Defending Atlas Shrugged and Objectivism – Part Two

Last night we began this discussion by talking about Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. The fictional novel was based around a philosophy called objectivism. Tonight we resume our discussion by talking about objectivism. I will admit that I am a fan of objectivism. I am a fan because it makes sense to me. Further, in practice, it is the only philosophy that actually has a base in reality. I think  that the most important aspect of what I need to cover this evening will be actually defining and explaining objectivism. It appears that the most common error that I have seen when discussing it is that those who are opposed don’t really understand what Rand was attempting to lay out with objectivist theory. They have a false idea of what it really is. I don’t think that it is simply because people are too dim to understand (although that is true in some cases). I think, instead that the problem comes from the mistake of forming opinions without really attempting to understand and the fact that Rand didn’t necessarily do a great job of covering some of the aspects that were important.

I do want to say up front that I do not claim to be an expert on the philosophy of objectivism. I feel that I have a better understanding than many people do. I think that is the result of an open mind willing to consider all the different aspects of all philosophies. However well I may understand it, there are folks who understand it better than I do. And some of those folks are readers here at SUFA. I encourage them to jump in and correct me where I am wrong. There is no sense discussing it if we are not getting it right!

To be sure, there are many who are ardent opponents of the objectivist theory. This should not be surprising. Mankind has an inherent nature to want to help those around them. I am not talking about the progressive movement, although the progressive movement has largely simply attempted to capitalize on the nature of man. They have done so by perpetuating the belief that the majority of people are selfish and always looking to screw everyone else. This is simply not true. A very small percentage of the population fits into that mold of truly selfish and willing to lie, cheat, and steal to get ahead. But by convincing folks that this is a large percentage, the progressive movement has garnered support for the concept of legislating to force people to comply with “doing the right thing.” But I digress, as we aren’t spending today discussing the progressive movement. We are talking about objectivism.

Objectivism celebrates the power of man’s mind, defending reason and science against every form of irrationalism. It provides an intellectual foundation for objective standards of truth and value. In its heart, objectivism defends the rights of the individual against irrationalism. It is a philosophy that urges men to hold themselves and their lives as their highest values, and to live by the code of the free individual. A code that includes self-reliance, integrity, rationality, productive effort.

Objectivism, clearly defined, is a philosophy which Rand herself developed and spent her life refining. As such, it is best if I allow Rand to offer her own explanation. Objectivist philosophy, in Rand’s own words:

At a sales conference at Random House, preceding the publication of Atlas Shrugged, one of the book salesmen asked me whether I could present the essence of my philosophy while standing on one foot. I did as follows:

Metaphysics Objective Reality
Epistemology Reason
Ethics Self-interest
Politics Capitalism

If you want this translated into simple language, it would read: 1. “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed” or “Wishing won’t make it so.” 2. “You can’t eat your cake and have it, too.” 3. “Man is an end in himself.” 4. “Give me liberty or give me death.”

If you held these concepts with total consistency, as the base of your convictions, you would have a full philosophical system to guide the course of your life. But to hold them with total consistency—to understand, to define, to prove and to apply them—requires volumes of thought. Which is why philosophy cannot be discussed while standing on one foot—nor while standing on two feet on both sides of every fence. This last is the predominant philosophical position today, particularly in the field of politics.

My philosophy, Objectivism, holds that:

Reality exists as an objective absolute—facts are facts, independent of man’s feelings, wishes, hopes or fears.

Reason (the faculty which identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses) is man’s only means of perceiving reality, his only source of knowledge, his only guide to action, and his basic means of survival.

Man—every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.

The ideal political-economic system is laissez-faire capitalism. It is a system where men deal with one another, not as victims and executioners, nor as masters and slaves, but as traders, by free, voluntary exchange to mutual benefit. It is a system where no man may obtain any values from others by resorting to physical force, and no man may initiate the use of physical force against others. The government acts only as a policeman that protects man’s rights; it uses physical force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use, such as criminals or foreign invaders. In a system of full capitalism, there should be (but, historically, has not yet been) a complete separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church.

As presented by Rand herself in 1962. Copyright to Ayn Rand Institute.

While the first two parts (facts are facts and reason is man’s only means of perceiving reality) are, regardless of what argument you choose to make, unassailable, it is the second two that seem to be argued against the most. In fact, most who bash objectivism don’t even know that the first, second, and fourth parts exist. They focus only on the idea that man is an end unto himself. That is where the true battle lines appear to be drawn. Therefore, this is where I will focus this evening.

Most who oppose objectivism do so on the false objection that those who believe in objectivism are selfish. This is simply untrue, and should be better understood. Rand describes this third part above: Man—every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life. It is entirely rational for this to be true. That does not stop the aforementioned opponents from simply labeling the idea as an embracing of selfishness and greed.

The idea behind this sentiment from Rand is not that man should be greedy; seeking enrichment for his own self at the expense of others. In fact, doing so is expressly in opposition to the philosophy itself. Note that next to last sentence above. It clearly states neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. No. The philosophy instead focuses on man doing what nature requires him to do: act in his own self interest. There is no definition of self-interest that is offered, and this is no accident. Self interest is defined by each man for himself and himself only. Reason allows us to rationally evaluate our world, and thus determine the values that will enable us to maintain our ability to live. I cannot determine what is right for you, and you cannot determine what is right for me, in terms of what is necessary to live a happy and fruitful life.

What Rand consistently fought against in pushing forward was the concept of Altruism. By her own definition, altruism is the morality of self-sacrifice. To sacrifice is to give up a higher value for a lower value or non-value. Since life requires the achievement of values, not their surrender, altruism is a morality of death. Proponents of altruism, on the other hand, hold that the values of ones own life are somehow less important than some greater value of society or mankind or the collective (and in some cases the planet itself). This is a false belief. Its falsehood can be summed up in the fact that when pressed on exactly whom’s value we should hold as the trump to individual, there is no answer. Society is not a person, and has no value. The greater good cannot make a decision on its value. All of these fictional concepts on whom those altruistic fans rely on to trump individual value are nothing more than a collection of individuals, who certainly do not require or desire the same things in order to live. Therefore, altruism is realistically asking us to sacrifice our personal value to NO ONE, which is even worse than sacrificing my value to another man!

However, it should be clearly pointed out that Rand’s theories did NOT make charity or helping another wrong. This is a fundamental miss from those who oppose it. There is nothing wrong with charity or helping another to achieve something. The key to her theory is that those things must flow from man’s first value: his own interests. Every man acting in his own self interest does not mean that he would never help another. It simply means that self interest, individual rights, are the primary from which everything else flows. To have it the other way around is to set man up for his own self-destruction. She clearly believes that individuals who sacrifice their own self interest do so at their own peril. Not only does it eventually destroy the individual, it eventually destroys others. As JAC pointed out to me, her target was not collectivism or communism, it was altruism. It was the sacrifice of higher value for lesser value. It is not natural and ultimately more destructive than anything on earth.

What is most important to remember when hearing the attacks on objectivism is the fact that history has shown, time and again, that the altruistic mindset, embodied by socialism and communism, has never done anything but fail. While the ideas and concepts sound great (just ask the early populations of the Soviet Union), in the end they always result in the same thing: failure (just ask the later populations of the Soviet Union). This is not simply bad luck, or improper administration. It is because there is a fundamental flaw in the idea that man should for some reason sacrifice his own self interest for the interests of others. That is simply not natural. I noticed yesterday the mention of those in the animal kingdom that sacrifice for their other members. This is not altruism in the animal world. The Lion sacrifices food to the pride because the pride is essential to his own self interests (protection and gene passing).

Where I personally feel that Ayn Rand failed is that she put her ideas across in a way that often appeared too black and white. She presents everything not done in one’s own self interest as “bad.” While this is fundamentally true, her works of fiction, which are clearly the most read, fail to properly delineate the difference between her version of self interest and the version that society generally holds as true. This is why many fail to realize that doing for others is not a bad thing in Objectivism. The philosophy merely holds that doing so when it goes against your own self interest is destructive.

Adam Smith, The "Father of Economics"

Where Rand fell short is in the areas that Hayek, Smith, and others did not. They recognized that humans, especially as they mature, have a desire to see others prosper. Rand understood this but failed to acknowledge it in her writing. Further, her fictional presentation of the philosophy took a stance that spoke to individual rights and self interest, but failed to take it a step beyond this to explain that her philosophy, if done properly in society, would result in everyone being better off. She did a better job of explaining this in some of her later non-fiction writing, but did not fully address it in the fiction. And given the sheer length of Atlas Shrugged, she certainly wasn’t able to use the excuse that she didn’t have room to add that in there. Instead, she endeavored to hammer home the fundamental ethics of her beliefs while simultaneously pointing out the ultimate flaws in the political and economic systems that she saw developing. She hammered home the idealism, while failing to address the human elements and ultimate benefits that would have perhaps garnered more support if better explained.

The bottom line, in my opinion, is that there is no other moral code that can possibly survive when placed against the rules of the universe. The universe would never require that any organism do anything other than work towards its own survival. In fact, as living organisms, we are the only thing in the universe that must work to survive. In doing so, the only rational choice is recognizing what is in our own self interest and pursuing it. Altruism, collectivism, and the “greater good” all sound great, and are all worthy endeavors when done by free choice. What they are not, however, is consistent with the reality of what the universe IS. Rand understood this and created that part of the philosophy accordingly. I find that I could spend ten thousand words discussing this particular topic. But I think I will stop here. The discussions can take us the rest of the way.

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Comments

  1. “Man—every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.”

    If I may be so bold as to expound upon Rands statement I would like to add that the rational man will see the times of plenty in his life, when it does serve his own happiness to pursue avenues of philanthropic endeavors since it can and most likely will be in his own interest to assist and help others that follow his same moral code of ethics.This will help to build and bridge foundations for his ideal community and society.This does not mean that he is obligated to do so, only that a rational man can make the judgement as to when he can do so!

  2. A man helps others because, eventually, it helps himself.

  3. Correct me if I’m wrong. I’m not sure that you can follow this philosophy and engage in politics at the same time. Politics involves compromise. It doesn’t seem like objectivism has room for compromise. How can you serve the people if you’re really just out for yourself? For that matter how can you be a part of any group, including family if in the end it’s all about you?

    • Anita,

      …because in the end it is about you.

      Family extends one’s own legacy. A man cannot live forever, but carries on through his children.

      To have children, one needs a partner.

      To care for children, partners need to cooperate.

      • I can follow that to a degree. BF has a poker game. BF Jr. has a dance recital. Objectivism says poker wins and Jr loses. Sorry Jr, objectivism says I get to play poker.

        • “The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.”

          Anita, a fathers’ pride at nurturing his childs development would serve his self-interest and happiness and be within the guidelines of his moral purpose.A rational objectivist would see this as better than playing a game of poker! 🙂

          • 🙂 This is where I get lost. Rational & objective don’t seem to fit together.
            Let’s see where BF draws the line.

            • Anita

              Explain why you think they don’t fit together.

              • As I just replied to BF, Daughter wants dad at the recital. That’s rational. Objectivism says BF gets to play poker. But as I’m typing I can see the daughter being objective and rational at the same time. I’M SO CONFUSED! 🙂

              • Reality
                Reason
                Morality
                Rights

                Objectivism

                Applying the above use IPDE!

                Identify problem.

                Predict possible outcomes of multiple solutions.

                Decide upon the best possible outcome.

                Execute that outcome.

        • Anita

          “Objectivism says poker wins and Jr loses.”

          Here is where opponents of the philosophy have led you.

          Objectivism does not say any such thing. IT does not decide nor require you to decide in any given fashion.

          IT requires you to make a decision based on your own rational self interest as a human being. To act according to your nature and not according to some dictate imposed upon your mind by guilt or other form of psychological manipulation. Do not sacrifice yourself and do not sacrifice others.

          Please note the qualification placed on self interest by Rand. “RATIONAL” self interest is the key here and is the part missed by her critics.

        • Or…

          BF goes plays poker and lil’BF goes to dance.

          What’s the problem with that?

          Why do you believe they are exclusive activities?

          • Because lil BF wants her dad at the recital but BF puts himself first.

            • Anita,

              Poker is a game where the past has no influence on the future, thus, can be played or stopped at anytime without changing anything about the game.

              A recital is time dependent, it can only happen at the time it happens.

              Ergo, logic dictates that which cannot move in time must happen and that which can move in time can be delayed.

              Thus, both can happen – not in parallel but in series.

              They are not exclusive. They are sequential.

              • At some point you are going to come to a crossroads where it’s lose/lose. Say your best friend is going to have a layover at the airport at the same time as the recital.He really wants to see you. How does objectivism come into play there?

              • Anita,

                At some point you are going to come to a crossroads where it’s lose/lose

                Oh?

                There is no Lose/Lose in a voluntary association.

                Remember my post on my site – Win/Lose vs. Win/Win.

                In a voluntary association, it is “No Deal/No Deal”.

              • Anita,

                Friend vs Family.

                …and what was your question again????

              • Ok I’m with you here. I’ll go back and read your win/lose post.

    • Anita

      Your a business person. How do you do trade with others now?

      How do you resolve conflict with others now?

      The reason she picked laissez fair capitalism as a “political” model is because it is a system of “voluntary” interaction and trade.

      Voluntary interactions require compromise and consent. You may give a little today to gain a lot tomorrow. But only you can make that determination.

      But what is NOT compromised are the core principles.

      • Then why do we spend all day debating Matt & Buck. In the end I’m sure they think that their way is best for them. Do you see them as objectivists? Everyone can’t be objectivists at the same time.

        • Anita

          Please explain why you think everyone can’t be an Objectivist at the same time.

          And for the record, Mathius is half way to being a full blown Objectivist. 🙂

          • Because JAC whats good for you is not necessarily whats good for me so you’re going to fight me every step of the way and in the end no decision is made.

            • Anita

              If we are arguing over some point and the resolution of that argument would not be good for one of us, then why in Gods green earth would both parties agree to a compromise?

              If there is room for give and take, an agreement that benefits both parties to some extent, then we will agree to that compromise.

              Objectivism simply says it is immoral for me to “force” you to reach agreement when in fact you do not want to agree because the “compromise” will harm you. You are free to accept or reject the compromise as you deem it appropriate. In any given situation that may mean that it is neutral.

              • A compromise is just an agreement whereby both parties do not get what either of them originally wanted!

              • JAC: Do not sacrifice yourself and do not sacrifice others.

                JAC: If there is room for give and take, an agreement that benefits both parties to some extent, then we will agree to that compromise.

                The sentences contradict each other. (ha, like I’m in any position to dictate to you. 🙂 )

              • Anita

                Getting something I want but perhaps not ALL that I want is NOT a sacrifice. It is a negotiation where by I win something. It is beneficial to me in someway.

                Lets assume I agree to a deal where you think I have lost and you have one. Does this violate Objectivism?

                You think so because you do not understand my “reasoning”. I may recognize that by giving up today I have increased my chances of winning more of what I seek tomorrow. Or it has opened new possibilities for achieving my goals that would not be available.

                So while you think I lose, the fact remains that I gained something and was thus willing to reach agreement.

              • JAC and Jon, You guys are talking yourself right out of the definition of objectivism. Using words like compromise and sacrifice seem to fly in the face of the definition. Looks like fancy footwork around a fancy label. Where does objectivism lead?

              • Anita

                You are the one presenting contradictions here.

                You claim that my getting a benefit from a transaction is not beneficial to me.

                Care to explain that?

              • It is not sacrifice if you agree. Compromise is not sacrifice, it is trade. Sacrifice is giving up your interests for something or someone else. In a compromise, you are not giving up your interests, you are trading them, you give up on some to get others. This is not sacrifice. If the compromise reaches the point of sacrifice, then you choose not to do it, and suffer whatever consequences are part of not making the sacrifice.

          • I agree JaC but Mathius is not being a RATIONAL Objectivist just an objectivist! 🙂

            • Tex

              That’s because on our journey looking for rights the other day we stopped just short of discovering the pool of ethics.

              Of course now that he sees where he has led himself he may bolt like a stallion who sees a barn in the distance.

    • I have a passion for political philosophy. I have an interest in seeing government run properly (if, indeed, BF is wrong and that is a possibility). I understand that while I have a certain philosophy (which is very close to objectivism), others do not. I therefore understand that my actions may not be able to always be ideal, but they can be moving toward ideal. I can therefore engage in politics so long as my philosophy is my guide. Also, if the compromise is so extreme that I cannot tell if it is on and ideal path, then it should not be made. Perhaps this would fix some of the problems with politics.

      • Peter Keating (from “The Fountainhead”) would say, “what do you think of me?” and Howard Roark (an earlier version of John Galt and Hank Rearden) would reply, “but I don’t think of you.”

        The point is that regardless of what politics looks like everywhere else, your choices are yours and are not based on anything but yourself. You can’t control how twisted and corrupt our political system is, but you can control your own politics. All that Rand is asking is for some good old fashioned personal responsibility backed by reason. No one can be a victim in Rand’s ideal society, because everyone has been empowered to think and act for themselves.

      • if BF is wrong and that is a possibility

        …but not darn likely in this Universe!

  4. All,

    I’ve been somewhat busy of late, so I apologize for my absence. I just wanted to stop by and offer you the following link. I am sure that many of you will get a kick out of it (ANITA – this means you in particular).

    The One,
    The Only,
    The Mathius

  5. Ray Hawkins says:

    I have long opposed Rand and for good reason – her position as it relates to the manner in which Native Americans (or, in her words, “savages”) have been treated. The only way she, and supporters of Objectivism, can support the more disgusting aspects of Objectivism is to diminish and marginalize an entire class of people.

    Quote from USW:

    “Most who oppose objectivism do so on the false objection that those who believe in objectivism are selfish. This is simply untrue, and should be better understood. Rand describes this third part above: Man—every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life. It is entirely rational for this to be true. That does not stop the aforementioned opponents from simply labeling the idea as an embracing of selfishness and greed.

    The idea behind this sentiment from Rand is not that man should be greedy; seeking enrichment for his own self at the expense of others.”

    Now – quote from Rand at a “Q and A session following her Address To The Graduating Class Of The United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, March 6, 1974”:

    “[The Native Americans] didn’t have any rights to the land and there was no reason for anyone to grant them rights which they had not conceived and were not using…. What was it they were fighting for, if they opposed white men on this continent? For their wish to continue a primitive existence, their “right” to keep part of the earth untouched, unused and not even as property, just keep everybody out so that you will live practically like an animal, or maybe a few caves above it. Any white person who brought the element of civilization had the right to take over this continent.”

    This Ayn Rand is a real gem eh? SO let me get this straight as it directly impacted blood relatives of mine – “any white person who brought the element of civilization had the right to take over this continent” is somehow “not that man should be greedy; seeking enrichment for his own self at the expense of others”?

    HUH?

    This is where Ayn Rand comes up short – I have touched on this before at SUFA and the raucous Rand crowd turns into crickets with b.s. responses like “well, ain’t nothing we can do about that now – what’s done is done”. This is why the USW statement “it is the only philosophy that actually has a base in reality” is patently false and misleading.

    Let’s work on another point:

    First this statement by USW:

    “There is no definition of self-interest that is offered, and this is no accident. Self interest is defined by each man for himself and himself only. Reason allows us to rationally evaluate our world, and thus determine the values that will enable us to maintain our ability to live. I cannot determine what is right for you, and you cannot determine what is right for me, in terms of what is necessary to live a happy and fruitful life.”

    I’m okay with this for this for the most part – but I acknowledge part of the price of living in an organized society is that from time, what is in my self-interest, is a decision made by others.

    Now, some related items – I find it amusing that Rand should insist that I determine for myself what is in my self-interest (in and of itself amusing – a baby/infant/toddler/child cannot alone determine what is in their own self-interest – let alone how we address the “union” of two people in a marriage – I guess that explains why Rand had relationship issues for much of her life), yet seems so prescriptive in how USW is channeling Rand:

    “What Rand consistently fought against in pushing forward was the concept of Altruism. By her own definition, altruism is the morality of self-sacrifice. To sacrifice is to give up a higher value for a lower value or non-value. Since life requires the achievement of values, not their surrender, altruism is a morality of death.”

    I suppose I should ask USW to define “value” and “Values” here – I do not agree that life requires the achievement of values in sense of a “value system” – if that were the case most of us would not have much to live for past age 30 or so. But I digress.

    I fully understand the argument that is attempted in that opposing altruism should not mean one opposes charity. I disagree. Let’s remember again that I, not you or anyone, defines what my self-interest is (and by extension what I can do with it). To attribute value in both sides of an equation in something “altruistic” (or charitable); for example, the time I spend in Habitat for Humanity; requires external attribution of the value perceived by the other actor as it relates to their self-interest – ooops. I thought it didn’t work that way? This relates directly to JAC’s confusion yesterday over whether it is “determined by two actors” or “instinct”. To take this further, in doing HFH I perceive my only benefit as happiness that I was able to achieve in helping another human being. A higher benefit for me may have been more time with my family, catching up on yardwork, reading a book, calling a friend I have not talked to in years, and so on. Am I worse for the wear? No I am not. How about the person’s house I worked on? I have no idea what their perceived benefit is – I can guess. They have a house. They can sleep safely at night. Whatever – I don’t care – because that did not drive my decision and there is no way I can weigh their benefit versus mine to determine which held a “higher value”.

    • Ray,

      That’s a common problem with people understanding self-interest.

      People will go about and say “So a man who gives of his time to this organization to make the lives of these people better is not an act of self-interest“.

      However, the problem is that these people do not understand self-interest! They confuse their values with that man’s values.

      That man’s self-interest is that he gets personal pleasure in helping others. It makes him feel good – and that is an act of self-interest no less than another earning a big paycheck. It is a matter of personal value!

      • Ray Hawkins says:

        @Flag – I do see it as an act involving but not of self-interest – so likely not in the light or manner Rand does.

        How is the book coming? 😉

        • Ray,

          So you do not define self-interest beyond anything directly improving one’s prosperity of the moment?

          So you, therefore, discount and ignore:

          (1)future self-interest
          (2)personal values
          (3)emotional stakes

          These are -to you- unmeasurable as self-interest motives.

        • Ray:

          Re:Book

          Slow but sure – about 4 chapters, now bogged down in background research regarding academic discussions regarding hegemony.

    • Ray, I do not like Rand’s position on the Native Americans, it is in total opposition to her own philosophy. I oppose many other things about Rand specifically, including some other things in her actual life that contradict her own philosophy.

      The Founders of this country believed all men were created equal in their philosophy, but they excluded women and black people in practice. This does not mean that I reject the philosophy, only that I reject the actions and some of the words of some of those men.

    • Ray

      First, you fall into the trap of condemning the philosophy because you don’t like the philosopher over this one position.

      I have thought hard and long about his one comment made by her. It raises several points that I think most people miss in evaluating her philosophy. She may be technically correct in how the world viewed things then but we would not view them the same today.

      Bottom line, I don’ find her answer consistent with her philosophy. I noticed that she never really addressed this commentary again in any depth. We can only speculate. I also think that those who have tried to defend this position display that “cult like” protective response used to condemn the entire philosophical system by its critics.

      The conflict comes in where she identifies “Rights” on the scale of philosophical study. She is saying in this comment that you can not violate the rights of those who have no concept of rights. This of course means that “Rights” are not held by all men equally from their creator.

      But if those who are invading have such concepts they are violating their own principles. She also failed to recognize that the “justification” for conquering the Natives came from her nemesis, the Church.

      If you actually study all her other writings and those of the many who have studied and shared her views, this entire issue of treatment of the Natives is completely out of character. It makes no sense to me and I can not find its justification in the philosophy itself. Because that philosophy carries a mandatory ethic of “do not initiate force against others”.

      Two, you claim I was confused yesterday. Perhaps you didn’t see the question I left you. I am not confused at all on this. Your reaction towards your child and wife, and others, is based on your perception of your self interest.

      When I said two actors I did not mean that both sit down and discuss what they get out of the deal. Your action towards another depends on your perceptions, their perceptions and the interaction between the two of you. That includes the little baby who just lies there. The baby is providing something to you and you are providing something to him.

      Charity is NOT Altruism as defined by the man who created the definition. That was the point Rand was trying to make in her writings. That the concept of self-less was done to trick the mind into a life of self sacrifice. And that such behavior is contrary to the nature of mankind.

      • Ray Hawkins says:

        @JAC – no sir – I am condemning it as the very root of the philosophy is invalid – that Rand validates that through her own ignorant views is merely supportive of, not the reason for my rejection. The very root of the philosophy is what is being used to legitimize violence committed against the Native Americans. You should be appalled at this.

      • Ray Hawkins says:

        @JAC – there is little else regarding her views because she intentionally wanted to avoid discussing it. Should be a huge red flag to you no?

        From: https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikiquote/en/wiki/Talk:Ayn_Rand

        “When you consider the cultural genocide of Native Americans, the enslavement of blacks, and the relocation of Japanese Americans during World War Two, how can you have such a positive view of America?”

        “Now, I don’t care to discuss the alleged complaints American Indians have against this country. I believe, with good reason, the most unsympathetic Hollywood portrayal of Indians and what they did to the white man. They had no right to a country merely because they were born here and then acted like savages. The white man did not conquer this country. And you’re a racist if you object, because it means you believe that certain men are entitled to something because of their race. You believe that if someone is born in a magnificent country and doesn’t know what to do with it, he still has a property right to it. He does not. Since the Indians did not have the concept of property or property rights–they didn’t have a settled society, they had predominantly nomadic tribal “cultures”–they didn’t have rights to the land, and there was no reason for anyone to grant them rights that they had not conceived of and were not using. It’s wrong to attack a country that respects (or even tries to respect) individual rights. If you do, you’re an aggressor and are morally wrong. But if a “country” does not protect rights–if a group of tribesmen are the slaves of their tribal chief–why should you respect the “rights” that they don’t have or respect? The same is true for a dictatorship. The citizens in it have individual rights, but the country has no rights and so anyone has the right to invade it, because rights are not recognized in that country; and no individual or country can have its cake and eat it too–that is, you can’t claim one should respect the “rights” of Indians, when they had no concept of rights and no respect for rights. But let’s suppose they were all beautifully innocent savages–which they certainly were not. What were they fighting for, in opposing the white man on this continent? For their wish to continue a primitive existence; for their “right” to keep part of the earth untouched–to keep everybody out so they could live like animals or cavemen. Any European who brought with him an element of civilization had the right to take over this continent, and it’s great that some of them did. The racist Indians today–those who condemn America–do not respect individual rights.”

        (From the book: Ayn Rand Answers)

      • Ray Hawkins says:

        @JAC – and finally – like many others – one should find irony in a system that professes to stipulate one should define their own self-interest yet within the paradigm of how another (Rand, her supporters) believe mankind, instinct, perception, etc should be defined. More Wittgenstein and less Descartes please. 😉

        • Ray

          I do not see Rand or her followers try to tell anyone what is in their personal interests except to explain the reality of mankind. That if you do not think rationally and then act upon reason in a manner consistent with your own interest, you will perish or live a miserable existence.

          If we follow your logic then no philosopher or teacher may teach, because no personal ideas may be shared as this is “telling someone how to think”.

          Not very rational in my view.

          Rand does not create definitions from thin air Ray. If you have in fact read her writings you know she tends to use original meanings and the meaning of root words to show how our language itself was manipulated or changed over time. To the point that words start meaning the opposite of what they first meant.

          You make accusations, now it is time for you to produce an actual example of what you claim. Then perhaps we can see what you mean and whether it is true.

          • Ray Hawkins says:

            @JAC – sorry chief – in and out on this place. But to answer your inquiry:

            (1) Reality exists as an objective absolute – facts are facts, independent of man’s feelings, wishes, hopes or fears.

            – I am more of a logical postivist. Don’t have too much of a beef here.

            (2) Reason – man’s only means of perceiving reality, his only source of knowledge, his only guide to action, and his basic means of survival.

            – I completely disagree with this – it ignores basic instinct we know exists in all of us.

            (3) Man – every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.

            – I think its fairly clear I disagree with this.

            (4) Laissez-Faire Capitalism –

            – Its no secret also that I oppose this idea – our history is chock full of examples where the corporations (or individual man) cannot and will not act ethically and within any bounds of law. The mere notion of the need for a “policemen” negates that the system can be laissez-faire.

    • Ray,
      “chirp, chirp”.

      “The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life. It is entirely rational for this to be true. That does not stop the aforementioned opponents from simply labeling the idea as an embracing of selfishness and greed.”

      (I do agree with Rand on this, it really reflects well how pure Capitolism is supposed to work)

      “The idea behind this sentiment from Rand is not that man should be greedy; seeking enrichment for his own self at the expense of others.”
      (False statement. Enrich yourself and let others do the same for themselves.
      How would you rate her philosophy against Marx? Which principals have led to prosperity, and which to over 100,000,000 deaths?)

      On the Indians, I think she was/is wrong. But I never expected her or anyone to be right every time. And surprise, I found something I agree with Chris Mathews about.(will post on open mic)

  6. Texaschem

    oh oh, a recipe for tyranny and destruction….

    Identify problem.

    Theory of Constraints state that there is but ONE key problem, it is obvious without search, and key.

    It is unnecessary to search out any more problems beyond this problem, for repairing this problem is so significant (because it the key problem) will change the whole situation, requiring a whole review from the beginning.

    Predict possible outcomes of multiple solutions.

    “Outcomes” …. a fool’s errand.

    Use principles to act Rightfully.

    The “means” creates the “outcome” not the other way around.

    Decide upon the best possible outcome.

    A source of evil – measuring outcomes.

    Measure the MEANS of the action. Is the means rightful?

    Execute that outcome

    Follow the path of rightful means and the outcomes will lead to success

  7. Let’s say you’re a state senator. The people of the state disagree with your position on a particular iissue. How does the objectivist vote?

    • Anita

      I vote with the people. But of course, you have forgotten to tell us “how many” make up the people.

      Why do I vote this way. Because of my values that coincide with my philosophy. Truth and honor are part of that. If I agree to be a Senator then I am agreeing to represent the wishes of those who send me to that job. I have a responsibility to explain to them why I think A is not in their best interest in either the short or long term. I must make the case as best I can. But in the end, if they want A, it is A that I must give them.

      Now I have another value I can exercise here. Courage. I can vote for B because I know they have been tricked. But if I do, then I must man up and take the consequences, again with honor.

      I do not run on a write in campaign or switch parties when they throw me out for voting for B.

      • I vote with the people as part of my job unless it violates my objectivist prinisples, in which case I attemtpt to explain why I must vote agsint the people, if they do not agree with my resoning, I resign.

    • Anita,

      A true objectivist wouldn’t even be running as they would never agree to forcing another to submit to the edicts of another man.

      “…never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine”

      • BF

        Not true my friend. Remember, Objectivists think Govt is a legitimate creation of mankind if its purpose is consistent with the political ethics.

        So the response of the Senator would depend on the nature of the issue at hand.

        What budget level to approve for Nat. Defense? No problem.

        Whether to adopt a communist govt structure? Big problem. Would probably resign without voting if the public overwhelmingly demanded this be approved.

        • JAC,

          That is why I am not a “Randian” or member of the “Objectivist” religion.

          They hold contradictions to their core principles.

          Though many of their thoughts are -in my opinion- brilliant – their practices and policies they believe derive from the premises contradict themselves.

          Rand defines government accurately enough:
          A government is an institution that holds the exclusive power to enforce certain rules of social conduct in a given geographical area.

          She then goes and defines what rules qualify:
          A government is the means of placing the retaliatory use of physical force under objective control—i.e., under objectively defined laws.

          However, the flaw exists right there.

          The assumption that there exists an objectively defined law that permits the use of violence on non-violent people to enforce this (impossible to achieve) objective law

          In other words, the force an Objectivist uses automatically assumes that the law must met the Objectivist claim.

          It is no different the law theory today – that which is law must be “right” and “legitimate” because it is the law.

          Without coming to grips of the limits of knowledge, Rand offered the same poisoned theory of government – and failed in precisely the same way as the others.

        • JAC,

          Or to think of her fallacy this way:

          To achieve her definition of government – “that holds the exclusive power” – must mean the government must impose against those that organize a competitive government to the one in place so to prevent its existence.

          If it allowed its existence, it would lose the exclusive

          YET to enforce its exclusive it needs to contradict her statement here:
          The only proper purpose of a government is to protect man’s rights, which means: to protect him from physical violence. A proper government is only a policeman, acting as an agent of man’s self-defense, and, as such, may resort to force only against those who start the use of force. The only proper functions of a government are: the police, to protect you from criminals; the army, to protect you from foreign invaders; and the courts, to protect your property and contracts from breach or fraud by others, to settle disputes by rational rules, according to objective law. But a government that initiates the employment of force against men who had forced no one, the employment of armed compulsion against disarmed victims is a nightmare infernal machine designed to annihilate morality.

          So, thus the deep contradiction.

          Government cannot use force on the non-violent, but must use force on the non-violent to maintain its exclusive domain.

          Thus, evil exists.

  8. I would have clicked “like” and rated this “5 stars” multiple times if it were allowed. Great post!

    • Agreed. I also like the return of the multipart series posts. My first experience at SUFA was during the several installments on the Libertarian Party. I always liked the big series discussions. 🙂

  9. If we are going to discuss Objectivism then I thought we should add some other reference material. Here is a summary from Wikipedia. Which includes some criticism and accolades for Rand. In some cases both come from the same scholars.

    “Philosophy

    Rand developed an integrated philosophical system called “Objectivism.” Its essence is “the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.”[94]

    As an atheist who rejected faith as antithetical to reason, Rand embraced philosophical realism and opposed all forms of what she regarded as mysticism and supernaturalism, including organized religion.[95] Rand wrote in her journals that Christianity was “the best kindergarten of communism possible.”[96] Rand also argued for rational egoism (rational self-interest), as the only proper guiding moral principle. The individual “must exist for his own sake,” she wrote in 1962, “neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself.”[97]

    Rand held that laissez-faire capitalism is the only moral social system. Her political views were strongly individualist, anti-statist and anti-Communist. Rand was strongly opposed to many liberal and conservative politicians of her time, including prominent anti-Communists.[98][99] She rejected the libertarian movement,[100] although Jim Powell, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, considers Rand one of the three most important women (along with Rose Wilder Lane and Isabel Paterson) of modern American libertarianism.[101] Rand rejected anarcho-capitalism as “a contradiction in terms”, a point on which she has been criticized by self-avowed anarchist Objectivists.[102] Philosopher Chandran Kukathas said her “unremitting hostility towards the state and taxation sits inconsistently with a rejection of anarchism, and her attempts to resolve the difficulty are ill-thought out and unsystematic.”[103]

    Rand acknowledged Aristotle as a great influence[104] and found early inspiration in Friedrich Nietzsche,[105] although she rejected what she considered his anti-reason stance. Ronald E. Merrill and David Ramsay Steele point out a difference between her early and later views on the subject of sacrificing others.[106][107] For example, the first edition of We the Living contained language which has been interpreted as advocating ruthless elitism: “What are your masses but mud to be ground underfoot, fuel to be burned for those who deserve it?”[106]

    She remarked that in the history of philosophy she could only recommend “three A’s”—Aristotle, Aquinas, and Ayn Rand.[18] Among the philosophers Rand held in particular disdain was Immanuel Kant, whom she referred to as a “monster” and “the most evil man in history”.[108] Rand was strongly opposed to the view that reason is unable to know reality “as it is in itself”, which she ascribed to Kant, and she considered her philosophy to be the “exact opposite” of Kant’s on “every fundamental issue”.[108] Objectivist philosophers George Walsh[109] and Fred Seddon[110] both argue that Rand misinterpreted Kant. In particular, Walsh argues that both philosophers adhere to many of the same basic positions, and that Rand exaggerated her differences with Kant. Walsh says that for many critics, Rand’s writing on Kant is “ignorant and unworthy of discussion”.[109]

    Rand scholars Douglas Den Uyl and Douglas Rasmussen, while stressing the importance and originality of her thought, describe her style as “literary, hyperbolic and emotional.”[111] Philosopher Jack Wheeler says that despite “the incessant bombast and continuous venting of Randian rage,” Rand’s ethics is “a most immense achievement, the study of which is vastly more fruitful than any other in contemporary thought.”[112] In 1976, she said that her most important contributions to philosophy were her “theory of concepts, [her] ethics, and [her] discovery in politics that evil—the violation of rights—consists of the initiation of force.”[113]”

    • JAC

      “theory of concepts, [her] ethics, and [her] discovery in politics that evil—the violation of rights—consists of the initiation of force

      Echo.echo.echo….

      …gee, that’s what I said. (and Kent, too).

      However, as above, she fails with her theory of government.

      • BF

        Your not thinking the whole thing through or your simply starting from your conclusion.

        You ignore the reality of human existence and behavior prior to and during the development of her theory of government. One I might add that was put forth by others in history in differing forms.

        You presume that objective laws can not be made that are consistent with the objective ethics. Yet you provide no proof other than non objective laws. And of course that age old argument, “but what if I didn’t agree?”.

        Well that gets to the reality of man’s nature doesn’t it. We have grouped together for eons and when grouping together we establish rules for conducting ourselves. All Rand does is try to describe how a govt might be constructed within the ethic of rational self interest.

        For example, it is not rational to have competing police forces running around serving the highest bidder. Justice soon becomes a measure of who gets a bigger check.

        That is why I posited long ago here that the issue is whether the beast can truly be caged. She believed it could. If there is a weakness in her work it is not her theory, but that she never took the time to work out enough detail to prove or disprove the theory.

        You say it won’t work. I say it will. And here we stand waving to each other across the valley.

        • JAC

          Your not thinking the whole thing through or your simply starting from your conclusion.

          No, sir.

          I start from the beginning and -for me- all roads always lead to the same destination.

          You ignore the reality of human existence and behavior prior to and during the development of her theory of government.

          I do not ignore reality.

          I do ignore past behavior. Man causes self-change, therefore the past does not equal the future.

          Whatever her development- it ended in a contradiction – unintended I am sure.

          She was not immune to the powerful forces around her – just as we see here at SUFA.

          Almost everyone sees the problem – few are able to confront it – for the confrontation creates massive risk for little apparent reward.

          She was no different the Jefferson, who -too- saw the massive contradiction, but still applied thought and effort to try to -somehow against the impossible- wrap evil in paperwork and process.

          She, like he, failed.

          ou presume that objective laws can not be made that are consistent with the objective ethics.

          No, I do not deny it -in fact, I demand it.

          Rand is not the epitome of Objectivism!

          She missed her own measure. (IMO, of course)

          That does not demean her, nor reduce her contribution – but she was no less surrounded by paradigms as we.

          As I have provided the ample proof – where she insists on exclusive – which requires violence to enforce – while insisting on prohibition of initiation of violence on non-violent men.

          I am not judging or blaming her — she didn’t have me to test her! 🙂

          She did not extend -in that one matter- the whole consequences of her thoughts was not made apparent and I am sure if someone pointed it out to her, she would have retracted or revised either her definition or her statement

          Yet you provide no proof other than non objective laws.

          I cannot prove the impossible.

          It is you who cannot prove the use of violence on non-violent men to enforce exclusivity provides a consistent system that prohibits initiation of violence on non-violent men.

          And of course that age old argument, “but what if I didn’t agree?”.

          All Rand does is try to describe how a govt might be constructed within the ethic of rational self interest.

          Based on her definition (which is one that I generally agree and use myself), no such construction can exist without contradiction.

          For example, it is not rational to have competing police forces running around serving the highest bidder.

          Why?

          Do you believe only one group is capable of establishing justice for all groups?

          I do not believe such things!

          Justice soon becomes a measure of who gets a bigger check.

          Justice is in the eye of the beholder.

          Justice is a value – subjective – to the individual.

          Further, every person has the Right to extend their Rights to the maximum they desire by all means at their disposal.

          That is why I posited long ago here that the issue is whether the beast can truly be caged.

          It cannot, for at its essence and core, it is evil.

          You can try to bury it in paperwork, but it is patient, relentless and complete in filling in all the blanks.

          You can try to restrain it by chaining it to itself, but it figures out that it also holds the key to its own locks.

          You can try to reason with it, but it is irrational violence and is thus immune.

          She believed it could. If there is a weakness in her work it is not her theory, but that she never took the time to work out enough detail to prove or disprove the theory.

          You say it won’t work. I say it will. And here we stand waving to each other across the valley.

          Yep, and after all this time, I have found nothing that suggests I make even a short step your direction – and not due to any lack of effort on your or USWep’s part.


          • And of course that age old argument, “but what if I didn’t agree?”.

            This was not supposed to be MY comment – I missed including it in a block….

            I note this, because it makes it appear I am purposely aggravating JAC.

            I apologize for my lack of pre-submit editing.

            • BF

              I kind of figured that. Was not offended in the least.

              By the way I don’t think it is correct to say Rand presented a fallacy in the true sense.

              Your argument raises a question over her Logic once applied to the definitions. As I understand the use of the term a fallacy would be a false assumption on which the argument itself is built.

              It probably doesn’t matter but I would say that you are accusing her of an illogical conclusion, rather than a fallacy.

          • BF

            “Justice is a value – subjective – to the individual.”

            So how does this person determine what is justice, or whether he even needs justice?

            What measure does he use to determine if it is what he wants and whether he has achieved it? More importantly, how does he validate that his justice is correct?

            • JAC

              BF

              “Justice is a value – subjective – to the individual.”

              So how does this person determine what is justice, or whether he even needs justice?

              What measure does he use to determine if it is what he wants and whether he has achieved it? More importantly, how does he validate that his justice is correct?

              (1)Justice is in the eye of the beholder.

              (2)A man has the Right to exercise his Rights up to but never over the extent of his Rights.

              Therefore we have the merge of these two points = which is what I call “Justice”.

              A man, harmed, has the right –within his rights– to repair such harm to the level he desires, independent of anyone else’s opinion.

              For some, it may be simply an admission of fault:
              I’m sorry

              For others, it may be compensation for loss:
              Here is the money for the repair

              For others than those, they may demand a hanging or beheading – but that is not their right so it is denied.

              • BF

                Gotta spend time with son for awhile. Will come back to this later.

                The issue of subjective vs. objective is the primary source of most of our disagreements.

                If you remember, I pointed this out a few times.

                I will give some thought to your concept before responding.

              • JAC,

                Why is it after a duel with you I find all my sabers in desperate need of a harsh sharpening???

              • BF

                Ha, ha, ha. I had to stop at the weapons store on the way home from bowling with my son. Seems my sword had a few chips in it.

              • Sorry if this strays further off topic everyone.

                BF,
                What of the man who asks for less quantifiable compensation? If the damage was not repairable, for instance, like the loss of an arm, what can be demanded? There are medical expenses, of course, which are quantifiable. There is an obvious limitation to earning power, particularly of the skill set of the person harmed was dependent on the use of his arms. A guitar player, for instance, might find his career completely halted.

                So, at what point is that victim not in his rights to ask? I could understand that a revenge tactic, such as demanding the offender lose an arm too, might be outside of his rights, altho it might be fair, and would certainly be considered justice by many people. But what of the thousands in lost income? There is no guarantee of income, so is it really lost? On the other hand, it is an obvious disability, so is it just bad luck for the victim? What say you?

  10. SUFA

    I hear nothing but Crickets…………….

    Anita…………….come out and play. I am thinking that your still confused. Ask questions if you are.

    Ray……………..still waiting for your to identify the “core” of Objectivism that you claim is rotten.

    If this is NOT the philosophy that the USA is going to stand upon, then somebody better offer up an alternative.

    • JAC,

      …only Crickets????….

      Only EAGLES need apply here!

    • I think it could be a good place to start, altho if there if a fundamental contradiction as BF suggests (once again throwing out the “unless BF is wrong” caveat”), then we need to settle it. In other words, the US as an internationally recognized nation would require some form of governmental structure. I am not sure we could exist as the US if we were self-governed. We couldn’t really call ourselves “united states”, we would be more like “loosely affiliated individuals”. Not sure the LAIA would have the same ring…

      • Jon,

        One day I would like to understand what the draw and magnetism of merely a name – United States – causes in a mind to make such a name more desired than life.

        • I understand the affinity for an identity and nationalism and so forth, but I do not share it, and that was not my point with that statement.

          In response to JAC saying: “If this [objectivism] is NOT the philosophy that the USA is going to stand upon, then somebody better offer up an alternative.”
          My point was that if you (BF) are right, then the USA cannot stand on objectivism and still be the USA, because we would not be states at all if objectivism is incompatible with government.

        • Flag,

          I’ve been quite bad lately at expressing my thoughts in the written form, based on our Open Mic chat. I blame myself for that, lack of practice I reckon.

          Jon said: I understand the affinity for an identity and nationalism and so forth.

          This, I fully understand as well. I, unlike Jon, may not be against it, at least the majority of your idealogy. Not all of it mind you.

          After reading all the posts and discussions on the current subject (which I found ALL quite interesting), I ask, Can individualism exist in your world?

          G!

          • OH! Still wish I could post pics here! And BF, I have a real life example of your views, that I am working on a guest post, which happens to be my real life 🙂

          • G-Man,

            Individualism and Voluntaryism are the major cornerstones of freedom.

            All human action is, ultimately, individual.

    • I stay confused around these philosophy discussions.

      I still say that the definition of objectivism says I watch my own back and do what is good for me only. You and Jon start adding in words like compromise and sacrifice..words I see as leading away from objectivisim.

      Today I’ve seen you, BF Jon, Ray, and USW all have some sort of knock against objectivism.

      Now you want to base a new govt on a concept that you can’t even all agree on from the start.

      And you wonder why I’m confused. What is the opposite of objectivism?

      Now since you have objectivism settled as a starting point how does that tie into running the govt. What is the first thing you do today to get us up and running? Second? Third?

      • Anita, I love your perspective.

        “Today I’ve seen you, BF Jon, Ray, and USW all have some sort of knock against objectivism.

        Now you want to base a new govt on a concept that you can’t even all agree on from the start.”

        Genius.

        For the record, I don’t think sacrifice is compatible with objectivism, but compromise is something that is a part of trade, which IS compatible.

        I dunno, sometimes I wish we were all sitting in a room having these discussions.

      • Anita

        I was being sarcastic. These discussions about philosophy are some of the most important we can have. Yet when ever we try everyone seems to run for the hills. It was the lack of a clear and solid philosophical foundation that resulted in our Founders making a serious mistake when they constructed the Federal system. They had the right principle (individual) but they had no way of defending it against its attackers. If we can not or do not address that deficiency we will be spinning our wheels regarding change.

        I am not sure where I was criticizing Objectivism but there are parts I have modified based on my owns study and values. But those changes do not alter the fundamentals of what the system is about. For example, I do not discard God just because Rand was an atheist and she felt objectivity and God were incompatible. It is compatible, if you separate the dictates of men from God. She did not consider that possibility.

        Objectivism in its simplest definition is just the application of Rational, objective reasoning to all the fields of philosophy. Metaphysics, epistemology, ethics/morality, politics, aesthetics and law. Rand never explored law, only touched on aesthetics and didn’t go deep enough, in my view, on politics. But she did link the first four together with objective, rational thinking using the tool of logic.

        That is why she called her system Objectivism. She wanted to focus on the use of reason as man’s only tool for survival.

        It seems to me that something is not clicking with you and what “Objectivism” means. Or what is meant by “rational self-interest”. For example, despite the explanations that this does not prevent compromise you keep saying it does. I can’t seem to grasp why you think this is the case.

        Unless it comes from applying what others claim this ethic is about. The standard claim is that it means “greed” or “social Darwinism”. Rand wrote extensively about why it did not mean these things. That is why she put the word “rational” in front of self-interest. She also called this ethic “rational egoism”.

        Do not turn off on philosophy because it makes your head spin. Break it down to the simplest problem. I will help as much as I can. It is very important to understand what it is and how it fits.

        So back to your primary question this morning. Have you resolved this thing about self-interest and compromise being incompatible?

        Smile.

        Just think, getting dizzy from philosophy is cheaper than Kentucky Bourbon. And the headache will go away much faster.

        JAC

        • JAC: You are way too polite. Just go ahead and say it , I can take it- “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT ANITA” 🙂

          I take words at face value. I don’t like to read between the lines. Maybe I’ve just been missing the “rational” part of the equation. But then if you say rational that opens up the door for different interpretations. That’s where I get off the bus. I want to know exactly what the plan is before we start. That’s just how I roll.

          Maybe I have a mental block because I am a team player. I’m not out for myself. It’s a wonder I’m not a liberal.I say we brainstorm ideas on how to run the govt as a team. Through compromise we come up with a plan and start implementing the plan as a team. Who cares what the philosophy is. As we’ve seen today there is never going to be a fool proof plan that everyone on the team agrees with so why bother naming it. Just do it. Jacs in charge of agriculture, Bfs in charge of economics D13 & Gman are teamed up on defense, Me and Cyndi will re-educate the dissenters :).

          Now if you want to call the plan objectivism, be my guest. I’m with you ( and all the guys) because I trust your judgement. Call me crazy all you want, just give me a job and I’m on it. If everybody just shuts up and does their job, honestly, then we all end up at the same place. Freedom. As a team. And everyone wins.

          • Anita

            Every team needs a play book and a strategy to win. And in many cases, practice to hone their skills as a team.

            That is what a philosophical system provides. Without it the team simply starts reacting. In a very PRAGMATIC fashion based on the majority whim of the day or the sense that “We need to do something”. I think you might remember these discussions from before.

            Now, “rational” is very simple. Call it “It makes sense because it is consistent with reality”. And “it is not a contradiction”.

            Example; Rand was criticized for “self interest” or “egoism” because it was argued that this meant “do what you want if it feels good” or “social Darwinism”.

            She pointed out that such behavior was in fact counterproductive to the life of the individual and society. So in comes other ethics to assure that “self interest” is rational (makes sense). One example is the ethic of “do not initiate force”. This ethic thus constrains the “do what you want” with “pursue your happiness but do not initiate force on others”.

            This ethical constraint is considered rational (makes sense according to nature) because without it we would all be in danger of being killed by our neighbors. Our lives as individuals would be at risk as would all of humanity, given the weapons we have today.

            The same process is used in evaluating numerous values, including Justice, against the primary value of pursuing one’s own existence.

            Perhaps that will help some with the “rational self-interest” part anyway.

            Sweet dreams.
            JAC

      • Anita,

        What you may see is the swirl of establishing the core principle.

        You have only one core principle. It exists by premise, and cannot be proven. It is the yardstick by which you measure all other ideas, principles, and morals. It, itself, cannot be measured for its moral base because IT IS the measure of YOUR moral base.

    • Obviously, I have a problem with some of Rand’s philosophy but as a system for government to follow I think it’s pretty good. From these video’s- I like the idea of thinking of self interest as self responsibility. As far as his moral fight-keep your points to how governmental power should be used and I’m with you most of the way.

      • V.H.

        The points on Govt power are supported by the same moral and ethic values you rejected yesterday.

        So what is the Govt ethic to stand on if you pull out the foundation?

        • There are many moral principals that I personally think are important-Rand seems to stand on one-self interest-now as a governmental policy where the government is supposed to be protecting the rights of the individual-I agree with standing on man’s right to run his own life-but as a sole moral principal that all men are encouraged to live by-can’t support that.

          • V.H.

            Let me leave you with this for the evening.

            Rational self-interest or rational egoism is her core ethical value, it is not the “sole” moral value or principle.

            But the others, are tested against this base principle.

            It is the moral primary of rational egoism that reflects the need for freedom and thus what the need for Liberty is based upon.

  11. SUFA For your consideration on the topic and why it is important to resurrecting America.

    “The basic social principle (moral value) of the Objectivist ethics is that “every living human being is an end in himself, not the means to the ends or the welfare of others”. Correspondingly, Rand regards each individual as a “sovereign entity who possesses an inalienable right to his own life, a right derived from his nature as a rational being.” Rand understands rights in the way that they were originally conceived, as protections of an individuals freedom of action. Because freedom is a prerequisite of the rationality that fuels human existence, to violate a person’s rights and thereby deprive a person of freedom is to prevent him from exercising his ability to sustain himself. We have seen previously that rationality is indispensable to human survival. Human beings can meet the needs that their nature imposes only insofar as they respect reality as their sovereign. Rationality in thought and action is essential to a human being’s life, yet rationality is possible only under conditions of freedom.” TARA SMITH, Ayn Rand’s Normative Ethics, The Virtuous Egoist 2006.

    MATHIUS, you need to read this very carefully over a red bull in the morning. It is the conclusion to our little journey in search of the origin of rights the other day.

  12. USWeapon,
    I find it interesting that you say “There is no definition of self-interest that is offered, and this is no accident. Self interest is defined by each man for himself and himself only”. And then in the next paragraph you claim Altruism is a falsehood because no one can define it…sounds like a double standard to me. Your sentence about self-interest applies to Altruism just as well:

    There is no definition of Altruism that is offered, and this is no accident. Altruism is defined by each man for himself and himself only

    Works for me!! 🙂

    I think I basically understand the idea of self-interest. If I do what’s best for me in the long run, and I do not impose on others, my actions will benefit myself and society as a whole in the long run. Everyone wins.

    But the problem is we’re not quite that perfect. It’s human nature to look for an “angle” and exploit it. It’s how individuals and businesses grow and prosper. Where and how do you draw the line between competition and exploitation?

    I haven’t read Atlas Shrugged, but from the descriptions I’ve read here, it seems that she paints a very “rosy” picture of the “men of the mind”, and a less favorable picture of the “workers”.

    Some examples:

    The concept is not that “workers” are incapable of doing simple tasks, but instead the resources and creativity would dry up, leaving workers with little to work with.

    The reality is that the men of the mind, the producers, are all shown to be men who valued fair trade. They weren’t ruthless or heartless. They simply believed only in mutually beneficial transactions. They never attempted to take advantage of people. They also did not feel a requirement to serve people who offered nothing in return. Mutually beneficial as a requirement is FAR different that manipulative and greedy.

    They don’t make any demands on society. They don’t create a situation where they say “change this or else.”

    And Galt’s speech about “their” strike is another example. He’s saying “see how much better we are than you!”

    The funny thing is, this attitude prevails here at SUFA about our society. Business good, workers and unions bad…

    But Ayn Rand’s attitude toward Native Americans is really the final nail in the coffin for me. It pretty much discredits the way you define “Self-interest”. It was perfectly fine for white men to attack Native Americans? What about “nor sacrificing others to himself”?.

    You point out that there is no definition of “self-interest”, so we are left to decide that on our own. Rand’s own “definition” of self-interest in her speech about Native Americans is a pretty selfish definition. The fact that the person who created this philosophy cannot even remotely apply it to past events, tells me that her definition of “self interest” is not so noble.

    I also wonder if any of you notice her constant use of the term “savages”? Could that be a an emotional appeal to get you to see Native Americans as “sub-human” and therefore justify their slaughter?

    One more thing USWeapon:

    What is most important to remember when hearing the attacks on objectivism is the fact that history has shown, time and again, that the altruistic mindset, embodied by socialism and communism, has never done anything but fail.

    Do you have any examples of a country or society that has embraced “objectivism” and has been successful?

    For the “altruistic” example, I’ll offer up the USA. After all, we have been on a “March Towards Socialism” for a long time and we’re still doing pretty good, despite the “end-of-the-world” predictions by many here… 😉

    • Todd,

      There is no definition of Altruism that is offered, and this is no accident. Altruism is defined by each man for himself and himself only

      Works for me!! 🙂

      Me too – so we can throw any discussion about it out the window and get to the core of the questions.

      I think I basically understand the idea of self-interest. If I do what’s best for me in the long run, and I do not impose on others, my actions will benefit myself and society as a whole in the long run. Everyone wins.

      Not correct at all.

      You do not act for the purpose of bettering society. You act for the purpose of bettering yourself. Period. End.

      By you bettering yourself, it just so happens that also creates a UNINTENDED consequence that you better society

      Now you can be aware that your particular action MAY provide a societal benefit by using your intellect – however caution must be observed. You can never have enough information to know that this is in fact the total truth.

      It is here that the belief of the likes of Chris run into failure. He believes he can know such things, and therefore design actions that create such consequences – and calls these actions “the greater good”.

      But this knowledge is impossible to obtain. Thus, the optimal action can only be a man acting on his own benefit within his rights to the maximum of his desire and that his rights allow.

  13. Chris Devine says:

    A few points:

    Objective reality may very well exist, but we have no direct access to it. Our understanding of the world is mediated by our senses.

    The human mind does not operate as a pure reasoning machine. There has been much research in this area in the cognitive sciences (including fields like behavioral economics). Relying upon an outdated understanding of human cognition is not “being realistic”.

    Regarding self-interest: http://www.youtube.com/user/theRSAorg#p/u/46/l7AWnfFRc7g

    Please peruse the other videos and lectures here to get an understanding of what current scientific research has to say about human behavior and the implications there are in how society works (or doesn’t). The “Animate” videos are very enlightening (pun intended) and accessible. You don’t have to agree with them, but think long and hard about it if you don’t. These aren’t new-age crackpots, they are some of the preeminent researchers in these areas.

    I’d be happy to provide some other links if anyone is interested, but I don’t have the time at the moment to engage in much discussion. Sorry.

    Best regards,
    Chris

    • Chris Devine says:

      One more thing: Ayn Rand may very well be forgiven for basing her work on incorrect assumptions since she only could only work with what was available at the time. However, if we rely on such assumptions (despite considerable evidence to the contrary) then we are just being willfully ignorant (even if we have noble intentions). You know what they say about good intentions.

    • Chris

      Finally. I was afraid you wouldn’t show up on this one.

      I figured you would have some stuff to offer on reasoning and you have not let me down.

      Now to my homework.

      • Ray Hawkins says:

        @JAC – I did a little prodding on Chris – although one never knows when he is lurking anyway…..

        • Ray

          Thanks.

          When I gave my cricket post last night I had actually included a call out to him as well.

          But I figured if he was lurking he wouldn’t have missed a chance to jump.

          Glad you called him in on this.

    • Chris

      1. Even Rand doesn’t claim that the brain only works as a pure reasoning machine. She does push the idea that one can train oneself to use reason to overcome feelings that might be destructive or illogical. She recognized and addressed a full range of human emotions and built a body of ethics and values around that.

      2. I see some very large leaps in the conclusions offered in the video but overall I don’t think it is all that “revolutionary” if you look to writings even by the thinkers of the enlightenment. Except perhaps the notion that we can somehow “force” this empathetic value to increase in time and space.

      3. I am not sure how even this information would negate Rands primacy on the need for Reason to further mankind’s survival. We may know more about how we put things together but some form of reasoning is needed to make it all useful. The studies and conclusions themselves are part of the Reasoning process.

      4. I would like to offer you the same hypothesis I offered to others.

      It is not possible for a man to act in a manner that is contrary to his own perceived self-interest.

      Nothing in the video invalidates this statement that I can detect. What I do see, is that our understanding of the complexity of emotions and how they affect our psychology is increasing. But in the end, it still comes down to how it all affects our perception of our own self-interest.

      Now I could be wrong, but I think this is a different proposition that Rand’s. The effects are the same but the causal agent is different. My proposition places more weight on the impact to one’s psychological state to our faculty of reasoning as opposed to directly impacting reasoning itself.

      People can clearly be manipulated in ways that interrupt their ability to act in their own interest. Perhaps it doesn’t matter how as much as whether that disruption does in fact lead to their destruction.

      Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
      JAC

      • Ray Hawkins says:

        @JAC – if I truly own my self-interest why can I not perceive that for a particular action or decision I have no self-interest?

      • Chris Devine says:

        The simple answer to your first question is that there are some things you can never train yourself to do (e.g., echolocation) and there are many situations where it is entirely impractical to expect a fully-reasoned analysis. Research has shown that many (if not most) of the decisions we make are a result of activity in the ‘older’ portions of our brains (i.e., they are instinctual). It is unrealistic to expect individuals (or groups) to operate as reasonable or rational (as dictated by some economic theories) when they clearly do not. This is not a matter of lack of training or education. This is a matter of biology.

        Furthermore, it has been shown that the reliance upon ‘as-if’ notions of how rational actors behave is a horrible model for understanding human cognition. Time after time people have been shown to act irrationally and against their own best interests even when given plenty of time and information to make a better choice.

        I’ll do my best to find some helpful articles for you.

        Perhaps it’s time to give up on pretending that reason alone will save us. We need to be realistic, not simply idealistic.

        • I find that I have a problem with Rand’s philosophy because she stands for man’s right to control his own life with rational thought. But then she claims that any teaching that could lead to a person accepting someone as an authority figure or promotes any idea of right and wrong is mind control and bad. Well, I think that a lot of knowledge has been accumulated over time and man should learn and listen to whomever they want to and either accept or reject any teaching. Not be encouraged to close their minds. So Rand in my estimation is projecting a little mind control of her own. But she is simply trying to direct thought to her way of thinking not saying man can’t think.

          But I find your idea that man simply can’t be rational as a lot scarier. I must ask -what conclusions have you drawn from your research?

          • Chris Devine says:

            We can be rational, just not consistently rational. There are all sorts of cognitive biases that we have (that may have been advantageous from an evolutionary standpoint, but are now liabilities in a system that expects us to behave like Spock).

            My suggestion (which I have stolen from people much smarter than I) is to reform our institutions to work in ways that compliment our skills and limitations and stop relying on faulty notions of human behavior.

            • And is there a limit on what our institutions should control in order not to depend on faulty human behavior.

              • Chris Devine says:

                Fair enough. I’m a big fan of being realistic and pragmatic.

              • Funny but I personally think -most- irrational behavior is more of a symptom of a person feeling that they have no control over their life-not a matter of faulty human behavor.

              • Chris,

                being realistic and pragmatic

                …how unfortunate for the latter for it makes you offer evil as a solution for many problems.

      • Chris Devine says:
        • Chris

          It seems to me that if this is your base for definitions that you, I and Rand are operating from a different understanding of REASON and self-interest.

          In fact the two of the “paradigm” conclusions are pretty much encompassed in Rand’s work.

          The last is obviously not, and it seems contradictory to the other two.

          • It seemed to point out the problems caused by governmental control and labeling it “self Interest” which it most certainly is, but it isn’t Rand’s definition of the word.

            • V.H.

              Yeah, that is kind of what I thought.

              Something about this caused heart burn in my brain. The kind I get when someone is tying to play a trick on me.

              I think I will dig into this fellows work a little more to make sure I’m not missing something.

              By the way V., Rand is not trying to control your mind and limit your choices. She discards the concept of religion because most religions require its followers to accept “mysticism” as some form of “reality”.

              We are told that God can make things happen that violate the laws of nature. That is what Rand is standing against. Not free will nor your own quest for knowledge that leads you to believe in a higher authority. As an example, this is why BF and I always try to describe God within the limitations of nature, as God created. In short, God can not lift a rock that he himself made to heavy to lift. In this case, God and reality and reason are in sync.

              But to say God can lift the rock that he made to heavy to lift is a contradiction to reality. It is pure mysticism or whim. Notice that the great Protestant movement incorporated the concepts of free will and reason.

              Rand does not say you can only be rational. She says that if you are not then you are not acting in accordance with your own human nature. That it will cost you in the long run. The magnitude of that cost will depend on how often and to what extent you ignore reason and run your life on whim, or “instinct”.

              • Chris Devine says:

                Irrationality is very much part of human nature. If I can impress anything upon you today, that is it.

              • Chris

                I am not convinced. Behavior yes, but part of our nature no. This determination is made by outsiders deciding what they think is in the best interest of the person they are evaluating and then concluding an action that doesn’t meet this is “irrational”.

                I do not deny the existence of irrational behavior. I maintain that is the result of problems in our thinking, including our knowledge base. So in a simple sense we can think irrationally when confused.

                Now with that said, I promise to do more homework here to make sure I am not misunderstanding or working without knowledge.

      • Chris Devine says:

        Check out the stuff under ‘Predictably Irrational’:
        http://danariely.com/bits-and-pieces/

        • Chris

          For some reason the youtubes wouldn’t run. I’ll try later.

          The other links worked just fine but these just couldn’t download fast enough.

          Probably my back woods service.

          🙂

      • Chris Devine says:

        You’ll like this one, but watch out for the slippery slope:

        http://comment.rsablogs.org.uk/2010/07/29/rsa-animate-tragedy-farce/

        • Chris

          That was very interesting. Not sure where the slippery slope was, although it looked like he might be headed towards Black Flags village (Anarchy) but couldn’t be sure. It seemed to stop short of the complete point.

          As I always do with these I scanned through the comments. To be honest, it sometimes creates a deep sense of despair to find out what others are thinking, or not thinking. Hell in some cases they can’t seem to read or hear plain language. I wonder if perhaps Flag is correct and I should just buy that small ranch and live out my days in the garden.

          If I do, I hope you drop by from time to time to help me keep my mind from rotting.

          • Chris Devine says:

            From what I could gather, he seemed to be pointing the finger at problems with capitalism in general that need to be fixed (instead of trying to work around them). Like he said with slavery, the worst owners were those who treated their slaves decently. This just resulted in slavery lasting longer.

            • Chris

              That’s funny, because I saw it as a condemnation of Altruism as it has evolved in our modern society. The latest manifestation of the “mixed economy”. This was a big effort by the greens and similar groups to link our guilt and salvation to our economic activity. I have argued against it for years.

              I wish I had a dollar for everytime I tried to explain to an “environmentalist” that boycotting the purchase of Cedar at Home Depot was not reducing the harvest of old growth Cedar. It was simply moving the harvest to some place else.

              That and most of our domestic Cedar comes from second growth forests.

              So, are we both guilty here of “confirmation bias”?

              I will watch this again to make sure I had the right glasses on.

              • Chris Devine says:

                What about Adirondack spruce? I’d love a pre-war Martin D-28.

              • Chris

                Don’t know much about that variety. Did help some guys find old growth Englemann spruce in the Rockies one time to be used for the same purpose. The higher elevation trees had tight rings that they said made it comparable to traditional spruce used in guitars and violins.

                The Hughes H-4 Hercules is more my style.

      • Chris Devine says:

        …and here’s a perfect explanation of why laissez-faire economics will never work:

        http://comment.rsablogs.org.uk/2010/02/02/rsa-animate-superfreakonomics-2/

        • Chris

          I think you mischaracterize laissez faire economics. Frauds and Thieves are still prosecuted.

          I would point out that the avg of 1.30 stolen in the last test is much less than what is stolen by govt supposedly acting on behalf of altruism.

          • Chris Devine says:

            The government doesn’t act altruistically. It acts as a service to its citizens. Some services the government provides can be thought of in altruistic terms (e.g., individual assistance and R&D grants), but defense spending is hardly for the benefit of mankind.

            The people who took the money in the last example weren’t actually stealing, they were just playing according to the rules as laid out. We need better rules, not the elimination of rules.

            • Chris,

              You cannot create a “rule” which legitimizes evil.

              • Chris Devine says:

                Perhaps, but you can certainly get rid of one that makes it illegal.

              • Chris,

                So your definition of a right to theft is merely if the theft is legal or not.

                Thus, government can never steal if it makes a law that legitimizes it, correct?

              • Chris Devine says:

                And your definition of theft is whatever a government bills you for in exchange for services rendered or promised?

                Governments are made up of people and people make mistakes. Legitimate doesn’t equal right and freedom isn’t whatever you can get away with.

              • Chris,

                Theft is a taking against my will or agreement

                You stealing my car and giving me a bottle of milk in return is theft, not a trade.

              • Chris Devine says:

                But if I withhold money from your paycheck in the form of unemployment compensation and then give you money when you find yourself unemployed, would you still consider that theft? [Of course you would.]

              • Chris

                Of course you would

                correct, because I did not want it.

                You believe you can take care of me better than I for myself. SO you steal my money, damaging my ability to do that for myself.

                But you don’t care because you claim “Ill do it for it when or if you need it” and then spend my money anyway.

            • The site doesn’t load for me, so I can’t comment on its contents.

            • Chris:

              I recognize that defense spending is not altruism, although it might be down deep.

              Is not “welfare” an act on behalf of altruism, at least as per YOUR definition?

              See, I remembered our discussion regarding that definition.

              • Chris Devine says:

                When I said ‘individual assistance’ I meant programs including welfare, but there are many other programs that could fall under the category, IA.

    • Chris

      Objective reality may very well exist, but we have no direct access to it. Our understanding of the world is mediated by our senses.

      The human mind does not operate as a pure reasoning machine. There has been much research in this area in the cognitive sciences (including fields like behavioral economics). Relying upon an outdated understanding of human cognition is not “being realistic”.

      Chris raises a false argument. Nowhere has anyone declared that a man operates on pure reason – or needs to.

      I like black, and I need no reason to justify it.

      • Chris Devine says:

        It’s not a false argument. Most of the current and past economic theory has been based on notions of rational actors and the pursuit of self-interest.

        But it’s a good thing we don’t need to operate on pure reason since it’s as impossible as navigating in the dark like a bat.

        • Chris,

          Most of the current and past economic theory has been based on notions of rational actors and the pursuit of self-interest.

          …and most of the current and past economic theories are wrong, too. You are living inside that consequence right now.

          need to operate on pure reason

          The Universe does not provide complete information. It is like a Poker game, you only know “a little bit” and have to base decisions and actions on that.

          The closer we approach reason, the better our decisions.

          • Chris Devine says:

            “The closer we approach reason, the better our decisions.”

            Not necessarily. We must expect that others may behave irrationally. How do you reason against irrationality?

            I would suggest that we should strive for a better understanding of human cognition that takes into account irrational behavior. Otherwise you might end up like Vizzini.

            Inconceivable?

            • Chris

              “How do you reason against irrationality?”

              Let me put this in terms I fully understand.

              How do you use reason to deal with a raging bull or a rattlesnake?

              • Chris Devine says:

                Well, you can consider everything you know about these dangerous animals and stay the hell away from them.

                But I’d say that the irrationality of another human being is potentially far more hazardous.

              • Chris

                Yes it is. So if you knew someone who acted like that would you hang around with them all the time?

                If someone suddenly started acting irrationally would you just stand there next to them or would you take action to protect yourself and others?

                And on what would your action be based?

                Seems to me you used reason to reach a rational conclusion regarding the bull and rattlesnake. Why would you do anything differently with a more dangerous animal?

              • Chris Devine says:

                I’d say the key difference is hardware. Rattlesnakes and raging bulls aren’t as similar to me neurologically. Research into human physiology is much more applicable (for obvious reasons). We can’t always understand the motivations of other species (or that of members of our own species), but we have a much better chance of understanding those that are more similar to us (even without reason). I propose that we are instinctually capable of understanding the behavior of other humans in ways that can’t be improved by reason or logic.

              • Chris

                You have deflected the real question.

                I want to know, how do you form, select a course of action to avoid the potential harm?

                How do you recognize potential harm?

              • Chris Devine says:

                The short answer is that most of what we do is not consciously deliberated so I don’t actually know. But there is some evidence to show that we inherit fear of snakes and such.

            • Chris

              Not necessarily. We must expect that others may behave irrationally. How do you reason against irrationality?

              By building contingencies and options within our own actions.

              “For every door into a room, make sure there a 3 ways out”

  14. Sorry I missed these last two posts … of course I think it’s all nonsense, applying Rand’s philosophy across the board; the world just doesn’t operate in that rational a manner (we’d be automotons if it did), but I did come to the dance late again, so …

    • Charlie

      I simply don’t understand where you and others get this notion that using reason and thinking in a rational manner results in a bunch of “robotrons”, “automotons” or people who act like “Spok”.

      We are all different. That was Rand’s point as it is mine. That is why your “pursuit of happiness” looks different than mine. She simply explains how you would be better off using reason as a tool to validate your efforts instead of using whim or mysticism.

      We live in a society that is destroying our ability to pursue our own happiness because people think they know what is in another’s best interest. And they are willing to sacrifice my dreams for what they view as the majority’s dreams.

      • JAC:

        We live in a society that is destroying our ability to pursue our own happiness because people think they know what is in another’s best interest. And they are willing to sacrifice my dreams for what they view as the majority’s dreams.

        Do you not see the irony in this statement as compared to what you wrote above it (“your ‘pursuit of happiness’ looks different than mine”, etc.)?

        How can someone “explain” how I “would be better off” using what THEY determine is reason to validate my efforts, etc.?

        If a man (or woman) chooses to act what Rand (or you) consider irrational, aren’t they exercising their freedoms?

        Every time I start to lean toward Libertarianism, something stops me cold … this adherence to Rand does it every time. There are those who don’t buy into the reason argument. Life just isn’t that simple. There are variables that make a strident adherence to such reason foolish (at best). The bottom line is Randism (for lack of a better word) is every bit a fantasy (in the real world) as is Marxism; like Dylan Rhattigan says on his commercial: the law of the jungle is fine if you’re one of the lions …

        • Charlie,

          There are those who don’t buy into the reason argument. Life just isn’t that simple.

          Life is that simple! The Universe exists on pure reason, thus so does life.

          You play poker, right?

          Does the outcome of your poker play determine if you played that hand good or bad?

          That’s the issue that scares you, Charlie. You want a guarantee on outcomes that says “if you are a reasoned and good man, nothing bad will happen to you”.

          But life is not like that at all

          Life says “you improve your life by being a reasoned and good man, but sometimes life still deals a suck out card and you lose

          Playing badly without reason loses you money in poker -eventually- and in life -eventually-.

          • Oh, no, you don’t, BF. Sometimes the poker hand has an extra Ace or two (or joker or three) and that is a variable nobody knows until they’re duped. The greater problem(s) (and another variable) comes into play when the guy using the rigged deck gets to keep playing.

            Nope, life is just not that simple. If it were, why wouldn’t it be “reasonable” for the strong only to survive (using force, if you will). Where is it written that Force shouldn’t be used to gain advantage? Just because Ayn Rand says so? That’s kind of pulling up short on liberty, you ask me.

            • Charlie,

              The Universe does not cheat.

              The game you are pointing to is not poker, it is something else.

              In poker as in life, there are many people who believe playing badly is a winner’s strategy.

              Indeed, many poker players play bad hands against another player’s obvious good hand, knowing that if their bad hand “gets lucky”, they can take the other player’s whole stack because the good hand player would never expect a player to play that bad.

              Same as in life. Sometimes bad people win.

              But like in poker and in life, consistently playing that way is a long-term loser

        • Charlie

          There is not irony in my two statements. They are totally in sync with each other. Your happiness and mine differ. We are both unhappy because others have decided what happiness looks like for them and are willing to use govt to get it. They are violating the ethic of do not impose upon others. Which is a “Randian” ethical standard.

          The Libertarians my claim Rand but I assure you that the followers of Rand do not claim the Libertarians as their own. She was very critical of the movement as being “irrational”. She was equally harsh on Anarchists.

          And once again, her philosophy does not result in the “law of the jungle”. It results in the law of humanity. Well at least one version anyway.

      • “She simply explains how you would be better off using reason as a tool to validate your efforts instead of using whim or mysticism.”

        There it is-my main objection to Rand-adding instead of using whim or mysticism. If I am an individual with individual rights-no one has the right to determine for me what is reasonable. That is the whole point of individual man guiding his own life-I decide-not Rand-and certainly not the government-me. And don’t tell me she isn’t trying to control human thought in the private sector using a philosophy which is supposed to guide the government-the point in all this is that government shouldn’t force and control the population on the basis of morals unless the actions committed are criminal in nature. Beyond that they have no business in determining morality or condemning it.

        • V.H.

          She does not say you MUST use reason over mysticism or whim. She says if you rely on the others you will probably pay a price.

          She does not say you are not free to use them. She says you can pursue what you want but don’t initiate the use of force upon others. She does make the argument that it can also lead to the political ethic of sacrificing individual liberty.

          She is NOT trying to control human thought anymore than any other teacher in history. She created a “system” of philosophical thought where each level is connected to the other. The ethics and conclusions regarding govt are derived from the prior levels, especially the general ethics and moral primacy of “egoism”.

          If you want to reject her ideas feel free to do so. Black Flag doesn’t accept them either. But tell me how you defend or justify freedom as a requirement or humankind?

          How do you rectify your demand for freedom with your willingness to pass laws and use the power of govt to impose your concept of “moral behavior” on others? And once you do that, how do you keep the next group from changing the definition of “moral behavior” based on their wishes? You gave them the authority by assuming it for yourself.

          We can argue over the details but Rand’s philosophy provide the defense of freedom, liberty and justice. It may not be achievable. But if we accept something less, we should have a clear idea of what we are giving up or gaining and why we are willing to do so.

          • You are misreading my meaning-I am not rejecting her ideas as they relate to governmental control-I am simply saying that if her philosophy is going to be used as the moral foundation for government than the philosophy has no business speaking against individual thought and calling individual beliefs whims. As an individual she can say and think what she wants. As a governmental moral foundation-keep your personal opinions to yourself.

            • V.H.

              A whim is a whim and it is the role of philosophy to show that no matter where it exists.

              Govt is a political extension of the ethics and morality established in the philosophy. Thus it applies to our private lives and thus to govt.

              You can not say it is acceptable to use whim to make decisions but I want my govt to act in a rational manner. You can not say that violence is prohibited in society but it is OK in govt. Those are contradictions. At the opposite is equally true. You cannot say violence is prohibited in govt but allowed in private.

              If a society adopts a philosophy that puts the interest of the masses over that of the individual you WILL get a govt that sacrifices the rights of the person for the needs of the group.

              • I disagree-the problem now is that government thinks it can determine what is whimsical and what is not-instead of basing our laws on freedom and individual rights-

              • V.H.

                And so we come full circle from my same question yesterday.

                What is your philosophical defense of freedom and individual rights?

                How do you defend against the person who says that man is nothing but a part of a larger more important entity called mankind. And therefore the good of the whole is the most important moral imperative. And thus, the individual’s rights are subservient to the needs of the society, or mankind for that matter.

                How do you prevent such a belief from taking control of the govt if society has no other moral compass?

                Better yet, how are you going to defend freedom and personal rights against someone like Reverend Wallis? You know, the fellow who says Jesus was a teacher of “Social Justice”. When you ask him to prove his claim he simply has to reply, “Jesus told me so” or, “Because that is what the Bible says”.

        • Thanks, VH. You make some of my point very clearly. Who is “SHE” (whacko Ayn Rand) to declare anything (much less how I should determine what is reasonable, etc.)?

          • Charlie

            Who are you to declare her a whacko or as irrelevant?

            She is the same as you, except she spent a lot more time doing some very hard thinking. If you wish to argue against her then I suggest you do some reading so you can identify the real cracks, if any. But just saying “its freegan impossible” is not an argument. It is in fact, “reactionary”.

            • Exactly my point, JAC, two different opinions on reasonable … end of story. Either you compromise or stick your tongues at each other forever … but in the end, it’ll take a village.

          • I can’t answer that question but then I don’t have to, in order to disagree with Rand’s position. 🙂 My thinking pretty much starts with individual liberty(have a hard time seeing where anyone questions that it should be the moral basis for government) but I think one can prove it is the correct path through history. I also agree with Rands self-interest theory. I don’t however see how my stated disagreements with Rand invalidates her whole theory, in my mind it doesn’t-I acknowledge that society would have to be bound by the laws that were passed no matter their individual personal beliefs but if the moral foundation is individual freedom-I don’t see the problem. I simply don’t believe that government should be able to define what rational thinking is-their job is to protect individual liberty per our original foundation-and the moral foundation should be based on individual liberty. The question is not is this moral concept irrational, it makes no difference-the question is does it go against liberty.

            • Oops did it again -look up it’s in answer to you JAC.

            • V.H.

              Where do you get the idea that Govt would dictate what “rational thinking” is or means?

              I thought USW was clear when he stated her view of govt’s proper role is limited to protecting our rights.

              So where did we get astray?

              • Okay, I am thinking irrational thoughts-like hitting my head on my desk-I know I’m not the best at putting my thoughts on paper but surely I have answered this question already. 🙂

              • V.H.

                No, you haven’t. You said you agreed with Rand’s moral premise for govt.

                I tried to explain that her moral base applies to life, which includes govt. It is not a base “just” for govt.

                But then you say that she wants govt to dictate what is rational or irrational. This is simply not true.

                So how did you come to this conclusion?

              • A whim is a whim and it is the role of philosophy to show that no matter where it exists.

                Govt is a political extension of the ethics and morality established in the philosophy. Thus it applies to our private lives and thus to govt.

              • V.H.

                There is nothing in any of that where it says or infers that Govt is going to determine what rational thought is.

                Philosophy is not govt. Politics is one branch or area of study within the broader field.

                I simply do not understand your claim.

                Your going to have to explain a little so I can figure this out.

      • Chris Devine says:

        I’m all for the notion of “your right to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose”, but it’s the primacy of the individual that Randians push that has my knickers in a twist. There isn’t a man, woman or child alive that doesn’t owe somebody else something. No man is an island. I’ve said it elsewhere and I’ll say it here now:

        See how far up on the evolutionary tree you can go to find an organism that can survive without help from members of its own species. Whatever you find should be the mascot of the Libertarian party.

        My guess is that you won’t even make it past unicellular organisms.

        If you live in a society then you should act in accordance with its rules. Those rules should allow as much personal freedom as possible, but not at the expense of others.

        • Chris

          There isn’t a man, woman or child alive that doesn’t owe somebody else something.

          So what you are saying is that if I buy the apple from the store, I still owe the store “something” even though I now own that apple.

          See how far up on the evolutionary tree you can go to find an organism that can survive without help from members of its own species. Whatever you find should be the mascot of the Libertarian party.

          Cooperation is not a debt as you are arguing

          It is an asset.

          If you live in a society then you should act in accordance with its rules.

          Why?

          If the rule says you must slaughter blond women and children, you would not follow it.

          Thus you chose which rules you follow or not and thus demanding others follow your rules is equally as fallacious.

          Those rules should allow as much personal freedom as possible, but not at the expense of others.

          Exactly! So you keep your paws of my stuff, and we both will be fine!

          • Chris Devine says:

            The store you bought the apple from didn’t give birth to you or raise you, so assuming you paid for the apple then I’d say your transaction is complete.

            Cooperation is about reciprocity, which is a form of debt.

            We haven’t had many ‘kill all the blond women and kids’ laws in a while. I’m pretty sure that’s unconstitutional.

            • No. But it is illegal and the laws banning it are constitutional. 🙂 🙂

            • Chris,

              Cooperation is about reciprocity, which is a form of debt

              This is not true.

              Cooperation is about mutual benefit, which is an asset, not a debt.

              If what I do with you holds no benefit for me, I would not do it.

              Cooperation exists when what I do with you benefits me. Because it benefits, I act with you. IF it does not benefit, I DO NOT act with you.

            • Chris,

              Whether or not such laws exist “right now” does not mean they have not existed nor impossible to exist in the future.

              The question still stands. You would not follow those laws because YOU CHOOSE not to. Yet, you deny anyone one else that same right.

        • Uh oh, you said “libertarian”, now I have to comment! 🙂

          You are correct, no man is an island. Even those who can survive alone currently are almost always utilizing technology they did not invent or knowledge they gained from persons who went before them. We are a species that not only learns from and depends on each other, but one which learns generaltionally, in progressively advancing fashion.

          That said, there are a coupld of reasons for the focus on the individual.

          1) No human can operate in a manner that is not individual. Until we have borg-like communications that permit hive mind multiprocessing for human decisions, we are stuck as individuals. Thus, even thoe we depend on each other, all actions are ultimately individual.

          2) Only by championing the individual can it be made clear that no individual or group of individuals is superior to the extent that they should have hte right to run the lives of other individuals, at least not without consent. In other words, we are equals and have equal rights.

          • Chris Devine says:

            While the first-person subjective experience is the only one we can experience, this does not imply that we can’t understand or empathize with others. That’s called solipsism.

            The rights of an individual must be balanced with the rights of others. There is no reason to give the individual special treatment. Rights are rights.

            • Chris:

              When you say rights must be balanced do you mean equal, the same, or that one must give up some rights for another to gain?

              On the surface your statement seems to conflict with your claim that rights are rights.

              • Chris Devine says:

                The balance is a matter of law: precedents and statutes. In some cases the rights of a group (as in a class action suit) may take priority over an individual. In other cases the rights of a single individual may take priority over others.

                The best example I can think of for both is development of private property. Just because someone owns a piece of land doesn’t mean that he/she can do whatever he/she wants to with it. Don’t expect to open your own landfill or strip club in the middle of a residential development. Likewise, your neighbors shouldn’t be able to prevent you from undertaking improvements to your house unless they can prove that it will adversely affect them.

              • Chris

                All of those you describe are political or legal rights.

                So am I to assume that our basic rights are equal, such as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness type rights?

                The right to own property is governed by the ethic of do not impose or harm others. No landfill where already is residential. The laws simply codify some old common law principles.

                But I do not agree when the landfill is later surrounded by houses and then the housed get the govt to close the landfill.

                Right of prior ownership should play both ways.

                I am curious how you think we are supposed to identify those rights that are subject to impairment and those which are not. The Constitution, for example, did not include an exhaustive nor complete list. And even those listed seem now to be subject to nuance.

                So do we simply hand this over to a few select individuals with lifetime appointments (judges)?

              • Chris Devine says:

                Judges retire, die and get impeached. That may not help you, but your kids might benefit. How many generations had to suffer between the abolition of slavery and the voting rights act? Democracy is an imperfect process, but I haven’t seen any better alternatives.

                But if I were KOTW, I’d give the judges long but limited terms.

              • Chris

                Well, well. We agree on something.

                I might add a provision for recall by the voters with a super majority required.

            • Indeed, rights are rights. I am not advocating for special treatment of one individual over another, I am advocating for individual rights over group rights. The make believe entity of “society” gets too much attention and “greater good” arguments get used for nefarious purposes and to justify trampling individual rights. Not acceptable.

              And yes, we can empathize with others and relate to others and consider others. Not to do so ignores the rights of others. The point is that we must view others as individuals equal to ourselves. If we view them as above or beneath us, we will not respect rights as we should.

              • Chris Devine says:

                I agree. The only thing I would add is that groups are comprised of individuals, so just because one individual is at odds with a group doesn’t mean the individual should necessarily have priority.

              • True. Each man must respect the rights of all men, and all men must respect the rights of each man. It works both ways. It is a balance. Arguing against one extreme does not equal arguing for the other extreme.

        • And thank you, Chris, for making my other point. Randism is a friggin’ fantasy (as much so as Marxism). To suppose that philosophy could take root across the board is absurd. The variables of life (genetics, economics, storms, wars and OTHER PEOPLE)are ALWAYS in play.

          • Charlie

            If you had stood in ancient Greece, or Rome, or where ever and stated that some day the majority of humans would worship a single god as their creator, they would have said “its a friggin fantasy”.

            If you had stood in Rome during the Dark Ages and claimed that some day mankind would reject the unilateral belief in Divine intervention and the rule of the church and instead would embrace the ideas of individual freedom, they would have said “its a friggin fantasy”.

            If you had stood in Virginia in 1787 and said that one day that society in the civilized world would turn away from liberty and towards a new “socialistic” view they would have said “its a friggin fantasy”.

            • Chris Devine says:

              In Philadelphia in 1789 the words “promote the general Welfare” seemed rather important.

              • Chris

                Yes they did. And the meaning was pretty clear to them but it is not the same as it is portrayed today.

                They saw the good of the people tied to a limited Federal govt.

                Today many think it is tied to a large and powerful Federal govt, so they changed the meaning of the restrictions and then use the preamble to rationalize those changes.

              • It seemed pretty important to handle slavery in some way other than declaring them equals but that does not make it right. I appreciate their philosophy, but I recognize major failings and mistakes. I dont rail against them and then call on them when it suits me.

        • We’ll have to get back to this another time. The day is long and I am tired. Getting two teeth pulled tomorrow, yuk, so I probably won’t be around. Night 🙂

  15. Gold $1295+

  16. Okay, for you crazy righties, here’s my crazy righty, le doc … he even picks on my car!

    http://temporaryknucksline.blogspot.com/2010/09/doc-says_22.html

  17. Chris Devine

    A little give and take.

    Proof that belief in instinct is irrational. And at the same time, proof that people do act irrationally, despite being provided the information needed to act otherwise.

    I searched for the one of the guy who got his pants torn off and lived, but couldn’t find it. It was a lot funnier that this one.

  18. Chris Devine says:
    • Chris,
      Wow – Rand sure is full of herself! Seems like “Self-Interest” is just her justification for her actions in life.

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