Arkadi

giving one's life in battle

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14 hours ago, Arkadi said:

Brant--"What you do or don't do is all on you"--How is it different when no force is present? On whom "what you do or do not do" is, then, if not on you??? As to your "practical considerations": are your claiming that a situation in which the only way one can save one's life is to put others at high (if not 100%)  risk of losing it, never ever can happen?

It's still on you, of course, in terms of consequences. My first statement was not meant to say that there was no moral opprobrium or consequences on the initiators of force, only that there was none on you save your self evaluation. I shouldn't have confused this by using "all" without this qualification.

If you think Objectivism is deficient in dealing with these issues what "ism" would you prefer? Humanism? That would really put you at sea.

You can use the Socratic method until the cows come home and still end up knowing his "nothing." It will always devolve to, "There more things in heaven and earth then are dremt of in your philosophy, Horatio." In the aggregate Ayn Rand was not a wise woman. She was too unbalanced by her big brain and serious ego needs. In a difficult situation "What would Rand do" or "What sayeth Objectivism" or "What would John Galt do" would only be secondary input to your action or actions or even lack of action. You are primary, not this other stuff except for some help with clarity if you have the time. It's a conflict between authority and ego but not if you stick rationality into the situation--yours--and if that's anything it's Objectivism. (It's not Randism. Randism is much more about the supremacy of ego than rationality. That's her art. Her last novel was an in between mishmash. "Objectivism" was (is) a build up out of Galt's speech.)

--Brant

(If you don't tell people English is your second language when reading you they won't be able to tell--I suggest you stop worrying about "nuance.":))

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13 hours ago, Arkadi said:

NB: Korczak was not "risking" his live. He had freely chosen to be put into a situation in which their was no reasonable prospect to survive.

His choices were:

1) Stay with the children and provide what comfort to them as he could knowing that he would likely die but hoping that maybe he could save one or more of them including himself or that someone else might step in and save one or more of them if he were there to negotiate for them.

2) Accept sanctuary knowing that those children were left without his leadership, without any help or hope that he might have given them in their last days.  He would have also known that they died knowing he had abandoned them.

He chose what was of highest value to him and that choice happened to have shortened his life span. 

This thread is riddled with emotion (orphans dying in gas chambers, mother's dying for their children, young warriors going off to war, spies becoming traitors, good gawd), but it all comes down to a simple value equation. Value hierarchies are well documented.

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dldelancey-- "Stay with the children and provide what comfort to them as he could knowing that he would likely die"--Exactly. "but hoping that maybe he could save one or more of them including himself"--Of these "hopes" of his we know nothing; you may imagine he had them, if you wish, but this would be creating a fiction. --"He chose what was of highest value to him"--True. "and that choice happened to have shortened his life span"--No, it did not just "happened" so, but "shortening" (and drastically at that) his lifespan was integral to the choice he opted for.-- "This thread is riddled with emotion"--I see absolutely no "emotions" in the thread; perhaps your perception of my illustrations is emotional but this is another matter. "but it all comes down to a simple value equation. Value hierarchies are well documented"--I also think so. I just do not see how these documented value hierarchies square with Objectivist ethical standard.

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15 hours ago, Arkadi said:

Or, if you wish, here is a case when decision was taken with no force present. I am wondering how it would fare against the standards of Objectivist ethics: "On 5 or 6 August 1942, German soldiers came to collect the 192 orphans (there is some debate about the actual number: it may have been 196), and about one dozen staff members, to transport them to Treblinka extermination camp. Korczak had been offered sanctuary on the “Aryan side” by Żegota but turned it down repeatedly, saying that he could not abandon his children. On 5 August he again refused offers of sanctuary, insisting that he would go with the children. He stayed with the children all the way until the end... Most likely, Korczak, along with Wilczyńska and most of the children, was killed in a gas chamber upon their arrival at Treblinka." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janusz_Korczak

You are throwing up these one after the other, to prove what, exactly? You seem to miss the point. The values which benefit men in so many ways, do have to be lived up to, and it isn't always a walk in the park. But each value is a chosen part of one's own life and consciousness, 'sell out' just one and all the rest is vulnerable.

In every scenario only ask yourself this: was this man's action 'selfless'? Or was it the result of a selfish value perceived in the children and remained loyal to no matter what - and that is rational egoism. If he'd turned his back on the children in disregard of his values, that would be self-sacrificial. First for (later) knowing of their horrific end alone, second for having to live with his weakness always thereafter.

(With benefit of hindsight - and The History Channel - it's facile to trace the consequences - like, deaths - backwards to presumed 'causes'. I've read of and heard too many accounts otherwise. In a fierce battle, a soldier believes he won't be the one to be shot; no matter how desperate the situation, men and women always hang onto hope. Personally I've been in shooting situations where I had an irrational faith a camera would protect me - denial, iow. It's human nature to cling to the best outcomes: "They don't mean it. Nobody can be so evil. We'll survive. I'm too good to die". I've noticed Arkady that you seem to overlook the fact that one, without hindsight, can never really know the consequences. Like this man Korczak who could not forsee his death with certainty, all one can do is stay true to one's values, and to hell with the rest). 

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Anthony--"You are throwing up these one after the other, to prove what, exactly?"--I am surprised you're asking this after my saying repeatedly that I am not proving or disproving anything but just trying to clarify for myself how Objectivist ethical standard applies to or fits with a particular class of cases.

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7 minutes ago, Arkadi said:

Anthony--"You are throwing up these one after the other, to prove what, exactly?"--I am surprised you're asking this after my saying repeatedly that I am not proving or disproving anything but just trying to clarify for myself how Objectivist ethical standard applies to or fits with a particular class of cases.

I concede you have said this. But I gather you are not convinced, and I think won't be by examples. They are principles, which I don't think can be induced from selected scenarios, especially such extreme life or death cases. It all starts from man and his nature...

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Anthony--"I gather you are not convinced"--I am not convinced when you say that the cases like the ones I present "never actually happen" (which is precisely what motivated me to bring in new cases, in the hope that you would acknowledge those, at least, as actually happening). --"principles, which I don't think can be induced from selected scenarios"--I totally agree with this. I was trying not to "induce principles for the scenarios" but, on the contrary, see how certain principles (set by Rand) apply to particular scenarios.

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Arkadi,

I've stayed out of this because I know where these discussions go.

But who knows this time?

There is a category mistake you are making when you proclaim what Rand meant. You are making a switcheroonie between goal and standard. (NB discusses this somewhere, I don't have a link off the top of my head.)

Before going further, though, I'll wait to see if you try to figure out what I just said or you are only interested in catching Rand with an inconsistency. I've had way too many conversations of the second type (before I learned it was a gotcha game only) and they always go nowhere intellectual.

Michael

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Michael--Of course I'm trying to figure out what Rand meant! I've no interest in "catching" anybody in inconsistency. However, the answers I've been getting so far were strikingly evasive as regards addressing my questions directly or showing why exactly these questions are invalid if they are. I am certainly willing to see my mistakes. That's the whole point of being on a philosophical forum. Now, your statement that my mistake is switching "between goal and standard" is promising but cryptic. What is the "goal" you have in mind and how am I switching it with the standard (which, I assume, is individual life)? I hope you understand, that if it were self-evident to me that this is what I am doing I would not be doing it. So, if you're willing to help (which I would greatly appreciate) some explanation is needed.

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TO RECAP: I've presented a series of cases which on my (admittedly, superficial) knowledge of Rand's ethical theory fall under what she calls "altruism." I did no come here to argue for or against anything. I came to hear from the people who know Rand's theory better than me whether my guess about those cases' assessment from the perspective of that theory was correct. What I hear instead are attempts to dismiss the cases themselves as unreal, "never happening" etc. Where is on all this a "switcheroonie between goal and standard" on my part???

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24 minutes ago, Arkadi said:

Where is on all this a "switcheroonie between goal and standard" on my part???

Arkadi,

I'll merely repeat what I said. Try to figure it out. Why? Because you've got one part of Rand's theory without the other and calling foul on the part for not being the whole.

This is a thinking mistake gotcha people cling to with everything inside them. Why? Because it destroys the gotcha.

I'm not saying you're a gotcha person. I'm just saying if you show no interest in this deficiency (incompleteness), you probably are caught up in gotcha. And that, to me, after gobs of such interactions, is no longer interesting.

Michael

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Arkadi: I told you at the beginning of your thread it was off on the wrong foot by not actually properly referencing Rand. That had no effect so I then gave you a Leonard Peikoff reference. No joy. There are a few people on OL who think they can do the Rand qua Rand orthodoxy thing with you. I am not one of them. However, if you come up with real Rand material and not simply your "superficial" understanding of it, a lot of us can give it a proper go, but that's Objectivism not Objectivism and beyond Objectivism. One is the ivory tower and the other that plus reality applied. You have neglected the former vitiating the latter. There's a reason many if not most of us here no longer--if they ever did--call themselves "Objectivist." I use to, but had to keep telling any interested I was not that kind of Objectivist. Anthony is the only poster here I can think of being Orthodox, but even he comes with some caveats about parts of the philosophy.

Since Rand never wrote a book on Objectivism, read the one Peikoff did. That's the quickest way to get up to speed.

--Brant

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Michael--I showed my interest as much as I could by humbly asking for help. I could be helped by referring me to a particular part of Rand's theory which I missed. Apparently, you're not willing to do this. That one should not confuse goal and standard is not specific to Rand's theory and saying that I am committing this mistake without indicating how precisely I do it does not help. NB: I am not blaming anybody. Nobody here (or anywhere) has an obligation to help me (or anybody).

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Brant--I am addressing people who studied Rand enough to know better than me what she meant, regardless of whether they agree with her or not. Of course I can read lots of books by myself, as you guys did, but I thought forums are, among other things, for those in the know to share what they know with those who want to know but have not yet time to learn, thus sparing the latter precious time (give that one's individual lifespan is rather limited).

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1 hour ago, Arkadi said:

TO RECAP: I've presented a series of cases which on my (admittedly, superficial) knowledge of Rand's ethical theory fall under what she calls "altruism." I did no come here to argue for or against anything. I came to hear from the people who know Rand's theory better than me whether my guess about those cases' assessment from the perspective of that theory was correct. What I hear instead are attempts to dismiss the cases themselves as unreal, "never happening" etc. Where is on all this a "switcheroonie between goal and standard" on my part???

That's what we've been trying to tell you.  Your cases do NOT fall under the definition of altruism.  Choosing a higher value over a lesser one is NOT altruism.  Making a seemingly impossible decision in the event of an emergency is NOT altruism. 

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3 hours ago, Arkadi said:

Anthony--"I gather you are not convinced"--I am not convinced when you say that the cases like the ones I present "never actually happen" (which is precisely what motivated me to bring in new cases, in the hope that you would acknowledge those, at least, as actually happening). --"principles, which I don't think can be induced from selected scenarios"--I totally agree with this. I was trying not to "induce principles for the scenarios" but, on the contrary, see how certain principles (set by Rand) apply to particular scenarios.

Altruism sets as its 'standard', "the other", a vague mass of people to whom everyone should sacrifice his values. This is not an explicit quote by Rand but I think it's safe to infer this. Altruists would have it that, properly, it should not be some other - whom you value, care for, like or love - who benefits, or that you find and derive any value from your acts. Or even whom you feel pity for and want to help. In their world, the service or self-sacrifice must be completely for the sake of 'the other' without selfish reward, i.e. value.

If you grasp that altruism means for the destruction of selfhood and values, values which can only be held by an individual 'valuer', it starts to make sense.

Please, I have my own imagination and have quite good knowledge of history. When I say these things hardly ever happen, I take it against the perspective of such high rarity in any one person's life - the individual, not as a historical collective - that one is faced with a choice of life or death - you, against another valued person, ideal, country, etc. As you've heard here in many ways, even in extremis one's values should not be deserted, but one's life and continued living remains top value. It's a morality for living on earth, not for dying in hell. If such a rare occurence under physical force does come up, then all bets are off and you do what you wish. And sure, rationally and selfishly, without contradiction, a mother we heard from would risk her life in an instant, because life would be insupportable for her without her child.

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dldelancey--Thanks! I grant it that you (namely, all my respondents here) were trying to say this; however, this is the first time that somebody has actually said this. Now, of course, I would like to know, what is it precisely that makes one's opting for a situation in which one's lifespan is, in all likelihood, to be drastically shortened, non-altruistic in this kind of cases as opposed to other cases (which I'd love to see, also, exemplified) in which it would be, on the contrary, altruistic.

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Anthony-- "When I say these things hardly ever happen, I take it against the perspective of such high rarity in any one person's life"--When I think of altruism as you (and Rand) define it, namely, as "setting as its 'standard', "the other", a vague mass of people to whom one should sacrifice one's values," I have precisely the same difficulty, namely, that of identifying people with such an attitude in my personal life. Is this attitude really widespread in the West? I, for one, have never met anybody having it even in USSR. I would thus appreciate somebody giving some graphic examples (as graphic as the cases that I presented) to illustrate this concept. "the service or self-sacrifice must be completely for the sake of 'the other' without selfish reward"--Here my question is: why would not a psychological satisfaction of having fulfilled one's duty (however understood) count as such reward? "sure, rationally and selfishly a mother you heard from would risk her life in an instant, because life would be insupportable for her without her kid"--How does it differ from somebody choosing to die rather than become a traitor because life as a traitor would be unsupportable to him? NB: these questions are not at all rhetorical on my part; they come from the uncertainty of the previous responses that I was getting.

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p.s--Anthony--And BTW, would it not be reasonable to think that for a mother under question, her "selfish reward" be the psychological satisfaction from knowing that she's letting her kid live?

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31 minutes ago, Arkadi said:

dldelancey--Thanks! I grant it that you (namely, all my respondents here) were trying to say this; however, this is the first time that somebody has actually said this. Now, of course, I would like to know, what is it precisely that makes one's opting for a situation in which one's lifespan is, in all likelihood, to be drastically shortened, non-altruistic in this kind of cases as opposed to other cases (which I'd love to see, also, exemplified) in which it would be, on the contrary, altruistic.

It is non-altruistic when the the chooser has chosen a higher value over a lesser one.  It is altruistic when the chooser has chosen a lesser value over a higher one.  Are you purposely being obtuse or can you really not imagine a specific situation in your own life where you could apply this principle?

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3 minutes ago, Arkadi said:

p.s--Anthony--And BTW, would it not be reasonable to think that for a mother under question, her "selfish reward" be the psychological satisfaction from knowing that she's letting her kid live?

Yes.  Wholeheartedly yes.

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1 hour ago, Arkadi said:

Brant--I am addressing people who studied Rand enough to know better than me what she meant, regardless of whether they agree with her or not. Of course I can read lots of books by myself, as you guys did, but I thought forums are, among other things, for those in the know to share what they know with those who want to know but have not yet time to learn, thus sparing the latter precious time (give that one's individual lifespan is rather limited).

Arkadi: I read AS in the summer of 1963. What I am today took 50 more years. My motivation in posting as I do here is primarily to save newbies most of that time respecting their philosophical bearings and orientation, not to instruct on the details of the philosophy. For one thing, I am not a philosopher and do not presume expertise I do not have. I do best with clarification. That's why I write little on metaphysics and epistemology. I merely state that's reality plus reason and is common to proper scientific methodology. That's two of the very basic principles of Objectivism. The other two are rational self interest (ethics) and laissez-fair capitalism (freedom/individual rights). Unlike Rand, as far as I know, I linked each sequentially to the inherent individualism of a thinking mind--hence the primacy of the individual--but in the ethics and politics you need to build on that respecting human social existence for we are social animals.  This leads us out of deductive absolutism (and perfection) into the myriad empirical considerations--or the build off the foundation. The foundation of Objectivism is rock solid and perfect, but exceedingly simple.

--Brant

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dldlancey--"Are you purposely being obtuse"--This sounds insulting. Are you ever "purposely obtuse"? If so, please do not project. If not, please do not insult (I assume you did this unintentionally, being grabbed by some emotion). "can you really not imagine a specific situation in your own life where you could apply this principle"--I can imagine myself choosing a lesser value over the greater one only when the former is momentarily appealing, i.e., promising immediate pleasure. I cannot imagine suffering to have such an appeal for me.

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p.s. dldelancey:  "It is altruistic when the chooser has chosen a lesser value over a higher one" --On your definition, it turns out that someone destroying one's health by, say, immoderately consuming ice-cream is an altruist. If so, there are, of course, lots of altruists around (of whom I am them first). But are you sure that Rand was including such cases under "altruism"?

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p.p.s. dldlancey: " would it not be reasonable to think that for a mother under question, her "selfish reward" be the psychological satisfaction from knowing that she's letting her kid live?--Yes.  Wholeheartedly yes."-- But what grounds there are to say that the value of such a psychological gratification is OBJECTIVELY higher than that of continuing to live without your kid? What if, just in the case of consuming ice-cream, it only momentarily seems to be higher?

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