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

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Do Objectivists truly believe people will ever behave like Objectivists on a mass scale? 

Objectivism teaches us how the world ought to be and how man ought to live but we find ourselves in a world which is nothing like it, and never has been. 

If mankind can never achieve the Objectivist world Rand envisioned, or even get anywhere near it (where the majority are true Objectivists), then it is surely inadequate as a political philosophy. Of course we can never know for sure but history provides some strong suggestions. 

Don’t we all have to face up to the fact we have a society far away from the Objectivist ideal and we need a politics to deal with a society utterly dominated by non-Objectivists? A society that responds favourably to the primacy of emotion and irrationalism.

Do Objectivists honestly believe most people will one day be convinced through reason and live as Objectivists? Or are you resigned to the likelihood it will always be a philosophy of the few?

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Renunciation is not one of Ayn Rand's premises. She states it explicitly in the introduction to The Romantic Manifesto.

Renunciation is not one of my premises. If I see that the good is possible to men, yet it vanishes, I do not take "Such is the trend of the world" as a sufficient explanation. I ask such questions as: Why?-What caused it?-What or who determines the trends of the world? (The answer is: philosophy. )

In a letter to Mr, Crute written August 24, 1963 she wrote:

The philosophical and political trends which are destroying the country in my novel, exist today and dominate our culture. Their practical results have not yet reached the stage portrayed in Atlas Shrugged, but we are moving in that direction. However, a trend can be stopped and changed. History is determined by men's philosophical convictions. It is philosophy that brought the world to its present state, and it is only philosophy that can save it—a philosophy of reason, individualism and capitalism.

I'm not sure that most people will have to be convinced. Of those who do become convinced, what other method than reason does such a conviction come from?

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I agree the question should be “Why? What caused it?” Etc but I don’t believe Rand provides a good answer. 

It cannot all be down to having the wrong premises. In every civilisation throughout history man displays a certain level of tribalism, irrationalism, mysticism etc. 

The answers must be buried in our biology at least to some significant extent. I think I read Peikoff’s daughter is studying this area. Do you know anything about that?

I should say I’ve read Atlas Shrugged, The Virtue Of Selfishness, Ayn Rand Answers, Why businessmen need Philosophy and I’m up to Chapter 7 in Piekoff’s Objectivism but I’ve stopped and thought, isn’t this all futile? Humans just don’t and will not ever behave this way...

“I’m not sure most people will have to be convinced” 

They surely will to realise an Objectivist society? 

(And yes I agree reason would be the method to convince them but I question the power of it to do that on a large scale in a world where man seems to favour emotion over reason and this may well be the case on a biological basis at least to some significant degree.)

Edited by TruthSeeker946

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Resist the black pill. You're projecting your own inadequacy onto others.

Identify what's true and good, and fight for it. Don't waste your time trying to demoralize others.

If you think Objectivists should have a different philosophy, then be honest and fight for those ideas, like we're fighting for ours. 

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Well let's hope they don't "behave like Objectivists" because most people running calling themselves that are dumb as hell. But it's not really clear what the question is. There's like 5 or 6 different questions in there. 

One thing is, it doesn't really follow from "the world is nothing like X, and never has been" to "mankind can never achieve X." That's just bad reasoning. It's not really clear what we're supposed to be inferring here. It's also not really valid to use a premise about how many people are rational or irrational from the armchair. Unless you're just speaking anecdotally, you're going to need some social science research.

Industrial societies haven't been around that long. Individualism is still pretty widespread. More people are being lifted out of poverty and ignorance than ever. There was once a time when all "great" countries were monarchies. There was once a time when slavery was widespread in every country. The Soviet Union used to control half of Europe. What got these things to change was, partially, people changing their ideas and seeing what worked and didn't work. I mean if we're going to say everyone is just in principle irrational and can do no other, then no political philosophy is going to be acceptable.

Another approach would be to figure out why people believe what they believe, and do the things they do, and try to then account for that, and that's part of what we do in political philosophy and poli sci, economics, etc.: Finding workable solutions to political problems that takes into account what human beings are actually like and what motivates them.

But overall, I mean, modern democratic liberalism is pretty good as a political system, if you ask "compared to what" in human history. Markets and peaceful cooperation brought about by liberalism didn't happen by an absolute monistic conception of politics that the Western world overnight suddenly read a single book and then decided to adopt. Liberal institutional arrangements are themselves spontaneous order mechanism that facilitate discovery processes to the things that make human flourishing possible. And things change on the margin, little by little, for the most part. You're not going to beat people over the head with Atlas Shrugged, silly.

 

 

 

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13 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

Resist the black pill. You're projecting your own inadequacy onto others.

Identify what's true and good, and fight for it. Don't waste your time trying to demoralize others.

If you think Objectivists should have a different philosophy, then be honest and fight for those ideas, like we're fighting for ours. 

Really? Projecting my inadequacy? Straight in with the ad hominem from you then...

I am simply observing reality, that is, the behaviour of human beings today and throughout time falling well below the standards Objectivism demands. One has to seriously consider if those standards are simply unachievable on a mass scale. 

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1 hour ago, 2046 said:

Well let's hope they don't "behave like Objectivists" because most people running calling themselves that are dumb as hell. But it's not really clear what the question is. There's like 5 or 6 different questions in there. 

One thing is, it doesn't really follow from "the world is nothing like X, and never has been" to "mankind can never achieve X." That's just bad reasoning. It's not really clear what we're supposed to be inferring here. It's also not really valid to use a premise about how many people are rational or irrational from the armchair. Unless you're just speaking anecdotally, you're going to need some social science research.

Industrial societies haven't been around that long. Individualism is still pretty widespread. More people are being lifted out of poverty and ignorance than ever. There was once a time when all "great" countries were monarchies. There was once a time when slavery was widespread in every country. The Soviet Union used to control half of Europe. What got these things to change was, partially, people changing their ideas and seeing what worked and didn't work. I mean if we're going to say everyone is just in principle irrational and can do no other, then no political philosophy is going to be acceptable.

Another approach would be to figure out why people believe what they believe, and do the things they do, and try to then account for that, and that's part of what we do in political philosophy and poli sci, economics, etc.: Finding workable solutions to political problems that takes into account what human beings are actually like and what motivates them.

But overall, I mean, modern democratic liberalism is pretty good as a political system, if you ask "compared to what" in human history. Markets and peaceful cooperation brought about by liberalism didn't happen by an absolute monistic conception of politics that the Western world overnight suddenly read a single book and then decided to adopt. Liberal institutional arrangements are themselves spontaneous order mechanism that facilitate discovery processes to the things that make human flourishing possible. And things change on the margin, little by little, for the most part. You're not going to beat people over the head with Atlas Shrugged, silly.

 

 

 

I should specify I don’t think mankind can never achieve X (widespread Objectivism) rather that Y (the evidence of our actual behaviour) suggests it is very unlikely without biological manipulation.

I’m speaking from my general knowledge about history. Everyone is rational to some degree but nowhere near to the degree Objectivism demands. Surely you would agree that the primacy of emotion, tribalism, irrationalism and mysticism is widespread and always has been? I don’t think this is very controversial. 

Yes, ideas do matter and can change the world. My concern here is about the limit of ideas, the limits of reason. These limits being defined by the nature of man, which doesn’t seem to clearly reveal itself but surely the long history of man’s behaviour provides some clues. 

Yes what you’re saying in the last two paragraphs is edging close to a Burkean conception of the world. Societies adapt and change slowly (so long as revolutionaries are kept at bay) and adjust to “what works”. But “what works” appears to be what accommodates the desires, irrationalities, reason and passions of man. 

When, if ever, will Objectivism prove to be “what works”? 

One of the biggest issues of the 21st century is mass migration. It’s a problem which is only growing in intensity with rising populations and improving transport technology. 

The result of this multicultural experiment appears to be rising tribalism and identity politics. What does Objectivism have to offer here? Free movement? Reason? Most of these people simply don’t want to reason their way out of the growing tribalism. 

So just to clarify, the question I’m getting at is do you honestly believe reason is so powerful, that man’s mind is so malleable, that reason could likely convince the masses to behave like Objectivists? 

And, furthermore, what do we do now, in today’s world? A prime minister or president cannot espouse and practice Objectivism. They must rule by some other method. They need a guide to action in today’s world. Objectivism is inadequate here. 

Edited by TruthSeeker946

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39 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

You. Log in with your real account and tell us how the world will never embrace our ideas.

1. I don’t have a ‘real’ account. 

2. Ideas stand on their own merit, what’s the obsession with who I am? 

3. Why so defensive? Have you seriously never considered this most crucial question? Take sex and gender. Studies have clearly shown the differences between men and women, their behaviour, their masculinity and femininity having some serious biological basis. Or does Objectivism hold that gender is a social construct? Just a matter of the wrong premises? 

Rand thought homosexuality was a matter of wrong premises. Now the evidence suggests at least some significant biological basis. 

The point is that man’s behaviour is to some degree constrained by his biological make up. Or if not constrained, his biology makes him biased toward certain behaviour. The sort of behaviour an Objectivist would describe as irrational or anti-life etc. The extent of these constraints are probably different to different degrees for different people. There’s so much we don’t understand about our brains and based on the evidence of man’s behaviour, it seems to suggest we have certain inclinations, since certain behaviour continually appears in all times and places, like for example, what an Objectivist would describe as “irrational selfishness”. 

I’m interested in the existence and extent of influence of these inclinations. They are the absolute key. They drastically alter one’s political philosophy. The views about the potential, limitations, determinism of human nature etc are at the root of the left right political divide. 

Edited by TruthSeeker946

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4 minutes ago, TruthSeeker946 said:

1. I don’t have a ‘real’ account. 

Uh huh.

5 minutes ago, TruthSeeker946 said:

2. Ideas stand on their own merit, what’s the obsession with who I am? 

Because when your ideas get smashed by Objectivists on one thread, you create another alt and try again on a different thread, hoping we won't notice and continue wasting our time on you. If you admit to who you are, then we can determine if you're just a troll or not.

8 minutes ago, TruthSeeker946 said:

3. Why so defensive?

You sound ridiculous. Grow up. Log in with your real account.

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13 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

Uh huh.

Because when your ideas get smashed by Objectivists on one thread, you create another alt and try again on a different thread, hoping we won't notice and continue wasting our time on you. If you admit to who you are, then we can determine if you're just a troll or not.

You sound ridiculous. Grow up. Log in with your real account.

That’s not a “real” account. It consists of one thread over a year ago, it’s not my real name and I don’t even remember the email attached to it. So I made a new account, what’s the big deal? 

I am certainly not a troll. I’m a genuine truth seeker and as I mentioned in that previous thread I really do want Objectivism to work. I have returned to it over the last month, giving it another chance.

I come on this forum with the intention of throwing my strongest arguments at Objectivists to see the responses I get, and also to share my thoughts. I truly believe any theory should be vigorously attacked from all angles. One should actively search for weak spots. It’s the scientific method. 

And I strongly disagree that my ideas on that previous thread were “smashed”. The family remains a serious problem for Objectivism to work in the real world, as it does for other enlightenment/reason-focused philosophies. 

Finally, do you mind explaining how you knew that previous thread was me? 

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2 minutes ago, TruthSeeker946 said:

Finally, do you mind explaining how you knew that previous thread was me? 

Yes, I mind. I'm not going to help you escape detection in the future. Would you mind providing a full list of your alts on this forum? Here's mine:

1. MisterSwig

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7 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

Yes, I mind. I'm not going to help you escape detection in the future. Would you mind providing a full list of your alts on this forum? Here's mine:

1. MisterSwig

I have no intention to “escape detection” and it wasn’t why I made a new account, as I’ve explained. 

Well done, give yourself a pat on the back - I couldn’t care less how many accounts you have. I care about discussing/debating ideas. 

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5 hours ago, TruthSeeker946 said:

Objectivist world Rand envisioned

What world is this? The closest thing I can think of that you're referring to is Galt's Gulch, but that wasn't a version of the world she envisioned. I can't think of anything she wrote saying a specific idea way that the world ought to look, only the principles that people ought to operate by in the political systems that are best for man's nature. 

3 hours ago, TruthSeeker946 said:

The answers must be buried in our biology at least to some significant extent

Even if I granted you that every civilization so far has been on average irrational to a significant extent, why does this mean the answers must be biological in nature? The answers could still be psychological in nature (as in, determined by one's philosophical premises rather than biologically predetermined modes of thinking). .

5 hours ago, TruthSeeker946 said:

Don’t we all have to face up to the fact we have a society far away from the Objectivist ideal and we need a politics to deal with a society utterly dominated by non-Objectivists?

I agree, but which methods of political action are you talking about? I agree with figuring out new ways to go about doing political action and determining a theory of political action that can convince emotionally-minded people. Generally, the Objectivist ideal isn't a world filled with or dominated by Objectivists. That might be preferable for the communities we pick, but the ideal structure of society would be a laissez-faire capitalist society and probably a constitutional republic. This presupposes a basic level of rationality. There is still a lot of room for figuring out how to get there.

 

2 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

bunch of throwaway alts.

This guy and the other guy you linked offer some very common criticisms. They also seem to both be non-Americans based on their spelling of certain words. But that's all we have to really go on here. 

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6 hours ago, TruthSeeker946 said:

Do Objectivists truly believe people will ever behave like Objectivists on a mass scale? 

Objectivism teaches us how the world ought to be and how man ought to live but we find ourselves in a world which is nothing like it, and never has been. 

If mankind can never achieve the Objectivist world Rand envisioned, or even get anywhere near it (where the majority are true Objectivists), then it is surely inadequate as a political philosophy. Of course we can never know for sure but history provides some strong suggestions. 

Don’t we all have to face up to the fact we have a society far away from the Objectivist ideal and we need a politics to deal with a society utterly dominated by non-Objectivists? A society that responds favourably to the primacy of emotion and irrationalism.

Do Objectivists honestly believe most people will one day be convinced through reason and live as Objectivists? Or are you resigned to the likelihood it will always be a philosophy of the few?

Objectivism is not for a society.  It’s a philosophy which you, as an individual,  either accept as correct or not.

 Your philosophy is a private personal thing... and if it is the correct one it can lead to knowledge and flourishing.  If not, to ignorance and self destruction... the question is whether you believe Objectivism is the correct philosophy for living on earth, and hence whether you should adopt it,  not whether any one else i your town, country or on the planet is willing or able to adopt it.

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1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

This guy and the other guy you linked offer some very common criticisms. They also seem to both be non-Americans based on their spelling of certain words. But that's all we have to really go on here. 

It wasn't a lucky guess.

I do believe him, however, when he says that "Jason Hunter" isn't his real name. Jason Hunter is a known anti-Brexiter in Britain.

Mr. British-spelling, are you the same bloke who stole Jason Hunter's handle on Twitter?

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4 hours ago, TruthSeeker946 said:

I should specify this disease was cause by witchcraft. The evidence of our actual behaviour suggests it.

I’m speaking from my general knowledge about history. Everyone is religious to some degree but nowhere near to the degree God demands. Surely you would agree that witchcraft is widespread and always has been? I don’t think this is very controversial. 

I would agree appeal to ignorance is a logical fallacy.

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6 hours ago, TruthSeeker946 said:

I agree the question should be “Why? What caused it?” Etc but I don’t believe Rand provides a good answer.

Then you are free to come up with an answer for yourself. The answer Rand provides via Hugh Akston in Atlas Shrugged was:

"If any part of your uncertainty," said Galt, "is a conflict between your heart and your mind—follow your mind."

"Consider the reasons which make us certain that we are right," said Hugh Akston, "but not the fact that we are certain. If you are not convinced, ignore our certainty. Don't be tempted to substitute our judgment for your own."

6 hours ago, TruthSeeker946 said:

It cannot all be down to having the wrong premises. In every civilisation throughout history man displays a certain level of tribalism, irrationalism, mysticism etc.

Correlation, last I checked, is not causation.

6 hours ago, TruthSeeker946 said:

The answers must be buried in our biology at least to some significant extent. I think I read Peikoff’s daughter is studying this area. Do you know anything about that?

Does it demonstrate any biological markers?

6 hours ago, TruthSeeker946 said:

I should say I’ve read Atlas Shrugged, The Virtue Of Selfishness, Ayn Rand Answers, Why businessmen need Philosophy and I’m up to Chapter 7 in Piekoff’s Objectivism but I’ve stopped and thought, isn’t this all futile? Humans just don’t and will not ever behave this way...

Far from futile. Humans act according to the philosophy they accept. As for those who are making an effort to fail to understand Objectivism, they are not really a concern.

6 hours ago, TruthSeeker946 said:

“I’m not sure most people will have to be convinced” 

They surely will to realise an Objectivist society?

This too, is addressed adequately in Atlas Shrugged:

[W]e will move to reclaim this country once more from the impotent savages who never discovered its nature, its meaning, its splendor. Those who choose to join us, will join us; those who don't, will not have the power to stop us; hordes of savages have never been an obstacle to men who carried the banner of the mind.

Have you stopped to consider why the words "once more" were selected to express this otherwise trivial observation?

6 hours ago, TruthSeeker946 said:

(And yes I agree reason would be the method to convince them but I question the power of it to do that on a large scale in a world where man seems to favour emotion over reason and this may well be the case on a biological basis at least to some significant degree.)

You are underestimating the power of that which you have yet to understand.

Edited by dream_weaver

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2 hours ago, Eiuol said:

What world is this? The closest thing I can think of that you're referring to is Galt's Gulch, but that wasn't a version of the world she envisioned. I can't think of anything she wrote saying a specific idea way that the world ought to look, only the principles that people ought to operate by in the political systems that are best for man's nature. 

Good point. I assume it to mean a world numerically dominated by Objectivists and the application of the political prescriptions she described. 

In the introduction to the revised edition of The Fountainhead, referring to her husband, she said: 

“The essence of the bond between us is the fact that neither of us has ever wanted or been tempted to settle for anything less than the world presented in The Fountainhead. We never will.” 

I haven’t read The Fountainhead (please no spoilers) but whatever she’s referring to here, it’s interesting she used the word “world”. 

And yet, at the end of the same introduction she says: 

“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” 

And in Ayn Rand Answers she says: 

“It is not society’s duty to rehabilitate criminals even if we knew how which nobody knows and I highly doubt whether it can be done”

This final quote suggests that she herself believes reason is limited. The quote beforehand suggests an almost deterministic view of the masses and that Objectivism really is and always will be the philosophy of the few, of the great men. 

And yet she talks of this future “world” and offers radical political prescriptions but these prescriptions would require a society with a very large proportion of Objectivists (more on this later)

Quote

Even if I granted you that every civilization so far has been on average irrational to a significant extent, why does this mean the answers must be biological in nature? The answers could still be psychological in nature (as in, determined by one's philosophical premises rather than biologically predetermined modes of thinking). .

It doesn’t mean that but it suggests it. The evidence of human behaviour towers over us. Civilisations on opposite sides of the world throughout history seem to embrace collectivism. I just don’t think Objectivists should be so quick to rule out the very real possibility that we are, as a species, stuck with certain inherent aspects of our nature which express themselves in certain behaviours.  

Perhaps the reason some ideas have taken such a stranglehold on mankind for so long is not because people were persuaded by the ideas and then adopted them, but rather the ideas were at least partly caused by observations of man in reality and were articulated expressions of man’s nature and so they stuck because they most accurately and conveniently accommodated for man’s nature. In other words “what worked”

Quote

I agree, but which methods of political action are you talking about? I agree with figuring out new ways to go about doing political action and determining a theory of political action that can convince emotionally-minded people. Generally, the Objectivist ideal isn't a world filled with or dominated by Objectivists. That might be preferable for the communities we pick, but the ideal structure of society would be a laissez-faire capitalist society and probably a constitutional republic. This presupposes a basic level of rationality. There is still a lot of room for figuring out how to get there.

I guess I’m talking about RealPolitik. The UK was recently on the brink of the most left wing government in its history. And Socialism is still very popular. Objectivism would have been useless for Boris Johnson in winning the election and now in maintaining the newly won working class seats. He also may secretly prefer a private healthcare system but has to elevate the NHS to sacred status, at least for now. 

Okay I can get behind your conception of the Objectivist ideal described there but the problem is you would presumably support free market libertarians and/or conservatives? And yet Rand explicitly rejected any such idea. It’s got to be Objectivists building the Objectivist world.

Quote

 

This guy and the other guy you linked offer some very common criticisms. They also seem to both be non-Americans based on their spelling of certain words. But that's all we have to really go on here. 

I’ve already happily admitted it was me. You must have seen that? I don’t see what the fuss is all about. And yes I’m from the UK.

But do you really expect me to believe he remembered a post from over a year ago and noticed a similarity in this new thread. I must have made some really powerful arguments ;) I assume you log IP addresses and can spot alt accounts that way yes? 

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1 hour ago, TruthSeeker946 said:

I assume it to mean a world numerically dominated by Objectivists and the application of the political prescriptions she described. 

That's better - don't make claims without the relevant context for us. 

First, consider that The Fountainhead didn't have very specific political prescriptions as far as political philosophy. The book didn't deal with a great deal of political philosophy except some lines here and there. To me, I'm reading those quotes as saying something about some ideal about the world in general, on the ethical level. It's not referring to Objectivism, it's referring to rationality. Objectivism doesn't even exist in that world.

We can also talk about the ideal political society, which I thought this topic was about. I think it's important to distinguish which part you want to be talking about. 

Besides that, all we have is a perhaps pessimistic expectation, written in a time when she did view things more pessimistically. That final quote I'm not sure when Rand said it, but just expresses doubt about people who have chosen to do something criminal.

1 hour ago, TruthSeeker946 said:

It doesn’t mean that but it suggests it.

I don't know what you mean. What suggests that? You're being too loose with the word biological. "Rationality is not the norm, therefore people on average are controlled by noncognitive biological events" isn't a sound conclusion. If they are run by emotions, that's not biological. If people prefer to operate by intuitions, that's not a biological process. Biological features must be taken into account of course, which doesn't mean that the answers are biological in nature. 

"What works" is still a premise, and in that sense, a nonbiological explanation. "Wrong premises" still works out here as an explanation of why rationality is not predominant. I'm not aware of Rand saying anything about careful or meticulous persuasion towards various views as the singular reason for philosophical trends.

You seem to be still looking for a psychological answer by taking into account biology. But that is what Objectivism seeks to do. Perhaps you think the answers are wrong, the problem is you didn't give even one sentence about why the answer must be biological.

For instance, even though Nietzsche disagrees with Rand about rationality, he still offers predominantly psychological explanations of philosophical trends. There are biologically-relevant facts for both philosophers, yet they put a heavy emphasis on psychologically-relevant facts. 

1 hour ago, TruthSeeker946 said:

I guess I’m talking about RealPolitik.

Political action is one area in Objectivism which doesn't get a lot of attention. If laissez-faire ideals are to be built up, radical forms of action are required. My personal view is that some combination of realpolitik and willingness to work with political radicals of all kinds (sometimes that might even mean socialists, or whatever radical political affiliation you can think of). 

I'm not convinced that Rand made any such argument that Objectivists are the only ones who can build the way to the future.

1 hour ago, TruthSeeker946 said:

I assume you log IP addresses and can spot alt accounts that way yes? 

Yes, it's possible. It's actually not that hard to figure out who someone is from their arguments, I vaguely remembered it as well. When I first saw the thread title, my first thought was "I'm pretty sure I've seen this title before". I wasn't paying much attention I think because I don't really care if you use an alt account. 

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We have two questions here: whether we believe people will ever behave like Objectivists on a mass scale, and whether it will ever be more than a philosophy of the few. The second question is easier to either answer or dismiss, since it’s unclear what you mean by this. There are a few people, such as Harry Binswanger and Leonard Peikoff, who have a profound understanding of the philosophy. I do not believe that it will ever come to pass that the majority of the adult population in some society will have that level of understanding and acceptance of Objectivism. Or even 10%: I do not believe that more than 10% of the population will ever have a deep intellectual understanding of any philosophy. I allow that it could be true in a strange circumstance, where a ship full of Objectivists travel to uninhabited planet (asteroid) Galt’s World. Since there’s no mechanism for voting to determine “what Objectivists believe” especially w.r.t. such a specific and non-essential question, all I can do is apply Objectivist principles to the question and conclude that you should not believe that under normal circumstances, all humans will become advanced philosophers (of any kind). Even after they have invented robots to do all the plowing, laundry, and programming.

It’s much more plausible that people will act like Objectivists on a mass scale, where “mass” is counted as at least 20% of the adult population. The problem is knowing whether that has happened. It’s easy to detect the signs that a person isn’t acting like an Objectivist, e.g. when they lie, cheat, steal, and vote for expanding the welfare state. Self-sacrificial ethics may in some cases be obvious, but I think it is actually difficult in most cases to tell whether a person is acting in a certain way because they feel it is their duty to subordinate their lives to others, versus whether they are acting benevolently and in a rationally self-interested way. But still, the question is whether it is reasonable to think that we will ever achieve that level of rationality in some society. I don’t expect that to happen in my lifetime, or my grandchild’s lifetime. Or in a millennium.

However, Objectivism is not a political philosophy, it is an integrated philosophical system. Before asking your question, I suggest looking deeper into the question of what aspects of the philosophy relate to political predictions and actions. The hardest thing for people to “get” is that one should chose one’s actions based on a moral code that puts your living as your central purpose. I would then divide that into the more intellectual art of understanding the nature of reason, and the more emotional / psychological art of acting as you know you should. Objectivism does not say that either of these things can be accomplished trivially. Objectivism does not say how you cause yourself to understand what “reason” is, it just says what reason is. If Objectivism were wrong about what reason is, then indeed Objectivism would have “failed”: but it’s not wrong, and it hasn’t failed on that front. Objectivism doesn’t exactly have a philosophical principle that explains why people follow emotion rather than reason, though it does tell you that it has something to do with treating emotion as a source of knowledge.

My own analysis, not a doctrine of Objectivism, is that people make a fundamental choice very early in life, regarding how they relate to society. Basically, you learn what you should do by analogy to what others do. If everybody says that recycling is good and you should recycle, then you don’t need to think about it, you just recycle. If everybody argues by saying “You wouldn’t want X” (pollution, death, slavery, unregulated economic exchange…), you can go with the crowd and impute to others your emotional reactions to facts, and tell people to trust my emotions.

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22 hours ago, 2046 said:

I would agree appeal to ignorance is a logical fallacy.

Your rewrite doesn’t not equate to the essence of what I’ve said. 

21 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

Correlation, last I checked, is not causation.

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. 

Quote

Far from futile. Humans act according to the philosophy they accept.

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. 

Quote

This too, is addressed adequately in Atlas Shrugged:

[W]e will move to reclaim this country once more from the impotent savages who never discovered its nature, its meaning, its splendor. Those who choose to join us, will join us; those who don't, will not have the power to stop us; hordes of savages have never been an obstacle to men who carried the banner of the mind.

Have you stopped to consider why the words "once more" were selected to express this otherwise trivial observation?

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. 

 

 

21 hours ago, Eiuol said:

We can also talk about the ideal political society, which I thought this topic was about. I think it's important to distinguish which part you want to be talking about. 

I’m essentially talking about the fatalistic view of man and how Objectivism inadequately accounts for the extent to which man is biased toward certain behaviours. I’m wondering if Objectivists share this concern. See my comments above for a fuller understanding of my perspective. 

Im also wondering if Objectivists honestly believe the masses will ever adopt the philosophy and if they won’t then clearly it cannot be the right philosophy for society to function. You say you’d support RealPolitik and supporting cons and libs for smaller state policies but that view itself is a particular way of seeing the world and if it is the right course of action then it must be incorporated into your philosophy. It says that compromise can be good, that your enemy’s enemy can be your friend etc... 

21 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Besides that, all we have is a perhaps pessimistic expectation, written in a time when she did view things more pessimistically.That final quote I'm not sure when Rand said it, but just expresses doubt about people who have chosen to do something criminal.

She wrote it 25 years after she released The Fountainhead. She must have been in her mid 60s. She’s clearly expressing a fatalistic view of the masses here. And does again for criminals. 

21 hours ago, Eiuol said:

I don't know what you mean. What suggests that? You're being too loose with the word biological. "Rationality is not the norm, therefore people on average are controlled by noncognitive biological events" 

I’ve expanded more in my comments above to dream weaver. I’m suggesting biology plays a role, asserts a certain bias resulting in powerful inclinations or desires. I also address the lack of reason - why don’t people choose reason? Objectivism has no answer. It can’t because reason is the starting point. But if most people will continually not choose it then perhaps a proper political philosophy must accommodate mass unreason, irrational selfishness etc. Leo Strauss for example advocates the concept of the “noble lie” from political leaders to the masses. 

21 hours ago, Eiuol said:

"What works" is still a premise, and in that sense, a nonbiological explanation. "Wrong premises" still works out here as an explanation of why rationality is not predominant. I'm not aware of Rand saying anything about careful or meticulous persuasion towards various views as the singular reason for philosophical trends.

How does it work out? 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. 

And if one does not believe it is the singular reason then to what extent is it the reason? This is a fundamental question. It really is so crucial. 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? 

21 hours ago, Eiuol said:

You seem to be still looking for a psychological answer by taking into account biology. But that is what Objectivism seeks to do. Perhaps you think the answers are wrong, the problem is you didn't give even one sentence about why the answer must be biological.

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

Yes exactly, I believe Objectivism is inadequate here. “The wrong premises” isn’t good enough. It implies that man just needs to be reasoned with and his behaviour will be corrected. 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. That leaves biology, innate inclinations expressing themselves in different people to different degrees which produce general trends. 

21 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Political action is one area in Objectivism which doesn't get a lot of attention. If laissez-faire ideals are to be built up, radical forms of action are required. My personal view is that some combination of realpolitik and willingness to work with political radicals of all kinds (sometimes that might even mean socialists, or whatever radical political affiliation you can think of). 

But then you’re endorsing a specific worldview in which compromise, realpolitik etc is right and proper. And that the ends justify the means. It’s a departure from Objectivism which is what I believe is the inevitable outcome since Objectivism just doesn’t appear to be adequate for accommodating the real world. At least as it currently stands. (Rand was very clear about not supporting conservatives and libertarians who were pro-free market for their own reasons. She is asked the exact question in “Answers”. I have the book on audible but can’t remember where she’s asked the question) 

I’ll leave a passage by Thomas Sowell to conclude: 

5 hours ago, DavidOdden said:

I do not believe that it will ever come to pass that the majority of the adult population in some society will have that level of understanding and acceptance of Objectivism. Or even 10%: I do not believe that more than 10% of the population will ever have a deep intellectual understanding of any philosophy. I allow that it could be true in a strange circumstance, where a ship full of Objectivists travel to uninhabited planet (asteroid) Galt’s World. Since there’s no mechanism for voting to determine “what Objectivists believe” especially w.r.t. such a specific and non-essential question, all I can do is apply Objectivist principles to the question and conclude that you should not believe that under normal circumstances, all humans will become advanced philosophers (of any kind). Even after they have invented robots to do all the plowing, laundry, and programming.

This means you have a fatalistic view of man regarding his ability to choose to reason. He never will live up to that. Fair enough. I think that’s reasonable based on man’s track record. 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. I would have a little more hope for a rational world if it didn’t keep introducing new human beings into it. With each generation there’s the constant pressure to ensure they grow up properly and learn how to behave civilly which itself is no guarantee. 

5 hours ago, DavidOdden said:

It’s much more plausible that people will act like Objectivists on a mass scale, where “mass” is counted as at least 20% of the adult population. The problem is knowing whether that has happened. It’s easy to detect the signs that a person isn’t acting like an Objectivist, e.g. when they lie, cheat, steal, and vote for expanding the welfare state. Self-sacrificial ethics may in some cases be obvious, but I think it is actually difficult in most cases to tell whether a person is acting in a certain way because they feel it is their duty to subordinate their lives to others, versus whether they are acting benevolently and in a rationally self-interested way. But still, the question is whether it is reasonable to think that we will ever achieve that level of rationality in some society. I don’t expect that to happen in my lifetime, or my grandchild’s lifetime. Or in a millennium.

I’m not sure they can really act like Objectivists if they don’t have a decent grasp of the philosophy. But I take the general point they might act more rationally overall and I agree there is room for that certainly. The question is where is the limit? How far can we really go with it? How constrained is man’s nature? I appreciate your honesty regarding your expectations of the future. 

5 hours ago, DavidOdden said:

However, Objectivism is not a political philosophy, it is an integrated philosophical system. Before asking your question, I suggest looking deeper into the question of what aspects of the philosophy relate to political predictions and actions. The hardest thing for people to “get” is that one should chose one’s actions based on a moral code that puts your living as your central purpose. I would then divide that into the more intellectual art of understanding the nature of reason, and the more emotional / psychological art of acting as you know you should. Objectivism does not say that either of these things can be accomplished trivially. Objectivism does not say how you cause yourself to understand what “reason” is, it just says what reason is. If Objectivism were wrong about what reason is, then indeed Objectivism would have “failed”: but it’s not wrong, and it hasn’t failed on that front. Objectivism doesn’t exactly have a philosophical principle that explains why people follow emotion rather than reason, though it does tell you that it has something to do with treating emotion as a source of knowledge.

Yes this is a good point. I mentioned something similar earlier. Objectivism doesn’t address why people choose reason. It is the starting point. A fundamental choice. 

5 hours ago, DavidOdden said:

My own analysis, not a doctrine of Objectivism, is that people make a fundamental choice very early in life, regarding how they relate to society. Basically, you learn what you should do by analogy to what others do. If everybody says that recycling is good and you should recycle, then you don’t need to think about it, you just recycle. If everybody argues by saying “You wouldn’t want X” (pollution, death, slavery, unregulated economic exchange…), you can go with the crowd and impute to others your emotional reactions to facts, and tell people to trust my emotions.

Yes I agree this goes on but within the constraints of man’s nature that asserts a certain bias toward certain behaviours. I discussed my views on this further up. 

 

I will finish this pretty big post with a passage from Thomas Sowell: 

“Social visions differ in their basic conceptions of the nature of man. A creature from another galaxy who sought information about human beings from reading William Godwin’s Enquiry Concerning Political Justice in 1793 would hardly recognize man, as he appears there, as the same being who was described in The Federalist Papers just five years earlier. The contrast would be only slightly less if he compared man as he appeared in Thomas Paine and in Edmund Burke, or today in John Kenneth Galbraith and in Friedrich A. Hayek. Even the speculative pre-history of man as a wild creature in nature differs drastically between the free, innocent being conceived by Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the brutal participant in the bloody war of each against all conceived by Thomas Hobbes. The capacities and limitations of man are implicitly seen in radically different terms by those whose explicit philosophical, political, or social theories are built on different visions. Man’s moral and mental natures are seen so differently that their respective concepts of knowledge and of institutions necessarily differ as well. Social causation itself is conceived differently, both as to mechanics and results...” - A conflict of visions.

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