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Hi, I just finished reading Chapter 1 of 'The Virtue of Selfishness' and had some thoughts I hoped you guys and gals could comment on. I apologise as I have only the PDF version and can not give exact qoutes, but all of this is from VOS.

1. Ayn Rand begins by talking about the differences of life and non-life, aswell as the values of early man, much of which I disagree with, for the following reasons -

A She states that the functions of life form will always be to ensure survival. From what little of biology I know, the 'purpose' of life is reproductive success of a species, not the survival of the indivdual. This is why giants of the feild such as Richard Dawkins speak of genes being bent on moving to the next generation, often causing the host organism to perform harmfull actions to 'have at it with the cute one'. The exact same could be said of humanity, we are biologically driven to think of reproduction as a major priority.

She gets out of this however by stressing our reason sees in the long term so we can see past our need for reproduction. I would say this is true, at least when we have a low blood/alchohol level.

B She seems to make a few more minor mistakes aswell. She makes comments along the lines that the higher animals can not learn new knowledge or invent new knowledge on their own. To my knowledge scientists have been able to greatly enhance the minds of chimpanzees with language, and have also proven that they can create tools independantly. Language being defined as a few dozen symbols and tools being defined as sticks, but the point remains.

C As I mentioned in an earlier thread, Rand begins by stressing survival as the ultimate choice and source of values. She says that for men, the source of survival, in a primitive state, is reason and production. Now this is definatly false. History has shown that in ancient societies it was the rich, useless individual who lived with the greatest abundance. Using nothing but shear brutish force to keep this place.

She brings up, from what I could see, two counters -

Living as a brute is not honourable, not becoming of a human - Nice try, but living without honour and surviving are two different things.

It will lead to the end of nations for leaders to behave this way - Again, it is the individual's survival, not a nation's survival at issue.

D She seems to mistake the nature of cognition. It is something hard wired into our mind, we look for patterns and logic even down at the subconcious level. It is a natural, automatic trait, the idea is for us to choose to make it the dominant trait.

Next she moves out of questions about nature and moves straight into ethics. This is when I started seeing things happen. She seemed to take everything that I knew had to be in an ethic but couldn't quite put together and find a pretty solid system.

She brings up the idea that values are the foundation of morality and that the first value is the one that ensures survival. She then asks sarcastically, 'where is the is-ought gap now?'

My first reaction was simply to say 'we must do X for survival therefore it is moral, nice try Rand, but no'. Then I re-read her, she was talking about using moral language as a discription for the good values - virtue ethics. Virtue Ethics just happened to be the plave I KNEW morality HAD to come from, but could never really 'make it click together', it was here I really buckled down.

A She talks about emotion and value, in this she is dead on right, no need to say more.

B When she began to talk about production I realised she was taking everything I liked about Marx but dudging the more outlandish aspects of his work. The idea that all real relationships have an economic base was dead on, the idea that all rights to property come from labour dead on, the idea that those who choose not to work are less value than those who do, dead on. There are communist (read, labour oriented) principals all over Objectivism. In Atlas Shrugged, she gives the clear impression she sees the railroad engineers to be of a higher order than the billionaire playboy.

I had avoided any real commitment to Marx because of his excesses, Rand has just laid out a kind of redeemed Marxism; although I'm sure she'd cringe at the label :pirate:

C Well, let me summarise, mostly everything else she said was right to.

Earlier I had thrown you guys off by saying things like 'Moral Technology'. What I meant was seeing morality not as something in itself, but as a means to an end. See that stuff I summarised from Rand, what she said? That is what I meant, only refined, codified, and given a name.

Please, any and all thoughts are greatly appreciated.

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Hi, I just finished reading Chapter 1 of 'The Virtue of Selfishness' and had some thoughts I hoped you guys and gals could comment on. I apologise as I have only the PDF version and can not give exact qoutes, but all of this is from VOS.

1. Ayn Rand begins by talking about the differences of life and non-life, aswell as the values of early man, much of which I disagree with, for the following reasons -

A She states that the functions of life form will always be to ensure survival. From what little of biology I know, the 'purpose' of life is reproductive success of a species, not the survival of the indivdual. This is why giants of the feild such as Richard Dawkins speak of genes being bent on moving to the next generation, often causing the host organism to perform harmfull actions to 'have at it with the cute one'. The exact same could be said of humanity, we are biologically driven to think of reproduction as a major priority.

She gets out of this however by stressing our reason sees in the long term so we can see past our need for reproduction. I would say this is true, at least when we have a low blood/alchohol level.

B She seems to make a few more minor mistakes aswell. She makes comments along the lines that the higher animals can not learn new knowledge or invent new knowledge on their own. To my knowledge scientists have been able to greatly enhance the minds of chimpanzees with language, and have also proven that they can create tools independantly. Language being defined as a few dozen symbols and tools being defined as sticks, but the point remains.

C As I mentioned in an earlier thread, Rand begins by stressing survival as the ultimate choice and source of values. She says that for men, the source of survival, in a primitive state, is reason and production. Now this is definatly false. History has shown that in ancient societies it was the rich, useless individual who lived with the greatest abundance. Using nothing but shear brutish force to keep this place.

She brings up, from what I could see, two counters -

Living as a brute is not honourable, not becoming of a human - Nice try, but living without honour and surviving are two different things.

It will lead to the end of nations for leaders to behave this way - Again, it is the individual's survival, not a nation's survival at issue.

D She seems to mistake the nature of cognition. It is something hard wired into our mind, we look for patterns and logic even down at the subconcious level. It is a natural, automatic trait, the idea is for us to choose to make it the dominant trait.

Next she moves out of questions about nature and moves straight into ethics. This is when I started seeing things happen. She seemed to take everything that I knew had to be in an ethic but couldn't quite put together and find a pretty solid system.

She brings up the idea that values are the foundation of morality and that the first value is the one that ensures survival. She then asks sarcastically, 'where is the is-ought gap now?'

My first reaction was simply to say 'we must do X for survival therefore it is moral, nice try Rand, but no'. Then I re-read her, she was talking about using moral language as a discription for the good values - virtue ethics. Virtue Ethics just happened to be the plave I KNEW morality HAD to come from, but could never really 'make it click together', it was here I really buckled down.

A She talks about emotion and value, in this she is dead on right, no need to say more.

B When she began to talk about production I realised she was taking everything I liked about Marx but dudging the more outlandish aspects of his work. The idea that all real relationships  have an economic base was dead on, the idea that all rights to property come from labour dead on, the idea that those who choose not to work are less value than those who do, dead on. There are communist (read, labour oriented) principals all over Objectivism. In Atlas Shrugged, she gives the clear impression she sees the railroad engineers to be of a higher order than the billionaire playboy.

I had avoided any real commitment to Marx because of his excesses, Rand has just laid out a kind of redeemed Marxism; although I'm sure she'd cringe at the label :pirate:

C Well, let me summarise, mostly everything else she said was right to.

Earlier I had thrown you guys off by saying things like 'Moral Technology'. What I meant was seeing morality not as something in itself, but as a means to an end. See that stuff I summarised from Rand, what she said? That is what I meant, only refined, codified, and given a name.

Please, any and all thoughts are greatly appreciated.

GWDS-- Do you smoke crack before you begin to read? To find any parallel WHATSOEVER between Objectivism and Communism you must have. I'll leave it to others who are more interested to pick your nonsense apart.

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The purpose of a proper morality is happiness (a non-contradictory state of joy)- not merely survival. When Ayn Rand says that a man's own life should be his ultimate standard of value, she is refering to both the preservation and enhancement of his life. It's possible to make irrational decisions, to hold contradictory principles, and still survive. It is not possible to do so and still be truly happy (see page 8 of the Atheist thread for a more in-depth explaination of this).

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I see the parallel you're noticing with the marxist labor theory of value, GWDS. The "good" element being that economic calculation is dependant on the individual: i.e. thing are "of value" to a person, not "of value" as intrinsic. Of course, the Marxist theory is terribly flawed otherwise, since it does not recognize the function of the mind in creating value. It attempts to explain it without reference to the mind or creation of something MORE valuable and so you see such nonsense as zero-sum-game economics.

My advice is that Miss Rand actually explains the answers you are looking for and the flaws you think you see. And she does it better than I could. Keep reading and let her do it. :pirate:

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Your problem is a definition by non-essentials.

The idea that all real relationships  have an economic base was dead on

I don't recall ever reading where either Marx or Ayn Rand said that all relationships have an economic base. Was Marx refering to "exploitive" capitalism when he said that?

the idea that all rights to property come from labour dead on

This is one issue that other Objectivists may disagree with me on. I believe that economic scarcity necessitates property rights. (Oddly enough, I once told this to another Objectivist and he challenged me to name a single credible economist who ever wrote that scarcity necessitates property.) Being that property rights are necessary, it is most reasonable that the person who first mixes his labor with previously un-owned raw material have a claim of ownership over his product.

Nevertheless, Ayn Rand and Marx don't have the same stance on this issue. Ayn Rand doesn't think that if you work all day in somebody's factory to make a product, that you have some kind of intrinsic claim of ownership over the products, or deserve the market value of the products from your employer.

the idea that those who choose not to work are less value than those who do

Like I said- definition by non-essentials. I'm sure Hitler would also agree that people who choose not to work are less valuable than those who do. This isn't evidence of Ayn Rand being a fascist.

There are communist (read, labour oriented) principals all over Objectivism.

Really? Well why don't you name some, then?

Where does she say that property shouldn't be privately owned? Where does she say that commodities have an intrinsic (as opposed to an objective) market value that is derived from the amount of labor required to create the commodity? Where does she swap the trader-principle for a "for each according to his need"? These are the essentials of communism.

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Somehow I realised you would have no idea.

Can you read RO?

Have you ever even read Marx?

Nice try at argument from intimidation fella. :pirate: It's not that I can't pick apart what you said in your first post but that I choose not to, it's pointless. If you continue your study of Objectivism you will eventually understand why your statements are wrong. I will say this, though, all your arguments proceeded from the flawed premise that survival is the starting premise for Objectivism's ethics. This is false. It is actually man's life qua man. There is a big difference. Learn it. Understand it and your opinion of Objectivism will almost certainly improve.

Also, before making allegations about someone's reading ability maybe you should go back and check the spelling and grammar in most of your posts, let alone some of the illogical statements you make. Don't think because I choose to hold back without making long posts that I don't have the ability to run intellectual circles around you at any time I so choose.

I've read the Communist Manifesto and other snippets of Marx here and there.

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Oy. Once again, a BS arguement over nothing. Let me speak more slowly so that you can hear me this time.

1. Marx beleived all social relationships have an economic base. The supposed exploitive relationship of capitalism is just one of these relationships. As is the relationship between husband and wife in previous ages, as is the relationship between a commisar and the workers, as is the general and his men.

This was the basis for everything else he said. Property, wages, and revolution were derived from this.

Read that twice, because I'm not going to be forced to repeat myself half a dozen times for people again. Actually, read it three times.

Now, let me qoute Miss Rand for you -

"The principle of trade is the only rational ethical principle for all human relationships, personal and social, private and public, spiritual and material." Page 27 VOS

Hmm. Sound similar to me.

Being that property rights are necessary, it is most reasonable that the person who first mixes his labor with previously un-owned raw material have a claim of ownership over his product.
So you would agree with Rand, Marx, Locke, and myself here? Excellant.

I'm sure Hitler would also agree that people who choose not to work are less valuable than those who do. This isn't evidence of Ayn Rand being a fascist.

Okay, so I called Rand a marxist? No, I did not.

Really? Well why don't you name some, then?

I did, read a post now and then. But, I'll repeat myself because I like you, okay?

1. The emphasis on economics. Economic relationships form the basis of politics and ethics for both Rand and Marx. This can not be said for many others. Hitler stressed race, Jefferson individual rights, Ben Gurion nationalism, the Pope religion.

2. The portrayel of the honest worker versus the parasite in Atlas Shrugged. Dagny and the track engineers contrasted with Jim and the other playboy. Economics and the worth of labour are emphasised more in Rand then in any non communist literature.

3. Rand and Marx beleive that self worth is largely economic in origin.

4. Both beleive that 'Reason' will take one from a religous to a more economic understanding of life. Very few other major thinkers make these points.

Am I saying they agree on wages, property rights, class warfare, and other topics?

No.

Am I saying they are alike because economics are stressed more than in any other major system and therefore have much in common - more than they do with other systems?

Yes.

Edit - Rational One, it would be a waste of time trying to post. You read some snippets of the manifesto? Great, that makes you a scholar on Marx. You're on my ignore list so replying to my post is a waste of your keyboard.

Edited by GWDS
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No I read the whole Manifesto and some other snippets. And I just went to page 27 of VOS and your quote does not exist. While Miss Rand states in other places that only the trader principle is the appropriate mean of exchange between men, I don't think she ever made the statement you attribute to her.

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First of all- the discussions on these forums operate at a higher level of maturity. If you don't want to be simply brushed off as a troll, then I suggest you not act like a child. Don't be needlessly rude to me after I took the time to attempt to clear up your confusion, which you claimed you would "appreciate."

Oy. Once again, a BS arguement over nothing.

It's a BS argument over nothing? You do realize that you created this thread, right?

Let me speak more slowly so that you can hear me this time.

I read everything you said. As I said- you are defining "Objectivism" and "Communism" by their non-essential attributes, instead of their essential ones. I didn't deny that there are similarities between Ayn Rand and Karl Marx. However, none of the similarities you point out prove that "There are communist principals all over Objectivism."[sic]

I did, read a post now and then. But, I'll repeat myself because I like you, okay?

What I was hinting at, and what you apparently didn't grasp, was that- although you listed similarities between Karl Marx and Ayn Rand, the similarities were not in regard to the essentials of their philosophies. I wasn't asking you to simply repeat everything you said, as if repetition validates the argument. I was hoping that, the second time around, you'd take my corrections into account.

Am I saying they are alike because economics are stressed more than in any other major system and therefore have much in common - more than they do with other systems?

Yes.

You and I apparently have drastically different opinions on what constitues categorizing two philosophies as being "alike."

I don't think that the fact that both Ayn Rand and Karl Marx stressed economics proves that their philosophies "have much in common." I see this as being equivalent to concluding that (for example) the philosophies of two people are alike, premised only by the fact that they both consider a certain peice of artwork to be good.

Edit: Added the missing "you" in the second sentence of the response.

Edited by Cole
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And I just went to page 27 of VOS and your quote does not exist. While Miss Rand states in other places that only the trader principle is the appropriate mean of exchange between men, I don't think she ever made the statement you attribute to her.

She did. It's on Page 28. :whistle:

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She did.  It's on Page 28.  :whistle:

Well. She didn't where he said she did. We can't have people mislabeling page numbers on this forum. :)

Edited to correct spelling. By the way this was meant to be a joke, note the smiley.

Edited by Rational_One
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...the idea that ALL rights to property come from labour dead on...

Ok, first of all, How much context dropping did you have to go through in order to find similarities between Objectivism and Marxism? If we go by non-essentials, and context dropping, then we can make all the philosophies of the world appear the same--after all, the are all 'philosophies'--which makes them all similar.

Anyway, I am new to Objectivism too, but from the little reading I have done, I have to disagree with that satement. In Objectivism, rights to property do not come from labor as such--Fundamentally there is only one right (right to life), from which all others follow. The right to property exists as a necessary, and logical implementation of the right to life.

Ayn Rand defines Life as "a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action", therefore the right to life translates into an individual's freedom to take all actions necessary for the achievement, sustenance and futhereance of his life and happiness. And as a human being's life has to be sustained by values, which have to be achieved by his own effort, therefore the right to life cannot be divorced from the right to property, i.e.; the freedom to gain, keep and dispose of the products of one's labor.

My point is: the right to property is a logical, necessary derivative of the right to life--not of labor as such.

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Nope, checked my PDF, page 27.

Could be we have different versions. But anyway I'm getting tired of being accosted by you guys.

Yeah, you have a pirated version, I do not, and I doubt anyone else on this forum does either. You know, using a *stolen* copy of VOS is not exactly the best way to learn the Objectivist ethics, but I guess since you haven't read it, you wouldn't know. :)

Umm, didn't someone already point out to you that you started this thread? If you don't want to be *accosted* then why start making assertations like Ayn Rand was similar to Karl Marx. I for one have heard the "Ayn Rand was a facist" argument too many times to be overly pleased with such a statement. :whistle:

Anyway...

Living as a brute is not honourable, not becoming of a human - Nice try, but living without honour and surviving are two different things.

It will lead to the end of nations for leaders to behave this way - Again, it is the individual's survival, not a nation's survival at issue.

What happens when the *brute* is on a desert island? He will not think, all he can do is use physical force. He probably won't live very long. Ayn Rand did not mean that an individual in today's society cannot live without using their mind, what she was saying was that a *brute* feeds off the people who do use their minds, and if they dissapeared, so would the brute, but not the other way around. Lets put it this way: If all technology and all other people *poof* vanished tonight, how far do you think you'd get tomorrow without thinking at all. Yeah, didn't think so. That is the point.

I had avoided any real commitment to Marx because of his excesses, Rand has just laid out a kind of redeemed Marxism; although I'm sure she'd cringe at the label
Umm, that is like saying that I practice *redeemed* Christianity because I believe it is wrong to steal, but don't commit to any of its *excesses.* (belief in God, altruism, etc.) I've read the first sentence or two of the Communist Manifesto. That was enough. Something about man's sole purpose being to toil for the collective or some such trash. Sounds like something right out of Anthem. *gag*
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Here this is taking from OPAR page 352.

"The right to life means the right to sustain and protect one's life. It means ther right to take all the actions requird by the nature of the rational being for the preservation of his life. To sustain his life, man needs a method of survival--he must use his rational falculty to gain knowledge and choose values, then act to achieve his values. The right to liberty is the right to this method; it is the right to think and choose, then act in accordance with one's judgemnt. To sustain his life, man needs to create the material means of his survival. The right to property is the right to this process; in Ayn Rand's definition, it is, "the right to gain, to keep, to use and to dispose of material values. To sustain his life, man needs to be governed by a certain motive--his purpose must be is own welfare. The right to the pursuit of happiness is the right to this motive; it is the right to live for one's own sake and fulfillment."

Or in a more stylistic way of saying it a sample from a now dead peice of writing i was working on.

The right, which allows a person the means to sustain his life, is the right to property. The right to property means that a man can create, buy or sell his property as he sees fit. The right to property is the governing right that allows a man to live. A man must build or buy a home to protect him from the elements. A man must produce or buy his food to keep him healthy and nourished. A man has a right to his property for it is this right that keeps him alive. This right, the right to property, is a corollary to the right to life with the right to life being the head that all the other three rights flow from.

Edited by Richard Roark
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I can't quite see how that would work, what about the property of the government or corporations for example.

In Rand's veiw, what would we do with say the lands currently used by police stations?

Corporations are privately owned by each stock holder, they are not public property.

Police stations and other such places that are the result of a proper government are government property not "public" property.

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Christ, people, what's wrong with looking for parallels with other philosophers? It's not as if he said it's an essential parallel! Now, granted, I think it's a false parallel, but take it easy.

Also, GWDS, if indeed you are using an illegal version of Virtue of Selfishness, please go to the store and buy a copy. It will make you less of a thief.

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A She states that the functions of life form will always be to ensure survival. From what little of biology I know, the 'purpose' of life is reproductive success of a species, not the survival of the indivdual.

This is not a debate I want to get into on this forum, but here are some questions for you to consider on your own. What facts of living organisms support the view that they automatically pursue their own lives? What facts of living organisms suggest they pursue reproduction? Is it possible that organisms pursue both of these? If so, is one of them primary? (This issue is addressed in detail in Harry Binswanger's Biological Basis of Teleological Concepts: http://www.aynrandbookstore2.com/store/pro...item=1&mitem=1)

She makes comments along the lines that the higher animals can not learn new knowledge or invent new knowledge on their own. To my knowledge scientists have been able to greatly enhance the minds of chimpanzees with language, and have also proven that they can create tools independantly.
This has been addressed elsewhere on this forum. Even so, it is not essential to Ayn Rand's argument in VOS.

As I mentioned in an earlier thread, Rand begins by stressing survival as the ultimate choice and source of values. She says that for men, the source of survival, in a primitive state, is reason and production. Now this is definatly false. History has shown that in ancient societies it was the rich, useless individual who lived with the greatest abundance. Using nothing but shear brutish force to keep this place.

There are a number of problems with this. Here are some questions to think about. Is material wealth the same thing as living successfully? The ancient societies you are referring to were collectivist, statist societies. Would Ayn Rand expect her morality to apply the same way in Ancient Egypt as she would expect it to apply in a free country? Finally, where did all the food in your ancient societies come from? Men had to invent methods of agriculture. Isn't that an achievement of reason?

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