Objectivism

Discuss arguments for existence of God and faith in general. Any aspect of any orientation toward religion/spirituality, as long as it is based upon a positive open to other people attitude.

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QuantumTroll
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Re: Objectivism

Post by QuantumTroll » Fri Oct 08, 2010 6:46 am

I think that you've done a good job of examining Rand's good ideas so far, Kane. I'd even go so far as to say that I agree with you (and Objectivism) insofar as what you've said.

The reason I dislike Objectivism lies, unsurprisingly, with the points at which it fails.
I enjoy her view of people as noble creatures, fully capable of meeting reality head-on, without excuses, and with all the tools at their disposal (via reason) to meet and greet life with strength, dignity, poise, and limitless creativity.
People are not always capable of meeting reality head-on. They are often not strong or creative. People, even people in a great situation in life, tend to fall. Objectivism, as a positive psychology, might help support the winners in life and keep them up when they could go down. That's nice, but what happens when an individual's own resources are not enough? What if you can't save yourself? Here, I think Rand has a difficult time.

Secondly, what happens in an Objectivist society when a person gains power over others? This power might be in the form of money, connections, or some other force. Very often, power is a value (as you reported Rand defines it) and it's therefore the right of the owner to keep that power. In Objectivism, is there anything to prevent this person from using his power to exert force on others? Rand is an outspoken proponent of laissez-faire capitalism, where economic force is allowed to reign absolutely free. This leads inevitably to a very stark divide between "haves" and "have-nots", which I believe is a huge problem.

Both points support a socialist type of society. Because power and wealth serve to create more power and wealth, an unregulated society quickly becomes a very unbalanced society with a large gap between rich and poor. A system is therefore necessary to work against this tendency towards imbalance. How this system looks is debatable, but I think it is provable that it's needed (*). Such a system of redistribution would serve to help people who can't help themselves and keep society stable and balanced.

Taking a step back, there's another point I'd like to make. A lot of Rand's beliefs reflect the underlying belief that (as I noted in an article I wrote in undergrad) "man's rights can only be violated by physical force." If you believe this, then she makes a lot of sense. It follows logically that the only role of government should be to maintain a monopoly on physical force and thereby prevent force from being abused. But if you recognize that economical force is also a force by which someone's rights can be violated, Rand's philosophy (or at least the conclusions in support of laissez-faire capitalism) falls apart.

(* I can show you some math if you'd like :) . Objectivism implies that the dynamic of individuals working for their own self-interest contains some term that works against a catastrophic and exponential growth of power and wealth among the "haves", but I can't for the life of me identify it. So an external force must be applied.)

Kane Augustus
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Re: Objectivism

Post by Kane Augustus » Fri Oct 08, 2010 12:44 pm

Quantum,

Here is what Nathaniel Brandon (Rand's former right-hand man) outlines are the tenets of Objectivism.
Nathaniel Brandon wrote:Objectivism teaches:

1. That reality is what it is, that things are what they are, independent of anyone’s beliefs, feelings, judgments or opinions—that existence exists, that A is A;
2. That reason, the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by the various senses, is fully competent, in principle, to understand the facts of reality;
3. That any form of irrationalism, supernaturalism, or mysticism, any claim to a nonsensory, nonrational form of knowledge, is to be rejected;
4. That a rational code of ethics is possible and is derivable from an appropriate assessment of the nature of human beings as well as the nature of reality;
5. That the standard of the good is not God or the alleged needs of society but rather “Man’s life,” that which is objectively required for man’s or woman’s life, survival, and well-being;
6. That a human being is an end in him- or herself, that each one of us has the right to exist for our own sake, neither sacrificing others to self nor self to others;
7. That the principles of justice and respect for individuality autonomy, and personal rights must replace the principle of sacrifice in human relationships;
8. That no individual—and no group—has the moral right to initiate the use of force against others;
9. That force is permissible only in retaliation and only against those who have initiated its use;
10. That the organizing principle of a moral society is respect for individual rights and that the sole appropriate function of government is to act as guardian and protector of individual rights.
Here is the source: http://www.nathanielbranden.com/catalog ... zards.html

I thought I would throw this out there to you while I churn over what you have written.

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Re: Objectivism

Post by Metacrock » Fri Oct 08, 2010 2:13 pm

this why I don't like Rand. none of these arguments are meaningful or logical. They are based upon several really fallacious assumptions and supported assertions. They are ideological assumptions.
1. That reality is what it is, that things are what they are, independent of anyone’s beliefs, feelings, judgments or opinions—that existence exists, that A is A;
that can hardly be used to justify any position because true whatever position you hold. Assigning an arbitrary ordinal letter to "reality" hardly guarantees that you know all aspects of reality.

2. That reason, the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by the various senses, is fully competent, in principle, to understand the facts of reality;
who says? how does just assigning a letter prove you can understand it?

3. That any form of irrationalism, supernaturalism, or mysticism, any claim to a nonsensory, nonrational form of knowledge, is to be rejected;
You are asserting that religoius beliefs are irrational, you offer no support, and you assert unsupported that that "are to be rejected?" why? based upon what? who says?

4. That a rational code of ethics is possible and is derivable from an appropriate assessment of the nature of human beings as well as the nature of reality;
what would that assessment have to do with morality? morality is not based upon the way things are. This is the fallacy known as Hume fork, you can't derive an ought from an is.
5. That the standard of the good is not God or the alleged needs of society but rather “Man’s life,” that which is objectively required for man’s or woman’s life, survival, and well-being;
prove it. how do you know that? Upon what do you base that?
6. That a human being is an end in him- or herself, that each one of us has the right to exist for our own sake, neither sacrificing others to self nor self to others;
Christianity says that humans are ends in themselves. St. Augustine said it, but he based upon the eternal nature of the soul, not just an arbitrary desire to aggrandize oneself.

7. That the principles of justice and respect for individuality autonomy, and personal rights must replace the principle of sacrifice in human relationships;
why? that doesn't make much sense. If the value system that lauds self sacrifice for the good of others is not operative in a system then what's the basis for respect? what's the basis for rights? What's the basis for autonomy. Christianity supports all of these values because they afforded us by love, and God is the basis of love. But in a system where nothing is worth sacrificing for how can there be respect?

8. That no individual—and no group—has the moral right to initiate the use of force against others;
fine with me but why not? I think that clashes with my selfish desire to force people to do things my way. Looks like a problem to me.

9. That force is permissible only in retaliation and only against those who have initiated its use;
Ok I can accept that as reasonable.

10. That the organizing principle of a moral society is respect for individual rights and that the sole appropriate function of government is to act as guardian and protector of individual rights.
where do rights come into it if selfishness is a virtue and sacrifice is a disapprobation?
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ZAROVE
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Re: Objectivism

Post by ZAROVE » Fri Oct 08, 2010 2:18 pm

met wrote:
ZAROVE wrote:ACTUALLY, in a properly run Monarhcy ( NOT a Monarhcy in which the Monarch is a figurehead and the Democraticlaly eleced Cmmons controls everything) you can't have Socialism precicely becauseof the definition you just posted.


if the Crown owns everything, then its owned by a single person, the reignign Monarch. Its not owned "By the people".


Irt also precludes Cooperative management.


The Crown would own the company and appoint its heads, either directly, IE, the Queen would choose hwo runs it, or indireclty, via lower level maagers doign the workaday hiring for reginal areas or to fill up roles in the company.

In the end, it'd be a sort of "Crown Monopoly" if the Crown took over all of the means of Manufacture and distribution, not a Socialist modle. After all, the Crown woudl own and operate the businesses on its own perogative, not cooperatively in a Democraric Framework.

. . . well, there's a difference between "ownership" as it is demarcated on paper and the reality. "Ownership" may be a formal relation only, even in social terms, and not really allocate any control over whatever it is that's supposedly "owned" by someone. In this sense we could understand a "socialist monarchy" as just a particular, inheritable type of socialist dictatorship, couldn't we? The King holds rights over everything but ostensibly only acts in the general welfare, only in the best interests of all his subjects. And really, that's how monarchy's generally understood right? In that sense, it's akin to socialism since, in theory at least, the King or Queen IS the state, the personification of the state itself, and not really a "private" person at all.

Thus the King or Queen may say . . .
We are not amused

And therefore, the economic system based on monarchy isn't really "private"ownership at all, either.




I personally find the whole idea of "ownership" a bit baffling anyway. Clearly, "ownership" is a perception - or maybe a pretension - or maybe a comfortable illusion - and nothing more. Especially "ownership" of land. Like any human being could ever really own any part of the planet. You own some dirt? - no, it'd be more accurate to say the dirt "owns" you since all you are is a part of it. ;)


Met, your makign several mistakes. They are common.


1: You assume that a Monarchy is a Dictatorship. This is not True. Why is it thatwhen I tell peopel I suppoert Monarhcythey think I want a society with no rights or privladges and in which we are all Slaves to the Crown?

2: That somehow Monarhcies operate in one particular way. The Truth is ther eis no single form of Govenrment called mOnarhcy. Even the Standard idea that a Monarhcy reqires a Hereditary Head of State isn't True. The Holy Roman EMpire was not Hereditary until the itme of the Hapsburg Monarchs, but rather each new EMperor was chosen by a COnclave. The Papacy is another exampel of a sort of Elective Monarchy. The Kings of ANcient ROme before the Republic were themselve elected from the ranks of the COmmon men of Rome and elevated tot he Monarchy by the Plediasite.


3: Socialism is about creating a Social Democracy. Unless the King is Elected by the peopel form the ranks fo the common man, its not goign to be Socialist. SOcialism seeks to abolish class distinctions, which is a prt f its central message. A Truly Socialist Society woudl operate ont he premise of Equality, in which all people in the society are viewed as beign fo the same rank and class. It is a society in which the workers run the means of production and get to keep the means of their labour, at leatsin theoory, whilst givign back to the society as a whole in the form of Govenrmentally provided services.

The Theory rests on Communal ownership of the means of Manufacture and DIstribution, in which the people own everythign collectively.

Under the type of Monarhcy you jhust mentioend (WHich sint even the type I advocate byt he way) the King woudl own everything. Even if its just on paper, its pretty well established that its not owned "By the people". If the Monarch has to ostentatiosuly only perform actiosn for the welfare of all, and if the peopels elected representitives actually make all the CHoices that hapen, then what is the Monarchs actual Role? It would appease neither Monarhcists nottr Socialists, becuase the Socialists woudl want the Crown Abolishe dint he ame of Democracy, while the monarhcits woudl want the crown given real pwoer and to be allowed to be independant of the Parliment.


4: An Absolute Monarhcy maked the Crown identical withthe State. Not all Monarhcies are Absolute. And even then, not all Absolute Monarhcies make the Crwon identical withthe State. A Feudal Monarhc owned the Government of his Kingdom, or Feif if a Lord, but wa snot Identical with it. Of coruse Feudalism also did nto really have a State to speak of...


5: Even if a State exists, the King or QUeen wudl be seen as the Owner of the State, NOT as beig the State themselves. The Monarhc remaisn a Private Individual.


6: If the Crown owend all the Businesses and every mean of Manufacture and DIstribution, in a sort of Monopoly, and was independant in how such things were actually run, and not reliant on the "Advise" of the Prime Minister, or boudn tot he "WIll of the peopel" VIa their elected Representitives, if the King coudl just up and declare the way things woudl operate, it woudl be nothign at all like SOcialism.

Socialism relies, as I said above, on Social Democracy. The idea of cooperative Ownership also means that those who work at th variosu jobs have a voice in how those jobs are run. The Theory is that they will be part of a Union and will vote int he regulations imposed on workers, how many hours orkers will be permited to work, and what will be prodiuced.


If a Monarch rules instead, an if the peopel arent routinely vitign in a Union on how the Fatory or DIstribution centre is run, then its still not really Socialism.

The King woudl be mroe liek the Owner and proprietor of the COmpany. The workers woudl be his Employees. They woudl nto be "Co-Owners", and woudknt have a say in how the Fatories or stores are managed. The King makes hose decisions.

Thats not Socialism.

ZAROVE
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Re: Objectivism

Post by ZAROVE » Fri Oct 08, 2010 2:28 pm

I'll be back for the Rand tlak, I need to do something. But I didnt mean to divert too much. Ill also open a new topic about why Monarhcy, even as Met describedm is not Socialist to remove it from here.

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Re: Objectivism

Post by QuantumTroll » Sat Oct 09, 2010 4:45 am

Kane Augustus wrote:Quantum,

Here is what Nathaniel Brandon (Rand's former right-hand man) outlines are the tenets of Objectivism.
Nathaniel Brandon wrote:Objectivism teaches:

1. That reality is what it is, that things are what they are, independent of anyone’s beliefs, feelings, judgments or opinions—that existence exists, that A is A;
2. That reason, the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by the various senses, is fully competent, in principle, to understand the facts of reality;
3. That any form of irrationalism, supernaturalism, or mysticism, any claim to a nonsensory, nonrational form of knowledge, is to be rejected;
4. That a rational code of ethics is possible and is derivable from an appropriate assessment of the nature of human beings as well as the nature of reality;
5. That the standard of the good is not God or the alleged needs of society but rather “Man’s life,” that which is objectively required for man’s or woman’s life, survival, and well-being;
6. That a human being is an end in him- or herself, that each one of us has the right to exist for our own sake, neither sacrificing others to self nor self to others;
7. That the principles of justice and respect for individuality autonomy, and personal rights must replace the principle of sacrifice in human relationships;
8. That no individual—and no group—has the moral right to initiate the use of force against others;
9. That force is permissible only in retaliation and only against those who have initiated its use;
10. That the organizing principle of a moral society is respect for individual rights and that the sole appropriate function of government is to act as guardian and protector of individual rights.
Here is the source: http://www.nathanielbranden.com/catalog ... zards.html

I thought I would throw this out there to you while I churn over what you have written.
Thanks, Kane. It helps to be clear about what we're discussing, since Objectivism is such a large subject. I think I'd agree with what Brandon says in your quote, at least my interpretation of those words. Like I mentioned, what the word "force" means is key. One can come to wildly varying conclusions starting from these same 10 tenets. I can't stress that enough, that accepting these tenets does not make one an Objectivist in any meaningful sense.

As a sidenote, I think it's very interesting that "A is A" comes up so often. One rhetorical device that Objectivists really love is to say "A is A", which the reader of course agrees with, and then whatever sentence comes next is implicitly something that follows from "A is A" and the careless reader uncritically accepts it. You can find this pattern in almost every Objectivist article I've come across. A student of rhetoric can learn a lot from this :) .

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Re: Objectivism

Post by Kane Augustus » Sat Oct 09, 2010 11:25 am

QuantumTroll wrote:Thanks, Kane. It helps to be clear about what we're discussing, since Objectivism is such a large subject. I think I'd agree with what Brandon says in your quote, at least my interpretation of those words. Like I mentioned, what the word "force" means is key. One can come to wildly varying conclusions starting from these same 10 tenets. I can't stress that enough, that accepting these tenets does not make one an Objectivist in any meaningful sense.

As a sidenote, I think it's very interesting that "A is A" comes up so often. One rhetorical device that Objectivists really love is to say "A is A", which the reader of course agrees with, and then whatever sentence comes next is implicitly something that follows from "A is A" and the careless reader uncritically accepts it. You can find this pattern in almost every Objectivist article I've come across. A student of rhetoric can learn a lot from this :) .
Quantum,

I agree with you that stating "A is A" is not a cure for the condition of the reality--perspective continuum. Each person necessarily filters reality via their senses, experiences, mental patternings, etc. Therefore, even if "A is A" at a base level, it ceases to be just that after being perceived by people; it then becomes integrated into the neural frameworks of the individuals perceiving certain realities. This means that each person perceiving certain realities augment and diminish realities through countless permutations.

I suppose this is a good reason to understand and deal properly with semantics. If we don't, then stating "A is A" lends nothing to actual communication beyond that statement. In effect, doing just that would mean that we are not communicating because nothing meaningful is conveyed by noting that and obvious reality is an obvious reality.

So, in my own case, while I appreciate Objectivism and borrow from a lot of its assertions, I am not a Randian, as it were. Rather, I am a philosopher with strong but not strict leanings toward Objectivism.

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Re: Objectivism

Post by ZAROVE » Sat Oct 09, 2010 2:37 pm

As it should be. I find Rands Philosophy problemic myself, though I do like the Free Market and Libertarian principles she espouses. I just think the enherant seldishness argument is foolish, but thats for another time.

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Re: Objectivism

Post by Kane Augustus » Sat Oct 09, 2010 3:30 pm

ZAROVE wrote:As it should be. I find Rands Philosophy problemic myself, though I do like the Free Market and Libertarian principles she espouses. I just think the enherant seldishness argument is foolish, but thats for another time.
Zarove,

Anyone who enjoys the philosophy of Objectivism does not also have to be a Randian. In fact, it would be better if they weren't (a statement she would doubtlessly disagree with, especially in her later years) because it would negate the principle of individualism so stressed in Objectivism.

Like you, I enjoy the notion of laissez-faire capitalism, and think it would sort out a good many problems with people's lack of creativity as a means of self-subsistence. I've read somewhere that Rand was not a libertarian, but I think there are a fair number of notions as to what exactly libertarianism actually entails. It would seem to me to be more appropriate to lable Rand a minarchist (but I could be wrong). In any case, at this point in my life, that is the political system I have the most appreciation for.

I'd like to challenge you to show me how people are not inherently directed toward their own interests (for that is what Rand means by 'selfish').

ZAROVE
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Re: Objectivism

Post by ZAROVE » Sat Oct 09, 2010 3:37 pm

Now now, I never said that people aren’t driven by self interest, I just disagree that all people always are.

There is a distinction.

Also, I’m hardly a Capitalist, I’m just not a Socialist. I actually prefer Feudalism, recall, and a Libertarianism that lets you be Free on your own terms but a society run on small local subsidiary arrangements by a King and his Lords, and the Lords and their Vassels.

However, as much as this may seem like Capitalism in that it’s a free exchange of goods and services, the emphasis will be on Duty, Honour, Loyalty, and Trust, and on the welfare of all. I just see a society that balances the need for individuality and need for society, and the need of social duty with a need for self expression.

The problem with today’s Democratic World is that it deals in absolutes and never creates a workable system.

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