Building a Foundation for Resurrecting America Part I

Philosophy CursiveAh the beginning of a new series. Always an exciting and tense time for me. In the short time that I have been writing this blog, I have often found myself in a very uncomfortable position… one of trepidation. Each night when I get ready to hit the “publish” button on whatever article I am submitting for the night, there is a little moment of trepidation. Because I am worried.  I wonder what people will think of what I post. I wonder if I am taking the right stance. I wonder if what I am about to say is going to be the thing that drives people away, rather than towards, the site. Then I take a Deep Breath, and remember that I am just me, and I am OK being judged. And I hit the button….

And that is where I find myself yet again tonight. Because I am starting a new series that is not going to be easy to digest or a quick read for those that choose to partake of this particular lesson. This one is going to be tougher, for all of us. I think one of the hardest things that we can do is to take the time to make an honest appraisal of ourselves. What if we don’t like what we found? What if what we have believed for most of our adult lives is based on a falsehood? That is a downright scary thought. But one that I am asking each of you to risk. Because I think the payoff is worth it.

Think Before You ActAllow me to add my personal experience. Black Flag challenged me many months ago on some core beliefs. I fought it, and then considered it. And I finally challenged myself to take some time to really think about it. I decided that if I was going to be one of the people helping to get our country back to where it needs to be, I would have to ensure that I was doing so with the right principles and core. Otherwise I would be making the same mistake that so many well intentioned politicians have made over the years that have led us to our current state. That is not to say that I have “crossed over” to believing what BF believes, because that is not the case. And it is not to say I have this gig all figured out, because that most certainly isn’t the case either.

It is only to say that I have accepted the challenge to constantly ask more of myself. Whether I like it or not (haven’t decided yet), I lead. As the author of this site I have chosen to lead again. And if that is where I am at, then I will continue to try to expand my thinking and work to ensure the direction that I lead people is the right direction. So now I ask each of you to take a bit of a challenge as well. It won’t be easy. Lord knows, just having to debate with BF, JAC, and myself is not easy. It won’t be easy, but I promise that the payoff is great and begins to set you up for moving this country forward in the right direction. Many of you said you were willing to die for this country if necessary. I am not asking you to do that. For a better country, I am merely asking you to THINK. With that scary intro out of the way, I offer Part I of the new series, written by Just a Citizen:

PHILOSOPHY:  WHO NEEDS IT? by Just A Citizen

Philosophy DishesAs many folks on this site know, I have been a strong advocate for developing a set of philosophically based principles before we start building solutions to various issues, or a platform for the VDLG party 🙂 . We need to define and clearly understand a root, core or foundation from which to build those solutions. I personally prefer the term foundation because the base principles provide the support for all other principles and solutions, much like the foundation of a grand house. If the higher principles or solutions do not fit the foundation (contradictions) they are simply discarded and new ones are tested.  But if the foundation is rotten it will begin to crumble and then the entire structure will fall, just as we see happening today.

When I first suggested an article on this subject I thought I could do it in one guest piece.  Given the importance of this subject I don’t think that would be prudent.  Not everyone on this site has the same understanding of what philosophy is, why it is important, and how we can use it to support our effort to fix what is wrong with our country.  Therefore, the purpose of tonight’s post is to introduce everyone to the subject and explain why it is important. 

PHILOSOPHY:  WHO NEEDS IT?

Rather than try to use my amateur philosophical skills to provide you with an answer to the question I thought it would be best to get an explanation from someone who I consider to be one of the most revolutionary thinkers of the last century.  Many here have read her novel Atlas Shrugged or maybe even the Fountainhead.  She used her novels to explain her philosophy.  As some of you have noted here, the down side in trying to absorb her ideas in this way is the very, very, very, long speeches by key characters.  I still remember my reaction when I finished reading the first such soliloquy in Atlas Shrugged.  It was a resounding and heart felt “what the hell was that?”

I must admit that after the first one I just skipped the rest to get back to the story.  But it planted a seed that grew for many years.  Then by chance, as I was beginning my search for answers about the world I saw, I found that she had published several other books.  I started reading and studying her philosophy and most importantly her defense against her antagonists.  This led to even more reading and study.  She helped launch my journey into the world of philosophy, and for that I will be forever grateful.  So without further delay, ladies and gentlemen I give you Ms. Ayn Rand:

Ayn Rand Stamp Picture“Most men spend their days struggling to evade three questions, the answers to which underlie man’s every thought, feeling and action, whether he is consciously aware of it or not:  Where am I? How do I know it? What should I do?

By the time they are old enough to understand these questions, men believe that they know the answers. Where am I? Say, in New York City. How do I know it? It’s self-evident. What should I do? Here, they are not too sure – but the usual answer is:  whatever everybody else does. The only trouble seems to be that they are not very active, not very confident, not very happy – and they experience, at times, a causeless fear and an undefined guilt, which they cannot explain or get rid of.

They have never discovered the fact that the trouble comes from the three unanswered questions – and that there is only once science that can answer them: philosophy.

Philosophy studies the fundamental nature of existence, of man, and of man’s relationship to existence. As against the special sciences, which deal only with particular aspects, philosophy deals with those aspects of the universe which pertain to everything that exists. In the realm of cognition, the special sciences are the trees, but philosophy is the soil which makes the forest possible.

Philosophy will not tell you where you are but here is what it would tell you: Are you in a universe which is ruled by natural laws and, therefore, is stable, firm, absolute – and knowable? Or are you in an incomprehensible chaos, a realm of inexplicable miracles, an unpredictable, unknowable flux, which your mind is impotent to grasp? Are the things you see around you real – or are they only an illusion? Do they exist independent of any observer – or are they created by the observer? Are they the object or the subject of man’s consciousness? Are they what they are – or can they be changed by a mere act of your consciousness, such as a wish?

Ayn Rand CigaretteThe nature of your actions – and of your ambition – will be different, according to which set of answers you come to accept. These answers are the province of metaphysics – the study of existence as such or, in Aristotle’s words, of “being qua being” – the basic branch of philosophy.

Regardless of the conclusions you reach, you will be confronted by the necessity to answer another, corollary question: How do I know it? Since man is not omniscient or infallible, you have to discover what you can claim as knowledge and how to prove the validity of your conclusions. Does man acquire knowledge by a process of reason – or by sudden revelation from a supernatural power? Is reason a faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses – or is it fed by innate ideas, implanted in man’s mind before he was born? Is reason competent to perceive reality – or does man possess some other cognitive faculty which is superior to reason? Can man achieve certainty – or is he doomed to perpetual doubt?

The extent of your self-confidence – and your success – will be different, according to which set of answers you accept. These answers are the province of epistemology, the theory of knowledge, which studies man’s means of cognition.

These two branches are the theoretical foundation of philosophy. The third branch – ethics – may be regarded as its technology. Ethics (morality) does not apply to everything that exists, only to man, but it applies to every aspect of man’s life:  his character, his actions, his values, his relationship to all of existence. Ethics, or morality, defines the code of values to guide man’s choices and actions – the choices and actions that determine the course of his life.

You cannot know what you should do until you know the nature of the universe you deal with, the nature of your means of cognition – you own nature. Before you come to ethics, you must answer the questions posed by metaphysics and epistemology: Is man a rational being, able to deal with reality – or is he a helplessly blind misfit, a chip buffeted by the universal flux? Are achievement and enjoyment possible to man on earth – or is he doomed to failure and disaster? 

Ayn Rand Young SmilingDepending on the answers, you can proceed to consider the questions posed by ethics:  What is good or evil for man – and why? Should man’s primary concern be q quest for joy – or an escape from suffering? Should man hold self-fulfillment – or self-destruction – as the goal of his life? Should man pursue his values – or should he place the interests of others above his own? Should man seek happiness – or self-sacrifice?

I do not need to point out the different consequences of these two sets of answers. You can see them everywhere – within you and around you.

The answers given by ethics determine how man should treat other men, and this determines the fourth branch of philosophy:  politics, which defines the principles of a proper social system. As an example of philosophy’s function, political philosophy will not tell you how much rationed gas you should be given and on which day of the week – it will tell you whether the government has the right to impose any rationing on anything.

The fifth and last branch of philosophy is esthetics, the study of art, which is based on metaphysics, epistemology and ethics. Art deals with the needs – the refueling – of man’s consciousness.

Now some of you might say, as many people do: “Aw, I never think in such abstract terms (or with some it is I don’t want to take the time) – I want to deal with concrete, particular, real-life problems – what do I need philosophy for?” My answer is:  In order to be able to deal with concrete, particular, real-life problems – i.e., in order to be able to live on earth.

You might claim – as most people do – that you have never been influenced by philosophy. I will ask you to check that claim. Have you ever thought or said the following?

“Don’t be so sure, nobody can be certain of anything.”  You got that notion from David Hume (and many, many others), even though you might never have heard of him. 

Or:  “This may be good in theory, but it doesn’t work in practice.”  You got that from Plato. 

Or:  “That was a rotten thing to do, but it’s only human, nobody is perfect in this world.”  You got it from Augustine. 

Or: “It may be true for you, but it’s not true for me.”  You got it from William James. 

Or:  “I couldn’t help it!  Nobody can help anything he does.”  You got it from Hegel. 

Immanuel Kant

Immanuel Kant

Or:  “I can’t prove it, but I feel that it’s true.”  You got it from Kant. 

Or:  “It’s logical, but logic has nothing to do with reality.”  You got it from Kant. 

Or:  “It’s evil, because it’s selfish.”  You got it from Kant. 

Have you heard the modern activist say “Act first, think afterward”?  They got it from John Dewey.

Some people might answer:  “Sure, I’ve said those things at different times, but I don’t have to believe that stuff all of the time.  It may have been true yesterday, but it’s not true today.”  They got it from Hegel. 

They might say:  “Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”  They got it from a very little mind, Emerson. 

They might say:  “But can’t one compromise and borrow different ideas from different philosophies according to the expediency of the moment?”  They got it from Richard Nixon, who got it from William James.

Now ask yourself:  if you are not interested in abstract ideas, why do you (and all men) feel compelled to use them? The fact is that abstract ideas are conceptual integrations which subsume an incalculable number of concretes – and that without abstract ideas you would not be able to deal with concrete, particular, real-life problems. You would be in the position of a newborn infant, to whom every object is a unique, unprecedented phenomenon. The difference between his mental state and yours lies in the number of conceptual integrations your mind has performed.

You have no choice about the necessity to integrate your observations, your experiences, your knowledge into abstract ideas, i.e., into principles.  Your only choice is whether these principles are true or false, whether they represent your conscious, rational convictions – or a grab-bag of notions snatched at random, whose sources, validity, context and consequences you do not know, notions which, more often than not, you would drop like a hot potato if you knew.

But the principles you accept (consciously or subconsciously) may clash with or contradict one another; the, too, have to be integrated.  What integrates them? Philosophy.

A philosophic system is an integrated view of existence. As a human being, you have no choice about the fact that you need a philosophy. Your only choice is whether you define your philosophy by a conscious, rational, disciplined process of thought and scrupulously logical deliberation – or let your subconscious accumulate a junk heap of unwarranted conclusions, false generalizations, undefined contradiction, undigested slogans, unidentified wishes, doubts and fears, thrown together by chance, but integrated by your subconscious into a kind of mongrel philosophy and fused into a single, solid weight:  self-doubt, like a ball and chain in the place where your mind’s wings should have grown.

You might say, as many people do, that it is not easy always to act on abstract principles. No, it is not easy. But how much harder is it, to have to act on them without knowing what they are.

Philosophy Trading CardsThe men who are not interested in philosophy absorb its principles from the cultural atmosphere around them – from schools, colleges, books, magazines, newspapers, movies, television, etc. Who sets the tone of a culture? A small handful of men:  the philosophers. Others follow their lead, either by conviction or by default. For some two hundred years, under the influence of Immanuel Kant, the dominant trend of philosophy has been directed to a single goal: the destruction of man’s mind, of his confidence in the power of reason. Today we are seeing the climax of that trend.

When men abandon reason, they find not only that their emotions cannot guide them, but that they can experience no emotions save one: terror. The spread of drug addiction among young people brought up on today’s intellectual fashions, demonstrates the unbearable inner state of men who are deprived of their means of cognition and who seek escape from reality – from the terror of their impotence to deal with existence. Most of them have never heard of philosophy, but the sense that they need some fundamental answers to questions they dare not ask – and they hope that the tribe will tell them how to live. They are ready to be taken over by any witch doctor, guru, or dictator.

Now you may ask: If philosophy can be that evil, why should one study it? My answer is: In self-protection – and in defense of truth, justice, freedom, and any value you ever held or may ever hold.

If you feel nothing but boredom when reading the virtually unintelligible theories of some philosophers, you have my deepest sympathy. But if you brush them aside, saying: “Why should I study that stuff when I know its nonsense?” – you are mistaken. It is nonsense, but you don’t know it – not so long as you go on accepting all their conclusions, all the vicious catch phrases generated by those philosophers. And not so long as you are unable to refute them.

Rand ClassicThat nonsense deals with the most crucial, the life-or-death issues of man’s existence. At the root of every significant philosophic theory, there is a legitimate issue – in the sense that there is an authentic need of man’s consciousness, which some theories struggle to clarify and others struggle to obfuscate, to corrupt, to prevent man from every discovering. The battle of philosophers is a battle for man’s mind. If you do not understand their theories, you are vulnerable to the worst among them.

Today’s mawkish concern with and compassion for the feeble, the flawed, the suffering, the guilty, is a cover for the profoundly Kantian hatred of the innocent, the strong, the able, the successful, the virtuous, the confident, the happy. A philosophy out to destroy man’s mind is necessarily a philosophy of hatred for man, for man’s life, and fore every human value. Hatred of the good for being the good, is the hallmark of the twentieth century. This is the enemy you are facing.

A battle of this kind requires special weapons. It has to be fought with a full understanding of your cause, a full confidence in yourself, and the fullest certainty of the moral rightness of both. Only philosophy can provide you with these weapons.

The preceding are excerpts taken from a speech by Ayn Rand to the graduating class of the United States Military Academy at West Point on March 6, 1974.  The entire speech was printed in The Ayn Rand Letter in two parts, Vol. III, No. 7 and Vol III, No. 8.

In conclusion I would like to make two points: First, we all need philosophy, especially if we want to resurrect our country. Second, philosophy does not automatically give you a single correct answer. You have to work hard to uncover potential answers and you have a choice as to which answer you accept. I submit that you need to choose wisely. If you don’t, you will be subject to endless contradictions in your life, and all the anxiety, frustration and doubt that those contradictions will impose upon your psyche.

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Comments

  1. There’s an obvious reason why there are people who ridicule philosophy- they have no wisdom to love in themselves.

    • But is love of yourself required to appreciate philosophy or is it the recognition and exploration of philosophy that allows one to have confidence and thus love of themselves?

      JAC

      • SFC Dick says:

        compitence breeds confidence.

        compitence is one of those catch alls. Ray has compitence, Black Flag had alien, superior alien life forms implant a compitence.

        Cocky is a byproduct fo confindence in some arenas, cocky is a poor leg to stand on when a fool engages 2 legged men.

        I have not much left to give here. My mission, my lifes work has been snatched out from under my feet, not by politicians, but my family, the military. I, my team, is being yanked out in 10 days, 2 months early ( this is open source info)

        we were so close, we were to be the first team to take a host national unit from scratch and bring them up to CM1, in 6 MONTHS! never bee done. We pleaded for an exstension. Sorry no go. We are being yanked of the 5 yard line, 5 and goal to go, for the first win. We would have proven the effecacy of the Focused District developement. Nope, soryy, get off the field, you are being yanked 2 months prior to you stated end of mission, deal with it. now…go.

        My team would have been the first, our operational and tactical ooperating methods would have been the bench mark, the best practices.

        just get.

        this isn’t the politicians, I’d love to blame them, this is us doing it to us.

        10 years from now, were I to plop down for a beer someplace and some knuckle head says “the politicians lost the war for us in Afghanistan, I might have to pop his noggin.

        we call for surge, since I was here in 2005-2006 we had the manpower but not the brain power from command.

        God bless the one year tour.

        keep everyone here till this thing is won, or some fact simily, this would have been over in 2005.

  2. Good Morning,

    Good read as usual. It’s alittle early, but I throw in a few thoughts. I believe that an individuals philosophies change over time, and under the circumstances which they are presented at the moment. I’ve often wondered what purpose I am here on earth to serve. What is it, at my age, that I still haven’t found that would fulfill that emptiness that I know exists within myself. My philosophies have changed over time, but minutely at most. I still conform to those important things in life I was taught as a child. Circumstances have led to some short term changes some of those philosophies, but they remain mostly intact, with a few small changes. Without those philosophies, I would simply be a mindless shell, and useless.

    G!

    • Naten53 says:

      Did your philosophies change, or did the circumstances change therefore making you think something different based on your original philosophy.

      I will say that most people want to be a good person. How they go about being a good person is directed by events in their life. They change their opinion on certain topics based on the events but in the end they still want to be a good person, and that directs the course of their beliefs without changing their basic philosophy of wanting to be a good person.

      • Naten, While my philosophies have changed, they are not major changes. I guess an example would be that I was taught as small kid, was to avoid conflict when ever possible, so, with a few exceptions (due to circumstances) I tried to just walk away from conflict. Then I got older, went to war, and now my philosophy is to stand my ground and take on conflict head on. Over time I have learned that those who choose to engage in conflict (starting the conflict), can only be changed by being dealt with directly, or they will continue to engage in the same activity, even if not with me. This (new) philosophy, while used often, has rarely lead to any violent actions, but the threat of such action, changed a few attitudes as to enaging in that kind of negative behavior.

        So, changes have occurred, but I don’t consider them to be major, just reevaluated due to the changing times.

        G!

        • G-man

          Your example is just a very, very, very, little piece of philosophy. More related to your ethics which is derived from other beliefs that are deeper.

          Most folks think that philosophy is their moral or ethical code. It is much more. Ethics is based on metaphysics, which supports epistemology which supports your ethics.

          So when you say you changed your approach because you realized that the bully wouldn’t change unless confronted, what was the deeper change in your philosophical system?

          And Top O’ the Morning to You
          JAC

          • JAC, Top O the morning to you as well.

            I’m not quite sure I have had deep philosophical changes per say. Circumstances have changed, physically, intellectually, knowledge, and my willingness to try to learn as much as possible.

            This subject is pretty deep for my shallow mind (LOL), so I’m expecting to learn alot, and gain a better understanding of myself. Heck, I didn’t even know I was conservative in nature till about 10 months ago!!

            I will say one thing, who I am seems to be closer today then it was a few months ago, in large part to what I’ve gained from this site and those that post here. As I read along today, I’ll get a better idea of the picture you are presenting, like putting a big puzzle together, eventually I’ll get it!!

            G!

            • The key is that we never stop asking questions, testing our previous assumptions and positions. You never know when new information could change your foundation and turn the whole darn cart upside down.

              And from your prior posts I would sumbit you are not a conservative but a Radical Right Wing Liberal. But we’ll find out for sure, very soon.

              Have a great day
              JAC

              • JAC, Most people that know me would say ExtraRadical (RLMAO). Not sure about the rest of the label, I’m curious myself.

                PEACE

                G!

            • Whutup G?

              Sorry. Always wanted to say that.

              Like you I was taught to avoid conflict when I was small. And like you I learned that bullys are mostly cowards who only pick on the weak and those who don’t defend themselves.

              Their cure is for someone that htey start to pick at to beat the snot out of them. Which I did a couple of times finally. Most of the time it only takes the show of force to get them to back off though doesn’t it?

              My philosophy did not begin to change until just a few months ago either. Or at least not very much.

              I have to say that coming to USW’s site and reading JAC and BF and You and others have most certainly awoken my mind to all sorts of new possibilities.

              I for one found that I wasn’t as Conservative as I used to think I was. I am more Conservative now. I have changed a good bit in the past few months my philosophies on life in general and my political view as well. I beleive I have become a much better Cons and have a better understanding of true Conservatism.

              • Richmond Spitfire says:

                Hi Esom,

                I too was taught to avoid conflict growing up. My parents NEVER argued in front of my brother and I.

                Because of this, I believe that I don’t know how to argue effectively. I get all nervous if I sense conflict of any type and I tend to avoid it which causes me to have unresolved feelings which tend to fester and sometimes boil over at inappropriate moments.

                I have to say that thanks to the wonderful people here at this site, I’m learning how to state my feelings/or my opinion in a more effective manner, plus I feel safe in doing so.

                For example, on Mother’s Day, I debated with my brother-in-law over the potential collapse of the United States of America…all in hopes of getting him onboard with at least having a “plan” to survive should this happen. For one of the first times in my life, I didn’t avoid and I felt almost like a Subject Matter Expert. It was an exhilarating moment for me!

                I personally thank everyone here for sticking by me and challenging me as I learn to become comfortable in my skin and stretching it where it needs stretching. I sure hope that I obtain stretch marks to be proud of!

                This content is difficult for me to get my brain around, but I’m trying!

                Regards,
                RS

        • Naten53 says:

          What I get from this is that your philosophy is to avoid conflict. Your life experiences have taught you that to avoid conflict you must be willing to go to conflict if forced to. But overall your philosophy of trying to avoid conflict remains unaltered.

          • Your statement is correct, I guess the only change is that I no longer fear conflict, but accept it as part of life. If walking away from conflict and confronting it head on when needed does not really qualify for a change in philosophy, then I have much to learn still.

  3. Birdman says:

    Like others that visit this site, I’m learning and trying to understand. One quote that Ayn Rand states (and I’m cuttting and pasting from your article) is as follows:

    “Today’s mawkish concern with and compassion for the feeble, the flawed, the suffering, the guilty, is a cover for the profoundly Kantian hatred of the innocent, the strong, the able, the successful, the virtuous, the confident, the happy. A philosophy out to destroy man’s mind is necessarily a philosophy of hatred for man, for man’s life, and fore every human value. Hatred of the good for being the good, is the hallmark of the twentieth century. This is the enemy you are facing.”

    My question is why hate the innocent, the stong, the able, the successful? Is it all about power over the masses? By destroying a person’s mind and their ability to think for themselves it’s probably easier to control everyone. What’s the end game of Kantian’s philosophy?

    Good article and a good start to a new series.

    • Birdman

      Ayn Rand loves to insinuate that Kant and others had some kind of intent to destroy our ability to think. While this is the outcome of their philosophies, in my opinion, I’m not sure we can say for sure they had some long term design or intent.

      Unfortunetly we can’t interview them, as they lived so long ago. Their more modern contemporaries however are avaialable for questions.

      Having just completed her novel you know how she hangs the ills of the world on Altruism. This is in fact the root behind those philosophies that seem to be undermining our freedom. The strange thing to me is that it obviously has origins in religion but has so greatly expanded to those who detest religion. So we now have communists, progressives and hard core religious folks all sharing the same philosophical base.

      We will get more into this the next couple of days but thought it would be good to give you something to chew on until then.

      Good Morning
      JAC

      • JAC “…she hangs the ills of the world on Altruism. This is in fact the root behind those philosophies that seem to be undermining our freedom. The strange thing to me is that it obviously has origins in religion but has so greatly expanded to those who detest religion. So we now have communists, progressives and hard core religious folks all sharing the same philosophical base…”

        I think that a shared philosophical base between those groups is an assumption we’re not ready to make. Ms. Rand very carefully distinguishes between two metaphysical explanations of the world around us, and our individual epistemological basis for accepting one of those explanations. I submit that the communists, progressives, and religious would not share identical answers to those areas of inquiry.

        It is true that they appear to share common goals, but are those goals part of a larger plan, and is it prudent to assume that penultimate goals are the same for all three groups? c

      • Wouldn’t the altruistic leanings of the religious and communist/progressives be rooted in two entirely different bases? I would think the communist/progressives would be more rooted in egoism and the religious in spiritualism.

        The communist/progressives are looking to gain political power through touting altruistic laws that help gather a larger voting base. Elitist who prefer to impose law on others, rather than give of their own fortune and good will? Spread others work and earnings around by law/force…is it really altruism?

        The religious are altruistic for a more personal need; it’s out of their belief in a God and an afterlife. They are serving one they hold greater than any other and as a side benefit, it may earn them brownie points for the afterlife. They give of free will, not by a law set by government? Spread their personal work and earnings around because of their belief system…closer to altruism?

        There’s a great market for Altruism, consumers galore. The more that’s given, the more takers that are buying…until one day there is no givers to give, only takers. That’s a product that shouldn’t be marketed via politics. I believe it should be left in the hands of the local communities and churches, they would have a hands-on concern in assuring their work and earnings freely given aren’t squandered and abused.

        I’m not a religious person, so I only speak of my understanding. I’m not a political person, only a person tired of being victim to politics of the elite. It’s how I see it. Right or wrong, it’s my view. I’ve found many of my views and ideas changing of late, I have shocked myself in some of the turns I have made. The hard left this country has taken has really rattled me.

        • Chris Devine says:

          You seem to have a pretty skewed idea of where this country sits on the political spectrum. The ‘hard left’ you speak of has placed us smack dab in the middle. It’s only in contrast to the far right views and policies of the previous administration that makes the new occupants look liberal.

          “Elitist[s] who prefer to impose law on others, rather than give of their own fortune and good will?” Really? Do you honestly think that this country would be better off if inheritance taxes etc. didn’t force the real elite of this country to give away their takings? Don’t kid yourself, the people who own this country would love to go back to the days of no income taxes and no government oversight of commerce. That way they could act upon their greedy impulses without interference, leaving the majority of us in squalor.

          • As a matter of fact I am/was pretty anti-Bush. I had been a registered democrat mostly because I am pro-choice. I would say I’m fairly socially liberal but mostly I prefer the government to back the heck off. No, I don’t think the government has a right to people’s inheritance. They worked and earned it, it’s theirs to leave to whomever they wish. I think both parties are too liberal with the earned wealth of citizens. So middle, nope don’t think so…I think both parties are too left (socialist) for my likes and now it’s a whip-lash left.

            I like less government, I think taxes should be paid but I prefer a flat-tax, no loopholes for those elitist do-gooder government folk to get out of paying. We all pay a flat tax and are done with it. That’s fair. Again, with some problems I think less government is better…like with intellectual rights, the government protects some that shouldn’t be, like for pharmaceuticals—they claim a gene as their property. That’s wrong and government protects it. Less government isn’t always bad. I’m of the opinion many things would right themselves if gov’t just backed off.

            • Chris Devine says:

              I won’t go into whether people who have enough money to pay inheritance taxes (currently $5 million for an individual or $10 million for a couple) really earn that money (I doubt that ‘earn’ is the right word, ‘accumulate’ seems like a better term). However, the purpose of the inheritance tax is to prevent de facto aristocracies from forming and to encourage philanthropy. If you are concerned with encouraging people to earn a living, then why should the children of the wealthy benefit from their parents’ wealth? Shouldn’t they earn it themselves just like the rest of us?

              Regarding the flat tax, if you look closely you will see that such a tax would actually increase the amount paid by all except two groups: those who make nothing and those who are in the top tax bracket. The middle class will end up paying more. Does that sound fair?

              • USWeapon says:

                Chris,

                The better question about inheritance tax is what did the government do to earn it? It is the mentality of punishing those who accumulate wealth that I don’t understand. If I make 100mil and want to give it to my children so that they don’t have to go through what I went through that should be my right. Encouraging philanthropy is far different than forcing it by taking the money. I just cannot understand your mentality around this. I am trying, it just doesn’t sit well with me logically.

              • Chris Devine says:

                It’s not about punishment. It’s about the recognition that accumulation of such wealth is only possible given a stable economy provided by the collective efforts of all who participate. When the time comes to pay the bill those who benefited the most should rightfully pay the most. This is the justification for inheritance taxes. Taxes in general are justified similarly: resources are required to keep our country running and they should come from those most able to pay. It is not a coincidence that the rich pay more taxes, nor is it unfair.

                What I contend is unfair is that the influence made possible by wealth is used in such a manner as to shift the burden of paying for our stable economy onto those who can’t afford it and don’t benefit nearly as much (if at all). The unsustainability of this trend will eventually bankrupt us all.

              • USWeapon says:

                On the contrary, fortunes are made during recessions. I know, the commercials tell me so, lol.

                I think there is a bit of a conundrum there in that it seems to me that the poor in this country generally don’t know what poor is. A visit to a third world country would do them a lot of good. When those requiring the most assistance from our government have a car, a cellphone, and cable television, I find it difficult to accept that you could believe they aren’t benefitting. And I would submit that you are going to see that the unsustainability of the current administration’s trend is going to bankrupt us all, not the other way around. America rose to the position of world economic power, with the best off lower class in the world, without income redistribution. I don’t understand why it is that folks believe that this is not true, and therefore, decide that we have to reverse that trend and move towards a form of socialism, fascism, or communism. Each of those trends have proven historically to bankrupt themselves and fail. Where is the proof that what you embrace has EVER worked anywhere else? What makes you think that it will happen here?

                Good to see you back by the way.

              • Chris Devine says:

                I’m not going to argue that there aren’t worse examples of poverty in the world. However, there are millions of people in this country who can’t afford the bare necessities (food, health care, etc.) even though they work 40+ hours a week.

                If you want to be truthful, we’re already bankrupt and living off of credit (both individually and institutionally). We have been putting off paying for the easy life for too long. Instead of getting into another semantic debate about the meaning of ‘income redistribution’ (which is just a euphemism for economic transactions, usually used in a pejorative sense to argue against progressive policies), I propose that you take an honest look at where he U.S. stands in the world. We are a military power to be certain, but our trade deficit is staggering and we have become a nation of consumers not producers.

                The proof of what I’m suggesting is the rise of the U.S. as an economic power in the 20th century. It was precisely the intervention of the government in the marketplace that made our unprecedented growth possible AND sustainable. The efforts to deregulate industry and roll back the progressive agenda is what is putting us back into a situation where robber-barons take the lion’s share with the help of the middle class and even the poor, placated by bread and circuses.

                It is a masterful thing that they have accomplished, getting poor people to accept that they are poor because they haven’t worked hard enough. This has only been possible by convincing the middle class to play along.

    • And to address your question more directly:
      “What’s the end game of Kantian’s philosophy? ”

      You are living in it!

      Stay happy and be free
      JAC

  4. northidahocitizenpress says:

    Deep topic today.

    Ayn Rand, is absolutely correct about needing to develop a personal philosophy. Those who don’t are easy to control through emotion. But, I also beleive emotion cannot be seperated from human intellect. Emotion is an important part of our decision making processes.

    I’d say the inner core of all other thought is the intrinsic value of human life. Is there value, or does value only exist if people say it exists? Political, religious, social philosophies all hinge on this issue.

    • This would actually be the inner core of your ethics which sits atop your epistemology and that upon your metaphysics.

      You need to go deeper then come back to where you are and check your statement, just to make sure it hasn’t changed.

      Re-read that part of the article where Rand poses numerous questions regardomg metaphysics and epistemology.

      Happy thinking>
      JAC

      P.S. Where in norh idaho are you located?

    • Wow, this is hard but I want to learn and get better and understand so I’m here…….

      My first thoughts were much like Northidaho in that you need to develop and understand your philosophies so that you are not guided (just) by emotions. Then I saw JAC’s reply and I am now researching MY episternology and MY metaphysics. This are things I didn’t know I had…..

      Thank you for taking this on and please be patient!

      • USWeapon says:

        Kathy,

        Don’t go too crazy on day one. There will be more coming tonight with some definitions and further discussing how we can learn about ourselves. This first article was just an opening shot.

        It is hard, but I think by the time we get to the end of the series you will have a far better understanding, not only of the content of this series, but of why it was important that we did it.

  5. JAC,

    A good article. I can agree with much of it, but some of Ms. Rand’s conclusions do not match my observations.

    “Most men spend their days struggling to evade three questions, the answers to which underlie man’s every thought, feeling and action, whether he is consciously aware of it or not: Where am I? How do I know it? What should I do?” Maybe some people do, but many people never examine their own view of the world. Where am I is only looked at on the simplest level. How do I know is not ever asked, many would regard it as a stupid question. Self examination is not needed for a functional life.

    Drug addiction “demonstrates the unbearable inner state of men who are deprived of their means of cognition and who seek escape from reality – from the terror of their impotence to deal with existence.” What gives “pleasure”? Sex? Chocolate? Do we only indulge in those to escape reality? I think many indulge in drugs for the pleasure, not to “escape”.

    I can agree with the need for a foundation for society. I agree philosophy as the means to build that foundation. But its at its best when kept at its simplest. Where, how and what may need to be asked to achieve self actualization, but many never strive for that goal.

    I hope to add more later.
    Good morning all.

    • LOI

      On the first point you actually agree with Rand. Note that she said they work hard to “evade” the answers. Her way of saying most don’t even try. Others can’t handle it and quite. Which leads into her drug comment.

      You have to remember that she wrote this in 1974. The impact of the 1960’s drug culture was very evident. While many claimed this movement was about finding the meaning of life it was really about avoiding the hare inner conflicts that were boiling over at the time.

      By the way I think those conflicts still exist but they manifest in different ways. I personnaly think it is one of the reasons for our loss of civility and the increased anger we see in general public settings, such as the screaming parents at the little league game.

      Back to the drugs. I don’t think drug use is all about pleasure, at the root. Especially in the beginning. There is a pleasure component but if we were grounded in a solid philosophy wouldn’t we have greater love of life and perhaps less need for cheap escapes? We would still have drinks and eat chocolate and some would still smoke pot. But would we see the hard core addictions or abuse of our pleasure mechanisms?

      We also have diff. types of drugs now. I understand that Meth actually changes the brain chemistry, after one time use. It creates a chemical reaction resulting in pleasure so intense the brain will seek it at all expense.

      On the other hand, I do agree that Rand’s comment overstates the effect of philosophical conflicts on drug use in our culture today. Back then it started primarily as rebellion against a “corrupt system”. But those who were telling the kids it was “corrupt” and they should “drop out” were the progeny of Kant and his descendents. What we see today is probably more related to 50 years of accepted drug culture and its impact on our children. Much like the effect of multi-generational welfare families. I agree we need to explore more on this subject.

      JAC

      • Her writing leads me to a question. Did she stay in a Holiday Inn Select when writing? I have noticed many intelligent people make themselves out to be idiots when they extend their expertise to fields in which they lack that expertise. So she was not an expert on drug use, nor a brain surgeon. She tries hard to find a philosophical explanation for behavior better examined from a different perspective.

        For example, my father-in-law applies no effort in not examining where he is, he knows when he see’s what is in front of him, and is content. He is “country” to the core. I am somewhat “citified”, but we still get along. I try to avoid being an “intellectual idiot”, because he poses a natural wisdom I find comforting and enlightning.

        • I think you are to harsh at a superficial level. I gather from her other writings that she was very familiar with psychological concepts and practices at the time, although obviously not a psychologist. Again, place her discussion in the context of her time.

          I’m still not convinced it doesn’t apply today. Our philosophy is the accumulation of how we view the world and our place in it. If our philosophy creates unresolved conflicts and contradicitons are these not the root cause of the malladies we see manifested in many destructive behaviors?

          What other approach or perspective are you proposing?

          JAC

          • I think you are to harsh at a superficial level. Yes. Some of her points are brilliant!!!
            Some of her conclusions are bulldookey. Hope to use more of the brilliant than baffling.

            What other approach or perspective are you proposing? Now that’s like asking a witch doctor to perform brain surgery. I have a few thoughts, one I will try to post on #9 or 10. Another, you should get my email from USW, as I don’t want to derail this discussion.

            • USWeapon says:

              Should he want to continue offline I would certainly pass the email address on.

              But I don’t think it is derailing this conversation. On the contrary, if we are going to talk philosophy, perhaps it is important that we ferret out the things that may get in the way.

    • CWO2USNRet says:

      “Self examination is not needed for a functional life.”

      and

      “I can agree with the need for a foundation for society. I agree philosophy as the means to build that foundation. But its at its best when kept at its simplest. Where, how and what may need to be asked to achieve self actualization, but many never strive for that goal.”

      While I agree that this has some truth for the average Joe it may not apply here in this forum. We are seeking to develop a set of core political values. For those values to be logical and consistent we must delve into the deeper roots of our beliefs. For those of us wanting to contribute, or become more aware, of politics we must understand the underlying philosophy.

      I know that I am lacking in that regard. I hope to improve so that I may more fully contribute. My only exposure to philosophy was PHIL-101 back in the 70s. I remember finding it interesting but, apparently, not interesting enough to hold my attention. It looks to be time to revisit the subject.

      • CWO,

        My observations may not apply to this forum as you note. But then again they might. I hope to come off in a positive manner here, that I don’t dis-agree with all said, but some of what she stated might have been her overreaching. Was it brilliant for her time?
        Yes,and even for today.

        I suppose I am advocating the K.I.S.S. principle for laying the foundation. That simple works best.

        • LOI

          I think you will be surprised just how simple some of the potential answers are.

          It is the effort to find them that is complicated. More so for some than for others.

          Explain where you think she is overreaching.
          We will probably need to understand this as we move forward.
          JAC

          • Bama dad says:

            I am definitely one of the others. Most of this has left me with “what”.

  6. esomhillgazette says:

    My philosophies of life in general have changed over the years because, as I have grown older and learned more, I have seen and experienced life as I had not experienced it before.

    I grew up in a very small town. Actually I grew up OUTSIDE a very small town. Way out in the sticks mostly so far out we had to pump the sunshine in. 🙂

    There weren’t many children around so my brother and I played together. We didn’t ever fight. We fussed sometimes as children do, but never fought because we two were the only playmates each other had most of the time. Besides that most of our playmates were other family members. No one lived close enough for their kids to come over.

    My parents were just plain country bumpkins. My daddy fought in Vietnam and had traveled some but still we were as country as they come. A lot of my upbringing came from those days in the country up until I was 13.

    Then we moved to New Orleans so that my Dad could attend The Seminary there. Talk about an Eye opener!! Imagine going from the sticks and being the typical barefoot hillbillies to the worst, slum ridden big city you had ever seen. Also going from a place where you had never thought of racism because, for one, there wasn’t any reason before to BE racist. And another, there weren’t ANY Blacks or any other race where I lived. Then you move to a place where there aren’t just Blacks, but mean and downright hateful and racist Blacks. Not all, by any means, most though.

    I would be lying if I said that I didn’t develop some racist sentiments when I lived there. This is something that, fortunately, I wasn’t exposed to but a couple of years. And also fortunately for me, I am a thinking and obervant enough person to see that a lot of the Black people that I encountered elsewhere are not that way. Elsewhere they are like ALL other races. Some are racist, some are not. This is a sad, but honest view of all races that I have encountered in my life.

    I brought the racism up not to defend myself, but to show how you can develop a philosophy from the Society around you. Before N.O. I wasn’t racist at all, never even thought about it. After though, it took me a few years to get over and put my racism behind me simply because of my experience of living in a craphole where racism was rampant.

    After this we moved to a small farming community in N. Florida called Alford. This was Almost back to the kind of country I grew up with except for the sand and Gnats. Meanwhile I had grown from a bullied child to a vicious animal if I was pushed (thanks N.O.). I only got into 1 fight there (in FL) but had discovered that not only was I better than average at it, I actually liked it. I did not turn into a bully but didn’t, and to this day still don’t back up at all. I developed a lot of friendships there though that I wish I had kept up with. Lot of fine people in North Florida.

    After leaving there we moved back here to Esom Hill where I finished going to school and then went into the Army and grew up quickly. Anyone who has been in the Military knows this. You grow up quickly into a man (or woman). Above all you learn duty, honor, and discipline.

    After that I went pretty wild where I didn’t think about too much of anything but where the next party was.

    Then after getting married and settling down and having kids of my own, I began to see life as it really is. You struggle to work and keep a roof over your family’s heads and food in their stomachs. You have a few friends who think mostly like you and you mostly worry about just life in general. You think of everyday family problems and worry about everyday things. My life to me is typical of most men with families.

    We aren’t concerned with politics mostly, just about our own and our families lives. That is until the political system starts to interfere with your family’s life. Until you begin to see the undermining of the Country that you were taught to love as a child and begin to see your Government destroy the very Nation that you put in their hands for safekeeping. And seeing this I see that this has the potential to harm the ones that I love. This is completely unacceptable to me.

    My philosophy on life has changed because of what I have recently seen from the Government. Out Nation is changing at blazing speed and only shows signs of these changes speeding up. I see that I can no longer ignore this. Despite other needs, I must make a stand. I MUST get involved, if no other way but to raise verbal hell.

    But another thing have noticed is this. Much like childhood, I have discovered that I like to fight Politically also. Because I am also a thinker it’s easy to fight in a mind struggle with the unarmed foes of the Liberal left.

    • Esom, At one point in your life, you stated that you were pretty good at fighting. Let’s, for the sake of this reply, say, “good at inflicting violence”. With that said, once you realized, as I did, that you were good at inflicting harm through a form of violence, were you not less likely to use that knowledge shortly thereafter. Just curious.

      G!

      • OB Doctor says:

        I now know two people on this blog that I’m not going to fight!

        G-Man, you make a great point. I was once quite the pot-stirrer and brawler. My father got me into boxing, which I guess was his way of getting me to constructively channel my “talents”. Once I started boxing, I restricted the pugilism to the ring. There were frequent opportunities to partake in scuffles, but I did choose to avoid them. I look back now and realize that at that point, I no longer had to prove how tough I was to anybody else and most importantly, I no longer had to prove it to myself.

        I do see where Esom is coming from. I too grew up quite a bit while in the military (Navy).

        We all have quite a bit of political fight left in us.

        G-Man, if we were all 17 again, we’d probably all be brawling with each other! 🙂

        • Doc

          Its good to see your still hangin around.

          I know there are at least a few of us here who remember when a scuffle in school was settled by the vice principal taking you to some room in the gym to strap on these boxing gloves that weighed about 5 lbs each.

          Didn’t take to long before the two would forget all about the whatever, that started it. Arguments get kind of funny when you can’t lift your arms anymore.

          Can you imagine this solution being used today?
          JAC

          • esomhillgazette says:

            Yeah JAC, once the Lawyers got in it, it wouldn’t be funny to anybody, especially the Principal.

            I remember getting in trouble at school and thinking that the paddling was just the start of my problems. Once I got home, I had to face Daddy.

        • OBG, At 17 I was at peace with who I was, and had no problems with my schoolmates. I was already signed up for the USAF at 17 1/2. By then, I had no issues with anyone.

          Glad to here from you, and hope you post often.

          PEACE

          G!

      • esomhillgazette says:

        Hey G.

        Yes I was less likely to use it once I realized it. I never truly got over being picked on as a child. For a little while, I went too far the other way. I went from not doing anything at all, to busting someones head for looking at me wrong, especially in N.O.. But that was more from a pure defensive outlook. Trust me when I say that if someone was lookin’ at you wrong, it was usually because they had bad intentions.

        When I realized that I actually liked to fight, I began to try to talk my antagonist out of his intent. But not for long. And I have always believed like Teddy Roosevelt. “walk softly and carry a big stick”. Don’t know if that’s exact but close enough.

        When I fought, I fought to win. What happened between the start and the end was unimportant as long as I was the only one still standing. But as you probably know, you really never “win” a fight. You’re going to be hurting after it even if the other guy never even hits you, at least in my experience.

        What made me really slow down though was the Army. I learned more than one kind of discipline there. I learned that some things are worth fighting for, but there are also things that are not. Words for example.

        I have taught my boys to never get upset about words. The old saying about “Sticks and Stones” is true. When someone calls you names, it is simply words. You laugh at words, not fight over them. I have had blowhards try to talk me into a fight before. The best way to handle that is to laugh at them. If 2 people really want to fight, they don’t talk about it. Down here we call that “ones scairt an’ the otherns glad of it”.

        Nowadays I’m too old and crippled up to fight. And besides it just ain’t worth it.

        • Esom, Your never too old to fight, just have to adapt to your abilities. I’d rather fight a younger, stronger and healthier person, than fight a wiser, more knowledgeable man anyday.

          Just my little bit of what I was taught.

          Peace and Love!

          G!

  7. (Reply to Esom on Post #2)

    Hey E!

    Seems we have much in common. For some reason, I wish I were 17 again and didn’t have to think about all this stuff LOL.

    G!

    • esomhillgazette says:

      Me also. For one thing 17 for me was a much simpler time. For one there was no such thing as PC’s (politically correct OR personal computers.

      It was so much nicer when all you had to worry about was how to get with a pretty girl or how to get some beer (and left-handed cigarettes)for the weekend.

      All the Po-litical crap was just plain UNIMPORTANT. At least Jimmy Carter was a Presidential Tootie, without the power or the ‘nads to make to much change. Even though he was from Georgia, or maybe even because of it, I am shamed that America made him their President.

      We have much bigger worries with Obama. Different times. Different People. Same BullDookey.

  8. Ray Hawkins says:

    JAC – on the following:

    “Today’s mawkish concern with and compassion for the feeble, the flawed, the suffering, the guilty, is a cover for the profoundly Kantian hatred of the innocent, the strong, the able, the successful, the virtuous, the confident, the happy.”

    I’m trying real hard not to let that first part of this sentence ruffle my feathers (mawkish – hate that word) – what was the context here? Any idea what she ‘really meant’?

    Thanks for a good piece.

    • She was saying, I believe, that the Left’s public position of support for the downtrodden was a cover up for their hatred for the successful. It doesn’t mean they were not trully concerned about the poor but they are being dishonest about their complete philosophy, which includes disdain and hatred for the successful.

      I believe this was very true for the left in the 30’s through 70’s. You find this hatred expressed in many of the writings and speeches. I also see it today in those I would call hard Left of radical Progressives. They can never talk about lifting up the unfortunate without tearing down the more fortunate. Just mention “Objectivist Philosophy” or free market capitalism and they will have appoplexy.

      Your initial reaction to Rand is very typical from those with political leanings to the left. By hard left here I am refering to those with strong socialist statist beliefs. It is a direct attack on their rationalization of their core ethics.

      Before we continue this discussion I need to know whether you are familiar with her beliefs and if so at what level.

      JAC

      • Ray Hawkins says:

        Ok – gotcha – and makes sense. I like to think we can help those who need it w/o hating those who do not.

        I’ve never read Ayn Rand so have an open mind here – her work always sat on the ‘to-do’ list.

      • Chris Devine says:

        You will be hard pressed to find any philosophy program that considers Ayn Rand a serious philosopher. She talked a good game, but at the end of the day she was just a reactionary apologist for unfettered capitalism due to her severe distaste for the Soviets. There are plenty of conservative philosophers with great influence upon these debates (Robert Nozick comes to mind). Ayn Rand was a novelist, not a philosopher.

    • Ray:
      I forgot the context part of your question. Speech was in 1974.
      We were coming out of the mess of the 60′, peace, love, dope. Drop Out..Man. Groovey, Far Out…you get the picture.

      Also LBJ’s Great Society which piled on to FDR and bankrupted the nation with Viet Nam. Which was ending by the way. The college crowds were sreaming “murderer” and “baby killer” at our military and the politicians and modern philosophers were putting out concepts of “social justice” ignoring the fact that they were proposing the destruction of one group for another. There was a true and genuine hatred for economically successful people being spouted all over our liberal arts universities.

      Does that help? Does any of it sound familiar?
      JAC

  9. JayDickB says:

    JAC

    Good piece. Even deeper than usual.

    When I first read “Atlas” many many years ago, I agreed with Rand’s views on concerns for the poor. I also agree with your characterization of this concern as a ruse used by left-wing power-grabbers. That general approach is very popular these days on a number of issues.

    In my old age, however, I have developed a little more empathy for people who have tried hard but find themselves destitute nevertheless. (I don’t include Rand’s “moochers” in this description; just honest folks who have really tried.) I don’t think our society should ignore these unfortunates entirely. We don’t need to provide a luxurious life for them, but we shouldn’t let them starve either.

    However, government is certainly the least efficient way of caring for such people. Private charities are much more efficient, but usually have insufficient resources to get the job done.

    I would be interested in your and others’ views on generally how to handle this problem. I believe tough love should be an ingredient, but I don’t have answers beyond that.

    • esomhillgazette says:

      JDB
      I too have seen people who, by no fault of their own, are destitute. I have been there myself.

      What gets me is, when we were in that shape, we could not get any help. We never WANTED it anyhow. But there was a time when I would have swallowed my pride and took it for my family’s sake. Then I could not get it.

      So, I guess my question is, how do you get help from the Government when you need it? Be dishonest? Defraud them? I’d rather do without. This was a big problem for me emotionally.

      We almost lost EVERYTHING we had. Only the fact that we owned our car outright kept it for us, and we were told that we could sell it instead of them helping. My wife was told, I’m dead serious, she could get on welfare if she would kick me out of the house and file for divorce. I cannot repeat her reply to them.

      Instead of Food Stamps we were told that we could sell our possessions. Including our car. My wife was working for Minimum wage at the time. How could she have gotten to work for that pissy amount of money without a car? We were told to ask our family for money. What money, we said? Our family was as poor as we were. And besides, that’s alledgedly why we pay taxes in to support these Social Programs.

      In a nutshell, that is why I don’t support Social Programs at all. You work like hell to get ahead in life. Then, if something goes wrong, YOU cannot get the help that they are supposed to provide.

      It was OK anyhow. We got through it and were stronger for it. I learned to ALWAYS look for an alternative to Government help. I also learned that family and friends are the most important people in anyones life.

    • USWeapon says:

      JayDickB,

      Excellent thoughts and a good topic of discussion. I think that there is merit in discussing some of the ways that we can deal with the issues as you see them. I also have empathy and compassion for those who work hard and cannot get ahead. You will see that more when we move forward into that topic.

      However, I would like to hold off on that topic, at least for a little bit. I think that the series we have started here today is important and once we are done with it, I think that we will be in a much better position to have the discussion you are asking about. Does that make sense?

    • One comment on the topic and a hint.

      Rand did not ever say we shouldn’t have sympathy or empathy for the truly needy among us. What she said was that we should never be forced to help them by the govt or by those who would place the shackle of guilt around our neck.

      Many think she was waging war against the poor. She was actually waging war against those who maintain their poverty while at the same time supporting a philosophy and political system that creates and then perpetuates poverty. And if this were not bad enough, it creates economic classes in a nation where class was washed away by the blood of our ancestors.

      I hope you have had a great day.
      JAC

  10. JAC,

    Sorry, I have tried to write a few things but they have not come out as I wanted and work keeps coming up.

    How long have I been sleeping
    How long have I been drifting alone through the night
    How long have I been running for that morning flight

    Through the whispered promises and the changing light
    Of the bed where we both lie
    Late for the sky

    Jackson Brown

  11. If you expect to read any of Ayn Rand stuff, the same as Dr. Seuss or Tom Clancy, forget it!!! I have read “Atlas Shrugged” at least ten times,plus a lot of her other Novels and such, always with a dictionary handy till lately, now has a Lexicon.

    Here is a link to ARI site: http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=index

  12. Black Flag says:

    And just my quick comment.

    This piece is not to (necessarily) align everyone with Ayn Rand’s philosophy.

    JAC used the very articulate Ayn’s talk to clearly demonstrated his and my repeated insistence for all of us to hold a philosophy of reason – and to own our own minds.

    • USWeapon says:

      Good point BF. The point of this article was to set up the importance of philosophy, not have people agree with Rand’s personal philosophy.

  13. Ok, here’s my problem with this topic:

    You expect me to read, digest, and form an even marginally intelligent comment in ONE DAY? 🙂

    I’ve had philosophy classes and Ayn Rand was one of the topics (I recognize the name), but that was a long time ago…

    Geez – this is like homework…

    • USWeapon says:

      LOL Todd,

      I said at the beginning that this would be hard. It is essentially looking at our own personal core and trying to find a way to eliminate contradiction and find a core that will allow us to take the right steps forward. As I said in that reply to you on the other thread, the goal is to eliminate emotion and contradiction from our positions. A group of 100 people with 100 different ideas for the country is chaos. On the other hand, if all 100 people share a common solid core, it is the beginnings of a true step forward.

      These first two articles are back to back. But then there will be a day off and then a third article. After that a bit longer break. I personally will be treating these philosophy articles differently in that I will be coming back and checking on them and responding for several weeks instead of several days. I am sure that JAC and BF are planning the same. It is important stuff. We aren’t concerned that everyone processes it in a day, just that everyone processes it.

      If you haven’t read Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”, you are missing out on one of the great novels of the 20th century. I highly suggest adding it to your potential reading list.

      • CWO2USNRet says:

        I would like to read it but, alas, no Kindle version yet.

        • Richmond Spitfire says:

          CWO,

          I’ve requested Amazon to create a Kindle version! Peeves me. I wonder if there are other electronic versions out there that they could convert to PDF and email to our Kindles? I’m a fairly new Kindle user and haven’t tried that option yet, but know it is available.

          Regards,
          RS

  14. JAC’s explanation of Rand’s position was great. What do you think?

    Your reasoning and humor is grand Todd lol.
    Me too- the last time I read Rand was in 1982.

  15. Chris Devine says:

    Check out Thomas Nagel’s The Possibility of Altruism or John Rawl’s A Theory of Justice for a different perspective on these topics. They aren’t going to be the most exciting things you’ll ever read, but they’ll definitely answer more than a few questions (and raise quite a few more).

    People like Ayn Rand, Aldous Huxley, and Robert Pirsig (while geniuses by many accounts) wrote books to sell books. They may have had other motivations, but they are not studied as philosophers because they are not philosophers first and foremost. They should be applauded for introducing philosophical concepts to the masses, but when it comes down to it they provide merely an introduction, not an exhaustive answer to complex issues.

    You wouldn’t rely on Dan Brown, John Grisham, or Michael Crichton as an authority. Why should you hold Ayn Rand in such high esteem?

    • Why should their not being ‘professional’ philosophers (so to speak) devalue their concepts or thoughts? In fact, there is evidence (cited in the book ‘Mistakes Were Made, but not by me) that continued training tends to lead people to question themselves less. Not a good thing, IMHO.
      BTW…who doesn’t write a book to sell it?

      • Chris Devine says:

        It doesn’t devalue anything per se. But the tendency is to view their works as the “end all, be all” of the discussion. Philosophy is very much dependent upon discourse and constant reappraisal of ideas. The problem arises when armchair philosophers think they know everything after reading one author (even if that author mentions many others). You have to read the primary and secondary sources across the spectrum to consider yourself knowledgeable. Picking one author whom you whole-heartedly agree with as the sole authority does provide real understanding.

        • Chris Devine says:

          Rather: “Picking one author whom you whole-heartedly agree with as the sole authority does not provide real understanding.”

    • Black Flag says:

      While Chris is correct – a through study of many philosophers is a necessity if one is studying philosophy

      We are not here to take a PhD in Philosophy.

      The purpose of the article was to liberate one’s one mind and seize back its ownership into your own hands.

      And, besides, Crichton et al are extremely accurate in the details of their stories – which is why they are great authors. Their stories maybe fiction – but much of the background they write about is very factual and well presented – at times better than any science text.

      • Chris Devine says:

        Reading only Ayn Rand won’t get you a passing grade in a correspondence course in philosophy, much less a PhD.

        Perhaps I was misled by the title, “PHILOSOPHY: WHO NEEDS IT?,” but as far as I can tell this discussion is mostly about philosophy. Furthermore, if one wants to form a solid foundation upon which a system of reasonable belief can be constructed then it is very much necessary to rely upon more than just fictional accounts and popular authors (regardless of how accurate they may be in the details). Without a good overall understanding of these matters (which can never be gained through concentrating on a single author or group of authors) we won’t get anywhere.

        While Ayn Rand may be very adept at providing caricatures of prominent philosophers, she is a poor choice if one wants to understand philosophy as a whole (and an even poorer choice to form one’s rational for a particular worldview).

        • Ray Hawkins says:

          I was beginning to suspect this – even as I try to understand her motivations and context of thought and comparing that against who came before and after her. While I’m ok thus far on constructs and definitions (mostly) I am deeply troubled by some of Rand’s rants.

        • Ray Hawkins says:

          Thoughts on Colin McGinn?

          • Chris Devine says:

            From what I’ve read and heard McGinn is a pretty good philosopher. I need to brush up on my stuff, I think I’ll start with him. Thanks for reminding me.

        • Black Flag says:

          You’re correct, Chris, the title is “Philosophy: Who needs it?”

          It is not “Who has the most pertinent Philosophy?”

          The desire of these posts is not necessarily a debate about which philosophy resonants with anyone.

          The message JAC, USWep and I are trying to offer is: start thinking.

          • Chris Devine says:

            Fair enough. But I can think of many other (better) philosophers whom I would start with. I find it peculiar that Ayn Rand was chosen given her relative obscurity in the realm of philosophy (in contrast with her prominence in conservative political circles).

            As you might suspect I have studied philosophy. Most introductory courses and texts begin with the ancient Greeks (specifically Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle). It was Socrates who said (according to Plato) that the unexamined life is not worth living. It makes more sense to me to start with the foundations of philosophy rather than a cultural icon of conservatives, especially one who takes pot shots at other philosophers.

          • Ray Hawkins says:

            BF – the ‘start thinking’ path is admirable and necessary – to support Chris’ perspective (I hope) – it can be helpful of course to know there are different directions or different paths to take – helps to know what pair of shoes we’re putting on and whether you’re putting the right shoe on before the left.

            Thanks,

          • Black Flag says:

            Our purpose is not to claim or specifically offer anyone’s philosophy – but promote everyone having an active mind willing to engage all ideas entering its consciousness with reason and logic.

            There are an infinite number of right answers to the human equation.

            However, there are infinitely more times more wrong answers than right.

            Without reason, the odds state that the person will, randomly, select the wrong answer infinitely more times than, randomly, selecting the right answer.

            It, therefore, becomes imperative that we use reason to discern the right from the wrong.

            • Chris Devine says:

              By all means.

              I wish you the best of luck in your quest. I’m more than happy to offer suggestions if you’re ever interested.

              • Black Flag says:

                An open invitation, sir, is yours at your leisure.

                I believe the crowd would enjoy reading your posts.

  16. Thank you Chris for mentioning that the poor are brainwashed into believing that they are so because they don’t strive hard enough.
    I thought this happens only in third world Asian countries!

    • I can see where Chris is coming from; Rand is pretty much married to one ideal, objectivism. When there are givers, there are takers to line up. I’m here to line up as a ‘taker’… on the offerings of philosophers to read and learn.

      I’m an 8th grade drop-out and I’m always looking for help in gaining direction for learning. I read Atlas Shrugged because of all the “Who is John Galt” comments I had been seeing, loved the book, too!

      Also, earlier there had been discussion between Chris and myself over taxes, gov’t etc. I have not found reason to change my mind on gov’t being too involved and causing more harm than good.

      I don’t trust gov’t and it always seems they spend a dollar to hand out or make fifty cents. Government is too far removed and standardizes, where it’s not always the most efficient to humane way to go. (I could carry on and on with this part haha)

      I think there are better solutions than government getting into every corner of our lives. What? I’m not sure of that yet, only that I have zero faith in government. There is a better way and I’m searching for it.

      Taxes as you described them, Chris, sounded more like our current system. That is broken, wouldn’t you agree? The flat-tax, as I understand it, is the solution that appeals most to me. There are plenty of links etc for the flat tax, here’s one… http://www.heritage.org/research/taxes/bg1866.cfm

      I don’t claim to have any answers and I know that I’m ignorant and lacking education but I’m trying to learn, to become informed. I’m searching for answers that appeal to me and look to be viable solutions to what is obviously a problem with our nation. What I lack in education, I make up for with work,heart and hopefully,thoughtfulness.

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