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Building Ayn Rand"s robot.

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Leonid
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Mark "But knowledge? You don't consider knowledge to be a survival value? This repudiates the entire Objectivist philosophy and is evidence of troll-like behavior"

Which kind of knowledge is essential to your survival? How your life is affected by the knowledge that there is Crab Nebula somewhere 2 millions light years away? But to astronomer who discovered it this knowledge brought happiness, the pleasure of discovery. The alternative is not only between life and death, but also between life of happiness and life of dullness. Such an alternative even indestructible robot may face, if he is a sapient being. This is also the answer to all those people who claim that man can live as an irrational parasite. Yes, he can and even for long, but would it be happy life, life of fulfillment and self-esteem?

Zold " In your "trans-human" example, the trans-human still must act to maintain his life - he still needs food, water, shelter, clothing, and money, and still needs to practice all the virtues necessary to obtain these and all his other values, including spiritual ones like knowledge, friendship, and love. His "immortality" is not automatic either - he would need to seek out the medical treatments that counter aging and disease. For the robot, no such action is required. It can't destroy itself or improve itself, so it can value nothing. The trans-human is not "contrary to Ayn Rand," because he is not immortal in the sense she was using the term."

Suppose he has an internal source of energy based on the process of radioactive decay and needs to replenish it once in 100000 years. Suppose he has complete self-repairing mechanism and doesn't need any material values to maintain his existence. Suppose is he's never aging or get sick. Suppose, his immortality is simply part of his nature. That leaves us with the spiritual values-knowledge, love, friendship. Rand's claim is that these values are necessary derived from the life-death alternative. I suggest that they could be derived from the fact that such a robot or trans-human is sapient being, has an active mind and experiences pleasure by using it. He also will value others with active mind-this is the basis of friendship and love. He will value beauty and art for the same reason we, mortals value it-to enjoy the perceptual expression of his sense of life. In short, my claim is very simple-one doesn't have to die in order to live. I only can feel sorry for those who consider such a position as troll-like behavior.

Edited by Leonid
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Suppose he has an internal source of energy based on the process of radioactive decay and needs to replenish it once in 100000 years. Suppose he has complete self-repairing mechanism and doesn't need any material values to maintain his existence. Suppose is he's never aging or get sick. Suppose, his immortality is simply part of his nature. That leaves us with the spiritual values-knowledge, love, friendship. Rand's claim is that these values are necessary derived from the life-death alternative. I suggest that they could be derived from the fact that such a robot or trans-human is sapient being, has an active mind and experiences pleasure by using it. He also will value others with active mind-this is the basis of friendship and love. He will value beauty and art for the same reason we, mortals, value it-to enjoy the perceptual expression of his sense of life. In short, my claim is very simple-one doesn't have to die in order to live. I only can feel sorry for those who consider such a position as troll-like behavior.

If he needs to replenish his fuel source once every 100,000 years or every hundred quadrillion years, he's not immortal nor indestructible.

You are NOT paralleling Ayn Rand's example. Once you finally realize that that is what we have been trying to tell you, you will see that you are arguing pointlessly against a strawman.

And by the way the Crab Nebula (Messier catalog 1, thus "M1") is not 2 million light years away, if so it would be well outside the galaxy, as far away as the Andromeda galaxy (M31) in fact. Best estimate is 6500 light years give or take 1600 light years. It was created when a star blew up; we saw that explosion in 1054 CE though obviously it would have happened 6500 years before that. It is possible to see the pulsar--the remnant core of the supernova-in the Crab Nebula with a modest amateur telescope. But of course that's all useless information, isn't it?

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Suppose he has an internal source of energy based on the process of radioactive decay and needs to replenish it once in 100000 years. Suppose he has complete self-repairing mechanism and doesn't need any material values to maintain his existence. Suppose is he's never aging or get sick. Suppose, his immortality is simply part of his nature.

Once you get too far what from human beings currently are, the Objectivist ethics no longer applies. Dr. Peikoff discusses this in his podcast this week coincidentally. But I think a human being as we currently know him, but with medical technology to cure aging would still be close enough to what we know that the Objectivist ethics would still apply.

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Which kind of knowledge is essential to your survival? How your life is affected by the knowledge that there is Crab Nebula somewhere 2 millions light years away? But to astronomer who discovered it this knowledge brought happiness, the pleasure of discovery. The alternative is not only between life and death, but also between life of happiness and life of dullness. Such an alternative even indestructible robot may face, if he is a sapient being. This is also the answer to all those people who claim that man can live as an irrational parasite. Yes, he can and even for long, but would it be happy life, life of fulfillment and self-esteem?

The actual distance between Earth and the Crab Nebula aside, there's more to whether a fact of reality enhances man's survival than mere proximity. The existence of distant astronomical bodies prompts further questions: What is it made of? What natural processes led to its formation? Does its nature support or contradict any proposed laws of physics? How does it interact with other bodies? We understand the physical universe through principles that apply regardless of location, and studying astronomy expands and clarifies these principles, and it equips us with new ones. The larger our toolkit of principles, the greater our capacity to survive on Earth. From page 151 of Ayn Rand Answers:

Is it proper to study something that has no connection to human life?

Suppose someone discovers a plant on the dark side of the moon, and given our present knowledge, it cannot have any effect on human life - on agriculture, food, and so on. If this were true, there would be no reason to study it. But, such a discovery is impossible, because the universe is one; everything is connected. So scientists ought to study such a plant if it existed. [NFW 69]

By its very nature, knowledge has survival value.

Suppose he has an internal source of energy based on the process of radioactive decay and needs to replenish it once in 100000 years. Suppose he has complete self-repairing mechanism and doesn't need any material values to maintain his existence. Suppose is he's never aging or get sick. Suppose, his immortality is simply part of his nature. That leaves us with the spiritual values-knowledge, love, friendship. Rand's claim is that these values are necessary derived from the life-death alternative. I suggest that they could be derived from the fact that such a robot or trans-human is sapient being, has an active mind and experiences pleasure by using it. He also will value others with active mind-this is the basis of friendship and love. He will value beauty and art for the same reason we, mortals value it-to enjoy the perceptual expression of his sense of life. In short, my claim is very simple-one doesn't have to die in order to live. I only can feel sorry for those who consider such a position as troll-like behavior.

You are still using "robot or trans-human" as though they were interchangeable. This is incorrect: the existence of the robot is automatic; the existence of the trans-human is not. Why would the robot value knowledge, when it doesn't need to understand reality to continue existing? Why would it value love, when nothing can act for or against it? Why would it value friendship, when it has no other values to share with its would-be friends? It's meaningless to talk about the robot's pleasure-pain mechanism when nothing can hurt it or benefit it - what would it find pleasurable or painful? Nor can the robot have an "active mind," since this implies a consciousness that must sustain itself. That life implies eventual death is irrelevant to the Objectivist ethics (although it might still be true as a matter of biology); what matters is that, in order to live, one must actively pursue the things life requires, and without them, one dies. Automatic life is a contradiction in terms.

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I think an interesting example that may actually be technically feasible would be if human life can be healthfully extended indefinitely.

But, even then, accidents can happen, and evildoers can happen.

I don't see how to make the robot indestructible. You could make its SOFTWARE durable and able to be projected onto a copy of its robot body, then build it a new body whenever the old one breaks. But then, there is still a cost/benefit analysis here, and you could maybe find technology to do the same for a human ... maybe.

I don't see how you can create a robot wholly divorced from a need for self-preservation ... at very least, it'll need a source of lower entropy to drive its essential processes and prevent entropic decay of its bodily functions.

You can't build it. No way. Anything built is by definition limited in duration. Done.

- ico

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I don't think anyone here who understands what Rand's Robot would be is claiming that it would be physically possible to construct it. In fact quite the contrary, at least one person has made it explicit that it would not be possible to construct it. The problem is that Leonid does not understand Rand's Robot; he proposes constructing things that would (ultimately) have to take action to sustain their continued existence--just a lot less so than we do.

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Truly, it cannot be built, yes.

Moving on to what I really want to get at, after some thought: isn't it the case that Ayn's robot is, in fact, not well-defined? How can it be, when no one can even imagine it?

I actually think Rand's robot does a marginal disservice to the cause, in the same way that her occasional use of the term "infinity" to mean "eternal iteration" does: by being a bit facetious and stretching the bounds of conceptuality a bit too far. Then again, she was an master of the art of logic, so perhaps she was just exaggerating what was important to her in the given contexts with an aesthetic/storytelling purpose, an artistic goal ...

All IMHO, but I do think it necessary to challenge Ayn on the margins, at least until one knows this stuff cold (who but she did/does so far? Maybe LP, maybe HB -- probably not. She would have wanted to be challenged, eh?

- ico

Edited by icosahedron
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Truly, it cannot be built, yes.

Moving on to what I really want to get at, after some thought: isn't it the case that Ayn's robot is, in fact, not well-defined? How can it be, when no one can even imagine it?

Rand's robot is perfectly well defined. Einstein imagined himself moving near and at the speed of light with great productive results even though like Rand's robot an equally impossible feat.

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Rand's robot is perfectly well defined. Einstein imagined himself moving near and at the speed of light with great productive results even though like Rand's robot an equally impossible feat.

The analogy does not hold. It is possible to imagine small, finite speed differences. Whether the feat is technically accessible today or not is irrelevant -- that's why they're called "thought experiments". But, to think up an experiment still requires that you imagine the setup.

It is not possible to imagine an indestructible existent.

It is possible to postulate an indestructible existent and show contradictions with reality. But without the link to reality, you get a floating abstraction.

Now, you may say that it's possible to define floating abstractions; however, I say it's not, not consistently -- because, while one may occasionally line up with reality, in general such abstractions will contradict reality in one way or another. And, IMHO, a definition which contradicts reality, i.e., defines an invalid concept, is itself invalid (a means to no valid end is not a valid means).

- ico

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It is not possible to imagine an indestructible existent.

I don't have to imagine. Mass/energy is indestructible, which is why there is a conservation law for it. In the Rand passage quoted above she explicitly contrasts life with inanimate matter and describes matter as indestructible, which it was until Einstein changed everybody's understanding. I don't think the technical feasibility of mass/energy conversion even is remotely relevant to Rand's philosophical grounding of ethics, so this nitpick does not threaten her reasoning.

Her pedagogical exercise is not even necessary to prove her point. If such forms of infinity such as "immortal" and "invulnerable" really bothers anyone, just skip the paragraph.

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I don't have to imagine. Mass/energy is indestructible, which is why there is a conservation law for it.

But mass and energy are PROPERTIES of entities (derived from observations via models and induction, no less!), and cannot exist without form. Entities have structure, and structure is based on direction/shape, not size -- in principle, there is no problem mentally scaling structures up and down, that's why concepts work to gain unit economy in the first place.

Substance is indeed eternal; but it exists only in specific, definite structures -- and any structure can indeed be destroyed, by definition of the concept "structure". It is a misnomer to characterize substance as "indestructible" ... the proper term is "eternal".

That's why I focus on entropy and directional proclivities, rather than substance: entropy reflects patterns of energy partitioning, and while the entropy of a system is strictly bounded by the possible arrangements of the available substance, it is not the substance that is primary, but the structurally regenerated pattern integrity that is the object of consideration ... mass/energy are always inferred, but structural arrangements are self-evident once scaled up to human size (e.g., by using proper measurement units to focus on small things).

Conservation laws are called that for a reason; why not call them "indestructibility laws"? Because, with conservation laws, structure is an omitted measurement, so the idea of destruction is not applicable.

In the Rand passage quoted above she explicitly contrasts life with inanimate matter and describes matter as indestructible, which it was until Einstein changed everybody's understanding. I don't think the technical feasibility of mass/energy conversion even is remotely relevant to Rand's philosophical grounding of ethics, so this nitpick does not threaten her reasoning.

True enough, but I think she was too loose in this context. It is the FORM of matter that is changeable, destructible; matter as the substance of entities must have SOME form, and therefore, its form can be altered, right? I think one ought to refrain from using concepts where they don't apply, such as, using the concept "structure" or any variant thereof to refer to intrinsically unstructured material doesn't really help my understanding.

Her pedagogical exercise is not even necessary to prove her point. If such forms of infinity such as "immortal" and "invulnerable" really bothers anyone, just skip the paragraph.

Or at least, substitute "blank" for each instance of word referring to an invalid concept, such as "infinity", "immortal", "invulnerable", "indestructible", or "God". See if the paragraph still has meaning to you when you omit meaning from these meaningless symbols.

- ico

Edited by icosahedron
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It occurs to me that it would be a decent baloney-meter for online written materials to pass them through a substitution filter that replaces each instance of a decidedly invalid concept with "blank", and see the number of words referring to invalid concepts per line of prose. A metric giving a broad sense of how objectively clear the writing is.

- ico

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For all practical purposes the trans-human I've described would be immortal and indestructible. Ayn Rand's robot is supposed to be sapient being, so there is no difference between them. But this is not my point. Ayn Rand invented his robot in order to demonstrate that death-life alternative is the source of values, and in order to survive the organism has to act to gain and to keep these values. Although it is true in regard to animals, plants and microbes, it doesn't necessary true in regard to sapient beings. Unlike other animals who adapt themselves to the environment, man adapts his environment in accordance to his needs. He also can adapt his own internal environment, his own body in such a way that it would practically immortal, indestructible and independent from the environment. Let's omit his need to feed once in 100000 years for the sake of argument. The question now is: would such being be moral or amoral, would it be possible for him to pursue any values? Ayn Rand's answer is "NO" and my answer is "YES"

And this is my argument: unlike animals, man doesn't have to face alternative of life or death in order to be moral, that is-to pursue values, because he possesses self-awareness, in other words he is conscious of his consciousness. The difference between him and other animals is that he exercises his mind consciously and volitionally. Such an exercise by itself is a source of great pleasure and value, regardless whether or not it has survival value. Every person who posted on this thread has to agree with me, he didn't do it for any survival purpose but for the sheer pleasure of mental achievement. Man doesn't have to face the life-death alternative in order to be moral. Instead he's facing the life-life alternative. He may pursue the great value of using his mind and live life of happiness or he may forfeit his mind and live dull miserable life. For ever!

Edited by Leonid
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. The difference between him and other animals is that he exercises his mind consciously and volitionally. Such an exercise by itself is a source of great pleasure and value, regardless whether or not it has survival value. Everybody who post on this thread has to agree with me, they don't do it for any survival purpose but for the sheer pleasure of mental achievement. Man doesn't have to face the life-death alternative in order to be moral. Instead he's facing the life-life alternative. He may pursue the great value of using his mind and live life of happiness or he may forfeit his mind and live dull miserable life. For ever!

Forgive me, I havent read the whole thread but it appears that youre conflating means and ends here. Using your mind, pursuing knowledge is a means to the ultimate end of survival. The pursuit of knowledge (or mental achievement)is not an end in itself.

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Such an exercise by itself is a source of great pleasure and value, regardless whether or not it has survival value. Every person who posted on this thread has to agree with me, he didn't do it for any survival purpose but for the sheer pleasure of mental achievement.

Those two purposes in posting to an online forum are two ways of looking at the same thing. The "pleasure of mental achievement" perspective highlights the immediate, tangible gain from participating, and the "survival value" perspective highlights the fact that all values, including mental achievement, ultimately obtain their value-character from the living (and therefore vincible) nature of the valuer. You're drawing a dichotomy where there should be none.

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The question now is: would such being be moral or amoral, would it be possible for him to pursue any values? Ayn Rand's answer is "NO" and my answer is "YES"

I don't see how you evade the Law of Entropy; you can't have a perpetual motion machine, conscious or not. You MUST have an entropy depression that you can use to maintain the logical order of your body, however evolved. If you run out of low entropy sources, you won't be able to sustain your systemic order.

No existent can escape decay, because proximate existents exchange entropy such that the summary entropy is non-decreasing, which is to say, such that the global system tends to the most disordered state, and stays near it when not driven away from it by conscious effort.

(edited out some garbage)

You can't escape decay altogether whilst remaining alive Which DOES make Ayn' point neatly: without entropy maximization as the measure of equilibrium, there is no means to navigate among available actions in driving one slightly away from equilibrium, towards just the right amount of order to maintain life.

- ico

Edited by icosahedron
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For all practical purposes the trans-human I've described would be immortal and indestructible.

Wrong, wrong wrong wrong wrong.

When will you understand that THIS is NOT what Ayn Rand was talking about?

She was not talking about a robot that was "for all practical purposes" immortal and indestructible, she was talking about a robot that is immortal or indestructible, with no quallifiers whatsoever.

You are attacking a strawman.

Ayn Rand's answer is "NO" and my answer is "YES"

Of course, Because you are NOT answering the same question!!

You are being willfully obtuse.

I am done with this.

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First, to answer technical questions. All living organisms act against the gradient of entropy and Ayn Rand's robot is not an exclusion. The only difference is that such an organism would have inherent build-in mechanism for this purpose, like internal practically unlimited source of energy and automatic autonomic system of self-repair, based, say, on biological nano-robotic atom assembly mechanism, which would be part of his cellular structure. Once created, such an organism and his offsprings never will face the life-death alternative. He wouldn't need to take any action to sustain his life ever. There is no difference between such an organism and Ayn Rand's robot. I claim that such an organism, if he sapient, would be a moral being, he will pursue values like reason, creativity, self-esteem, justice and honesty. I gave my reasons to support my claim and still waiting for reasonable objections.

Second, to answer Dante's objection:

Those two purposes in posting to an online forum are two ways of looking at the same thing. The "pleasure of mental achievement" perspective highlights the immediate, tangible gain from participating, and the "survival value" perspective highlights the fact that all values, including mental achievement, ultimately obtain their value-character from the living (and therefore vincible) nature of the valuer. You're drawing a dichotomy where there should be none.

There is no dichotomy; I never said that trans-human organism is not living. But your objection is begging a question. You presuppose that "living" necessary means "vincible" and this is exactly the premise which I challenge and you have to prove.

Edited by Leonid
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Forgive me, I havent read the whole thread but it appears that youre conflating means and ends here. Using your mind, pursuing knowledge is a means to the ultimate end of survival. The pursuit of knowledge (or mental achievement)is not an end in itself.

Yes, it not an end in itself, but it doesn't have to be survival either. The end could be for example a pleasure of discovery, a deep satisfaction from the results of application of one's mind. Rearden in AS didn't spend 10 agonizing years inventing his metal in order to survive. He could live very comfortable producing and selling steel.

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There is no dichotomy; I never said that trans-human organism is not living. But your objection is begging a question. You presuppose that "living" necessary means "vincible" and this is exactly the premise which I challenge and you have to prove.

No, the onus is on you. Every living entity is vincible, there has never existed any other kind of living entity and the supposition that there has been or ever will be is pure fantasy with absolutely no evidence to support it. Since the positive assertion is yours that such could exist, the onus of proof is on you. Bring some evidence or your arbitrary claim is as good as the flying spaghetti monster and can be dismissed as such.

Yes, it not an end in itself, but it doesn't have to be survival either. The end could be for example a pleasure of discovery, a deep satisfaction from the results of application of one's mind. Rearden in AS didn't spend 10 agonizing years inventing his metal in order to survive. He could live very comfortable producing and selling steel.

First of all, this entire reply is based on a stolen concept which I tried to point out to you earlier and your continued use of such really damages your credibility. To see your error define "pleasure" or "satisfaction" down to their roots, reduce them back to perception and you will see that you haven't a leg to stand on.

Second you are conflating two perspectives here: survival and life. You would have to agree that in reality (that is disregarding your fanciful scenario) the ultimate value is life. Meaning, without life there are no value, that only living entities value. Thus survival is very important since if you don't survive, if you aren't alive, nothing is possible to you. Typically, Objectivists only discuss "survival" when speaking of the ultimate value and as a logical connection of ethics to reality.

However, in industrial society, survival is usually not a problem -- most of us will survive without too much effort. But is that it? Is just surviving enough? Not for most of us. We want to LIVE. And what is truly LIVING? What are the indications of having a full life? When do you feel truly alive? What makes life worth living? HAPPINESS.

Rearden would not have been happy to sit back, park his brain and get comfortable producing just steel which didn't require much brain power after its invention.

Search for threads on "survival, happiness, flourishing life" etc. there are plenty of them here.

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There is no dichotomy; I never said that trans-human organism is not living. But your objection is begging a question. You presuppose that "living" necessary means "vincible" and this is exactly the premise which I challenge and you have to prove.

It's very simple. Living organisms need to take actions in order to sustain their life. Even in your fantastical example, you needed to posit an energy source that eventually must be replenished. This need to take action necessarily includes the possibility of failure. There is simply no escaping from this linkage, no matter how fantastic your supposed beings get.

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It's very simple. Living organisms need to take actions in order to sustain their life. Even in your fantastical example, you needed to posit an energy source that eventually must be replenished. This need to take action necessarily includes the possibility of failure. There is simply no escaping from this linkage, no matter how fantastic your supposed beings get.

In my fantastic example this source lasts for very long time and it replacement is not organism's primary concern. My fantastic organism doesn't have to take any action virtually for eternity in order to sustain his life. Practically, he's undistinguished from AR's robot. But let say that he does take such an action every 1000 years. Does it mean he becomes moral once in millennium? I don't think so. I think that if he a sapient being, he would pursue values not in order to sustain his physical existence, but his life qua sapient by exercising his mind. Now consider the possibility that he doesn't. Eternal or almost eternal life of dullness and boredom is much more horrible an alternative than death.

Edited by Leonid
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Marc K:

"Every living entity is vincible, there has never existed any other kind of living entity"

But we discuss here the artificial, man-made organism. Nothing at least in theory prohibits its creation. Observe that skyscrapers and space shuttles also never existed before .

"First of all, this entire reply is based on a stolen concept which I tried to point out to you earlier and your continued use of such really damages your credibility. To see your error define "pleasure" or "satisfaction" down to their roots, reduce them back to perception and you will see that you haven't a leg to stand on"

With pleasure. " Pleasure" is inherent perceptual mechanism on which the concept of "value" is based. In Ayn Rand's words " Now in what manner does human being discover the concept of "value"? By what means does he first become aware of the issue of "good or evil" in its simplest form? By means of the physical sensation of pleasure and pain...The capacity to experience pleasure or pain is innate in a man's body, it is part of his nature, part of the kind of entity he is. He has no choice about it..." (VOS;7 pb17)

If I'm guilty of the fallacy of stolen concept, then so is Ayn Rand. There are no roots of pleasure. On the contrary, pleasure-pain mechanism is the root of the concept of "value". Happiness which is pleasure of the sapient being " is that state of consciousness which proceeds from achievement of one values" (GS). True, a piece of bread may represent such a value, but also discovery of Crab Nebula or new metal.As you yourself observed, survival is not an issue anymore in industrial society, " most of us will survive without too much effort. But is that it? Is just surviving enough? Not for most of us. We want to LIVE. And what is truly LIVING? What are the indications of having a full life? When do you feel truly alive? What makes life worth living? HAPPINESS.

And this is exactly my point. Happiness, reason, productivity and self-esteem man could and should pursue without necessity to face life-death alternative.

Edited by Leonid
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But we discuss here the artificial, man-made organism. Nothing at least in theory prohibits its creation. Observe that skyscrapers and space shuttles also never existed before.

Ayn Rand called hers a robot, you call yours something different and others here have pointed out that yours is not immortal, please head their advice.

Above you call it an "organism". An organism is made of organic matter and everything in theory and practice prohibits such a thing from being immortal -- there is no rational theory that proposes that organic matter can last forever. Please notice that skyscrapers and space shuttles are not indestructible either. Anyway I don't have much interest in discussing this aspect any further.

The rest of your reply (even though it is completely wrong) is the best you've done yet. I'm glad that you have read The Objectivist Ethics as this has alleviated some of my trepidation about dealing with you. You really need to read it again and keep in mind that Ayn Rand was always very precise in her word choice and meaning.

With pleasure. " Pleasure" is inherent perceptual mechanism on which the concept of "value" is based. In Ayn Rand's words " Now in what manner does human being discover the concept of "value"? By what means does he first become aware of the issue of "good or evil" in its simplest form? By means of the physical sensation of pleasure and pain...The capacity to experience pleasure or pain is innate in a man's body, it is part of his nature, part of the kind of entity he is. He has no choice about it..." (VOS;7 pb17)

OK, well I was speaking of defining "pleasure" in the way that you meant it, here:

Yes, it not an end in itself, but it doesn't have to be survival either. The end could be for example a pleasure of discovery, a deep satisfaction from the results of application of one's mind. Rearden in AS didn't spend 10 agonizing years inventing his metal in order to survive. He could live very comfortable producing and selling steel. [emphasis added]

Did you really mean "the physical sensation of pleasure"? The "pleasure of discovery" sounds more to me like the emotion of joy or happiness or pride. I mean, you understand that one word can have multiple meanings, right? Perhaps I should just have asked you to define "satisfaction" but, no matter, we can still deal with this. I also was too ambitious asking you to go back to perception, instead I should have just asked you to reduce the concept back to its ethical base.

Hopefully you agree with what I wrote earlier, that only living organisms value, that life or death is the fundamental alternative. Further, do you agree that the good is "all that which is proper to the life of a rational being" and that the evil is "that which destroys it"?

If so, then any concept or emotion that can be reduced back to "good" can only be experienced by something that faces the fundamental alternative. An immortal indestructible robot does not face that alternative.

OK, back to what you and Ayn Rand said:

With pleasure. " Pleasure" is inherent perceptual mechanism on which the concept of "value" is based. In Ayn Rand's words " Now in what manner does human being discover the concept of "value"? By what means does he first become aware of the issue of "good or evil" in its simplest form? By means of the physical sensation of pleasure and pain...The capacity to experience pleasure or pain is innate in a man's body, it is part of his nature, part of the kind of entity he is. He has no choice about it..." (VOS;7 pb17)

You say "pleasure is inherent perceptual mechanism" but actually the mechanism is the pleasure-pain mechanism, and feeling pleasure has survival value. When you feel pleasure it is an automatic sensation telling you that you are pursuing a "good" course, a course that supports your life. Pleasure or pain are the way we first experience and discover the concept value, they are automatic signals telling us what to pursue and what to avoid but they are not the base of value. Metaphysically, life is the base of all value -- without life there are no values. Epistemologically, life is the base of the concept "value" -- without life there is no such concept.

If I'm guilty of the fallacy of stolen concept, then so is Ayn Rand. There are no roots of pleasure. On the contrary, pleasure-pain mechanism is the root of the concept of "value".

Do rocks feel pleasure? No. Of course there is a root of pleasure: LIFE. Without life there is no pleasure.

Happiness which is pleasure of the sapient being " is that state of consciousness which proceeds from achievement of one values" (GS). True, a piece of bread may represent such a value, but also discovery of Crab Nebula or new metal.As you yourself observed, survival is not an issue anymore in industrial society, " most of us will survive without too much effort. But is that it? Is just surviving enough? Not for most of us. We want to LIVE. And what is truly LIVING? What are the indications of having a full life? When do you feel truly alive? What makes life worth living? HAPPINESS.

Actually it is the rest of us that are arguing that the discovery of the Crab Nebula or a new metal ARE values. You are the one proposing some new woozy category called "survival value" and that the discovery of the Crab Nebula or a new metal do not represent "survival values".

I said that you were "conflating two perspectives here: survival and life" and then I went on to explain how "life" means "happy life" and I think it is OK to consider these two perspectives if it helps you figure something out. But I didn't mean to imply that there is some sort of dichotomy between the two because there isn't. Obviously survival is essential to life but so is happiness. Would you even want to be alive if happiness wasn't possible? You know, the whole "give me liberty or give me death" perspective. Well, happiness is not possible to a rock, happiness is not possible to an entity that doesn't face the alternative of life or death.

And this is exactly my point. Happiness, reason, productivity and self-esteem man could and should pursue without necessity to face life-death alternative.

Again, why the "should"? For what purpose? Why should an entity pursue one course over another?

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