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Some beginner questions about morality and human nature

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Hey guys, I've only posted once before.  I'm someone who is interested in Objectivism and I've only read Atlas Shrugged so far (and some essays here and there), but I already have a few philosophical questions that I suspect are not totally unfamiliar to members of this forum.  These questions are prompted by discussions I've had with non-Objectivists, resulting in some unresolved issues that have come up.  I'm not sure how much I'm confusing concepts, thus my delegation to the experts here.

1). Regarding the cardinal values of Objectivist ethics: reason, purpose and self-esteem.  From these values, the corresponding virtues follow: rationality, independence, integrity, honesty, justice, productiveness, pride.

Now, lets try and balance these primary values/virtues against an individual’s secondary values, meaning they relate just to specific aspects of that unique individual’s personal life, e.g. success, work, romance, hobbies, relationships, etc. The primary values to me are quite clear.  Its not quite clear to me how the secondary values are configured into the primary values.

For instance, lets say I have someone who I have valued my whole life and care about deeply (family member, partner, etc.).  To that end they have satisfied and enriched my existence. But all of the sudden, after thinking about it for some time, I just make a brute rational calculation and realize that by deceiving them or throwing them under the bus (lets say for financial or social gain) it is in my long-term interest, i.e. on the basis of my crudely defined secondary values (reputation, success, career advancement, etc.). The value of my betrayed victim immediately diminishes post-calculation: from 1 to 0, just like that. Assuming I truly hold to my secondary values, I suffer no regret or remorse over my callous actions, which again I find to be in the service of my longer-term goals.   One can imagine that sociopaths are capable of this kind of binary reasoning.

Its clear to me that such an action of deception, first and foremost, violates at least a few of the primary virtues listed above (namely honesty and integrity) and thus cuts me off from attainment of the cardinal values. In the extreme case, you are sacrificing the other person, which also contradicts the above virtues.    But beyond that, is there any other rational opposition to such narcissistic behavior? How does one balance the value of personal aspiration against the value of their relationship with others in their life? Is it possible for the secondary values that define one's path in life to be truly objective?

At a certain point, I know I am stepping out and questioning the virtues which I already stated must be assumed to be true.  So I guess as a separate and ultimate question, for a beginner like me to the subject, which I need to address beforehand is: what is intrinsically wrong with sacrificing others for your own self-interest?  I can make an educated guess about what some of the responses to this question will be, but dont want to get ahead. And I would like to hear a more eloquent explanation of it.

Or I am just treading about this the wrong way from the very beginning.

 

2). Regarding human nature.  If I’m not mistaken Objectivism views every human problem through the lens of philosophy, from which it derives its optimism: the hope that man can be salvaged through ideas, above all else. 

However, given what we know about human evolution, the mammalian origins of the human brain, etc. it seems that our nature is rather complex. We are composite organisms; combinations of both the rational and irrational.  That we lived as hunter-gatherers in large units and tribes for so long (tens of thousands of years) may be so deeply seared into our biological programming, that it just begs the question if we can ever truly shake off altruism and tribalism.  A specific and very familiar example, I would imagine, shall illustrate my point.

One thing that keeps pulling me down the black hole of pessimism is the human capacity to imagine problems and conflicts when they need not exist (institutional racism, inequality, climate apocalypse, etc. you name it) .  Its almost pathological. If there ever were a time for humans to have realized the proofs for individualism, free-markets and the Enlightenment- it would have been this decade.  We are living in the most prosperous, peaceful and advanced time in human history: socially, materially and economically. The market is close to achieving the worker paradise that Marx dreamed up, but failed to deliver.  If my camel-grazing ancestors took a time machine to the present day, they would think us Gods.

Yet, it seems that society has retreated more into tribalism, identity politics, nationalism, socialism, etc. just as much (if not more) as it did a century ago.  In the digital age of information, people can be just as credulous and monstrous as they were in the age of pre-information. It would appear we just pass through this periodic wave of Enlightenment and counter-Enlightenment and now the cycle is finishing (or beginning). 

Perhaps this is all pointing to something deeper, more fundamental that is entrenched within us; that there are variables and coefficients in the equation of human nature.  We can meddle with the variables (knowledge, music, literature, etc.), but the coefficients (collectivism, tribalism, conformity, etc.) are fixed indefinitely (or at least until the Singularity comes to pass). From Mystics of Spirit to Mystics of Muscle to Mystics of Identity.  It seems the insatiable lust for tribalism and irrationalism can never be satisfied nor eradicated.  I find it difficult to be so optimistic in an age not just where humans can fail, but where they want each other to fail. I mean, I read comments on social media where people are actually pleading for the producers to stop being so successful and innovative in the name of climate change.  Its almost a built-in, suicidal, cannibalistic instinct.

So how do we justify having so much hope in the rational capacity of human beings?

I figure a lot of the folks here have heard these objections.  I’m curious for your input.

I hope its not too incoherent or rambling in tone.  I appreciate your consideration of my inquiries/talking points.

 

Edited by Human

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Human, please, forgive me for not reading the entire commentary of your pessimism regarding human nature. That being said, I'd like to address your basic inquiry:

8 hours ago, Human said:

So how do we justify having so much hope in the rational capacity of human beings?

Speaking strictly for myself, and not as an "expert" on the studies of Objectivism, my optimism is based on the fact that the human race persists. It's as simple as that. Or, I could offer more, and point out that between 1949 through to 1991, the shadow of nuclear annihilation presented the very real possibility of ended humanity, or to say that least, civilization as we know it. Rationality may not displace the less desirable aspects of human nature in a single generation. I've witnessed progress, and yet, as you, I can't easily shake off the pessimism that irrational people seem to gravitate to places of power, sometimes very dangerous power. If judged by the improving standards of living for more and more of the global population, there is much cause for hope. Given that the same technologies that improve human life can be used to reduce our liberties, or even enslave us, we have ever greater reason to be vigilant and engaged in the confrontation of those that wield great power. Man's greatest nature, that which makes him distinct from the animals, is his ability to reason. And so long as we have the freedom to reason, hope springs eternal.    

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11 hours ago, Human said:

It seems the insatiable lust for tribalism and irrationalism can never be satisfied nor eradicated.  I find it difficult to be so optimistic in an age not just where humans can fail, but where they want each other to fail. I mean, I read comments on social media where people are actually pleading for the producers to stop being so successful and innovative in the name of climate change.  Its almost a built-in, suicidal, cannibalistic instinct.

What about human's insatiable lust for freedom and rationality? You don't see people desiring a worthwhile life and willing to pay a price to coexist with others? In fact, an appreciation for coexisting with others?

If it were the way you describe, society only having irrationality and perhaps non-social members, no society can survive, no cohesion. But we have had continuous progress and casualties of war have decreased consistently. As far as I know, based on something Bill Gates said, even with the broken type of Crony Capitalism that we have in the world, poverty as we know it will be eradicated in something like 30 years.

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23 hours ago, Human said:

But beyond that, is there any other rational opposition to such narcissistic behavior? How does one balance the value of personal aspiration against the value of their relationship with others in their life? Is it possible for the secondary values that define one's path in life to be truly objective?

It may be easier for a diagnosed sociopath to overlook emotional issues, sure. That doesn't mean the result is whatever binary decision the person is thinking about. The problem is you've defined values as just some emotional thing that you decide spontaneously. Starting with emotion at the base (perhaps valuing your brother because it feels like the right thing to do and you are "supposed to") isn't the only starting point to think about this, trying to reason out why someone is valuable in the first place helps to see what place that person holds for your purpose and self-esteem.

What caused you to change your valuation? Why did you have that prior valuation? In what way is your life enhanced? Why do your aspirations have any conflict with your relationship with others? What changed about the person? What changed about you? Those are the types of questions you can ask yourself to see how your actions might affect your values.

Edited by Eiuol

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Without trying to unravel the body of the post, look back at your chosen title for the thread.

Some beginner questions about morality and human nature

Miss Rand recognized that the first question regarding morality is: "What are values and why does man need them?

The cardinal values of Objectivism are the culmination of her answer to her identification of the nature of man. Conversely, if your view of the nature of man does not culminate into the values identified as being the cardinal values of Objectivism, who are you going to call on?

Ultimately it is your choice whether you are correct in your conclusion(s) or not. Ayn Rand stated this most cogently in this following excerpt from Atlas Shrugged, speaking via Hugh Akston:

"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."

It is only prudent to add another consideration at this point in the juncture. Be sure that your judgment is validly certain.

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On 1/16/2020 at 10:11 PM, Human said:

But beyond that, is there any other rational opposition to such narcissistic behavior?

What behavior? Your "act of deception" has no substance, no details, no context. Your basic error is thinking that you've offered an example worth analyzing.

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On 1/17/2020 at 1:11 AM, Human said:

But beyond that, is there any other rational opposition to such narcissistic behavior?

The actor could regret such behavior later. Making a habit of such behavior is probably detrimental in the long-run. Ethics, surely for Rand, concerns the long-run, not merely the short-run.

Edited by merjet

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On 1/16/2020 at 10:11 PM, Human said:

But all of the sudden, after thinking about it for some time, I just make a brute rational calculation and realize that by deceiving them or throwing them under the bus (lets say for financial or social gain) it is in my long-term interest, i.e. on the basis of my crudely defined secondary values (reputation, success, career advancement, etc.). The value of my betrayed victim immediately diminishes post-calculation: from 1 to 0, just like that. Assuming I truly hold to my secondary values, I suffer no regret or remorse over my callous actions, which again I find to be in the service of my longer-term goals.   One can imagine that sociopaths are capable of this kind of binary reasoning.

But there is an important incongruence between the model of reason as calculation (as in, say, Hobbes) and other theories of mental activity. Nobody actually thinks like that. We don't go "I value this person n¹ units, and that thing n² units, therefore I will do x." That attributes a kind of incommensurable quantification of persons, things, actions (what unit would even be measured here?), and attributes to people a kind of calculative reasoning people don't normally perform in day to day activities. Sometimes we do calculate things, but part of what makes being a sociopath deficient in some way is that they are unable to see things in non-binary terms.

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On 1/16/2020 at 11:11 PM, Human said:

thus my delegation to the experts here.

To me, an "expert" on Objectivism would be an orthodox Objectivist with a PhD in philosophy or comparable knowledge. I can't immediately think of anyone on OO.com that I would consider an "expert" in that sense.

Most of the regulars here are intelligent, reasonably well educated, much more interested in philosophy than the average person, and much more sympathetic to Objectivism than the average person. If that's who you want answers from, great, but keep in mind that you need to think carefully about what they are saying, myself included.

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3 hours ago, William O said:

If that's who you want answers from, great, but keep in mind that you need to think carefully about what they are saying, myself included.

Do you think less carefully about what orthodox Objectivists with PhDs say?

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Philosophically, Ayn Rand is right, but that is a fact that one needs to discover for one's own self.

The current portal states:

Objectivism Is The Everyman's Philosophy
in the universe, what you see is what you get,
figuring it out for yourself is the way to happiness,
and each person's independence is respected by all.

An individual seeking to understand the essentials in life is more likely to hone the abilities to recognize essentials when they're encountered, and eventually come to realization that the map or labyrinth of essentials is larger than can feasibly be fully explored in a lifetime.

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On 1/17/2020 at 10:14 AM, Repairman said:

Human, please, forgive me for not reading the entire commentary of your pessimism regarding human nature. That being said, I'd like to address your basic inquiry:

Speaking strictly for myself, and not as an "expert" on the studies of Objectivism, my optimism is based on the fact that the human race persists. It's as simple as that. Or, I could offer more, and point out that between 1949 through to 1991, the shadow of nuclear annihilation presented the very real possibility of ended humanity, or to say that least, civilization as we know it. Rationality may not displace the less desirable aspects of human nature in a single generation. I've witnessed progress, and yet, as you, I can't easily shake off the pessimism that irrational people seem to gravitate to places of power, sometimes very dangerous power. If judged by the improving standards of living for more and more of the global population, there is much cause for hope. Given that the same technologies that improve human life can be used to reduce our liberties, or even enslave us, we have ever greater reason to be vigilant and engaged in the confrontation of those that wield great power. Man's greatest nature, that which makes him distinct from the animals, is his ability to reason. And so long as we have the freedom to reason, hope springs eternal.    

 

Yes, I see entirely what you mean.  Yet I cant help but notice that as we live in an era of prosperity driven by the machine of techno-capitalism, its very functionality depends on the temperament of a bunch of unenlightened ingrates surely committed to its destruction.  And yes, I know the operative term there is "enlightenment".  But my point is, if people are not yet able to connect the philosophical dots, then when? We live in an age of free information.  Today, the global middle-class is a majority for the first time in history.  We have made improvements in standard of living by orders of magnitude.  Nevermind that we're re-engineering human biology and 3D printing homes and large-scale infrastructures.  The difference between the primitive past and present is palpable, to say the least.  

And so how do we celebrate these great achievements of the men of the mind? Oxfam releases a video condemning billionaires as a sign of failure.  I mean, there are plenty of depressing polls and surveys on public social attitudes that capture this point more resolutely.

I just dont see what is left within what Steven Pinker calls the "recursive combinatorial power" of the human mind that can make the great philosophical leap, if it hasn't done so already.  What else does one need to demonstrate? Or, as I said before, this is just a regular cycle of history we go through.

Edited by Human

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On 1/17/2020 at 12:37 PM, Easy Truth said:

What about human's insatiable lust for freedom and rationality? You don't see people desiring a worthwhile life and willing to pay a price to coexist with others? In fact, an appreciation for coexisting with others?

If it were the way you describe, society only having irrationality and perhaps non-social members, no society can survive, no cohesion. But we have had continuous progress and casualties of war have decreased consistently. As far as I know, based on something Bill Gates said, even with the broken type of Crony Capitalism that we have in the world, poverty as we know it will be eradicated in something like 30 years.

Firstly, I never said that humans are singularly irrational.  What I stated was that humans are a complex mixture of both the rational and irrational.  However, and I hope for reasons that are obvious, it is the irrational component that keeps me up at night.  To the extent that our irrational impulses can be modulated by our rational capacities, then I am hopeful.

Secondly, and I want to stress this, you do not need to convince me that the world is getting better.  I am reading Steven Pinker's book "Enlightenment Now" and I know all those arguments and regularly offer them myself.  As I said, to the extent that humans are rational, the thesis of Enlightenment Now is valid.  But what happens when the unpredictable demons of irrationality begin to stir? I am not concerned about the deterioration of human material well-being; I am concerned about those who are concerned about material well-being- those who imagine a resource apocalypse or a conspiracy of wealth and power that is secretly plotting against them- and clutch to their tribal defense mechanisms for security.

You want to talk about cohesion and social breakdown? Just look at the culturally pathetic state of America today.  Just observe the social fragmentation along the lines of identity politics, a growing nostalgia for totalitarian ideologies, ecological mysticism- you name it.  You can sense the nihilism, restlessness and lust for disorder and mayhem all the time. Its like there is an inverse law which states that the better the conditions of humanity become, the more discontent they must be.

The greatest liberal institutions and historical defenders of civil liberties/free speech (free press, university) are now the greatest offenders and desecrators of these once cherished values. The New York times has made a pass time of blushing over communism. Our society is pathologically obsessed with gender and racial engineering.  Big companies are in a contest to appease diversity mongers and victim warriors all the time.  Words like "privilege" and "whiteness" have become such cardinal sins of self-flagellation, its sounds like some creepy new age secular protestant religion, where "check your privilege" has become a ritual act of self-purification.  Its all nauseating, to say the least.  These are the cries of a culturally and morally porous society.

America is going through something unique, that I think other smaller, more homogeneous democracies have not fully confronted yet.  But it also seems to be a story, a lesson about the limitations of human nature. Dont get me wrong.  I don't say this with any gratification.  I just find it alarming, and somewhat of a warning sign, that so many people are both unconvinced of the virtues of the Enlightenment and actively campaigning against it.  Perhaps we have overestimated the coefficient of rationality for the majority.  Perhaps rationality works for certain people under very specific conditions and we have lazily extrapolated and generalized that to the whole, without taking other variables into account (values, culture, etc.). I just think we should have a more balanced view of the reality of human nature.

Edited by Human

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On 1/17/2020 at 6:09 PM, Eiuol said:

It may be easier for a diagnosed sociopath to overlook emotional issues, sure. That doesn't mean the result is whatever binary decision the person is thinking about. The problem is you've defined values as just some emotional thing that you decide spontaneously. Starting with emotion at the base (perhaps valuing your brother because it feels like the right thing to do and you are "supposed to") isn't the only starting point to think about this, trying to reason out why someone is valuable in the first place helps to see what place that person holds for your purpose and self-esteem.

What caused you to change your valuation? Why did you have that prior valuation? In what way is your life enhanced? Why do your aspirations have any conflict with your relationship with others? What changed about the person? What changed about you? Those are the types of questions you can ask yourself to see how your actions might affect your values.

Lets say my valuation is based on the fact that I aspire to have a successful career in something that I am naturally good at (say starting a business of some sort).  Therefore, I want to realize my full potential as an individual by succeeding in that endeavor. It is all for my self-esteem. But, in the meantime, I am being dragged down by some personal commitment in my life (e.g. family member, romantic partner, etc.) and after thinking about it long and hard, it is almost a certifiable probability that eliminating that individual from my personal equation will benefit me (as I have defined it).  And all I have to do is abandon them, cut them off or [fill in the blank]....the point is, the end (success/ambition) justifies the means (severing my personal relationship).

Before this career opportunity arose, that person in my life had the most value and afterwards, their value diminished. So objectively why cant I compromise them?

I imagine that such a one-dimensional valuation of purpose in life is perhaps an oversimplification.  But lets say for the sake of argument it isnt.

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On 1/18/2020 at 12:40 AM, dream_weaver said:

Without trying to unravel the body of the post, look back at your chosen title for the thread.

Some beginner questions about morality and human nature

Miss Rand recognized that the first question regarding morality is: "What are values and why does man need them?

The cardinal values of Objectivism are the culmination of her answer to her identification of the nature of man. Conversely, if your view of the nature of man does not culminate into the values identified as being the cardinal values of Objectivism, who are you going to call on?

Ultimately it is your choice whether you are correct in your conclusion(s) or not. Ayn Rand stated this most cogently in this following excerpt from Atlas Shrugged, speaking via Hugh Akston:

"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."

It is only prudent to add another consideration at this point in the juncture. Be sure that your judgment is validly certain.

I think I generally get this point.  I am however struggling with actually trying to apply it in so many different aspects of life.  Its not quite clear to me how that decision tree works out.

If values are a descriptive answer to questions about human nature and we need these values to survive, therefore it follows that altruism (sacrifice) is immoral. But if sacrifice is immoral, is it because of a utilitarian type argument "if everyone did it then everyone loses"? I know Ayn Rand says in the famous Galt speech that under the morality of sacrifice, the first thing you sacrifice is morality and then self-esteem.  She goes on to make the case that this leads to a society where need is the primary standard, as opposed to life, where man is both victim and parasite.

And if the argument is utilitarian/consequentialist, then can we conceive of a situation- no matter how bizarre or improbable- where sacrificing someone else for our own benefit would be worth it?

Edited by Human

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On 1/18/2020 at 6:55 PM, 2046 said:

But there is an important incongruence between the model of reason as calculation (as in, say, Hobbes) and other theories of mental activity. Nobody actually thinks like that. We don't go "I value this person n¹ units, and that thing n² units, therefore I will do x." That attributes a kind of incommensurable quantification of persons, things, actions (what unit would even be measured here?), and attributes to people a kind of calculative reasoning people don't normally perform in day to day activities. Sometimes we do calculate things, but part of what makes being a sociopath deficient in some way is that they are unable to see things in non-binary terms.

But we do make cost/benefit calculations, do we not? Not necessarily in crude numerical terms, but we often balance the pros against the cons.

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On 1/19/2020 at 11:33 AM, William O said:

To me, an "expert" on Objectivism would be an orthodox Objectivist with a PhD in philosophy or comparable knowledge. I can't immediately think of anyone on OO.com that I would consider an "expert" in that sense.

Most of the regulars here are intelligent, reasonably well educated, much more interested in philosophy than the average person, and much more sympathetic to Objectivism than the average person. If that's who you want answers from, great, but keep in mind that you need to think carefully about what they are saying, myself included.

Yes, I figured.  And since I am more likely to encounter skeptical responses toward Objectivism elsewhere, I decided to come here and address my questions.  In particular, the details and nuances I have not fully grasped in my reading.

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17 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

Philosophically, Ayn Rand is right, but that is a fact that one needs to discover for one's own self.

The current portal states:

Objectivism Is The Everyman's Philosophy
in the universe, what you see is what you get,
figuring it out for yourself is the way to happiness,
and each person's independence is respected by all.

An individual seeking to understand the essentials in life is more likely to hone the abilities to recognize essentials when they're encountered, and eventually come to realization that the map or labyrinth of essentials is larger than can feasibly be fully explored in a lifetime.

Yes, that is the abstract part that makes sense to me. And frankly, I cant think of anyone who would dispute that wisdom.

But everyday life is a bit more complicated than that.  There are circumstances where we have to make very difficult and tortured decisions.  This is often where human emotion plays an important role.  Therefore, I am curious to what extent a truly, rationally calibrated approach to the world is actually practicable (for every single person).

Edited by Human

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4 hours ago, Human said:

eliminating that individual from my personal equation will benefit me

What does eliminating mean? I mean, all you need to do is make them take a less position in your life than the thing you value more. 

 

Edited by Eiuol

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3 hours ago, Human said:

And if the argument is utilitarian/consequentialist, then can we conceive of a situation- no matter how bizarre or improbable- where sacrificing someone else for our own benefit would be worth it?

If the argument is utilitarian/consequentialist, then it is no longer the Objectivist argument that is being explored.

To address this complication and presumably others, you stated:

2 hours ago, Human said:

This is often where human emotion plays an important role.

Does human emotion (or do human emotions) differ between a lifetime based on "a truly rational calibrated approach" and a lifetime based on "a not truly rational calibrated approach"?

Which set of human emotions are you angling for?

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Human, you seem to see things as they are, without considering an optimistic vision of the way things could be. While I commend you for your grasp of the predicament facing Western Civilization, your emphasis on the multitudes of collectivist irrationality, my best counter-argument is that until the worst outcome is manifest, the best within each of us must continue the struggle to achieve the best outcome, by whatever definition you hold as the standard of the "best overcome."

On 1/20/2020 at 3:14 PM, Human said:

...But my point is, if people are not yet able to connect the philosophical dots, then when? We live in an age of free information.  Today, the global middle-class is a majority for the first time in history.  We have made improvements in standard of living by orders of magnitude.  Nevermind that we're re-engineering human biology and 3D printing homes and large-scale infrastructures.  The difference between the primitive past and present is palpable, to say the least. 

And so it is true. We make the best use of our freedom to exchange information, to innovate or engineer, and to create our own enterprises.  I recommend to you to try to disregard the masses and their collectivist agenda. When conditions allow, argue the best case for reason to those who know only how to follow. Perhaps they may find new leaders one day. You may never "convert" some people, but if one individual begins to doubt his/her beliefs, you might make them aware of the fact that there are alternatives to mainstream myopia.

On 1/20/2020 at 3:14 PM, Human said:

And so how do we celebrate these great achievements of the men of the mind? Oxfam releases a video condemning billionaires as a sign of failure.  I mean, there are plenty of depressing polls and surveys on public social attitudes that capture this point more resolutely.

Objectivism celebrates the great achievements of capitalism, and other movements advocating personal prosperity, constructive purpose, and entrepreneurial success are gaining popularity. Using our freedom of communication, you could create a video exposing the absurdity of the socialist agenda.

On 1/20/2020 at 3:14 PM, Human said:

... What else does one need to demonstrate? Or, as I said before, this is just a regular cycle of history we go through.

This is a very important question: A regular cycle of history, or a Second Dark Age??? So many modern nation-states have experienced the pains of reforming runaway socialist economic systems. If we learn anything from it, I'm fairly confident that the USA will not have to endure the worst privations that have resulted in the failure of other economic systems. If they're unaware of the causes, they will only continue to treat the symptoms. It sure would be a shame, and it'll be wild ride to the bottom. Either way, the men of the mind may go on strike for a period, but eventually a few of them will emerge, and the arch of history marches on.

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On ‎1‎/‎20‎/‎2020 at 5:42 PM, Human said:

And if the argument is utilitarian/consequentialist, then can we conceive of a situation- no matter how bizarre or improbable- where sacrificing someone else for our own benefit would be worth it?

Philosophers use "utilitarian" and "consequentialism" in some very specific ways which are not congruous with Objectivism.  The similarities are that indeed for an objective reality based morality it MUST be evaluative on a factual basis only and must take into account all of reality including the nature and life of the actor (including a very deep and complex psychology) and causality long range... i.e. it IS about the consequences, but ALL of them.

There is NO supernatural, extra-reality, collectivist, religious, intrinsic, or any other non "rational egoism" type of consideration... and you would be correct to understand this... but it is far from a simple accounting of superficials... flourishing for a normal human being requires not only physical but also psychological flourishing.

"Sacrificing someone else for our own benefit would be worth it?"  ...  would be worth it if it were possible for it to be to one's actual benefit...  taking sacrificing to mean violating their rights, initiating harm, not protecting your rights or preventing harm... if you are a normal human being I think you would be as successful - psychologically speaking - as you would be trying to "sacrifice" your target using a suicide vest.  Psychotics and sociopaths (real ones... not the referent of the anti-concept lefties bandy about for people they disagree with) might be different... but objective morality is for human beings, who by their nature would not benefit long range (certainly not psychologically) from living a life of predation.  In fact, any short cut in reality weakens the perpetrator, undercuts his ability to deal with reality and undermines his self-esteem.

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On 1/20/2020 at 2:19 PM, Human said:

the end (success/ambition) justifies the means (severing my personal relationship).

How would severing a personal relationship cause business success? Is this like a mafia thing? Or maybe a "cancel culture" situation? Like if you shake hands with Trump at a football game, you might not get hired by certain Hollywood movie producers?

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On 1/20/2020 at 2:57 PM, Human said:

America is going through something unique, that I think other smaller, more homogeneous democracies have not fully confronted yet.  But it also seems to be a story, a lesson about the limitations of human nature. Dont get me wrong.  I don't say this with any gratification.  I just find it alarming, and somewhat of a warning sign, that so many people are both unconvinced of the virtues of the Enlightenment and actively campaigning against it.  Perhaps we have overestimated the coefficient of rationality for the majority.  Perhaps rationality works for certain people under very specific conditions and we have lazily extrapolated and generalized that to the whole, without taking other variables into account (values, culture, etc.). I just think we should have a more balanced view of the reality of human nature.

Granted, humans have limitations. As you say, "values, culture, etc." have an influence. Doesn't that mean that competence at changing value culture etc. is very valuable, assuming you want a change for the better. You are pretty well written, seems like you have an advantage in that area already and it gives a clear direction and hope for success. But for some reason, there is this underlying assessment that the trends are too strong to change.

If you and and all people that could change trends believed that, trends will rule us instead of us ruling them. So at this point it is a choice: "I can change things" or "I can't change things". One's consciousness completely changes based on which paradigm is chosen. They can't coexist, it is one or the other.

Edited by Easy Truth

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On 1/19/2020 at 2:48 PM, MisterSwig said:

Do you think less carefully about what orthodox Objectivists with PhDs say?

Those are the people you need to be the most careful about, in practice.

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