggest one takes relationships with others to be a primary. That conclusion was based - just like every other ethical assertion made by Rand - on the identity of humans.

We agree that "job" and "productive work" are not always identical. However, that some far-off goal (sometimes realized, sometimes not) should be placed above family and friends is strictly a subjective opinion, not a scientific fact. I have no doubt that a few individuals (such as Rand) might be driven to a certain goal in their minds such that they could have no peace unless that creative goal was accomplished, and anyone else be damned. However, most people prize family and friends over such idealism. If your standard truly was "objective", then only those who achieved their particular creative goal would live a long and happy life. But close friends and a happy family still matter a great deal in people's measure of happiness -- you seem unable to grasp that what you think man "should' be is not exactly what man "is". You haven't given me a shred of data that suggests that objective science supports your idea of "man as he should be" vs. "man as he is".

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..."Proper" according to whom?...

According to man qua man. Man has an identity. This identity must be respected and understood for survival. It includes being rational among the biological necessities.

If you can scientifically demonstrate that she will not live beyond 5

years, then we can agree that the "standard of life" is usefully and

objectively applied to this situation. You can't.

I would but "they" won't let me run those experiments. So instead I'll use reason. Your friend is totally reliant on other people for survival (welfare & unemployment). If for any reason this funding is cut, your friend will find herself in a deep, deep hole. Abyssal-like hole.

...However, that some far-off goal (sometimes realized, sometimes not) should be placed above family and friends is strictly a subjective opinion, not a scientific fact....If your standard truly was "objective", then only those who achieved their particular creative goal would live a long and happy life. But close friends and a happy family still matter a great deal in people's measure of happiness...

People have a basic choice. Either live off of one's own productivity, or the productivity of others. Living off of your own productivity is the right choice because it ensures your survival regardless of what other people do. Family and friends is irrational to place at the top of your hierarchy of values because it's an unproductive method of living. To enjoy the company of others is fine, but in the end someone has to provide resources to continue to enjoy this company. If it's one person in a family, he better damn-well be extremely devoted to something productive. See Hank Rearden in Atlas Shrugged.

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According to man qua man. Man has an identity. This identity must be respected and understood for survival. It includes being rational among the biological necessities.

But as is clearly shown by the history of man, man is just as capable of being irrational -- and surviving nonetheless. Man can survive by slaughtering others to further his own ends; by enslaving others; by sponging off of others, by living off of inherited wealth. "Man qua man" is a nice standard of what man should be, according to Rand, but it isn't scientifically demonstrated that man can't survive by adopting other standards.

Your friend is totally reliant on other people for survival (welfare & unemployment). If for any reason this funding is cut, your friend will find herself in a deep, deep hole. Abyssal-like hole.

She's not my friend. Anyway, the chances of that funding being cut off are slim to none -- this is New York we're talking about. I suppose there's always a risk, of course, but it's a small one and it is rational of her to conclude that her funding is likely to continue. Don't get me wrong -- I think sponging off of others is reprehensible. That she calls herself an Objectivist is ludicrous. All I am saying is that the Objectivist ideal standard of living is not objective. She won't die because she's chosen to live off of others. That would be an objective proof that the standard id indeed scientifically demonstrable as opposed to being simply a good standard to live by.

Either live off of one's own productivity, or the productivity of others.

Reality isn't as neat and clean as all that. If I am a scientist, I have to get funding somewhere. If I am a doctor, I rely on having other people as patients. If I am in computer sales, I rely upon other people to buy my products. Anyone who works for a company is subject to the uncertainties that affect that company. Companies are affected by economic trends. No one is really an island, with the possible exception of a self-suffiecient farmer who raises his own food and produces his own power.

Living off of your own productivity is the right choice because it ensures your survival regardless of what other people do.

See above.

Family and friends is irrational to place at the top of your hierarchy of values because it's an unproductive method of living.

For many people (including myself), having the love and closeness of family and friends is its own reward, regardless of its "productivity". These are what makes life richer for many people. That it doesn't make the top of the list for you or for Rand is your choice (possibly determined by your personality), but it isn't a scientifically demonstrated fact.

See Hank Rearden in Atlas Shrugged.

That is a fictional character in a work of fiction. I'm talking about reality.

Edited by dakota
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I'm not really even giving a different definition of objective. I'm saying that objective does not necessarily mean indifferent/impersonal. I'm also emphasizing that agent-relative doesn't imply subjectivism or relativism, since the basis of morality here is what a person IS. The same way that the basis of geology is about what rocks and minerals are. "Objective" I think is the best word because it highlights how many so-called objective moral theories are as subjective as you are claiming Objectivism to be.

I'm not saying she'd just fall over dead in 5 years, just that her condition of living is not conducive to her existence. You could be a parasite and live for a time, yes. You can live outside in a frozen tundra without clothes for a period of time. You can do meth for a period of time and live. You can do all SORTS of things and live, but these options are NOT conducive to your existence. I'm not necessarily saying the goal is a certain quality of life, only that the goal is furtherance of one's existence. It just so happens that such a life brings about long-term happiness, though. You would likely have to dispute the whole field of psychology to suggest happiness doesn't also imply to some degree the well-being of a person and their ability to deal with their life. This sense of quality of life can be measured and demonstrated scientifically in specific ways; all Objectivism suggests about ethics is fundamental principles of figuring out how to further one's life. I didn't even tell you what an ideal life looks like, I only mentioned that the woman you're talking about seems to be making choices that are only life furthering in the short term. The welfare is not particularly the issue (for the record, mostly directed at DancingBear, going on welfare can be justified).

I only used the word "proper" to differentiate from other standards, like pleasure, or society, or god. Life is a proper standard according to the nature of humans, the identity of humans as a biological and living entity. It's not according to any*one*. Choosing life is also the basis of morality here, because the only OTHER end that choices lead towards is non-existence. If a person doesn't choose life, nothing is really even "good" for them. "Good" refers to that which brings some entity towards a goal, so the only question really to ask about ethics is what goal do biological entities strive for? The only reason humans are any different is because of conceptual needs, so that's why specifically the word "morality" is used for understanding what is good for an individual. Since we're still referring to biological entities, we're only referring to what is good FOR them.

I think it's pretty offtopic, but I'll address it anyway. The point there about friends/family is just that having them set as MORE IMPORTANT than yourself is not good. However, friends/family ARE important to your existence in pursuing a variety of your own goals whether through the encouragement they provide you, or the way they may actually help you in achieving specific goals.

Edited by Eiuol
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But as is clearly shown by the history of man, man is just as capable of being irrational -- and surviving nonetheless. Man can survive by slaughtering others to further his own ends; by enslaving others; by sponging off of others, by living off of inherited wealth. "Man qua man" is a nice standard of what man should be, according to Rand, but it isn't scientifically demonstrated that man can't survive by adopting other standards.

To add to your list of "thriving/surviving irrational people", consider Attila the Hun and Hitler. By slaughtering, enslaving, and sponging off of others, these people become subject to the other's productivity. If everybody stops working, the "leader" dies. Yes, parasitism is possible. But a parasite will never become greater than it's host organism. In other words, if I'm your slave, you will only be successful as me, unless you choose to be productive outside of our relationship.

This is all about the degree to which one is rational. Sure, one can be religiously observant (i.e. irrational), but at the end of the day they have to eat, so however they decide to get food on the table is a rational decision (i.e. observing their nature as a man; living morally). Praying for bread doesn't work. You still have to go to the store/market to get it. Stealing food is certainly an immoral method of fulfilling a rational desire, but being able to steal the bread successfully will depend to some extent on rationality.

That would be an objective proof that the standard [is] indeed scientifically demonstrable as opposed to being simply a good standard to live by.

You're asking for proof that someone will die if they are not rational? Thankfully most irrational people retain the meager level of rationality necessary to eat (even cannibals) but there are still some who descend so far into madness that they either kill themselves for no reason or end up in a mental hospital, completely reliant on others (without others they would die). Like I said, parasitism is possible for a limited time, just as living only to satisfy your nutritional requirements is possible. It's irrational to not try to satisfy your desires beyond this point, however.

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I don't know about Attila, but Hitler was a neurotic who ended his life in underground bunker with the poison in his mouth and the bullet in his head.I think nobody could claim that his life was life of self-esteem,happiness and fulfilment. But never mind Hitler, just look on Africa, the richest continent on Earth, where people live short miserable life and die in agony simply because they are irrational.

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I'm saying that objective does not necessarily mean indifferent/impersonal.

I think you and I have already agreed that there are certainly situations that are objective even though they relate to certain individuals -- for example, if one has a fatal allergic reaction to peanuts, then it is objectively true for that person that if survival is desired, then they ought not to eat peanuts, though that doesn't apply to everyone.

Objective" I think is the best word because it highlights how many so-called objective moral theories are as subjective as you are claiming Objectivism to be.

I think the word is misleading because it implies that it is objective; i.e., pertaining to facts, and not someone's opinion or feeling about how man OUGHT to be. This is not at all to say that I think other moral theories are objective. And again, this is NOT to say that I don't think Objectivist ethics are good and reasonable and ought to be adhered to -- you and I would agree, I suspect, on the desirability or undesirability of most actions. I just don't think they are scientifically demonstrable, outside of the obvious life-and-death situations, where science can show that a particular action (eating peanuts if one has a fatal allergic reaction to them) has a certain demonstrable outcome.

I'm not saying she'd just fall over dead in 5 years, just that her condition of living is not conducive to her existence.

We agree that her situation is not desirable. Even if she goes on to live a long and happy life, justice is not served because we are all compelled to foot her bill. All I'm saying is that objective science does not apply here, as she is not going to keel over and die. Lots of people live and thrive despite less-than-honorable lifestyles. The Mafia has been around for over a hundred years -- sure, some get caught, but most don't. They get rich, have families, and continue on. Nature doesn't come in and smite them all because they aren't living as you and I think they ought to be. That's all I'm saying.

I'm not necessarily saying the goal is a certain quality of life, only that the goal is furtherance of one's existence.

I'd be happy to see the scientific data that shows that increased lifespan is the reward for not living off of others. Does someone who lives in a monastery live a demonstrably shorter life than someone who starts a company? You just can't -- for starters, longevity is far more affected by one's heredity than it is by receiving a welfare check.

This sense of quality of life can be measured and demonstrated scientifically in specific ways; all Objectivism suggests about ethics is fundamental principles of figuring out how to further one's life.

But how do you square that with Rand's quote that people who place family, friends, and human relationships above creative work are "immoral"? I value those things very, very highly. Obviously not everyone does -- Rand never had children. I'm sure there are others like her. But can you scientifically demonstrate that my placing my family, friends, and human relationships above my crative work is "immoral"? I don't think it can be done.

Choosing life is also the basis of morality here, because the only OTHER end that choices lead towards is non-existence.

We agree about this, to the extent that obviously making choices which can be scientifically demonstrated to hasten death (being an alcoholic, doing drugs, driving recklessly, etc.). I mentioned my pompous uncle, who lived a luxurious life entirely off the money his father had made - he died at 87. Can you objectively demonstrate that he would have lived longer if he had been a self-made man?

The point there about friends/family is just that having them set as MORE IMPORTANT than yourself is not good.

But that isn't what Rand said -- specifically, she said that putting human relationships ahead of one's creative work is immoral. Of course it's not good to put everyone else

ahead of one's self -- but, for many people (myself included), it's the love and closeness of friends and family that bring me joy. My work is very secondary to that. How do sccientifically demonstrate that I'm immoral? It's a question of what people prize and value highly, and it's not going to be the same for everyone.

However, friends/family ARE important to your existence in pursuing a variety of your own goals whether through the encouragement they provide you, or the way they may actually help you in achieving specific goals.

I value my family and friends for non-utilitarian purposes -- they don't need to provide encouragement (this is especially true of one's kids), and they don't need to help me achieve specific goals.

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But as is clearly shown by the history of man, man is just as capable of being irrational -- and surviving nonetheless. Man can survive by slaughtering others to further his own ends; by enslaving others; by sponging off of others, by living off of inherited wealth. "Man qua man" is a nice standard of what man should be, according to Rand, but it isn't scientifically demonstrated that man can't survive by adopting other standards.

Gotta rein you in a bit here.

That an individual man or men have been more or less irrational without showing ill effects does not vouch for the wisdom of choosing irrationality as one's means of survival.

But, if you are demonstrably irrational around me, I will refrain from dealing with you, and combat any attempt to force me to do so.

If I, you, and every other individual hewed "religiously" to the practice of dealing rationally with one another, and rejecting irrationality in others, then survival would not be the issue ... the only question would be "how successful do you want to be together?", and/or "how fast?".

Reality isn't as neat and clean as all that. If I am a scientist, I have to get funding somewhere. If I am a doctor, I rely on having other people as patients. If I am in computer sales, I rely upon other people to buy my products. Anyone who works for a company is subject to the uncertainties that affect that company. Companies are affected by economic trends. No one is really an island, with the possible exception of a self-suffiecient farmer who raises his own food and produces his own power.

You have it reversed.

You are lucky enough to live in an age where it is cheap to be a "mad" scientist and/or inventor. Say thank you to the people who paved the way and made your life cheap.

A good doctor has no problem getting patients, dude.

If you are in computer sales, my questions would be, do you excel at it? If so, I bet you do quite well.

Good companies and good people tend to get along just fine, in my experience.

And the fact that no one is an island does in no way invalidate the degree to which I am an individual, eh?

For many people (including myself), having the love and closeness of family and friends is its own reward, regardless of its "productivity". These are what makes life richer for many people. That it doesn't make the top of the list for you or for Rand is your choice (possibly determined by your personality), but it isn't a scientifically demonstrated fact.

Don't you have something you want to accomplish before you die?

- ico

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That an individual man or men have been more or less irrational without showing ill effects does not vouch for the wisdom of choosing irrationality as one's means of survival.

I have never questioned the wisdom of choosing rationality as a means of survival. If you think that I have been doing so, you have entirely missed the point of my previous posts.

If I, you, and every other individual hewed "religiously" to the practice of dealing rationally with one another, and rejecting irrationality in others, then survival would not be the issue ... the only question would be "how successful do you want to be together?", and/or "how fast?".

You have nicely demonstrated my problem: you are concerned with a subjective view of what man OUGHT to be, not what man demonstrably is. "Man qua man" is far more complex than Rand's particular description. Again, don't get me wrong: I think her moral directives have a great deal of merit, but they simply have no anchor in science.

You are lucky enough to live in an age where it is cheap to be a "mad" scientist and/or inventor. Say thank you to the people who paved the way and made your life cheap.

Of course I say "thank you" to all who make my way through life easier -- but am I really supposed to say thanks to those who make my life "cheap"? Nope -- no one who devalues what I do and cheapens it is worth my thanks. What sort of odd sacrificial offering do you think I owe those who would cheapen my life??

A good doctor has no problem getting patients, dude. If you are in computer sales, my questions would be, do you excel at it? If so, I bet you do quite well.

Good companies and good people tend to get along just fine, in my experience.

And the fact that no one is an island does in no way invalidate the degree to which I am an individual, eh?

I never said that individuality is necessarily sacrificed because we are not truly self-sufficient islands. My point was that the claim that only self-suffiency meant freedom was very limited by the actual facts on the ground: people are subject to their company's success; their individual creative projects may not find a buyer (Rand herself was only successful because of other people buying her books); their possibly very real skills as salesmen are limited by the use of their company's products and its continued success; their success as a doctor is dependent entirely upon others (patients). A good doctor has no problem geting patients, to be sure -- but only because there are so many others (patients) around that he can have a good practice.

The only truly objective independent and self-sufficient individual that I can see is a farmer who grows his own food, produces his own power, and can educate his own children. That is a free person.

Don't you have something you want to accomplish before you die?

I desire that my children may have the same abundance of happiness, joy, and satisfaction that I enjoy. Obviously I can't dictate or force that, but if by my example I show them the results of a life lived to its fullest, than that would be a goal accomplished. So far, so good -- my kids are happy despite the sickening culture around them. They appear to have absorbed the love of family that I hoped they would. I suppose you were looking for some other "accomplishment", but I can think of no other work more important than the forming of one's own sons and daughters. That is creative, in every deepest sense.

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I have never questioned the wisdom of choosing rationality as a means of survival. If you think that I have been doing so, you have entirely missed the point of my previous posts.

Oh right, you admit rationality as a means, but not the only means. Am I getting that right? For reference, Objectivism considers rationality the ONLY long term means to success -- with survival implied, but LIFE is the goal, not biological continuance per se, even so far as the latter is essential to the former.

You have nicely demonstrated my problem: you are concerned with a subjective view of what man OUGHT to be, not what man demonstrably is. "Man qua man" is far more complex than Rand's particular description. Again, don't get me wrong: I think her moral directives have a great deal of merit, but they simply have no anchor in science.

It all comes down to this:

Given an action, is there a rational means to determine whether that action is good or bad?

If yes, then my view is OBJECTIVE; if no, then my view is an ERROR. There is no context in which my view is subjective, beyond the fact that I am the one espousing it. By that standard, no knowledge could ever be objective, so what's your point again?

I never said that individuality is necessarily sacrificed because we are not truly self-sufficient islands. My point was that the claim that only self-suffiency meant freedom was very limited by the actual facts on the ground

If I gain a value by trade, then according to your logic, I am dependent on others, not self-sufficient -- even if I honestly produce the values I offer, and don't take more than I deserve (i.e., have earned/paid for). You seem to assume that division of labor and sharing of knowledge are the essentials, rather than derivative processes. You assume the wealth leverage of DoL and SoK a prior, without considering where that leverage originates. Other individuals are a benefit to me in society if and only if they are rational, and only to the degree (in mixed cases) of each individual's rationality. Now, I use my life as my standard, so if you want to swap in another standard, like power over others or whatnot, then you create a contradiction. According to my standard, my life, self-sufficient means using what means I have to get happy, and not stealing means from others.

You have it reversed. You are arguing that division of labor and sharing of knowledge work in a vacuum. They don't. Witness the 70 year economic debacle called "Soviet Union", or the even more heinous destruction by Mao in China. Like the common folk in Atlas Shrugged, you seem to think factories will operate themselves -- okay, not so gross a silliness, you are clearly intelligent; but in principle, what you are arguing is to drop context necessary for DoL and SoK to work.

I desire that my children may have the same abundance of happiness, joy, and satisfaction that I enjoy. Obviously I can't dictate or force that, but if by my example I show them the results of a life lived to its fullest, than that would be a goal accomplished. So far, so good -- my kids are happy despite the sickening culture around them. They appear to have absorbed the love of family that I hoped they would. I suppose you were looking for some other "accomplishment", but I can think of no other work more important than the forming of one's own sons and daughters. That is creative, in every deepest sense.

Good. Then I don't see what the issue is, unless you are wondering whether to turn your kids on to religion or not.

I desire for me and mine to live in a truly free society where I get what I deserve and others don't feel noble taking my stuff.

Is that asking too much?

- ico

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Oh right, you admit rationality as a means, but not the only means. Am I getting that right?

I think you've entirely missed the point of my posts. I have never questioned the desirability of Objectivist ethics, but I have questioned if they are, as apparently claimed, truly objective (i.e., based on scientific, demonstrable facts and not opinions). And so based on what I find in Rand's writings and here on this forum, I find the assertion made that Objectivism is the ONLY valid philosophy. Well, we might agree that it is certainly preferable to many other "isms", but actual reality does demonstrate that man can and does survive (and sometimes even thrive) by other "isms". Objectivism, therefore, does not appear to be factually objective in the general sense of the word. If it truly were objective, then I would expect objective science demonstrate that only Objectivists live long and productive lives, and those that Objectivists condemn as irrational would be condemned by objective science (that is, they die young and do not prosper). So your question here seems hopelessly fuddled: rationality is certainly used by those whose ends are not consonant with Objectivism. That is, a man might, in using his reason, conclude that it is rational to kill a weak but potentially annoying competitor. "Might makes right" has been a reasonable choice made by many who prospered with that as their philosophy. Many other "isms" emply reason to achieve their aims. Reason as an end instead of a means is an intriguing concept and a nice ideal, but is simply not a scientific, objective fact.

Objectivism considers rationality the ONLY long term means to success -- with survival implied, but LIFE is the goal, not biological continuance per se, even so far as the latter is essential to the former.

It all depends, doesn't it, upon the definition of "success". It's subjective. What you think of as "success" is not scientifically verifiable, but is instead an honorable and admirable set of principles that will likely bring the practitioner some success in the business world. It's a very valuable set of principles, to be sure -- but it isn't objective.

Given an action, is there a rational means to determine whether that action is good or bad?

This presumes that the rational faculty is infallible. It's not, as even the most casual observer of human nature can see. We are all quite capable of self-deception, and often what we decide is a "rational" answer to a particular problem is, in reality, our own biases and wishes distorting reality to accomodate our particular desire to see an action as good or bad. I don't know how a reasonable person could deny that humans are capable of such self-deception.

There is no context in which my view is subjective, beyond the fact that I am the one espousing it. By that standard, no knowledge could ever be objective, so what's your point again?

"Beyond the fact that I am the one espousing it.." -- are you kidding?? You've just explained why your view is subjective! And it does not follow, as you claim, that "By that standard, no knowledge could ever be objective" -- nonsense. A is A. Water is made up of a particular combination of hydrogen and oxygen, regardless of your espousing it or not. If you don't eat or drink, you will die, regardless of your espousing eating and drinking or not. If you jump from a tall bridge into a river, you will probably die, regardless of your espousal of gravity or not.

Other individuals are a benefit to me in society if and only if they are rational, and only to the degree (in mixed cases) of each individual's rationality.

Not true. They are a benefit to you if and only they directly contribute to your well-being in some concrete manner. If you are an author, for example, it is perfectly possible for utter nincompoops to buy your books for all the wrong reasons and so contribute concretely to your success. Their rationality doesn't pay your bills, their money does, and whether the money or other means of support comes from your subjectively-decided class of rational or irrational does not matter in the slightest. If you have children (obviously you don't!!), then you know that they can be, at times, the most irrational of creatures, but nonetheless they are a benefit beyond all measure.

You have it reversed. You are arguing that division of labor and sharing of knowledge work in a vacuum. They don't

I have not argued anything of the sort. Since I don't believe what you now claim I am arguing for, I have very little to say.

Good. Then I don't see what the issue is, unless you are wondering whether to turn your kids on to religion or not.

The issue, in this specific case, is Rand's claim that people who place family, friends, and human relationships above creative work are "immoral". (The exact quote, I think, is on a previous page of this discussion). I want to know what objective, scientific facts exist to make that claim. The fact is, it can't be objectively proven. It's just one woman's opinion. And that is the crux of the matter: Objectivism is great, honorable, sensible, and admirable, but it doesn't appear to be objective. That's all.

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