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I just wish there was a way you could justify Objectivism's political arguments with a purely philosophical and positivist approach rather than relying on untestable empirical claims about what is in other people's self interest. That's all. This thread has served it's purpose and can die peacefully now.

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Okay, but we need to add a bit more context to this question to have an intelligible answer. First of all, in a truly emergency situation, one can be justified in violating property rights. For inst

Well yeah. Absolute does not mean without limit, for nothing in reality is limitless. And it doesn't mean "property rights are intrinsically good," for that would mean "good apart from human life." Ab

It is indeed not a literal contradiction to sacrifice others while refusing to sacrifice yourself, and that is not the correct reasoning to support the notion that we should not sacrifice others. The

I just wish there was a way you could justify Objectivism's political arguments with a purely philosophical and positivist approach rather than relying on untestable empirical claims about what is in other people's self interest. That's all. This thread has served it's purpose and can die peacefully now.

I'm jumping in the middle somewhat, but I think that what you're missing is the issue and importance, the necessity, of principles. I highly recommend Dr. Peikoff's one-hour lecture, "Why Should One Act on Principle?" It's free to listen to (and there's a 30-minute or so Q&A which follows, a second audio) at the Ayn Rand Institute. You'll have to register, then go to your "Registered User Page." If you've never registered, you'll be automatically redirected to your "Registered User Page" after you register; else there's a link on the home page of the Ayn Rand Institute on the upper left.

Edited by Trebor
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I just wish there was a way you could justify Objectivism's political arguments with a purely philosophical and positivist approach rather than relying on untestable empirical claims

Have you been reading this thread? It'd probably help you to understand the Objectivist position if you read "The Objectivist ethics" and "Atlas Shrugged." (And considering how many posts you've made...). We've already given you the essential information, but you keep equating interest with pleasure.

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Have you been reading this thread? It'd probably help you to understand the Objectivist position if you read "The Objectivist ethics" and "Atlas Shrugged." (And considering how many posts you've made...). We've already given you the essential information, but you keep equating interest with pleasure.

What? Isn't the pleasure-pain mechanism the guardian of one's life, dude?

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Not in the long run, unless you think heroin addiction is a great way to live.

Hm, so much for those ARI junkies then.

http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/pleasure_and_pain.html

The pleasure-pain mechanism in the body of man—and in the bodies of all the living organisms that possess the faculty of consciousness—serves as an automatic guardian of the organism’s life.

Just going off of the sources it was suggested I look into...

But I understand that when you say "the pleasure pain mechanism is the automatic guardian of man's life" you actually mean something else. It still makes Objectivism unnecessarily confusing though since psychological egoism is usually understood to include pleasure in the evaluation of self interest. There are probably more accurate and precise words to describe whatever Rand actually meant by "self interest".

Edited by mustang19
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Hm, so much for those ARI junkies then.

http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/pleasure_and_pain.html

Just going off of the sources it was suggested I look into...

But I understand that when you say "the pleasure pain mechanism is the automatic guardian of man's life" you actually mean something else. It still makes Objectivism unnecessarily confusing though since psychological egoism is usually understood to include pleasure in the evaluation of self interest. There are probably more accurate and precise words to describe whatever Rand actually meant by "self interest".

You were suggested to actually read Ayn Rand rather than just give off opinions without full knowledge. The idea continues:

Man has no automatic code of survival. He has no automatic course of action, no automatic set of values. His senses do not tell him automatically what is good for him or evil, what will benefit his life or endanger it, what goals he should pursue and what means will achieve them, what values his life depends on, what course of action it requires. His own consciousness has to discover the answers to all these questions—but his consciousness will not function automatically. Man, the highest living species on this earth— the being whose consciousness has a limitless capacity for gaining knowledge—man is the only living entity born without any guarantee of remaining conscious at all. Man’s particular distinction from all other living species is the fact that his consciousness is volitional.

And more on the definition of rational self-interest in the same chapter, which is accurate and precise, as long as you take the time to actually read any of it...

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But I understand that when you say "the pleasure pain mechanism is the automatic guardian of man's life" you actually mean something else. It still makes Objectivism unnecessarily confusing though since psychological egoism is usually understood to include pleasure in the evaluation of self interest. There are probably more accurate and precise words to describe whatever Rand actually meant by "self interest".

Several people have already mentioned to me that there is no point in replying to you unless and until you actually read what Rand wrote, but I do want to make one more minor point here. Objectivism does NOT agree with the doctrine known as psychological egoism, whereby "acting in one's self-interest" becomes a tautology. Psychological egoism is basically like saying "Why did you do that? You chose this, therefore you wanted this, therefore people want whatever it is they end up choosing to do." Objectivists hold that not only is it POSSIBLE to act against your self-interest (in contrast to psychological egoism where it is not), people do it ALL THE TIME, to their ultimate detriment. Don't confuse psychological egoism with ETHICAL egoism (the Oist position). Because people are able to act against their interests, it is all the more important that they think carefully about the course of their whole lives and avoid doing so.

Last time, Objectivism is NOT a pleasure-maximizing philosophy. We are not hedonists. We are not all about getting a feel-good on in the range of the moment. Is the pleasure-pain mechanism useful and good? Hell yeah it is. It tells you not to touch a hot stove or let anyone jam pointy objects in you. More seriously, your body does let you know when you are pushing yourself too hard or something is wrong, and if you are in serious emotional turmoil there's probably a good reason why, and you should look into that. But being in a state of pleasure or pain in any given moment, devoid of context, is likely to say NOTHING about the state of your life overall. That, specifically, is why I gave you the heroin example.

I'll give you a personal example. I had surgery on a joint recently. Rehab exercises and deep tissue massage often hurt like hell. Would it be better for me to avoid this (admittedly pretty bad) pain, baby the joint, and ultimately keep it from recovering as well as it might? Damn, I suddenly made my body sound like the economy just then. Funny that...

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I'll give you a personal example. I had surgery on a joint recently. Rehab exercises and deep tissue massage often hurt like hell. Would it be better for me to avoid this (admittedly pretty bad) pain, baby the joint, and ultimately keep it from recovering as well as it might? Damn, I suddenly made my body sound like the economy just then. Funny that...

The fact that you're a hedonist doesn't prevent you from thinking long-term either. Deciding to endure painful surgery for more use out of your joints afterwards isn't at all incompatible with hedonism, just as long as whatever use you get out of the joint is worth it. Being a hedonist in no way requires you to be a drug addict either, in fact even a hedonist would probably not want to be one.

I really wish you guys would pick a word besides "self interest" if you're talking about something that differs from the accepted definition of the term in important ways. It gets pretty confusing when someone asks you very basic questions about your philosophy and your response is to tell them to read a 2000 page book about how you don't mean what you sound like you mean. Not ones for finding beauty in conciseness are you all? Disclaimer: The previous paragraph was a troll.

Edited by mustang19
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The problem is you keep putting words in Ayn Rand's mouth because you haven't ready any of it.

If so I'm just going off of the information provided in this thread. Let's break out an actual dictionary. Going off of:

We've already given you the essential information, but you keep equating interest with pleasure.

http://thesaurus.com/browse/self-indulgence

Main Entry: selfishness

Part of Speech: noun

Definition: self-regard

Synonyms: greed, self-centeredness, self-indulgence, self-worship, stinginess

Main Entry: enjoyment

Part of Speech: noun

Definition: delight in something

Synonyms: amusement, delectation, diversion, enjoying, entertainment, fruition, fun, gladness, gratification, gusto, happiness, hedonism, indulgence, joy, loving, luxury, pleasure, recreation, rejoicing, relaxation, relish, satisfaction, savor, self-indulgence, sensuality, thrill, triumph, zest

Antonyms: displeasure, dissatisfaction, misery, sorrow, unhappiness, woe

So just from a brief purview of a crappy online thesaurus it can be seen that selfishness and hedonism are closely related terms if not synonyms. Whether or not psychological egoism or any other theory dealing with self interest is "correct" is irrelevant to my point; the common definition of the word self interest as used in these theories equates self interest with pleasure to some degree or another.

I'm getting conflicting answers to my questions in this thread, though, so I should just drop it rather than try to see which one of you is the true voice of Ayn Rand. Sorry if I sounded like a dork there, but I don't see it so much as an issue of me understanding Ayn Rand so much as people in this thread saying words making words out to mean something other than their usual definitions. Now go ahead and give my post 100 down votes like a youtube video of Justin Bieber.

Edited by mustang19
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Mustang, why does it matter what a dictionary defines as selfishness? "Selfish" is derived from "self". Therefore, the logical definition of selfish (the adjective form of "self") would be "an action that benefits one self."

Of course it equates it with hedonism--most (or all) dictionaries define selfishness as "Benefiting oneself at the expense of others" (a parasite). So what about when you do something that benefits yourself that doesn't come at the expense of others? Is that supposed to be impossible? (there's no word in the dictionary that matches that definition). If I invent cold fusion, that'll be great for me; how have I screwed anyone over?

What would YOU define "selfishness" as based off of the word "self" (with the definition everyone agrees on) and WHY would you define it as such?

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Of course it equates it with hedonism--most (or all) dictionaries define selfishness as "Benefiting oneself at the expense of others" (a parasite).

Not sure of that; Wikipedia at least defines it as "a focus on the needs or desires of oneself" without mention of other people. But if I argue about dictionary definitions anymore I'm going to get banned.

So what about when you do something that benefits yourself that doesn't come at the expense of others? Is that supposed to be impossible? (there's no word in the dictionary that matches that definition).

I guess the closest term you could come to that is Pareto efficiency, where at least one person is better off and no one else worse off. Don't know if it's in most dictionaries though.

What would YOU define "selfishness" as based off of the word "self" (with the definition everyone agrees on) and WHY would you define it as such?

Well since you're still feeding the troll I would go with the Wikipedia definition of self interest, since, although it is from Wikipedia, I believe it is one of the more commonly understood definitions of the word and people will usually have a good idea of what I mean when I use it.

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It gets pretty confusing when someone asks you very basic questions about your philosophy and your response is to tell them to read a 2000 page book about how you don't mean what you sound like you mean.

"Rational" is the word you keep missing when Objectivists talk about self interest. The self interest of a plant is less than the self interest of an animal, the self interest of an animal is less than the self interest of a human. When Ayn Rand talks about a man she is talking about a rational consciousness. The self interest necessary for the “Rational” to survive.

A human being is not a natural resource, he is not coal to be mined, he is not a crop to be harvested, he is not to be taken out of context of his nature. His nature requires freedom in order to live up to his highest potential, his mind can not function as a slave. The concept of slavery has only been eradicated in the last hundred years. The concept of being egomaniacal and the concept of altruism are remnants of that slave mentality. A man who is interested in himself does not need to enslave, he does not need to allow anyone else to enslave him. Why should Objectivists leave the word self interest in the custody of slave drivers?

Objectivism is not for those who wish to be slaves, nor for those who wish to enslave. It reveals to a Rational Man that unearned guilt, unjustified fear, and his consent are the only things a parasite needs to keep him a slave. It teaches man that he is not a helpless plaything of forces beyond his control, he is responsible for feeding his own destroyers.

What you may be wondering is if it is worth your time to read about Objectivism. An Objectivist doesn't want you to take anything from any authority but the rationality of your own mind. I could tell you that the 64 pages of “This Is John Gault Speaking” in Atlas Shrugged are 64 of the most important pages written in human history, but why should you take it on my authority?

I am wondering if it is worth my time to encourage you to read one book, no one can read the book for you, and no Objectivist wants to waste their time on someone who doesn't want to invest their own time on Ayn Rand. Ayn Rand said it so eloquently, and thoroughly, and she already spent her time saying it, it seems redundant to spend our time saying it.

The six books I have read of hers over and over again have expanded my consciousness. I am so much more powerful and alive, it is tragic to me to remember the time before I had them. No one can give that to you, it is something you have to earn.

Edited by Tenderlysharp
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  • 3 weeks later...

I am still interested in the question about the Grandma because of the power she has over the majority vote. She is the carrot on a stick that the bureaucracy dangles in order to take an inordinate amount of money they shovel into their bottomless hole.

Reducing and removing social security was not high on Ayn Rand's list of priorities. Political action was premature during Ayn Rand's lifetime. It is not possible before people are ready to understand why certain courses of action are necessary.

If Grandma wants to remain irrational, Objectivism holds that it is not a virtue to continue attempting to convince her. It is better to leave her to her own devices and let nature take its course. It is more productive to look for rational people who will be more receptive to rational ideas i.e. women who are not yet Grandmas, and who don't want to end up as helpless victims of fate.

“Grandma” is more than a person, it is a concept. She is a parent's mother, she is of a certain age range, she shares a similar cultural history with the women around her, and she shares a certain universal similarity to all Grandmas who have ever lived, who are living now, and who will ever live. There are women who achieve excellence in grandmotherhood. Certain circumstances are changing, and unique to this century, women are no longer at the mercy of men.

Helplessness is not an essential human state, a person ought to do everything to ensure she experiences as little helplessness as possible, enslaving others to this purpose will only expand helplessness to her victim and waste two lives.

Life is about more than barely scraping by. Each Grandmother has her own potential to strive for, higher and nobler than the afflictions of a mindless hoard. Her dead weight is not a justification for taking anything from anyone else.

If she values rationality and wants something from another person she ought to look for any possible way to generate something of value to trade.

It is to her self interest to inspire herself over the long range course of her life so that she neither wants nor needs someone's pity or hand outs. If she came to see such offerings as offensive to her own sense of self respect she would have more focus toward long range choices.

The influence she can have on her offspring is immense. If she inspires her children to work hard, to think, and to strive the be the best they can be, they will have a better chance of being successful, and they will be more willing to repay her for her investment in them. If her children do not love her it is because she hasn't done anything to earn or inspire their admiration. If her own children have nothing to repay why should a stranger value her?

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Unfortunately there are lots and lots of Grandmas (and Grandpas for that matter) in this country who are willing to stick their grandkids with the bill. Worse yet, they become indignant when someone suggests that perhaps they should work and save to provide for their own continued existence, rather than forcing others to do so. Future Grandmas would be wise to consider the possiblity that at some point the grandkids are going to rebel and the whole system will collapse.

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  • 1 month later...

I don't disagree with (most of) your principles, TS. It's just a matter of definitions and reasons why one holds these principles. Any person or any dictionary which holds that self interest and hedonism are synonyms is obviously not a good, Objectivist person or dictionary. That's what the thread comes down to.

If Grandma goes off Social Security and ends up unable to find work and impoverished, but losing the guilt of supporting the welfare state is worth it for her, then that's great. But I think she will be a case where one will just have to give up attempting to convince her.

A formal proof of Objectivist ethics with a numbered listing of axioms, intermediate steps and a QED would be nice. I don't think there is one out there.

Edited by mustang19
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