Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
Sign in to follow this  
TruthSeeker946

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

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

1 hour ago, whYNOT said:

The over all trend is clearly towards more rationality, the survival and multi-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).

How so? You merely assert this alleged fact. What is your evidence? I'll take general ideas. I don't expect you to have hard stats. But I need something. For example, in terms of political systems, do you believe that communism and socialism are more irrational than what Europe, Russia, and Asia had beforehand?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A general idea from Atlas Shrugged, where John Galt was being warned of the dangers of returning to the outside world from the valley. This would be a variation on what she wrote in the Metaphysical vs. the Man-made. Man builds a damn. The dam bursts. The bursting of the dam is metaphysical in nature. The damage done is increased by a magnitude of the man-made intervention.

In the valley, the discussion was around the technology of the day in the hands of frighted individuals, exemplified later in the novel by the power struggle involving Project X.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

https://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/NOTE1.HTM

I'd consider death by government: Soviet, Cambodian and Nazi - an indicator of more irrationality than what went there before, yes. And of the repression of numbers unknown. The figures are of their citizens, do not include consequential famines, nor enemies killed. 

Edited by whYNOT

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

946,

Isn't it easy and an everyday thing for people to choose reason to a great degree? Surely one was choosing reason and learning what it is, even without the later concept of it, by one's desire and efforts to acquire language in early childhood. 

People seem enmeshed in their reason, and that applies to my religious friends too, even the ones stuck in the more ignorant, feeling-dominated sects. Of those last, I notice we have fine economic commerce with each other, and we enjoy each other in our practical, rational activities.

I wanted to add to your accumulation, in an earlier post, of Rand's dark-future-outlooks and highly deterministic personal developments:

Rand 1957 was projecting a future. It was pretty dark, and I think not only for the purpose of making the light lighter. Outside the USA, there were to be only Peoples States, it seems. In the USA were to be great economic regulation and growing political tyranny. Happily, since 1957, though Peoples States are still around, such as in Venezuela and Cuba, such States are far from gripping the whole world outside the USA. Inside the USA, nothing getting close to the controls in The Moratorium on Brains happened. Brash interventions such as Nixon's wage-and-price controls have become just eyeball-rollers today. During the big contraction and financial crisis of 2008, some banks and other companies were bailed out by the government (by us), but the Obama administration didn't nationalize the banks, which in earlier times would have been a serious option on the table, and for the fictional Pres. Thompson would have been a no-brainer.

As Rearden is carrying the young government man Tony in his arms, where Tony dies, Rearden thinks of this young man as having been made by schooling and the wider culture. It's not entirely deterministic, of course, because Tony's time with the productive enterprise had brought him round to reach for fresh right and to protect the mills. Rand later expanded greatly on what she had given to Rearden's thoughts there. That was in her essay called "The Comprachicos" which is included in the book The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution. It is a very dark and heavily deterministic picture she paints there of the US educational system. The picture is entirely foreign to any of my experience with the system here, public grade and high and State university (for first degree) at that very era she was writing about. But the relevant point here is how rare and hard she thought it was for a student to become an independent and rational individual given such type of formal education.

 

Edited by Boydstun

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/20/2019 at 7:09 PM, TruthSeeker946 said:

The problem with the boat full of Objectivists is that as soon as they have children, their children also have to choose to reason and I imagine at some point some of the children will rebel and reject Objectivism but that is due to my somewhat pessimistic conception of man’s nature.

One does not have to be a child of an objectivist to be rational. 
You have to use reason if you want the best way to live.

On 12/20/2019 at 7:09 PM, TruthSeeker946 said:

the astonishing history of man to continually behave in similar ways throughout the ages. 

You seem to be going further than human limitation, saying that humans are powerless over the social trends they participate in.
It seems at the core of your argument, there is an attack on free will. I have not read the whole thread so you may have already mentioned that.

Are you at the mercy of predetermined biological trends? Or do you have some say?
One can say "logically based mental activity" is biology at work, that feelings are directly related to biology, they are biological.
In that case your biology (mind) is motivating you to change people's biology (mind).
Melding biology and mind like that does not account for volition.
Not that it proves there is no volition, but that there is no place for it in the discussion.

As in, are you the chemicals that you are made up of or are you "you".

On 12/20/2019 at 7:09 PM, TruthSeeker946 said:

Choosing reason is the starting point. She heavily implies it, as does Peikoff does in his lecture series on the history western philosophy. But she also expresses fatalistic views of man so perhaps she was confused on this. 

Rationality as a value is one of many values promoted by objectivism.
Furthermore rationality can mean being logical, or it can mean logical and correct.
One can be rational with incorrect premises which makes it confusing when identifying it.
To act like an objectivist at is most basic level is to know that "reality exists independently of consciousness".

On 12/20/2019 at 7:09 PM, TruthSeeker946 said:

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. 

Would you agree that you are a person that wants to change the general trend in a society you live in.
If you were NOT, you would NOT be discussing things on this forum. 
You would accept the inevitable, why make any effort to discuss, understand, persuade.

So you, at a minimum understand that a change in premise, can and does change a person.
Wouldn't you agree that within the realm of that "some say/some power" that a human has, premises makes a huge difference, especially in motivation? (which in aggregate control trends)

Edited by Easy Truth

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/27/2019 at 7:52 AM, whYNOT said:

I'd consider death by government: Soviet, Cambodian and Nazi - an indicator of more irrationality than what went there before, yes.

More irrational than the monarchical Russian and German empires? Cambodia is still clinging to a form of monarchy, despite its short history with communism.

"Death by government" has existed since the beginning of governments. It's nothing new. Modern examples might be more efficient and include larger numbers of victims, but that's because better political systems have allowed for more population growth and scientific development. Thus, when modern groups go to war over race, religion, class, etc., more people can be killed in a shorter amount of time. But just because modern societies can kill more people in less time than pre-modern ones, that doesn't mean they are less rational than their ancestors. It means they're better at both reproducing and killing. Their reasons for reproducing and killing, however, are separate issues. I, for example, don't see why we should believe that the Nazis' reasons for killing were less rational than the German Empire's. Both committed atrocities in the name of racial supremacy and reprisals.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

But just because modern societies can kill more people in less time than pre-modern ones, that doesn't mean they are less rational than their ancestors.

Wouldn't the best conclusion then be that in general, people acting rationally as a whole has always been the same? 

Just because political systems are better these days doesn't indicate anything about the number of people who are in general rational about their life. Scientific advancements don't come from collective rational action, they come from individuals. Any Romanticist, Rand included, believes that creative genius comes from individual, and those individuals can have an incredible impact on society. When those individuals are unshackled from the rights violated constraints of society, they can live out their creative genius. They then impact the progress of science and technology, politics, art, philosophy, etc. What the average person does is inconsequential so they aren't part of your measurement when you say that there are advancements. The political system is not what causes someone to be rational, nor cause them to become irrational. 

 

Edited by Eiuol

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

What the average person does is inconsequential so they aren't part of your measurement when you say that there are advancements.

Indeed. The premise seems to be predicated on the idea that the people who are being irrational are somehow rivals to the people who are being rational in some unmentioned way over some unmentioned thing, rather than just being ballast. I'm not here making an argument for either view, but just pointing out that no one in this thread has even made an argument for the former over the latter, which was one of the main points of Atlas Shrugged.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Wouldn't the best conclusion then be that in general, people acting rationally as a whole has always been the same? 

Being rational depends, in part, on choice. So in theory man might trend more or less rational, based on the ideas he chooses to enact. However, I doubt he would trend irrational in any significant way, because doing so leads to mass death and ultimately extinction. Unless the majority of mankind shares this death wish, they will isolate the problem and deal with it one way or another.

I think there might also be a genetic factor involved. Particular humans might be more or less fit for reasoning. Nature might give them better senses, better brains, better focus than others. Fitter humans would be more likely to survive and reproduce, and therefore pass on whatever genes made them more fit for being rational. In this way, humans could become generally more rational partly through evolutionary forces combined with proper decision-making.

4 hours ago, Eiuol said:

The political system is not what causes someone to be rational, nor cause them to become irrational. 

Perhaps not, though I think many factors are involved, including the influence of one's political context. I, however, am using the political system primarily as a gauge for measuring a nation's general rationality.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Any Romanticist, Rand included, believes that creative genius comes from individual, and those individuals can have an incredible impact on society. 

Only if that society is capable of appreciating the genius.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

However, I doubt he would trend irrational in any significant way, because doing so leads to mass death and ultimately extinction.

There is no trend either way for people as a whole. The proportion is stable.

9 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

I, however, am using the political system primarily as a gauge for measuring a nation's general rationality.

I don't see why. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/28/2019 at 9:09 AM, Boydstun said:

As Rearden is carrying the young government man Tony in his arms, where Tony dies, Rearden thinks of this young man as having been made by schooling and the wider culture. It's not entirely deterministic, of course, because Tony's time with the productive enterprise had brought him round to reach for fresh right and to protect the mills. Rand later expanded greatly on what she had given to Rearden's thoughts there. That was in her essay called "The Comprachicos" which is included in the book The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution. It is a very dark and heavily deterministic picture she paints there of the US educational system. The picture is entirely foreign to any of my experience with the system here, public grade and high and State university (for first degree) at that very era she was writing about. But the relevant point here is how rare and hard she thought it was for a student to become an independent and rational individual given such type of formal education.

Taking free-will as a sub-type of causality, bearing in mind that man is not a deterministic specie, Miss Rand's forte sheds light into the dark corridors where the causal nature of wrong ideas could lead helping to provide an illuminating contrast using her chosen art for the communication of a moral ideal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

2 hours ago, Eiuol said:
11 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

I, however, am using the political system primarily as a gauge for measuring a nation's general rationality.

I don't see why. 

Political systems don't create and maintain themselves. People pick their intellectual leaders. The leaders come up with political ideas. The people support certain ideas. The leaders put them into practice. The people decide whether to continue supporting them. Even a monarchy or dictatorship cannot sustain itself without the people going along with it. This is why I think political systems are a good way to measure the general rationality of a nation. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

More irrational than the monarchical Russian and German empires? Cambodia is still clinging to a form of monarchy, despite its short history with communism.

"Death by government" has existed since the beginning of governments. It's nothing new. Modern examples might be more efficient and include larger numbers of victims, but that's because better political systems have allowed for more population growth and scientific development. Thus, when modern groups go to war over race, religion, class, etc., more people can be killed in a shorter amount of time. But just because modern societies can kill more people in less time than pre-modern ones, that doesn't mean they are less rational than their ancestors. It means they're better at both reproducing and killing. Their reasons for reproducing and killing, however, are separate issues. I, for example, don't see why we should believe that the Nazis' reasons for killing were less rational than the German Empire's. Both committed atrocities in the name of racial supremacy and reprisals.

Mysticism in general, of which the ideology of Socialism/Communism is part, can be reduced to the single enemy of rationality and reason. Those countries dispatched well above 100 million of their own citizens - over a very short period  ... in the modern era. Post Enlightenment. In our times, for those who're old enough. Do you think the causes (and effects) were more or less the same random ~death by government~ as in other places? I concede only that *numbers* murdered are not the criterion of irrational evil. Back to what I said, and why I brought up those stats you requested - there was a massive slump of rationality for a period in a large portion of the world.  (While previous regimes (etc.) were nowhere near good or rational). Rationality is not a fixed quantity among mankind. I believe that position stands .

The fervent religiosity demonstrated by the USSR, Cambodia, China and others, in upholding their supernatural faith in "Society" at all costs (paid in others' lives, il-liberty and suffering, I'd guess killed off more of their people than all the past Kings and all formal religions put together. Excluding foreign wars. A suspected dissident against the Catholic Church (in the Inquisition) or against the State of Russia in mid-20 C, met the same ends for the identical reasons.

Or is it thought by anyone that the religions are the only mystical, anti-mind institutions?

Edited by whYNOT

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, whYNOT said:

Rationality is not a fixed quantity among mankind. 

 

Especially not fixed in individuals. Some get more rational, exampled by this young lady.

 

Edited by whYNOT

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

Even a monarchy or dictatorship cannot sustain itself without the people going along with it.

What do you mean? Of course they can, that's the point of the government initiating force in those regime. Consent doesn't even enter into why those regimes last or collapse. The changes in power structure are shaped by the great actors of history, whether they be revolutionaries or people who change the system from within. It's not the masses at work here, or the average person. All that changes is the visibility of rational people the visibility of rational actions because proper political systems make it possible for them to act rationally.

Keep in mind that I'm not saying the average person is fundamentally irrational. They are to some degree rational, but may fail to be rational in other ways. Most people fit here, most people are quite average, and people who say they are rational are often less rational than they claim. When we look at progress, these average people don't matter. They are inconsequential for grand trends that we've been talking about. So that's why pointing at progress has nothing to do with the degree of rationality among people in society. All you'd be doing is saying that the creative geniuses were able to do something. 

3 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

People pick their intellectual leaders.

Then you're also claiming that the average collective (and therefore the lowest common denominator) is more responsible for the course of history than the great actors of history. The leaders are just the embodiment of the people. 

2 hours ago, whYNOT said:

there was a massive slump of rationality for a period in a large portion of the world.

You're making the same mistake, just in the other direction. You aren't measuring what the average person does when you look at the actions of political regimes.  

EDIT:

The artistic culture of society I think is the one area that can cause people to choose to be rational more often. It's the area where we can in fact see the patterns of the average person. Creative geniuses may be responsible for artistic creations, but the average person consumes them. 

Edited by Eiuol

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Eiuol said:

 

You're making the same mistake, just in the other direction. You aren't measuring what the average person does when you look at the actions of political regimes.  

EDIT:

The artistic culture of society I think is the one area that can cause people to choose to be rational more often. It's the area where we can in fact see the patterns of the average person. Creative geniuses may be responsible for artistic creations, but the average person consumes them. 

That "average person" was as much responsible for his regime.

Viewing the past simplistically, there's often comes up this untenable and magical idea of "the dictator" who sorta rounds up and takes "the people" unwillingly to their doom - or willingly to the sacrifice of others. This presumes on omnipotent power and ultimate stupidity/unconsciousness by the people. They aren't so innocent, they knew what they were doing.

I also question the usual "creative genius" narrative - if and when he's considered the only truly rational individual who exists or existed. This limitation to a few, and anyway studying their lives reveals their inconsistency, contradicts the meaning and ramifications of "rationality". Anyone who recognizes its importance can "be" rational - with choice and ongoing commitment. Always forgotten are the great numbers of individuals who quietly lived rational or mostly rational lives. If one hasn't gleaned that by interacting widely with people, you need only to look around you: a multitude of things are being done, being made and have been built - excellently - by individuals who had to apply a rational mind (even for less creative tasks, to the limits of their ability. Even by those not, er, genius). They ~add value~ in thousands of ways to the more visible accomplishments initiated by the pathfinders, and clearly find personal value, self-esteem in doing so.

It's close to arguing that, except for several towering figures, scientists etc. who's names we often refer to, rationality barely occurred. Or believing that the heyday of free enterprise in America and Europe was due to "rational" capitalists -- therefore, who'd be secularists and atheists, by necessity. But of course the early businessmen/industrialists mostly were religious, as almost everyone was then. Right, displaying inconsistent rationality.

Rather related to this, I think there's a pitfall by any suggestion of O'ists to be "elitists" - an untrue, objectionable and second-handed word. An "everyman" philosophy is this.

Edited by whYNOT

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Then you're also claiming that the average collective (and therefore the lowest common denominator) is more responsible for the course of history than the great actors of history. The leaders are just the embodiment of the people. 

No, it's a combined effort. I'm disputing the notion that "the average person is inconsequential."

A great idea is just an idea if there are no others to agree with it and help make it a reality.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, whYNOT said:

A suspected dissident against the Catholic Church (in the Inquisition) or against the State of Russia in mid-20 C, met the same ends for the identical reasons.

Catholic Inquisitors persecuted people for being heretics. Soviets persecuted people for being religious, being capitalist, and resisting collectivization. Those aren't identical reasons.

Also, the ends were different. Catholic heretics were forced to repent, tortured into confessing, or burned at the stake. The Soviets imprisoned their opposition in labor camps, worked many to death, and let some groups, like the Ukrainians, starve in famines.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

No, it's a combined effort. I'm disputing the notion that "the average person is inconsequential."

That's what I'm saying, you're talking about the utility of ideas to society, and the quality of an idea in terms of the value society sees. The more people who agree with it, the greater it is. You haven't claimed just that other people can help make an idea into reality, but that historical political trends point are the trends of the average person. I know you dispute that the average person is inconsequential, so I'm saying your claim is a type of collectivism. 

Most people will live and die without consequence to the world. Doesn't mean that they are worthless, or that acknowledgment from society matters for being rational. But they don't shape their world, they don't shape their politics, so whatever they do has no bearing on how rational the country appears. Voting is of minimal consequence, it's basically a means of distributing resources in a vaguely equitable way in terms of preferences, not a means of efficient and self-interested rational action. All you really get to see is the actions of historic people. At the margins people might be consequential, and might deserve a lot more respect than they get, but you won't see the consequence of their actions in aggregate form because so few people care.

18 hours ago, whYNOT said:

I also question the usual "creative genius" narrative - if and when he's considered the only truly rational individual who exists or existed.

By creative genius I don't mean "the only truly rational individuals". They are individuals of the highest degree of rationality and individuality. It's the difference between Eddie Willers and Dagny Taggart. Eddie is average, a good person, and generally quite rational. Dagny is above average, an actual hero, and much better at applying rationality to her life (and because it's fiction, we know what goes on in her private life and don't need to wonder if she is privately a pretty nasty person). It doesn't matter if Dagny became a towering figure in history, but creative genius like hers is a necessary requirement to alter the world in a consequential way. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Eiuol said:

That's what I'm saying, you're talking about the utility of ideas to society, and the quality of an idea in terms of the value society sees.

Close. Just replace "society" with individuals.

2 hours ago, Eiuol said:

You haven't claimed just that other people can help make an idea into reality, but that historical political trends point are the trends of the average person.

You literally just quoted me saying it was a combined effort between the leaders and the followers. You're the one who introduced the "average person" terminology.

2 hours ago, Eiuol said:

I know you dispute that the average person is inconsequential, so I'm saying your claim is a type of collectivism.

And I'm saying it's not. You're misrepresenting my position.

2 hours ago, Eiuol said:

All you really get to see is the actions of historic people.

This is patently false, especially today when so many people have a social media account where they post videos of their ideas and activities, in addition to your direct witness of people in your life. And for past generations we have countless family archives, films, letters, newspaper articles, books, official records, etc. We can get a good indication of the average person of different times based on these documents. 

Edited by MisterSwig

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

You literally just quoted me saying it was a combined effort between the leaders and the followers. You're the one who introduced the "average person" terminology.

Right, you disagree that the average person is inconsequential. I do not deny that there is some degree of combined effort to at least a marginal degree, but those are inessential people. They, as individuals, don't make a difference. They provide nothing special. They are average. Not to mention that to say "the country is on average rational" is a claim about the average person. 

2 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

Just replace "society" with individuals.

If I did that, then I would be changing your argument. I'm pointing out that your position is not consistent with individualism or what you wanted to be consistent with.

2 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

And I'm saying it's not. You're misrepresenting my position.

I'm representing the position exactly as you put it. You can deny that it is collectivist as much as you want, you can try to say it isn't, but it is. If it's a misrepresentation, then you've misrepresented your own position. Just because you don't realize the implications doesn't mean the implications are not there. I don't think you're trying to make it sound collectivistic, but that's what's happening. 

3 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

We can get a good indication of the average person of different times based on these documents. 

Let me fix up what I said. What I intended to convey is that the only people we can see shaping history are historic people. We can observe, like an anthropologist or archaeologist, how people have lived in the past, the sort of lives they lived. Looking at that, we know across all civilizations that people had some general level of rationality. It would reaffirm what I'm saying about the level of rationality being the same across history. Archaeology and anthropology don't tell us about the progress of history though. It would reveal how the historic figures lived, but it can't tell us much about why the Inca Empire collapsed, why the Roman Empire collapsed. We need historic figures for that. I grant that there are great and important people below the level of creative genius, yet they are still anything but average. 

The upshot of all this is that we don't need vast swaths of people to create a cultural revolution. Maoist China thought they needed vast numbers of people to create their actual cultural revolution. 

Objectivism may be a philosophy which few people subscribe, but that doesn't mean it is a philosophy for the few and elite. In case it sounded like I was arguing for some type of aristocratic moral hierarchy. Still, it is a philosophy where one needs to be a hero to make a difference. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
57 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

I don't think you're trying to make it sound collectivistic, but that's what's happening. 

What are you talking about? Quote me saying something that sounds collectivistic. Right now you're just making a baseless assertion.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, MisterSwig said:

Quote me saying something that sounds collectivistic.

Your argument does. It's not one sentence or a single point. I think disputing that the average person is inconsequential is itself a collectivistic position. It's your point in context of everything else. If you really need something specific to work with, take these:

On 12/29/2019 at 1:17 AM, MisterSwig said:

In this way, humans could become generally more rational partly through evolutionary forces combined with proper decision-making.

 

On 12/29/2019 at 1:14 PM, MisterSwig said:

The people support certain ideas. The leaders put them into practice.

 

On 12/29/2019 at 1:14 PM, MisterSwig said:

Even a monarchy or dictatorship cannot sustain itself without the people going along with it.

 

On 12/29/2019 at 7:40 PM, MisterSwig said:

A great idea is just an idea if there are no others to agree with it and help make it a reality.

If my point is confusing or you think a point doesn't follow, just asking for clarification or point out what looks like a contradiction. The first quote is about the nature of rationality (that genetic fitness is part of rationality and in this sense is influence in a significant way by the collective patterns of society) and the rest are an expansion on the idea that the average person plays an important and significant role in the flow of history. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_man_theory

Edited by Eiuol

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

I think disputing that the average person is inconsequential is itself a collectivistic position.

Is that because people who disagree with you hold collectivist positions? None of the statements you quoted imply collectivism. It seems you have a problem with general propositions.

Share this post


Link to post
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...
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...