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Everything posted by Xray

  1. I don't think you have made a mistake. For Rand verbatim said believing in God is incompatible with rationality. Sherry, your post struck a chord on a very personal level with me because I have daughter who is only two years older than your son. I have always encouraged my daughter to form her own judgement, whatever the issue. When asked (she has very often asked me and my husband for our opinion on many issues, far more than we asked our own parents), I give her my point of view, but don't impose it on her. When my husband and I left our Christian church, we did not cancel our daughter's membership together with ours, although we could have (she was still a child at that time). We wanted her to decide for herself later when she was old enough. When she was fourteen, she decided to leave the church too. As for Rand's novels, I see a certain problematic in recommending to very young persons, the reason being that people that young tend to identify strongly with the heroes/heroines in books. I find a book like THE FOUNTAINHEAD, in which the hero commits a rape, very disturbing, especially since Rand designed Roark as an "ideal man", a role model to be emulated. If I had a son, I would not want him to identify with such a "hero", nor my daughter to identify with the heroine Dominique Francon, who is so full of cold hatred, and despite appearing to be an independent woman, is pliable property in the hands of the hero. Hero and heroine are both totally devoid of empathy and bent on destroying each other. I have just started reading ATLAS SHRUGGED, and the same pattern can be observed. The heroine Dagny says of herself that she has never felt anything at all. Rearden and D'Anconia are similar. No empathy there. Dialogue between Dagny and Rearden: "I'm not broke in that sense, Hank." "I think I'm going to break you some day - in that sense." "Why?" "Because I've always wanted to." (end quote) Here it is again: the wish to destroy. Have you asked your son what he thinks of a type like Roark?
  2. Thanks Dragonfly for your comments which express in clear words what it is about. ITA agree with your assessment of the issue. So true. But wouldn't you believe it - Rand actually wrote in the afterword to Atlas Shrugged: "I trust you to that no one will tell me that men such as I write I about don't exist. That this book has been written - and published is my proof that they do." (end quote) Proof of what? Does she think such men actually "exist" in reality just because she invented them in her book? Rand can tap dance around the truth all she wants, it does not change one iota the fact that Keating & Co are fictional characters only, and therefore "exist", technically speaking, on the same level as e. g. Rumpelstilzkin, Raskolnikoff, Spiderman or Nancy Drew - as mere creations of the author's imagination. Rand even speaks of a "benevolent" universe - as if the universe were a volitional entity.
  3. Can you imagine objectivism not based on atheism? Rand claimed that belief in god is incompatible with rationality - right? Many of Rand's (and her disiciples') attacks are directed against believers in transcendence. For example, TVOS pb, p. 15, 41-42, 28, 38, 40-48, 108, 120. She considers religion as extremely detrimental because it enslaves people. I constitutes an obstacle for what she wants man to be. So yes I would say her atheism is - I'll modfiy it - one of the main pillars of her philosophy.
  4. Which sentences exactly? Please elaborare on why you think they are misstatements. Be as specific as possible. My post was in response to Christopher who wrote that he attempts to see the good in religion. Imo Rand woud have denied that there is ANY good in religion and would have fought Christopher's position tooth and a nail - don't you think so? For atheism is an integral part of her philosophy.
  5. But keep in mind that objectivism is based on atheism. Rand's atheistic belief is the main pillar her philosophy rests on. Imo one can't be an objectivist without also being an atheist. Xray - That's a three sentence post with AT LEAST two of the sentences being fundamental misstatements. Bill P Which sentences exactly? Please elaborate on why you think they are misstatements. Be as specific as possible.
  6. Rand claimed that belief in god is incompatible with rationality - right? You conceded that my last statement "One can't be an objectivst without being an atheist" is correct. Atheism is an integral part of Rand's philosophy. So where is the "gross ignorance"?
  7. "Politics is derived from an ethical base"? I suppose you are referring to Rand's statement "Every political system is based on some code of ethics." Does such a statement not imply that ethics are a subjective choice? I'd like to discus an example with you because from your posts I infer you have been there. (served in Vietnam) "Dulce et decorum est pro partia mori" was an Old Roman saying by the poet laureate Horace. A political statement based on "ethics" so to speak. The obvious purpose of the ethics was to make it easier for the soldiers to accept the realistic prospect of dying in battle. Dying in battle for one's country was even sold as "dulce" ('sweet') and the self-interest aspect, the personal reward for the alleged "altruistic" act was the "decorum" ('honor'). Imo such manipulative propaganda is as alive today as it was back then. What do you think? Please give an example of a "floating definition".
  8. Self-interest motivating us does not imply that our actions will lead us to the desired goal. Adults can misjudge a traffic situation of course. A small kid running to grab his ball which has rolled in front of an approaching ar is driven by the self-interest to retrieve the ball. The outcome may result in a successful retrieval or in an accident. Self-interest in humans is a natural condition present 100 per cent of the time. What the self-interest is varies from individual to individual. To pick up on the example you used: suppose someone tries to commit suicide, his self-interest may lead him to deliberately cross the street with the car approaching. The self-interest in that case is ending his life, preferring to be dead than alive. Not to be misunderstood: Self-interest is always a subjective issue. For example, John Doe, despite knowing about the dangers of smoking, still may continue because his self-interest leads him to prefer the kick of the nicotine as a value higher than his health. It's that simple. The contrary is the case. See my above example re smoking. That is Ayn Rand, not me. It was she who constructed the dualistic pair "selfishness" versus "altruism". My claim is that this opposition does not exist. For all humans are driven by self-interest 100 per cent of the time. Fell free to post any example of which you think this is not the case and we'll discuss it further. I'm a stickler for preciseness. Please explain to me what is "deterministic" about my claim that we are driven by self-interest 100 per cent. Your point being? Self interests can be rationally examined 'sine ira et studio' in both personal and scientific studies. Scientific studies have examined the self-interest principle many times. Random example of a personal study: I'm an educator and some days ago, to my and my colleagues' suprise, six-year-old Sally (name changed), unasked, suddenly started tidying up the large garden, collecting many sandbox playthings and deposing them in the container. "She is probably doing this because she expects a reward", we supposed. This was indeed the case. A person's choices are always subjective, and the judging (valuing or devaluing) of the choices is a subjective act too.
  9. Imo diluting the issue by a joke won't get us anywhere here. I'd prefer if we keep focused and get to the heart of the issue. Which is why I'd like you to answer my question regarding the belief in god. You wrote: And your reason has led you to which conclusion regarding the god question?
  10. Xray, I once encountered a woman who was motivated as a child to always think of what others needed or wanted or what would make them happy. She evidently was driven by wanting to be a good person by so doing. Her undoing was her aversion to allowing herself to ever, ever think in terms of "What do i want for myself?" in any context. She thus rendered herself directionless about the issue all of the rest of us address at some point, to wit, "what do I want to be when I grow up?" Instead she busied herself with helping out her family and remained close to home, ultimately living with a very normal, married sister. It is not as simple as that I am sure but there did not appear to be a selfish bone in her body although she was treated for depression and there is more to her story. gulch Thanks galtgulch for posting this example which serves as excellent illustration of the issue. My claim is that self-interest motivates every human being 100 percent of the time. In the case of the woman, imo her self-interest was to gain the appreciation of the family who obviously had indoctrinated her since childhood on the "proper" to live her life. Her own wishes may have differed, but they were traded off by her ("sacrificed", if you will - a sacrifice is always a trade-off) for a believed bigger value: to be appreciated and loved by her family. It may have appeared that she did not have a selfish bone in her body, but this is only a surface impression. Once you dig, always the self-interest motive will be found, whatever the situation. (The depression is a signal that she was unhappy with her life, but depression could also have struck e.g. a person with a totally different value system than she had).
  11. What is it in the Objectivist sense? "Selfless"? Since Rand constructs the opposition selfish vs. selfless, iut follows that if an action is not A (selfish), it must be B (selfless). I'm not at all sure about that, Chrsitopher. For example, if Rand had been concerned about what was right to "her nature as a biological organism", she would hardly have become a chain smoker. And hers was not the case of someone saying she'd like to kick the habit but couldn't. No, she actively advocated smoking.
  12. I'm not talking about "Rand's sense" because I don't accept the her claim of selfless man. I say it's impossible. This is the issue. Self-interest is always present. I read Rand's words, but see no objective validation of such a selfless man existent. Therefore, "Rand's sense" is irrelevant until a selfless man is shown to exist. Only then will I be convinced that self-interest is not 100% of the time. The issue does not depend how much I read of Rand's beyond the present points. The issue is most direct and clear. Keating asked for Roark's help. What motivated this action? If not self interest, what? The action of asking Roark for help had to be motivated by something didn't it? If not motivated by self-interest, what is left but non self-interest? How does non self-interest motivate an action?
  13. But keep in mind that objectivism is based on atheism. Rand's atheistic belief is the main pillar her philosophy rests on. Imo one can't be an objectivist without also being an atheist.
  14. I have read the afterword of the Fountainhead too. Also the Virtue of Selfishness and am going to read more. There you have it: "vanity" "greed" "ruthless egotist " Rand judges Keating. And THAT is supposed to be "selfless" ??If you believe that, then going by the logic, the sentence "What a selfless man! A vain, greedy, ruthless egotist!" would not make you wonder?
  15. 'Ethics' are as subjective as 'values'. What one person considers as unethical may not bother another person at all. It's purely personal preference with no objective criteria. Imo objectivists would deny that there exists any such thing as "ethically-good altruism". For altruism (by whichever words one may try to qualify it) is considered as anathema in their eyes. Ayn Rand would have hit the roof if you ever mentioned "God". ;) I find the topic very interesting too.
  16. An actual definition describes an entity and/or relationship. A definition is impersonal. Modification by personal preference is not definition. Nothing new here. For a five-year-old in the sandbox is already able to operate like that. He is "motivated by the concern of his self-interest" in that e. g. he does not want the other kids to trample on his mud cakes. "To be selfish is to be motivated by concern for one's self-interest", Branden says. Then he concedes that everyone in order to act, one has to be moved by a personal motive. And that personal motive IS the self-interest. Now he suddenly shifts from the basic fact of self-interest ("personal motive") to "standards" by which he claims to be able to assess whether an action is "selfish" or "unselfish". They are Rand's personal subjective standards which NB as her disciple has adopted. It is true that the fallacious idea of "altruism" has been used in the history of mankind to manipulate people into serving the self-interest of others. "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori" is an Old Roman saying by the poet laureate Horace ("It is sweet and honorable to die for one's country"). Classic propaganda, then and now: telling soldiers to put their country first. But imo the fight against "altruism" is a Don Quijote-like fight against the windmills: a non-existing phantom is being chased. Instead of analyzing and unmasking altruism as an illusionary concept, it is accepted as such unquestioned, even taken seriously as an 'adversarial philosophy' to be fought tooth and nail.
  17. Rand seriously thought her character Keating was not driven by self-interest? Then why for example did he beg Roark to help him do his work?
  18. Self-interest was present in both Keating and Roark. Self-interest as a natural condition has nothing to do with how one ends up.
  19. Do you think that Keating was not driven by self-interest/selfishness?
  20. It was the opposite of diversion. I chose a drastic example to keep the focus on what it is about. The child's welfare is in the parents' self-interest by virtue of being something they value. They act to keep that value (child), so taking care of the child is in their self-interest.
  21. How is what each values relevant? Do they not both act in self-interest in pursuit of those values no matter the similarity or difference? What does integrity have to do with it? Are they not both driven by self-interest in pursuit of their values? As for how we perceive the characters, we enter the realm of subjective validation. I personally find both Keating and Roark repulsive. Keating is a slick, cunning, manipulative type who uses others to serve his purpose. Keating is the adult version of the kid who cheats himself through school by copying from his more talented classmates. As for Roark, he is utterly devoid of empathy for anyone, is virtually unable to communicate on a human level, and is prone to acts of violence (as in the rape scene, and when he blows up the building, risking other people's lives). What happened to Rand's credo of non-initiaition of violence? Roark shares his inability to feel with several others of Rand's heroes /heroines. In Atlas Shrugged for example, Dagny Taggart says (pb, p. 30): "I guess I've never felt anything at all." There you have it again. Their inability to feel anything. Would deserve its own thread imo, to get to the heart of the matter: WHY did Rand choose cold, unfeeling (except maybe hate) heroes/heroines as role models to be emulated? (If there is already a thread on this, TIA for giving a link). What does work ethic have to do with my claim that self interest is a natural law which is present in humans 100 percent? Do you think that Keating was not driven by slef-interest/selfishness every bit as Roark? If you like. TIA for answering the question I asked in this post.
  22. Can you give an example of a personal choice which is objective? Quote from N. Branden' essay: "Selfishness entails: 1) a hierarchy of values set by the standard of one's self-interest 2)) the refusal to sacrifice a higher value to ölowerone or to a nonvalue." (end quote) So from 1)" the standard of one's self-interest (= a subjective choice, since individuals' self-interests vary) it follows that 2) the (perceived) higher values/lowervalues /nonvalues) are necessarily subjective too. When you dig deeper into the these issues you will always find self-interest as the motor behind this. Parenting is a classic example. Why are we concerned for the welfare of ourkids, and not for the kids of the Joneses? Because they are our offspring. The pattern may vary of course, including adoptive children. But the drive and impulse is the same. We see them as "our" kids, want them to thrive, etc, and are ready to make sacrifices for their welfare because they are of value to us. The fact that we would not make these sacrifices for the Jones's children is the litmus test showing our self interest as the driving force. If a mother values her child, is not the child's welfare in her self-interest by virtue of being something she values? If she acts to keep that value (child), how is taking care of the child not in her self interest?
  23. So whatever a person considers a value (or non-value) is a subjective choice. Imo by human nature, it is virtually impossible for someone to trade a (perceived) greater value for a (perceived) lesser value. If Individual A voluntarily trades an apple for an orange, Individual A values the orange more than the apple, whereas, Individual B (the other trader) values the apple more than the orange. It is always a trade-off in self interest. It can't be any other. The same goes for sacrifices of any kind. The sacrificer wants a personal profit from the sacrifice, whatever it is. I once asked Jehova's Witnesses at my door why they "sacrifice" so much of their life time to this "activity" (I deliberately chose a neutral term). The answer came promptly "Oh, we want to please God", they beamed at me. " We have his promise that we will be rewarded in an afterlife if we do his will. " There you have it. The reward aspect again. There is no such thing as altruism imo. The people Rand calls "altruists" in her novels don't put other people first. They put themselves first just as the heroes, only their approach is different. Take Peter Keating and Howard Roark in "The Fountainhead" for example. Both are motivated by self-interest 100 of the time. They only differ in the way they want to achieve their goals.