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Objectivism

vonGarvin

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Thucydides said:
Empirical evidence is the practical means of following Aristotle's Law of Identity (A=A), which is one of the foundations of Ayn Rand's philosophy. It does not matter what you or I wish to be true, or what our opinions are, or what other people's opinions are, the empirical evidence stands quite alone and independent of subjective factors.

What is subjective is how the evidence is treated, non objectivists can and do distort, dispute or ignore the evidence to support what they wish to be true.
Ayn Rand can suck my left testicle.  While it is true that it matters not what any person wishes to be true, empirical evidence is quite subjective.  Imagine if you will a person who is blind standing in front of The Last Supper.  That person would have bugger all "empirical" evidence.  Therefore, the beauty of that piece would be lost on that person.  Objective matters, no matter what they are, are NOT subject to a person's perception, which is exactly what empiricism is.  1+1=2 is true now, was true a bazillion years ago and will remain true for ever.  One person's perception of something, an entirely civilisation's for that matter, doesn't amount to a hill of flea shit. 

EDIT: I have to apologise for my tone, but the mere mention of Ayn Rand makes me shudder.  (now, where is that vomiting smily?)
 

vonGarvin

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Now that I've had my sleep...
Empirical evidence can indeed provide "clues" as to what is objectively true (today, tomorrow, and a thousand years hence).  One thing I've seen in this thread is the use of "objectivism" as a theory of ethical behaviour.  That is a bit wrong, as objective or relative would apply as an adjective to a theory of ethical behaviour.
Take "Utilitarianism" as an example of an ethical code.  Suppose one were to argue that "utilitarianism" applies.  If that person were then to say that it applies universally, then one is arguing that it is objective.  If that person were to argue that it applied only to the Og clan of Cavemen in a bazillion BC, then that person is arguing that it is relative to that situation.  That's the tricky part.
Anyway, back to empiricism.  One cannot know anything without first having been exposed to it empirically, argue some.  "A posteriori" knowledge is that knowledge you have due to having been exposed to empirical evidence of something.  "A priori" knowledge is that knowledge you get from logical deduction.
For example, your knowledge that "Hitler died in 1945" comes from empirical evidence.  You read history books, you watch the news, etc , and you gain the knowledge from experience.  "John is older that Jane" may come either way.  Perhaps you read the birth certificates of both John and Jane, or you see that John is an old man and Jane is an infant.  You could also gain that knowledge from logic.  Suppose you know that John is older than Mary, and you know that Mary is older than Jane.  From this knowledge, you deduce that John is older than Jane.  That is a priori.

Anyway, I'm feeling better (you know this empirically, because I told you, or you know it from logic, in that "MR's post is in better tone, therefore, he must be feeling better).  I'll leave that all up to you

:D
 

Reccesoldier

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Okay MR.  For Rand to illicit such a visceral reaction you must have way more reason than what you have alluded to so far.

This isn't about simple definitions, so what is it?
 

vonGarvin

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I just don't like Ayn Rand, that over-inflated überfeminist.  I know, I know, just my opinion, but man, she really gets my goat!


 

Reccesoldier

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Mortarman Rockpainter said:
I just don't like Ayn Rand, that over-inflated überfeminist.  I know, I know, just my opinion, but man, she really gets my goat!

Ok... So much for a deeper rational challenge of Objectivist epistemology.

Nothing like good old fashioned hatred to explain a deeply held opinion. :D
 

TangoTwoBravo

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My own unease regarding drinking the Objectivist Kool-Aid neat is the bouquet of elitism that I detect.  That being said I was uneasy with Plato's Republic over much the same reason and it didn't seem to hurt him.

The self-interest aspect of the Objectivist moral code is where I find the elitist bit.  She contends that man should pursue his own self-interest: "his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life."  She adds caveats that preclude things such as hedonism or whims.  It would seem that one man's pursuit of self-interest may be moral, but another's may not.  Perhaps only heroic man's self-interest is moral.  Are hedonists not men?  What makes somebody heroic?  Is everybody a hero?  How do I get my kids on the hero track?

Now, I tend to think that people do tend to act out of self-interest, either seeking pleasure or avoiding pain.  I still like Kant's thought that there are moral imperatives, and that moral acts are good in and of themselves.  I can't say that I always achieve that imperative or duty, but it is nice to have a moral compass besides self-interest or the pursuit of happiness.  I'm OK with people acting out of self-interest, but I don't like dressing that up as morality.

I support laissez-faire economics and I do think that people tend to know what is best for themselves.  I wouldn't, however, elevate that to the level of ideology.  To me, the strength of the British thinkers who shaped our world was that they seemed to avoid strident ideology. 

Going back to Kant, he also seemed to try and bridge the gulf between a priori and a posteriori.

When the trumpets sound and the Rationalists square off against the Empiricists to decide the fates of all souls I guess I will line up with the Empiricists.  I only say that because the Rationalists have utterly lost me  me by the time they reach their third paragraph. 

Cheers
 

Reccesoldier

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My own unease regarding drinking the Objectivist Kool-Aid neat is the bouquet of elitism that I detect.  That being said I was uneasy with Plato's Republic over much the same reason and it didn't seem to hurt him.

The self-interest aspect of the Objectivist moral code is where I find the elitist bit.  She contends that man should pursue his own self-interest: "his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life." 

I'm confused.  If someone can determine what is in his own interest where does elitism come into it?  Can't everyone from the mouth-breathing moron to uber-intellectual decide what that is?  Will their definitions be the same? No, but that doesn't stop it from being in the individuals interest.

She adds caveats that preclude things such as hedonism or whims.  It would seem that one man's pursuit of self-interest may be moral, but anothers may not.  Perhaps only heroic man's self-interest is moral.  Are hedonists not men?  What makes somebody heroic?  Is everybody a hero?  How do I get my kids on the hero track?

I don't have an answer to that, but it seems to me that the pursuit of pleasure for pleasures sake would negate another considerable part of Objectivist philosophy, being that production was the noblest purpose for a mans actions.
 

TangoTwoBravo

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Reccesoldier said:
I'm confused.  If someone can determine what is in his own interest where does elitism come into it?  Can't everyone from the mouth-breathing moron to uber-intellectual decide what that is?  Will their definitions be the same? No, but that doesn't stop it from being in the individuals interest.

Everybody can and does have their own self-interest.  The elitist part, in my view, is how self-interest becomes the moral pillar.  If you say that self-interest is only inherently moral in certain people, then I see some elitism coming in.  If not, then how are many rather immoral acts commited out of self-interest handled in that moral construct?  My impression is that Objectivists like self-interest from some people and not from others.  Why is production noble or moral?  Is it just an obvious truth?

People acting out of self-interest can be great for an economy and I think that 9 times out of 10 people should be left to their own devices, but I wouldn't use self-interest as a moral compass. 
 

vonGarvin

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Reccesoldier said:
Ok... So much for a deeper rational challenge of Objectivist epistemology.

Nothing like good old fashioned hatred to explain a deeply held opinion. :D
Actually, I've never met Ms. Rand.  My opinion is deductive, in that I see what filth she spews forth, and from that, I deduce that she is an überfeminist commie-nazi.  It is what she writes that gets my goat, not her, per se.
 

Reccesoldier

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Mortarman Rockpainter said:
Actually, I've never met Ms. Rand.  My opinion is deductive, in that I see what filth she spews forth, and from that, I deduce that she is an überfeminist commie-nazi.  It is what she writes that gets my goat, not her, per se.

Interesting...

http://objectivistcenter.org/cth--1346-Feminism_and_Objectivism.aspx
 

a_majoor

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The Tea Party movement and the John Galt strike building up in the United States is the Objectiveist counter revolution in action (even if the vast majority of Tea Party marchers and Strikers have never heard of Ayn Rand or Objectivism). The Progressives have heard of her, though:

http://www.capmag.com/article.asp?ID=5463

On The Left-Wing Reaction to John Galt, Ayn Rand, and Tea Parties
by Edward Cline  (March 13, 2009)

The nation -- indeed, the world -- is waking up to the idea that ideas have consequences. One idea is that sacrificing is not a life-enhancing option and will lead to misery or death. Another is that the heedless policy of a spendthrift is not a rational course of action. Another is that adopting the policy of a spendthrift benefits no one but a politician who advocates it as a sound fiscal policy. Envy is not a paying proposition. “Class warfare” in the form of “soaking the rich” to help the poor assures mutual impoverishment. There are so many more altruist and collectivist ideas that are being grasped by millions as a collective prescription for penury and extinction.

The world seems to be emerging from a moral and intellectual coma, perhaps temporarily, perhaps permanently. It is discovering that other ideas have other consequences, as well, ideas that promote life, promote prosperity, promote ambition and personal success, and that they are possible only in political freedom, and that this freedom has been violated, abridged, and nullified by the first set of ideas. True, politics is the last thing to be affected by a philosophical revolution. But one cannot help but be pleased with how startled the collectivists and altruists are now by the knowledge that they have not successfully pulled a fast one on Americans. These Americans have come knocking on the doors of elitists or leaning over the café railings or invading their legislated smoke-free bars and restaurants to ask: What in hell do you think you are doing?

The Americans who recently protested the spendthrift policies of the Obama administration and Congress with “tea parties,” and who plan to protest them on an even larger scale in the near future, one can wager are not regular readers of The New York Times. They cannot have much in common with its columnists and editors, nor with the news media.

So the collectivist and altruist elite become very touchy when the people for whom they are “doing good” for their own sake, even to the point of enacting coercive and felonious legislation, exhibit signs of intelligence, resistance and anger. How dare these yokels!

And nothing raises their hackles higher than any mention of Ayn Rand.

This is because they thought she and her philosophy had been buried by that arch-conservative, Whittaker Chambers, wielding a shovel on one side of the grave, while that fellow-traveler and critic Granville Hicks wielded another on the other side, in a true demonstration of bipartisanship half a century ago. And hadn’t all the academics and pundits and book writers since then refuted her and her philosophy over time and ensured that she would not return to haunt them?

The cultural and political elite are upset that she has not been forgotten. That philosophy has returned to haunt them and aggravate their guilt. And they are in high dudgeon because they are being cast in the role, not as saviors, but as her black-hearted villains. They are discovering that ideas cannot be interred as permanently as their authors. Atlas Shrugged is on their minds.

The Times blog, “Opinionator” (a round-up of positions expressed in other blogs) of March 6th, called “’Going Galt’: Everyone’s Doing It!“ is a testimonial to how the elite have been blind-sided in their arrogant complacency and sent spinning out of control on the Internet highway, and evidence of how thoroughly they have been indoctrinated in the belief that reality has nothing to do with their chosen “reality.” They are deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming train, but sneer that the train does not exist. They are stuffed animals crammed with the excelsior of worn-out bromides, mulched second-hand sociology, and the sawdust of a failed ideology.

Reading the denials of the cultural elite is almost as amusing as watching Sir Fretful Plagiary, the hack playwright in Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s comedy, The Critic, protest that his play does not fall off, is not tediously spun out, and does not want incident. Incredibly, these are the literary vices they ascribe to Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged, and they claim they can’t understand why it is getting so much attention. Nor can they understand why President Obama is having problems putting over his disastrous policies. Why don’t these “Galtists” just shut up and do as he says?

That they protest too much is an indication that they do understand. These are the crusaders who crusaded to destroy literary, economic and political values, and made living in this culture as pointless as watching a snow-covered TV screen. They would not have campaigned to destroy them if they did not feel threatened by them.

Their truncated minds and shriveled souls will not permit them to concede defeat. They see the “relevance,” these programmed altruists and dispensers of others’ wealth, and join in a chorus of denials of the relevance. Many are loathe to admit their malice. Others, while not projecting their self-deception and hatred on Rand or on her admirers, confess their utter ignorance of the importance of Atlas Shrugged. Randomly, and to wit:

    “I look to Atlas Shrugged more for conveniently totable beach reading than an economic blueprint…. If only the people in her novels had acted remotely like actual people, rather than [like] comic book characters, I, too, would be rereading the thing now.”

This is the kind of “missing link” mentality that never progressed beyond the concretes under her nose. The novel is a novel, not a blueprint for anything. It is an idealization of reality, and the events in it are necessarily telescoped. Those events in the novel are so grounded in reality -- and the heroes and villains are so concretely real -- that it would be futile to explain to such a person that “actual people” are moved by the same values or anti-values as are the novel’s characters. The task of induction would be impossible to her. One must ask, also: Whose fictional characters, in her mind, aren’t of “comic book” caliber? John Updike’s? Joyce Carol Oates’s?

Then there is another kind of arrested mentality, writing about those who may choose to go on strike:

    “And of course none of these folks designed an engine that would have created basically free energy (and made global warming a non-issue). In the individual case, ‘going Galt’ smacks of a kind of self-aggrandizement in the same way that climate smuggery does. Because, really, your marginal contribution doesn’t matter that much….The point is that you are not John Galt. You don’t even know who he is! And this eventually leaves you weeping on abandoned train tracks.”

This is someone struggling to convince “you” that you aren’t important enough to make a difference, and himself that your quitting in protest wouldn’t affect him much. The desperation is in the sneer. This individual apparently has read the novel, and got nothing from it. He is a minuscule, belittling Ellsworth Toohey. Well, Hillary Clinton once said she’d read Ayn Rand’s novels in college, and that it was just a “passing phase.” Look at the kind of contemptible person she grew to be.

Other bloggers make equally irrelevant comments about Rand and her novel. Trying to make sense of them is like trying to make sense of a Picasso canvas. Just as interesting, however, are the kinds of responses their comments elicited from their readers, ranging from the malicious to the short-range to the certifiably dumb. To wit:

    “Atlas Shrugged is a joke. A piece of ridiculosity.”

    “I wish they would take a John Galt….Please feel free to go on strike. We would be better off without you.”

    “Rand falsely assumes these innovative genius[es] work in a vacuum and don’t benefit from having a safe, civil society to work in.”

    “Please show me anything that I can touch, or eat, or live in, or drive that the ‘productive rich’ have made?”

Then there are the obvious Obama supporters, individuals ready and willing to sacrifice and work for “the good of society.”

    “It is not at all clear that we need to bribe people with promises of riches in order to get them to do useful work. If it turns out to be necessary with today’s crop of masters of the universe, then we’ll need to find a way to start over, once we have turned the spoiled brats out of their unearned positions of power.”

    “Please, go Galt. Be my guest….Take that genius talent of yours right over to the bus station at Applebee’s. I can’t wait to watch you scraping uneaten peas into the garbage disposal. You and your genius Galt buddies Bernie Madoff and Sir [Allen] Stanford.”

    “The top tax rate will go up approximately 5%, and this makes you decide to take your ball and go home? That seems silly to me.”

    “One of the characters [Hugh Akston, the philosopher of reason] in Atlas Shrugged was working in a diner frying hamburgers when he encountered Dagny Taggart. He was one of the ones who ‘shrugged.’ It was honest work and he made a very good hamburger. If Malkin and [Rick] Santelli and some others ‘go Galt,’ hopefully we can count on an increase in hamburger quality across the nation.”

These are people who probably believe that the concept of “unearned income” is a valid one and should be taxed and otherwise penalized, because no observable physical labor is involved in the rewards of risking investments in stocks and innovators and loans to productive enterprises. Intellectual labor is as much an unreal concept to them as it is to the IRS. Such labor is responsible for everything that the one individual “can touch, or eat, or live in, or drive.”

And, a number of these individuals view Bernard Madoff and Stanford as the symbols of capitalism and freedom. One newscaster on ABC this morning erroneously referred to Madoff as a “financier,” but then the news media suffer from a similar truncated mentality. They don’t “get it” that Obama, his appointees, and Congress are all guilty of the mother of all Ponzi schemes.

Two or three respondents answered with defenses of Rand and the novel. One promised to go on strike.

    “I will cut back so that my hard-earned income is not taken by the government and redistributed to people who have not worked as hard. I will not subsidize others.”

One point of this commentary is to reveal the scope of hostility that exists in our culture to individualism, capitalism, freedom, and “the rich” -- and to the mind. Another is to prepare those who would argue in defense of those things for the levels of ignorance and species of malice they will encounter, not only in people they might personally engage in argument, but in politicians, academics, and the news media.

The thing to remember is that reason and reality is on our side. Most of our opponents and enemies know it. They are not the ones who need convincing or any kind of rational guidance. Beware especially of the ones who claim it is your duty to convince them. These creatures' minds are the truly truncated. Let reality be their ultimate persuader.

Focus on those who show genuine interest in answers, and never mind the fools.


Edward Cline is a novelist who has written on the revolutionary war period. He is author of the Sparrowhawk series of novels set in England and Virginia in the Revolutionary period, the detective novel First Prize, the suspense novel Whisper the Guns, and of numerous published articles, book reviews and essays.
 

Reccesoldier

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  “Please show me anything that I can touch, or eat, or live in, or drive that the ‘productive rich’ have made?”

This comment by one of the detractors is hilarious.  Who doe this moron think creates everything that he touches, eats, lives in and drives?

Producers.
 
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