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Why is force the negation of the mind?

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As far as I understand, this is Objectivism streamlined:

Metaphysics: The only axiom in Objectivism is that an objective metaphysical reality exists. If someone refutes this, you quite frankly ask them why they don't play in traffic. A is A.

Epistemology: This metaphysical reality does not succumb to man's wishes, needs, or desires. We establish the highest value: life. Life is something that must be maintained and furthered, it is not given to man. Without life, there is no other possible value you can hold: you're dead. Man maintains and furthers his life by using his senses and his mind to identify and integrate his knowledge. It is through the recognition that A is A that he knows tigers will not spontaneously become venomous. Each day he learns more, he does not have to re-learn what he learned the previous day.

Ethics: This is where I had the hardest time tying all of the philosophy together. Force, I am told, was wrong because it was the negation of the mind. I remember this being clearly illustrated in AS when I was reading it, but I have forgotten at this point. [Answer please] You should follow your self-interest because it is necessary for your survival: to not be self-interested would be to simply lie there and rot, not to use your mind. It is with this Rand ties self-interest with reason. But how force is integrated into this, I would like an answer. Also, why is egoism necessarily good if self-interest is necessarily good?

Politics: Of course it follows that if man should not be forced, he should follow his self-interest, and he must maintain and further his survival, he should establish an economic system of laissez-faire capitalism.

So if some of you could clear up a few of those holes, that would be awesome.

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Force corrupts a persons ability to live as a man. It is always designed to make someone disregard reality, discard reason, corrupt their values or act opposite to their rational self-interest.

The branches of Philosophy are a chain, each link is connected to the others and each is only correct in so far as the others in that chain are correct. This is why you can not have (as someone suggested in another thread a few weeks or months ago) a benevolent "Objectivist" dictatorship.

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Well you kind of have epistemology and ethics confused together.

Epistemology is the branch of philosophy that studies the nature and means of human knowledge, e.g. how do we acquire it, how do we perceive reality, how do we judge the truth or falsehood of conclusions, etc.

You have recognized in the first sentence the metaphysical base of Rand's epistemology, that since reality exists independent of consciousness, existence sets the terms of cognition, and thus if we want to gain knowledge, we must adhere to the standards reality sets. Then, after we are done figuring out what those standards are, and fleshing out the details of the theory of knowledge, we move on to ethics. Ethics is where we run into the problem of an ultimate end, a final goal that acts as a criterion to judge all values. Rand attacks this problem by questioning the nature of values and why they arise in human existence in the first place, and thus discovers that there are inexorably linked to the phenomenon of life. So her ethics are biocentric, as the life of the organism must be its ultimate end. It is then that she examines the nature of man, that it is through the use of his reason that he survives and functions, and so forth. The issue of force only comes into the picture when we look at social ethics and politics as we think about what should be the principles of interpersonal relations.

About the principle of the initiation of force as evil, it's very easy to understand. Think of it this way: you would have done something different if you were not forced. That's the whole point of forcing you to do something, i.e. to get you to do something that you wouldn't otherwise have done, or to get you not to do something that you would have done. In this way, force is aimed at the rational judgment of another person, to force them to act against their own mind. But as we have seen in the Objectivist ethics, we need the judgment of our reason to select the values we pursue. If force interrupts this, then it keeps us from acting according to our judgment, and thwarts our ability to achieve our values.

Here are two good threads on force:

Induction of "the initiation of force is evil"

Reduction of "the initiation of force is evil"

On the connection between egoism and self-interest, there's not like one case to be made for egoism then a separate case to be made for self-interest, to pursue your rational self-interest is what an egoist ethics mandates. Pursuit of your rational self-interest, pursuing what is beneficial for you, must be the egoist's "policy" so to speak (obviously, the opposite would be pursuing what is detrimental to you.) So, in this way, egoism is infused with the very nature of a rational morality, in the earlier concepts of life and values that Rand explored. We saw that, if a man wishes to live, his own life must be the ultimate end. The end tells you the standard by which you judge the various means. The standard tells you what "policy" you must take in regards to achieving the end. So if the end is my survival and well-being, then I should work to achieve my survival and well-being, and I should not sacrifice my survival or well-being to the demands of others.

So holding a man's life as the standard of value necessarily means egoism, because who is the one doing the living in each case? Individual humans, right? In this way, self-interest follows directly from the ultimate end. We can see it makes sense that way, because the ultimate end gives us the standard of value (man's life qua man), but man's life qua man is an abstraction that applies to all men as the standard. But the purpose of acting according to that standard is each person's life, life being the attribute of individual acting men. Each individual's life is the basic unit of morality, each individual's life is what mandated the necessity of value achievement in the first place, thus requires a policy of rational selfishness.

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About the principle of the initiation of force as evil, it's very easy to understand. Think of it this way: you would have done something different if you were not forced. That's the whole point of forcing you to do something, i.e. to get you to do something that you wouldn't otherwise have done, or to get you not to do something that you would have done. In this way, force is aimed at the rational judgment of another person, to force them to act against their own mind. But as we have seen in the Objectivist ethics, we need the judgment of our reason to select the values we pursue. If force interrupts this, then it keeps us from acting according to our judgment, and thwarts our ability to achieve our values.

Well said. And you can easily see how force on an individual to individual level is evil for the same reasons force is evil on a political level. It eliminates a mans ability to use his mind. And since a mans mind is his means of survival, you get the point.

"There are only two mens by whch men can deal with each other: guns or logic. Force or persuasion. Those who know they cannot win by means of logic, have always resorted to guns."

Heres a bare bones look at Rands ideas tying the morality of alruism to force on a political level: Lecture

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Using force can be harmful to you because of the fact that the more you behave like a thug, the more your life will become like the life of a thug's. A demonstration of why this is undesirable would be The Godfather trilogy.

"He who lives by the sword dies by the sword" is the Christian simplification of this, and it is basically true as far as I know.

There are a whole bunch of degrees to this though, there are a lot of live styles dependent on using force for a living. I think there are dangers to being a police officer (mental and physical), but it isn't inherently irrational. Business men are particularly good at sheltering themselves from the consequences of using political force. Where as a common thug is likely to have a life span lasting no longer than 30 years.

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The reason to not live like a thug is that it is wrong for all the reasons others have listed above, (A negation of freedom, thought and action) not for the fact that living like a thug will make you live like a thug even more...

Police use retaliatory force (or ought to) in the accomplishment of their duties which is not the same as initiating force.

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The reason to not live like a thug is that it is wrong for all the reasons others have listed above, (A negation of freedom, thought and action) not for the fact that living like a thug will make you live like a thug even more...

Police use retaliatory force (or ought to) in the accomplishment of their duties which is not the same as initiating force.

Why is negating freedom a bad thing for me if it is not my freedom? Why is the negation of someone's thoughts bad, when they are not mine?

You can't just call one's freedom another persons freedom. You might as well join Land Buddhists and call my suffering part of all of our suffering. Its is absurd. A value only exists in relation to a valuer.

Its obvious that someone initiating force against me is evil. It is not obvious that the initiator actually suffers any dis-benefit from this, that it is evil for him to do so to others. Consider that history appears to be riddled with men who became materially successful by initiating force against other men and women.

What needs to be demonstrated is why in principal another freedom is of value to me. My thoughts were that negating the freedom of others must cause a decay in virtue (productivity mainly) and a negative change in lifestyle.

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Why is negating freedom a bad thing for me if it is not my freedom? Why is the negation of someone's thoughts bad, when they are not mine?

You can't just call one's freedom another persons freedom. You might as well join Land Buddhists and call my suffering part of all of our suffering. Its is absurd. A value only exists in relation to a valuer.

Its obvious that someone initiating force against me is evil. It is not obvious that the initiator actually suffers any dis-benefit from this, that it is evil for him to do so to others. Consider that history appears to be riddled with men who became materially successful by initiating force against other men and women.

What needs to be demonstrated is why in principal another freedom is of value to me. My thoughts were that negating the freedom of others must cause a decay in virtue (productivity mainly) and a negative change in lifestyle.

The question posed was basically "Why is the initiation of force wrong?" What you are claiming as a reason is a symptom of why it is wrong, not the why itself. Force causes that degredation of morality you correctly cite in the way you say, because it in one form or another denies a man the ability to correctly react to reason, the facts of reality, or his self-interest.

Are you sure one man's freedom isn't another's as well? The neccessary condition for freedom is essentially the non initiation of force. That holds true for me as much as it does for you. Should someone initiate force does it not negatively impact the freedom of those arround him? Didn't the 9/11 attacks constrict all of our freedom as others reacted/overreacted to the attacks? I live hundreds of miles from New York but every time I encounter barricades around government buildings or fly on an airplane I am being impacted by a gross initiation of force that was perpetrated against others hundreds of miles from where I live.

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 Its obvious that someone initiating force against me is evil.
How is that obvious?  Is it obvious to the person initiating force against  you?  What happens when the force he or you initiate is met with greater force that overcomes that from the initiator?  What happens when this becomes the standard of dealing with other men?  Life becomes quite difficult.  Life becomes about physical day to day survival, not the flourishing long term life proper for men. I think the problem some people have in grasping this as a principle is that they expect some immediate impact or recognition that their immoral behavior will be highlighted by a bright shining beacon so they can see why it is wrong; some immediate feedback.  I think also that it is far easier for many people to speak theoretically about why is it bad for me to initiate force than it is to go out and, for instance, just murder someone for their money.  It's easy to theoretically detach your conscience, your recognition of your nature in an forum discussion... it's quite another matter to do it in real life, to act on it and assume all the risks inherent with such choices. Edited by RationalBiker
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How is that obvious?  Is it obvious to the person initiating force against  you?  What happens when the force he or you initiate is met with greater force that overcomes that from the initiator?  What happens when this becomes the standard of dealing with other men?  Life becomes quite difficult.  Life becomes about physical day to day survival, not the flourishing long term life proper for men. I think the problem some people have in grasping this as a principle is that they expect some immediate impact or recognition that their immoral behavior will be highlighted by a bright shining beacon so they can see why it is wrong; some immediate feedback.  I think also that it is far easier for many people to speak theoretically about why is it bad for me to initiate force than it is to go out and, for instance, just murder someone for their money.  It's easy to theoretically detach your conscience, your recognition of your nature in an forum discussion... it's quite another matter to do it in real life, to act on it and assume all the risks inherent with such choices.

It is obvious to me that it is evil TO ME.

I never got detached (inferred that you meant me), in fact I was trying to offer a decent explanation why a life style based on force would be bad.

Risk isn't a reason not to do something btw. Otherwise we could many occupations and lifestyles immoral. Don't be a soldier, you could get killed!

Edited by Element
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The question posed was basically "Why is the initiation of force wrong?" What you are claiming as a reason is a symptom of why it is wrong, not the why itself. Force causes that degredation of morality you correctly cite in the way you say, because it in one form or another denies a man the ability to correctly react to reason, the facts of reality, or his self-interest.

Are you sure one man's freedom isn't another's as well? The neccessary condition for freedom is essentially the non initiation of force. That holds true for me as much as it does for you. Should someone initiate force does it not negatively impact the freedom of those arround him? Didn't the 9/11 attacks constrict all of our freedom as others reacted/overreacted to the attacks? I live hundreds of miles from New York but every time I encounter barricades around government buildings or fly on an airplane I am being impacted by a gross initiation of force that was perpetrated against others hundreds of miles from where I live.

Whats the "reason" it is wrong other than the symptoms it causes? I have lots of germs, they aren't bad unless they make me sick (or if they do make me sick later).

An action against the western world will restrict the freedom of westerners. The main reason this is the case is because we all happen to make use of the same institutions (banks, military). So we are tied together in this way.

People in the same city can share suffering also by virtue of sharing the same area. If a flood or a hail storm hurts people, they will all suffer. This doesn't indicate a metaphysical unity of interests.

For instance, if I kick a criminal in the face, I do not suffer even though he is suffering. If I steal from someone, I do not loose freedom, even though he lost it.

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