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As to "going Galt", the earlier point of seeing the valley being a resort, a place to withdraw from "getting one's hands dirty", I find this forum to be a place to one can go and interface with like-m

Establishing context, in other words? If so, I would put game theory in there, because its level of specificity may be too much for philosophical inquiry. The topic is specialized enough that while it

Where did I say "sit down and shut up?" But, yes, I am questioning the utility of talking. To whatever extent they do, yes, but my point is that the usual arguments for free markets

Well, you lost me there.

If there were ever a time when that was possible it would have been at the fall of Communism. Some called for treating Communism like Nazism with trials end everything but it never happened.

Yeah, make the case, make the argument, pick up some reasonable people on the margins, but don't hold your breath waiting for a mass anti-socialist movement.

The Ayn Rand Letter

Vol. 1, No. 7 January 3, 1972

"What Can One Do?"

Later added to "Philosophy: Who Needs It."

In an intellectual battle, you do not need to convert everyone. History is made by minorities—or, more precisely, history is made by intellectual movements, which are created by minorities. Who belongs to these minorities? Anyone who is able and willing actively to concern himself with intellectual issues. Here, it is not quantity, but quality that counts (the quality—and consistency—of the ideas one is advocating).
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In isolation force has no referent other than perhaps nature, which is not force in the strict sense because it is not consciously guided. The battle that needs to be waged is between reason and force, which do you prefer? If the former then you must admit you too prefer persuasion.

Ideas are man's guiding force. The true ideas will prevail.. Articulate them, edify others with proper ideas that is the only way to direct the zeitgist(human nature the way you use it).

Edited by tadmjones
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In isolation force has no referent other than perhaps nature, which is not force in the strict sense because it is not consciously guided. The battle that needs to be waged is between reason and force, which do you prefer? If the former then you must admit you too prefer persuasion.

This is, in a vague sort of way, the closest I've seen to an Objectivst argument against the book I propose, against resisting socialism by means other than argument and persuasion.

It is, however, a flawed argument.

I would prefer a world in which argument and persuasion are the only means of changing others' position. But we don't live in that world. I would prefer not to have to resort to force to defend my life against an attacker, but an attacker may not allow me that luxury.

If we took that form of argument seriously we'd all become pacificsts.

Ideas are man's guiding force. The true ideas will prevail.. Articulate them, edify others with proper ideas that is the only way to direct the zeitgist(human nature the way you use it).

I'm not sold. But at least you have come out and said it directly. I appreciate that. Now I can no longer be accused of making straw man arguments.

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Are you european? I can't say for sure, because you have used different colliquial terms for people who work in law enforcement, is that pretension or a reflection of directing your comments to a specific audience? I ask , because I think some opinions held can come from what is understood to be the 'norm'.

My experience is that europeans seem to think their view is more heterogenous(read more informed) simply from the fact they feel they are more familiar with differing worldviews. Based on the idea that given their proximity to other countries, states, or cultures they have been exposed to so many differing points of view that they are then able to pontificate from a position of authority.

While I think others may lump all such perceived cultural differences as mild variants on one homogenous theme.

The other side of the pond, as it were

Edited by tadmjones
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I would prefer a world in which argument and persuasion are the only means of changing others' position.

The fact is , that is the world you live in. Man is motivated to action by his ideas.(period)

It is his nature,one must first have the idea and then act on it. "socialism" is a name given to school of thought or ideas, that can not be acted on in any way that would lead to it becoming existential, its actual referent is a contradiction.

Force exists, the taking of the unearned through violence or the threat thereof has happened in the past, is happening now and will likely happen in the future. The actual, literal taking is done by actual indviduals, sometimes by groups of individuals. The 'thing' that causes them to use or threaten force are their ideas or motivations. Even a taker of the unearned has to have the thought 'I am going to walk across this room,' before he walks across the room.

It does not matter to the victims , the producers whose values were stolen, why the theft occured ie why the takers thought what they thought. Or less even what becomes of the values they lost. The fact those values were forcibly removed from them is the result. The result of the loss is not characterised or colored in any different light if the values were then distributed equally to the rest of community, or burned in sacrifice to a giant bunny god.

The issue then is what is most fundamental. So if such a book were to be written with the intention of showing people how to resist having their values stolen , it would have to point out the root cause of the theft , the use of force. Which particular ideology precipitates the aggressors is not essential to the defense of force.

One of your critisisms of Oism, or rather alot of them, seems to stem from idea that Rand only 'projected' man as the ideal, she did in her fiction create heroes who had the ideal characteristics in spades, but they were intentionally fictional. Her philosophy in nonfiction deals with reality.

I think a better book would be a history of civilisation based on the premise that any degree of advancement is proven to be the result of reason. Force the masses to learn by induction;)

Edited by tadmjones
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Both Tara Smith's Viable Vaues and Nataniel Branden's Art of Living Consciously are pretty short reads.

Let's move away from debating what Tara Smith said and get gack to the subject at hand. Your hierarchy has some virtue but there are a couple problemsm, assuming I am reading it correctly: 1) there is no shortage of force so the first option is already off the table, and 2) you conflate treating rights violations like a force of nature with leting your own rights be violated. I think we've spent enough time on the first point already.

On the second point, my argument for treating rights violations similar to forces of nature is precisely so for the purpose of discovering resist them as opposed to moral tut-tuting about them. I think I've been pretty clear on that point but if there is any confusion I would be happy to elaborate further.

I can't find my copy of Living Consciously and it's been a while since I read it but the gist was that he felt Rand and Objectivists were denying important aspects of their own humanity in their quest to be computer-like rationalists. That was not the main point of the book, it was more an aside in the introduction explaining his own intellectual journey.

Aside from challenges in obtaining the texts, I don't think I could really read them right now due to some concentration difficulties I've been having which have been especially bad in regard to text over about a page in length at a time. This is part of why I may sometimes be a little slow to reply to long posts or why I may try to avoid discussing multiple lengthy subjects in one of my posts at a time. :(

That hierarchy was meant to apply to individual choices and situations, not everything in your life in general all at once. It applies to all our interactions with others pretty well, but each different situation will lead to different choices based on what options are available to you at that time and for that situation. There are still things which option 1 exists for and where option 1 does still exist you should take that option. As for "my argument for treating rights violations similar to forces of nature is precisely so for the purpose of discovering resist them as opposed to moral tut-tuting about them" <-- you don't need to do that to get the result you want and trying to tell us we should treat something like what it is not will only get unnecessary attention paid to objecting to treating something like what it is not and get your actual point and what you actually want to encourage people to do to get lost. This "take rights violations like they are inevitable" thing is counter productive to your goal. One can take precautions and steps against things which for whatever reason are very likely and expectable even if they are not inevitable.

". . . he felt Rand and Objectivists were denying important aspects of their own humanity in their quest to be computer-like rationalists."

Like what? We certainly don't deny or suggest one should ignore feelings if that is anything like what he or you was/were getting at as I've heard people believe before, we just don't treat them like some kind of infalible, omnipotent guide to life and instead encourage investigating the reasons you have some feeling and acting on that source of the feeling once/if you are pretty sure it is sound. Rationalists, by the way, are a particular branch of philosophy which treat themselves as opposed to empiricism, believing logic is a reliable tool for knowledge, but that anything requiring observation is not reliable. Objectivism accepts both logic and observation as valid means of acquiring knowledge with the latter being necessary before one can do any of the former. So, trying to say we are or are being like rationalists is likely to get grumpy objections given that we use the term "rationalist" or "rationalism" to refer to that specific philosophic branch rather than something more general. (What exactly would the more general meaning be anyway?)

Edited by bluecherry
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Let's limit ourselves here to self-defense but Tara does not make that distinction in her theory.

Not really in "Viable Values", but definitely in "Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics". There are two sections where the self-defense distinction is mentioned, particularly in the section on honesty. Just a quick interjection before I write a meatier post tomorrow.

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Not really in "Viable Values", but definitely in "Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics". There are two sections where the self-defense distinction is mentioned, particularly in the section on honesty. Just a quick interjection before I write a meatier post tomorrow.

I've only read the first so I'll take your word on that.

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Aside from challenges in obtaining the texts, I don't think I could really read them right now due to some concentration difficulties I've been having which have been especially bad in regard to text over about a page in length at a time. This is part of why I may sometimes be a little slow to reply to long posts or why I may try to avoid discussing multiple lengthy subjects in one of my posts at a time. :(

That hierarchy was meant to apply to individual choices and situations, not everything in your life in general all at once. It applies to all our interactions with others pretty well, but each different situation will lead to different choices based on what options are available to you at that time and for that situation. There are still things which option 1 exists for and where option 1 does still exist you should take that option. As for "my argument for treating rights violations similar to forces of nature is precisely so for the purpose of discovering resist them as opposed to moral tut-tuting about them" <-- you don't need to do that to get the result you want and trying to tell us we should treat something like what it is not will only get unnecessary attention paid to objecting to treating something like what it is not and get your actual point and what you actually want to encourage people to do to get lost. This "take rights violations like they are inevitable" thing is counter productive to your goal. One can take precautions and steps against things which for whatever reason are very likely and expectable even if they are not inevitable.

That's a useful point but I think my point still stands. I have nowhere suggested what you (or someone) described as robbing banks in the USSR. The question is solely how to deal with those who use force against us.

That said, I think the more substantive issue is this question of how to regard those situations. We've disagreed on this but obivously neither is convincing the other. Eiuol gave a more elaborate explanation and I replied with a more elaborate criticism of it. I'm not sure you've offered anything new here.

". . . he felt Rand and Objectivists were denying important aspects of their own humanity in their quest to be computer-like rationalists."

Like what? We certainly don't deny or suggest one should ignore feelings if that is anything like what he or you was/were getting at as I've heard people believe before, we just don't treat them like some kind of infalible, omnipotent guide to life and instead encourage investigating the reasons you have some feeling and acting on that source of the feeling once/if you are pretty sure it is sound. Rationalists, by the way, are a particular branch of philosophy which treat themselves as opposed to empiricism, believing logic is a reliable tool for knowledge, but that anything requiring observation is not reliable. Objectivism accepts both logic and observation as valid means of acquiring knowledge with the latter being necessary before one can do any of the former. So, trying to say we are or are being like rationalists is likely to get grumpy objections given that we use the term "rationalist" or "rationalism" to refer to that specific philosophic branch rather than something more general. (What exactly would the more general meaning be anyway?)

I don't want to go off on a tangent but here is something online which captures the ideas:

http://inductivequest.blogspot.com/2010/06/nathaniel-branden-against-ayn-rand-and.html

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The fact is , that is the world you live in. Man is motivated to action by his ideas.(period)

Would you say that a lion is motivated to action by its ideas?

It is his nature,one must first have the idea and then act on it. "socialism" is a name given to school of thought or ideas, that can not be acted on in any way that would lead to it becoming existential, its actual referent is a contradiction.

Force exists, the taking of the unearned through violence or the threat thereof has happened in the past, is happening now and will likely happen in the future. The actual, literal taking is done by actual indviduals, sometimes by groups of individuals. The 'thing' that causes them to use or threaten force are their ideas or motivations. Even a taker of the unearned has to have the thought 'I am going to walk across this room,' before he walks across the room.

However, some "ideas" come more naturally than others. Some ideas recur without education, indeed in the absence of it.

It does not matter to the victims , the producers whose values were stolen, why the theft occured ie why the takers thought what they thought. Or less even what becomes of the values they lost. The fact those values were forcibly removed from them is the result. The result of the loss is not characterised or colored in any different light if the values were then distributed equally to the rest of community, or burned in sacrifice to a giant bunny god.

The issue then is what is most fundamental. So if such a book were to be written with the intention of showing people how to resist having their values stolen , it would have to point out the root cause of the theft , the use of force. Which particular ideology precipitates the aggressors is not essential to the defense of force.

I'm not sure that it would be necessary but it would certainly be preferable and I had assumed it would be the case.

One of your critisisms of Oism, or rather alot of them, seems to stem from idea that Rand only 'projected' man as the ideal, she did in her fiction create heroes who had the ideal characteristics in spades, but they were intentionally fictional. Her philosophy in nonfiction deals with reality.

I think a better book would be a history of civilisation based on the premise that any degree of advancement is proven to be the result of reason. Force the masses to learn by induction;)

The problems with such an approach is that most people are not concerned with the advancement of civilization but with the advancement of their own self interest. That shouldn't come as a shock to anyone here. Politicians promise them goodies and direct their dissatisfactions against suitable targets all in exchange for votes and other forms of loyalty.

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Б ви сказати, що Лев є мотивовані до дії своїх ідей?У слові немає.

Would you say that a lion is motivated to action by its ideas? In a word no.

hmmph well apparently babelfish(free version) is not as robust as I had hoped, it don't do cantonese(and for the record the first response is in Ukranian, but you get the idea, yes? :)

Edited by tadmjones
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Would you say that a lion is motivated to action by its ideas? In a word no.

What, then, is the lion motivated by if not his ideas? And what would lead you to think that a human could not be similarly motivated given what we know about human evolution and biology? At what magic point in the history of evolution do you think man ceased being motivated like the lion?

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To the extent that you are thinking about who is to blame you are not thinking about how to get out of the situation and thus you are wasting precious intellectual energies and academic pursuits

Blame was supposed to just highlight the fact that a particular person caused a negative action through their own volition. The purpose of pointing that out is to differentiate from unfortunate events not caused by anyone. When lightning strikes a tree, there is no one to blame, so there is no moral aspect as far as the lightning is concerned. I can't say or do to lightning to stop or prevent any future tree accidents. When events can be attributed to a person, a moral dimension is added where it is justified to act against another person, although not physically if force has not been involved (someone lying about how good your new shoes look would not justify force). As I was explaining before, only a physical consequence can force me to do anything without use of my faculty of reason. When full use of my means of survival have been denied, forceful action becomes justified. In this conversation, we are primarily concerned when force is either a) planning to be used, which I covered in my previous post or b ) has been initiated on a wide scale.

Finally, few things cause paralysis of reason quite like the belief that you have no choice.

By paralysis of reason, I do not mean that all choices have been removed and I have essentially been rendered a fish flopping around on dry land. I agree that it is a toxic thought to say all choices have been removed. I even agree that it is crucial to think clearly and creatively. My point was that some person has constrained my use of reason by *their* choice to constrain my use of reason beyond normal limitations of existence. Things like denying me access to property is not constraining my use of reason because property is actually an extension of reason as the means of survival, so to abuse your property also qualifies as constraining your use of reason. Destroying your car forcefully denies you choices for pursuing your career, as does taxing you in order to fund universal health care. Returning to options still remaining, sure, I can do things to normalize the situation by means of reasoning, but that doesn't change the fact I was denied my use of reason in its full capacity.

When saying someone has initiated force, we're implicitly discussing unreasonable people. Persuasion is likely to be pointless for people who are initiating force, but there are degrees in which a person is unreasonable. Sometimes, logic will work, but that's really case-by-case. Force is by nature unreasonable, so really the options in regards to persuasion are minimal and likely a waste of time. A whole big point of Atlas Shrugged is deciding that giving the benefit of the doubt to those who initiate force is really bad to one's own life. Rand called it "sanction of the victim", where ultimately the victims of force are permitting injustice to themselves by not acting. In some sense, you are claiming that persuasion is sanction of the victim. I'd say that force always beats out reason; force can only be met by force. Going about your business like normal won't undo or even stop force. Being a victim of force demands some type of action.

Earlier, I explained when persuasion is perhaps particularly useful, which is before the implementation of some policy. But as you said, your interest is what to do towards unreasonable people, so I don't need to elaborate on that point further.

I liked this "hierarchy" earlier:

The basic order here goes: living honestly, operating by willing trade > resorting to some form of force when that option has been taken off the table by way of somebody else initiating force > just accepting rights violations like they were a force of nature, letting your own rights be violated without question even and/or initiating rights violations against others.

The first one fits under "before implementation", when people are reasonable. The second is when force is initiated, so resorting to some force may actually be necessary, at least in the realm of where that initiated force applies. For instance, I think the US is a pretty good place to live, despite things like income tax because I have enough options to live my life pretty well. But where force does exist, I'm not going to be any pleased. Still, I have to consider my options. Ignoring the immoral laws would get me into trouble that I cannot combat well alone. The third one I see as when things get really bad, oppressive government level of bad, or some other really bad scenario. Depending on the circumstance, accepting the violation may be the only way to survive (money or my life; I'd likely be best off handing over the money). If the circumstance is more indirect (the IRS wants my money, but it'll be a while before I am taken into court and so on from there), I have a much greater range of options. I disagree with the initiating rights violations against others, but that's only because at this stage, if I am responding to an initiation force, I am not violating the rights of anyone.

I am unsure what step to take next in discussion, so I'll at least emphasize that force can only be met with force. At the same time, a reasoned, philosophical basis ought to be promoted, on top of retaliatory force where applicable. Ideas are important because that's how to maintain a rational, reasonable society, but that doesn't mean one should sanction their victimization. Otherwise, the same rights violations will reoccur. Stopping terrorism is similar - killing the right people still doesn't stop people from adopting rights-violating philosophies. Some convincing has to go on. The reverse is also true. Presenting a pro-rights philosophy isn't going to stop the people who are so unreasonable that they want to blow up a populated building. Those people have to be stopped with force.

Edited by Eiuol
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Blame was supposed to just highlight the fact that a particular person caused a negative action through their own volition. The purpose of pointing that out is to differentiate from unfortunate events not caused by anyone. When lightning strikes a tree, there is no one to blame, so there is no moral aspect as far as the lightning is concerned. I can't say or do to lightning to stop or prevent any future tree accidents. When events can be attributed to a person, a moral dimension is added where it is justified to act against another person, although not physically if force has not been involved (someone lying about how good your new shoes look would not justify force). As I was explaining before, only a physical consequence can force me to do anything without use of my faculty of reason. When full use of my means of survival have been denied, forceful action becomes justified. In this conversation, we are primarily concerned when force is either a) planning to be used, which I covered in my previous post or b ) has been initiated on a wide scale.

I think this notion of blame is crucial so I'm gong to beat it a bit further here in reply to you.

There are two aspects of blame: 1) descriptive, and 2) operative.

Blamable events, as you and bluecherry describe it, forms a distinctive category from natural or unblamable events. A person is involved whose choice was causal. If that were all that were involved, I would let it go at that. But it's not.

It's important to remember that we form categories for a reason. We could just as easiily distinguish woody events from earthy events (trees falling in the first category, boulders falling in the second). But you had in mind something more than a descriptive category, you are claiming, implicitly, that the category is important, even primary. Why?

The reason, I think, is the second aspect, in order to do something with that knowledge. Presumably, if you blame someone for their wrong action you can influence their choices. But is that so? In fact, we are talking here precisely about those situations in which reason fails and when force is being used against us deliberately. (I also addressed the toxic nature of blame in more friendly situations but let's set that aside for now.)

In short, you have created a useless category. Descriptive, sure, but useless nonetheless.

I would suggest a different three-way distinction: 1) Events you control (by your own choice), 2) Events under the control of reasonable people (with whom you can have meaningful conversations), and 3) All other events. That puts falling trees in the same category as muggings. Blaming a mugger is as pointless, in my opinion, as blaming a falling tree.

Here is another way to think about it: imagine you left your bycycle unlocked in a bad neighborhood. You return to find it gone. Who do you blame? The faceless thief, for taking it, or youself, for not locking it? If your child does the same do you say, "bad thief" or do you say, "next time, lock your bike."

By paralysis of reason, I do not mean that all choices have been removed and I have essentially been rendered a fish flopping around on dry land. I agree that it is a toxic thought to say all choices have been removed. I even agree that it is crucial to think clearly and creatively. My point was that some person has constrained my use of reason by *their* choice to constrain my use of reason beyond normal limitations of existence.

Constrained is a better word here. I said earlier that it altered the value of your choices which is a more general version, I think. I used a chess analogy. And I observed that chess is a high-reason game. You don't say that a player who threatens a piece is constraining your use of reason. He is presenting a problem for you to solve and you, in turn, present him with problems. Reason is your primary tool; don't try to play chess drunk.

Things like denying me access to property is not constraining my use of reason because property is actually an extension of reason as the means of survival, so to abuse your property also qualifies as constraining your use of reason. Destroying your car forcefully denies you choices for pursuing your career, as does taxing you in order to fund universal health care. Returning to options still remaining, sure, I can do things to normalize the situation by means of reasoning, but that doesn't change the fact I was denied my use of reason in its full capacity.

I just don't see the point of calling it a constraint of reason. Sure, he's damaging things you value, perhaps wrongly. He may even be threatening your very survival. But frankly that's why your ability to reason evolved in the first place: to help you survive. I can only scratch my head at your terminology here.

When saying someone has initiated force, we're implicitly discussing unreasonable people. Persuasion is likely to be pointless for people who are initiating force, but there are degrees in which a person is unreasonable. Sometimes, logic will work, but that's really case-by-case. Force is by nature unreasonable, so really the options in regards to persuasion are minimal and likely a waste of time. A whole big point of Atlas Shrugged is deciding that giving the benefit of the doubt to those who initiate force is really bad to one's own life. Rand called it "sanction of the victim", where ultimately the victims of force are permitting injustice to themselves by not acting. In some sense, you are claiming that persuasion is sanction of the victim. I'd say that force always beats out reason; force can only be met by force. Going about your business like normal won't undo or even stop force. Being a victim of force demands some type of action.

For the most part I agree, though I have a hard time with the terminology. As with the above chess analogy, I find it hard to think of reason and force in a dichotomy. I don't think we are disagreeing substantivly here, but I'm just registering my complaint about the use of words and expressing a concern about how it might influence choices. So I hate very much to agree that force beats out reason, it sounds like the barbarians always defeat the civilized.

Earlier, I explained when persuasion is perhaps particularly useful, which is before the implementation of some policy. But as you said, your interest is what to do towards unreasonable people, so I don't need to elaborate on that point further.

Agreed.

I liked this "hierarchy" earlier: The first one fits under "before implementation", when people are reasonable. The second is when force is initiated, so resorting to some force may actually be necessary, at least in the realm of where that initiated force applies. For instance, I think the US is a pretty good place to live, despite things like income tax because I have enough options to live my life pretty well. But where force does exist, I'm not going to be any pleased. Still, I have to consider my options. Ignoring the immoral laws would get me into trouble that I cannot combat well alone. The third one I see as when things get really bad, oppressive government level of bad, or some other really bad scenario. Depending on the circumstance, accepting the violation may be the only way to survive (money or my life; I'd likely be best off handing over the money). If the circumstance is more indirect (the IRS wants my money, but it'll be a while before I am taken into court and so on from there), I have a much greater range of options. I disagree with the initiating rights violations against others, but that's only because at this stage, if I am responding to an initiation force, I am not violating the rights of anyone.

I am unsure what step to take next in discussion, so I'll at least emphasize that force can only be met with force. At the same time, a reasoned, philosophical basis ought to be promoted, on top of retaliatory force where applicable. Ideas are important because that's how to maintain a rational, reasonable society, but that doesn't mean one should sanction their victimization. Otherwise, the same rights violations will reoccur. Stopping terrorism is similar - killing the right people still doesn't stop people from adopting rights-violating philosophies. Some convincing has to go on. The reverse is also true. Presenting a pro-rights philosophy isn't going to stop the people who are so unreasonable that they want to blow up a populated building. Those people have to be stopped with force.

For many reasons we've discussed so far, I think the use of "force" against force requires very careful thought both at the philosophical and practical levels. I don't mean to hash out that here, only to better understand how Objectivists see the matter. It does seem like there is more than a little precedence in Objectivist thought for what I have proposed, in spite of the objections that some have offered here.

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What, then, is the lion motivated by if not his ideas? And what would lead you to think that a human could not be similarly motivated given what we know about human evolution and biology? At what magic point in the history of evolution do you think man ceased being motivated like the lion?

literally, you actually mean to ask this specific question?

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So I hate very much to agree that force beats out reason, it sounds like the barbarians always defeat the civilized.

To clarify, I meant more like reason as a means of existence can only beat force by retaliating against initiation of force. How to retaliate, of course, is the main idea of this thread.

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At what magic point in the history of evolution do you think man ceased being motivated like the lion?

To answer this question would I not first have to agree to the idea that there was such a point?

I assume you are using this line of reasoning to reveal or justify the notion of innate ideas or motivations or somesuch.

Edited by tadmjones
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Considering that the distinctive characteristic of man is his rational faculty, i.e.: conceptual consciousness, such a "magic point" in the history of evolution where "man" ceased being motivated like the lion, prior to this point, such an entity would not be man.

edited to clarify.

Edited by dream_weaver
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There is also the connotation of the oft quoted phrase of Darwin,survival of the fittest. This tends to lead to the view that evolution is somehow a mechanism that fosters change toward improvement. That would imply that mechanism is in a sense 'aware of' the need for a change and favor the normative of improvement.

Edited by tadmjones
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To answer this question would I not first have to agree to the idea that there was such a point? I assume you are using this line of reasoning to reveal or justify the notion of innate ideas or motivations or somesuch.

No, what I am suggesting is pretty straightforward. I am, first of all, showing that your notion humans are motivated to action soley by ideas is highly dubious. I am not suggesting innate ideas but rather actions motivated other than by ideas. If lions, as a simple example of a non-human, are motivated by something other than ideas, then it follows that man's ancestors were simlarly motivated. And if there is no point at which man ceased to be similarly motivated by other than ideas then it follows that man is still (sometimes) motivated by other than ideas. In fact, it seems pretty straightforward to say that the less we think about our motivations, the more we act like animals.

Considering that the distinctive characteristic of man is his rational faculty, i.e.: conceptual consciousness, such a "magic point" in the history of evolution where "man" ceased being motivated like the lion, prior to this point, such an entity would not be man.

Even if we define man as that animal with the capacty for reason it does not follow that man threw away his animal motivations and adopted ideas as the sole motivation for actions at some point in our prehistory. A far more reasonable understanding would be to say that, at some point, man acquired the capacity to reason and therefore the capacity to utilize ideas in motivation to action. This view is certainly supported by the structure of the brain with it's retention of lower alongside higher components and by the fact that, like animals, we get hungry, get cold, etc. and by the archeological history which shows a very slow and gradual development of the elements of culture and civilization.

The challenge for Objectivists pursuing argument and persuasion, then, is not merely to replace one set of ideas (socialism) with another (Objectivism) but to get people to think about these things in the first place rather than to act on their animal impulses. How much thought, really, does it take to envy what others have and to try and take it away from them?

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