3 of 11
3
A Thought Experiment…
Posted: 12 June 2007 04:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  924
Joined  2006-09-07

[quote author=“Salt Creek”]
My reading of Randian Objectivism leaves me puzzling over its manifestly Edwardian suggestion of entitlement (rooted in basic assertions of superiority conferred by an assumption that its adherents, and its adherents alone, are acting rationally.)

I need to know where you are reading about Objectivism, because your reading of it has no relation to Rand’s ideas. Where do you get this idea of “Edwardian entitlement”? I think you are taking one or two Objectivist ideas, and putting them in the context of your own biases. You take the Objectivist idea and mix it in with your own assumptions to get these contradictions you THINK you see in Objectivism. Ayn Rand argued AGAINST any kind of entitlement. Objectivists are VERY capable of recognizing rational behavior in non-Objectivists. In fact, Rand explicitly stated that she learned much from previous thinkers and by observing the actions of many other people in history (who, having lived long before Objectivism, had to be non-Objectivists). In order to form theories of natural rights based on the use of reason, you have to be able to observe many instances of rational behavior. Again, What Rand said and what you claim she said are polar opposites.

You use a coinage like “psycho-epistemology” to embellish (but not to defend or even explain) whatever concept of “rationality” is entailed in this rather large set of assumptions.

I probably should have left out the paragraph that mentions psycho-epistemology. That IS Objectivist jargon which needs explaining. Psycho-epistemology is a term used to describe the psychological aspects of learning, of obtaining knowledge about the world around us.

I think toe-jam is still pretty close to the mark. It manifests in the “extremity” of the position, far from the core of philosophy.

Shouldn’t the standard of value for a philosophy be how well it describes reality, not how well it agrees or differs from other philosophies?

And it’s cryptic, its aims hidden in crevices of thought that Objectivists never quite get around to clarifying.

Cryptic? Its written in PLAIN ENGLISH. When Rand uses specific jargon, she explains it clearly. She insists on defining the terms she uses as clearly as possible. A basic principle of her’s is to reduce any concept to the perceptual level, to explain exactly what it means. If you can’t break down a complex concept into simpler concepts that can be understood by direct reference and onservation of experience, you don’t really understand it. Nothing makes philosophy clrearer or easier to understand. The fact that you call it cryptic just means you interpret what she says in terms of your own confused preconceptions and assumptions.

Saul, your constant complaining that we are not giving your philosophy a fair shake is not the same as actually defending its ideas, such as they are.

I am not here to give you an entire course on Objectivism. I have tried to straighten out some of your misunderstandings of it, but you have made such a rat’s nest tangle of it that my efforts are futile. I have tried to argue for a few particular ideas, but the counterarguments I keep meeting are always strawman arguments, based on complete misrepresentations. Ayn Rand could say “A B C D E F”, and you would answer “X Y Z? P D Q? You must be out of your mind!”

When I carefully explain what Ayn Rand meant in some particular instance, and you keep misunderstanding, I can’t help but suspect that it isn’t an accidental failure to understand, but that Objectivism says something that you simply don’t want to believe, no matter what the evidence.

You assert that reality is extreme in order to defend an extreme philosophy; this approach lacks a certain rigor that even someone as poorly-versed in philosophy as I am can see is not a defense of anything. In what sense is reality “extreme”? Extreme relative to what?

Extreme relative to other philosophies attempts to describe it, maybe? Or not extreme as a whole, but some parts are extreme relative to others? The Sun is extremele hot. The poles of the Earth are extremely cold, but not relative to the planet Pluto. Some people have extremes of intelligence. Others have made extreme contributions to human progress. Then there are extreme sports. smile

But your use of extreme as a slur against Objectivism is intended to imply that it is wrong because it is extreme in its differences from other philosophies. As you implied, “extreme” is a relative term. Maybe all those other philosophies are the extreme ones. Who cares? What matters is how well they correspond to reality. In that case, that Objectivism is extreme is only a problem for you.

I’ll grant that reality may be extreme relative to the cozy Edwardian sensibilities of Ayn Rand’s youth.

Edwardian sensibilities? Where do you come up with this nonsense? Again, you are interpreting her ideas through your own assumptions, probably ones she explicitly rejected.

 Signature 

“Capitalism without failure is like religion without sin. It doesn’t work.”—Alan Metzer

Profile
 
 
Posted: 12 June 2007 04:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  924
Joined  2006-09-07

Here are just a few choice examples of how Salt Creek’s understanding of Objectivism is confused, tangled, thoroughly perverted by his own preconceptions:

Well. We are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights, among them being life, liberty, and the purfuit of happinefs. Maybe “the purfuit of happinefs” is just the exercise of volition. Who am I to say? I think you ought to leave it to me to decide what my “purfuit of happinefs” actually ought to be.

If you knew Ayn Rand’s writings at all, you would know that she INSISTS that you should be free to decide exactly that (so long as you respect that same right in others.)

Furthermore, I dunno about this “volitional level of reason and thought”. If it’s volitional, it ain’t inalienable. It certainly ain’t essential to survival. You can alienate it from yourself.

Here, you are mixing up different ideas. She never said reason and thought were inalienable. Or what is it you are saying she is saying is inalienable? Rights are inalienable. It is true that she derived rights from her understanding that thinking is volitional. We have to choose to think, and we are capable of choosing not to think about something. How is this incompatible with inalienable rights? A right is something you have the freedom to choose to do, or not to do.

What Objectivists seem to say is that we are obliged to exercise rational volition. I won’t even begin to address what I see wrong with that particular idea.

For starters, no Objectivist has ever said anything that even resembles that. If it is volitional, its not obligatory. You should know by now that Objectivists reject the idea of unchosen obligations, except the negative obligation not to interfere with the excercise of other people’s rights.

I still want to know what it is that Ayn Rand said that you don’t want to believe. It must be something she has very good evidence for, otherwise you wouldn’t go through such extreme mental gymnastics to mix up and mistrepresent her ideas.

 Signature 

“Capitalism without failure is like religion without sin. It doesn’t work.”—Alan Metzer

Profile
 
 
Posted: 12 June 2007 06:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2957
Joined  2004-12-02

[quote author=“SaulOhio”]I need to know where you are reading about Objectivism, because your reading of it has no relation to Rand’s ideas. Where do you get this idea of “Edwardian entitlement”? I think you are taking one or two Objectivist ideas, and putting them in the context of your own biases.

No, Saul. My reading of Objectivism is largely based upon reading your interpretation of it. If your interpretation is possible (which it manifestly is) and has any relation to Rand’s ideas, then you know where my reading of it comes from. You are representing your philosophy to me.

Now, we can go back to your assertion that I am misunderstanding you, or we can talk about something else. If my misunderstanding is even possible, then where is the “objective” in “objectivism”? If disagreement equates to misunderstanding, then I may not be wholly out of line in my assessment of a sense of entitlement.

This is what you asked us:

And what is wrong with what she said? You dismiss it, without giving any reason.

I told you what I thought was wrong with the following idea:

He will know that the conceptual level of psycho-epistemology—the volitional level of reason and thought—is the basic necessity of man’s survival and his greatest moral virtue.

I said:

Asserting that exercise of rational volition is essential to a person’s survival is no better than metaphorical.

In other words, it is not objective. You have my critique, but you do not address it. This was your response:

get a clue before you start criticizing something you don’t understand. But I suspect it isn’t lack of understanding thats the problem. You need to be really trying hard to mix up someone else’s ideas that badly.

Perhaps this is the idea you do not like:

What Objectivists seem to say is that we are obliged to exercise rational volition.

You say:

Ayn Rand argued AGAINST any kind of entitlement.

I don’t believe this to be true; I believe Rand argues that we are entitled to keep ALL products of our labor or other creative forces. There is an issue of interpretation here, and it is your job to make sure I have not misunderstood this point. I mean, specifically, the point about “any kind of entitlement”. This is entitlement, however you slice it.

In order to form theories of natural rights

Since I am sure a semantic quibble about the distinction between natural rights and entitlements is in the offing, I’ll put it in play. But you are going to have to flesh out “natural rights” and then address how my quotation from the Declaration of Independence was inappropriate in the context.

Rights are inalienable. It is true that she derived rights from her understanding that thinking is volitional. We have to choose to think, and we are capable of choosing not to think about something. How is this incompatible with inalienable rights? A right is something you have the freedom to choose to do, or not to do.

Some thinkers believe that “rights” or “freedoms” are actually conditions that other people can grant you and take away from you. The writers of the Declaration did not believe this, or rather they argued that we claim them for ourselves, subject to certain conditions. I myself do not pretend to know. My best understanding of existentialism is that the freedom of thought is hardest to withdraw. It often takes a lifetime of education in order to accomplish it. Freud might have argued that we do not know the freedom we have, or that it is undecidable by the facts at hand. Reality, you will agree, is what most limits our freedom of thought. (Nhoj, of course, or the Electric Space Being from “The Lights of Zetar”, may beg to differ.)

I wrote:

What Objectivists seem to say is that we are obliged to exercise rational volition. I won’t even begin to address what I see wrong with that particular idea.

Saul argues that:

If it is volitional, its not obligatory. You should know by now that Objectivists reject the idea of unchosen obligations, except the negative obligation not to interfere with the excercise of other people’s rights.

No, Saul. I attempted to theorize that we are obliged to exercise rational volition. Perhaps you do not contend that when we exercise volition, we are bound to do it rationally. You can dice up volition until it means practically nothing. Or, you can do as I normally do, and avoid the term entirely.

But let’s not avoid it for the time being, and try to get a handle on what “volition” actually is, besides a somewhat archaic term for rational action.
Action lacking rationality might, to someone in a psychoanalytic school, fall under the rubric of pre-rationality, or emotionalism, such as internal compulsion (some sort of mental illness) and so on. Is your defense of Objectivism based on rationality or is it axiomatic, or worse yet, a result of internal compulsion? Excuse me for psychologizing without a license.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 12 June 2007 07:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  924
Joined  2006-09-07

[quote author=“Anonymous”][quote author=“SaulOhio”]I need to know where you are reading about Objectivism, because your reading of it has no relation to Rand’s ideas. Where do you get this idea of “Edwardian entitlement”? I think you are taking one or two Objectivist ideas, and putting them in the context of your own biases.

No, Saul. My reading of Objectivism is largely based upon reading your interpretation of it. If your interpretation is possible (which it manifestly is) and has any relation to Rand’s ideas, then you know where my reading of it comes from. You are representing your philosophy to me.

Then you are misrepresenting what I have said. You have, on a vast number of occasions, read what I have written, then rephrased it in a way that means the exact opposite of what I clearly meant. You jump ahead to conclusions that do not follow from anything I said, unless put into context of other ideas that YOU believe, that I have clearly stated that I disagree with. You read things between my lines that aren’t there. You pick meanings for words that are not justified by the context of what I am saying. It is true that English is not always a precise language, often with different meanings to some words, but it is usually pretty easy to know if the meaning you interpret it with leads to a contradiction. One of Rand’s most fundamental principles is that if you reach a contradiction, you should check your premises, one of them has to be mistaken. You, on the other hand, see some contradiction in your interpretation of Objectivism, and automatically assume that it is Objectivism that is at fault. In every case, it is easy to see how the context of what I am saying shows that a different definition is intended.

For instance:

I don’t believe this to be true; I believe Rand argues that we are entitled to keep ALL products of our labor or other creative forces. There is an issue of interpretation here, and it is your job to make sure I have not misunderstood this point. I mean, specifically, the point about “any kind of entitlement”. This is entitlement, however you slice it.

You say you anticipate a “semantic quibble” about this, and here it is: Natural rights are NEGATIVE rights, in that they impose only negative obligations on others, the obligation to not interfere. Entitlements are POSITIVE rights, imposing positive obligations on others to provide them.

The right to free speach is a negative right. It is excercised by an invited lecturer in an auditorium (as ONE example), and the only obligation it imposes on anyone else is not to try to shout down the lecturer or yell “fire”.

An example of an entitlement is the right to free health care. Such a right imposes the obligation on others to provide such health care, an obligation on doctors and nurses to give such care irrespective of any compensation, or on taxpayers to pay for it.

I have now explained very clearly what I mean by the difference between rights and entitlements. Let’s see what mental gymnastics you are willing to go through to misinterpret what I said.

 Signature 

“Capitalism without failure is like religion without sin. It doesn’t work.”—Alan Metzer

Profile
 
 
Posted: 12 June 2007 07:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]  
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1763
Joined  2006-08-20

Well Saul,

Amazingly it’s true that there is a word, used as verb, to psychologize. Found it in my Websters, though not with the connotation that you ascribe to it. MS Word sees it as a misspelling. It sounds very awkward and made up to me. I would have used psychoanalyze though maybe that’s too Freudian. Still there is a difference between analyzing someone’s psychology, and subjecting them to psychology. Not being a psychologist, psychiatrist, or a “psychologizer” myself, I guess I must just be unfamiliar with this word.

To “psychologize” someone sounds so much like a Bushism, as in to “misunderestimate” someone. My apologies. I had to laugh at what I thought was your made up word. It sounds strange, how did you come to have this word in your vocabulary? Do you “psychologize” others regularly? (after you meet them of course)

Objectivism and AynRand represent a cult and a philosophy that you want to press on us, just as all the other religious nuts and cultists want to press their philosophies on us. Rand and her followers use a lot of language that sounds deep but is actually shallow, except when it’s just nonsense. Micheal Shermer treated Rand and objectivism very fairly in his book “Why People Believe Weird Things”.

I don’t argue with your objectivism for the same reasons I don’t argue with christians, muslims or astrologers. Also note that I am not bringing any “isms” to you. No groups for you to join. No special vernacular and no secret handshakes. No cult figures like Rand to idolize and from which to create cult figures.

Let’s be clear, you are here trying to sell your belief system to us and you are frustrated because we aren’t buying. Then you blame us for not knowing your belief system in it’s entirety and suggest that this is necessary before we are allowed to question it. And of course you are outraged when we dismiss it as so much pseudo-philosophical toe-jamb.

Ayn wrote “The Virtue Of Selfishness” which is the kind of philosophy that Salty identified as superficial as the pursuit of bon bons. We’ve been over this before, Ayn insists that the world, including the accidental biological world, has no intrinsic value to itself. (there’s your hot button word)

Here is where we find objectivism to be arrogantly devoid of natural values. She substituted any natural values to “form theories of natural rights based on the use of reason”. She uses her “reasoning”, such as it is, to associate selfishness with virtue.

This is where we learn that Ayn would fiddle (and eat bon bons) as Rome burns. I see objectivists, as you have described them to me, as exactly the kind of value and ethics free atheists that other religious people fear is part and parcel of atheism. I think rather that most of us who do not derive our sense of values from religions or cults, actually strive harder and struggle to manifest an ethical life as a function of our freedom of thought and need to meet the world on it’s own terms.

[quote author=“Saul”] In fact, Rand explicitly stated that she learned much from previous thinkers and by observing the actions of many other people in history (who, having lived long before Objectivism, had to be non-Objectivists).

Hmmm, was there gravity before Newton elucidated it for us? How valuable could objectivism be if it was not apparent in the world prior to it’s “discovery” or “invention” by Rand. Rand was neither or Newton or Einstein, and objectivism is not a science or even a philosophy. It’s a pseudo-philosophy on which Rand founded a cult. From this perspective, objectivism loses all pretense of meaning and the language can be seen for the goobledegook that it is.

[quote author=“Salty”] You use a coinage like “psycho-epistemology” to embellish (but not to defend or even explain) whatever concept of “rationality” is entailed in this rather large set of assumptions.

Ayn made words up to baffle her followers with bullshit. Particle physics my look complicated on the surface, because it’s over your head. Rand’s writings look complicated on the surface because they are bullshit. You are just corresponding with people who know it when they step in it.

Finally Nhoj and Salty hit the nail on the head again with these comments.

[quote author=“Nhoj”] Perhaps all our biological systems, including our brain activity, are at any instant, taking their best shot at being exactly what our immediate life situation requires.

[quote author=“Salty”] Here’s a stunningly precise, but still precisely tautological, rendering of the concept of “rational volition”. I’m glad somebody’s trying. It appears that sometimes all those biological systems go awry, and their best shot at being exactly what the environment demands turns out to be something like SaulOhio.

I rather think that not only is there no difference between mind and body, I am inclined to think that there is no mind. If there is, it’s very overrated. I’m going to have to get back to the slime molds before this is done.

 Signature 

The ants are my friends, they’re blowing in the wind, the ants are blowing in the wind.

Dog is my co-pilot

Profile
 
 
Posted: 12 June 2007 07:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  924
Joined  2006-09-07

[quote author=“eucaryote”]I rather think that not only is there no difference between mind and body, I am inclined to think that there is no mind. If there is, it’s very overrated. I’m going to have to get back to the slime molds before this is done.

This is, in essence, all that there is of substance in your post. The rest of it is surprisingly accurate descriptions of some of Ayn Rand’s ideas, with the assumption that stating them proves them wrong. You said that Rand rejects the idea of intrinsic value of nature, which is true. But you reject it as if she were self-evidently wrong, instead of saying why. (I challenge you to prove it. Prove that nature has intrinsic value apart from human survival.) Your other “refutations” of Objectivism are just smear tactics, like calling it a cult. This does nothing to disprove any of Objectivism’s contents.

You don’t think that the mind exists, or matters. Therefore you can (by some miracle of mental content without a mind) go on believing whatever you want, irrespective of evidence or logic. If you really do believe that the mind is overrated, WTF are you doing on this forum???? What would be wrong with faith, religion, or even Islamic Jihad?

 Signature 

“Capitalism without failure is like religion without sin. It doesn’t work.”—Alan Metzer

Profile
 
 
Posted: 12 June 2007 08:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]  
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1568
Joined  2006-03-02

[quote author=“SaulOhio”] You said that Rand rejects the idea of intrinsic value of nature, which is true. But you reject it as if she were self-evidently wrong, instead of saying why. (I challenge you to prove it. Prove that nature has intrinsic value apart from human survival.)

Most people think that it is rather obvious that nature contains intrinsic value.  Perhaps they are wrong.  But you would have to admit that this is the default position and that the thus the onus is on the Objectivist who would deny that which is taken as obvious.  Granted not all things obvious actually are true, but if they are not true, we should be able to demonstrate, fairly convincingly, that they are not.

The move that Saul made in the above quoted paragraph is the move of the true believer, of the person who is convinced and stubbornly refuses to chanage his mind.

Here is the move:  I (the true believer) assert highly implausible claim X.  Someone tells me that X is not true, that is highly implausible.  My response is to say, “Well prove it them.  Prove to me that I’m wrong.  Prove that X is false.”

This is an absurd rhetorical move since, after all, the true believer has to admit that X (in Saul’s case, that nature lacks intrinsic value) really is highly implausible to most people.  Thus, he is obliged to provide an argument in favor of X, and a convincing one at that.

To believe that X is false, we do not have to prove to you that it is.  What we are obliged to do is to listen to your argument to the effect that X is false and then tell you what we think of that argument.

 Signature 

What do I care for a hell for oppressors? What good can hell do, since those children have already been tortured? And what becomes of harmony, if there is hell? I want to forgive. I want to embrace. I don’t want more suffering. And if the sufferings of children go to swell the sum of sufferings which was necessary to pay for truth, then I protest that the truth is not worth such a price.
-Ivan Karamazov

Profile
 
 
Posted: 12 June 2007 09:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  924
Joined  2006-09-07

[quote author=“waltercat”][quote author=“SaulOhio”] You said that Rand rejects the idea of intrinsic value of nature, which is true. But you reject it as if she were self-evidently wrong, instead of saying why. (I challenge you to prove it. Prove that nature has intrinsic value apart from human survival.)

Most people think that it is rather obvious that nature contains intrinsic value.  Perhaps they are wrong.  But you would have to admit that this is the default position and that the thus the onus is on the Objectivist who would deny that which is taken as obvious.  Granted not all things obvious actually are true, but if they are not true, we should be able to demonstrate, fairly convincingly, that they are not.

The move that Saul made in the above quoted paragraph is the move of the true believer, of the person who is convinced and stubbornly refuses to chanage his mind.

Sounds to me like its the other way around. You assume that something is true because other people believe it, then try to shift the burden of proof to those who don’t believe, like a religious believer asking an atheist to prove there is no God. It is the atheist that should demand proof from the believer, and I am asking for proof of the intrinsic value of nature.

However, since Objectivism does have its own theory of value, it would be right to ask me to prove THAT (though thats not what you asked).  Here is a brief summary: Value is a moral concept, and morality presupposes free will. If you have no choice about how you are going to act, you cannot be condemned or praised for what you do, can you? Ayn Rand defined value as that which you seek to gain or keep. If you value your health, you will act to maintain it. You will eat healthy, excercise, and get enough sleep. If you value a car, you will work to earn the money to buy it, obtain a load, go to a dealership, and negotiate your purchase of that car. The same is true of anything a person values, if its love, a career, a vacation from that career, or a snack of bonbons.  rolleyes If you want it, you will act to obtain it.

Since value is a moral concept, it is necessarily something that is chosen. This is what Rand meant by a volitional consciousness and its role in human survival. Human beings have to rationally think to choose their values and find ways to obtain them. Human survival is not unconditional. It may be that our need for food, clothing and shelter is a no-brainer, but those needs still have to be identified rationally, not only as an empty feeling in your stomach when you haven’t eaten in a long time, but also what kind of food we need, how to obtain it, how to make it. All the science behind modern agriculture is an example of how reason is essential to human survival. So is the science and art of architecture, geology in mining, chemistry in metalurgy. Every manufactured article you see is an example of something a human mind identified as having value to human existence. You may disagree, see no value in it yourself, but the fact remains that some person has decided that it is good, that it serves some human need or desire. He has used HIS capacity for reason, correctly or incorrectly, to come to the conclusion that something is good, and that it should be made.

Here is the move:  I (the true believer) assert highly implausible claim X.  Someone tells me that X is not true, that is highly implausible.  My response is to say, “Well prove it them.  Prove to me that I’m wrong.  Prove that X is false.”

Thats exactly my point. People here, and environmentalists in general, have claimed that nature has intrinsic value. That is the positive statement that Ayn Rand, Objectivists, and I reject, like you and I reject the idea of God.

This is an absurd rhetorical move since, after all, the true believer has to admit that X (in Saul’s case, that nature lacks intrinsic value) really is highly implausible to most people.  Thus, he is obliged to provide an argument in favor of X, and a convincing one at that.

You are reversing the burden of proof by trying tomake the Objectivist position sound like a positive assertion. It is the theory of intrinsic value that is the positive assertion that needs proof.

To believe that X is false, we do not have to prove to you that it is.  What we are obliged to do is to listen to your argument to the effect that X is false and then tell you what we think of that argument.

I am the one who believes X to be false. The X in question is the intrinsic value of nature. It is those who believe in the intrinsic value of nature who need to prove it.

However, there are two arguments I have heard for the intrinsic value of nature. One is that human life is dependant on nature, that we are part of Earth’s biosphere, and damage to the environment harms us. But this, even if true, would not prove that nature has intrinsic value apart from its value to human life. In fact, it assumes that nature is of value to human life, which is very much contrary to the intrinsic value theory. The second is the argument from nature’s beauty. Just look at it! Its beautiful, therefore it has intrinsic value. But again, this is a judgment based on human esthetic values. Humans have a certain nature, we have certain needs consistent with our evolution as living organisms on this planet, so it is perfectly consistent with HUMAN values that we judge nature to be beautiful. This is a HUMAN judgment, based on HUMAN values, thus not an argument for intrinsic value.

If there are any other arguments, I’d like to hear them.

 Signature 

“Capitalism without failure is like religion without sin. It doesn’t work.”—Alan Metzer

Profile
 
 
Posted: 12 June 2007 09:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5404
Joined  2006-09-27

[quote author=“SaulOhio”]You should know by now that Objectivists reject the idea of unchosen obligations, except the negative obligation not to interfere with the excercise of other people’s rights.

OK. You’ve restated your axiom (rejecting the intrinsic value of nature). This philosophy is now a very simple one. Neither of us is obliged to do anything he doesn’t choose to do. Each of us has the right to do anything he wants as long as it places no unchosen obligations on anyone else.

How could anyone but an idiot not understand Rand’s philosophy? How much simpler than the following:

He will know that the conceptual level of psycho-epistemology—the volitional level of reason and thought—is the basic necessity of man’s survival and his greatest moral virtue.

I assume that rationality has some bearing on what people’s obligations and liberties are. Rationality has everything to do with what a person perceives as an “unchosen obligation”. However, you have yet to make the connection. Mostly you seem to regard as irrational those who have the temerity to perceive the burden of unchosen obligations imposed by you. Now let’s talk about reality.

What kinds of activities will you be permitted to engage in under such a system? What can you possibly do with your life that does not eventually impose some sort of unchosen obligation on someone else? How do you rationalize your capacity to live life without placing unchosen obligations on others?

[quote author=“SaulOhio”]You said that Rand rejects the idea of intrinsic value of nature, which is true... Prove that nature has intrinsic value apart from human survival.

Rand’s rejection of intrinsic value assumes that humans are outside nature. Making “intrinsic” a distinction is a move made by someone who already feels ideas are more real than nature. It is a false distinction, a kind of Straw Herring™. It’s a common mistake made by religious nuts of all kinds, but let’s go ahead and let you reject the idea of the intrinsic value of nature. I impose no obligation on you to adopt any conception of nature you find distasteful. However…

This imposes upon me an obligation to live with the consequences of your rejection of nature’s intrinsic value. You even impose upon me an explicit obligation (quite unchosen) to prove that nature has intrinsic value, apart, that is, from human survival. It is as if you believe that its inverse is self-evident. That nature lacks intrinsic value is an axiom of Rand’s, not a theorem to be proven, and your sophistical demand that I “prove” that nature has intrinsic value smacks of an enormous sense of entitlement, to wit, that you are entitled to consider yourself rational.

Ayn Rand defined value as that which you seek to gain or keep.

Nature has value because without it I am unable to value anything else, insofar as I am dead. In what way do I have any obligation to accept Rand’s definition of value? Again, you suppose that an axiom is a proof. Why quibble about “intrinsic” anything, unless you think that ideas are more real than nature?

The self contradiction comes in when rejecting the intrinsic value of nature and not asserting that humans are outside of nature. The inevitable result is the rejection of the intrinsic value of humans.

Every manufactured article you see is an example of something a human mind identified as having value to human existence.

All of the above presumes that the sun was shining on the earth and the earth’s mantle was convecting for a long time before humans ever showed up. There’s the intrinsic value of nature for you, if you have to use such a term. Humans did not invent thermonuclear fusion and the transport of heat down a thermal gradient.

Every manufactured article you see is the product of raw materials that never would have been concentrated in sufficient quantities to allow a puny human being to extract them had these natural process not been intrinsically active. Without economic concentrations of minerals and the capacity of plate tectonics and meteorology to create hydrologic systems, even iron knives and crude irrigation would not ever have been feasible.

Objectivism. What a concept. Eating bonbons while the solar system evolves and Rome burns.

 Signature 

INVEST in cynicism!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 12 June 2007 10:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  924
Joined  2006-09-07

Salt Creek: Your last post is so full of gibberish I can’t answer any of it. None of it makes sense. None of it is relevant to anything I said. Its all complete nonsense. You accuse me of things I haven’t done (imposing some sort of obligation to agree). None of it actually provides any evidence relating it to reality. Some of it almost has the style of the question “So have you stopped beating your wife?” The questions you ask have all sorts of hidden assumptions.

And you discussion of intrinsic value completely misses the point. Environmentalists believe that the environment has value wether it is of use to humans or not. In fact, many take the concept of intrinsic value to its natural conclusion. Earth First and the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement are two examples.

You are arguing that nature has value to human beings, which is the same conclusion as I make, though from different arguments. You are AGREEING with me, just for different reasons, and with different consequences. You are agreeing with me that nature has value because of its consequences for human life and survival. The difference is that I see it as valuable for the raw materials it provides, its resources, and you seem to think it has to be left as it is, untouched. I would call NEITHER of our evaluations of nature intrinsic.

You said “Rand’s rejection of intrinsic value assumes that humans are outside nature.” Thats wrong. There is nothing in what Ayn Rand ever said that implies that. There is nothing in what I said that implies that. In fact, she and I have both criticized environmentalists for believing that humans aren’t part of nature. Ever hear of “natural rights”?  LOL They apply to humans.

 Signature 

“Capitalism without failure is like religion without sin. It doesn’t work.”—Alan Metzer

Profile
 
 
Posted: 12 June 2007 11:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]  
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1568
Joined  2006-03-02

[quote author=“SaulOhio”]Sounds to me like its the other way around. You assume that something is true because other people believe it, then try to shift the burden of proof to those who don’t believe, like a religious believer asking an atheist to prove there is no God. It is the atheist that should demand proof from the believer, and I am asking for proof of the intrinsic value of nature.

I am not assuming that anything is true.  Much less assuming it because other people believe it.  I only pointed out that since most people believe that nature has intrinsic value, the onus is on the objectivist to prove that it does not.

I do believe that nature has intrinsic value.  But it is not an assumption.  And I do not believe it because other people do.  I believe it for many reasons.  Most importantly, it seems obvious that beauty is out there in the world.  A sunset is beautiful regarldless of whether anyone is there to see it. 

Of course, I am prepared to be convinced that I am wrong.  I just need a convincing argument.  The one you provided was anything but . . .

Here is a brief summary: Value is a moral concept, and morality presupposes free will.

Already you are confused.  There are different types of value.  Another way of saying this is that there are different categories of evaluation.  One set of categories of evaluation are known as the Deontic categories.  These categories are used to evaluate actions, as right or wrong.  But we also evaluate objects (including persons).  We speak of good and bad THINGS, in addition to right and wrong ACTIONS.

So, it is true that value is a moral concept.  But only the categories of deontic evaluation are used to evaluate actions.  And thus only when we are evaluating intentional actions must we pre-suppose freedom. 

But when it comes to evaluating things that are not actions (things like persons, states of affairs, consequences, etc.) we need not pressupose freedom.  I can thus evaluate a sunset as good or bad, beautiful or ugly, regardless of whether I or anyone else is free.  Also, even if I am not free, it is still possible to evaluate the consequences of any of my actions.

Thus it is very confused to tie value to freedom of the will.

If you have no choice about how you are going to act, you cannot be condemned or praised for what you do, can you?

Perhaps.  But, as I said, you may still evaluate the consequences of my actions.  You can evaluate whether I produced good or bad consequences with my action.

If you value your health, you will act to maintain it. You will eat healthy, excercise, and get enough sleep.

This just seems demonstrably false.  Many people value their health but, for a variety of reasons, do not act to maintain it.  One reason people fail to do so is out of shear ignorance.  They lack the understanding of what they must do to stay healthy.  Others lack the strength of determination required to refrain from unhealthy activities (like having extra-marital affairs).

Since value is a moral concept, it is necessarily something that is chosen.

Again, this is very confused.  I see no reason to grant this unargued claim, especially given the fact that things other than actions are subject to evaluation.

This is what Rand meant by a volitional consciousness and its role in human survival.

If this is what she meant then she would have done well to study the wisdom of the many who came before her, who were far more knowledgable and capable than she.

 Signature 

What do I care for a hell for oppressors? What good can hell do, since those children have already been tortured? And what becomes of harmony, if there is hell? I want to forgive. I want to embrace. I don’t want more suffering. And if the sufferings of children go to swell the sum of sufferings which was necessary to pay for truth, then I protest that the truth is not worth such a price.
-Ivan Karamazov

Profile
 
 
Posted: 12 June 2007 12:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  924
Joined  2006-09-07

[quote author=“waltercat”][quote author=“SaulOhio”]Sounds to me like its the other way around. You assume that something is true because other people believe it, then try to shift the burden of proof to those who don’t believe, like a religious believer asking an atheist to prove there is no God. It is the atheist that should demand proof from the believer, and I am asking for proof of the intrinsic value of nature.

I am not assuming that anything is true.  Much less assuming it because other people believe it.  I only pointed out that since most people believe that nature has intrinsic value, the onus is on the objectivist to prove that it does not.

Most people believe there is a God. Is the onus on the atheist to prove there isn’t one?

I do believe that nature has intrinsic value.  But it is not an assumption.  And I do not believe it because other people do.  I believe it for many reasons.  Most importantly, it seems obvious that beauty is out there in the world.  A sunset is beautiful regarldless of whether anyone is there to see it. 

Of course, I am prepared to be convinced that I am wrong.  I just need a convincing argument.  The one you provided was anything but . . .

Did you read to the end of my last post? I covered the argument from beauty. You are judging nature by your own standards, which are a consequence of living in nature. A sunset is beutiful because it gives you an unparalleled opportunity for enjoying the operation of your own senses, which are essential for your own survival. As far as it being beautiful regardles of wether there is any one to see it, what then does beauty mean? To my understanding, the concept of beauty depends on standards that are dependant on a conscious being capable of evaluating something by those standards. Things are beautiful because they are as some conscious being thinks they should be. If beauty exists wether any person is around to appreciate it, to make that value judgment, then what does beauty mean?

Here is a brief summary: Value is a moral concept, and morality presupposes free will.

Already you are confused.  There are different types of value.  Another way of saying this is that there are different categories of evaluation.  One set of categories of evaluation are known as the Deontic categories.  These categories are used to evaluate actions, as right or wrong.  But we also evaluate objects (including persons).  We speak of good and bad THINGS, in addition to right and wrong ACTIONS.

So, it is true that value is a moral concept.  But only the categories of deontic evaluation are used to evaluate actions.  And thus only when we are evaluating intentional actions must we pre-suppose freedom. 

But when it comes to evaluating things that are not actions (things like persons, states of affairs, consequences, etc.) we need not pressupose freedom.  I can thus evaluate a sunset as good or bad, beautiful or ugly, regardless of whether I or anyone else is free.  Also, even if I am not free, it is still possible to evaluate the consequences of any of my actions.

Thus it is very confused to tie value to freedom of the will.

That evaluation is a mental process, one of reason, and as I said, reason is something that we have to use volitionally.

If you have no choice about how you are going to act, you cannot be condemned or praised for what you do, can you?

Perhaps.  But, as I said, you may still evaluate the consequences of my actions.  You can evaluate whether I produced good or bad consequences with my action.

Sounds like you are agreeing with me.

If you value your health, you will act to maintain it. You will eat healthy, excercise, and get enough sleep.

This just seems demonstrably false.  Many people value their health but, for a variety of reasons, do not act to maintain it.  One reason people fail to do so is out of shear ignorance.  They lack the understanding of what they must do to stay healthy.  Others lack the strength of determination required to refrain from unhealthy activities (like having extra-marital affairs).

Maybe I should have said you should act to maintain your health. These are irrelevant quibbles. Sure, if people are ignorant of what they need to stay healthy, they will still act for their own health to be best of their ability, though to a great extent they will fail. If they prefer sitting around and eating bags of potato chips, then I would say they value sitting around and eating potato chips over their health.

Since value is a moral concept, it is necessarily something that is chosen.

Again, this is very confused.  I see no reason to grant this unargued claim, especially given the fact that things other than actions are subject to evaluation.

Unargued? You deleted that part where I said: “Value is a moral concept, and morality presupposes free will. If you have no choice about how you are going to act, you cannot be condemned or praised for what you do, can you?”

This is what Rand meant by a volitional consciousness and its role in human survival.

If this is what she meant then she would have done well to study the wisdom of the many who came before her, who were far more knowledgable and capable than she.

She DID study the wisdom of those who came before her. Ever hear of Adam Smith, John Locke, Ludwig vonMises? Aristotle? I’m sure I’ve mentioned them before. And again, you clipped out the part where I named the evidence for the claim she made. I am not against clipping posts, but you do it to ignore the evidence I present.

What wisdom are you talking about? Which ones that came before her?
I repeat what I said to explain the idea that our survival depends on our volitional use of consciousness:

Human survival is not unconditional. It may be that our need for food, clothing and shelter is a no-brainer, but those needs still have to be identified rationally, not only as an empty feeling in your stomach when you haven’t eaten in a long time, but also what kind of food we need, how to obtain it, how to make it. All the science behind modern agriculture is an example of how reason is essential to human survival. So is the science and art of architecture, geology in mining, chemistry in metalurgy. Every manufactured article you see is an example of something a human mind identified as having value to human existence. You may disagree, see no value in it yourself, but the fact remains that some person has decided that it is good, that it serves some human need or desire. He has used HIS capacity for reason, correctly or incorrectly, to come to the conclusion that something is good, and that it should be made.

I know of no “wisdom of those who came before” that can refute this.

 Signature 

“Capitalism without failure is like religion without sin. It doesn’t work.”—Alan Metzer

Profile
 
 
Posted: 12 June 2007 01:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  924
Joined  2006-09-07

[quote author=“SaulOhio”][quote author=“waltercat”]
This just seems demonstrably false.  Many people value their health but, for a variety of reasons, do not act to maintain it.  One reason people fail to do so is out of shear ignorance.  They lack the understanding of what they must do to stay healthy.  Others lack the strength of determination required to refrain from unhealthy activities (like having extra-marital affairs).

Maybe I should have said you should act to maintain your health. These are irrelevant quibbles. Sure, if people are ignorant of what they need to stay healthy, they will still act for their own health to be best of their ability, though to a great extent they will fail. If they prefer sitting around and eating bags of potato chips, then I would say they value sitting around and eating potato chips over their health.

On second thought, I could have used this to illustrate what I mean by volitional consciousness. A person may know the consequences of lack of excercise and overeating, or of having an extramarital affair, but while actually doing so, they are pushing that knowledge to the back of their minds. They are evading, refusing to think about it for the moment, only thinking of the pleasure they feel right now. They are making that choice not to think about what they are getting themselves into.

 Signature 

“Capitalism without failure is like religion without sin. It doesn’t work.”—Alan Metzer

Profile
 
 
Posted: 12 June 2007 01:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5404
Joined  2006-09-27

Saul, you are the one who brought up unchosen obligations. These seem to be important to Objectivism. Simply placing a price tag on every object and activity does not seem sufficient to close the circle.

What kinds of activities will you be permitted to engage in under such a system? How can you possibly go through life in a way that does not eventually impose some sort of unchosen obligation on someone else?

I’m thinking of the terrible consequences for anyone downriver or downwind of you, or anyone having an unobstructed view of your property.

You are off the subject of unchosen obligations and onto intrinsic value before we’ve had a chance to sort things out there. Never mind. I measure the effectiveness of my questions by how assiduously you avoid answering them.

By the way, Saul, you owe every minute of your existence to some ancestor who survived by taking only what nature gave her. At least in that sense, you owe nature a small debt of gratitude.

 Signature 

INVEST in cynicism!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 12 June 2007 02:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  924
Joined  2006-09-07

[quote author=“Salt Creek”]Saul, you are the one who brought up unchosen obligations. These seem to be important to Objectivism. Simply placing a price tag on every object and activity does not seem sufficient to close the circle.

What kinds of activities will you be permitted to engage in under such a system? How can you possibly go through life in a way that does not eventually impose some sort of unchosen obligation on someone else?

I’m thinking of the terrible consequences for anyone downriver or downwind of you, or anyone having an unobstructed view of your property.

You are off the subject of unchosen obligations and onto intrinsic value before we’ve had a chance to sort things out there. Never mind. I measure the effectiveness of my questions by how assiduously you avoid answering them.

You need to learn to add before you can learn algebra, and algebra before you can go on to calculus.

By the way, Saul, you owe every minute of your existence to some ancestor who survived by taking only what nature gave her. At least in that sense, you owe nature a small debt of gratitude.

Nature did not choose to give me anything. Nature is pretty much inanimate. I owe my life to people who took all they could from nature and learned ways to take even more.

 Signature 

“Capitalism without failure is like religion without sin. It doesn’t work.”—Alan Metzer

Profile
 
 
   
3 of 11
3
 
‹‹ Is Sam a dualist?      Define morality ››
RSS 2.0     Atom Feed