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Why bother studying philosophy?

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I've read a good portion of non-fiction on Objectivism, and I'm 'hooked'. It makes sense, everything seems logical, the philosophy itself has answered so many questions that other philosophies have given me and it all seems so simple now (life being all). I truely do feel that way after really taking in Objectivism. One book that I have not read yet is: "Philosophy: Who Needs It", which I think may answer my main questions from this thread.

What I'm getting to now, is the nuts and bolts of why I started studying philosophy in the first place...whats the point? Now that may sound grim and bleak, but I can assure you, the thought is purely from curiousity and is harmless. But really, why is there so much zealous appreciation of Objectivism? Could it be considered a cure all for this world? Can it (if used properly) insure success to the individual subscribing to it? Personally, thats what I've gathered. Already in my life I've seen MAJOR changes (especially in the ethics field of my life) and I'm already reaping benefits IMO.

What is everyone elses experience from the first time you opened Objectivist material all the way up till current activities? Has life been more pleasent, have you achieved goals you didn't think we're feasible before? Or is all this really for peace of mind?

Hopefully my questions make sense to the rest of you guys, I'm just curious as to what lies next and what I'M going to get out of it. I want the best for my life, less pain, more happiness. I think thats what we all want...is Objectivism just clarity for life or can it (with the right application) be the reason why one succeeds?

~Michael

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It's because some people still search for the right life for man because they know such a thing exists.

The point is enjoyment. You live because you enjoy it, you sustain your life because you enjoy it. When people say there is no point to anything they fail to see that they are searching for something that is right in their face- The end is themselves. They think for some reason that there must be some greater end than being your own end but if they had actually experienced it they would know there is no end to match it.

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One book that I have not read yet is: "Philosophy: Who Needs It", which I think may answer my main questions from this thread.

Yes, indeed that may be so.

What I'm getting to now, is the nuts and bolts of why I started studying philosophy in the first place...whats the point?

Many people report that they were floundering until they discovered Objectivism, and after grasping and internalizing the philosophy they now find great value in their life. Others have noted that they were essentially on the right path all along, and Objectivism gave them the explict knowledge they needed to make the best of what they had already achieved on their own.

Bottom line is that man has a specific nature and in order to succeed in life you need to act in accord with that nature, and with recognition and understanding of the rest of reality. Metaphysics identifies the fundamental nature of reality as a whole, and epistemology gives you the standards to judge and the means to achieve knowledge. Morality beomes your guide to perfecting your character and performing proper action, and politics teaches you what is the proper nature of interactions among men and how they should best govern to achieve their just ends. Esthetics holds artistic achievements up to reflect your soul.

Objectivism puts it all together into an integrated package, and you will find that your long-term happiness will be mostly dependent on your ability to understand and act on Objectivist principles throughout your life. There is no experience comparable to the feeling of a happiness that derives from the achievement of your goals across a lifetime. It is a long-term project, and I wish you well.

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Others have noted that they were essentially on the right path all along, and Objectivism gave them the explict knowledge they needed to make the best of what they had already achieved on their own.

I myself have discovered that I was NEAR the right path, Objectivism has confirmed the path and placed me directly on it (from what I've gathered so far).

Bottom line is that man has a specific nature and in order to succeed in life you need to act in accord with that nature, and with recognition and understanding of the rest of reality. Metaphysics identifies the fundamental nature of reality as a whole, and epistemology gives you the standards to judge and the means to achieve knowledge.  Morality beomes your guide to perfecting your character and performing proper action, and  politics teaches you what is the proper nature of interactions among men and how they should best govern to achieve their just ends. Esthetics holds artistic achievements up to reflect your soul.
That is the most concise, easy to understand breakdown as to why a human being needs a philosophy...I will be quoting that in the future (with of course, the proper credits).

Objectivism puts it all together into an integrated package, and you will find that your long-term happiness will be mostly dependent on your ability to understand and act on Objectivist principles throughout your life. There is no experience comparable to the feeling of a happiness that derives from the achievement of your goals across a lifetime. It is a long-term project, and I wish you well.

I thank you for your support and your kind words. I think my foundation in Objectivism has been set, but now its time for full internalization (which is well on its way) and application. I'm sure I'll have plenty more questions down the line.

The only questions I really have on this subject now are internal and personal and require experience. This place does a really good job at answering my questions fast. I hate to see my threads go with only 6 replies...lol.

Also, since this post kind of suggested what the path of success is, do any of you guys have any suggestions on some books about success? I've read Napoleon Hill but he always quotes the bible and seems to have a mystic outlook (although some of his philosophies on success are outstanding). Are there any authors out there that you could suggest that have spoken about success in an Objectivist connotation?

~Michael

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Also, since this post kind of suggested what the path of success is, do any of you guys have any suggestions on some books about success?  I've read Napoleon Hill but he always quotes the bible and seems to have a mystic outlook (although some of his philosophies on success are outstanding).  Are there any authors out there that you could suggest that have spoken about success in an Objectivist connotation?

I have never read any of these self-help type books, so perhaps someone else can help you. I always thought success came when learned your field and you worked hard, so I never needed to look elsewhere.

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I have never read any of these self-help type books, so perhaps someone else can help you. I always thought success came when learned your field and you worked hard, so I never needed to look elsewhere.

Do you ever sleep Stephen?

hah.

Its 5am here......

I assumed as much about success as well, but I figure that there is a lot of great books out there, can't hurt getting a successful persons theories on success.

~Michael

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Also, since this post kind of suggested what the path of success is, do any of you guys have any suggestions on some books about success?  [...]  Are there any authors out there that you could suggest that have spoken about success in an Objectivist connotation?

I would suggest Peikoff's "Understanding Objectivism" course which may be available free from an ARI campus club and Loving Life by Objectivist Craig Biddle which is specifically addressed to young people choosing their direction in life.

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But really, why is there so much zealous appreciation of Objectivism?

Because we understand the need to apply philosophical principles to every situation that arises in our lives. Studying philosopy isn't an end-in-itself; you will, for the rest of your life, need to apply Objectivism to every concrete situation in which you need guidance. For this reason, philosophy should have a constant presence in your mind and I have no problem calling that "zeal." Miss Rand talks about this need (and the dangers of not recognizing it) in The Art of Nonfiction:

  Philosophy does not tell you concretely what to feel or think; it tells you what is true and right. If you have to judge something (e.g., a work of art, a government policy, a personal relationship), your philosophy gives you the right principles by which to judge it (if your philosophy is rational). Philosophy provides you with a criterion—but cannot apply it for you. In judging anything or anyone, you must decide whether it or he is good or bad.

  Philosophy cannot give you a set of dogmas to be applied automatically. Religion does that—and unsuccessfully. The dogmatic Objectivist desperately tries to reduce principles to concrete rules that can be applied automatically, like a ritual, so as to bypass the responsibility of thinking and of moral analysis. These are "Objectivist" ritualists. They want Objectivism to give them what a religion promises, namely, ten or one hundred commandments, which they can apply without having to think about or judge anything.

  Which philosophy is right is a separate inquiry. To discover the right one is the purpose of studying philosophy. But once you have convinced yourself that a given philosophy is right—that it corresponds to reality—you are armed only with a key, which will tell you by what criteria to judge a given event or person or choice—or article. But the concretes must be judged, evaluated, and organized by you.

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I would suggest ... Loving Life by Objectivist Craig Biddle which is specifically addressed to young people choosing their direction in life.

Is it really? Choosing direction like choosing a career? If so, I'll go pick it up right now. Is that what you meant? I wouldn't have guessed that from the table of contents.

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I would suggest ... Loving Life by Objectivist Craig Biddle which is specifically addressed to young people choosing their direction in life.

Is it really? Choosing direction like choosing a career? If so, I'll go pick it up right now. Is that what you meant? I wouldn't have guessed that from the table of contents.

The book is more fundamental and deals (indirectly) with why and how to choose a career and why it matters on the level of the importance of purpose in life.

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Release,

I enjoy your questions which generally make perfect sense to me.. Perhaps because they are similar to ones that I have had in the past?!...and still do to some extent.

I get the impression that there is still quite a bit of the mystic left in you? :rolleyes: and since some of your earlier posts concerned meditation and eastern religions this is not surprising :)

Some years ago I started going to a Baptist church here in Niagara Falls (Canada) and after a period of several months I would look around at the congregation and think to myself ...."are these people any happier, more moral, more at peace, more loving........i.e. "better" or more complete in any way than I am"? The answer being a resounding "No"! I got out of there fast.

Similarly with the Eastern religions I have studied and the practitioners of those religions I have observed. Except, in this case, there may have been a significantly higher level of "peace" (but no higher level of happiness). It just wasn't a type of peace I wanted. After all we can all put ourselves to sleep for a lifetime.

The people that I know that are truly succesful AND happy are the ones, as Stephen implies, who have set THEIR OWN goals, learned and worked hard over time to acheive them.

Many years ago, when I was making the transition from analytical financial accountant to self-employed financial salesman, I read every self-help book available. To be honest I don't think all of them combined had as much influence me as Atlas.....which I read much later, and only after I had acheived a modest amount of success in my field.

Much better that you spend time figuring out your own goals , as few people ever do this, than read millions of words by people who have acheived nothing other than the publication of a book on success.....i.e. they are not writing about how they acheived success but about how they think you should!

To me Ayn Rand has shortened the Buddha's teachings quite dramatically.......it is not that.....Life is difficult.....or Life is suffering.........just......Life IS. And it is up to each of us to make of it what we want. Yehaaaaa!

Brent

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Before I was introduced to Objectivism I used to ask those kind of questions too. But then, I also thought there was an afterlife and believed in God. I figured-"Well if there is an afterlife what is the point of this life? Is it some sort of waiting room to see God?" :-) Brent (and Ayn Rand of course) is completely right ..."Life IS". Enjoy yourself and be happy!

~Isabel

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I get the impression that there is still quite a bit of the mystic left in you? :blush: and since some of your earlier posts concerned meditation and eastern religions this is not surprising  ;)

I wouldn't say there is much mysticism left in me...Its more of an inquisitive 'devils advocate' stance I'm taking to make more sense of Objectivism. I personally do not believe in god, nor do I believe in any blind faith or what eastern philosophy tells us (to disconect from the world). There may be small traces of mysticism still in me, but they are evaporating very quickly.

Similarly with the Eastern religions I have studied and the practitioners of those religions I have observed. Except, in this case, there may have been a significantly higher level of "peace" (but no higher level of happiness). It just wasn't a type of peace I wanted. After all we can all put ourselves to sleep for a lifetime.
That was my same conclusion after studying meditation. I personally do not feel that they 'have it right'. People who have been meditating for a long period of time are happy and are at peace, but the cost of that peace is a detachment from reality. It works for them and I can't say that it is completly evil for them to do such things. It just wasn't for me. Meditation though (in the NON spiritual sense) used for relaxation purposes and calming of the mind is a wonderful tool in my opinion, and I'll never discredit relaxation meditation.

The people that I know that are truly succesful AND happy are the ones, as Stephen implies, who have set THEIR OWN goals, learned and worked hard over time to acheive them.

This I will have to agree with. I'm starting to learn what a work ethic is and how important to ones happiness productivity is.

Many years ago, when I was making the transition from analytical financial accountant to self-employed financial salesman, I read every self-help book available. To be honest I don't think all of them combined had as much influence me as Atlas.....which I read much later, and only after I had acheived a modest amount of success in my field.

Much better that you spend time figuring out your own goals , as few people ever do this, than read millions of words by people who have acheived nothing other than the publication of a book on success.....i.e. they are not writing about how they acheived success but about how they think you should!

I will have to agree with you there. But I will have to say that there is quite a lot of inspiration that comes from those books....hell, look at my signature, that was quoted out of a Napoleon Hill book. That statement alone is one of the most empowering statements I've read (IMO).

To me Ayn Rand has shortened the Buddha's teachings quite dramatically.......it is not that.....Life is difficult.....or Life is suffering.........just......Life IS. And it is up to each of us to make of it what we want. Yehaaaaa!

Life IS! That really is a fantastic way of putting it.

Thanks for the responses guys!

~Michael

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Michael,

I too have looked at several of the eastern religions and christianity......and I have a hard time shaking their influences sometimes. So I am not in any way "accusing" you of mysticism and I admire the mental discipline involved in overcoming those influences.....from my own experience it isn't easy. I envy the few who were brought up in rational families! :D

I recognised your signature and have read the book, "Think and Grow Rich".

Part of my business at one time was giving management training seminars which involved reading and presenting a lot of "motivational/goal-setting" content. There have been thousands of books/tapes written since TAGR but if you distill them down to their basics I think nine and a half times out of ten you will get back to what Napolean Hill said in that book.

What very few of these books really tackle however is:

1) How to set a purpose for your life......most imply that you have to "discover" your purpose as though it was innate. In reality your purpose is whatever you decide it is by logical non-contradictory self-analysis. Contradictory purposes seem to me to be the biggest reason for underacheivement.....one cannot acheive business success in a short space of time while devoting 100 hours a week to family, friends and half a dozen hobbies. There, I think, the principles of objectivism can help you by making you aware of the absurdity of the contradictions.

2) The overwhelming importance of hard-work and self-discipline. It amazes me how many self-help books are sold who's biggest claim to fame is some implied short-cut to success. It shouldn't amaze me, as the same idea is obviously true of dieting books and methods, cosmetics advertisements etc. etc.

In short, there just aren't any short-cuts.....I know....believe me I looked for them all :confused:

BTW I am NOT suggesting you are looking for short-cuts.....but just in case.....save your time :)

Regards,

Brent

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I too have looked at several of the eastern religions and christianity......and I have a hard time shaking their influences sometimes. So I am not in any way "accusing" you of mysticism and I admire the mental discipline involved in overcoming those influences.....from my own experience it isn't easy. I envy the few who were brought up in rational families! :D

I too am envious of people brought up in rational families, it would have been nice to not of been presented with Santa Claus and God and silly philosophie like 'watch what you say: the devil has a way of making what you say NOT come true". My parents did they best they knew how at the time and I'm thankful for that, but over the past year I've become such the stark opposite of what my family believes I'd hate to see what they think of my new philosophies...lol.

I recognised your signature and have read the book, "Think and Grow Rich".

Part of my business at one time was giving management training seminars which involved reading and presenting a lot of "motivational/goal-setting" content. There have been thousands of books/tapes written since TAGR but if you distill them down to their basics I think nine and a half times out of ten you will get back to what Napolean Hill said in that book.
Like I said previously, the ideas that Napoleon Hill has in his books make tremendous sense to me. The fact that he went to the most successful people in his day and asked them how they obtained it seems like a very logical thing to do to understand what it takes for success.

What very few of these books really tackle however is:

1) How to set a purpose for your life......most imply that you have to "discover" your purpose as though it was innate. In reality your purpose is whatever you decide it is by logical non-contradictory self-analysis. Contradictory purposes seem to me to be the biggest reason for underacheivement.....one cannot acheive business success in a short space of time while devoting 100 hours a week to family, friends and half a dozen hobbies. There, I think, the principles of objectivism can help you by making you aware of the absurdity of the contradictions.

2) The overwhelming importance of hard-work and self-discipline. It amazes me how many self-help books are sold who's biggest claim to fame is some implied short-cut to success. It shouldn't amaze me, as the same idea is obviously true of dieting books and methods, cosmetics advertisements etc. etc.

In short, there just aren't any short-cuts.....I know....believe me I looked for them all  :confused:

I've noticed in some other books I've read on success that they do imply this "innate" ability within a human being. I personally do not subscribe to that (even before finding Objectivism). I know for a fact that it does take hard work, but I also know it takes a certain mind frame. That mind frame is really what I was looking for, seeing how I've never really had any role models directly in my life of great success.

Let me ask you something (or anyone else who wants to respond). I know what self-discipline means in a general context but I'm curious as to what it means to everyone else. What does self-discipline mean to you and how strict should it be to get things done in life?

BTW I am NOT suggesting you are looking for short-cuts.....but just in case.....save your time  :)

I appreciate the disclaimer, but I'm not a sensitive person in the least so I would never assume that....

Anyways, I know at this point in my life that hard work is going to be ahead of me and I'm looking forward to every challenge it brings.

~Michael

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Before I was introduced to Objectivism I used to ask those kind of questions too. But then, I also thought there was an afterlife and believed in God. I figured-"Well if there is an afterlife what is the point of this life? Is it some sort of waiting room to see God?" :-) Brent (and Ayn Rand of course) is completely right ..."Life IS". Enjoy yourself and be happy!

~Isabel

Isabel,

It has only just occured to me that your post is the first (and almost certainly the last) time that my name and Ayn Rand's will ever appear in the same sentance. I finally get my fifteen minutes of fame! :rolleyes:

Thanks,

Brent

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  • 3 months later...
Isn't it just mental/intellectual acrobatics?

Modern people seem to think so-but actually, philosophy has many functions. It guides you in your 'religious', or metaphysical beliefs (is there a god-is there not a god? What is the nature of god, or of the universe?). It guides you in how you learn, or look at the world, or learn from the world-it guides you in the choices you make ethically (remember that little voice that tells you what to do and not to do?), who you vote for-or what you think of the government, what kind of books you like to read-etc., etc.

You need philosophy to help you make the fundamental choices in your daily life-and even some of the simple choices :nerd:.

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I hope no one would find offense with my post, but why bother with philosophy? Isn't it just mental/intellectual acrobatics?

Read Philosophy: Who Needs It?

A short quote of the title essay:

Philosophy studies the fundamental nature of existence, of man, and of man's relationship to existence..... In the realm of cognition, the special sciences are the trees, but philosophy is the soil which makes the forest possible.

In response to your claim that philosophy is merely a sort of game to impress oneself or others: There are certainly those that treat it as such and should be dismissed as fools, but they have no right to the title "philosopher" to begin with.

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Isn't that more of an ethical question, though? How should one live? How should one conduct oneself?

It is quite interesting you should call it an ethical question since ethics is one of the five main branches of philosophy (metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics, and asthetics). You truly can defend a system of ethics without having studied metaphysics and epistemology. The subjects are tied together.

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