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That is subjectivism. Wrong forum. ;)

Seriously, the test of a moral code is not wether it violates someone else's moral code. Or am I misunderstanding you?

Subjectivism huh - that makes sense actually - haha

I think you are understanding me, I guess I'm just so used to thinking in terms of there being an overarching moral code imposed by a 3rd party (government / church). I'm trying to find the source for doing what most people would consider right and not doing what most people would consider wrong. It sounds like, I treat others the way I would like them to treat me because it benefits me, which I understand.

But, the peice I don't understand is, why would we punish "criminals" if a nation were governed by an objectivist standpoint?

Does my confusion make sense?

Like, let's say I really feel no sense of remorse for any "wrong" action I might take (murder, rape, arson, etc) is it still wrong for me to do those things under the objectivist way of thinking? Is it wrong because it hurts the motives of society? Or is it wrong because it's just wrong and everyone agrees that those things are wrong?

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Like, let's say I really feel no sense of remorse for any "wrong" action I might take (murder, rape, arson, etc) is it still wrong for me to do those things under the objectivist way of thinking? Is it wrong because it hurts the motives of society? Or is it wrong because it's just wrong and everyone agrees that those things are wrong?

Well, that still has elements of relativism in it. It is a very common mistake. Think of it from three different perspectives.

1. The truth is relative to me. My truth isn't your truth. My ethics are not your ethics. This is the subjectivist view point.

2. The truth just is. God told me it was. Society says it is. Whatever. I can't explain it. It just is. Everyone has the same truth, and it looks an awful lot like a set of commandments.

3. The truth and ethics derive from the facts of reality and the requirements of mans survival. Everyone's truth is the same, but the facts of reality differ in each case. That is, there is context to factor in. Given the same context, the truth is the same, but reality tells you the context, so all variations on ethics are contextual, not relative or absolute.

1 is subjectivism

2 is intrinsicism

3 is Objectivism

Does that help?

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Why should man survive?

In general that is an question with a complex answer.

The short answer is it is man's survival which creates the "should". The choice to survive is therefore "pre-should". That is, given man's choice to survive, ethics comes into being, because value comes into being. Survival qua man is the standard of value.

Net effect is, if you don't want to survive, then don't. It is an amoral choice. But given your choice to survive as man, then you have set the basis for value, and thus ethics.

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the more i think about it, the more it appears to be subjectivism. Rather, the more I think about it, the more subjectivism seems to be objectivism. Or maybe I've always practiced objectivism and just didnt know it had a name. For example, awhile ago, when i was depressed beyond words, I thought about suicide, but to me suicide is stupid because death offers nothing and life offers opportunity. But I also picked up a bad habit of cutting myself. I was wondering one day what made it "wrong" to cut myself? Why was it a big deal when I had no intentions of taking my life, and I washed the knife i used in soap and water? I realized there is no "wrong" or "right" in that scenario. In africa, many tribes practice self-mutilation as a right of passage, and indeed, I thought of my scars more as a reminder to live and not forget next time that I've been through these things before. Here in the states its taboo. Either or view is subjective on the matter, but I'm thinking my "objectivism" is the ability to see all subjective frames and realize when and why certain ones were appropriate. If I'm right, then I have a new word for my pre-existing philosophies, but I would still hesitate to associate myself with a leader-figure.

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I midnightrequiem,

First off, I'm sorry to hear about your bout with depression. I hope that you were able to resolve it or deal with it effectively.

Second, your analysis is really not in line with Objectivism. Could I ask what you know about the philosophy? What books have you read of Rand's? How did you find the forum and what is your intent here. It might help me understand a little bit about how you mean what you mean.

Objectivism is not subjectivism. The rationalization of the habit you describe is not an Objective analysis. I feel for your situation, but if you are looking for something to help you rationalize what you already think about things, then that would not be Objectivism.

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I'm doing fine. I wasn't rationalizing my habit, I denounce it personally. I just noted that "right" and "wrong" is very subjective and attached mostly to societal norms. I found this site by a fluke. I was bored and looking up what people thought was the "worst moment in history" because I wanted to see how many people actually think it was 9/11, and I found a link taking me to a discussion on this forum. I was under the false impression that this site was dedicate to debate under the idea of "objectivity" like in journalism. This wasn't disappointing though because I found most of the people's comments and discussions to be intellectually stimulating (which I love... except this one on whether or not we should just nuke tehran haha that was just funny). Then I dug further until I realized what Objectivism, and not Objectivity, was.

I have read nothing, nor do I really intend to, besides ask questions. If the main goal of Objectivism is that every person's life goal is the pursuit of one's own happiness, then we agree. My philosophy is based on that single idea 1) reaching contentment, the state where one is happy with one's self, their surroundings and how they interact with those surroundings. Everything else I call my "sub-philosophy" because I think most things are subjective (which would be my difference). My idea is that reality exists apart from our perception, but we have nothing else to draw from except our perception which is incomplete; basically it doesn't matter what is "real" because whatever you believe is what will run your life.

I know that my knowledge is largely incomplete, but I have noticed some trends, at least on some posts here. The objectivists seem to take on the persona of Ayn Rand. She grew up in a Communist society, so from a psychological standpoint, it seems logical that she would denounce Communism and its little brother socialism. I myself am a socialist of sorts, but not of the Communist variety, more along the lines of the hopelessly unrealistic utopian socialists, pre-marxist socialism haha. I know, it won't happen, so realistically I do agree with Ayn Rand.

Well this is going to keep my mind flowing a time to come :] I spend a long time writing these things not only because i write a lot, but because I literally sit and think for 10-30 minutes every so often while I'm writing.

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midniterequiem, it sounds like you might really like Objectivism. The philosophy is basically a guide to living life in the best ways. If you like novels, Rand's two best-known, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, are both great as books and also great at showcasing her philosophy. If not, pick up any one of her non-fiction works and read a bit, it may surprise you!

Edited by JASKN
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I have a bad history with reading books haha. I like reading, just not being still. The more I read about Objectivism here and online though, the more interesting it is. My life philosophy works well for me though, so I don't see myself making any huge changes, although I agree a lot with Ayn Rand, and therefore Objectivism already. Although I still remain a socialist, by pre-marxist standards, or maybe my own kind. I think I'm going to redirect some my friends here, or at least somewhere at Objectivism, though. While my life philosophy works very well for me, they typically don't even have one; I don't consider anything intrinsic much of a way to see the world. One of my friends actually likes Nietsche. I hate Nietsche! Not really, I just don't like a lot of his ideas. Anyway, adieu.

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Why be good? Because it creates values. ...and values are what we try to gain or keep. Values are positive and life giving.

Here is one example. Being good means in the epistemological sense, being rational. Thinking and coming to reasoned conclusions that benefit your life and those around you. Being good affects yourself positvely and at the same time - others. Making proper decisions benefits you - you gain! It could be material gains. It could be spiritual gains. It could be both! Living positely opens the door for more even more opportunity and strengthens your better qualities, such as sense of justice, sense of reasoning, sense of industry, sense of your own skills and attributes...

So now go enjoy being good - to yourself and to others.

Edited by Ted
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Well, that still has elements of relativism in it. It is a very common mistake. Think of it from three different perspectives.

1. The truth is relative to me. My truth isn't your truth. My ethics are not your ethics. This is the subjectivist view point.

2. The truth just is. God told me it was. Society says it is. Whatever. I can't explain it. It just is. Everyone has the same truth, and it looks an awful lot like a set of commandments.

3. The truth and ethics derive from the facts of reality and the requirements of mans survival. Everyone's truth is the same, but the facts of reality differ in each case. That is, there is context to factor in. Given the same context, the truth is the same, but reality tells you the context, so all variations on ethics are contextual, not relative or absolute.

1 is subjectivism

2 is intrinsicism

3 is Objectivism

Does that help?

It does help.

Could one say that their objectivism is really subjectivism, however, because it is directly related to their personal experience? Or do objectivists beleive that their philosophy is derived from outside of themselves - based on the laws (scientific, economic, etc) of the universe.

Is the goal of objectivism happiness? Contentment?

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Don't confuse subjectivism with contextual. Subjectivism would say that the truth has no cause. It is whatever you want it to be. Even if you were in my shoes, with all the same circumstances, your truth could be different from mine.

Contextual recognizes that reality is primary, that truth is not causeless, but based in reality. For any situation, the truth is determined by the facts of reality in that case.

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Contextual recognizes that reality is primary, that truth is not causeless, but based in reality. For any situation, the truth is determined by the facts of reality in that case.

Is "Contextual" a part of objectivism? Can one be Contextual and believe in an all powerful God? The way you have defined a contextual's thoughts about truth seem to mirror the way a theist would think about truth? Is this true?

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Is "Contextual" a part of objectivism? Can one be Contextual and believe in an all powerful God? The way you have defined a contextual's thoughts about truth seem to mirror the way a theist would think about truth? Is this true?

Yes, contextual is a part of Objectivism. Everything has context, and context must be taken into consideration. For example, "Is it right to kill?" must be applied to your context. If you just want to kill someone to take their sneakers, then yet, it's wrong. If you are defending yourself from attack, then it's the right thing to do. I'll not be considering emergency situations, as that's something completely different, and indeed there are many discussions about lifeboat and emergency situations.

That said, context does not determine truth absolute. My context does not change the chemical makeup of a rock, nor the number of people in Ethiopia. Contextual means simply taking all of your knowledge into consideration. One cannot contextualize the existence of an invisible, infinite, all-powerful consiousness. Our knowledge comes from discovery of reality, and integrating it with the rest of our knowledge. Knowledge ONLY comes from reality. As God has not presented himself, nor has he left evidence of his existence, knowledge of God is impossible. God does not fit into any context, aside from the imaginary.

There are those that say that they see evidence of God everywhere (like the woman who sold the "Jesus Toast" on ebay), or Mormons, who claim that when they "find god" that they get a feeling of warmth. It works with everything though, which is addressed rather precisely in the movie "Pi" (not an Objectivist movie, but a fun one nonetheless): "You're connecting a computer bug I had with a computer bug you might have had and some religious hogwash. You want to find the number 216 in the world, you will be able to find it everywhere. 216 steps from a mere street corner to your front door. 216 seconds you spend riding on the elevator. When your mind becomes obsessed with anything, you will filter everything else out and find that thing everywhere."

At the extreme end of things, people might claim they've seen an angel, or they've seen God, or anything that can just as easily be attributed to a hallucination, much in the same way that people with imaginary friends might be otherwise normal. Those people must realize that their mind and senses is not perfect, and are capable of making error. What one must do is simply ask the question "Do these visions fit with reality, or am I just hallucinating?" When someone claims they've seen God, the typical assumption (correctly) is that they are insane, or hopped up on something. For some reason, people are unwilling to attribute the same mental states to Biblical persons who claim they've seen God.

Personally, I'd like to extend the Bible to include the stories of anyone modern who claims to have seen God, as I think that would make the Bible even MORE crazy, and coincidentally, no less credible.

Edited by Chops
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Is the goal of objectivism happiness? Contentment?

One could say the goal of Objectivism is happiness, assuming you hold the same definition of happiness: "Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values."

Happiness is a long-term, overall state of mind, in which case, yes, you could say that's the "goal" of Objectivism.

The proper way to phrase it, though, is the pursuit of one's rational self-interest. Happiness is merely emotional response of achieving that.

Edited by Chops
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That said, context does not determine truth absolute. My context does not change the chemical makeup of a rock, nor the number of people in Ethiopia. Contextual means simply taking all of your knowledge into consideration. One cannot contextualize the existence of an invisible, infinite, all-powerful consiousness. Our knowledge comes from discovery of reality, and integrating it with the rest of our knowledge. Knowledge ONLY comes from reality. As God has not presented himself, nor has he left evidence of his existence, knowledge of God is impossible. God does not fit into any context, aside from the imaginary.

There are those that say that they see evidence of God everywhere (like the woman who sold the "Jesus Toast" on ebay),

That last statement seems a bit base don't you think? Christians believe that evidence of God is everywhere, yes, but not in toast. A good example would be in Nature, the Bible, people etc. Most Christians I know would laugh at the toast example.

That being said, wouldn't you agree that saying that God is imaginary, just because you can't see Him is a bit serving for your POV?

If you just want to kill someone to take their sneakers, then yet, it's wrong.

This is an absolute statement.

If you are defending yourself from attack, then it's the right thing to do.

This is also an absolute statement.

The question, "is it wrong to kill?" must be answered contextually - absolute statement.

Just some food for thought I guess

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This is an absolute statement.

This is also an absolute statement.

The question, "is it wrong to kill?" must be answered contextually - absolute statement.

Yup, they are contextual absolute statements. Reality is absolute. One evaluates a particular context with reference to the facts.

Note, this is not a commandement. Thou shalt not kill. That is, killing is not intrinsically bad.

Again, you seem to be unable to break the subjective / intrinsic dichotomy. First Objectivsim is relative, then its "absolute". It is neither. It adheres to the contextual facts of reality.

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Yup, they are contextual absolute statements. Reality is absolute. One evaluates a particular context with reference to the facts.

Note, this is not a commandement. Thou shalt not kill. That is, killing is not intrinsically bad.

Again, you seem to be unable to break the subjective / intrinsic dichotomy. First Objectivsim is relative, then its "absolute". It is neither. It adheres to the contextual facts of reality.

Ok. Is it atheistic in nature?

Cause to me - it seems like it could be very much in line with Christian thinking about the world.

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Is the goal of objectivism happiness? Contentment?
No, not quite. The goal (of the ethical part) is figuring out what will best further a human being's life, in principle. The idea is that if one does this right, it will result in long-term happiness, but one cannot get to the principles by feeling what makes one happy. Some things make one happy, others make one sad, others make one happy now but unhappy the next morning, and so on. So, the real goal is to sort out that mess and see what works and does not work in principle in the long term.

The ethicist asks: what is the nature of man? what evidence do we have about his nature? what general principles of action should he follow in order to best benefit his life? what evidence do we have of this benefit?

I can see that you might find it hard to see the difference between this and subjectivism. To compare, one might kinda put it this way: The subjectivist ethic says "this is good because I feel so/I will it/God wills it" (no further argument). The Objectivist ethic says: "this is good because the evidence about human nature and the rest of reality show that this futhers your life".

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Ok. Is it atheistic in nature?

Cause to me - it seems like it could be very much in line with Christian thinking about the world.

It is absolutely atheistic. I didn't know what you meant before about being like Theist thought, nor this comment about Christian thinking. Could you elaborate?

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Cause to me - it seems like it could be very much in line with Christian thinking about the world.

This couldn't be further from the truth. Whereas Christians accept their god and "morality" on faith (without evidence), Objectivists seek the evidence (reality) that shows them what is really best for their lives (morality). Whereas Christians believe man is inherently evil and unable to save himself on his own accord (and must be save by his belief in God and Jesus), Objectivist know that man is capable of living a proper life, that he is capable of "saving" himself; that he does not have to be "saved" by some external mystical force.

While it may appear that some issues of Objectivist ethics and Christian morality parallel, the important distinction is that there are 1) no "commandments" for Objectivists, and 2) Objectivists can reference reality to determine morality versus referring to "the word on high".

Edited by RationalBiker
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That last statement seems a bit base don't you think? Christians believe that evidence of God is everywhere, yes, but not in toast. A good example would be in Nature, the Bible, people etc. Most Christians I know would laugh at the toast example.

Why is evidence of God not in toast? Isn't the likeness of Jesus in a piece of toast within the capabilities of God? Why wouldn't he give us evidence of his existence in such an unpredictable place? Do you have some inside information and know something about the nature of God that we don't?

That being said, wouldn't you agree that saying that God is imaginary, just because you can't see Him is a bit serving for your POV?

My apologies, I guess I assumed you were aware of the atheistic position of Objectivism, hence my using religious examples as examples of preposterousness. I won't get into the anti-god stuff, but there are lots of posts about religion, and indeed an entire forum dedicated to religion.

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That being said, wouldn't you agree that saying that God is imaginary, just because you can't see Him is a bit serving for your POV?
First, asking whether an argument is "a bit serving for your POV" serves no useful purpose, because only a crazy person oposes their own point of view. The right question to ask is whether that would be a valid argument, and not whether the argument advances a particular conclusion (the implication being that one's own POV is necessarily suspect??). Well, it is entirely correct to say that god is entirely and wholely a product of the imagination, if god cannot be seen (or otherwise observed using our sense organs). The mind is capable of piecing together ideas and impressions simply out of the lower-level concepts that one has created, based on actual perception of reality. A high-level notion fabricated out of such concepts does indeed quality as imaginary, until it is directly perceived.
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I can see that you might find it hard to see the difference between this and subjectivism. To compare, one might kinda put it this way: The subjectivist ethic says "this is good because I feel so/I will it/God wills it" (no further argument). The Objectivist ethic says: "this is good because the evidence about human nature and the rest of reality show that this futhers your life".

As I mentioned earlier in this post, my reason for posting in this forum is that I've been doing research to gain an insight into the different ways that people think. From what I know of Christianity, I would say that there are a large number of Christians that would say, "this is good because the evidence about human nature and the rest of reality show that this futhers your life, just like God set it up from the beginning"

Not to say that there are not those, Christians, that might say, "this is good because I feel so/I will it/God wills it" (no further agrument).

But my experience with Christians has led me to beleive that there are a larger number of them that believe in Christianity in a way that sounds very "objectivist", ie, basing their belief system on what they see, the "work" they see God doing in their life and in the lives of others around them, nature, the word, etc (minus the whole "objectivism is purely atheistic part - haha). This was partly the source of some of my confusion.

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It is absolutely atheistic. I didn't know what you meant before about being like Theist thought, nor this comment about Christian thinking. Could you elaborate?

Thanks for the clarification. I was just curious if there were some Objectivists that might syncronize their objectivist thinking with theism. Guess not. Reason being (like I stated above) is that I've found a lot of Christians that tend to think in ways that are similar to Objectivism, but rooted Biblically. (meaning, "this is good because the evidence about human nature and the rest of reality show that this futhers your life, just like God set it up from the beginning")

It was just a thought

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