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This Is John Galt Speaking.

OT Member John Galt Philosophy

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#101 John Galt

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Posted 03 December 2004 - 02:33 AM

Yes, try:

The Romantic Manifesto

The Virtue of Selfishness

Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal

and

For The New Intellectual

and anything else you can get your hands on.  But those are the best NF titles from her pen.

Interesting that you mention Locke...Rand was very pro-American inasmuch as she believed it was the first nation founded on capitalist ideas, and America was, of course, founded on the principles of Locke among other things.

Edited by John Galt, 03 December 2004 - 02:35 AM.

"Do not confuse altruism with kindness, good will or respect for the rights of others. These are not primaries, but consequences, which, in fact, altruism makes impossible. The irreducible primary of altruism, the basic absolute, is self-sacrifice - which means: self-immolation, self-abnegation, self-denial, self-destruction - which means: the self as a standard of evil, the selfless as a standard of the good."            —Ayn Rand

#102 MuseZack

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Posted 03 December 2004 - 12:13 PM

Rhys_Hayden, on Dec 2 2004, 12:11 AM, said:

I debated with myself for a long time on whether or not to get involved...but I'm really enjoying how this is going so I wanted to say, at the very least, most interesting thread. I admit that I have a love/hate relationship with objectivist philosophy because I haven't thought of any good arguments to use against its logic (without resorting to the dreaded "altruism") and I believe in most of it. I hate it because I'm uncomfortable with where it puts me on the grand scale of things because I, like everyone else, am obsessed with my place in the world or more accurately, lack thereof. But that's my problem, not yours  :lol:

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


If it's arguments against objectivism you want, try:  http://world.std.com...en/critobj.html

It gives you everything from shreddings of her novels on their literary merits to epistemological critiques of Rand's terminology to a really funny review of Atlas Shrugged by Whittaker Chambers, of all people.  

In general, though, it's tough to find very many serious philosophical critiques of Rand because Rand isn't taken seriously as a philosopher by very many folks other than moody young people and Alan Greenspan.
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We shall harness for God the energies of Love.
Then, for the second time in the history of the world,
we will have discovered fire."
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#103 Pallas

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Posted 03 December 2004 - 04:34 PM

Thank you MuseZack and Galt.

I've studied political philosophy and Locke as a social contract theorist is was one that influenced the founding of the so-called modern democratic state. That's why I brought up the similiarities.

Otherwise I've got some thinking to do. Thanks again.

Hayden.

Edited by Rhys_Hayden, 03 December 2004 - 05:07 PM.

We can do noble acts without ruling the earth and sea--Aristotle

#104 sierraleone

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Posted 03 December 2004 - 04:47 PM

Thanks for the Interesting Read/Topic John Galt :)

A lot of it makes sense, but like most philosophys, if everyone followed them, life would be perfect ;) :) No offense meant at all, but life and people don't work like that.

Also, as others have mentioned, the way you put it sounds very calculated (which is fine by itself) and cold. If you want to be "cold" thats up to you. And as Orpheus and you have pointed out in other parts of the thread, it isn't just about things w/ material value.... if you give something of material value in return for something in emotional value to you and you consider that a fair trade that is fine.

I have a hypothetical situation for you though. Say *you* were mugged and left on the side of the street to die, and some stranger helped you out, got you to the hospital and paid your medical bills (say you had no ID on you and your family didn't expect you back for a week....).
They might expect something in return, but that'd be obviously stupid of them considering they know nothing about you other than what you look like and we're wearing. They probably expect nothing in return (nothing of material value anyways).

What do you do? Say thanks and leave? If they thought that it was an equitable trade already.... do you leave it at that? Or would you insist on giving them something back *you* considered to be of equitable value? What if they didn't want anything? Would it eat at you? (It'd eat at me but I'm just trying to get a hang on the kind of person you are... maybe'd I still send/give them something in the mail so they coudln't refuse it ;) :D even if its just a small token of appreciation).

You mentioned you have no ties or responsibility to those other than blood ties.... (obviously some people make friends to whom they have ties to as strong as blood but thats besides the point, those are form, on aggreement, or taken on, as in adopting a child). Which blood ties do you consider binding? All or all close ones? I assume not, from what you said having gotten your children as far as 18, you aren't require (though can choose) to support/help them further.

Are you obliged to help out your parents? Or are you only obliged if you consider yourself owing to them for what they've done for you in life (or you aren't obliged if you figure you were their reponsibility before the age of 18).

Are you obliged, but not because of the close ties (assuming a more/less happy family life ;) ) because it makes you feel good (emotional/sentimental value). So would some objectionist help out their family as they can because of this? Or as a, I'll help them out now, because I know they'll help me out later....?
(thought ultimately only what further's your survival matters)
Or all or none of the above?

Edit: You say you are responsible for your children until they turn 18.... what if you have a child that will never be able to be fully independant for whichever reason. Are you still only required to support them until age 18? And then they become a burden on tax payers? What about someone who becomes disabled after becoming an adult?

I hope I'm not rambling incoherently ;) :D

As I mentioned back in the other thread, what about children w/ no other recourse? You say as a parent what you decide for the kids and thats that. And that works for people who are adequate or even mediocre parents, but what about kids who are either orphaned, or physically abused?  IIRC, you said that the taxes to the government should only go towards defense and towards defending of peoples rights (specficially the courts and that sort of thing). How do these children fit into the Objectist philosophy in this Universe?

Well I respectfull hear your philosophy, and infact agree on many points, how, the whole government turn Objectionist (or insert philosophy here) wouldn't really work in the real world as it is now w/ its varied people and situations.

Edited by sierraleone, 03 December 2004 - 05:25 PM.

Rules for surviving an Autocracy:

Rule#1: Believe the Autocrat.
Rule#2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality.
Rule#3: Institutions will not save you.
Rule#4: Be outraged.
Rule#5: Don't make compromises.
Rule#6: Remember the future.
- Masha Gessen
Source: http://www2.nybooks....r-survival.html

#105 Kosh

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Posted 03 December 2004 - 04:50 PM

Quote

Interesting that you mention Locke...Rand was very pro-American inasmuch as she believed it was the first nation founded on capitalist ideas, and America was, of course, founded on the principles of Locke among other things.


Interesting story about her sister, who had spent most of her life in the USSR. Once Rand brought her and her husband to the US, the woman couldn't wait to get back to the USSR. It was so ingrained in her that she couldn't deal with the freedoms in the USA. Very sad for Rand. She had wanted her sister with her from the begining.
Can't Touch This!!

#106 John Galt

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Posted 04 December 2004 - 12:02 AM

sierraleone, on Dec 3 2004, 03:47 PM, said:

Thanks for the Interesting Read/Topic John Galt :)

No problemo!

Quote

A lot of it makes sense, but like most philosophys, if everyone followed them, life would be perfect ;) :) No offense meant at all, but life and people don't work like that.

All a person has to do is take care of his own business and let others take care of theirs...

Quote

Also, as others have mentioned, the way you put it sounds very calculated (which is fine by itself) and cold. If you want to be "cold" thats up to you. And as Orpheus and you have pointed out in other parts of the thread, it isn't just about things w/ material value.... if you give something of material value in return for something in emotional value to you and you consider that a fair trade that is fine.

Yes, good point.

Quote

I have a hypothetical situation for you though. Say *you* were mugged and left on the side of the street to die, and some stranger helped you out, got you to the hospital and paid your medical bills (say you had no ID on you and your family didn't expect you back for a week....). They might expect something in return, but that'd be obviously stupid of them considering they know nothing about you other than what you look like and we're wearing. They probably expect nothing in return (nothing of material value anyways).

What do you do? Say thanks and leave? If they thought that it was an equitable trade already.... do you leave it at that? Or would you insist on giving them something back *you* considered to be of equitable value? What if they didn't want anything? Would it eat at you? (It'd eat at me but I'm just trying to get a hang on the kind of person you are... maybe'd I still send/give them something in the mail so they coudln't refuse it ;) :D even if its just a small token of appreciation).

I would offer to compensate them for their actions.  If it's in my power, I'd compensate them however they wished.  If they said no, forget about it, I'd thank them and move on...adding them to my Christmas card list.  No, it wouldn't eat at me.

Quote

You mentioned you have no ties or responsibility to those other than blood ties.... (obviously some people make friends to whom they have ties to as strong as blood but thats besides the point, those are form, on aggreement, or taken on, as in adopting a child). Which blood ties do you consider binding?

Children for which I'm responsible.

Quote

All or all close ones? I assume not, from what you said having gotten your children as far as 18, you aren't require (though can choose) to support/help them further.

Are you obliged to help out your parents?

Obliged?  No.  Did I do it?  Yes.  Why? Emotional attachment and friendship.  It's up to you.

Quote

Are you obliged, but not because of the close ties (assuming a more/less happy family life ;) ) because it makes you feel good (emotional/sentimental value). So would some objectionist help out their family as they can because of this? Or as a, I'll help them out now, because I know they'll help me out later....?(thought ultimately only what further's your survival matters) Or all or none of the above?

There's nothing wrong with emotional attachments.  You have to ask yourself if the price your paying in that relationship is worth what your getting.  You set the value level and so do they.

Quote

Edit: You say you are responsible for your children until they turn 18.... what if you have a child that will never be able to be fully independant for whichever reason. Are you still only required to support them until age 18? And then they become a burden on tax payers? What about someone who becomes disabled after becoming an adult?

I threw in the number 18 since that's the general age of adulthood, but it's not a fixed number in my mind.  The parent is responsible for his/her offspring until they reach a level of responsibility for themselves which includes the ability to make at least half-assed rational choices for themselves.  Those who become disabled after reaching adulthood aren't necessarily helpless except in the case of total disability.  Me personally, if that happened to one of my kids, I'd do what I could for them...which is considerable money-wise, emotion-wise, whatever.

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As I mentioned back in the other thread, what about children w/ no other recourse? You say as a parent what you decide for the kids and thats that. And that works for people who are adequate or even mediocre parents, but what about kids who are either orphaned, or physically abused?  IIRC, you said that the taxes to the government should only go towards defense and towards defending of peoples rights (specficially the courts and that sort of thing). How do these children fit into the Objectist philosophy in this Universe?

I'm not responsible for the children of others, so they'll just have to work it out as best they can.  If you're looking for an Objectivist standing on this matter,  I would suggest a private orphanage funded by those with some interest in the matter... of which there used to be quite a lot, I understand.  In short, they're in sad damned shape.

Understand something here...and I think some have missed this point: just remember that those who would tell you in so many words that they have a claim on you and what's yours are full of crap.  Those kids have no claim on me because I didn't father them.

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Well I respectfull hear your philosophy, and infact agree on many points, how, the whole government turn Objectionist (or insert philosophy here) wouldn't really work in the real world as it is now w/ its varied people and situations.

You will never come across a philosophy that will make the world all peaches-n-cream if everyone just fell into line.  It doesn't happen.  Objectivism is geared to the individual first and his relationships with others second.  Brutal as that may seem, it is the only philosophy that addresses the nature of humankind in the universe first and develops a code of ethics that reflect reality.
"Do not confuse altruism with kindness, good will or respect for the rights of others. These are not primaries, but consequences, which, in fact, altruism makes impossible. The irreducible primary of altruism, the basic absolute, is self-sacrifice - which means: self-immolation, self-abnegation, self-denial, self-destruction - which means: the self as a standard of evil, the selfless as a standard of the good."            —Ayn Rand

#107 John Galt

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Posted 04 December 2004 - 12:05 AM

Kosh, on Dec 3 2004, 03:50 PM, said:

Quote

Interesting that you mention Locke...Rand was very pro-American inasmuch as she believed it was the first nation founded on capitalist ideas, and America was, of course, founded on the principles of Locke among other things.


Interesting story about her sister, who had spent most of her life in the USSR. Once Rand brought her and her husband to the US, the woman couldn't wait to get back to the USSR. It was so ingrained in her that she couldn't deal with the freedoms in the USA. Very sad for Rand. She had wanted her sister with her from the begining.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I'm not sure if I've heard that story before or not, but thanks for it.  I'll remember that now.

It's also interesting because it illustrates a point: Objectivism tells you that the world can  (can...not will) be your oyster.  That idea seems to absolutely frighten some people at first...they're just not used to the concept of total freedom and responsibility.  Interesting.

Edited by John Galt, 04 December 2004 - 12:07 AM.

"Do not confuse altruism with kindness, good will or respect for the rights of others. These are not primaries, but consequences, which, in fact, altruism makes impossible. The irreducible primary of altruism, the basic absolute, is self-sacrifice - which means: self-immolation, self-abnegation, self-denial, self-destruction - which means: the self as a standard of evil, the selfless as a standard of the good."            —Ayn Rand

#108 Palisades

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Posted 05 December 2004 - 06:10 PM

[Note: I was unable to completely replace all instances of "man" and "his” with gender-neutral alternatives without sacrificing clarity.]

JG then Ayn Rand said:

I know things exist and that they will always exist until they are broken down into their constituent components to be rebuilt again as something else. A chair is a chair. A stone is a stone. . . If that which you claim to perceive does not exist, what you possess is not consciousness.
Is a hallucinated mushroom a mushroom? Let's say I take some LSD and start seeing a psychedelic mushroom. When the drug wears off, I stop seeing the mushroom. Was this hallucinated mushroom a mushroom? If not, what was it? Does it exist and has it stopped existing? Was it perceived by my consciousness?

Another example: Is what most people see as a yellow house still a yellow house to a tritanope?

What I'm trying to get at is that human consciousness perceives a distorted version of reality (an extreme example of this is synaethesia) Another example is seeing a wall and perceiving it as solid when it fact it is mostly empty space (protons, neutrons, and electrons take up a very small fraction of the space the wall occupies).

It's also not true that matter will always exist as matter. Matter can be converted into energy (a process which happens inside the sun and inside nuclear reactors).


JG said:

I live by the concept that I, as a human being, must do what is needed to survive since the alternative is my death. Dead, I would not feel, move, breathe, or enjoy the greatest gift of the universe: existence.
If there is an alternative to life, namely choosing to die, then it isn't true that one must live. Are you saying people don't have the freedom to choose death? Or are you saying that one must choose life if he is to "feel, move, breathe, or enjoy the greatest gift of the universe: existence." (Picking the former option means you will have to grapple with determinism; picking the latter option means your moral system is subjective rather than objective.)


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*You who prattle that morality is social and that man would need no morality on a desert island. It is on a desert island that he would need it most. Let him try to claim, when there are no victims to pay for it, that a rock is a house, that sand is clothing, that food will drop into his mouth without cause or effort, that he will collect a harvest tomorrow by devouring his stock seed today—and reality will wipe him out, as he deserves; reality will show him that life is a value to be bought and that thinking is the only coin noble enough to buy it.
Surely, Ayn Rand meant "deserted island," right? Yes, a man on a deserted island has physical needs he must satisfy if he is to continue to live, but this is just a statement of fact, not a moral statement. The paragraph you quoted does absolutely nothing to dispute the idea that morality is social. More on this later.


JG said:

Whatever robs me of my rights is immoral.
But as you've defined them, your rights only extend to that which you need to survive. Consequently, under your moral system, if you have 10,000 units of food but only need 100 units to survive, it is not immoral for someone to steal 100 units of food from you.

Also, you ultimately fail to explain why someone shouldn't commit murder if it is in his best interests to do so. You say that killing another person would cheapen the life of the murderer, but in so doing you appeal to some undefined concept of the worth of life. You've implicitly said one should uphold the worth of his life at the expense of making it more difficult, if not impossible, to obtain that which he needs to physically survive. This contradicts your axiom that the basis of human morality is physical survival, since upholding the worth of one's life is now more important than acquiring the resources needed to survive.

It's worth noting that Ayn Rand apparently recognized this dilemma and resorted to a tactic that's all too common in her writings. She redefines 'life' and sets up an absolute jewel of a circular argument:

OE, on p.24, said:

Such is the meaning of the definition: that which is required for the survival of man qua man. It does not mean a momentary or a merely physical survival. It does not mean the momentary physical survival of a mindless brute, waiting for another brute to crush his skull. It does not mean the momentary physical survival of a crawling aggregate of muscles who is willing to accept any terms, obey any thug and surrender any values, for the sake of what is known as 'survival at any price,' which may or may not last a week or a year.
She never defines 'Man's Life' and never does more than a superficial exploration of what separates 'Man's Life' from the common meaning of 'life.' This alone smacks of an unsatisfactory foundation upon which to build a value system. Moreover, she then proceeds to equivocate between these two different concepts of life, thereby rendering many of her future arguments invalid.

Now, let's look at that absolute jewel of a circular argument I mentioned: Man's ultimate concern is to ensure his physical survival, but if he does so by acting brutish, he is not living the life of a man. (If we take the conclusion out of the premise, she has argued as follows: physical survival is the ultimate value, but physical survival + non-brutishness is an even more ultimate value.)

What we have above is a fairly standard circular argument, but she elevates it to jewel-like status by making the incredible claim that "there are no conflicts of interests among rational men," (and therefore behaving brutishly towards other men is never necessary to ensure one's own physical survival.) For Ayn Rand's argument to this effect and a proper debunking of it, click here.

Now, JG you add something interesting to Objectivism: the concept that one can take on an obligation to another human. You concede that at times one ought to risk his life to fulfill his obligation to protect his children. However, this is just another way of saying that the value of fulfilling the obligation is more ultimate than the ultimate value of ensuring your own survival.




Now, after trying to explain some of the problems I have with the Objectivist value system (or more accurately the Objectivist 'reasoning' process), I think it may help the process of understanding each other to give an introduction to my view on the subject of what humans regard as moral and immoral behavior. (It's worth noting that the system I'm about to explain doesn't depend on whether humans have free will -- in fact considerable support for it was gained using deterministic computer simulations. Some of the more advanced simulations have a probabilistic component to the agents' actions, but the pseudo-random numbers were generated using a deterministic process.)

Basically, I think that human morality did arise out of the desire each human had to ensure not only his own survival but also that of his offspring (and perhaps to also live a fulfilling life). However, along the way something amazing happened to guide us toward cooperation.

Okay, actually this is taking longer than I thought it would so I'm mostly just going to quote what others have said on the subject. I'm going to draw from two sites:
1) Prisoner's Dilemna
2) Is Moral Behavior Your Best Strategy

I'll quote some of the more interesting paragraphs and hope that they're understandable when read on their own. If not, it shouldn't take long to read both web pages in their entirety. In these experiments, the Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma was used.

Each of two players has the option to cooperate or defect (double cross). A player that moves to cooperate might honor an agreement or merely just refrain from stealing. A player that moves to defect might cheat on the agreement or commit theft.


For this first part, it probably would help to look at the payoff table in my first link:

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Why are any of us moral at all?  If my trading partner has decided to cheat me, I could get nothing, and so I should return the favor to at least come away with my measly point (and some vengeance).  But if my partner has chosen to honor our agreement, I should still cheat--it doubles my profit.  So, no matter what my opponent does, it seems I benefit by cheating.  In fact, for the first three trading partners, I consistently do best if I cheat every time (even with Ann, who will only occasionally honor our agreement).

But we don't cheat every time in the real world.  In fact most of us feel a strong aversion to it; we fret about it, and do all we can to be seen as and to feel as though we are trustworthy.

The situation of this game is a lot like those we experience every day. In these situations, one party's loss is not always the other's gain and cooperation can sometimes get us both more than we could otherwise obtain.  It's also a lot like the situations our progenitors experienced in the history of our evolution.  For example, if I go out with my buddy to kill a moose and he happens to plant the death blow while I was distracting the animal, can he then take all the meat? If he does, would I distract the beast tomorrow, or give him any share if I later found myself in his position?

This applies to other species as well of course.  Why would a wolf "agree" to hunt in a pack if the gains went only to one wolf?  Why would a flower feed the bee unless the bees did their part? Symbiosis is simply successful.  You could even see this dynamic as applicable to the cellular world.  Why would the cells in my gut graciously give up sugars and proteins to the cells in my legs and brain?  Well, my legs and brain get the stomach to kitchen.

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Amazingly TIT FOR TAT, the simplest strategy submitted, won the first computer tournament. On the first round you cooperate, and for the following rounds you simply do what the other player did the round before. A curious property of TIT FOR TAT is that in a head to head battle against any other strategy it can never win. This is because it is never the first to defect, and it forgives the other player after only one round. What happens in the computer tournament is that when aggressive strategies meet, they get locked in a cycle of double-crossing, and destroy each other. The power of TIT FOR TAT is that it forces competitive strategies to cooperate.[

After publishing his results, Axelrod ran a second tournament. TIT FOR TAT won again! Axelrod ranked all the strategies. What separated the high scoring entries from the low scoring entries is the property of being 'nice', that is not being the first to defect. Amongst the high scoring entries, there was a second property that separated these. The lowest scoring nice program was the least forgiving. After more analysis, Axelrod came up with the following four maxims on choosing an effective strategy:

1) don't be the first to double cross
2) defend yourself, but be forgiving
3) don't be envious (if someone has more points than you, don't try to slip in an unprovoked double cross)
4) be clear (make sure the other player understands the consequences of their actions)

It has not been lost on those involved that these [maxims] have a religious quality to them.

In 1993, Nowak and Sigmund showed that another very simple strategy WIN-STAY, LOSE CHANGE is superior to TIT FOR TAT in a few situations. This strategy is commonly called PAVLOV because of its reflex like response. Also, if players can make mistakes [ed: such as double crossing when one intended to cooperate], then a more forgiving version of TIT FOR TAT, called Generous TIT FOR TAT is superior. Laboratory experiments find humans use Generous TIT FOR TAT as well as sophisticated Pavlov-like strategies. Pavlov-like strategies are very popular amongst slot machine gamblers.

An example where both players play tit for tat but player 2) messes up on its first move and betrays (double crosses) when it intended to cooperate. On move 9, player 1)  unintentionally double crosses when  it had intended to cooperate.
1) C D C D C D C D D D D D D
2) D C D C D C D C D D D D D

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But is morality only a conscious practical concern?  I'd say certainly not.  An instinct pulling us towards "fairness" is held in most people (The first rebuttal of an arguing child is often "It's not fair"), and, to keep a society of organisms successful, from wolf packs to apartment buildings, morality is obviously necessary.  The fact that we feel a true urge towards morality, independent of other practical concerns, to help us negotiate the many benefits of cooperation and pitfalls of unconditional trust and deceit, should really come as no more of a surprise as having a pair of eye to help us negotiate a landscape.  Evolutionarily, we would be an amazingly poor species otherwise.

But why not just play along when you're being watched, and cheat when no one is looking?  Firstly, you can never know if no one is looking, and, by the mere shift in resources and the involvement of a victim, you're scheme will eventually be noticed and studied.  Law enforcement, or worse, AMW's John Walsh, will be called and you, by all odds, will find yourself half dressed and pinned on your front lawn by a couple burly uniformed men while you slur curses in drunken confusion as to why the "dudes" won't listen to your perfectly fabricated explanations, all of it captured on tape just in time to appear on the next episode of TV's "Cops".   You won't likely get away with it.  We will find and get you!  We're obsessed with it, and we have a great number of tools to help us in our dealings with cheaters (e.g. observing body language, seeking character witnesses, our love of gossip, punishment, logic, science, and so on).  These tools are vital to the species and a society. 

So, unless you are an amazing deceiver, you must yourself believe your intentions are honorable, else you may give yourself away.   To keep this self-opinion up, conscience is continually weighing in on most our actions (and guilt when we have a moment of weakness).

For a person to be 100% sure to avoid retribution and get the full benefits of others, they must truly feel for others.  This of course is easily seen in our near reflexive simulation of the feelings of others.  For example, if I were to hit you on the thumb with a hammer, it certainly wouldn't hurt me nearly as much as it would you, but I would still feel a sort of pain.  But the best example of this is love.  In love it's vitally important for each person to honor the other, and so their feelings are best taken very personally; if your partner hurts, you too must hurt.

Simply put, morality for morality's sake on both sides is the only way to make the game work for sure; you must both want the other to do well and get what's fair.

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None of this is to say morality is cut and dry.  It's far from simple to balance the wills of 6 billion individuals.  Nor do I mean to say morality can be summed up in a single game or reduced into a single process such as evolution.

No one can force another person to have genuine warmth and genuine regard for the well-being of others. However, if this person doesn't have these qualities (and isn't unusually good at deceiving people), he will be less trusted, people won't want to cooperate with him as much, and they will be less generous in what they're willing to offer him in his "value-for-value exchanges."

Example: Came up with a better example

Edited by Solar Wind, 05 December 2004 - 07:09 PM.

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#109 Yama

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Posted 07 December 2004 - 03:03 PM

I would really love to get into this discussion on Objectivism but I just don't have the time to do it justice.  Unfortunately, I guess I'm not as rich and independently wealthy as John Galt, let alone smart enough to stop the engine of the world.

Normally I find myself in violent disagreement with those in disagreement with Objectivism but mostly in argument against Objectivism with Ayn Rand votaries.  I guess my own position -- both philosophically and personally -- is similar to Orpheus:

Orpheus, on Nov 30 2004, 01:39 AM, said:

I respect Objectivism...

... It would be sheer hubris for her or her followers to think thay had found the one all-encompassing truth. A single profound insight, and the skill to tell it cogently, is enough to qualify in the highest rank of thinkers. I'll grant that she had such an insight (though I think her skill in conveying it was barely up to the task)

In the end, I would say that Objectivism is an important lesson as a wake-up call out of the consensus of public superstitions and corrupted moral teachings (i.e. "corrupted" when directly compared to the original author's intent, regardless of their original merit or lack thereof. However, it is generally grossly misunderstood, both by the public and by many of its most ardent followers....

... Objectivism, properly understood, is a good moral start. It does not lead to the greedy evils that many people imagine. It simply sets the stage for distinguishing between a gift freely given, for personal gratification, and one stolen "as a right" by lying graspers. This horrifies many people, some of which, I fear, cannot imagine anyone doing "the right thing" (as they see it) unless threatened by force or moral sanction It's almost a paradox: the ones who profess human dignity the loudest seem to believe in it the least...

In my daily life, I like Objectivists. I get along with them, and they get along with me. I feel I can trust them because we share a common moral language -- but I don't choose to discuss Objectivism with them very often...

Since I think John Galt has done a better job of defending his point of view than others have in questioning it, allow me to state simply what a root problem that I have with Objectivism.

The great strength of Objectivist philosophy is that it is rooted in the rational exercise of the mind.  Unfortunately, that is also it's great weakness.  The problem is that the rationality of the mind is itself limited.  Not to argue the point but to illustrate it, consider Rand's own "irrationality" as it concerns homosexuality, the theory of evolution and her irrational reaction to her rejection by Nathaniel Branden.  Or, to expand it beyond the persona of Ayn Rand herself, the continual and (IMHO) irrational infighting amongst many (most, all?) of her adherents.

I readily admit that the mere recitation of these positions and activities of Ayn Rand and her followers does not represent an argument against her philosophy.  Indeed, it does not represent an argument in support of my position, save only as a partial illustration.  But it does represent a fundamental flaw in Objectivism: the "rationality" of one reasoned, intelligent being can almost always be seem as "irrationality" by another reasoned and intelligent being.

Make no mistake that the problem I personally find with Objectivism (and Ayn Rand personally) is NOT that it must define a "rationality" with THE rationality.  Indeed, I sincerely commend Ayn Rand for stating that there is a specific rationality that is THE rationality that should be the basis of ones morality.  The problem that I have with her philosophy is that there is no "reasoned" means of communicating this "rationality" to others in such a way that others (or many others) can accept and/or understand that "rationality" as moral.  Again, this is the reason that many (not all, but many) Objectivist simply end up denouncing those who disagree with them, and often about the most trivial of issue, as "self-deluded," "immoral" and "evil."

Of course, the way many address the need or conditions for THE rationality is to posit the existence of a Higher Being or beings but this is, of course, anathema to Rand's philosphy.  Thus, she is left with the quandary of positing the existence of "supermen" (e.g. John Galt, Howard Roark, etc.) of immense "rationality" as expressed by both intellectual prowess and moral certitude.  Unfortunately, humanity does not operate this way, especially in on of the areas that Rand particularly applies her philosophy: capitalism.

And let's not overlook the irony of Ayn Rand's predicament.  To address the needs of her philosophy, a philosophy based on "rationalism" and reality, she creates the existence of man as the ideal (what I term her "superman") that does not (or at least, very rarely) exists in reality.  No wonder that many of her most vociferous critics claim Ayn Rand was an intolerant fanatic who more often than not used the religious imagery, terminology and intolerance that she herself most vigorously opposed.  Note her well-known often-used use of the word "evil."

As Ayn Rand pictured capitalism in her books, it is motivated by the genius of the few of her "supermen": men of immense technical prowess with complete economical knowledge and motivated by their pure "rational self-interest" as expressed in their personal morality.  But this is not capitalism.  Capitalism is the operation of finite men possessing incomplete knowledge (although, admittedly, motovated by the rationality of their self-interest).  In the real world, the heroes of capitalism are not the "John Galts" but rather the "Eddie Wheelers": finite men operating with imperfect knowledge.

This is by no means an exhaustive critique of Objectivism -- and indeed, I want to make it clear that, all in all, I tend to agree with Objectivism more than I disagree with it -- but it may help to highlight some of my misgivings about the philosophy.  But as John Galt has mentioned:

John Galt, on Dec 4 2004, 05:05 AM, said:

Objectivism tells you that the world can  (can...not will) be your oyster.

For that alone, it is to me at least, a philosophy worth considering.
Straight, conservative, capitalist and pro-life African-American Christian.  Any Questions?



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