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TruthSeeker946

Do Objectivists truly believe Objectivism will ever be more than a philosophy of the few?

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1 hour ago, TruthSeeker946 said:

Correct, but it should be cause for pause; for doubt, especially in this case due to the staggering observations in different times and places. 

I mentioned homosexuality earlier. It’s been observed throughout different ages and peoples, even in animals, and now we know there is at least some substantial biological basis to it. Rand thought it was just down to the wrong premises. She was wrong. 

I think we should seriously consider the possibility that man has biological “inclinations” in other areas too, lying, stealing, irrational selfishness, irrational aggressiveness, favourably responding to collectivism, mysticism, the religious impulse etc. 

Yes we may ultimately have volition, but the desires, or bias toward these behaviours may be too powerful for reason alone to constrain them (i.e trying to rationally convince them that 1. Stealing is wrong and 2. Not to do it) and that other methods are more effective like the threat of punishment.

(Yes, they are employing reason to determine that theft is not worth the punishment but this is different because it is only being used as a means to discovering the end; punishment in the real world - prison, fine etc - whereas the former has no real world consequence)

(As quoted earlier, Rand herself expressed doubt about the power of reason regarding the rehabilitation of criminals)

Also mentioned before were the differences between men and women and the biological basis for masculinity and femininity. Men on average are more aggressive and disagreeable. The trends of behaviour in both sexes is not just down to their premises.

I’m sure the biological basis for behaviour varies wildly from individual to individual but collectively the result is specific trends of behaviour which continually appear in whichever age or peoples we look at. 

To the extent that that’s true, I am arguing that due to certain biological factors, man has within him a bias toward certain philosophies over others resulting in the trends we see all around us. 

Man has to choose reason, he has to choose to focus. That is a fundamental starting point for Objectivism. And yet, in swathes of his life throughout time he chooses not to reason. Why? Objectivism has no answer. It just is. 

And even when he does choose reason (by this I mean choose to exercise it to a substantial degree in his life, including of course in deciding his philosophy), he comes to wildly different conclusions to other men who also exercise reason. 

Yes but the problem is Rand has an overly idealistic vision of the foundation of the US. Many of the founders had a fatalistic view of man, like Madison, and it wasn’t much of a radical revolution, more of a preservation and continuation of British freedoms and principles (separation of powers). It didn’t descend into chaos like it did with the French partly because of the continuation of customs, institutions, chains of command etc that were established in the US before the revolution and imported from Britain. The French sought to tear everything up and start again. The Americans sought to preserve.

To borrow, and paraphrase from the subject matter of your dissertation here:

Those who're making an effort to fail to understand [Ayn Rand] are not a concern of mine.

While you might yet demonstrate error on my behalf to this point, so far, you are only underscoring this tactic to me.

 

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There's a lot of content you posted, and I feel like have discussed it before with you, so I'm just going to address the things I think will be most productive. Don't interpret that as I have nothing to say. 

2 hours ago, TruthSeeker946 said:

To what extent do ideas, as opposed to his nature, shape the world and man? How constrained is he by his nature? What are his limits? 

There is no difference here. It is man's nature to operate by his ideas, regardless of how bad those ideas are, and biological and psychological mechanisms are the means in which this happens. 

2 hours ago, TruthSeeker946 said:

If this isn’t so, then to what extent is it not so? Observations of man in the real world suggest it isn’t so to quite a large degree.

I don't see how. Your single example was in fact an example of a wrong premise. Having a wrong premise does not necessarily mean that reasoning with them is the correction. Fixing drug addiction can't be done with reasoning, and requires more hands-on manipulation of emotional triggers that an addict sees. Yet the addictive behaviors still originate from that premises ("I can just use a little bit of cocaine and I'll be perfectly fine" his Harley sensible and can be exacerbated by poor ways of thinking as in bad premises). But you aren't being careful enough. The things you're talking about are still psychology. Innate inclinations is a psychological explanation. In other words, you don't know what you're talking about.

2 hours ago, TruthSeeker946 said:

But then you’re endorsing a specific worldview in which compromise, realpolitik etc is right and proper.

I don't believe that realpolitik is compromise. It's a version of pragmatic considerations to attain desirable policy goals. If that's not what you mean by realpolitik, then forget I said that. But this is what I'm referring to. By work with, I mean finding if there is any common political ground, without expectation that in the long run they will remain political allies. 

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On 12/19/2019 at 12:31 PM, TruthSeeker946 said:

I’m speaking from my general knowledge about history.

No, you're not. You're speaking from your general ignorance. History shows mankind, over time, becoming more objective and scientific, more rational and logical, more selfish and good, and more capitalistic and successful. There are periods of terrible mistakes and mass death, but generally we've learned from those dark times and have progressed as a species. We've gone from the cave to outer space, and from grunting to singing our thoughts. And here you proclaim man to be generally irrational. What nonsense!

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9 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

To borrow, and paraphrase from the subject matter of your dissertation here:

Those who're making an effort to fail to understand [Ayn Rand] are not a concern of mine.

While you might yet demonstrate error on my behalf to this point, so far, you are only underscoring this tactic to me.

 

Suit yourself. I’m not going to try to persuade you to engage with the arguments. I’ve put them forward and they stand on their own merit. If you change your mind, I’ll engage with your responses. 

9 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Don't interpret that as I have nothing to say. 

Fair enough. 

Quote

There is no difference here. It is man's nature to operate by his ideas, regardless of how bad those ideas are, and biological and psychological mechanisms are the means in which this happens.

What do you mean there is no difference? I’m searching for the limits of our nature. I agree these things ultimately manifest themselves psychologically. 

Quote

Having a wrong premise does not necessarily mean that reasoning with them is the correction. Fixing drug addiction can't be done with reasoning, and requires more hands-on manipulation of emotional triggers that an addict sees. Yet the addictive behaviors still originate from that premises ("I can just use a little bit of cocaine and I'll be perfectly fine" his Harley sensible and can be exacerbated by poor ways of thinking as in bad premises). But you aren't being careful enough. The things you're talking about are still psychology. Innate inclinations is a psychological explanation. In other words, you don't know what you're talking about.

I don’t deny they manifest themselves psychologically. Ultimately one has to mentally process the action of lying, stealing, killing etc before they do it. 

The point is to what extent are there deterministic elements in man’s nature, or at least a biological bias toward, certain behaviours that then manifest themselves psychologically with the desire to lie, steal, be irrational, choose mysticism etc? And to what extent is reason alone an antidote to these tendencies? 

Yes the addict says “just a little more, I’ll be fine” and acts on that belief but is there a biological bias toward accepting that premise over other premises? 

A homosexual ultimately has to make the decision to take part in homosexual activity but there is a biological bias which manifests itself in a desire to take part in those acts. 

Also could you expand on your explanation about the limits of reason to deal with addicts?. And also to what extent, therefore, is reason alone an effective method for changing human behaviour?

Quote

I don't believe that realpolitik is compromise. It's a version of pragmatic considerations to attain desirable policy goals. If that's not what you mean by realpolitik, then forget I said that. But this is what I'm referring to. By work with, I mean finding if there is any common political ground, without expectation that in the long run they will remain political allies. 

RealPolitik is definitely about compromise.     But once you find there is common political ground, what ought you do to? I’ll have to see if I can find Rand’s response to this question. 

7 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

No, you're not. You're speaking from your general ignorance. History shows mankind, over time, becoming more objective and scientific, more rational and logical, more selfish and good, and more capitalistic and successful. There are periods of terrible mistakes and mass death, but generally we've learned from those dark times and have progressed as a species. We've gone from the cave to outer space, and from grunting to singing our thoughts. And here you proclaim man to be generally irrational. What nonsense!

In the home of the enlightenment and capitalism, the western world, the 20th century experienced a staggering expansion in the size of government.

The 80s enjoyed a brief resistance to that trend but it didn’t reverse it. We remain a highly statist world and the 19th century remains the high point for capitalism.

Of course technology will keep progressing in a semi-free society but imagine where we’d be had we retained the small state of the 1800s. The idea we’re more capitalistic is absurd, certainly for the west. 

Also religion is growing worldwide and in the west. The more rational part of the human species is dying off, currently being outbred by the more irrational. 

6 hours ago, 2046 said:

Umm what? You do realize that Sowell passage is affirming the same point Rand is making about political philosophers premises leading to certain conclusions?

Yes and there’s nothing wrong with the idea that conclusions derive from premises. But to what extent are we predisposed to favour certain premises? 

Why do we so often choose short term activities that are harmful in the long run, even though we know it’s harmful? Reason may account for some of this behaviour, but all of it? 

The passage is pointing out that our conception of the nature of man is fundamental to our conclusions. 

And I don’t think Objectivism has a strong enough understanding of the nature of man. 

This can be expressed in two ways:

1. It has the wrong premises 

2. It has ignored crucial premises. 

Consider the following two premises: 

1. Reason alone is an effective method for changing human behaviour. 

2. Reason alone is not an effective method for changing human behaviour. 

These two premises lead to radically different conclusions about how society ought to be run and what philosophy one should advocate. 

So what’s your view?

Why do people continually not choose reason, preferring to act on whim and emotion?

Are temptations to some degree innate? 

How effective is reason in convincing them to change course?

Is there a biological bias toward Nietsche’s will to power which manifests itself to different degrees in different people? 

Sowell also says: 

“It would be good to be able to say that we should dispense with visions entirely, and deal only with reality. But that may be the most utopian vision of all. Reality is far too complex to be comprehended by any given mind. Visions are like maps that guide us through a tangle of bewildering complexities. Like maps, visions have to leave out many concrete features in order to enable us to focus on a few key paths to our goals. Visions are indispensable—but dangerous, precisely to the extent that we confuse them with reality itself. What has been deliberately neglected may not in fact turn out to be negligible in its effect on the results. That has to be tested against evidence. A vision has been described as a “pre-analytic cognitive act.” It is what we sense or feel before we have constructed any systematic reasoning that could be called a theory, much less deduced any specific consequences as hypotheses to be tested against evidence. A vision is our sense of how the world works.” 

And:

“No matter what vision we build on, it will never account for “every sparrow’s fall.” Social visions especially must leave many important phenomena unexplained, or explained only in ad hoc fashion, or by inconsistent assumptions that derive from more than one vision. The purest vision may not be the basis of the most impressive theories, much less the most valid ones. Yet purer visions may be more revealing as to unspoken premises than are the more complex theories.”

And: 

“A vision, as the term is used here, is not a dream, a hope, a prophecy, or a moral imperative, though any of these things may ultimately derive from some particular vision. Here a vision is a sense of causation. It is more like a hunch or a “gut feeling” than it is like an exercise in logic or factual verification. These things come later, and feed on the raw material provided by the vision. If causation proceeds as our vision conceives it to, then certain other consequences follow, and theory is the working out of what those consequences are.”

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8 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

No, you're not. You're speaking from your general ignorance. History shows mankind, over time, becoming more objective and scientific, more rational and logical, more selfish and good, and more capitalistic and successful. There are periods of terrible mistakes and mass death, but generally we've learned from those dark times and have progressed as a species. We've gone from the cave to outer space, and from grunting to singing our thoughts. And here you proclaim man to be generally irrational. What nonsense!

The upward trajectory, in the most general terms, is what you say. Which doesn't predict anything about mankind's immediate prospects. 

It's like the arguments for how much we've progressed due to technology. Such hi-tech can be applied to our downfall as much as to our upliftment. 

Which leads straight back to the original question. How much influence can this philosophy wield over those who refuse a rational, individualist philosophy? 

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15 minutes ago, whYNOT said:

The upward trajectory, in the most general terms, is what you say. Which doesn't predict anything about mankind's immediate prospects. 

It's like the arguments for how much we've progressed due to technology. Such hi-tech can be applied to our downfall as much as to our upliftment. 

Which leads straight back to the original question. How much influence can this philosophy wield over those who refuse a rational, individualist philosophy? 

Good point about technology and thank you - I’m glad someone else here appreciates this issue.

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1 hour ago, TruthSeeker946 said:

This is delusional. I’m confident that even most Objectivists would disagree with this. 

Those Objectivists (whoever they are) should read Bradley Thompson's recent book America's Revolutionary Mind, then. It demonstrates in detail that the ideas driving the American Revolution were in essence highly similar to Ayn Rand's philosophy.

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1 hour ago, TruthSeeker946 said:

Good point about technology and thank you - I’m glad someone else here appreciates this issue.

Sure. Of all places, in Rand's opening to her art manifesto: 
"The physical sciences are still ruled by some remnants of a rational epistemology (which is rapidly being destroyed), but the humanities have been virtually abandoned to the primitive epistemology of mysticism". 

By "mysticism" one can take to mean the full spread: Rand's very apt mystics of muscle and the mystics of spirit, one, the deniers of man's mind, the skeptics or neo-mystics - in the same boat as believers in man's Soul. While not mutually exclusive, these are the broad categories in the present "humanities". Altogether, mysticism against reality and reason, is the essential adversary of Objectivism, and it won't die off any time soon. For that I think there won't be an Objectivist society. By its nature, it is each individual and an independent mind who recognises and chooses to take benefit from the philosophy, it apparently doesn't appeal to those looking for crowd-acceptance. What IS achievable in future and worth aiming for with O'ist influence, is the personal freedom gained by an individual rights society. Every human has enough rationality to be gradually persuaded of that (but not yet). 

Edited by whYNOT

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3 hours ago, TruthSeeker946 said:

The point is to what extent are there deterministic elements in man’s nature, or at least a biological bias toward, certain behaviours that then manifest themselves psychologically with the desire to lie, steal, be irrational, choose mysticism etc? 

You said "as opposed to his nature", so I'm saying that how his ideas shape the world and himself (which of course relate to how these ideas come to form, which relates to how this occurs neuroscientifically and biologically) is the same as asking how his nature affects these things. I'm not sure why you even phrase it this way, Rand talks about man's nature so often. Psychological limitations are perfectly fine to talk about. Same with biological limitations. The problem is that the way you talk about these things is vague enough that they sound like objections without saying anything about how they prevent, deny, or stand against rational thinking. Before I explain how psychological biases can be used properly and reason doesn't have to falter, I want to see what you think about this part first.

There isn't any research of biological bias towards accepting premises. Not only that, what even is a biological bias? There are psychological biases, sure, but they aren't deterministic (lacking cognitive influence). Psychological biases are more like common errors that are easy to fall into because of the way the mind works, rather than mental events that you can't help from occurring that helplessly result in an action. I'm fine if you call them biological factors. You'd be hard-pressed to find any evidence that the biology alone biases your action, partly because you're talking about complex decisions that require deliberate conscious thought for them to even occur. 


Yes, there are known genetic factors to homosexuality, and sure this probably creates a tendency toward certain actions (because who knows, maybe it influences the way neurotransmitters are released), but says nothing at all about decision-making. 

The limits of reason as a method for dealing with curing addicts isn't to say all we are left with is brutishness or lying. Art therapy and music therapy can have an impact. Having them talk openly about their emotions requires no reasoning on your part, yet it still helps them. Sometimes it's just reorganizing their routine. The reason you need to do it this way is that their brains are damaged from substances, or their brains processes of releasing neurotransmitters are screwed up so much that this changes how rewarding things feel. Treatment is almost like restructuring the mind so that it can function as it is meant to. I can't directly reason with the person when the means of their reasoning is damaged. 

3 hours ago, TruthSeeker946 said:

But once you find there is common political ground, what ought you do to?

It completely depends on what the political issue is. If you want to talk about it, you'll need to give me a specific political issue in a specific country or between two countries.
 

Edited by Eiuol
Clarification

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There are folk who focus on Aristotle's errors in attempts to impugn his accomplishment. Rand brushes them aside as irrelevant in her lead essay in For The New Intellectual"

But Aristotle's philosophy was the intellect's Declaration of Independence. Aristotle, the father of logic, should be given the title of the world's first intellectual, in the purest and noblest sense of that word. No matter what remnants of Platonism did exist in Aristotle's system, his incomparable achievement lay in the fact that he defined the basic principles of a rational view of existence and of man's consciousness: that there is only one reality, the one which man perceives—that it exists as an objective absolute (which means: independently of the consciousness, the wishes or the feelings of any perceiver)—that the task of man's consciousness is to perceive, not to create, reality—that abstractions are man's method of integrating his sensory material—that man's mind is his only tool of knowledge—that A is A.

In an earlier acknowledgement an intro to Atlas Shrugged she added:

The only philosophical debt I can acknowledge is to Aristotle. I most emphatically disagree with a great many parts of his philosophy—but his definition of the laws of logic and of the means of human knowledge is so great an achievement that his errors are irrelevant by comparison. You will find my tribute to him in the titles of the three parts of ATLAS SHRUGGED.

Her upbraid of Aristotle was not used to tear him down, rather to demonstrate the foundations of what he provided for her.

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946, America and the world are not going to ever adopt full freedom according with Rand's theory of individual rights and proper, limited function of government; or full freedom as drafted under any other libertarian, limited government theory. It will not matter how far people become rational (apparently, in the last 500 years in the West, they have become more rational on average) or how much they are manipulated by freedom lovers by irrational appeals. Such an understanding and care for freedom that Objectivists have will not be happening. In America we are going to have a mixed economy, Social Security, and Medicare even through the lives of our grandchildren.

I discourage young people from becoming consumed with political or other social causes. The present American situation is no excuse for not successfully making a good life for yourself. Just shed the grip of public affairs, and get on with making a pile of money, seeing the world, or accumulating and reading a private library with the size and heft of mine. No social excuses.

Rand has helped many to their personal liberation, and how many others can be helped to that liberation of reason is secondary even when focus is simply on the other's own personal well-being. When the focus is on influencing politics or culture, the proper attitude is suspicion that one is losing one's focus on what should matter most.

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1 hour ago, TruthSeeker946 said:

Yes and there’s nothing wrong with the idea that conclusions derive from premises. But to what extent are we predisposed to favour certain premises? 

Why do we so often choose short term activities that are harmful in the long run, even though we know it’s harmful? Reason may account for some of this behaviour, but all of it? 

The passage is pointing out that our conception of the nature of man is fundamental to our conclusions. 

And I don’t think Objectivism has a strong enough understanding of the nature of man. 

This can be expressed in two ways:

1. It has the wrong premises 

2. It has ignored crucial premises. 

Consider the following two premises: 

1. Reason alone is an effective method for changing human behaviour. 

2. Reason alone is not an effective method for changing human behaviour. 

These two premises lead to radically different conclusions about how society ought to be run and what philosophy one should advocate. 

So what’s your view?

Why do people continually not choose reason, preferring to act on whim and emotion?

Are temptations to some degree innate? 

How effective is reason in convincing them to change course?

Is there a biological bias toward Nietsche’s will to power which manifests itself to different degrees in different people? 

Sowell also says: 

“It would be good to be able to say that we should dispense with visions entirely, and deal only with reality. But that may be the most utopian vision of all. Reality is far too complex to be comprehended by any given mind. Visions are like maps that guide us through a tangle of bewildering complexities. Like maps, visions have to leave out many concrete features in order to enable us to focus on a few key paths to our goals. Visions are indispensable—but dangerous, precisely to the extent that we confuse them with reality itself. What has been deliberately neglected may not in fact turn out to be negligible in its effect on the results. That has to be tested against evidence. A vision has been described as a “pre-analytic cognitive act.” It is what we sense or feel before we have constructed any systematic reasoning that could be called a theory, much less deduced any specific consequences as hypotheses to be tested against evidence. A vision is our sense of how the world works.” 

And:

“No matter what vision we build on, it will never account for “every sparrow’s fall.” Social visions especially must leave many important phenomena unexplained, or explained only in ad hoc fashion, or by inconsistent assumptions that derive from more than one vision. The purest vision may not be the basis of the most impressive theories, much less the most valid ones. Yet purer visions may be more revealing as to unspoken premises than are the more complex theories.”

And: 

“A vision, as the term is used here, is not a dream, a hope, a prophecy, or a moral imperative, though any of these things may ultimately derive from some particular vision. Here a vision is a sense of causation. It is more like a hunch or a “gut feeling” than it is like an exercise in logic or factual verification. These things come later, and feed on the raw material provided by the vision. If causation proceeds as our vision conceives it to, then certain other consequences follow, and theory is the working out of what those consequences are.”

 

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2 hours ago, TruthSeeker946 said:

In the home of the enlightenment and capitalism, the western world, the 20th century experienced a staggering expansion in the size of government.

Socialism and welfare statism has been a disastrous experiment, yes. But, in case you haven't noticed, there is a popular movement against it. It's not a perfect movement. It's still tainted by a lingering respect for altruism. But it's not going to become better with people like you spreading nonsense about biological biases for the irrational. Tell your little theory to the people around the world who were freed from absolute dictatorships in the last hundred years. You ignore the forest for the trees in a diseased subsection of the forest.

2 hours ago, TruthSeeker946 said:

The 80s enjoyed a brief resistance to that trend but it didn’t reverse it. We remain a highly statist world and the 19th century remains the high point for capitalism.

The only way you can rationalize your view of history is by ignoring most of history and narrowly focusing on the negative bits. The 19th century was the high-point of capitalism? Tell that to the blacks who were slaves until the second half of it. Tell that to women, a full half of humanity, who in certain ways were treated like property until the 20th century. Capitalism isn't only about the size of government. It's also about rights and the power of government. In some ways, Western governments have gotten worse by nationalizing portions of the economy, like health insurance, but in other ways they've gotten better by freeing oppressed people.

Unfortunately, as a culture, we haven't perfected our conception of "rights." Many of us, primarily theists and socialists, conflate it with other concepts, like "god" and "privileges." And the ideological battle over such ideas is one of the great struggles of our time.

2 hours ago, TruthSeeker946 said:

Of course technology will keep progressing in a semi-free society but imagine where we’d be had we retained the small state of the 1800s. The idea we’re more capitalistic is absurd, certainly for the west. 

My imagination is not evidence for your theory. And again, you're missing the forest for the trees. We fought a Civil War in the 1800s, blacks were slaves, women were oppressed, men were conscripted into military service. The "state" was comparatively massive and all-consuming back then.

2 hours ago, TruthSeeker946 said:

Also religion is growing worldwide and in the west. The more rational part of the human species is dying off, currently being outbred by the more irrational.

I don't believe it. Such things fluctuate, but the trend now seems to be away from traditional religion. And even the dominant religion in the West, Christianity, has had to adopt an increasingly science-based view of the world in order to survive.

Yes, there are real problems. We face hordes of irrational churchgoers and socialists who want to wield control over our words and actions. But the answer is not to find a philosophy for appealing to their irrationality. The answer is to fight and defeat them with superior philosophy, superior culture, superior strategy and superior force, if necessary.

Edited by MisterSwig

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23 hours ago, Eiuol said:

You said "as opposed to his nature", so I'm saying that how his ideas shape the world and himself (which of course relate to how these ideas come to form, which relates to how this occurs neuroscientifically and biologically) is the same as asking how his nature affects these things. I'm not sure why you even phrase it this way, Rand talks about man's nature so often. Psychological limitations are perfectly fine to talk about. Same with biological limitations. The problem is that the way you talk about these things is vague enough that they sound like objections without saying anything about how they prevent, deny, or stand against rational thinking. Before I explain how psychological biases can be used properly and reason doesn't have to falter, I want to see what you think about this part first.

My apologies, you’re right, it was unnecessarily confusing. 

I’m in agreement here, though I would say the psychological limitations are ultimately biological limitations and I want to stress that my concern here is the expression of these limitations as an average since these limitations will be different for different people.

Quote

There isn't any research of biological bias towards accepting premises.

Not only that, what even is a biological bias?

There are psychological biases, sure, but they aren't deterministic (lacking cognitive influence).

Psychological biases are more like common errors that are easy to fall into because of the way the mind works, rather than mental events that you can't help from occurring that helplessly result in an action.

I'm fine if you call them biological factors. You'd be hard-pressed to find any evidence that the biology alone biases your action, partly because you're talking about complex decisions that require deliberate conscious thought for them to even occur. 

 

Quote


Yes, there are known genetic factors to homosexuality, and sure this probably creates a tendency toward certain actions (because who knows, maybe it influences the way neurotransmitters are released), but says nothing at all about decision-making. 

Yes ultimately the homosexual has to take action on the sexual desires himself so his decision has the final say. 

But the decision to act or not to act is affected by the biological factors in the sense that the homosexual desires are acting as a pressure toward the decision to act, even if he can overrule those pressures. By overrule I mean ignore them/suppress them. Or more broadly, we can apply this to everyone’s desire to have sex. 

In other words, as you say, “biological factors create a tendency toward certain actions”. 

And this is what I mean by a “biological bias”. Or another way of describing that is “temptations” 

Now you might say “yes we can use reason to not only ignore the desires/temptations and resist acting on them but ALSO to actually eliminate them or change them.”

And this is clearly the case BUT to different degrees of ease for different people for different desires ranging from easy to impossible. With sexual desire for basically everyone it’s either extremely difficult or impossible. Which essentially means the human species has an innate tendency toward having sex. 

But with other things like the desire for nicotine/the act of smoking, it’s slightly easier. I did it myself from reading Allen Carrs brilliant book “the easy way to stop smoking” and I’m not just resisting the temptation, I’ve actually eliminated it. 

Quote

The limits of reason as a method for dealing with curing addicts isn't to say all we are left with is brutishness or lying. 

So what are the limits of reason in changing human behaviour? How effective could reason be in maintaining law and order if we removed punishments? 

As far as I’m aware there’s been tons of study regarding biological bias toward action. (And perhaps this is what I need to study in depth) Jordan Peterson famously compared lobsters to humans in arguing that humans are essentially hardwired to organise themselves into hierarchies. 

So perhaps you could pick out what you’d like to respond to and then expand on your conception of psychological limitations. 

And remember the wider context here is that our opinion on the existence or extent of existence of the biological bias toward a variety is human behaviours, or more extreme, hardwiring (determinism) of human nature, fundamentally shapes our philosophy and our politics, and it is a deep understanding of this area that I think Objectivism lacks, and consequently places too much emphasis on the power of reason leading to an overly optimistic view of man. 

And perhaps Rand knew this with the fatalism she expressed (as quoted earlier):  

It does not matter that only a few in each generation will grasp and achieve the full reality of man’s proper stature and that the rest will betray it. It is those few that move the world and give life its meaning and it is those few that I’ve always sought to address. The rest are of no concern of mine. It is not me or The Fountainhead that they will betray, it is their own souls”

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2 hours ago, TruthSeeker946 said:

I would say the psychological limitations are ultimately biological limitations and I want to stress that my concern here is the expression of these limitations as an average since these limitations will be different for different people.

I would be careful about the word "ultimately" though. It can imply reductionism, such that biology is the primary consideration of human action. 

Limits can't be averages, because you wouldn't be talking about how things tend to be. You are talking about the constraints of actions. How people tend to act isn't evidence of what their limits are. How you tend to act isn't evidence of what your limits are. So, you need to get specific about which limitations you mean. Give me an example of hard limits that some people cannot pass no matter what they do, related to thinking and reasoning. I can think of limits such as the ability to learn a new language fluently, or perhaps one's ability to learn theoretical physics, but those aren't limits on the things we care about here (understanding rights, respecting rights, etc). 

But desires aren't biologically determined. Desires are not biological phenomena. I can't tell if you're a reductionist though - do you think everything and anything psychological is "nothing but" biology? Some psychologists might think that desires are biologically determined, or biologically innate, but this would be controversial. And those are people with PhD's who studied for a long time, so you're on very shaky ground here.

Yeah, it's true that certain biological features about ourselves have a relationship to our psychology. Dopamine for example often indicates pleasure when it is released. From there, a lot more happens to induce the feeling of pleasure. Not surprisingly, this would alter your sense of value about things. Drugs like cocaine can tremendously increase this feeling of pleasure by increasing the release of dopamine. The pleasure you would get from eating food to sustain yourself would pale in comparison to the pleasure you get from using cocaine. So you might start forgoing eating just to have another hit of cocaine. Early on, you might get this and never try it again. Resistance is only hard to the extent that it feels so damn good, that it would seem stupid not to do it again. Addiction can reach an extent sometimes that the person feels like they act on autopilot. That's when it's a mental illness though, but not itself a biological cause. The problem was seeking that pleasurable feeling again. That is, until it causes brain damage.

2 hours ago, TruthSeeker946 said:

How effective could reason be in maintaining law and order if we removed punishments? 

Isn't punishment a form of reasoning with someone? "Don't steal from me, or else I'll have you arrested." I don't see the point of the question though.

2 hours ago, TruthSeeker946 said:

Jordan Peterson famously compared lobsters to humans in arguing that humans are essentially hardwired to organise themselves into hierarchies. 

That's not from a set of studies though. I don't think he was arguing for "hardwired" hierarchy anyway. Maybe he did say hardwired, but it would have been more like a consistent psychological need.

2 hours ago, TruthSeeker946 said:

the existence or extent of existence of the biological bias toward a variety is human behaviours, or more extreme, hardwiring (determinism) of human nature

Well, what you call biological bias is just psychological bias for a reductionist. The truth is, behavior isn't biological, even behaviorists can't avoid that fact anymore. They need to use some amount of cognitive mechanisms. There are necessary biological factors, but there are also necessary psychological factors which have not been determined biologically beforehand.


 

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On 12/21/2019 at 6:39 AM, whYNOT said:

The upward trajectory, in the most general terms, is what you say. Which doesn't predict anything about mankind's immediate prospects. 

It's like the arguments for how much we've progressed due to technology. Such hi-tech can be applied to our downfall as much as to our upliftment. 

Are you saying that our trend of becoming more objective and rational can be applied to our downfall?

This isn't about a prediction. It's about identifying man's nature.

On 12/21/2019 at 6:39 AM, whYNOT said:

Which leads straight back to the original question. How much influence can this philosophy wield over those who refuse a rational, individualist philosophy? 

It's a misguided question. It's like asking: what can an apple do for people who refuse to eat apples? Well, nothing. Are we in the business of force-feeding ideas to the unwilling? No. And we're also not in the business of compromising our principles in order to relate to evil. We should be in the business of identifying and pursuing the good, which includes eliminating evil from our lives.

Edited by MisterSwig

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23 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

Are you saying that our trend of becoming more objective and rational can be applied to our downfall?

Um. Let's see - no. I am clearly not saying. I believe I was likening the immense growth of technology to the question of a general upward movement of man's (general) rationality over eons, which of course is evident and remarkable. And the obvious (I thought) takeout is that hi-tech is no guarantee of maintaining that trajectory. The very fact of the matter is that there were many violent hiccups along the way through history. No sensible person should expect that to arbitrarily come to a stop. Why? Technology and science? You should know how it goes. Good? - for whom, and for what? 

So, who is this "our"? Who precisely is "becoming more objective and rational"? I don't think its the majority. Some yes, many, no. There's plenty more accessible information around, while I've doubts the data is conceptualized and properly evaluated.

In my time, and from many previous accounts of the liberal, modern period (specifically in the West) I presently see less objectivity, individualism and rationality  - in general, I stress - than before. It seems the more liberated that mankind becomes physically and materially, the more marked the envy and guilt - for what you have against what others have; iow, reasoning and ethics are sliding backwards into mysticism-altruism-collectivism, while technology is increasing dramatically. Put them together, and there's a possible dangerous reaction waiting to happen. In short, the great ideas and applications of hi-tech do not necessarily equate with good ideas in men's minds. Bad ideas put in action by few or many, will be magnified by the former.

I believe that quote taken from Rand illustrated. The humanities and science - in counterpoint.

Edited by whYNOT

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23 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

 

 

It's a misguided question. It's like asking: what can an apple do for people who refuse to eat apples? Well, nothing. Are we in the business of force-feeding ideas to the unwilling? No. And we're also not in the business of compromising our principles in order to relate to evil. We should be in the business of identifying and pursuing the good, which includes eliminating evil from our lives.

Right. I of course was suggesting that those people should be forced to be rational.

Preaching to the choir, buddy.

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2 hours ago, whYNOT said:

I believe I was likening the immense growth of technology to the question of a general upward movement of man's (general) rationality over eons, which of course is evident and remarkable.

 

2 hours ago, whYNOT said:

Who precisely is "becoming more objective and rational"? I don't think its the majority. Some yes, many, no.

I can't tell whether you believe man, in general, is becoming more or less rational. In one paragraph you agree that he's evidently becoming more rational. But in the next paragraph you deny that the majority is becoming more rational. Which is it?

Edited by MisterSwig

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It doesn't really matter whether you say that the world grows more or less rational. There can be time periods where people possess a certain kind of rationality. Rationality isn't so much a development or discovery, as much as it is a way of thinking. It doesn't improve, there aren't new forms of rationality that appear. Ways of thinking that are considered rational go in and out of style, so I don't see any point of talking about people on average becoming more rational or less rational. Some things are better, some things are worse, and in a way, the world sometimes grows systematically more oppressive. Chattel slavery was much worse than anything the Romans ever did with slavery. It really depends what you want to focus on.

Based on the spans of time we are talking about, level of rationality is basically the same on average throughout history, and it will probably stay that way forever. The only thing I would say is that technology on average is constantly increasing, and technology is the best way to make yourself independent of whatever trends exist at the time. In that way, there is more individual potential over time, so over time, it will probably become apparent that there are far more rational people than we expect there to be. 

 

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On 12/24/2019 at 9:50 PM, MisterSwig said:

 

I can't tell whether you believe man, in general, is becoming more or less rational. In one paragraph you agree that he's evidently becoming more rational. But in the next paragraph you deny that the majority is becoming more rational. Which is it?

Not a contradiction. This is dominant trends we are addressing. Think of a graph denoting mankind's well-being from his early beginnings: generally - moving upwards, interspersed with long flat spots, and spikes and falls. The over all trend is clearly towards more rationality, the survival and mega-achievements of mankind testify to that, but with plunges into irrationality. (Just a century ago, the other day, in relation to mankind's history, the great part of Europe, Russia and Asia entered an extended down period). Man's rationality is of course hard to quantify from all mankind to the individual, and over huge time frames. How much progress rested upon the highly rational few contrary to an anti-rational majority? They certainly have always co-existed. Observably, many or most people can also be rational, inconsistently. But rationality doesn't exist 'in the air' (so to speak), the present state of civilisation isn't a definite indicator of what's to come. Rationality isn't passed from one generation to the next by genes or instinct. Every new individual has to start from scratch, to make his/her own commitment to observe and think and act accordingly. Technology-caused life improvements, too, are no guarantee of present and future rationality/morality by the majority. One can't be complacent when there've been current intellectual movements against reason and individualism. Those tech advances and ever-ready information could (I think do), lull many into a state of false security and moral superiority. "That was then - now we are perfectly equipped" (e.g. to return to socialism and other known, failed systems). That's treating info/hi-tech intrinsically, indeed, quite deified by them. Additionally the immense power of technology turned by collectivists to their irrational ends would certainly enhance their powers. 

 

Edited by whYNOT

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