merjet

Galt's Oath

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On 2016/07/22 at 11:13 PM, Jon Letendre said:

Agreed. I wouldn't think for another, about what they want. Nor imagine I can perfectly know or experience their values, concepts and goals. But I CAN know what to do for them, and do it without risking any of the hazards you mention.

 

Recently I walked into a 7-11 to prepay for some gasoline and there was a man crumpled against the storefront wall. He looked depleted, intensely weary. He said, "Sir, would you buy me a Gatorade?" I executed my habit - "Sorry, no."

 

Inside, I thought about it. A buck fifty. No chance he buys booze. No chance he doesn't really need it. Millions everywhere who don't need a fucking thing and yet scream their demands for free...everything.

 

I went back outside. "What color?" Excitedly, "Any color!" I bought him my favorite color, Fruit Punch red.

 

That can be scaled up, still with no risk of the hazards you mention, so I donate to certain charity organizations.

It's hard to see any conflict here. A good tale, but really what does it show? You spotted an individual human need, and individually did something about it. The central thing is, you did it freely, of your own identification and value-assessment and of no sacrifice to your self and wealth and apparently don't derive your ethics from that act, or boast about being morally superior. For a small outlay, you might have made some poor guy's day, he was left feeling a little less abandoned; and you were left with a good, memorable, feeling. I doubt you're going to expand these acts to seek out every unfortunate person and dedicate your life and values to selfless service. While there's nothing to stop anyone with large resources creating, say, a foundation or Trust to aid the poor, orphans, etc.

 I don't believe anyone can have a problem with "do-good, feel-good" as part response to a helpful action to an other. However the objective recognition/act of value plus good emotions plus pleasurable brain endorphins, have been turned and glorified into an idealist duty - ethically, socially, in politics - for each, impossibly, "to live for" each other. Left to his own, we know man can be a generous, rational animal. But pushed into it, plainly he increasingly rebels and it curtails his good will. So practically, for starters, altruism has glaringly failed and done far less for the needy than people with free choice and self interest would have - and altruists will never admit that. When all else fails, they still have "feel-good" left. The altruist, by definition, doesn't have faith in human nature, doesn't understand man's mind and probably does not think much of mankind or himself.

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3 hours ago, anthony said:

It's hard to see any conflict here. A good tale, but really what does it show? You spotted an individual human need, and individually did something about it. The central thing is, you did it freely, of your own identification and value-assessment and of no sacrifice to your self and wealth and apparently don't derive your ethics from that act, or boast about being morally superior. For a small outlay, you might have made some poor guy's day, he was left feeling a little less abandoned; and you were left with a good, memorable, feeling. I doubt you're going to expand these acts to seek out every unfortunate person and dedicate your life and values to selfless service. While there's nothing to stop anyone with large resources creating, say, a foundation or Trust to aid the poor, orphans, etc.

 I don't believe anyone can have a problem with "do-good, feel-good" as part response to a helpful action to an other. However the objective recognition/act of value plus good emotions plus pleasurable brain endorphins, have been turned and glorified into an idealist duty - ethically, socially, in politics - for each, impossibly, "to live for" each other. Left to his own, we know man can be a generous, rational animal. But pushed into it, plainly he increasingly rebels and it curtails his good will. So practically, for starters, altruism has glaringly failed and done far less for the needy than people with free choice and self interest would have - and altruists will never admit that. When all else fails, they still have "feel-good" left. The altruist, by definition, doesn't have faith in human nature, doesn't understand man's mind and probably does not think much of mankind or himself.

Have a look at this:   http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/edward-o-wilsons-new-take-on-human-nature-160810520/?no-ist

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39 minutes ago, BaalChatzaf said:
 
Wilson is a big fan of "group selection" which most evolutionary biologist don't agree with.  He sees our emotions as products of primitive instincts and our hope for becoming better stewards of the planet come from letting group selection take us deeper into being highly altruistic social animals.
 
"To qualify as eusocial ['eusocial' = Truly Social - an accolade in Wilson's world], in Wilson’s definition, animals must live in multigenerational communities, practice division of labor and behave altruistically, ready to sacrifice 'at least some of their personal interests to that of the group.' It’s tough to be a eusocialist."
 
Wilson is determinist.  “The integrative powers of the brain ... come from handling objects...”
 
Wilson is a collectivist who sees our problems associated with individualism.  "Wilson also traces what he considers the tragedy of the human condition to the private struggle of us versus me."
 
"It appears our individually selected traits are older and more primal, harder to constrain, the ones we traditionally label vices: greed, sloth and lust, the way we covet our neighbor’s life and paper over our failings with pride. Our eusocial inclinations are evolutionarily newer and more fragile and must be vociferously promoted by the group if the group is to survive."
 
 

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9 minutes ago, SteveWolfer said:
 
Wilson is a big fan of "group selection" which most evolutionary biologist don't agree with.  He sees our emotions as products of primitive instincts and our hope for becoming better stewards of the planet come from letting group selection take us deeper into being highly altruistic social animals.
 
"To qualify as eusocial ['eusocial' = Truly Social - an accolade in Wilson's world], in Wilson’s definition, animals must live in multigenerational communities, practice division of labor and behave altruistically, ready to sacrifice 'at least some of their personal interests to that of the group.' It’s tough to be a eusocialist."
 
Wilson is determinist.  “The integrative powers of the brain ... come from handling objects...”
 
Wilson is a collectivist who sees our problems associated with individualism.  "Wilson also traces what he considers the tragedy of the human condition to the private struggle of us versus me."
 
"It appears our individually selected traits are older and more primal, harder to constrain, the ones we traditionally label vices: greed, sloth and lust, the way we covet our neighbor’s life and paper over our failings with pride. Our eusocial inclinations are evolutionarily newer and more fragile and must be vociferously promoted by the group if the group is to survive."
 
 

Is Wilson's thesis supported by observed facts?   When a hypothesis is put forward the only relevant question is:  Is it right (i.e. empirically correct)?  

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12 minutes ago, BaalChatzaf said:

Is Wilson's thesis supported by observed facts?

Which thesis?  Please pick one that you support and then tell me about the facts.  Your comment seems like it is in opposition to my post, but doesn't give me a clue as to what you object to, or what position of Wilson's you support.

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On 7/22/2016 at 9:50 AM, merjet said:

PDS, you said on another thread that you've been doing litigation for many years. Are you a lawyer?

Yes sir. 

Trial lawyer.   If Hank R were sued for sexual harassment, he would want me to handle the case.  

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PDS, I asked if you were a lawyer since I thought a lawyer should see a big difference between Galt's Oath and the second oath (with "act" instead of "live"). A lawyer acting on behalf of his/her client would violate the second oath, but could do so without violating Galt's Oath. Ditto for other occupations, allowing for a suitable substitute for "client".

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4 minutes ago, merjet said:

PDS, I asked if you were a lawyer since I thought a lawyer should see a big difference between Galt's Oath and the second oath (with "act" instead of "live"). A lawyer acting on behalf of his/her client would violate the second oath, but could do so without violating Galt's Oath. Ditto for other occupations, allowing for a suitable substitute for "client".

Hmmm.   Isn't the lawyer who makes $400 per hour acting on behalf of another--assuming no guns are pointed at anybody--acting on behalf of himself?   This implicates the Randian concept that there are no conflicts of interest among rational beings.   I have never understood the dilemma some Objectivish folks see in that. 

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5 minutes ago, PDS said:

Hmmm.   Isn't the lawyer who makes $400 per hour acting on behalf of another--assuming no guns are pointed at anybody--acting on behalf of himself?   This implicates the Randian concept that there are no conflicts of interest among rational beings.   I have never understood the dilemma some Objectivish folks see in that. 

Of course. The lawyer acts on behalf of the client and himself. I don't understood why many folks, including many Objectivish ones, have such a hard time conceptualizing that. 

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To All:

Was that act for another, do we agree on that terminology, or was it sophisticated act for self, because freely chosen, and reflective of his values, etc.?

Which?

Because sometimes I get the feeling in these debates that every act is going to get defininitionally ground down to act for self.

Is there such a thing as act for other? Please give an example, if the above is not an example.

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1 minute ago, Jon Letendre said:

Because sometimes I get the feeling in these debates that every act is going to get defininitionally ground down to act for self.

Jon, you are quite right.  These discussions tend to go that direction.  But I think that they do because of an error in the context.  Altruism (or egoism) shouldn't be measured by comparing the objective values achieved or lost in some transaction to see if it was "an act for self" or not.  Nor is their emotional state at the time a key issue.

The issue has to stay in the area of morality - which is what altruism is - a moral code.  Was the act taken because it is considered moral to make a sacrifice.  Or if force was involved, was the force justified by saying it was a moral act of sacrificing one person's values to another (claimed to be a greater good).

I look at the moral context, the moral intentions, the explicit or implicit moral principle, and not some measuring of the resulting status after an act.

Someone can say that John Doe gave away some money because it made him feel good and therefore it wasn't an act of sacrifice.  I don't think that's the right approach.  The question is, "Did he feel that he has a moral duty to engage in sacrifice?"  Some people who deeply believe in sacrifice are, at times, happy in the doing... doesn't make it the right morality for life on earth.

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3 hours ago, Jon Letendre said:

To All:

Was that act for another, do we agree on that terminology, or was it sophisticated act for self, because freely chosen, and reflective of his values, etc.?

Which?

Because sometimes I get the feeling in these debates that every act is going to get defininitionally ground down to act for self.

Is there such a thing as act for other? Please give an example, if the above is not an example.

I wouldn't see it so lightly, "reflective of his values"; she WAS a value and evidently his high one. (One's own conscious, selfish value, all-dependent on one's ultimate value: that one possesses life - to have values, at all). But these sorts of 'sacrificial' opinions many make - perceived retrospectively, after the incident - often ignore causation and context. Why should it be generally presumed that he-instantly-gave-his-life-for-his-sister?! How can that be, how could he know the future? Why can't it rather be seen as he-instantly-did-his-utmost-to-shield-her-to-protect-her-body? In these split second, danger situations, the latter is far more the reality of it (for that I admire his act, no less had he survived). But I've noticed the first version makes many feel somewhat ... nobly virtuous. To be checked in the first place, is the implicitly accepted, unchallenged premise of this action as "a self-less virtue" (for living -or 'giving'- one's life for another).

To me it was an act for an other - and for himself - and at critical times with topmost values they are the same thing.

 

 

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What does it take to (attempt to) "live" for another, or for someone to live for you, I've been wondering. First, it means taking over someone's values - the paramount one of their life and all their other attending values, which means 'taking over' his mind. From that, it's an impossibility, not just physically, but crucially also consciously since an other mind is not ours to know. Also, it is an imposition - wanted or unwanted - into an individual's sovereignty. Last, even to try to carry out living/acting/thinking for others undermines their independence, becomes a dependency and addiction increasingly hard for them to break free from, and finally creates a culture of 'entitlement', expectation and eventually coercion.

Following all this, I'm always taken aback by the idea that objective principles and rational selfishness are, or may be, at odds with "good will" to others.

a."Man's life is the standard of value". Meaning, not MY standard, not yours (self-referencing, circular and subjective, so not a "standard") but THE standard of living properly as 'man', applicable to all men and their existence, for all time.

b."His own life as the ethical purpose of every individual man". Again, an objective principle, which one acknowledges is what all others possess equally.

c. One's own life as one's ultimate value.

All form an absolute metaphysical principle - and a core conviction, when understood. Being so, it cannot be claimed only by our 'rational egoist' and for his 'selfish' use, alone, but is the manner by which he views every other life. Consequently, in the course of one's own life and striving, one cannot else but view all other men and women in the same boat as one, moving to their own ends facing the same objective reality with their own ethical purpose, choice and reason. (Whether each one knows it or not). Good will? Benevolence? You betcha. Objectivist metaphysics presupposes them.

But good will - without objective principle? An almost complete failure, which is what we're all living in today I think. It seems to me that over the last 3 or 4 decades, "good will" (promoted as empathy, compassion, generic love, etc.) has gradually supplanted individual principles, and personal character, merit and values. Some consequences: fakery, dishonesty, shallowness, hypocrisy, suspicion, guilt and sanctimoniousness--and sacrifice. In other words, reality and truth have been losing ground. Man cannot live by good will alone, whatever Kant wrote, and once it's codified as virtuousness, impossible to sustain. I'm considering his error could be of making it a primary principle of his ethics. People's sporadic and subjective good will can't be counted on, and whatever quantity has survived is even now dissipating.

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, anthony said:

What does it take to (attempt to) "live" for another, or for someone to live for you, I've been wondering. First, it means taking over someone's values

anthony, I think it has to do with judgments.  I can see making a case that this reduces to values, but it doesn't necessarily.  Someone can be at conflict with their own judgements and other people's judgments---both consciously or unconsciously---but end up taking other people's judgments.  I think the "live for another" (or someone live for you) has to do with social metaphysics, and the social metaphysician types that NB goes over in The Psychology of Self-Esteem.

1 hour ago, anthony said:

the paramount one of their life and all their other attending values, which means 'taking over' his mind. From that, it's an impossibility, not just physically, but crucially also consciously since an other mind is not ours to know.

Taking over someone's mind can be done, and another person's mind can be known but it takes a lot of time.  What Toohey did to Catherine in the first half of The Fountainhead, and how he did it, is a good example and that part isn't exactly fiction.

1 hour ago, anthony said:

Also, it is an imposition - wanted or unwanted - into an individual's sovereignty.

It might be unwanted or wanted, but it is definitely an imposition to an individual's sovereignty whether the person identifies it, or creates defense/despair values around it.

1 hour ago, anthony said:

Last, even to try to carry out living/acting/thinking for others undermines their independence, becomes a dependency and addiction increasingly hard for them to break free from

Agreed, though they might not see it as dependency.

1 hour ago, anthony said:

, and finally creates a culture of 'entitlement', expectation and eventually coercion.

Might be a bit specific here, but still could be effects

 

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1 hour ago, anthony said:

What does it take to (attempt to) "live" for another, or for someone to live for you, I've been wondering.

A charitable interpretation of Galt's Oath is to not make anybody else the central purpose of one's life, nor ask anybody else to make oneself their central purpose.  

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Right! Judgment is key, and I overlooked it. (Moral judgment, and too, metaphysical value-judgment which lead to a person's morality: what is "important"? i.e. which values?).

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12 minutes ago, KorbenDallas said:

anthony, I think it has to do with judgments.  I can see making a case that this reduces to values, but it doesn't necessarily.  Someone can be at conflict with their own judgements and other people's judgments---both consciously or unconsciously---but end up taking other people's judgments.  I think the "live for another" (or someone live for you) has to do with social metaphysics, and the social metaphysical types that NB goes over in The Psychology of Self-Esteem.

I believe that this is a case where the judgments and a social metaphysical pattern would be present with someone who tried to live for another.  But I think that Rand was going for that passion that human nature will allow us when we are integrated around the principle that our life is an end in itself.  We don't run roughshod over others, or violate rights, but those restrictions just to set boundaries within which our passion for OUR OWN LIFE can be loosed at full throttle.  That integrates values and judgements.

Living for another requires a clamping down, or diminishing, or killing of that spirit - that exuberance - that would be felt if we fully held our own life as our proper purpose.  And to seek to have others live for us... well, with my focus usually being on the underlying psychology, I'd see that as defensive and defenses arise out fear, shame, anger and are a disconnect from reality to some degree.  Clearly that is a terrible twist and kink in the natural process of our judgments and values and experience of life being a full-throated pursuit of our own ends.

We look at altruism and contrast it with rational egoism.  We look at collectivism and contrast it with individualism.  We contrast other political systems with capitalism.  We compare high self-esteem with low self-esteem.  But all of these worthy occupations are abstractions we engage in to acquire better understanding of a given aspect of reality.  That understanding is different from what our purpose should be, which is to experience a vibrant life full of passion for our goals, for our living.  So, I see "To never live for another's goals, and to never have others live for our goals" as an approach to life... that is a good razor or guide-line for staying on the path to the most passionate experience of life.

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An other's freedom to gain their 'justice in reality' is which one should not interpose upon him/her, not as "central purpose" to one's life. (I agree with your read, Merlin.) One's best advice, help and persuasion, notwithstanding.

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27 minutes ago, SteveWolfer said:

Living for another requires a clamping down, or diminishing, or killing of that spirit - that exuberance - that would be felt if we fully held our own life as our proper purpose.  And to seek to have others live for us... well, with my focus usually being on the underlying psychology, I'd see that as defensive and defenses arise out fear, shame, anger and are a disconnect from reality to some degree.  Clearly that is a terrible twist and kink in the natural process of our judgments and values and experience of life being a full-throated pursuit of our own ends.

Steve this presupposes one has a concept of what independence is to begin with, some (many) people don't.

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10 minutes ago, KorbenDallas said:

Steve this presupposes one has a concept of what independence is to begin with, some (many) people don't.

Absolutely!  It is very true that many, maybe most, people don't grasp independence (theoretically or as a process of judgment or as life attuned to their own values and not those of others).

If you turn to a self-help book it often gives platitudes and little rules-of-thumb, but usually without a solid understanding of why.  You can just pick them up and run with them.  It isn't much of surprise that something that simplistic is unlikely to provide any stunning results.

What Rand did in Atlas Shrugged was to present the heart of an entire philosophy - the metaphysics, the epistemology, the morality, the sense of life that went with it - and she symbolized it in fiction.  And as the story progressed she summarized the purpose of her philosophy - a philosophy for a good life here on earth.  Then she gave this creed - this guide-line - that was created and adopted by her ideal man.  What she did was to present a 'self-help' guide-line, but as she went along, she laid out everything one needed to know first to be able to make sense of it.  That creed, that guide-line works only to the degree that you understand what it summarizes.

I'd say that the better one's understanding of all the prerequisite knowledge, the more use that guide-line will be, but there is also the integration of all of the information, and there is the psychology that is woven in and applies as a kind of 'skill' in using ones' consciousness in working with that information and its integration and its application.  So, all of those are the things that can be improved on, almost without limit, and each improvement will make for more effective understanding and use of the guide-line.  

That is way I see it.

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Galt's Oath: “I swear—by my life and my love of it—that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for the sake of mine.” 

An alternative oath: "I swear that I will never act for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to act for my sake."

Note that the essential change is "live" to "act."

1. Are these substantively different, and why or why not?

2. Would you take the alternative oath, and why or why not?

1. I think there is definitely a difference. Altruism says that the purpose of your life is to serve others. That others have a claim on your life. That the only moral reason for your existence is to benefit others. So using the word "live" makes it clear that you are explicitly rejecting that claim and that morality. If you replace it with the word "act", you are not explicitly rejecting the morality of altruism, you're just saying you've decided not to participate in it actively, whether it's moral or not.

   Furthermore, there are many occasions when a rationally selfish person can properly and morally "act" for the sake of another man - specifically, when it's no sacrifice to yourself, or when you value the other person and/or have a good reason to care about them. By using the word "act", you are swearing that you will never lift a finger to help anyone, even people you care about. You're swearing you won't feed your children, for example. You're swearing that you will never help a drowning man who calls for help, and you won't call for help if you're drowning. That's not rational, that's just stupid. The point of the oath with "live" is to reject the morality of altruism, not to limit your freedom of actions and judgement.

2. I would not take the alternative oath, for the reasons I stated.

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I think that is precisely put: "to live" is irreplaceable once one grasps the full, objective meaning of "life", the series of actions towards the totality of a good life. Well stated, Don.

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