trying to think

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Posts posted by trying to think

  1. Hi @Jon Letendre

    My argument (perhaps it wasn't clear enough) was that it only makes sense to think "middle-long-term", not "really-long-term", since if in the long-term consciousness doesn't survive, then values cannot apply in the really-long-term.  I don't think that your points negate that.



    2) Lifespan suggests an extent of and the contours of planning and thinking, but I don’t agree that mortality makes them impossible. One can act for the future by say, fixing a leak in one’s roof. The happiness comes later, living with a perfect roof. Yet one contemplates that future happiness and is happy right then, while performing the work.

    Even if this is correct, it rests on the notion that future happiness will come. If consciousness doesn't survive the death of the body, then there is no future happiness to contemplate. 



    And one can envision the future and be happy or unhappy with how things will be even after death. If one has friends, loved ones, children, then one can have definite, present–day preferences for the future even though one will not themselves be there. So, one might replace their roof although they will enjoy only a fraction of said new roof’s lifespan — knowing this will be their children’s home and having preferences for how things will be for their children.

    But human lifespan does suggest a limit. If we and our friends lived for a thousand years then we could know our great, great, great, (insert about 40 more greats) grandchildren. We would care how the world is going to look in 3019, even though the doctor says we will certainly die in 2019.

    In the above paragraphs you do not refute my point, but just extend the length of the "middle" period. Perhaps the "middle" period does not end with one's immediate life, but ends with the life of friends and relatives. It is nevertheless true that with their death, meaning does end. So it doesn't make sense to think "really-long-term".    


    c) No, not always. For example, the principle of avoiding theft is overcome by self–preservation when I am lost in the woods and find your stocked cabin.

    1) A question from daily-life : how do you decide in daily-life when to act by principle and when not?

    2) A philosophic question :   how do you define "a principle"? If a principle is not something to always abide by, what is the demarcation between a principle and between something you adapt for convenience's sake?


    Suppose I assert that there is just a difference of degree between the scenario in the OP, and the scenario of being lost in the woods and finding a cabin.    It is not easy to fight alone against the state; not everybody can do it. And some people would be able to survive in the woods in a Robinson-Crusoe style without stealing.  Is there anything you could reply to that?


    I understand what the definition of an absolute principle would be. An absolute principle would apply in each and every situation. I understand how would not having absolute principles be defined. But you seem to assert that a principle is something you sometimes abide by.

    Let's go again to the scenario in the OP. Suppose a person gave the name of the leaders to the authorities. He would argue that he does act on principles, only in this specific case it did not apply. What would you say to him \ to us?


    I think the idea of acting by principle is a good one. But its philosophical justification is very unclear to me.  I will read sometime the book by Branden, perhaps then we can discuss it further. 



  2. Hi @Jon Letendre,

    Thanks! It was very valuable to me. 



    Hi trying,

    I don’t think of your As far as I understand that way. It sounds like you are looking for each and every action considered in isolation to serve one’s interests. Rather, I think of choosing principles and values that generally serve rational interests and then making decisions based on adhering to the chosen principles.

    I think you nailed it. 


    . You can call it thinking long instead of short term, or thinking and acting on principle instead of circumstances of the moment.

    Ok, a few questions :

    1) Can you recommend me something to read on this issue (acting on principle rather circumstances of the moment and long term vs short term) ?

    2) I would assert that thinking long-term only makes sense in the case that the death of the physical body is not the death of our consciousness (a proposition which I personally find probable). 

    In the case that the death of the physical body is also "death" of our consciousness, thinking "long-term" does not make literal sense. Since if so, in the really-long-term, there is no consciousness, and since without consciousness there is no value, in the really-long-term, for oneself, there is no value.

    So it personally interests me how objectivists are able to think long-term without thinking "really-long-term". I do think that in the quote bellow (beginning with "I would say to my fellows"), you have demonstrated excellent long-term-thinking, far beyond my personal capabilities. So, assuming that you probably believe (correct me if I am wrong) that annihilation and lack of values is the end of everything, can you reflect how is it possible to think long-term?


    Personally, I believe that it is not possible to prove that death of the physical body is annihilation of consciousness as well.  Of course, we observe that embodied consciousness depends upon the material body and the brain. However, a disembodied consciousness is not something that we have the tools to observe. Since we lack the tools, we cannot successfully determine the proposition of complete annihilation to be true.    So, for me, real-long-term thinking is something which can exist, at least theoretically. But this theoretical possibility does not leave me with enough tools of application in concrete human-life situations. 


    c) Regarding the question on acting on principles rather than on the circumstances of the moment :

    Would you assert that one should always act on principle? 



    I would say to my fellows, “They want to destroy us and all resistance. Let us not be naive and believe they will be nice to the one among us who helps destroy us. Handing tools, info., or weapons to your destroyer is foolish. It will never end, you will be forced to spy on our side, or be exposed. You’ll be forced to do worse and worse against your fellows, each time them threatening exposure of your previous treasons to get you to commit “one more,” and on, and on it will go.”

    Excellent, and describes what actually happened in the 20th century to a much better extent than my scenario. 

  3. Hi @Michael Stuart Kelly, thank you for the answer!

    Nevertheless, I cannot find a single argument in the quotes you gave.

    The first quote describes literary tastes of Ayn Rand, the second describes the theme of We the Living. The third quote mentions that Frank O'Connor had a benevolent universe premise; good for him, but why is  the premise true?

    I want to know why the malevolent universe premise is false.

    Where do you think would be a good place to start digging? I thought that the forums would be a good one... 



    The argument from here

    "As the simplest empirical refutation of that metaphysics—as evidence of the fact that the material universe is not inimical to man and that catastrophes are the exception, not the rule of his existence—observe the fortunes made by insurance companies." 

    seems to me a very bad one, frankly.  All it means that the universe is less malevolent than is commonly believed by humans living in the 20-21 centuries. That's all.

  5. Just now, Peter said:

    Justification? I suppose it is the same answer a patriot gives when one “serves one’s country” or risks one’s life to save another human being. I may not agree with government regulations or the use of force abroad but I support my country and our Constitution. I rarely need to balance one goal against another because I have already picked one goal subconsciously and I have set out to achieve it. Everyone has a hierarchy of values and mine guides my choices.   Peter

    I am too not sure that I understand your position.

    Do you say that some values require no justification?

    I tend to believe that all values require justification.

    I am not saying that I am able to justify rationally the idea that all values require a justification. But it does seem true to me. 

    Frankly speaking, there seems to be very little grounds of discussion amongst us, if so. Between a person that feels that values require a justification (though cannot rationally justify this ;)  ), and a person who does not feel so, there is almost no common ground for discussion.

  6. 17 hours ago, Peter said:

    I will start the discussion and Trying can chime in later.


    17 hours ago, Peter said:

    I am assuming you mean East Berlin and not West Berlin in 1956.


    17 hours ago, Peter said:

    The West was liberated by the allies in 1945 while the East was consumed by a communist dictatorship. When you are under a dictatorship it is NOT moral to cooperate with them to harm another citizen. But just as with soldiers, if you are captured, locked up and then tortured or otherwise harmed, you are morally obligated “to yourself and family” to reveal enough to get yourself off the hook to the evil authorities, but without being treasonous.

    Ok, you assert that being treasonous is morally wrong. If so, I can ask how can the value of loyalty (opposite to treason) can be justified from rational self-interest?


    17 hours ago, Peter said:

    I would not rat out my friends, unless they had committed a heinous crime and were no longer my friends. 

    It seems moral, but my question is one of justification. 

  7. 17 hours ago, Jonathan said:

    You tell us. What do you think, and why?


    I'll explain where am I coming from :

    As far as I understand, an ethics of selfishness implies that an ethical action is in the rational self-interest of the acting agent (short-term or long-term).  Not giving the names of the leaders' to the authorities in East Berlin seems like a moral act to me. But I have a hard time explaining how it is moral from the point of view of rational self-interest.

    If one asserts that not giving the names of the leaders to the authorities is the rational self-interest of a person in such a situation, I would love to hear how.


    In case that you are interested in my own intuition on the subject - intuitively, it seems to me that thinking about rational self-interest in such a situation would cause one to give away the names of his friends rather than the other way around. 

    If one gives away the names of the leaders, there are lots of benefits to it, material as well as those related to social status.  On the other hand, if one withholds the names, reprecussions can be very severe.

    • Like 1
  8. Hi,

    I have watched this movie trailer, and it got me thinking.

    In the movie trailer (I have not watched the movie), a situation is described where a group of teenagers (in Berlin, 1956) hold a minute of silence in solidarity with the Hungarian Uprising. The teachers learn of this, and want to know the names of the leaders of the group; so do the state officials. The group members are threatened to tell who the leaders are. 


    It seems to me that not giving the names of the group leaders in such a case is a more virtuous choice.


    Assuming that you agree, can this be justified by an ethics of selfishness?

    If so, how?