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Rationality vs Emotion


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#1 Dglgmut

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Posted 05 December 2011 - 09:35 AM

So, I'm still not familiar with much of Ayn Rand's philosophy and her arguments for it, but I've been able to form some kind of understanding of this separation between rationality and emotion. If I misinterpret Objectivism, you can tell me, but these thoughts are pretty logical as they sit with me, conforming or not.

First of all, emotion is sort of the most basic part of consciousness. It makes choice possible. By emotion, I just mean an unexplainable preference for one thing over another. Wanting vs fearing... those are the opposing ends of the emotional spectrum, so to speak.

Emotion and the ability to choose give reason and rationality room to exist. They are not directly connected, but rather work side-by-side.

So, if I like an apple instead of an orange, that is emotional, but if I choose to eat the apple, rather than the orange, then that is rational.

I've many times asked myself, "Why do I want what I want?" in hopes of seeing the lack of rationality in my emotions... I see now that that is totally useless. There is no point in questioning emotion...

Why do I want what I want? ...Why do I see what I see? ...Why is the sky blue?

It's the same question. The question is directed at the concept of an unlimited perspective... Something that doesn't exist, as perspective depends on limitations.

Many people focus on rationalizing their own existence. It's impossible, again, for the same reason. We can't rationalize our own existence from our own point of view.

Anyway, the question ought to be: Why should I do what I want? and the rational answer is: Because you want to!

There is no reason not to do what you want... There is no reason for you to want what you want, but you can't deny that the want is there.

I believe one's own happiness is the purpose of life. We are products of phenomena, and we should respect what we have been designed to pursue.

Another notion I think I've outgrown is the thought that we cannot possibly go against our preferences. As determinists will argue, the choices we make demonstrate our preferences... We have to want to do something in order to do it.

This is not really true. We don't always do what we want. But how is it possible we can go against our preferences? I think it is by this conception of an unlimited perspective. We try to see the situation from an objective "point" of view, and see our emotions as irrational. But again, if our emotions are irrational, so is the blueness of the sky.

So, we can make choices from outside of our own perspective, by creating this other one in our heads. In these scenarios it is not our own preferences we go with, but with the preferences of this unlimited, emotionless perspective.

I don't think anyone really denies reason. It is what they base their reasoning in that determines its effectiveness. We should base our reasoning in our own points of view, rather than trying to conceive of an ultimate objectivity that would never support the existence of anything. And that I think is the real error in most people's claim of rational thinking. They have decided that everything ought to be rationalized, even reality, and in making that decision they are not denying reason, but rather denying the application of reason to reality... They are trying to have reason, floating around, not grounded in anything.

Make sense?

#2 Selene

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Posted 05 December 2011 - 10:10 AM

Definition of RATIONALIZE

transitive verb

: to bring into accord with reason or cause something to seem reasonable; especially : to attribute (one's actions) to rational and creditable motives without analysis of true and especially unconscious motives <he tried to rationalize his cruel behavior>

There is a difference between ratiionalize and rational. Are you clear on that aspect?
"Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice..and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."

#3 whYNOT

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Posted 05 December 2011 - 11:27 AM

So, I'm still not familiar with much of Ayn Rand's philosophy...
[...]
and In these scenarios it is not our own preferences we go with, but with the preferences of this unlimited, emotionless perspective. I don't think anyone really denies reason. It is what they base their reasoning in that determines its effectiveness. We should base our reasoning in our own points of view, rather than trying to conceive of an ultimate objectivity that would never support the existence of anything. And that I think is the real error in most people's claim of rational thinking. They have decided that everything ought to be rationalized, even reality, and in making that decision they are not denying reason, but rather denying the application of reason to reality... They are trying to have reason, floating around, not grounded in anything. Make sense?


Calvin,

You are guessing - very badly - and I suggest you become familiar with AR's philosophy before you drive yourself crazy.

Begin with the 3 Axioms, "There IS (existence) something (identity) of which I am aware (consciousness).
Work up to the nature of man, his metaphysics, and how he knows what he knows (epistemology), then his proper ethics - and much later his psychology of self-esteem. It really isn't hard.
At the moment you are creating fallacies and dichotomies in your own head that don't exist in reality.
There is no, should be no, split between rationality and emotion - the second is an instant reference of one's rational state (a "barometer" or "lightning rod" as AR called it), but is never a guide to action.
Reason that does not correspond directly to reality, is not reason.
"Rational" you use interchangeably with "logical", when the latter is a tool towards the first.
(Then there's "rationalize", as Adam points out.)
Again, you confuse personal preference, with subjective desires, with objective value.

And so on.
Look to integration and causality, not to 'disconnects. Whenever there is one, check your premises - it's you, not existence.

Don't take my word for it, I'm not the expert; get it direct from the source, Rand.


Tony
"To know that we know what we know, and to know that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge". Nicolaus Copernicus (An original objectivist) 1473-1543 ***No man may be smaller than his philosophy...***

#4 Brant Gaede

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Posted 05 December 2011 - 12:05 PM

"There is no reason not to do what you want."

This is the amorality of a sociopath. I'm not claiming C. is one only that he is intellectually incompetent.

--Brant

Rational Individualist, Rational self-interest, Individual Rights--limited government libertarian heavily influenced by Objectivism


#5 whYNOT

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Posted 05 December 2011 - 12:23 PM

"There is no reason not to do what you want." This is the amorality of a sociopath. I'm not claiming C. is one only that he is intellectually incompetent. --Brant


Brant,

I don't believe so, though I do think there is some attraction to Objectivist egoism by sociopaths and narcissists.
Initially - but they don't stick around long.

Do they?
You've seen more than I.

Also, I'm afraid Calvin seems to be designing his own philosophy (Calvinism :cool: ?), from bits and pieces he has picked up from non-Oists. Which is why I referred him to the basics. He's just all over the place, is all.
But I like an enquiring mind.
"To know that we know what we know, and to know that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge". Nicolaus Copernicus (An original objectivist) 1473-1543 ***No man may be smaller than his philosophy...***

#6 Dglgmut

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Posted 05 December 2011 - 02:10 PM

Definition of RATIONALIZE

transitive verb

: to bring into accord with reason or cause something to seem reasonable; especially : to attribute (one's actions) to rational and creditable motives without analysis of true and especially unconscious motives <he tried to rationalize his cruel behavior>

There is a difference between ratiionalize and rational. Are you clear on that aspect?


Yeah, by that definition trying to rationalize something, and rationalizing something is the exact same thing?

I guess I was misusing the word, but what I meant was "to be proven rational," or "to be proven to have a purpose/reason".

My point is that the way people go against their own preferences is by trying to find a reason for reality. If they can't find a reason for reality, of which their preferences are a part, then they find motivation to neglect themselves.

To try to find a reason for what exists is to remove the foundation that allows reason to be used in the first place.

Just laying my thoughts out a bit. I think this stuff is why a lot of people are turned off by Objectivism. It's not easy to see selfishness as moral, or morality as rational.

And Brant, I'm glad you found the time to post!

#7 Philip Coates

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Posted 05 December 2011 - 03:34 PM

> He's just all over the place, is all. But I like an enquiring mind.
> he is intellectually incompetent.
> Just laying my thoughts out a bit.

Give the guy a break.

He's perhaps trying to find the right concepts, the words.....Remember yourselves when just exposed to / grappling with Oism...

#8 Selene

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Posted 05 December 2011 - 04:01 PM

> He's just all over the place, is all. But I like an enquiring mind.
> he is intellectually incompetent.
> Just laying my thoughts out a bit.

Give the guy a break.

He's perhaps trying to find the right concepts, the words.....Remember yourselves when just exposed to / grappling with Oism...


Phil:

Respectfully, when I closed the cover of Atlas at about 15 years old, I said, "But of course!" I have not looked back since. I have questioned the philosophy throughout my entire life. I have made changes in some of the positions. I have added to it. However, I never had to grapple with it.

Therefore, some folks do not grapple with it. A person who does grapple with it is not someone who needs a "break." It is someone who needs more information, guidance and being challenged respectfully.

He is getting that here.

Adam
"Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice..and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."

#9 Dglgmut

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Posted 05 December 2011 - 07:20 PM

Since I'm so all-over-the-place, let's look at one thing at a time.

How would you argue against the determinist claim that all of our conscious actions are the repercussions of our preferences in each instance. There is so much going on in a single moment that our actions are actually reactions to our incredibly particular experience. Not only that, but they are also linked to the physical, causal chain.

My argument was that we don't only look at situations from our own point of view. We can do what we want to do (acting from our own perspective), or we can do something else (acting from an imagined point of view).

#10 Selene

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Posted 05 December 2011 - 08:07 PM

Since I'm so all-over-the-place, let's look at one thing at a time.

How would you argue against the determinist claim that all of our conscious actions are the repercussions of our preferences in each instance. There is so much going on in a single moment that our actions are actually reactions to our incredibly particular experience. Not only that, but they are also linked to the physical, causal chain.

My argument was that we don't only look at situations from our own point of view. We can do what we want to do (acting from our own perspective), or we can do something else (acting from an imagined point of view).


If you were to separate yourself from the situation, what would the reality be?

If you wanted to step off the roof of a thirty story building, or if you imagined that you were stepping off that same roof onto a footbridge across the space to the next building, neither would matter.

Reality would say...hey dude, gravity...no wings...splat!

Adam
"Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice..and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."

#11 Dglgmut

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Posted 05 December 2011 - 09:04 PM


Since I'm so all-over-the-place, let's look at one thing at a time.

How would you argue against the determinist claim that all of our conscious actions are the repercussions of our preferences in each instance. There is so much going on in a single moment that our actions are actually reactions to our incredibly particular experience. Not only that, but they are also linked to the physical, causal chain.

My argument was that we don't only look at situations from our own point of view. We can do what we want to do (acting from our own perspective), or we can do something else (acting from an imagined point of view).


If you were to separate yourself from the situation, what would the reality be?

If you wanted to step off the roof of a thirty story building, or if you imagined that you were stepping off that same roof onto a footbridge across the space to the next building, neither would matter.

Reality would say...hey dude, gravity...no wings...splat!

Adam


Oh, I see. Was that in reply to my "imagined point of view," line? I wasn't talking about people imagining an alternate reality, but rather attempting to view reality from a different perspective.

Religious people are a perfect example. Their imagined perspective is God. In that case, the argument is simple. How can religious people go against their own preferences? By using God to help them make choices.

They trust this imagined perspective; they make it more important than their own.

Why do people create this outside perspective? To see themselves, of course. To help them see a purpose in their lives.

From our own perspective we need no purpose... we don't have a reason to question our existence, in fact, we give existence it's purpose (it's function, or effect).

If you were the only person on earth, would you look for a purpose in your life? If you were the only person on earth, nothing could be wrong with you. The only flaws could be in existence--your experience.

#12 Selene

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Posted 05 December 2011 - 09:13 PM

Yet Ayn argued that you needed to employ the Objectivist philosophy more so on a desert island than anywhere else.

Similar to your being the only person in the world argument.

Here:

It used to be commonly said that “Until Robinson Crusoe is joined by Friday there is no need for ethics on a desert island.” Rand replied that it was on a desert island that ethics was most needed because on a desert island you cannot free ride on the virtues of others; if you are to survive you must yourself exercise the virtues of rationality, independence, and productiveness. As her reply indicates, Rand was an exponent of virtue ethics, the Greek/Aristotelian idea that ethics is about how one should live. Indeed, although she does not get much credit, Rand is the most prominent and lucid, contemporary exponent of virtue ethics.

And here, this is from a 2003 Journal of Ayn Rand Studies [JARS}:

Conclusion:

Where Rand Went Too Far I have argued that, in “The Objectivist Ethics,” Rand did not
engage in a “shuffle,” as Mack charges, but rather that the development of her ethics was based upon

an internally consistent view of “man,” in the context of describing his mode of existence, which was
never explained, and which was largely hidden from the reader:“man” as the combination of “isolated man”

and “universal man,” as I have defined these terms above.

Nevertheless, Mack’s argument that Rand engaged in a “shuffle” is given credibility by some of Rand’s

overstatements about the negative effects of not following her ethical prescriptions. Here are just a few

examples, also cited by Mack: “The survival of such mental parasites depends on blind chance . . .” (Rand 1964, 23),

“Such looters are parasites incapable of survival, who exist by destroying those who are capable . . .” (23),

and “Such looters may achieve their goals for the range of a moment, at the price of destruction: the

destruction of their victims and their own. As evidence, I offer you any criminal or any dictatorship” (24).


Recast in the light of the interpretation proposed in this paper of Rand’s view of “man,” however, these

overstatements make more sense; if the underlying question is “what if everyone did that?,” then,
e.g., looters and moochers are incapable of survival.


http://www.aynrandst...ars7_2fbubb.pdf
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#13 Dglgmut

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Posted 05 December 2011 - 09:59 PM

Hmm... Actually an imagined perspective on reality is still an imagined reality, I guess.

Maybe it's not rationality vs emotion, but reality vs imagination?

Maybe reality is not enough for some people.

#14 Selene

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Posted 05 December 2011 - 10:13 PM

Maybe reality is not enough for some people.


What do you think is the implication of that statement for your mental health and ability to be happy?
"Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice..and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."

#15 whYNOT

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 02:15 AM

[
If you were the only person on earth, would you look for a purpose in your life? If you were the only person on earth, nothing could be wrong with you. The only flaws could be in existence--your experience.


By reverse reasoning you've discovered your own premises.
One fundamental error that you have repeated consistently, is your equivocation about the axiom of primacy of existence.
The second, admittedly commonly made, fallacy is your (above-quoted) insistence that morality is 'other-based'.

With p.o.e., there is no evasion possible - or even questioning - it just is.

With the altruist premise, you are defining your morality according to the standards of other people.

Do others determine who you are, or should be?
Or do you apply your own comprehension of reality (of Self and existence) to build your moral code?
Only one is an unswerving, rational ethics - self-made, self-directing, and reality based.
Turned around, which type of person would you rather trust with your life? One who acts reluctantly/randomly out of duty to other people (or God) or one who responds from volition and value to you as individual?

All alone, or among millions, a rational morality remains unchanging.

Tony
"To know that we know what we know, and to know that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge". Nicolaus Copernicus (An original objectivist) 1473-1543 ***No man may be smaller than his philosophy...***

#16 Dglgmut

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 09:50 AM

Maybe reality is not enough for some people.

What do you think is the implication of that statement for your mental health and ability to be happy?


Sorry, I was just guessing at where this lost sense of reality comes from; hence the "maybe." I don't think we ought to live in an imagined reality, but I think in many ways we do and should try to be aware of it.

For example, everyone must be guilty of self referential thinking... even here. That is an example of letting your imagination get away from you, wouldn't you say?

Anyway, thanks for the info... As Tony pointed out, maybe I need to look more into my definition of ethics.

Tony:

You talk about being self-directing, which I obviously agree is good and important. I don't think we let others direct us; not directly anyway. Other people, other perspectives, are what make us so obsessed with ourselves (people in general, I mean, you can exclude yourself if you want). We see reactions to our existence, and that indicates, to us, things about ourselves of which we would never be aware without those other perspectives (which, from our points of view, are entirely imagined).

On a desert island, there is no good or bad that is separate from one's own happiness or unhappiness. However, in coexistence with others, we find that what makes us happy may not be so pleasant for someone else. That knowledge creates what I've been calling ethics and morality, though, Tony, you say that ethics should come from the perspective of the individual, alone?

I think the main issue here is my muddy concept of happiness.

For example, if we find entertainment (happiness) in something, but realize that as a result of that entertainment we are making someone else unhappy, the choice is between the entertainment or the positive self-image of being a respectful person. I theorize, though, that even entertainment is about self-worth.

However, we have to be reasonable in our evaluation of ourselves... If we believe we should judge ourselves based on the happiness we bring to others, without any rational reason, then we're not going think very positively about ourselves anyways, because that's not how we really judge ourselves.

Is that more logical?

#17 whYNOT

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 12:53 PM

That knowledge creates what I've been calling ethics and morality, though, Tony, you say that ethics should come from the perspective of the individual, alone?


Well, yes - of, for, and by, the individual.

I can't recommend The Virtue of Selfishness highly enough for the full philosophical treatise.
Please read it.

(You could consider rational selfishness as your personal 'launching pad'. Everything following is up to you, and your values - and that should fill a lifetime..)


Tony
"To know that we know what we know, and to know that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge". Nicolaus Copernicus (An original objectivist) 1473-1543 ***No man may be smaller than his philosophy...***

#18 Dglgmut

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 08:12 PM

I own Atlas Shrugged, but I haven't read it yet. Waiting until I have some time off for Christmas. After that maybe I will get VoS.

But, I definitely need some clarification. You say there is no separation between emotion and rationality... Rand said to choose rationally opposed to emotionally, does that not imply a separation?

And can someone please tell me what makes one desire more rational than another?

"Since man has no automatic knowledge, he can have no automatic values; since he has no innate ideas, he can have no innate value judgments."

In this quote, what is Rand separating our humanity from? We obviously have instincts, but she doesn't consider those values? Comfort, food, warmth, ... apparently if a baby is not held within the first two weeks of its life, even if it's warm enough and fed properly, it will likely die.

Is she claiming that we are in control of what we want?

#19 Selene

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 10:53 PM

I own Atlas Shrugged, but I haven't read it yet. Waiting until I have some time off for Christmas. After that maybe I will get VoS.

But, I definitely need some clarification. You say there is no separation between emotion and rationality... Rand said to choose rationally opposed to emotionally, does that not imply a separation?

And can someone please tell me what makes one desire more rational than another?

"Since man has no automatic knowledge, he can have no automatic values; since he has no innate ideas, he can have no innate value judgments."

In this quote, what is Rand separating our humanity from? We obviously have instincts, but she doesn't consider those values? Comfort, food, warmth, ... apparently if a baby is not held within the first two weeks of its life, even if it's warm enough and fed properly, it will likely die.

Is she claiming that we are in control of what we want?


She was not clear about instincts and it always bothered me until science caught up to it and established that to a great degree she was inaccurate about "instincts."

However, the following is still accurate:

Man has no automatic code of survival. His particular distinction from all other living species is the necessity to act in the face of alternatives by means of volitional choice. He has no automatic knowledge of what is good for him or evil, what values his life depends on, what course of action it requires. Are you prattling about an instinct of self-preservation? An instinct of self-preservation is precisely what man does not possess. An “instinct” is an unerring and automatic form of knowledge. A desire is not an instinct. A desire to live does not give you the knowledge required for living. And even man’s desire to live is not automatic: your secret evil today is that that is the desire you do not hold. Your fear of death is not a love for life and will not give you the knowledge needed to keep it.


Adam
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#20 Dglgmut

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 11:17 PM

I agree with that passage, but although desire is not instinctual, it is part of us... not something we willfully attached to ourselves.

There is only one thing we fear, which is only the opposite of the one thing we want... and the two manifest themselves in many different forms.




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