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Isn't Objectivism Redundant and Impractical?

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I admit to not reading through this thoroughly, but just wanted to mention this. MarcT, you seem to apply consequentialism to the question of happiness:- if one is happy, then the philosophy one l

That last post made me lose hope in this guy but I'd already written this, so let this be my last statement. No, not nessecarily. They are activities which can be pursued either productively

Your airplane won't fly on the moon. Your car won't drive on the ocean. An Objectivists probably won't be able to achieve happiness living in North Korea. Living by Objectivism will give you the best

Marc,

Let's back up a bit. First of all, you seem to have bought into the rationalist/empiricist dichotomy in analytical philosophy. You are an empiricist, and you are treating Objectivism as if it is a rationalist philosophy. It is not. Objectivism is inductive. It begins with observations about reality and builds concepts from that. It denies that there is some "higher truth" to be had from "pure logic" (i.e. rationalism) or that there is no knowledge beyond immediate sense perception (i.e. empiricism). It is possible to build upon perceptual observation to make valid concepts because things have a particular NATURE which is inherent to that thing. To go back to your prior example about men and mortality, I would argue that should some serum be invented which provides for immortality, anyone who takes it would, in fact, no longer be a man, since part of the nature of being a man (or any living thing for that matter) is mortality.

I understand your wanting to underpin any philosophical conclusions on empirical observation. I do, too. I'm a scientist myself. I, too, have questions about human nature and have chosen to pursue the answers through systematic study (albeit of nonhuman primates). Reality always takes precedence over philosophy. However, without at least a rudimentary philosophy, you will soon find it impossible to interpret reality at all. It looks to me like you've been influenced by the literature in behavioral economics (I confess to not having read the articles you provided, but I've probably read many like them). Note that the basic argument behind all of these theories is that the human brain is predictably irrational. That would require the human brain to have a specific NATURE, such that we can predict its "blind spots", so to speak. What do you think is the process we must use to uncover the nature of the brain? And do you think we can get around the use of concepts to identify that nature? I don't.

Lastly, I think from your posts that you are probably a well-educated, thoughtful person. You may even be a graduate student in the behavioral sciences, as I am. You may be unhappy or frustrated with your life and envious on some level of the "blissfully ignorant". You shouldn't be. As one of our favorite Greek philosophers once opined, "The unexamined life is not worth living." The reason that happiness is not guaranteed, even if you do everything "right", is that someday a tornado might just come along and wipe out everything you ever built, or your kid could die of some horrible disease, or something like that. Shit happens, and it's not always (or even usually) someone's fault. You can have happiness stolen away from you through no personal error. However, that is the exception, not the rule, and it is not what you should base your life around.

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"for most of its history used force to spread itself" ......?? Spiral Architect, there's no need to spread myths here. Peaceful conversion was the norm for the millions of people who converted to Christianity over the centuries. It is a modern conceit that people MUST be forced to accept it, and to focus on the exceptions.

Just be accurate.

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If we are O'ists how do we even discover the need to defend ourselves against MarcT? Dagny Taggart never defended Rearden Metal in a debate with Scudder; she didn't HAVE to! Ergo, none of us need to waste our efforts on something as trivial as arguing with MarcT the foundations of a philosophy that O'ists subjectively (meaning they express) and objectively (meaning they observe) observe the benefits of. If it works for us, why tell us different? If it works for us, even if we are a minority, then how EXACTLY is Objectivism redundant as he proposes?

Quite frankly, I think MarcT's efforts are being wasted as well when he could be so much more productive, and those O'ists who have entertained the need to argue with him and defend O'ism have done nothing but feed a fire that doesn't even offer us efficient warmth.

Let this be the end of the argument so we can continue with the things that keep us productive, please!

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@whYNOT

That's like saying

"Any car that guarantees the ability to drive, is self-evidently deceitful." or

"Any airplane that guarantees the ability to fly, is self-evidently deceitful"

The very purpose of philosophy (from zen buddhism to aritotelianism) is ultimately, the achievement of happiness. Any philosophy

that claims to "be the most consistent with reality" and that the consistent practice of its principles leads

to happiness as a result, needs to be held to its word. Or its making false claims.

Or the people who will suffer unnecessarily and unhappily all their lives for a mentally abstract ideal that has no basis

in empirical reality? When do you expect to be "happy" within your lifetime after a lifetime of "non-compromise"? At the age of 60?

Your airplane won't fly on the moon. Your car won't drive on the ocean. An Objectivists probably won't be able to achieve happiness living in North Korea. Living by Objectivism will give you the best shot at happiness but there is never any guarantee.
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Dagny Taggart is a fictional character.

This is true. However, I don't think it is necessarily wrong to take inspiration from a fictional character. I think the more salient point was that Dagny was a railroad executive, not a philosopher. The people on this board have at least a passing (and often more than a passing) interest in philosophy. For those of us who are out-and-out academics, debating with Marc (or anyone else) can be a value, hence why we choose to engage in it. Assuming that we're all (at least mostly) self-interested around here, why would we choose to waste our time?

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"for most of its history used force to spread itself" ......?? Spiral Architect, there's no need to spread myths here. Peaceful conversion was the norm for the millions of people who converted to Christianity over the centuries. It is a modern conceit that people MUST be forced to accept it, and to focus on the exceptions. Just be accurate.

Starting with the Holy Roman Empire moving forward to the Enlightenment, and even attempted today, Christianity was imposed by being a State Religion. No, it wasn’t always brute force, if that is what you meant so I’ll qualify it now, but state sponsored religion is still forcing religion on people. A person living in the Dark Ages or the Medieval Period could not “opt out” of Christianity. Even pretending to accept the state religion was no guarantee if you did not do or say what the church wanted. Galileo says hello from life imprisonment, or should I say the gravesite the church demanded afterward for his heresy.

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No. This was a specific case mentioned in OPAR regarding rich people. OPAR said that even wealthy folks such as rich heirs must maintain the principle of "productivity" which precludes travel, games etc, which it deems non-work. I said that was non-sense. They don't realistically have to work in any capacity and can pursue a life of productive "play" and any challenging activity.

But realistically, even a multi-millionaire does'nt really have work either. They can live off of bank interest, investments etc. I think it depends on how you define "productivity".

Notice I did not mention the average person. If referring to the average person its largely correct. But you have to keep in mind context. Obviously it doesn't apply in the same way to billionaires.

The richer you are, the weaker the argument for "productivity" becomes.

Actually a billionaire could live comfortably for the rest of his life without doing *anything* with his money. He could spend spend 2 million dollars a year and still never run out of money for the duration of his lifetime, having plenty to leave over to his heirs.

He could even litterally stuff it all in mattresses rather than banks and proceed live off it comfortably. He doesn't *have" to do anything. That's my point.

I would encourage you to read everything about being productive in OPAR, it would answer the example you site.

But first, my point was that principles are based on a range of knowledge that has to do with the nature of being human and they cannot be disqualified because you want to project an extreme case that is outside of 99.9% of people’s lives. Thus the “Emergencies” reference.

But to your point over the example from OPAR: So what you are saying is that “the rich” don’t have to work because they can invest their money and live off the interest? If they work to set themselves up they can pursue other activities with the extra time?

Exactly. They have to be responsible and use their wealth productively or it will be squandered. The principle still applies; you just don’t need to punch a clock to do it. Your methods of being productive may change but you still need to honor the principle or you will consume more than you earn. It’s either-or. You are either productive and earn what you consume or you become nonproductive and consume more than you earn. You either earn or maintain the value or you lose it.

If you’re arguing that some rich people don’t have to do this and fake it for a while by consuming wealth, then I agree. They have a choice and a few do this, thus the idea of the worthless playboy. But notice that they are living against the principle of productivity and are slowly paying the price for it. They squander values and that is a vice.

Also note that this argument doesn’t just apply to the rich as a lot of people do that today. The credit crises and the National Debt also demonstrate the lack of this principle in action. Wall Street is being “occupied” by those who wish to live in defiance of this principle. Actually they want to pass the responsibility to someone else but that is another discussion.

Let me try to be positive – Your argument is right if, and only if, you reduce productivity down to a simple issue of earning income through traditional work. You need to expand it however from the single issue you are looking at to every method of maintianing wealth and over to other requirements of living too. It is a principle and it applies to all the facets of earning your life. It is a virtue of earning whatever it is you make your Purpose in life. It applies to wealth but also other activities that generate fulfillment for one’s life too. If one isn’t being productive then one is drifting with no purpose day-to-day and paying the consequences materially and spiritually for living with one’s life on cruise control. Being rich only allows one more time to ignore the consequences. Something I have seen done incidentally.

We are living in the digital age. Information spreads quickly. Millions of Ayn Rands books have been sold. Yet few people become Objectivists. Few people even see any benefit to seriously considering her ideas.

You can't use the "we have'nt had enough time" argument as I stated earlier. Other philosophies and religions have track records of spreading much faster than Objectivism in the same amount of time.

Hell, It can be argued that Christianity has spread more further, faster and has far more of a "transformative" effect on far more people than Objectivism, even in its early days. I already posted the link showing the rapid spread of Christianity in the early days of its formation.

First, I reject the collectivist idea that popularity determines value. I would think you do to since you liked Atlas Shrugged enough to pursue the philosophy further.

The fact we live in an age of instant communication doesn’t change the fact that what is predominantly being communicated is bad. Garbage in and garbage out, as they say. The fact we can ship garbage at the speed of light anywhere in the world doesn’t make is smell any better.

Now, what I am saying is that if you want to compare something data wise then you need to set up similar conditions the best you can to reproduce them. Or failing any reasonable ability to do so you make sure you understand the differences. Those differences? Thousands of years of Christianity, in an age of mystic thinking, quick conversion, and state controlled religion is not a valid comparison to 50 years for a philosophy that demands people take their time to think through its principles, one that rejects the idea of state control. The first is built for quantity, the second quality. Toss in the fact that the primary method of thinking is still mystical today and the slow growth of this philosophy is not unexpected. The fact it grows at all in such a vacuum demonstrates its virtues.

What causes something to be "in demand"? Does demand occur in a vacuum?

Could it be that there are "reasons" for something being "demanded"?

People find celebrity personalities (such as "snookie" or charlie sheen) to be entertaining and engaging. Which is why there is "demand" for them.

Likewise philosophies which are efficacious, likely to produce happiness, etc are also in demand, and can be ranked by relative effectiveness and popularity. But Objectivism is nowhere near the top of this list.

Probably the most popular Philosophy implicitly or explicity, today, is Pragmatism.

Yes, there are reasons, whether explicit or not, which is the point. Like I said, Objectivism, a philosophy based on reason and adherence to reality, is not going to be in high demand in a culture that rejects reason. Why would it be?

Your premise seems to indicate think that a philosophy is spoken and just “ignites” the world on fire, or something, that collectively people will automatically pick the right thing or justify something’s value. History has shown that people slowly accept what dominates their culture, even if unidentified, and not always what is right. Obviously the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany did not accept the best philosophy, only the trend that was dominating their society.

Pragmatism is popular, amongst other ideas, exactly because today’s philosophic culture is guided by the opposite of objective thinking. THAT was my point. It is the Postmodernism meltdown of philosophic thinking (or should I say the lack thereof) that demonstrates why Objectivism is in less demand. Not many people are looking to think, and by think I mean use reason. Reason is not in demand, only mysticism and emotions.

A culture that has accepted Postmodernism is not going to be quick to accept anything that tells them to slow down and start thinking.

I'm not saying happiness is self-delusion. I'm saying we use self-delusion as a tool (sometimes unknowingly) to increase our happiness. We do it because it works. Because being hyper-rational can actually be counter-productive and cause depression. This is a psychological fact.

Good to hear. Thank you for clarifying that.

So people use their freewill to make poor choices? If freewill disqualifies a principle since someoen can do it wrong, then everything would be disqualified!

If you’re being counterproductive and/or depressing yourself then you’re not being rational. Depression or “counter-production” is a warning sign you’re doing something wrong. If you are in that state then you need to step back and reevaluate what is causing those things to happen. It would be irrational to "just keep on truck'n" as if nothing was wrong. I’m not sure what “psychological fact” proves that paying attention to reality and thinking about it “can go too far”, but considering such a fundamental activity is a prerequisite to living like a human I’d be very suspect of that “fact”.

***

And just to tie this back to the beginning, Happiness should be the goal of every person for outside of the psychological confession of not wanting to be happy, it defines your Purpose, or how you choose to live in a way that makes you happy. It is this fundamental choice that requires you to be productive in earning it if you want to live a happy life. If you are not productively earning (or maintaining) the things that make life worth living, then you end up in life that you are not trying to live. There is no free ride, even emotionally or spiritually, and you have to be productive to earn the purpose that defines what makes you happy. Happiness determines Purpose determines Productive Means to accomplish it. Not being productive means you are not achieving your purpose means you are not achieving the thing that make you happy.

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I meant logic is a mental construct we use to help make the universe intelligible and achieve a degree of consistency in our thought. Logic makes generalizations ("all men are mortal") that are accurate until we discover some fact or detail that would force us to revise our initial premise (eternal life serum).

But logic cannot "see details" and there is no way logic can "tell you" there is a eternal life serum in existence and that some man, somewhere is actually immortal. Someone who has "observed" and "verified" his immortality does, and thus, has *more* knowledge than the person who made the initial premise.

Only an empirical observation (i.e. first hand experience) can discover that there is in fact a serum that allows men to be immortal, in the end it would render our initial syllogism false. It's the rigidity of logic that gives us a good guidepost but not precise details. But as we all know, the devil is often in the details. Logic is a useful epistemological tool but not superior to empirical observation. Doesn't mean logic itself, is invalid, just imprecise.

I still think you do not understand the nature of logic. It is axiomatic- not subject to external means to validate it. When you say, "Logic makes generalizations ("all men are mortal”)”, this isn’t a correct example of logic. Actyally, it is your empiricism that may make the claim that "all men are mortal” and the individual may then go on to make a conclusion about his empirical observations. It is at that time that logic will determine if a conclusion is valid. I would say that logic is actually quite precise.

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"Starting with the Holy Roman Empire moving forward to the Enlightenment, and even attempted today, Christianity was imposed by being a State Religion."

Nonsense. The Edict of MIlan in 312 legalized Christianity, not imposed it. Missionaries were the primary means of spreading Christianity.

As for the entirely predictable trotting out of Galileo, you might want to examine your history: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2009/jun/14/science-religion-coyne

At any rate, this is off topic, and you can either send me a private message if you want to continue the discussion, or start another thread.

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As for the entirely predictable trotting out of Galileo, you might want to examine your history: http://www.guardian....-religion-coyne

Do you read the stuff you link to? From the article you linked:

"Only with the trial of Galileo, put under house arrest for life for teaching that the earth goes around the sun, does popular perception have much basis on fact. But even this case was more about the pope's self-esteem than science." [emphasis added]

I suppose the Crusades and the Inquisition were made up too.

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"I suppose the Crusades and the Inquisition were made up too."

They are certainly the subject of a lot of myths. Here are a couple of articles by a historian trying to set the record straight:

http://www.ignatiusi...ades_print.html

http://www.nationalr...thomas-f-madden

Again, if you want to continue the discussion, send me a private message.

Edited by Avila
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Do you read the stuff you link to? From the article you linked:
In recent years the Catholics have tried to rewrite the history about Galileo. Some early critics of the church -- e.g. Voltaire -- might have over-used the Galileo case to criticize the church. So, the church has a convenient straw-man to attack. For instance, they will point out that there was actually internal correspondence in the church that shows a willingness to change their stance under certain circumstances. The whole thing misses the point on how the Church promoted a faulty epistemology that laid too much emphasis on traditional texts: not just the bible, mind you, but even other texts that were scientific rather than religious. It misses the whole point that the church had too much power over science. The whole Catholic apologia boils down to: "well, we weren't as bad as some people say we were".

n8311583_51946182_5496.jpg

Edited by softwareNerd
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Software Nerd,

What data is your graph based on?

So much for your church/science conflict: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Roman_Catholic_cleric%E2%80%93scientists

As with Marc K, if you want to continue blasting my religion, do so in a private message. I'd rather not waste my time on this thread arguing about the church.

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What data is your graph based on?
The graph is not based on any data. It is simply a symbolic way in which the author is trying to capture the slowdown in progress over the dark-ages. Showing that whole time as a flat line is actually incorrect. In fact, the graph can work as a nice straw-man for many people who point out that some major changes were taking place in the late middle ages, and that humanity did not simply wait statically for the Renaissance. Clearly, the fall of the Western Roman Empire was a set back. Gibbons makes a case that Roman conversion to Christianity was to blame for their weakness, but the immediate responsibility goes to the barbarians from the north, not the Christian Romans for their weakness. The re-emergence of Christianity, under people like Charlemagne, can actually be credited with an improvement in "average epistemology" over what the barbarians had to "offer".

We probably need a topic-split here, before every thread on the forum includes a discussion on Christianity.

Edited by softwareNerd
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"The graph is not based on any data. It is simply a symbolic way in which the author is trying to capture the slowdown in progress over the dark-ages."

Or rather, his non-fact-based version of it. It helps to define, then, just what the "Dark Ages" were. From Wikipedia:

The "Dark Ages" is a historical periodization emphasizing the cultural and economic deterioration that occurred in Europe following the decline of the Roman Empire. The period is characterized by a scarcity of historical and other written records at least for some areas of Europe, rendering it obscure to historians. The term "Dark Age" itself derives from the Latin saeculum obscurum, originally applied by Caesar Baronius in 1602 to a tumultuous period in the 10th and 11th century.

Originally the term characterized the bulk of the Middle Ages, or roughly the 6th to 13th centuries, as a period of intellectual darkness between the extinguishing of the "light of Rome" after the end of Late Antiquity, and the rise of the Italian Renaissance in the 14th century. This definition is still found in popular usage, but increased recognition of the accomplishments of the Middle Ages since the 19th century has led to the label being restricted in application. Since the 20th century, it is frequently applied only to the earlier part of the era, the Early Middle Ages (c. 5th–10th century). However, many modern scholars who study the era tend to avoid the term altogether for its negative connotations, finding it misleading and inaccurate for any part of the Middle Ages.

The concept of a Dark Age originated with the Italian scholar Petrarch (Francesco Petrarca) in the 1330s, and was originally intended as a sweeping criticism of the character of Late Latin literature. Petrarch regarded the post-Roman centuries as "dark" compared to the light of classical antiquity. Later historians expanded the term to refer to the transitional period between Roman times and the High Middle Ages (c. 11th–13th century), including not only the lack of Latin literature, but also a lack of contemporary written history, general demographic decline, limited building activity and material cultural achievements in general. Later historians and writers picked up the concept, and popular culture has further expanded on it as a vehicle to depict the Middle Ages as a time of backwardness, extending its pejorative use and expanding its scope.

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"Starting with the Holy Roman Empire moving forward to the Enlightenment, and even attempted today, Christianity was imposed by being a State Religion."

Nonsense. The Edict of MIlan in 312 legalized Christianity, not imposed it. Missionaries were the primary means of spreading Christianity.

As for the entirely predictable trotting out of Galileo, you might want to examine your history: http://www.guardian....-religion-coyne

At any rate, this is off topic, and you can either send me a private message if you want to continue the discussion, or start another thread.

I'm hardly trotting out Galileo as if it was an odd example nor is what happened to him somehow misrepresented. He was locked away for daring to claim basic scientific facts, things that are taught in grade school today, and when he died Ferdinando (?) wanted to enter him next to his family with honors but the Pope used legal force to have the mans body taken elsewhere. Even in death the man was banished because of the church.

You can claim whatever you want about Christianity as a philosophy, but it's history as represented by it's organized representitives was very political. For the record, your link confirms the history of Galileo. It only sites that Bruno might have been executed for occult reasons instead of science reasons. If I were to accept this as true, religion sponsered murder is still murder despite the fact the man might have been murdered for non-science reasons. The fact the church could arrange an executuon for any religious reason proves the point.

But I agree with you, this is the wrong thread for this. Perhaps another thread at some time to chew on the history involved.

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Why then was Galileo locked away for life, forced to read scripture weekly until until his daughter was given permission to do it for him, or his gravesite relocated by intrervetion of the Pope himself? I'll be the first to admit that my church history is a little rusty (my predominant reading on this was when I worked nights aroung the time of the first Gulf War), what I do remember is that he was punished by the Church over the debate of heliocentrism and was taken to task when he failed to take a neutral stance in a published work.

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This is true. However, I don't think it is necessarily wrong to take inspiration from a fictional character. I think the more salient point was that Dagny was a railroad executive, not a philosopher. The people on this board have at least a passing (and often more than a passing) interest in philosophy. For those of us who are out-and-out academics, debating with Marc (or anyone else) can be a value, hence why we choose to engage in it. Assuming that we're all (at least mostly) self-interested around here, why would we choose to waste our time?

I'm curious then as to why 1) Ayn Rand ever bothered to write FICTION and 2) Rand ever bothered to use Dagny Taggart (and all the rest of the cast) as a symbol, a metaphor for her philosophy. From what I understand she chose to write fiction SPECIFICALLY instead of non-fiction.

It would probably do many on this site some good to review the Introduction from the 35th Anniversary Edition of Atlas Shrugged.

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