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The Top 5 Misconceptions About Objectivists

Those mean, cultish, snobby, elitist followers of Ayn Rand.

by
Sunny

Bio

April 4, 2013 - 3:00 pm

4. Objectivists All Like Star Trek.

Ok, well, this one is actually true, too. Some of us like Doctor Who as well, but there is not consensus about Doctor Who among us (stupid show!). Many Facebook threads are devoted to that disagreement, I can tell you, but there is no disagreement about how wonderful Star Trek: The Next Generation is. It is established Objectivist canon, as is a preference for modern architecture, railroads, and steel mills. These are just some of the arbitrary opinions you must adopt, or else the “Objectivist Police” will put your name on a list of people not invited to their birthday parties.

 

“You are invited to the best birthday party in the Galaxy!”

 

3.  Objectivists Blindly Follow Dictates From Ayn Rand and/or Her Appointed Philosopher Kings.

Since Objectivists regard being rational (objective) as the height of virtue, what you are witnessing is not blind following. What you are witnessing are men with CERTAINTY. We KNOW Ayn Rand was right because we have put it to a rigorous and extensive process of thought, backed up by, and I mean this literally, direct perceptual evidence. Therefore we tend to think our ideas are more obvious and commonsensical than they are. It is as though we can say, “See that rock over there? Therefore, Objectivism is totally correct.” WE understand each step to get from “rock” to “capitalism is the only moral social system,” but we’re probably not always great at recognizing that others don’t and so we don’t communicate as well as we might.

“See this rock? Get it? What are you, stupid?”

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Top Rated Comments   
I think you are correct about Rand's view of the military.

Here's the ending paragraphs from her lecture "Philosophy: Who Needs It," which was an Address to the graduating class of the United States Military Academy at West Point back in 1974:

"In conclusion, allow me to speak in personal terms. This evening means a great deal to me. I feel deeply honored by the opportunity to address you. I can say — not as a patriotic bromide, but with full knowledge of the necessary metaphysical, epistemological, ethical, political and esthetic roots — that the United States of America is the greatest, the noblest and, in its original founding principles, the only moral country in the history of the world. There is a kind of quiet radiance associated in my mind with the name West Point — because you have preserved the spirit of those original founding principles and you are their symbol. There were contradictions and omissions in those principles, and there may be in yours — but I am speaking of the essentials. There may be individuals in your history who did not live up to your highest standards — as there are in every institution — since no institutions and no social system can guarantee the automatic perfection of all its members; this depends on an individual's free will. I am speaking of your standards. You have preserved three qualities of character which were typical at the time of America's birth, but are virtually nonexistent today: earnestness — dedication — a sense of honor. Honor is self-esteem made visible in action.

You have chosen to risk your lives for the defense of this country. I will not insult you by saying that you are dedicated to selfless service — it is not a virtue in my morality. In my morality, the defense of one's country means that a man is personally unwilling to live as the conquered slave of any enemy, foreign or domestic. This is an enormous virtue. Some of you may not be consciously aware of it. I want to help you to realize it.

The army of a free country has a great responsibility: the right to use force, but not as an instrument of compulsion and brute conquest — as the armies of other countries have done in their histories — only as an instrument of a free nation's self-defense, which means: the defense of a man's individual rights. The principle of using force only in retaliation against those who initiate its use, is the principle of subordinating might to right. The highest integrity and sense of honor are required for such a task. No other army in the world has achieved it. You have.

West Point has given America a long line of heroes, known and unknown. You, this year's graduates, have a glorious tradition to carry on — which I admire profoundly, not because it is a tradition, but because it is glorious.

Since I came from a country guilty of the worst tyranny on earth, I am particularly able to appreciate the meaning, the greatness and the supreme value of that which you are defending. So, in my own name and in the name of many people who think as I do, I want to say, to all the men of West Point, past, present and future: Thank you."
http://fare.tunes.org/liberty/library/pwni.html
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Hello, I'm going to clarify the Objectivist view of reason, God, and certainty, the topics you objected to.

On reason: You're correct about Aristotle. Though keep in mind that in the "Posterior Analytics" he points out that induction (inductive reasoning) is how you establish first principles. Objectivism states that we gain knowledge in 2 ways: with the awareness of the senses, and the processes of reason that build on what the senses provide us, and this includes forming concepts, logical thought, induction and deduction, expanding your knowledge, etc. The philosophy notes that other alleged forms of knowledge like intuition, ESP, revelation, etc. really just amount to the emotions and feelings of the person. And rather than emotion being another means of gaining knowledge, Objectivism views emotion as the result of our ideas being internalized by our subconscious, which means that emotions are rapid expressions of our value-judgments--our ideas--in a given scenario, whether real or imagined. Only after making those points does it deductively conclude that reason is the *only* means of gaining knowledge, since the other candidates offer no concrete means and merely reduce to emotions, which are themselves not a means to gaining knowledge. (This doesn't mean that emotions can't tell you things: they certainly can, about yourself. But they are not means of systematically recognizing and dealing with the facts of the world, but reason is.)
http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/reason.html
http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/induction_and_deduction.html

On God: Rand never explicitly offers a proof against God's existence. She endorsed the "Onus of Proof" principle, that he who asserts something must produce the proof of it, the burden is not on the person who denies the claim, until the evidence is produced. She built Objectivism on certain concepts and formulations that she thought a philosopher *had to* start with, and reached a conclusion that God (and many other deities and supernatural beings) contradicted those principles in her view of metaphysics, and rejected them on that basis. But that still is not a disproof. Her view is that "God" and certain other ideas are "arbitrary," devoid of evidence and thus not worthy of being classified as either "true" or "false," proved or disproved. She's an "atheist" because the belief in God is a very popular and historical position in philosophy, and so it became necessary to state where she stood on this issue. She's also a-ghost, a-Satanist, and many other things, but they are not significant enough to warrant attention in an actual philosophy.
http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/god.html

On Certainty: Objectivism acknowledges that we have free will, and that means that we are fallible, that we can err and make mistakes and be wrong. But it insists that when you've analyzed the evidence available in your context of knowledge, and you reach a definite conclusion based on everything you know, you have the prerogative to proclaim certainty on that issue. Acknowledging that a new factor may arise that may change your mind, you still should be certain of your conclusions based on what you know. The philosophy advocates certainty--within a context. It does not endorse blind adherence to some conclusion or burying one's head in sand and ignoring conflicting evidence--that's a misuse of reason and an act of evasion, which is contrary to Objectivism. If you've reasoned to the best of your ability, the result ought to be certainty, not bewilderment.
http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/certainty.html

I hope this clears things up or offers a different perspective at least.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
One of the important differences would be our definition of "perfectible creature," which relies on an implicit or explicit standard of the good.

While Marxism, Fascism, and other forms of leftism might talk about perfectibility, they're still thinking in terms of collectivist/altruist premises, which are not demonstrable in reality (reducible to perceptual evidence), and end up leading to forced sacrifice at a minimum and mass slaughter of the best among us when taken to the extreme.

Objectivism's standard of the good IS based in reality: "All that which is proper to the life of a rational being is the good; all that which destroys it is the evil." This itself is based on a specific view of man and of values, which themselves are based on a specific view of knowledge and basic unfalsifiable axioms. When Objectivists think about perfection, they're thinking about moral perfection, that is, always making honest, rational choices, using the full context of one's knowledge, to the fullest benefit of one's life and values. They are not basing perfection on something unattainable, like omniscience, infallibility, or anything of the sort. They are also not basing it on self-sacrifice (the most extreme result of which, of course, being death).

Objectivism's advocacy of moral perfection also cannot lead to violence in the way many other codes can, because one of the primary Objectivist virtues is independence. As many Christian fusionist scholars have also noted, the good cannot be forced. The good must be chosen. The only moral way to deal with other human beings is through reason, persuasion, trade, etc. and when things don't work out you should just walk away. There could never be an "Objectivist dictatorship" that tries to force people to be rational, honest, integrated, productive, independent, proud, and just. That just wouldn't make sense.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (90)
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"If you want to write a novel and your day job means you can only write on Sundays and you take Sundays to go feed the homeless instead, that’s sacrificing your productive purpose, your long term happiness, to a stranger’s full belly. That’s bad."

Yes, that's what I picked up from the Fountainhead. So I do understand Alica "Ayn Rand" Rosenbaum. And reject her philosophy strongly.

BTW, calling yourself an "objectivist" is inherently arrogant and pretentious.

"Rand's" novels were her way of presenting her philosophy to the world. She is wonderful describing the morality of the free market. But otherwise, the characters in the Fountainhead are unbelievable, repellant, and immoral. A PJTV commenter pointed out that none of her main characters had young children, which I think sums it up.

One thing she did for us. She explains why we need God to teach us morality, otherwise we can end up with objectivism.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Okay. No need to study philosophy now.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You are correct, but she was a little harder to nail down than even those words. What she was not willing to do was have a discussion about an unknowable.

Her discipline allowed, always, a space for new information. But as there wasn't any infomation available beyond the miracle of existence (and it is a miracle) or, in her words the 'metaphysical fact of existence), she would not engage in it. She could not prove or disprove the existence of a prime mover and operated in the realm of the objectively knowable.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The above was directed to Carson. Thanks.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Objectivism vs. Relativism vs. Realism -- Within those, represents the degrees of separation found in most intellectual and lay commenting. Amazing how most have no understanding that all have some degree(s) of, often 'common' interconnection(s).
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Start by judging Rand according to her dedication to personal freedom and individual liberty and go from there. Judge her by her dedication to small government and balanced budgets. But, for most people, especially on the right, she didn't put her arguments together in an acceptable fashion, so she's...stupid.

Judging her by anything less than her decidation to freedom is not only doing her a great disservice, it is doing yourself a disservice, as well.

Stop and think, people. For your own sake, stop and think, once in awhile.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Exactly. Whether the glass is half full, half empty or, as the realist said, twice as big as it needs to be, know what's in it and then drink heartily.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
OK. I think she write brilliantly on the morality of the free market. The rest is garbage. There. I drank the good half, and spilled the rest down the toilet.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Unless there was some play on words I missed, you might want to altar your alter... : ); more specifically alter to altar.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I immersed myself in Rand for several years and emerged thankful for the experience and assured that she and I would not come to terms on some things, particularly the abortion debate. In light of PJ's headlines, I find it telling that discussion has not entered this board. Perhaps the "terms of reality" in this case are a little much for those who casually bandy about the term.

I owe much to her memory as it relates to seeing the heart of an issue.
She exhibited spiritual qualities even though she eschewed spiritual discussions.
Sciabbara's "Ayn Rand/ The Russian Radical" probably is as exhaustive and illuminating a document on her origins and the events that shaped her as anything likely to be published.

It is foolish and small to judge Rand by her personal and professional failings.
And if some professed objectivists are less trained on the direction of her thinking and more focused on HER, well, she's hardly to blame.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"She exhibited spiritual qualities even though she eschewed spiritual discussions." @ Terence57

I think she just rejected the theistic definition of the term spiritual. She speaks to that in Anthem:

"Religion’s monopoly in the field of ethics has made it extremely difficult to communicate the emotional meaning and connotations of a rational view of life. Just as religion has preempted the field of ethics, turning morality against man, so it has usurped the highest moral concepts of our language, placing them outside this earth and beyond man’s reach. “Exaltation” is usually taken to mean an emotional state evoked by contemplating the supernatural. “Worship” means the emotional experience of loyalty and dedication to something higher than man. “Reverence” means the emotion of a sacred respect, to be experienced on one’s knees. “Sacred” means superior to and not-to-be-touched-by any concerns of man or of this earth. Etc.

"But such concepts do name actual emotions, even though no supernatural dimension exists; and these emotions are experienced as uplifting or ennobling, without the self-abasement required by religious definitions. What, then, is their source or referent in reality? It is the entire emotional realm of man’s dedication to a moral ideal. Yet apart from the man-degrading aspects introduced by religion, that emotional realm is left unidentified, without concepts, words or recognition.

"It is this highest level of man’s emotions that has to be redeemed from the murk of mysticism and redirected at its proper object: man."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You are correct, but she was a little harder to nail down than even those words. What she was not willing to do was have a discussion about an unknowable.

Her discipline allowed, always, a space for new information. But as there wasn't any infomation available beyond the miracle of existence (and it is a miracle) or, in her words the 'metaphysical fact of existence), she would not engage in it. She could not prove or disprove the existence of a prime mover and operated in the realm of the objectively knowable.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
> She exhibited spiritual qualities even though she eschewed spiritual discussions.

If true, not quite sure why that's a mark in her favor. All spirituality is, is religion minus the accountability.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Spirituality is religion minus sin. Seems I've read that Rand didn't care much for the idea of sin, as it would've cramped her style considerably. As is we hadn't learned enough about living life in accord with reason from the jacobins. Yes, that was uplifting. I'd say Rand is just another European Jew with all the answers. Marx, the Frankfurt School, George Soros, Freud, Ashley Montagu. Just dump that old Western/Christian/European civilization and you'll be as gods. If you didn't like the French Revo, how about the USSR? Now that was some wonderful religion-free zone for sure. If you start out understanding that the Enkightenment was a well-constucted piece of dogma but that every basic assumption it was based on is wrong. Yes, Virginia, there is Human Nature. it's inherited, innate, and immutable. This is why Libertarians only get by when they're such a small percentage of the population that nobody notices them moseying around doing things that 90% of the populace thinks are outlandish, and ought to be stopped. Humans are social animals and the Numero Uno rule in every society, human or animal, is that you have to get along with the other members of your society. Libertarians scoff at this idea, and they'll be scoffing when the noose slips around their necks. FNC and FBN have a good representation of Libertarians, Check them out. They remind me of some Birchers I knew on the outskirts of the Goldwater campaign (I think they were looking for members). Nice, clean, and well-spoken, but talk to them for a while and the hair on the back of your neck begins to stand up. They're guys who show up at an audition for a rock band with a tuba.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I;m sorry, but there were no cush Gentiles? Exactly what is Jewish abhout any of the above? Marx was converted at a young age; Christianity is the only religion he took seriously. Communism is nothign but an outgrwth of traditional Christian anti-semtism; see Paul Johnson (I added the "traditional Christian").
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well, that's an interesting take, an interesting assertion. I had to read through some of your other posts to grasp why you would make that assertion. As for accountability, Reality will account for all of us, as will God. There is no room for such as I, a Christian, in your world any more than as an objectivist in theirs.

Gotta love the backhanded ad hom
directed to anyone who would recognize a generically applied observation derived from Rand's writings and biographers of her work.

You also said earlier on,
"Sounds to me like an awful lot of verbiage has been thrown here just to underscore the point that your definition of virtue is circular. Be good because it helps your life. That which helps your life is good. It sounds so noble and exalted, but the test of a moral principle is whether you will perform a moral act even if it harms your life."

Actually, the test of a moral principle is whether or not it is morally sound.
The test of a moral person is whether or not he is able to act on that principle and accept the consequence. Aristotle again. We become courageous by acting courageously. We are WHAT we are and WHO we are. The Law Of Identity is not circular reasoning, it is an axiom.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
> Gotta love the backhanded ad hom
directed to anyone who would recognize a generically applied observation derived from Rand's writings and biographers of her work.

Which ad hominem are you talking about? I'm not denying I did it necessarily, just want to know which remark I made that you're talking about so I can judge for myself.

> Actually, the test of a moral principle is whether or not it is morally sound.

I would agree that I may have garbled my thoughts here, but you're not helping much. Based on what I've read here, Rand's ethics are those principles which help us to better live our lives. Therefore, that would seem to preclude from morality any principles that would harm our lives. And it would seem to admit any principle that helps us to better live our life.

Let's take a thought experiment. Let's say that I see someone drowning in a lake and I'm the only witness. Let's also say that my own swimming skills are not very good and that if I try to save this person, I'm at great risk of drowning myself and not doing any good at all for either of us. I have a choice: jump in and try to save this person, or don't. If I jump in and drown, then the Objectivist can argue that I was true to my personal ego -- courage and respect for others -- and therefore it was the right thing to do. If I don't jump in and simply watch the person drown, then the Objectivist can argue I was true to my personal ego -- not sacrificing myself for a stranger -- and therefore it was the right thing to do.

Either way, I can justify what I did, or did not, as moral, depending on how I see what is good for me. And therefore this tells us nothing.

To understand a moral choice, it must be granted that one can make a correct moral choice which has the capability of harming one's life. This is the opposite of what Rand says.

> The Law Of Identity is not circular reasoning, it is an axiom.

Oh come on. I'm not the one arguing that ethics can be derived from reason; that's a Randist perspective, not mine. Therefore, Objectivists are not allowed to simply make an moral axiom out of thin air. They must reason us to that point. That follows from their position, not mine. All I'm doing is pointing out that Randists point to reason as their authority but they're really only making assumptions.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Your drowning person is so vague that one might wonder if that is not a dog swimming in the lake to fetch a stick..

The choice you present is not exclusive to Objectivists, or to anyone for that matter. Any person standing there would have to make that choice regardless of personal philosophy.

Why not pick lifeguards or sociopaths standing on shore, and Saddam or your wife in the water? In a sense you did.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
> Your drowning person is so vague that one might wonder if that is not a dog swimming in the lake to fetch a stick..

Some people are just hard to please.

Let's try to keep it simple. Terencde57 chided me earlier for not recognizing a moral axiom when I saw one. But what is this talk of axioms? Doesn't Objectivism hold that morality follows from reason? This is supposed to be what somehow sets Objectivism apart from other, more explicitly axiomatic belief systems -- e.g., "The will of the Lord", "Man is the measure of all things", etc.

Rand's John Galt said, "I swear—by my life and my love of it—that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine." But why is it unreasonable to enslave another man if it makes my life better? Since I have free will, I can *choose* my values, right? What if I choose freedom for me, slavery for you? Since I am free to choose my values, I don't have to choose John Galt's values, do I? John Galt is showing respect for others -- but where does reason demand that? Why do I have to do the same?

Reason can take us anywhere, if we get to choose our own values -- our own axioms, as it were. The axioms come first. Rand insists we embrace hers, even while she tells us we're free to choose our own.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Actually, she doesn't. She tells us rightly (and in concord w/ Christianity) that we WILL choose our own values. Axioms exist as metaphysical givens. Remember, she's talking about 'rights' not privileges. As in the Bill of Rights, they are held universally across the board.

Honestly, if you have any real interest (and you may not) and want some 'Cliff's Notes' on where Rand is coming from, you could probably do worse than "The Ayn Rand Lexicon/ Objectivism from A to Z" edited by Harry Binswanger. I hesitate to recommend short-cuts to her thinking because, like any worthwhile subject she needs to be put into context and there is a sweep, scope and evolution to her work.

As for her worth as a writer, some people like Rand, some Calvino, others Henry James. I like all three. Go figure.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
> Axioms exist as metaphysical givens.

Where do the axioms come from? What gives them their authority? Why do metaphysical truths exist at all, given that there is no God (Rand's position)?

If you say "reason", then we're back where we started. It took us this long to establish that axioms, values, come *before* reason. In this regard, I think Rand's philosophy is question-begging. It's parasitic, relying on what came before Rand -- Judeo-Christian ethics -- to use its appeal, and then to credit reason with it all.

Christianity does not choose values; right and wrong are based on the will of the Lord, the Creator of all things. The values are there whether or not we choose them or reject them. There is no issue when discussing transcendent metaphysical truth with a Christian. The Lord is higher than we are; His truths are higher than we are; therefore, they hold authority over us. As I see it, the issue comes when someone who does not see the universe as a creation wants to talk about transcendent moral authority when there was nothing transcendent to put them here to begin with.

The basis of Christian ethics is the Lord's will, but I think the ramifications are profound. Morality is based on relationships -- how could someone be moral in a universe of one? Or none? It isn't until two or more are gathered that morality matters at all. The first group of commandments in the Ten Commandments pertain to man's relationship with God; the rest of them are about man's relationship with his fellow man. Jesus summarized the scriptures as saying, love the Lord with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself.

To me, the really interesting part of this comes when you try to critique this position a la the Euthyphro Dilemma: did God create morality, or is morality a standard that exists apart from God? If the former, then (as the critique goes) morality is arbitrary; if the latter, then why do we need God?

Christians would respond that morality is a reflection of God's essence, not so much a "creation" per se. I take that a bit further: this response only makes sense if God is (as the Christians believe) God is aTrinity of Persons, together for eternity. That makes relationships eternal, and therefore it makes what is good and right eternal. Monadic religions such as Islam would have a harder time answering the Dilemma, since (in their view) Allah is eternal and therefore an eternity passed until another being was created; at this point, now, you can argue morality is arbitrary because when another sentient being was created, we have our very first relationship.

Without any god at all, Objectivism still has a dilemma: explain how morality exists at all. In a God-created world, it existed before man did and is higher than man. In a godless world, though, we (man) created morality. Since it is our creation, we stand higher than it, not the other way around. Therefore, it is not transcendent and has no authority over us.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
There isn't enough time (or alcohol) to discuss every point you bring up. If I were to guess, I'd say you have a strong Catholic background and that you may even be a teacher or some such. Either way, you could be...talk about begging questions! Rand leaned heavily on Aristotle insofar as "what is the good," and "Why is the good" questions. She was willing to take reality on its terms, not hers, whatever her errors in application. There can be no agreement from many Christians or Theistic thinkers with her because she does not see God as knowable, at least not in any terms that they would accept. She didn't "have it in for God." She did not brook extrarational or mysticism as it related to concrete issues. Please don't ask me to define a concrete issue because that would be silly.

I allowed myself this final post on the subject because I needed to give my soul a break from news of what almost certainly is a terrorist attack in Boston. I offered up a post to Carson which may go a little further. My late English professor did not shy from the classics, even though they were already thought of as passe.
Don't shy away from Rand based on what you've heard, reject her on your own if you must. Best, T
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I appreciate your responses. It's okay that we disagree.

Not a Catholic, but an old-school Presbyterian, hence the "Reformed" in "Reformed Trombonist" -- as in Reformed Christianity, a tradition that started more or less with Martin Luther and continued through John Calvin. I admire and respect the Catholic Church, despite its recent problems, and hope they can resolve them. Luther left the Catholic Church but not of his own will -- he was thrown out the front door by the Church of his day, which had a different set of problems.

Not a teacher at all, and that's probably a good thing -- wife is, though. A computer geek by day, a trombonist at night.

It has been many years but I have read "Fountainhead" and "Atlas Shrugged" at least twice each. Enjoyed them at the time, very much. But I was never comfortable with Rand's atheism or her attitude toward altruism. I see a basic difference between altruism that I pay for myself, vs. phony altruism that gives freely of other people's money.

Could never get into her philosophical writings. Her style of argument strikes me as "banging the table." I've been more influenced by the Presuppositional school of theology, though there are writers I respect who hold that Thomism is more complete. Presuppositionalists are accused of begging the question, too -- but Gary Bahnsen made the point that everyone starts by begging the question, e.g., those axioms you spoke of earlier.

Presuppositionalists are big on making opponents (usually atheists) justify their premises without borrowing from the Christian world view. Atheists and Christians can agree there is such a thing as right and wrong, but by necessity the nature of right and wrong is different depending on which camp is right; they cannot noth be referring to the same things, nor can they always line up -- the premises are just too different.

The crux of the difference is the problem of moral authority. Morality essentially commands us to do what it says is right. We don't have to do it, but the "ought" is still there whether we do or not. Obviously, Rand would agree that there are things we ought to do or to not do. But to be able to command us, it has to be greater than we are. That's the part where any atheist philosophy is going to run into trouble -- if God did not invent morality, then man did, and how can man's own creation stand over him as a judge of his actions?

Moral transcendence is predicated on God; without him, morality amounts to a bunch of nice ideas which no doubt have helped human society from some perspective, but cannot explain why it's greater than man and should be heeded by man when it conflicts with his own best interests (as he perceives it).

In short (I suppose I should be more brief), non-theistic ethics can explain the "is" but cannot make a very good case for the "ought". Banging the table doesn't change that.

I always thought Rand was pretty solid on economics, and boy did she understand liberals.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Sorry I needed to borrow the space, Fmrly Mr. L, an this comment is in no way directed toward you. My prior comment was REPORTED, which is a first for me on the PJ Boards. I can think of myriad contributors over the years I've disagreed with, but never uncivily and always ultimately shedding more light than heat. An anonymous, pusillanimous pissant felt the need to redefine the term "straw man," in the shape of his/her self.

Thanks again for the space. How ironic that Sunny's column written with a light heart would be so deliberately misconstrued by the very anti-intellectuals she derided. Regards, T
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
For what it's worth, Terence57, your original post did not offend me, and I'm the one your comments were aimed at. I'm just sitting here hoping I didn't accidentally hit the widget that "reported" your "abuse".
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Fair enough. Even though I think you're "teasing" w/ half your comments you seem to be game. I agree that it's important to play devil's advocate occasionally but it's easy to cross over to obfuscation. My guess is that we have more in common than not, beginning w/ a willingness to engage. Thank you for substantiating what Fmr Mr. L has probably nailed down.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I bet our politics are close! Even if our views on God and Rand diverge.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Oh no T, that is your space. First come first serve.

It does seem that PJM editors, and not the commenters, have become quite prissy since the take over. And I guess anyone can block a comment. So who knows?

Where is the list of proscribed statements, and words? It does look to be somewhat arbitrary. I know this word is - Bulls**t.

This comment format does nothing for the timeline and discourse except confuse it, and lessen exchange. Yes, this format is everywhere, but so is ignorance.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"If you want to write a novel and your day job means you can only write on Sundays and you take Sundays to go feed the homeless instead, that’s sacrificing your productive purpose, your long term happiness, to a stranger’s full belly. That’s bad."

So in other words...happiness is fixed, rigid, and based on what Objectivists value rather than what the individual values.
Who's to say that one will not find greater happiness in helping the poor using their own resources?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Did Rand write that? Wow.

To be a Christian means having to try to live according to God's will. Apparently, to be a Randist means living according to Rand's will. Who said Objectivism isn't a religion? It wasn't me.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I quoted the author.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You say: "Objectivism is a closed and complete system of thought, so agreement is actually possible."

Agreement is only possible in a closed system under that system, IOW, you must agree with the system's precepts. That is rather stiff and inflexible which is what most critics of Rand's suppose. In logic closed systems cannot change and adapt. Open systems are not complete nor closed and can adapt to the changes that seem to keep cropping up in the world.

The example is mathematics, there exist closed systems but they seem to keep running into real situations they cannot account for and fail. An open mathematical system can adapt and adjust.

Just sayin'.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
> Just because we are the Intellectual Super Heroes of the world (too much?) doesn’t mean we wouldn’t like to be better understood, and even appreciated.

Well, I may or may not understand Objectivism, but it seems you've got it down. At least the self-congratulatory part.

> What it means to be an Objectivist, is that you philosophically understand and accept that reason is your only means of knowledge, and you resolve to honestly use reason and logic to the best of your ability in and for your life. That’s pretty much it.

Unfortunately, you left out all the interesting stuff. Like, what gives logic and reason and *honesty* their transcendence, that is, their position of moral arbiter of man's thoughts and deeds?

Why must they be served?

Are they simply tools? They help us get what we want? Well, then, they must serve us, not the other way around... and that makes it sound more like we transcend them, not the other way around.

But that viewpoint certainly doesn't fit the overblown rhetoric, does it? Are reason, logic, and truth something that exist apart from man? Or are they simply the products of man's mind? If the former, where are they? Lying around in between the rocks? Sitting on planet Jupiter? Are they part of Nature, like man? If so, then why do they stand in judgment of us? If they are greater than man and worthy to be our judges, what gives them their authority?

If they are simply the products of man's minds, then why should we bow down to them? If God didn't make us, why should we then make gods? As Humpty Dumpty said, the question is, who is to be the master? And if they can't compel our reverence, then why the big show? Why not simply exploit them when we find it helpful and bury them with the kitty litter when we don't?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Reason is our faculty for forming concepts and (together with sensory perception) our only means of gaining knowledge. Is is our basic means of survival, and our only proper guide to action.

Logic is the most important method of reason, the method of identifying proper chains of reasoning without contradiction.

Truth is the recognition of reality. Objectivism endorses the "Correspondence theory of truth," in which people can form propositions, and it is these propositions that are judged in relation to the facts: if the statements track reality, they are true, and if not, they are false.

At the heart of your message is: why be principled? Why be rational, logical, or honest?

The short answer is that you should be principled if you want to remain in reality and succeed in it and be happy.

Reality is complex. And we have no automatic means of making the right decisions because we have free will, and thus we can err. We live by thinking, and applying our reason to the issues that confront us. Also, there is no short-range, impulsive method of determining what you should do with your children's future, the direction of your career, and your financial situation over the next ten years. We have no automatic method for taking actions with the future in mind, but we need some kind of method, because we have to know in some terms what the consequences of our actions will be. Thinking long-range is a necessity for a rational person, because it is how we judge the potential results of our actions in the future, and how they might impact us.

Our minds are simply too limited to deal with all of these different factors, goals, and actions without using our method of conceptualization. The Objectivist morality is formed by conceptualizing certain kinds of actions into moral principles that are designed to serve a person's life. These actions are: being rational, being honest, being independent-minded (instead of focusing primarily on other people), having integrity, being just, being productive, and being morally ambitious (being proud of yourself).

Why be rational? Because without it, you won't know what things are, who you are, what to do, or what the future will hold. Reason is our tool, our best tool, and it serves us. There is nothing to gain in abandoning reason, and everything to lose, including your life.

Why be logical? Because without it, we have no way of assessing the validity of our thoughts and conclusions, and thus no way of knowing if our thoughts will allow us to succeed in reality. Refusing to be logical will necessarily destroy your ability to be rational, because one of reason's key abilities is to integrate material to reach an identification, and our identifications can be mistaken. But without logic, you'll have no means of correcting your mistakes, and no reason to not evade some knowledge you don't want to know, as you don't see the need having a method of pointing out contradictions.

Why be honest? Because pretending that reality is something other than what it is doesn't change the facts. Lying puts you at war with reality, a war that only reality can win. The virtue of honesty is recognizing the utter futility of lying, and renouncing all of its forms, including evasion, distortion, misrepresentation, or outright fabrication. Being honest is selfishly necessary, because it allows a person to face reality directly, and to deal with the facts rationally. This improves his chance to overcome obstacles and gain happiness.

Another point: No one is irrational, illogical, and dishonest *all of the time*. If they were, they would die fairly quickly. Irrational people are only irrational on some occasions, in certain issues. Illogical people only throw away logic every once in a while, as it "suits" them. Dishonest people only say a few whoopers or deceive a limited number of people, to get something they want. These people supposedly believe that they are benefiting from this behavior, but Objectivism holds that they are courting great harm.

There is no way to decide, sight unseen, that being honest in scenario X is good for you in the long run, but being dishonest in scenario Y will get you what you really want. There is no cost-benefit analysis that could be performed to show that it's in your interest to sometimes be logical, and to sometimes flout it. Certain actions characteristically lead to long-range survival and happiness, and Objectivism says that you should live by those types of actions. So if you can make the connection between the virtues and life and happiness, then the scenarios about giving up your virtues just once to gain something you allegedly want hold no sway over you. You'll see too clearly that giving up your principles is a sure way to court disaster in any and all realms of your life, whether it's family, career, finances, or health.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
> Why be honest? Because pretending that reality is something other than what it is doesn't change the facts.

Hold on there. Being honest with myself and being honest with others are two different things. I might tell you something not because I believe it, but because I'm hoping you will. If doing so makes my life better, give me a reason why I shouldn't?

> These people supposedly believe that they are benefiting from this behavior, but Objectivism holds that they are courting great harm.

Of course it could turn out badly –- so could taking any risk. But it might turn out nicely. And *not* doing it could turn out badly as well.

This all sounds more like religious faith than reason to me -- more in line with karma or the Christian version of it, "Whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap." But as an Objectivist, you are not allowed to borrow from my Christian premises to make your ethical universe work. By your own statements, you are required to reason us to that place. But as you admitted, you can't point to a cost-benefit analysis. So you must be invoking some other form of "knowledge" here. Maybe instinct. Maybe a residue left over from Christian culture. Either way, apparently, reason isn’t the only way to grasp knowledge.

> The virtue of honesty is recognizing the utter futility of lying

Sorry, but this is just silly. *Lots* of people have lied, and in doing so made their lives *better*. Rand herself found it helpful to her happiness to exchange wedding vows with some poor dude and then cheat on him -- so we don’t have to speak in the abstract to show that dishonesty can help someone’s life.

> Another point: No one is irrational, illogical, and dishonest *all of the time*. If they were, they would die fairly quickly.

I didn’t suggest that. Even a liar has to tell the truth sometimes, if only so others believe his lies when he really needs them to. But if the proposition is that something is good if it makes our lives better, then lying can be good. That doesn’t follow from my beliefs, but it seems to follow from Rand’s.

Sorry, no, despite Rand's claims, we can't reason our way to virtue. What I’m seeing here are definitions masquerading as arguments. I'm supposed to surrender my belief in God, because it isn’t reasonable to believe something for which I have no concrete proof -– but then you turn around and invoke karma. Moreover, we don’t have proof of any transcendent principle. You can’t prove reason is valid without using reason -- but we’re supposed to believe in it anyway? Why do Objectivists believe in things they can’t prove but then insist Christians shouldn’t?

Christians define the good as doing the Lord's will. Are we supposed to serve Rand’s will? Is she god? No, she's dead, and I serve the living God.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
> Reason is our faculty for forming concepts and (together with sensory perception) our only means of gaining knowledge.

What about experience?

> At the heart of your message is: why be principled? Why be rational, logical, or honest?

Not the same thing. Why embrace *certain* principles such as honesty?

> The short answer is that you should be principled if you want to remain in reality and succeed in it and be happy.

That's an assertion, and so far in this discussion an unsubstantiated one. Reason me there. I suspect the opposite. There are plenty of people on this rock who are selfish, perverse, and sociopathic. In fact, I suspect that's all of us, depending on when you happen to catch us. What makes such people happy may have nothing whatever to do with being principled.

> The Objectivist morality is formed by conceptualizing certain kinds of actions into moral principles that are designed to serve a person's life.

What if immoral principles serve my life better?

> These actions are: being rational, being honest, being independent-minded (instead of focusing primarily on other people), having integrity, being just, being productive, and being morally ambitious (being proud of yourself).

So if I have an opportunity to make my life better by eschewing integrity and being unproductive, what should I do?

Sounds to me like an awful lot of verbiage has been thrown here just to underscore the point that your definition of virtue is circular. Be good because it helps your life. That which helps your life is good. It sounds so noble and exalted, but the test of a moral principle is whether you will perform a moral act even if it harms your life.





1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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