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Reconsidering Rand's Ethics

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Yes, that's the selfish gene hypothesis. It happens to be false. See Ernst Mayr's criticisms in What Evolution Is.

Mayr is a prime example of what can result from mathematical ignorance. Science moved forward, he was left behind - happens to the best of 'em.

Bob

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Yes, that's the selfish gene hypothesis. It happens to be false. See Ernst Mayr's criticisms in What Evolution Is. The gene is not the level of selection, the organism is.

The selfish gene hypothesis does not oversimplify the gene to be "the level of selection". I think you're confusing "unit of heredity" with "level of selection". Your sickle cell example introduces no contradictions or problems at all. Genes are represented in subsequent generations in relation to the selective value of their expressed or phenotypic effect.

Also, genes are not analogous to bricks, they are analogous to blueprints.

Genetic

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FWIW, I don't think it really matters to the ethics debate whether you fall into Dawkins-type camp that believes that genes have an active/causal role in evolution or the genes are simply more passive recording/historical devices keeping track of what "worked" for the organisms a la Mayr.

I think the fact that Altruism presents itself is the problem. The problem, it seems, of Altruism doesn't seem to go away if you're in the latter camp. It just means that Altruism turned out to be historically effective.

Bob

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Also, genes are not analogous to bricks, they are analogous to blueprints.

Good call. Genes are living blue prints.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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[replying to Ted Keer]:

Doesn't it become clearer to you every day, like me, that science needs philosophy more than it ever did? Physics and biology are reductionist by their nature (in my layman's opinion), and as those fields narrow increasingly, so an objective metaphysics, epistemology and ethics become ever more crucial.

Science is an immense challenge to philosophy in our time; for a philosopher, in order to be able to comment on scientific issues, will only be taken seriously by the scientific community if he/she has substantial knowledge of the subject. And since this substantial knowledge can, in most cases, only be acquired by working in the scientific profession, it is often the scientific experts themselves who will have to do the philosopher's job.

Therefore one can hardly imagine an non-mathematician writing a book about the "philosophy of mathematics".

Epistemology too has a difficult standing. Can anyone call themselves an epistemologist today without having substantial knowledge in neurobiology? Can a philosopher, can anyone, acquire at all such detailed knowledge without being a professional expert in that field? I don't think this is possible today anymore.

As for ethics, the problem has always been which values to choose, and how to justify the values chosen.

What can be observed in the history of mankind is the constant, often dramatic change of ethical standards, of moral codes, which imo makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to conceive of morality as "objective" at all.

Edited by Xray

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Also, genes are not analogous to bricks, they are analogous to blueprints.

Good call. Genes are living blue prints.

Ba'al Chatzaf

"Blueprint" isn't a good analogy. "Recipe" fares better.

See, e.g., for a brief statement on the issue.

Ellen

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Also, genes are not analogous to bricks, they are analogous to blueprints.

Good call. Genes are living blue prints.

Ba'al Chatzaf

"Blueprint" isn't a good analogy. "Recipe" fares better.

See, e.g., for a brief statement on the issue.

Ellen

In any case genes bear information that guides construction of proteins. So recipe is a pretty good analogy.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Also, genes are not analogous to bricks, they are analogous to blueprints.

Good call. Genes are living blue prints.

Ba'al Chatzaf

That line alone disqualifies both of you from considerations as authorities in this discussion on any level.

...

Genes are neither discreetly definable nor are they even unchangeable over time. Claims such as that there is a gene for altruism or homosexuality are absurdity bordering on mysticism. Claims about what single genes do as individuals are oversimplifications which achieve the level of factual accuracy only when they qualified by adding the caveat that such and such is only true about a gene according to its situation among all the other genes of the organism and its developmental history and its current state. That is, a gene, which is simply a sequence of one of four letters, is nothing outside the unitary organism as an individual with an individual history which expresses it.

Almost the same exact context-dropping fallacy which attributes to genes powers as if they caused things on their own separate from the individual organism which expresses them, lies at the bottom of the fallacy of Goedel's proof. Goedel argues that because one can devise a string of symbols which embody a contradiction if a conscious agent interprets them in a certain way, in effect, contradictions exist. He ignores the role of the interpreter, as if the symbols had some metaphysical potency on their own outside the mind of a confused individual. Goedel's proof says nothing about logic itself, only about the fallibility of logicians. Likewise, genes are things which can be examined properly in a context where one specifies all other things being equal. The selfish gene theorist simply forgets about the all other things part.

Dawkins himself is quite aware of the falseness of the claim that an individual gene has a fitness. He tried to fix it with his analogy of genes as being like rowers in racing boat crews, which coaches could select among by doing an analysis of which teams tended to win most due to having which rowers. But genes don't work additively like rowers, nor do rowers double in number or split in half like genes do during recombination. Everything comes down to traits at the level of the individual which, like the length of cleopatra's nose, are not the product of one individual gene.

The claims of Dawkins are false and absurd in their strong forms and his position has retreated over the years to be so weak as to be indistinguishable from the consensus before he published, whereas Mayr has made contributions such as his genetic species definition which are vital to modern biology, and criticism of him as mathematically ignorant is simply false and empty. I have no interest in pretending to debate with empty claims. Assert whatever you like. My desire is to make it clear that if the self-promoting popularist Dawkins' innovative theories are not even accepted as science, then there is certainly no need for laymen or philosophers to take them seriously as denying such things as the primacy of the individual at the level of the organism in ethics. I have no intention of replying further to either of the Bobs. If anyone wants to pose questions out of curiosity, I will answer them.

Edited by Ted Keer

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Here is the best short description (definition?) of a gene I have found so far.

"Every gene consists of a linear sequence of bases in a nucleic acid molecule. Genes are specified by the sequence of bases in DNA in prokaryotic, archaeal, and eukaryotic cells, and in DNA or ribonucleic acid (RNA) in prokaryotic or eukaryotic viruses. The ultimate expressions of gene function are the formation of structural and regulatory RNA molecules and proteins. These macromolecules carry out the biochemical reactions and provide the structural elements that make up cells."

From the McGraw-Hill Science Technology Dictionary.

Genetics is a very complicated science, and it makes the physics of particles and fields like unto baby activity in the playpen.

Yet for all that, the underlying physics is the electromagnetic interaction of the electron shells about nucleii working itself out. No one had done a complete reduction and it is unlikely that anyone ever will. It is just too hard.

That is why physics (both classical and quantum) happened early and molecular genetics happened late and most of what we now know has been found in the last fifty years (within the life time of many of us here).

Of living systems one can say: A living systems does two things.

1. Replication (both its global structure and its parts are replicated by electro-chemical processes).

2. Thermodynamic Regulation - Through a system of homeostatic regulators the living system can maintain itself in a far from thermodynamic equilibrium state. As long as there is sufficient energy coming in from outside the system it can maintain its state in a range of states that permits further replication and further regulation.

Dead non-reactive stuff reverts to the temperature of the ambient environment. That is why dead bodies are so cold to the touch. They assume a temperature well below the dynamically maintained temperature that warm-blood critters have. Hot dead stuff radiates its energy to the surrounding environment. A closed system eventually ends up being the same temperature throughout and is therefore unable to produce any mechanical work (that depends on having a high temperature source and a low temperature sink). Gibbs Free Energy and Helmholtz Free Energy goes to a minimum.

No closed system can remain alive, if it were alive in the first place (i.e. replicating and being far from thermodynamic equilibrium). It must always have a source outside itself with lots high grade energy, so-called thermodynamic free energy (i.e. capable of doing work). A living system has to be able to suck thermodynamic free energy from its surround. And that is why living systems are NOT self contained and self generating. They are, however, self regulating.

For the definition of thermodynamic free energy see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_energy_(thermodynamics)

Ba'al Chatzaf

Edited by BaalChatzaf

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My desire is to make it clear that if the self-promoting popularist Dawkins' innovative theories are not even accepted as science, then there is certainly no need for laymen or philosophers to take them seriously as denying such things as the primacy of the individual at the level of the organism in ethics. I have no intention of replying further to either of the Bobs. If anyone wants to pose questions out of curiosity, I will answer them.

I think that we can run with the primacy of the individual (or at least in an "action" sense). We can dismiss the gene's ability to act on its own - I'm fine with that. I also never disputed at all that gene interactions are not complex both in relation to other genes and environmental factors.

The point you avoid addressing is that it still doesn't follow that the Organism's standard of value is (or should be) its own singular life. This is simply incorrect and is falsifiable everywhere in nature, not just humans.

The organism can still hold it's genetic recipe or blueprint as it's highest value. Look at nature and find the answer. Philosophy is irrelevant if it contradicts reality.

Bob

Edited by Bob_Mac

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This is one of the things that seems so obvious but I'm interested in other opinions.

In the animal kingdom we see almost universal and quite often extreme altruism/sacrifice. Lower animals (insects) often have strategies that have infertile "workers" and "soldiers" defending a single "queen" to the death. Higher animals we find an extreme dedication to the young and closely related relatives. Humans included in this group too have a largely uniform emotional attachment and sacrifice potential in close relation to kinship in the same way.

What is at the root of this? Well it doesn't matter if we know that it's the genetics that serves as the focus of behaviour or something else. The simple FACT is that humans and other living things DO NOT put individual life as the sole, highest, or primary value. It doesn't matter to ethics exactly why this is, it just IS what we are. Look.

Bob

Edited by Bob_Mac

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What is at the root of this? Well it doesn't matter if we know that it's the genetics that serves as the focus of behaviour or something else. The simple FACT is that humans and other living things DO NOT put individual life as the sole, highest, or primary value. It doesn't matter to ethics exactly why this is, it just IS what we are. Look.

Bob

No, incorrect, Bob. It is not what we, you and I, are - it is what our species is.

Thankfully, each man has the capability of volition, of choosing between social or genetic collectivism, and individualism.

If it's benevolent treatment of fellow men that absorbs you, entertain the notion, just for one moment, of a person altruistically dedicated to the genetic 'welfare' of Man's future, with all the connotations that that involves. An egoist is Mother Teresa compared to him.

Tony

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Bob, your newfound interest in biology is adorable. Genetics was one of my favorite classes, after Plant Ecology, Organismic Physiology, and Invertebrate Zoology with Dr. Loveland.

I have an interesting and profound question for you. Is the genetic code arbitrary or not?

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Bob, your newfound interest in biology is adorable. Genetics was one of my favorite classes, after Plant Ecology, Organismic Physiology, and Invertebrate Zoology with Dr. Loveland.

I have an interesting and profound question for you. Is the genetic code arbitrary or not?

Arbitrary refers to human expression. The genetic structure is what it is. Referring to it as a code or a body of information is already an interpretation of a natural fact. Everything in the world is physical and everything works according to its physical nature.

My understanding of the biology of inheritance is sparse and superficial. Perhaps in another life I will go into it more deeply. Right now I have enough to do with understanding basic physical interactions and mathematics both of which are simpleton exercises compared to biological theory.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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No, incorrect, Bob. It is not what we, you and I, are - it is what our species is.

Thankfully, each man has the capability of volition, of choosing between social or genetic collectivism, and individualism.

If it's benevolent treatment of fellow men that absorbs you, entertain the notion, just for one moment, of a person altruistically dedicated to the genetic 'welfare' of Man's future, with all the connotations that that involves. An egoist is Mother Teresa compared to him.

Tony

Here's the thing. Man is dedicated to his OWN genes, not to some socialistic evil collectivist society, or the genetic welfare of man's future. Well, to the latter at least a smaller degree.

Because your genes are present in your children, siblings, and your spouse is a replication enabler, we develop strong affinities and behave altruistically toward others in a generally decreasing way in relation to kin distance. There's a little more to it than that, but in simple terms this is reasonably accurate.

To me this seems practically self-evident with even the slightest observation of reality. What am I missing??

Bob

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The bottom line is that neither the facts of genetics nor the second law of thermodynamics pose any problem for Rand's individualistic ethics. Survival, values, and volitional action are all aspects of the individual. Rand holds the proper Stoic position that one most act according to one's nature. She runs into problems by acting as if human nature is properly analyzed at the species level - what is proper for "man." Individual variation is the name of the game in biology. Treating species as types is Platonic thinking, which Mayr criticizes at length. What is necessary is for each person to discover his own nature through introspection and experimentation and to develop an integrated code of values from the bottom up based on his own nature, not from the top down by rationalist deduction from some Platonic ideal of human nature.

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.

Let me add the highly-informed view of Susan Oyama in The Ontogeny of Information (1985 page citations; 2000).

The gene as creative mind made intelligible what was most disquieting about living things while apparently absolving us of the charge of vitalism. As human intention explains orderly, sequential, goal-directed action, action that can be flexibly altered according to circumstances and opportunity, as choices made with foresight and purpose explain constancy, change and variation in human conduct and creation, so does the gene explain constancy and flexibility in biological form and process. . . .

One of the consequences of endowing the gene with these subject-like powers is that our ideas of freedom and possibility, never that clear, are further muddled. . . . (78–79)

Genes are not just “in” an organism, and organisms are not just “in” an environment. Rather, ontogenetic processes, reliable or not, adaptive or not, behavioral or physiological, are a function of . . . the coimplicative relationship of organism and niche. . . . Evolutionary theory eventually requires an understanding of the constraints on the organism at all stages of its life; relations within the genome, between developing tissues, and among organisms can be seen in similarly interdependent ways. . . . To understand an organism is to understand just these relationships, and to understand its phylogenesis is to trace their history. Because the internal and external worlds are highly organized, it is not necessary (nor would it be possible) for evolution to “work on” causally self-contained units, chunks of matter emanating one-way streams of information and influence. Natural selection creates nothing in a conventional sense, however easily it may be thought of as a force or entity. It is a summary of many failures and successes. Selection is not an artificer that makes organisms. It does not even make genomes which then make organisms. . . . It is the result of many developmental systems “making” themselves and playing out their few or many ontogenetic interactions, subject to constraints and contingencies at every moment, at every level. (137)

If we give up the gene as unmoved mover, it becomes a variable/constraint like any other. Its mechanisms are no less marvelous for being enmeshed in phenotypic processes; indeed, it is only in the phenotypic arena that its marvels are revealed. The ghost in the cellular machine doesn’t make the machine, and it doesn’t make the machine run. The cell exists and it runs “by itself.” Part of its running is a matter of gene activation. Another part is its own structure and the context in which that structure persists or changes. The organismic machine is made of cells but its running is not solely a matter of individual cellular programs; its programs, rules, and information are of a higher level and interact with those on lower levels. All these metaphors for the functioning of the living entity are only that: attempts to convey the nature of vital processes whose order evolves with and has no existence prior to, or apart from, those processes.

. . . Genes are not Aristotelian entelechies, nor are they Platonic ideals, essence to mere phenotypic appearance, signal to environmental noise. Nor yet are they selfish little phantoms, scanning the ecological horizon for reproductive gain and operating the levers and relays that make us work, or miniature representations of our phylogenetic ancestors, lodged perhaps in our limbic systems and flooding our nervous systems with animal passions and our ears with irrational whisperings. The ghost must be integrated into the machine, and when the cognitive and causal functions (final, formal and efficient causes) are wedded with the matter (material cause) that houses them, the necessary synthesis will be accomplished and the need for a ghost will vanish. (138–39)

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.

Let me add the highly-informed view of Susan Oyama in The Ontogeny of Information (1985 page citations; 2000).

The gene as creative mind made intelligible what was most disquieting about living things while apparently absolving us of the charge of vitalism. As human intention explains orderly, sequential, goal-directed action, action that can be flexibly altered according to circumstances and opportunity, as choices made with foresight and purpose explain constancy, change and variation in human conduct and creation, so does the gene explain constancy and flexibility in biological form and process. . . .

One of the consequences of endowing the gene with these subject-like powers is that our ideas of freedom and possibility, never that clear, are further muddled. . . . (78–79)

Genes are not just "in" an organism, and organisms are not just "in" an environment. Rather, ontogenetic processes, reliable or not, adaptive or not, behavioral or physiological, are a function of . . . the coimplicative relationship of organism and niche. . . . Evolutionary theory eventually requires an understanding of the constraints on the organism at all stages of its life; relations within the genome, between developing tissues, and among organisms can be seen in similarly interdependent ways. . . . To understand an organism is to understand just these relationships, and to understand its phylogenesis is to trace their history. Because the internal and external worlds are highly organized, it is not necessary (nor would it be possible) for evolution to "work on" causally self-contained units, chunks of matter emanating one-way streams of information and influence. Natural selection creates nothing in a conventional sense, however easily it may be thought of as a force or entity. It is a summary of many failures and successes. Selection is not an artificer that makes organisms. It does not even make genomes which then make organisms. . . . It is the result of many developmental systems "making" themselves and playing out their few or many ontogenetic interactions, subject to constraints and contingencies at every moment, at every level. (137)

If we give up the gene as unmoved mover, it becomes a variable/constraint like any other. Its mechanisms are no less marvelous for being enmeshed in phenotypic processes; indeed, it is only in the phenotypic arena that its marvels are revealed. The ghost in the cellular machine doesn't make the machine, and it doesn't make the machine run. The cell exists and it runs "by itself." Part of its running is a matter of gene activation. Another part is its own structure and the context in which that structure persists or changes. The organismic machine is made of cells but its running is not solely a matter of individual cellular programs; its programs, rules, and information are of a higher level and interact with those on lower levels. All these metaphors for the functioning of the living entity are only that: attempts to convey the nature of vital processes whose order evolves with and has no existence prior to, or apart from, those processes.

. . . Genes are not Aristotelian entelechies, nor are they Platonic ideals, essence to mere phenotypic appearance, signal to environmental noise. Nor yet are they selfish little phantoms, scanning the ecological horizon for reproductive gain and operating the levers and relays that make us work, or miniature representations of our phylogenetic ancestors, lodged perhaps in our limbic systems and flooding our nervous systems with animal passions and our ears with irrational whisperings. The ghost must be integrated into the machine, and when the cognitive and causal functions (final, formal and efficient causes) are wedded with the matter (material cause) that houses them, the necessary synthesis will be accomplished and the need for a ghost will vanish. (138–39)

Yes.

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The bottom line is that neither the facts of genetics nor the second law of thermodynamics pose any problem for Rand's individualistic ethics.

No way. If man is in any way "programmed" to act in his genetic interest, and not just personal, then this will significantly alter how he will act, especially wrt kin. Your dismissal doesn't fly.

Bob

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What is necessary is for each person to discover his own nature through introspection and experimentation and to develop an integrated code of values from the bottom up based on his own nature, not from the top down by rationalist deduction from some Platonic ideal of human nature.

Ok, let's go with this for a bit.

Studies have shown a physiological reward, similar to narcotic response (inherent and not learned) in response to altruistic behaviour.

Therefore, a vast majority of people should adopt a partially altruistic morality "from the bottom up based on his own nature".

Rands ethics are dead no matter what. Well, unless reality isn't important that is.

Bob

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Here is a video by Bruce Lipton I posted in another thread that give examples of lower-level organisms ignoring their own genes as they adapt to their environment, and even functioning well when their DNA has been amputated.

There are some intriguing questions that this stuff dredges up.

Whether people agree or not with Lipton's conclusions about belief (and how thoughts can affect genes), he is a bona fide cell biologist with lots of works published in peer-reviewed scientific journals and, apparently, he was cloning cells many years before stem cell biology became a thing. Here is his CV: Curriculum Vita of Bruce H. Lipton.

A word of warning. Some inspirational speakers use Lipton's work as grounds for their own mystical speculations (often with Lipton's blessing). Don't let that keep you from looking at his scientific facts (nor his criticism of scientific dogma, which is often presented with it's own religious zeal even as it later reverses itself). They are fascinating.

Here is a video of a lecture Dr. Bruce Lipton did, but I can't tell you precisely when or where. It is presented by a firm called Spirit 2000 and the person introducing him looks like Doug Parks, who has a radio show called Science for Life (and Lipton mentioned "Doug" in the video). From taking hints in the video and bouncing around all over the Internet, I think this lecture took place in 2001 at a Caring Center International talk (this is a support group for AIDS victims) in Memphis TN, but I can't be sure.

The video is called The New Biology - Where Mind and Matter Meet. It's free and Lipton uploaded it to Google Video himself. (I first saw it on DVD, though.) It runs over 2 1/2 hours, so set aside some time. I assure you, you will not regret it (but be careful not to be turned off by the first 5 minutes or so which is a bit lame--when Lipton gets going, it gets really interesting). On the contrary, after seeing this lecture, you will have much more solid biological grounds for evaluating Rand's conclusions, even if you dismiss Lipton's final destination. It's like an overview (and a very thorough introduction) to cell biology and perception.

<embed id=VideoPlayback src=http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=-8506668136396723343&hl=en&fs=true style=width:400px;height:326px allowFullScreen=true allowScriptAccess=always type=application/x-shockwave-flash> </embed>

<embed id=VideoPlayback src=http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=-6568107389365915765&hl=en&fs=true style=width:400px;height:326px allowFullScreen=true allowScriptAccess=always type=application/x-shockwave-flash> </embed>

Michael

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.

Bob Mac, concerning #46,

“If you own a bottle of milk and give it to your starving child, it is not a sacrifice; if you give it to your neighbor’s child and let your own die, it is” (AS 1028).

Like Nietzsche before her, Rand presumed higher valuation of one’s own offspring over others to be the correct hierarchy (leaving aside when they get older and may prove bad seed). Those two thinkers seem to just take it as part of the normal constitution of a parent, and Rand seems to see the high priority of caring for one’s children as simply part of trueness to one’s own constitution, to one’s self.

As far as helping others more generally by devoting time, effort, or money to their uses instead of to one’s own, it would not necessarily amount to living for the sake of others. I mean it would not necessarily be answering the question “For what are you living?” with the answer: for service to others. Do you agree with Rand that that answer is an incorrect ideal (of behavior) for all people?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

PS

Bob, you wrote in #46:

Studies have shown a physiological reward, similar to narcotic response (inherent and not learned) in response to altruistic behaviour.

Therefore, a vast majority of people should adopt a partially altruistic morality "from the bottom up based on his own nature".

It seems likely that nearly every adult responds positively and protectively to any infant or small child whom they encounter. But surely that is not sufficient for such adults to infer they should become parents.

In interpersonal relations more generally, isn’t it more authentic to simply respond to others themselves in helping them—to weigh the value they present among our other possible actions towards other value—than to help them because such occasions of helping make us feel good, and we have reflected that that feeling was the one to act on among our possible choices for feeling good?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

PPS

I hope you have time to respond also to the query from Ellen in #53 below. In regard to that, some thoughts of Emerson on benevolence and determinism may be of interest.

“All evil is so much death or nonentity. Benevolence is absolute and real. So much benevolence as a man hath, so much life hath he.” (1838)

“The Buddhist who thanks no man, who says, ‘do not flatter your benefactors’, but who in his conviction that every good deed can by no possibility escape its reward, will not deceive the benefactor by pretending that he has done more than he should, is a Transcendentalist. / . . . The squirrel hoards nuts, and the bee gathers honey, without knowing what they do, and they are thus provided for without selfishness or disgrace. / . . . [Transcendentalism] is the presentiment of a faith proper to man in his integrity, excessive only when his imperfect obedience hinders the satisfaction of his wish.” (1841)

Emerson's determinism may be a little unstable. Then again, perhaps “imperfect obedience” should not be taken as free choice against perfect trueness to the mark.

Edited by Stephen Boydstun

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“If you own a bottle of milk and give it to your starving child, it is not a sacrifice; if you give it to your neighbor’s child and let your own die, it is” (AS 1028).

Like Nietzsche before her, Rand presumed higher valuation of one’s own offspring over others to be the correct hierarchy (leaving aside when they get older and may prove bad seed). Those two thinkers seem to just take it as part of the normal constitution of a parent, and Rand seems to see the high priority of caring for one’s children as simply part of trueness to one’s own constitution, to one’s self.

Surely you will know that Rand also said that for the mother who values buying a hat over feeding her child, choosing to feed the child instead of buying a hat IS a sacrifice, for she traded in a higher value (the hat) for a lower value (feeding her child).

What do you make of such blatant contradictions? For quite obviously Rand wanted to have her objective value cake and subjectively eat it it too.

But one can't have it both ways.

As far as helping others more generally by devoting time, effort, or money to their uses instead of to one’s own, it would not necessarily amount to living for the sake of others. I mean it would not necessarily be answering the question “For what are you living?” with the answer: for service to others. Do you agree with Rand that that answer is an incorrect ideal (of behavior) for all people?

Which means that all our actions are motivated by self-interest. For we all want to gain something through our actions.

The impulse to gain drives us all, without exception. Which is why the tycoon wanting to gain billions is exactly on the same level, in terms of self-interest, as the believer wanting to gain eternal bliss in heaven.

The bottom line is that neither the facts of genetics nor the second law of thermodynamics pose any problem for Rand's individualistic ethics.

Actually the second law of thermodynamics posed a huge problem for Rand's ethics. So much that she had her heroes dismiss it as a mere "story" in AS. Don't you recall the dialogue between Dagny and Rearden there?

Edited by Xray

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The bottom line is that neither the facts of genetics nor the second law of thermodynamics pose any problem for Rand's individualistic ethics.

No way. If man is in any way "programmed" to act in his genetic interest, and not just personal, then this will significantly alter how he will act, especially wrt kin. Your dismissal doesn't fly.

Bob

Fine. If you are programmed to believe that you are programmed to believe certain things, I will not attempt to argue with you. Both of you Bob's begin with the premise that Rand's ethics is wrong, and then assert pseudo-scientifc nonsense to support your views. Maybe you are programmed to do this, but I suspect the problem is better described as rationalization on the part of each of you as individual organisms, rather than as a result of the sequence of nucleotides on your 21st chromosomes.

Edited by Ted Keer

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