Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Mental Exercise - What Would You Do...

Rate this topic


RadCap
 Share

Recommended Posts

...if, one day you awoke to find yourself in the Dark Ages?

To give you some background on the question, I am asking this in the context of living a virtuous/rational life in a culture of irrationality. Under such conditions, how should one live one's life? What could/would one do to make one's life more 'livable' as an objectivist in a 'society' steeped in blatant irrationality and in which such irrationality had no rational counterpart (and indeed where the such rationality could run you afoul of the church and thus place your life in mortal danger).

I am curious to see what the suggestions are from those on the board. :confused:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would try and escape to a place where the reach of the irrational society does not extend, and live my life there. (Well, this doesn't really address the question of living a virtuous life in a culture of irrationality, but that's what I would see as my best option. It's better to live alone than to live among repulsive fools.)

As an alternative, I might try to "play along" with the irrationalists for a while in order to learn how to predict their irrational reactions, and then turn their irrationality against them. The strategy would be to let the truly evil ones destroy themselves, and at the same time find those people among the population who are willing to give up the irrational ideas and seek the truth. One tool I might find useful is the "reductio ad absurdum" : The true irrationalists would believe the absurd (which would increase their irrationality, and thus hasten their demise), while the more rational people would recognize it as absurd, and re-examine their premises as a result.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Has someone been watching Timeline previews lately? :confused:

This is more of a question than an answer -- wasn't there a merchant class that continued to exist throughout the Middle Ages? The feudal lords had to get their exotic spices, silk, and dyes from somewhere, right?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As an alternative, I might try to "play along" with the irrationalists for a while in order to learn how to predict their irrational reactions, and then turn their irrationality against them.

The problem with that is that irrationality, by its nature, is unpredictable. Sometimes you can make educated guesses about how some people tend to behave (they may be irrational in a somewhat consistent way), but I think that will only get you so far.

I actually think the best approach is your first suggestion--try to escape beyond their reach. And now that I think about it, that describes the solution given in the plot of Anthem.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The problem with that is that irrationality, by its nature, is unpredictable.  Sometimes you can make educated guesses about how some people tend to behave (they may be irrational in a somewhat consistent way), but I think that will only get you so far.

I think you can predict a fairly large proportion of an irrational person's actions by observing patterns in his irrationality. For example, if somebody opposed the toppling of the Taliban and Saddam because he would have preferred "negotiations," it's pretty safe to say that if we proposed the toppling of the Iranian regime, he would also be against that.

A person who doesn't use his mind is governed by his reflexes. That sort of behavior is, by its nature, predictable. :confused:

Truly evil people do use their minds, of course--or one might better say that they abuse their minds. Think of the evil schemes masterminded by Stalin or Hitler or bin Laden. This is the kind of person who chooses not to live--but wants to stay alive so he can take revenge on life. He defends himself from being destroyed, but only in order to be able to maximize the destruction before he dies. The actions of such a person are actually shaped by a goal, only that that goal is a contradictory one. It might be helpful to think of such a person as "anti-rational" rather than simply irrational; he acts like a hockey team determined to shoot as many own goals as possible.

Which means that, once you've figured out the quirks of his thinking, you'll be able to predict him too.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

… the Dark Ages…  a culture of irrationality… a 'society' steeped in blatant irrationality and in which such irrationality had no rational counterpart…

1) What are you defining as the “Dark Ages” and what continent are you on? Presuming the reference to be to Europe in the period AD 400 – 800, you should realise that the Dark Ages aren’t really “dark” any more. The term was invented by Victorian historians who had few written sources to explain this period of history. Over the last hundred years or so many many written sources have come to light, and together with the science of archaeology this has transformed our knowledge of this period. Regarding your reference to King Arthur, the “historical” King Arthur probably lived about 400 to 450, but there is no hard evidence (lots of tantalising clues though, including an ancient wooden cup that might possibly be the original “Holy Grail”).

2) If you actually mean the “Middle Ages” you are in the period 800 – 1477. This is the period that the legendary King Arthur is usually located in, mostly because of the writings of Sir Thomas Malory. Was this an irrational society? It was certainly an extremely well-ordered and generally peaceful society, overwhelmingly agrarian, few towns or cities, with all levels of society living close to the land and interpreting the world around them according to nature and the seasons. In the majority of the written sources they come across as sensible, rational people… and also very happy.

3) What would a medieval student of philosophy think if he were to be transported from the year 1477 and dropped into 2003 among a group of Objectivists at an American university? He would interpret according to the information available to him – and would undoubtedly see the group as a religious cult complete with its god (Ayn Rand), corpus of sacred writings (Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged etc), priests (students studying Objectivism) and congregations of the faithful followers. The idea that Objectivism provides the only truthful view of the world would be dismissed as merely a warped “doctrine of infallibility”.

4) Roughly five hundred and thirty years separates the year 1477 with 2003. If we look ahead to the year 2530, what will they think of our society? They will interpret according to the information available to them, and there is little doubt that they will see us as “a culture of irrationality… a 'society' steeped in blatant irrationality and in which such irrationality had no rational counterpart…”.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Witch hunts ... inquisition ... decade-long wars among feudal kingdoms ... the refusal to bathe and the resulting epidemics ... if that isn't dark enough, I don't know what is.

3)  What would a medieval student of philosophy think if he were to be transported from the year 1477 and dropped into 2003 among a group of Objectivists at an American university?  He would interpret according to the information available to him ? and would undoubtedly see the group as a religious cult complete with its god (Ayn Rand), corpus of sacred writings (Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged etc), priests (students studying Objectivism) and congregations of the faithful followers.  The idea that Objectivism provides the only truthful view of the world would be dismissed as merely a warped ?doctrine of infallibility?.

There is one little difference you forgot--the one relativists always forget--namely, that Objectivism is based on reality, while Medievalism was not.

4)  Roughly five hundred and thirty years separates the year 1477 with 2003.  If we look ahead to the year 2530, what will they think of our society?  They will interpret according to the information available to them, and there is little doubt that they will see us as ?a culture of irrationality? a 'society' steeped in blatant irrationality and in which such irrationality had no rational counterpart??.

I do hope that society will be much more rational in 2530 than now--but today's irrationality is none of the Objectivists' fault!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Your problem is that you can't distinguish objectivity from infallibility. If you want to have a serious discussion on that, I recommend that you (1) first familiarize a little with Objectivist epistemology (there are plenty of resources available on the web) and (2) start a thread on that topic. This thread is about something else.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Andrew, it was called the Dark Ages for a reason. Why do you think the Victorians had no written records of this period of history?

Our quality of life in this current "Age of Irrationality" is significantly higher than even a king would have enjoyed during those times. But if you really think that life was better then, I might suggest that you join an agrarian society. There are still some of them left! Try Africa, I think its your best bet. You don't seem to be happy here.

Why do you think the Victorians had no written records of this period of history?

I'll tell you what a medieval student of philosophy would think if he was transported here. He would think he was in Heaven.

RedCap: The first thought I had when I read your question, was about the need I would have to communicate some of my scientific knowledge, and how I would go about it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

LOL Actually, the idea behind that silly post--using your scientific knowledge to make them fear you--is one worthy of consideration. It is rather risky: They might take you for a witch (or the male equivalent) and burn you alive. But if you do it well and manage to make them fear you too much to even approach you, you might even end up as a "god."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

LOL Actually, the idea behind that silly post--using your scientific knowledge to make them fear you--is one worthy of consideration. It is rather risky: They might take you for a witch (or the male equivalent) and burn you alive. But if you do it well and manage to make them fear you too much to even approach you, you might even end up as a "god."

Reminds me of the scene in Return of the Jedi with C3PO and the Ewoks. ;) (I knew I'd eventually be able to put that "nerd" emoticon to good use!)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...