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Economic Freedom's: Objectivists are working to save the world from tyranny--isn't that altruism?

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*** Split from Objectivists are working to save the world from tyranny--isn't that altruism? ***

On 8/19/2021 at 12:50 PM, Eiuol said:

>I don't know where you got this interpretation. He didn't believe in the permanent enslavement for most people, and said nothing in particular about there being some superior class that others serve. 

I got the interpretation from Aristotle himself by actually reading his treatise on politics; viz.:

https://historyofeconomicthought.mcmaster.ca/aristotle/Politics.pdf

Page 8,
Part V

"But is there any one thus intended by nature to be a slave, and for whom such a condition is expedient and right, or rather is not all slavery a violation of nature?

There is no difficulty in answering this question, on grounds both of reason and of fact. For that some should rule and others be ruled is a thing not only necessary, but expedient; from the hour of their birth, some are marked out for subjection, others for rule."

Aristotle is quite clear on the matter.

Edited by dream_weaver
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2 hours ago, Doug Morris said:

I won't argue with you about Freud.  Can you back up your claim about Darwin?

 

In "Descent of Man", Darwin claimed that human morality evolved in the same way that biological organisms presumably evolved: by the two-pronged mechanism of 1) random mutation, sifted by means of 2) natural selection. It's a strictly non-rational viewpoint: random mutation = stochastic event (i.e., chance); natural selection = deterministic event. Teleology – goal-oriented approach – has no part in Darwin's view of human morality. It should be pointed out that this view was also held and extended by later adherents of Darwin's.

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I sometimes wonder why committed Objectivists will not read source materials by authors they criticize. They seem to rely on statements by self-proclaimed authorities on Objectivism (e.g., Peikoff, Kelley, et al.), but closer inspection of those authorities often reveals that they haven't read the source materials either. Sadly, this was sometimes true of Rand herself. For example, she once made an offhand criticism of Emerson by misquoting his statement about consistency. She claimed he said "Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds", when in fact, he wrote, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines." Something quite different.

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3 hours ago, Economic Freedom said:

In "Descent of Man", Darwin claimed that human morality evolved in the same way that biological organisms presumably evolved: by the two-pronged mechanism of 1) random mutation, sifted by means of 2) natural selection. It's a strictly non-rational viewpoint: random mutation = stochastic event (i.e., chance); natural selection = deterministic event. Teleology – goal-oriented approach – has no part in Darwin's view of human morality. It should be pointed out that this view was also held and extended by later adherents of Darwin's.

This is different from what LB said.

Evolution in this way is how we acquired the faculty of reason.  Once we had reason, we used it to acquire morality.

 

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3 hours ago, Economic Freedom said:

I wasn't aware that history has worked out so badly. Not even sure what that statement means.

It has always been true that more countries have authoritarian governments than relatively free ones.  Even in the relatively free ones there have been lots of mistakes, which have done a lot of harm.  There have also been lots of wars and mass murders.

 

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>Evolution in this way is how we acquired the faculty of reason.

So, humans were originally irrational (evidence of that?), and then through Darwinian evolution (i.e., chance mutation plus natural selection) the faculty of reason (definition of that, please?) simply appeared (as a beneficial mutation). Then humans thought really hard, and then they acquired morality.

Got it. Sounds a bit like like one of those "Just So" stories by Rudyard Kipling (how the giraffe "acquired" its long neck; how the leopard "acquired" its spots; etc. Highly recommended fiction reading.)

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3 minutes ago, Doug Morris said:

Non-rational (lacking the faculty of reason), not irrational (having it but failing to use it).  There is plenty of evidence, including but not limited to comparisons of genomes, that we share common ancestors with all other animals, none of which are rational as we are.

Reason is the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by the senses.  One crucial feature is the ability to form concepts, as discussed in ITOE.

 

>Reason is the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by the senses.  One crucial feature is the ability to form concepts, as discussed in ITOE

Thanks for quoting Rand. I was hoping for a definition that was more substantial.

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7 minutes ago, Doug Morris said:

Non-rational (lacking the faculty of reason), not irrational (having it but failing to use it).  There is plenty of evidence, including but not limited to comparisons of genomes, that we share common ancestors with all other animals, none of which are rational as we are.

Reason is the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by the senses.  One crucial feature is the ability to form concepts, as discussed in ITOE.

 

> There is plenty of evidence, including but not limited to comparisons of genomes, that we share common ancestors with all other animals, none of which are rational as we are.

So certain genetic changes -- caused by a chance mutation, which was then retained by natural selection -- in "non-rational" animals caused a subset of those animals (i.e., humans) to acquire reason. Correct?

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34 minutes ago, Doug Morris said:

It has always been true that more countries have authoritarian governments than relatively free ones.  Even in the relatively free ones there have been lots of mistakes, which have done a lot of harm.  There have also been lots of wars and mass murders.

 

Yep. And your assertion is that if only everyone throughout the course of human history had been a "true" Objectivist like, e.g., Leonard Peikoff, there would not have been wars, mass murders, or "mistakes." Correct?

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8 minutes ago, Economic Freedom said:

So certain genetic changes -- caused by a chance mutation, which was then retained by natural selection -- in "non-rational" animals caused a subset of those animals (i.e., humans) to acquire reason. Correct?

Yes, although there may have been more than one mutation, and one gene can affect the functioning of other genes.

 

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1 minute ago, Economic Freedom said:

Yep. And your assertion is that if only everyone throughout the course of human history had been a "true" Objectivist like, e.g., Leonard Peikoff, there would not have been wars, mass murders, or "mistakes." Correct?

Yes, although that would have been impossible, because first the philosophy must be formulated, and then people have to learn it.

 

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7 minutes ago, Doug Morris said:

Yes, although that would have been impossible, because first the philosophy must be formulated, and then people have to learn it.

 

First you say "Yes", and then you say "That would've been impossible" (which is the same as saying "No"). You're aware that Marxists claim that if only everyone had followed Marx, history would've been better; Christians claim if only everyone followed the teachings of Jesus and the writings of St. Paul, history would've been better; and of course, Bill Maher and Sam Harris claim that if only there had never been religion, history would've been better (no wars, no mass murders, etc. . . . despite the fact that in 20th century history, all of the mass murders and crimes against humanity were committed by atheist regimes). 

>and then people have to learn it . . .

Right. And what if they learn it and then find lots of flaws in it?

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16 minutes ago, Doug Morris said:

Yes, although there may have been more than one mutation, and one gene can affect the functioning of other genes.

 

Sure, I mean, who can tell, right?

So "reason" -- the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by perception -- is not mental at all but actually physical, right? And if someone has a superior reasoning faculty, it must because he or she has superior genes underlying that faculty. Similarly, if someone has an inferior reasoning faculty, it can only be because he or she has inferior genes. Sounds like something out of an early 20th century book on eugenics.

By the way, you're aware that genetics has established that the great majority of chance mutations to the genome are either injurious to the organism, or simply neutral (i.e., they don't change the organism in any fundamental way, e.g., blue eyes and blond hair vs. brown eyes and brown hair). The idea that a random, chance, pure-dumb-luck mutation from a DNA copying error, or a stray cosmic ray hitting the genome, caused a fundamental and beneficial change in an animal species to such a large extent -- acquisition of reason, acquisition of language, etc. -- is far-fetched, with no compelling evidence except, of course, philosophical bias (which is not evidence at all).

And you're aware that Ayn Rand herself implicitly expressed some skepticism about Darwinian evolution at a Ford Hall Forum lecture in the 1970s? Someone in the audience asked her about evolution and she said simply, "I'm not a student of Darwin's theory." 

The truth is that Darwin's notion of dumb-luck combined with natural selection is not a theory at all but, at best, a hypothesis . . . and one that is not well supported either by the fossil record (which mainly shows long periods of stasis punctuated by rapid change, with few or no intermediates) or by modern biochemistry (which shows genetics to be based on a system of coded-chemistry, and which also shows biological systems -- the cell, for example -- to be hierarchical, with systems being dependent on lower, more fundamental systems. The systems could not have "evolved" piecemeal, element by element, because the entire system needs to be in place simultaneously for other systems to function at all. So the "slow-and-steady-over-long-periods-of-time" notion of classical Darwinism doesn't work in the laboratory, regardless of how attractive it might be to a philosophically naïve-materialism bias).

Finally: The genome determines protein synthesis (the "proteome"). There's no evidence that proteins of any sort cause or lie at the foundation of "mind", "consciousness", or of a power or faculty of mind or consciousness such as "reason." To assume otherwise is simply arbitrary.

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7 hours ago, Economic Freedom said:

I got the interpretation from Aristotle himself by actually reading his treatise on politics; viz.:

I know that he said some people by nature are slaves. I don't deny that he said that. But I still don't see where you are getting the idea that he said most people should be permanently enslaved. He isn't saying that all people who are ruled or slaves, and all rulers are masters in the absolute sense you are thinking of. He says elsewhere that the ruled should partake in ruling, and rulers should partake in being ruled. Not in equal terms, but in some degree. The reason looks to be that if some people can be properly ruled, then some people are fit for a complete subjugation. 

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4 hours ago, Economic Freedom said:

the faculty of reason (definition of that, please?)

4 hours ago, Economic Freedom said:
4 hours ago, Doug Morris said:

Reason is the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by the senses.  One crucial feature is the ability to form concepts, as discussed in ITOE.

Thanks for quoting Rand. I was hoping for a definition that was more substantial.

 

Presumably the faculty that is making communication, such as it has been so far, between you and others on this graciously offered website that you found reasonable enough by your own 'faculty of reason' [your own mind] to apply for posting privileges on.

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9 hours ago, Economic Freedom said:

I got the interpretation from Aristotle himself by actually reading his treatise on politics; viz.:

I just realized, you just said you are LB, did you forget that your trolling account was where you made that claim?

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8 hours ago, Eiuol said:

I just realized, you just said you are LB, did you forget that your trolling account was where you made that claim?

>I just realized, you just said you are LB

I was unmistakably speaking on behalf of myself. LB wasn't confused by my post but it seems you were. It also seems you have taken it upon yourself to be LB's spokesperson. Is your intervention requested by LB or is it unsolicited?

In any case: if someone posts a statement about Aristotle, he or she should open a book by Aristotle and check to confirm it, or disconfirm it. It's called "research." Objectivists are great about opening books by Ayn Rand and quoting her verbatim, but they often fail to open anyone else's books to confirm or disconfirm their statements about the authors. It's not only called "research"; it's called "checking your premises."

Sadly, Miss Rand herself was guilty of such a practice. Her statement about Emerson is one small example; her "review" of John Rawls's book on a Theory of Justice in The Ayn Rand Letter – which, by her own admission, she "wouldn't bother reading" – is another. If you haven't read a book, don't waste a reader's time by pretending to "review" it. 

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13 hours ago, Economic Freedom said:

you say "That would've been impossible" (which is the same as saying "No")

This does not follow.

13 hours ago, Economic Freedom said:

You're aware that Marxists claim that if only everyone had followed Marx, history would've been better; Christians claim if only everyone followed the teachings of Jesus and the writings of St. Paul, history would've been better; and of course, Bill Maher and Sam Harris claim that if only there had never been religion, history would've been better (no wars, no mass murders, etc. . . . despite the fact that in 20th century history, all of the mass murders and crimes against humanity were committed by atheist regimes). 

I was not claiming that this was an argument for Objectivism.  I was claiming that this was why history had worked out so badly.

13 hours ago, Economic Freedom said:

Right. And what if they learn it and then find lots of flaws in it?

If anyone proves that there are lots of flaws in Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism, or in Einstein's theory of relativity, or in the theory of chemical bonds in its modern form, or in the theory of evolution as formulated by modern biologists, then whatever has been proven to be flawed will have to be reworked or replaced.  We shouldn't treat this as a serious possibility unless there is strong enough evidence for the existence of such a proof,

 

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11 hours ago, Eiuol said:

know that he said some people by nature are slaves. I don't deny that he said that. But I still don't see where you are getting the idea that he said most people should be permanently enslaved.

> I know that he said some people by nature are slaves. 

Since the "nature" of something = its "identity"; and since the "nature/identity" of a thing = that which persists in the thing throughout time (otherwise, its identity would change over time, right?); then the statement "by nature are slaves" = "they are permanently slaves". It's their nature, so it's also their identity, therefore it's permanent. I hope that's clear.

>I don't deny that he said that. But I still don't see where you are getting the idea that he said most people should be permanently enslaved.

I proffered  no opinion regarding "some", "most", "all", "any", etc. You're quibbling and splitting hairs. A statement was posted earlier denying that Aristotle supported slavery. I quoted a statement by Aristotle contradicting that. There are possibly more statements by Aristotle regarding slavery throughout the "Politics". Find a PDF copy and do a word search.

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11 minutes ago, Doug Morris said:

This does not follow.

>This does not follow.

LOL. Yes, it does. "Yes, if only everyone had read, learned, believed, and *followed* Objectivism throughout history, things would've been just as Miss Rand imagines them to be in the happy valley of Galt's Gulch...on the other hand, that wouldn't have been possible because Atlas Shrugged, the Virtue of Selfishness, and ITOE didn't exist yet."

In other words, if only a fantasized, factually impossible scenario had been real, things would've been different (and, needless to say, better). In other words, "If pigs had wings, they could fly." Of course, even that last statement is wrong: chickens and turkeys have wings yet they don't fly. How do we know that "winged pigs" -- should they ever exist -- won't be flightless like chickens? 

As Leonard Peikoff once said about the old dichotomy between logical necessity vs. logical contingency, "That confuses logic with Walt Disney." (I paraphrase him from memory.)

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1 hour ago, Doug Morris said:

This does not follow.

I was not claiming that this was an argument for Objectivism.  I was claiming that this was why history had worked out so badly.

If anyone proves that there are lots of flaws in Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism, or in Einstein's theory of relativity, or in the theory of chemical bonds in its modern form, or in the theory of evolution as formulated by modern biologists, then whatever has been proven to be flawed will have to be reworked or replaced.  We shouldn't treat this as a serious possibility unless there is strong enough evidence for the existence of such a proof,

 

>If anyone proves that there are lots of flaws in Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism,

It's up to Objectivists to prove they are right, and not to make arbitrary, unsupported assertions and demand everyone else prove they are wrong. Objectivists -- beginning with Miss Rand herself -- haven't done this because 1) they tolerate no serious criticism from within their ranks, and 2) they refuse to debate people on fundamental issue from outside their ranks. 

That is why since Rand's death, Objectivists have splintered into myriad subgroups, each one claiming to be the true inheritors of her teachings. It's most clearly shown -- though not limited to -- the split between Peikoff ("Objectivism is a closed system; there's nothing else fundamentally in philosophy to discover") and Kelley ("Objectivism is an open system, a system basically of inquiry; i.e., stimulating questions, not a system of pre-digested answers that "students of Objectivism" should merely memorize and spit back out".) So Peikoff (as well as Yaron Brook) is an Objectivist Fundamentalist, reverting to texts that are taken to be "inerrant"; while Kelley (the apostate!) is the leader of the Objectivist Reformation Movement, paying due respect to the texts but also stressing the importance of the individual's conscience to assess and interpret those texts in ways that might differ, one from the other.

 >or in Einstein's theory of relativity,

You're a Newbie at this.  Note well: Einstein's theory of relativity is a *scientific theory* that can be tested experimentally and therefore, falsified in principle. As a matter of fact, the theory has been extensively tested experimentally since the 1930s and no experiment to date has succeeded in falsifying the theory's predictions. Same with quantum mechanics, by the way. Conversely, Objectivism is a philosophical system -- not a scientific theory -- so it's not amenable to experimental falsification. That you suggested finding flaws in a philosophical system as being the same kind of activity as finding flaws in a scientific theory proves what I said above: you're a newbie.

Needless to say, the same goes for your statement regarding "the theory of evolution as formulated by modern biologists", as if there's a monolithic bloc called "modern biologists" who collectively formulated a "theory of evolution." Modern biologists, especially in the field of biochemistry, pay scant attention to any theory, or hypothesis, of evolution because such ideas generally cannot be tested experimentally, instead relying on imagined scenarios of what might or might not have occurred, unobserved by anyone, billions of years ago. What modern biology -- especially modern biochemistry -- has shown is that 1) the gap between non-living/non-self-replicating molecules and even a primitive, living, self-replicating cell (something with a genetic code capable of passing on information about the structure of the organism so that the progeny cell is similar to the parent cell) is so wide -- with so many malevolent natural forces (chemical and physical) arrayed against it, that it cannot be accomplished by pure dumb luck in the mere 14x[10^9] years allotted for its completion. I got that insight from Sir Francis Crick, a Nobel Laureate as the co-discoverer of the structure and function of DNA. He's the one who said that. Assuming that "non-living/non-self-replicating" predates "living/self-replicating" (an assumption), then the gap was closed with the help of something that could bypass the pure-dumb-luck processes of chemistry and physics always ready to demolish structures that might have been constructed. This is why tornadoes demolish barns, turning them into piles of wooden rubble, rather than turning piles of wooden rubble into barns...despite the fact that no physicist denies that no natural laws or constants are violated by the latter process. Richard Feynman was clear about that in one of his videotaped lectures at Cornell University in the 1960s. You can find them online.

I mention this because many modern biologists remain resolutely quiet about Darwinian evolution and abiogenesis ("chemical evolution") because most of the recent findings in their field flatly contradict the basic assumptions of a purely undirected, material, random, hypothesis regarding the origin of life, let alone the origin of diverse species of life.

Some of these modern biologists are good, card-carrying atheists, just like Ayn Rand and Leonard Peikoff. For starters, read "Evolution: A View from the 21st Century" by James Shapiro (professor, University of Chicago).

But I digress.

Finding flaws in a philosophy is categorically different from finding flaws in a scientific theory.

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14 minutes ago, Economic Freedom said:

Assuming that "non-living/non-self-replicating" predates "living/self-replicating" (an assumption), then the gap was closed with the help of something that could bypass the pure-dumb-luck processes of chemistry and physics always ready to demolish structures that might have been constructed. This is why tornadoes demolish barns, turning them into piles of wooden rubble, rather than turning piles of wooden rubble into barns

Two gasses, oxygen and hydrogen, change their status into a liquid when combined. A liquid has properties which neither of its constitutive parts have. This might shed light on that seemingly incomprehesible gap.

18 minutes ago, Economic Freedom said:

Objectivism is a philosophical system -- not a scientific theory -- so it's not amenable to experimental falsification. That you suggested finding flaws in a philosophical system as being the same kind of activity as finding flaws in a scientific theory proves what I said above: you're a newbie.

Any legitimate discovery - philosophical or scientific - is made through the same method: induction. 

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>Any legitimate discovery - philosophical or scientific - is made through the same method: induction. 

"Legitimate" discovery? Can you cite an example of an "illegitimate" discovery? Seems to be an oxymoron.

"0", "i", the "real number line", "complex numbers", were not discoveries. They were inventions. Quite different from "discovery." The New World was discovered; the mathematical limit used in calculus was invented.

In any case, scientific theories are testable (i.e., potentially falsifiable) by experimentation; philosophies and religions are not. That says nothing about truth, falsity, or usefulness. It means philosophies are unlike scientific theories and one doesn't go about showing flaws in them by the same means. There are no controlled experiments one can do to demonstrate the flaws in ITOE.

As for "induction," it's clearly not a part of the study of logic. There is no "inductive logic" or "logic of induction." Logic is strictly deductive, starting from premises and then deriving a conclusion by means of a simple process of comparing the logical terms: the major term, the minor term, and the middle term. "Induction" is actually a form of "argument from analogy" whose purpose is to *persuade*, not to *prove* or *demonstrate* (induction can never prove or demonstrate anything). It therefore belongs to the study of Rhetoric (the study of arguments for the sake of persuasion), and not the study of Logic.

See "Elements of Logic" and "Elements of Rhetoric" by Richard Whately.

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13 minutes ago, Economic Freedom said:

As for "induction," it's clearly not a part of the study of logic.

It's only 'clearly' not part of logic if one holds the position that concepts lead to percepts, and not the reverse. 

To disprove this position, one can't rely on experiments, since allegedly your concepts construct the experience of doing the scientific experiment. Whether those experiments seem to be amiable to idealism or not, it makes no difference either way to the idealist.

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  • dream_weaver changed the title to Economic Freedom's: Objectivists are working to save the world from tyranny--isn't that altruism?

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