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If Socialist Campaigning Feels Good...?

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If semi-socialist campaigning is a satisfying, healthy, and fulfilling way to live life and have fun, should one campaign for semi-socialism? Is it ethical because it is in an individual's self-interest?

If cutting off your hand is a satisfying, healthy, and fulfilling way to live enhance your life and have fun, should one cut off his hand? Is it ethical because it is in an individual's self-interest?

An activity is not in an individual's self interest because it is arbitrarily given that status. An activity is in one's self interest if it logically benefits the existence of the individual. In the case of campaigning for socialism, the activity is furthering the cause of pillaging and oppression. Any individual who committs himself to the cause will be have to deal with logical contradictions, and therefore an unhappier life.

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The probability of one individual (who is not a politician or great philosopher) actually causing a socialist system to exist is less probable than being struck by lightning. If they experience a pleasant sense of acceptance from participating in the Occupy Movement, I do not see why it is against self-interest. If you honestly believe the myth that never stealing is in everyone's self-interest, or that religion is universally against everyone's self-interest, then why even bother with philosophy? You are more interested in supporting your preconception than logical reasoning. (I am not religious.) I am sorry. I am with people on so much, but I think there is pretending going on with this self-interest thing. I do not believe for one second that it is always in the self-interest of a dictator to step down from power. I have read some great posts on these forums from people who think outside of the box. How can you guys buy into these myths?

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If semi-socialist campaigning is a satisfying, healthy, and fulfilling way to live life and have fun, should one campaign for semi-socialism? Is it ethical because it is in an individual's self-interest?

No one can act in their own interest by campaigning for a system that suspends the ability to act in your own interest.

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If they experience a pleasant sense of acceptance from participating in the Occupy Movement, I do not see why it is against self-interest.

It is if the pleasant sense of acceptance serves to sever the link between your consciousness and reality (like the addict who experiences a pleasant sensation from the use of his drug even as the drug destroys him).

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I understand what your getting at. There are people who live their entire lives supporting socialism and "feeling" really good about it. Perhaps it could be likened to someone who is in a constant state of inebriation. Or maybe there is someone out there who believes their entire purpose is to cut their front lawn with scissors, and they spend every waking moment doing this or thinking about it. But if you know something higher, would you say what they are doing is worthwhile?

And when you compare your own sense of life and happiness to theirs, do you feel that they equal you?

I don't know your answer, but if the question were posed to me, I think my response would be: "Is their any reason their happiness should be my concern?"

But that sort of bypasses the question. I think your real question is: "Can any goal or value be considered rational if the person really believes in it?" It's from this starting point that you can start making conclusions.

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If semi-socialist campaigning is a satisfying, healthy, and fulfilling way to live life and have fun, should one campaign for semi-socialism? Is it ethical because it is in an individual's self-interest?

No and no.

But it is part of the learning curve for some people. Of the few Objectivists I have met many started out there then came to grips with the error through hard experience.

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Assuming that socialism itself is not in the person's interest, the act of campaigning itself might be. How can anyone here know that nobody could possibly benefit from it? What evidence is there to back up the assertion that it is never, ever in anyone's self-interest to campaign for socialism? Again, I am not asking for evidence that socialism is not in their self-interest. I am asking for evidence that the act of campaigning is. The odds of a random protester making or breaking the difference between socialism existing is a tiny decimal. If someone just assumes that religion and protesting for socialism is never in the self-interest of anyone, and has no proof, then they have blind faith just like a Christian. What is the evidence? Nathaniel Branden's psychology argument?

Edited by determinist
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Sort of like fighting for peace, you want to separate the action from

the consequence,physical from the abstraction and mind from body?

Is that right? OK, who's stopping you?

I don't see it, but maybe there is value to find in being part of an

activist group. Plenty of exercise, fresh air and cute girls. In the Cause

one might never feel alone again. Don't stop with socialism, though -

there're hundreds of crusades out there. Become a professional campaigner.

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Assuming that socialism itself is not in the person's interest, the act of campaigning itself might be. How can anyone here know that nobody could possibly benefit from it? What evidence is there to back up the assertion that it is never, ever in anyone's self-interest to campaign for socialism? Again, I am not asking for evidence that socialism is not in their self-interest. I am asking for evidence that the act of campaigning is. The odds of a random protester making or breaking the difference between socialism existing is a tiny decimal. If someone just assumes that religion and protesting for socialism is never in the self-interest of anyone, and has no proof, then they have blind faith just like a Christian. What is the evidence? Nathaniel Branden's psychology argument?

I don't think anyone here conducted extensive research on the effects of campaigning for idiotic causes. But we know it's a bad idea anyway. Want to know our secret? It's thinking in principles.

The notion that 'campaigning for something that is immoral is also immoral' is a logical consequence of the notion that 'honesty is a virtue'.

While definitely possible, it would be tedious and ultimately pointless to search for direct empirical evidence to prove to you that campaigning for socialism is not in people's self interest. After all that work, you could just say "fine, then how about campaigning for fascism". And so on and so forth. You'd never run out of various concrete applications of abstract principles, to ask for direct empirical evidence on.

On the other hand, Ayn Rand's argument for the need for moral principles, including honesty, is well documented, and sufficient to prove that freely choosing dishonesty is not in any person's self interest.

Instead of asking for concrete evidence to various applications of Objectivist philosophy, you should try to understand the abstract principles themselves, and the way those principles are validated.

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While definitely possible, it would be tedious and ultimately pointless to search for direct empirical evidence to prove to you that campaigning for socialism is not in people's self interest. After all that work, you could just say "fine, then how about campaigning for fascism". And so on and so forth. You'd never run out of various concrete applications of abstract principles, to ask for direct empirical evidence on.

I intentionally avoided using the phrase "empirical evidence" to allow for any evidence.

On the other hand, Ayn Rand's argument for the need for moral principles, including honesty, is well documented, and sufficient to prove that freely choosing dishonesty is not in any person's self interest.

OK. So what is the philsophic evidence that religion is never in any individual's self-interest? I concede there are plenty of contexts where mentally modeling reality allows an organism to avoid threats to survival. If this is a basis, then whether or not abstract principles are integrated with this basis or not, the argument rests on an empirical/biological argument.

As distasteful as I find theists who preach about Hell, there is a related example that challenges the belief that truth is (or even likely is) in the interest of survival; the false belief that someone will go to Hell can (at least in some situtations) clearly drive that individual to strive for survival and consequently lead to a higher likelihood of proagating his or her alleles. Now, you could reasonably object that it is still not in the self-interest of a person because it would make him or her less happy (or otherwise not in the interest of survival yet in the person's interest in another sense). But if you do, I would think you can not have your cake and eat it at the same time. You would be conceding that mere survivial is not your basis for "self-interest." What, specifically, is the argument or evidence that honesty or logic is always in one's self-interest? I do not know about your view, but the self-labeled Objectivists on this forums strike me as having above average intelligence. So check this out if you agree.

Instead of asking for concrete evidence to various applications of Objectivist philosophy, you should try to understand the abstract principles themselves, and the way those principles are validated.

I read a few of her books. While they have some of the most badass arguments I ever heard, and efinitely shaped my perspective for life, I am left with too much cognitive dissnoance when I try to take every last point seriously. Like Christianity, I am just not capable of believing things without evidence. Faith has never been my thing. Without evidence that true beliefs are always in one's self-interest.

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OK. So what is the philsophic evidence that religion is never in any individual's self-interest? I concede there are plenty of contexts where mentally modeling reality allows an organism to avoid threats to survival. If this is a basis, then whether or not abstract principles are integrated with this basis or not, the argument rests on an empirical/biological argument.

The options are not "deal only with specific empirical data" and "appeal to an abstract model in your head." (Religious principles, having no factual basis, are an example of the latter method.) The proper approach is to observe reality and use reason to form principles on the basis of one's observations, so that the empirical and the theoretical work together.

As distasteful as I find theists who preach about Hell, there is a related example that challenges the belief that truth is (or even likely is) in the interest of survival; the false belief that someone will go to Hell can (at least in some situtations) clearly drive that individual to strive for survival and consequently lead to a higher likelihood of proagating his or her alleles.

Given Christianity's track record of spreading misery and death throughout the world, this is a curious attempt at a counterexample to the survival value of truth.

Also, propogating one's alleles has nothing to do with the Objectivist ethics, which is an abstract toolkit for living one's own life, not creating new ones.

Now, you could reasonably object that it is still not in the self-interest of a person because it would make him or her less happy (or otherwise not in the interest of survival yet in the person's interest in another sense). But if you do, I would think you can not have your cake and eat it at the same time. You would be conceding that mere survivial is not your basis for "self-interest." What, specifically, is the argument or evidence that honesty or logic is always in one's self-interest?

It's worth noting that in asking for evidence that knowing the truth is in one's self-interest, you're conceding that the truth should be the arbiter of your beliefs.

More importantly, though, a moral commitment to truth is a consequence of a more fundamental principle in Objectivism: reason is man's means of survival. Notice that our tools of survival - clothing, shelter, medicine, technology, etc. - came from the human capacity for thinking. Adhering to a falsehood drives a wedge in this kind of thinking and places a person at odds with reality. You can't cure polio if you think that bloodletting is the proper way to treat illnesses.

I read a few of her books. While they have some of the most badass arguments I ever heard, and efinitely shaped my perspective for life, I am left with too much cognitive dissnoance when I try to take every last point seriously. Like Christianity, I am just not capable of believing things without evidence. Faith has never been my thing. Without evidence that true beliefs are always in one's self-interest.

Objectivism rejects faith, so I'm not sure what you mean by this.

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As distasteful as I find theists who preach about Hell, there is a related example that challenges the belief that truth is (or even likely is) in the interest of survival; the false belief that someone will go to Hell can (at least in some situtations) clearly drive that individual to strive for survival and consequently lead to a higher likelihood of proagating his or her alleles. Now, you could reasonably object that it is still not in the self-interest of a person because it would make him or her less happy (or otherwise not in the interest of survival yet in the person's interest in another sense). But if you do, I would think you can not have your cake and eat it at the same time. You would be conceding that mere survivial is not your basis for "self-interest." What, specifically, is the argument or evidence that honesty or logic is always in one's self-interest?

You're asking for evidence and arguments, which presuppose logic. That means you agree that logic is the fundamental method of thinking. So the need for logic in achieving any goal (self interested or otherwise) should be obvious: men achieve goals through decision making, we don't act on instinct. Decision making requires thought, thought requires logic.

As for honesty, honesty just means that we acknowledge that we live in reality, that the facts of reality apply to us, and act accordingly. We don't try to pretend that we are outside reality in any way. Dishonesty means ignoring some or all facts of reality in favor of a lie.

You can of course have logical thinking based on lies. And you can have decision making based on lies. But that logical thinking, and that decision making do not lead to the achievement of goals. If you have any goals, you must be honest in evaluating reality, before being able to make the appropriate choices to achieve them. Here's why: A goal is a state of reality, that is different from the current state. The only way to achieve a different state of reality is to modify the current state accordingly. If you misrepresent the current state of reality, any modifications you choose to make will not have the desired effect. You will not achieve your goal.

Basic example: Let's say you pretend that your house is five miles to the North, when in fact it's ten miles to the South, and your goal is to get home. In trying to achieve your goal, you apply logic to your understanding of your current state, hoping to modify that state in a specific way. But the result of your thinking will be to walk five miles away from your home.

Honesty and logic are equally important, in achieving any goal. And self interest is a goal: a state of reality in which one is living in accordance with his nature.

So what is the philsophic evidence that religion is never in any individual's self-interest?

Religion is illogical. Again, you're asking for evidence, so you must agree that the concept logic, defined as the fundamental method of thinking, is valid.

The only way religion could be in one's self interest is if religion was valid, and logic invalid. If that was the case, you shouldn't be asking for evidence, because evidence is also invalid.

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Instead of asking for concrete evidence to various applications of Objectivist philosophy, you should try to understand the abstract principles themselves, and the way those principles are validated.

It is precisely for the reason that human knowledge and intelligence work in a specific way that we need to rely on principles and not what the OP considers to be "evidence" to make decisions. It is a physical impossibility to gather the type of "evidence" the OP wants, and he's basically indulging in a variant of the black swan fallacy. (That being the fallacy that since you, personally, cannot go and examine every swan that has ever existed or will exist, you cannot ever know enough to formulate a statement such as "swans are white". It is a wholesale rejection of inductive reasoning as such.)

Now, one does use what evidence one has in *forming* principles, and one also uses knowledge of one's particular situation and circumstances in order to *apply* those principles--the principles are not some kind of contextless floating absolute that must be adhered to regardless of circumstances or changes in the state of one's knowledge. If you try hard enough, it is always possible to come up with theoretical situations where a given principle doesn't apply, because the context is outside the scope of the principle.

For instance, Objectivist ethical principles assume, first and foremost, that one is largely free to think, act, and suffer/enjoy the consequences of that action. When those circumstances don't apply for one reason or another, yes, some modification or even an outright scrapping of the principle may be necessary--in that narrow context, and only to the extent that it is necessary to regain one's liberty. It is not a wholesale excuse to drop all principles permanently.

Some other notes: one does not properly arrive at a definition of one's "interests" based upon one what feels or expects to feel, because feelings are a *consequence*, not a primary. It is only appropriate to take emotions into account in matters of taste, i.e. matters of no moral significance. It is a matter of taste whether one prefers to pursue a productive career as a doctor, or one prefers to pursue a career as a sketch artist. It is not a matter of taste if one prefers to pursue a career as a con man, because this is not a productive activity.

Since campaigning for socialism when one is generally free to choose to do otherwise is an immoral activity, your feelings about it (how fun/satisfying/whatever it may be) are immaterial. In the context of free action, it is *never* appropriate.

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Objectivism rejects faith, so I'm not sure what you mean by this.

I'm going to limit my involvement to addressing this one statement, as this thread is a huge can of worms to me..

Objectivism rejects faith, but this does not preclude the possibility of self-proclaimed Objectivists or students of Objectivism taking some of Rand's assertions on faith. It doesn't even make it all that much less likely. Rand gives such reasoned responses that it is possible for a person to claim they have thought the issues through for themselves, while merely parroting her in a more complex fashion.

One sign to look for with this latter possibility, would be someone who, having read Rand's works, would find it impossible to genuinely process works by other writers or philosophers. Of course this is expressed as "everyone else [excepting the few writers Rand lauded, in the specific way she lauded them, or writers who sound exactly like Rand] is trash".

Another sign would be how much a person relies on quoting Rand herself when answering questions on any topic. This comes out as "She said it better than I can say it, so why shouldn't I quote her?" Obviously it's okay to quote in certain contexts, but I have seen people who seem to be able to do nothing else!

Edited by musenji
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I'm going to limit my involvement to addressing this one statement, as this thread is a huge can of worms to me..

Objectivism rejects faith, but this does not preclude the possibility of self-proclaimed Objectivists or students of Objectivism taking some of Rand's assertions on faith. It doesn't even make it all that much less likely. Rand gives such reasoned responses that it is possible for a person to claim they have thought the issues through for themselves, while merely parroting her in a more complex fashion.

One sign to look for with this latter possibility, would be someone who, having read Rand's works, would find it impossible to genuinely process works by other writers or philosophers. Of course this is expressed as "everyone else [excepting the few writers Rand lauded, in the specific way she lauded them, or writers who sound exactly like Rand] is trash".

Another sign would be how much a person relies on quoting Rand herself when answering questions on any topic. This comes out as "She said it better than I can say it, so why shouldn't I quote her?" Obviously it's okay to quote in certain contexts, but I have seen people who seem to be able to do nothing else!

Fair enough, but the original poster wasn't talking about individual Objectivists; he was talking about Rand's writing. He said he was having trouble taking the ideas seriously because "faith has never been [his] thing." This amounts to a passive-aggressive way of saying that Rand's ideas have no rational basis. A person is welcome to believe that, but using it as a basis for asserting that Objectivism endorses faith is dishonest.

Edited by Zoid
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