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3 minutes ago, Jon Letendre said:

A child’s desire for toys, cute.

Here is George Reisman, who earned his PhD under Ludwig von Mises, in his book, Capitalism, Part 1, Chapter 2, Section 3, Page 42:

 

“3. The Limitless Need and Desire for Wealth

The leading propositions laid down in Chapter 1 were that economics is the science that studies the production of wealth under a system of division of labor and that capitalism is the essential requirement for the successful functioning of a division-of-labor society, indeed, ulti- mately for its very existence. It is implicit in these propositions that the ultimate source of the importance of the division of labor and capitalism, and of the science of economics, is wealth. This is because, in the last analysis, the division of labor, capitalism, and the science of economics are all merely means to the production of wealth.


Nevertheless, many philosophers and religious think- ers have held that the production of wealth serves only a low order of needs of secondary importance and that concern with its production beyond the minimum neces- sities required for the sustenance of human life is evil, immoral, and sinful by virtue of elevating low material values to the place properly reserved only for the pursuit of noble spiritual values. If these beliefs were correct, then economics would at best be a science of secondary importance and preoccupation with it by serious thinkers would be a mark of perversity.


In the face of such attitudes, it is incumbent upon economics to justify itself by providing philosophical validation for the production of wealth being a central, continuing concern of human existence. In other words, economics must explain the role of wealth in human life beyond that of the food, clothing, and shelter required for immediate sustenance. It is necessary to show how the continuing rise in the productivity of human labor made possible by the division of labor and capitalism serves objectively demonstrable human needs—to show, in- deed, why there is no limit to man’s need for wealth.”

http://www.capitalism.net/Capitalism/CAPITALISM_Internet.pdf

...

”Man’s need for wealth is limitless because he pos- sesses the faculty of reason. The possession of this fac- ulty both radically enlarges the scope of man’s needs and capacities in comparison with those of any other living entity and, at the same time, makes possible continuous improvement in the satisfaction of his needs and in the exercise of his capacities. Considered abstractly, man’s possession of reason gives him the potential for a limit- less range of knowledge and awareness and thus for a limitless range of action and experience. Man’s mind can grasp the existence both of subatomic particles and of galaxies, and of everything in between. It observes all manner of patterns and similarities and differences, of which no other form of consciousness is capable. Thus, the potential is created for man to act over a range extending from the subatomic level to the remotest reaches of outer space, and to experience all that his mind enables him to discern and enjoy in the totality of the universe.”

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Jordan Peterson takes a quasi-religious view of work. He defines work as an essential part of human nature. (Frankly, Ayn Rand did, too.)

It makes sense. Humans evolved with productive work as their means of survival. Why wouldn't the brain prompt them to work? Those who did not work in the past probably did not survive long enough to reproduce, so they did not become our ancestors. The brain gets starved for it when a person doesn't work for a long period of time. To allow a brain to experience self-esteem and happiness without work (as a species characteristic), humans will have to evolve this work trait out of the species.

We're talking thousands of years.

Michael

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On 7/21/2018 at 11:02 PM, Peter said:

Ba'al, and anyone else? What do you see for the next 100 to 1000 years in store for humans?

If the "humanities" (rational philosophy and morals) continue falling behind the fast escalating technology it's going to be a bleak future deprived of freedoms.

That "fabulous wealth for everyone" is a Utopian pipe dream, jts.  T. Sowell: "The first lesson of economics is scarcity: there is never enough of anything to fully satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics".

And how about - "No man may be smaller than his money".

Considering having less and less productive work, and more and more free time, I think it would be disastrous. Men will as always need to apply themselves to constructive challenges in reality for profit, their mind expansion, competence and self esteem, or else waste away in boredom, self-contempt, ennui, involving themselves in 'others' lives as an only outlet.

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Rand and Mises didn’t think it was a utopian dream. George Reisman doesn’t think it is a utopian dream. 

http://www.capitalism.net/Capitalism/CAPITALISM_Internet.pdf page 54,

 

6. “Scarcity” and the Transformation of Its Nature Under Capitalism


Man’s limitless need for wealth, combined with the respective natures of desires and goods, is responsible for the fact that the desire to consume always far outstrips the ability to produce. Desires are mental phenomena, based on thoughts and concepts. Goods are physical phenomena, requiring for their existence the performance of human labor. For all practical purposes, the referents of concepts are limitless; and to desire, one need do hardly more than imagine. But goods are always specific concretes, and each must be produced, requiring labor and effort. In essence, our desires outstrip our ability to produce by virtue of the limitless range of the mental in comparison with the physical and thus by virtue of the fact that the range of our imaginations is always incom- parably greater than the power of our arms.


This relationship remains true no matter how much we may augment the power of our arms by means of tools and machinery. For at the same time, as part of the same process, we augment the power of our imaginations, in that the new knowledge required to provide the tools and machines also opens up new vistas in terms of what can be produced. For example, as already mentioned, the invention of the electric motor and the internal combus-
tion engine did not result in our sating ourselves with a vastly increased production of candles and oxcarts, but, as part of the same process of improvement, was accom- panied by the invention of the electric light and all the electrical appliances and by the invention of the automo- bile. Thus, the desire for goods grew with the ability to produce them. It will continue to grow with further improvements in the ability to produce. If, to take an extreme example, the day should ever come when radical advances in technology make it physically possible for us to be sated with things like automobiles, the same radical advances in technology will open up the possibil- ity of producing things like rocketships accessible to the general public and vacation homes on the moon. Thus, the desire for goods will always remain far greater than the ability to produce them.


Economists almost universally describe the condition in which the desire for wealth exceeds the amount of wealth available as one of “scarcity.” Scarcity, they hold, means any limitation of wealth relative to the need or desire for wealth, irrespective of whether the limitation proceeds from the lack of wealth or the abundance of desires.


If one wishes to retain this terminology, one must say that capitalism radically transforms the nature of scar- city. For the people of precapitalistic societies, scarcity means a deficiency of wealth relative to urgent biological needs; it means supplies of food insufficient to still hunger; supplies of shelter and clothing insufficient to provide protection from the elements. Under capitalism, on the other hand, scarcity does not mean any such deficiency of wealth, but a vast and growing supply of wealth that lags behind the desire for wealth—a desire that always exceeds it, always grows as it grows, and that provides the impetus for its further growth. Scarcity under capitalism actually means economic ambitious- ness, and is the cause of the progressive elimination of scarcity in the urgent biological sense.


For example, under capitalism, the scarcity of food quickly ceases to mean starvation. Instead it is a situation in which grain supplies have become abundant, but the point has not yet been reached where people can have all the meat they want. And then it ceases to mean even a deficiency of meat, but the fact that not enough of the meat supply is in the form of sirloin steak, and so on. Similarly, a scarcity of housing quickly comes to mean not a scarcity of dwelling space as such, but only a scarcity of ever more improved, more solidly construct- ed, and more luxurious dwelling space.


At each stage, the desire to advance to a higher stage makes the threat to urgent biological needs more remote. In a country in which the scarcity of food is merely a scarcity of meat, a year of bad crops does not threaten famine. It just means that less grain will be devoted to feeding meat animals, and people will end up with less meat. In a country in which the scarcity of food means a scarcity of sirloin steak, a year of bad crops means merely that people will have to switch to somewhat poorer cuts of meat, as they utilize a smaller but still abundant supply of meat animals more fully for human consumption. And as a general principle, cutting across all branches of production, the growing abundance of supplies in a cap- italist society steadily prolongs and enriches human life at the same time that it further and further removes such direct threats to human life as famine and plague. Evi- dence for the truth of this proposition can be found in the fact that hardly anyone dies from hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanoes, earthquakes, or contagious diseases in the United States, while large numbers do so in the poor and backward countries. Our better record is the result of our greater progress in wealth—in the form of such things as better constructed buildings, better means of transporta- tion, and better medical facilities, as well as a more abundant and varied food supply.25 There is no fixed limit to the process by which the increasing production of wealth can further enhance and extend human life and its enjoyment.26

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"A vast and growing supply of wealth that lags behind the desire for wealth..." GR

"... the progressive elimination of scarcity in the urgent, biological sense". Of course. Note: "urgent, biological". (hunger etc. are becoming much alleviated in most places)

1.there will always be an 'imbalance' of wealth according to ability - the few richest and the many less rich and the many, many not so rich - relatively.

2. where there is 'more', most people want 'more': the subjective "desire" for unearned wealth will always exist among the less rational or lazy - and their envy and demands with it.

3. humans quickly take things for granted and conveniently forget, lacking acknowledgment, respect or 'gratitude' for living standards which became much better in their lifetimes (Just look at many socialist activists today - in rich nations).

4. A fabulous wealth for everyone, is a contradiction in terms. 

5. Rational individual morality precedes capitalism and creates wealth - wealth doesn't and cannot create an individual's morality.

Wanting and wishing doesn't make it so - and - no one can be smaller than their money.

"...extend human life and its enjoyment". If one knows what to do with those.

Reisman is very good, Rand starts deeper, and btw, she never advocated or promised a Utopia along with Capitalism.

 

 

 

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45 minutes ago, anthony said:

... btw, she never advocated or promised a Utopia along with Capitalism.

Tony,

Actually she did worse, and it's one of the areas of disagreement I have with her that I have arrived at over a lot of thinking.

Rand postulated a state of moral perfection that a human achieves by choice. She thus postulated life as static once the moral apex is achieved. But the only times living beings are static are when they are dead. That's the whole problem and innate weakness with the very concept of a utopia (whether individual or collective).

My former conducting master, Maestro Eleazar De Carvalho, used to say that perfection was the beginning of decadence because, once attained, you have nowhere to go but down. I think the idea of a static state for a living organism did not occur to him. (Which is good because he was certainly not... well... I've got stories... but never mind... :) )

But back to Rand. She did not propose a utopia formed by capitalism where people would automatically be made perfect. She essentially proposed that the moral perfection of each individual results in laissez-faire capitalism, i.e., utopia when seen from a "fully integrated philosophy" lens.

It's a good thing she wrote fiction because this moral perfection trap resulted in an enormous amount of anxiety-ridden underachievers here in O-Land. Ironic, but true.

This is fixable, though. Just use reality for reality and a moral code for a code. Let go of the false dichotomy and psychologizing that claims that people who deny the concept of moral perfection do so because they want to excuse their own pathetic souls. :)  

In reality, moral perfection is like the horizon. It looks real and you can travel toward it, but you never arrive at it. Why? Because it's not metaphysical. It's not a place. It's epistemological. It's a perception of several things that stands in for a place and looks like a place.

It works as a guide, not a thing or state of being.

Ditto for capitalism. It is a system, not a state of being.

To me, the very phrase "moral perfection" gets odder the more I have thought about it over the years. Would somebody ever consider themselves reality-wise perfect as a state of being? :)  

I agree one should travel toward the horizon, though. For me, it's the only way to fly...

Actually, it's quite easy for a person to alter this frame toward reality in his mind as an epistemological foundation, instead of toward the code, and still get great value from Rand. I don't see this as anywhere near a deal killer or denigration of her. A disagreement about an idea is not an attack.

Michael

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Programmable? There have been “intelligent” and human mimicking robots and androids in Scifi, but the introduction of Data was brilliant. He was created with certain attributes, and one of them was an intense desire to BE human. Peter

Tracinski wrote about Star Trek TNG: . . . . Some of this was toned down as "The Next Generation" got its dramatic feet under it and the writers gradually disentangled themselves from the mandates of Gene Rodenberry's liberal utopianism. When you have to take an idea and project it into concrete terms, you quickly discover what really makes sense and what just doesn't work. For example, having an empath as a part of the command team seems like a great idea--until you discover that she is only really capable of delivering the most banal insights. So that element of the story is downgraded. The same happened as Star Trek continued, particularly with the Ferengi, a race of galactic traders who start out as a crude anti-capitalist caricature (which borrowed uncomfortably from Nazi caricatures of Jewish bankers). Over the course of the franchise, particularly in "Deep Space Nine," they were humanized (so to speak) and transformed more into lovable rogues, while Quark's bar provided "Deep Space Nine" with its thriving commercial hub. end quote 

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People from just a few hundred years ago would look around today and say “a fabulous wealth for everyone.”

People alive today, brought forward for a glimpse a few hundred years from now, would come back here and report “a fabulous wealth for everyone.”

Rand said the first one over and over.

Mises and his students said the second one, over and over.

No, Rand did not promise utopia. Neither did Mises, Reisman, JTS or myself. Only you are calling what they identified “utopia.”

Wealth is simply valued things. Everyone can have vast quantities of valued things, there is no contradiction.

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2 hours ago, Jon Letendre said:

No, Rand did not promise utopia. Neither did Mises, Reisman, JTS or myself. Only you are calling what they identified “utopia.”

Jon,

I didn't say she did. I said she did worse.

:) 

She promised people a state of moral perfection. (She even said, "And I mean it.") The rest would follow. Call the rest what you will. If you don't like the word utopia, I'm fine with that. She still meant happiness for all who were morally perfect. And to be morally perfect meant being heroic, productive, reason-based, etc., and never faltering by choice, only by inadvertent error.

To my understanding, Rand never discussed capitalism in strictly economic terms as a foundation. She always discussed it as being based on a moral system and the economics came after.

It's part of what she called an "integrated philosophy."

Michael

 

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1 hour ago, Jon Letendre said:

People from just a few hundred years ago would look around today and say “a fabulous wealth for everyone.”

 

 

Of course they would. This is obvious, assuming time travel. 

"Fabulous wealth for everyone" implies "equal fabulous wealth", doesn't it? That cannot happen. Ut (not) opia (a place)

Is everyone happy with what fabulous wealth they have - now?

Future people will probably be just as non-happy - with 'more' stuff. This was my point. 

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5 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Tony,

Actually she did worse, and it's one of the areas of disagreement I have with her that I have arrived at over a lot of thinking.

Rand postulated a state of moral perfection that a human achieves by choice. She thus postulated life as static once the moral apex is achieved. But the only times living beings are static are when they are dead. That's the whole problem and innate weakness with the very concept of a utopia (whether individual or collective).

My former conducting master, Maestro Eleazar De Carvalho, used to say that perfection was the beginning of decadence because, once attained, you have nowhere to go but down. I think the idea of a static state for a living organism did not occur to him. (Which is good because he was certainly not... well... I've got stories... but never mind... :) )

But back to Rand. She did not propose a utopia formed by capitalism where people would automatically be made perfect. She essentially proposed that the moral perfection of each individual results in laissez-faire capitalism, i.e., utopia when seen from a "fully integrated philosophy" lens.

It's a good thing she wrote fiction because this moral perfection trap resulted in an enormous amount of anxiety-ridden underachievers here in O-Land. Ironic, but true.

This is fixable, though. Just use reality for reality and a moral code for a code. Let go of the false dichotomy and psychologizing that claims that people who deny the concept of moral perfection do so because they want to excuse their own pathetic souls. :)  

In reality, moral perfection is like the horizon. It looks real and you can travel toward it, but you never arrive at it. Why? Because it's not metaphysical. It's not a place. It's epistemological. It's a perception of several things that stands in for a place and looks like a place.

It works as a guide, not a thing or state of being.

Ditto for capitalism. It is a system, not a state of being.

To me, the very phrase "moral perfection" gets odder the more I have thought about it over the years. Would somebody ever consider themselves reality-wise perfect as a state of being? :)  

I agree one should travel toward the horizon, though. For me, it's the only way to fly...

Actually, it's quite easy for a person to alter this frame toward reality in his mind as an epistemological foundation, instead of toward the code, and still get great value from Rand. I don't see this as anywhere near a deal killer or denigration of her. A disagreement about an idea is not an attack.

Michael

Michael, In conclusion, I have the same frame as yours. I've said often here my opinion that "perfection" is a journey not the destination, in effect. There is the standard to aim at, "Man's life", that abstraction, what "is proper to man". It is a standard, not a state of being.

"Moral" perfection carries connotations which one should unpack carefully (in O'ist terms). 

I must have missed what Rand said, or perhaps you are going by a suggestion of moral perfection in her novels' characters? As I once remarked, those are simply "models" of fine virtues - to sometimes bring to mind, not molds to fit into.

I know this for certain though. Capitalism is not 'the apex" (utopian, or otherwise) for Objectivism; rather and simply, it is the logical, moral extension (or consequence) of the right of individual freedom ("to act"). Therefore, in itself the operations of capitalism will be no more "perfect" than individuals who operate by it.

I was surprised in the beginning by how many O'ists viewed a fictional 'place' as the ideal, to be literally created and found somewhere. Galt's Gulch represented some Utopia, I gathered, less heard now. (Not even to mention that the novel ends with "Back to the world").

The system of laissez-faire Capitalism when reached, would be most incredibly *dynamic*, not static in the least. Without any doubt in my mind. I have to disagree again (from my projection, and certainly as I have read by Rand's views).

To finish on a positive:  You are exactly right, capitalism is a system, not a state of being. (And Rand would have said or did say that also).

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55 minutes ago, anthony said:

Of course they would. This is obvious, assuming time travel. 

"Fabulous wealth for everyone" implies "equal fabulous wealth", doesn't it? That cannot happen. Ut (not) opia (a place)

Is everyone happy with what fabulous wealth they have - now?

Future people will probably be just as non-happy - with 'more' stuff. This was my point. 

Fabulous wealth for everyone does not imply equal wealth.

Not everyone has fabulous wealth now (2018). Those who do have fabulous wealth but are not happy probably have either bad health or lack of free time.

In the future (100 to 1000 years) probably 99% of the population will have fabulous wealth (some more, some less) and excellent health over their entire lifetime and lots of free time. Those 3 things are necessary for a near perfect life: wealth, health, free time. If the question is asked, which is the most important, the answer is which is the most important leg of a 3 legged stool?. The answer is the one that is missing.

Having lots of free time and not needing to work more than 10 hours per month does not imply that people will have nothing to do or will do nothing. It means people will be able to do what they want. This might even include working to make even more fabulous wealth. Some people will consider making money they have no use for a waste of time and energy and will choose to do something they think is more worth doing.

If by utopia is meant perfection, then what is perfection? Perfection is that which has no room for improvement. Do you know anything that has no room for improvement? Even if we can't achieve a perfect world, we can make a damn good world, maybe almost perfection, and be royally pleased with it.

 

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8 hours ago, anthony said:

If the "humanities" (rational philosophy and morals) continue falling behind the fast escalating technology it's going to be a bleak future deprived of freedoms.

That "fabulous wealth for everyone" is a Utopian pipe dream, jts.  T. Sowell: "The first lesson of economics is scarcity: there is never enough of anything to fully satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics".

And how about - "No man may be smaller than his money".

Considering having less and less productive work, and more and more free time, I think it would be disastrous. Men will as always need to apply themselves to constructive challenges in reality for profit, their mind expansion, competence and self esteem, or else waste away in boredom, self-contempt, ennui, involving themselves in 'others' lives as an only outlet.

jts. "...for a near perfect life: wealth, health and free time".

I say that alone is not enough, this is a floating, futurist, abstraction, removed from the reality of the nature of many people.

I ask: How happy are most people now? Given major advances in our doubtless, great technologies ... so far?

Always dissatisfied and concerned with others affairs, are the irrational, by definition. Free time and no consuming purpose does that. Will there be proportionately less of them than there are now, or more? 

Without solid purpose and having constant application to reality, I estimate more people will be less rationally moral, independent and reasoning, and become mindless lambs to be led (to totalitarianism, Socialism and whatever other authority which promises "more" stuff and more free time).

You and I would not be exempt, jts. Numbers count against the individuals.

If we deduct human nature and predominant philosophies from the equation, it looks a wonderful future. There is the unreality everyone blocks out, since we cannot.

 

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4 hours ago, anthony said:

I must have missed what Rand said, or perhaps you are going by a suggestion of moral perfection in her novels' characters?

Tony,

I don't have time to dig up a lot of quotes, but here are some things.

1. I don't know how familiar you are with her bios, but there's a story quoted in them (including, if I'm not mistaken, the first one Barbara did under her guidance) that at some early age, like 6 or so, Rand came to the conclusion that if God was morally perfect and man could not be, she had no use for believing in God because she did believe man could be morally perfect.

2. The following is from Galt's speech in Atlas Shrugged. Although this quote is talking about the altruistic (self-sacrificial) version of moral perfection, Rand specifically used the term "state of moral perfection," showing that "state of being" was her idea of the concept. Here's the quote (my bold): 

Quote

You owe your love to those who don't deserve it, and the less they deserve it, the more love you owe them—the more loathsome the object, the nobler your love—the more unfastidious your love, the greater the virtue—and if you can bring your soul to the state of a dump heap that welcomes anything on equal terms, if you can cease to value moral values, you have achieved the state of moral perfection.

3. A quote from later in the speech (my bold):

Quote

Man has a single basic choice: to think or not, and that is the gauge of his virtue. Moral perfection is an unbreached rationality—not the degree of your intelligence, but the full and relentless use of your mind, not the extent of your knowledge, but the acceptance of reason as an absolute.

4. From "The Objectivist Ethics" in The Virtue of Selfishness (my bold):

Quote

The virtue of Pride is the recognition of the fact "that as man must produce the physical values he needs to sustain his life, so he must acquire the values of character that make his life worth sustaining—that as man is a being of self-made wealth, so he is a being of self-made soul." (Atlas Shrugged.) The virtue of Pride can best be described by the term: "moral ambitiousness." It means that one must earn the right to hold oneself as one's own highest value by achieving one's own moral perfection—which one achieves by never accepting any code of irrational virtues impossible to practice and by never failing to practice the virtues one knows to be rational—by never accepting an unearned guilt and never earning any, or, if one has earned it, never leaving it uncorrected—by never resigning oneself passively to any flaws in one's character—by never placing any concern, wish, fear or mood of the moment above the reality of one's own self-esteem. And, above all, it means one's rejection of the role of a sacrificial animal, the rejection of any doctrine that preaches self-immolation as a moral virtue or duty.

Must, must, must... never never never...

In other words, a state of being.

This is just a search on the phrase "moral perfection." I didn't try any of the variations. The concept of moral perfection is all over Rand's writing, fiction and nonfiction.

During the time when The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics came out and there was nonstop bickering over it online, I don't know how many arguments I got into with Valliant's crew over moral perfection. One guy even told me he could easily point to a morally perfect couple, the Sures (Mary Ann and Charles Sures). 

Apropos, in Facets of Ayn Rand, Mary Ann Sures gushed over Rand's constant state of certainty. That caused a warning bell to go off in my mind when I read it because a state of constant certainty is the standard hallmark of any guru leading a cult. If constant certainty is what one seeks in a mentor, I submit this is not an indication of moral perfection, but instead of mental vulnerability.

I could go on, but not enough time.

In my view, we can have individual morally perfect choices in our lives, single events one by one, but the concept of a morally perfect being--meaning one who never has a moral lapse, not even from exhaustion, etc.--is just too much insistence on automatic choices, essentially on fortune telling for all future choices, for me to swallow. It does not align with what I observe anywhere.

It's work--hard work at thinking--to make a choice that lines up perfectly with an abstract code of values. And it's hard work each time I make such a choice. I wouldn't even know what a state of being would be like where my choices would all be morally perfect for no other reason than than I am a morally perfect being. And I don't know what the experience of living without temptation would be like. A person in a state of moral perfection would know by definition. Temptation would not even get on the radar since it would be excluded by the morally perfect state of being itself. Essentially, there would be no moral choice with temptation because there would be no temptation.

I just don't think it is possible to eliminate core human experiences like temptation from one's brain--maybe with physical severing of certain brain cells from communicating with each other, but even then, I don't know how an operation like that could be done, that is, which brain cells would need to be severed.

 Michael

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5 hours ago, anthony said:

[...]  Free time and no consuming purpose does that. [...] 

Without solid purpose and having constant application to reality, I estimate more people will be less rationally moral, independent and reasoning, and become mindless lambs to be led (to totalitarianism, Socialism and whatever other authority which promises "more" stuff and more free time).

Free time does not imply lack of purpose.

For some people free time might reveal lack of purpose.

 

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It’s good to see old friends. Tim Russ who played Tuvok on Star Trek Voyager was on NCIS New Orleans Tuesday night. He played a night club owner and musician with a N’Orlean’s accent. And he had graying hair and beard and his part depicted someone in their sixties. Tim is 62. Monart, below had a Starship forum. Peter

From: Monart Pon To: aynrand@wetheliving Subject: AYN: Dear Ayn Rand Date: Mon, 14 May 2001 14:17:34 -0600 (MDT)

Dear Ayn Rand, I am making as my first post to your list a passage from your Atlas Shrugged, the passage that describes your Concerto of Deliverance. Whenever I read it and think of you, I hear it as a concerto of your magnificent sense of benevolent life.

"The Concerto of Deliverance:" "She sat listening to the music. It was a symphony of triumph. The notes flowed up, they spoke of rising and they were the rising itself, they were the essence and the form of upward motion, they seemed to embody every human act and thought that had ascent as its motive. It was a sunburst of sound, breaking out of hiding and spreading open. It had the freedom of release and the tension of purpose. It swept space clean, and left nothing but the joy of an unobstructed effort. Only a faint echo within the sounds spoke of that from which the music had escaped, but spoke in laughing astonishment at the discovery that there was no ugliness or pain, and there never had had to be. It was the song of an immense deliverance." Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, 1957

Best Wishes, Monart

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14 hours ago, jts said:

Free time does not imply lack of purpose.

For some people free time might reveal lack of purpose.

 

True of both. A sidenote. Whatever I have been on about is not about you, me, anyone particular. There may be an error of subjectivity in assuming Hey, *I* know how to valuably use my free time, I have purpose and reason and am otherwise productive, so none of that applies to me! There's a bigger picture. One has to bear in mind what large numbers of people are moved by, mostly irrational motives which seek control over others or dependency on others -- e.g. what anti-individualists always agitate to change by virtue of their majority in societies - which, projected forward, will make an impact on the lives and freedom of the more rational individuals, you, me, anyone. I re-emphasize not to take it personally, but look generally at what bad philosophies universally are causing, and unchecked probably will cause worse, in future..

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On 7/25/2018 at 3:49 AM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Tony,

I don't have time to dig up a lot of quotes, but here are some things.

1. I don't know how familiar you are with her bios, but there's a story quoted in them (including, if I'm not mistaken, the first one Barbara did under her guidance) that at some early age, like 6 or so, Rand came to the conclusion that if God was morally perfect and man could not be, she had no use for believing in God because she did believe man could be morally perfect.

2. The following is from Galt's speech in Atlas Shrugged. Although this quote is talking about the altruistic (self-sacrificial) version of moral perfection, Rand specifically used the term "state of moral perfection," showing that "state of being" was her idea of the concept. Here's the quote (my bold): 

3. A quote from later in the speech (my bold):

4. From "The Objectivist Ethics" in The Virtue of Selfishness (my bold):

Must, must, must... never never never...

In other words, a state of being.

This is just a search on the phrase "moral perfection." I didn't try any of the variations. The concept of moral perfection is all over Rand's writing, fiction and nonfiction.

During the time when The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics came out and there was nonstop bickering over it online, I don't know how many arguments I got into with Valliant's crew over moral perfection. One guy even told me he could easily point to a morally perfect couple, the Sures (Mary Ann and Charles Sures). 

Apropos, in Facets of Ayn Rand, Mary Ann Sures gushed over Rand's constant state of certainty. That caused a warning bell to go off in my mind when I read it because a state of constant certainty is the standard hallmark of any guru leading a cult. If constant certainty is what one seeks in a mentor, I submit this is not an indication of moral perfection, but instead of mental vulnerability.

I could go on, but not enough time.

In my view, we can have individual morally perfect choices in our lives, single events one by one, but the concept of a morally perfect being--meaning one who never has a moral lapse, not even from exhaustion, etc.--is just too much insistence on automatic choices, essentially on fortune telling for all future choices, for me to swallow. It does not align with what I observe anywhere.

It's work--hard work at thinking--to make a choice that lines up perfectly with an abstract code of values. And it's hard work each time I make such a choice. I wouldn't even know what a state of being would be like where my choices would all be morally perfect for no other reason than than I am a morally perfect being. And I don't know what the experience of living without temptation would be like. A person in a state of moral perfection would know by definition. Temptation would not even get on the radar since it would be excluded by the morally perfect state of being itself. Essentially, there would be no moral choice with temptation because there would be no temptation.

I just don't think it is possible to eliminate core human experiences like temptation from one's brain--maybe with physical severing of certain brain cells from communicating with each other, but even then, I don't know how an operation like that could be done, that is, which brain cells would need to be severed.

 Michael

Michael, That is very thoughtful.

btw, the first passage from Galt's speech is sardonic, aimed at certain among his audience - " if you can bring your soul to the state of a dump heap... you have achieved the state of moral perfection". (Dripping scorn.)

I'd forgotten some of those extracts but don't recall a problem with them - probably I took them more as idealist, rhetorical flourishes of Rand's, while in there too, a serious reminder of the self-harm of some moral IM-perfections she outlines.

Overall, I don't think moral perfection is  - totally - a "state" of being. However, if one, as I have leaned towards at my cost, thinks that one "is only as good as one's next  ... thoughts, action, decision, work product, etc"., -then - there is the risk of falling into a trap of never taking deserved pride and self-esteem from past accomplishments, and always judging oneself only by one's 'next act'. In other words, "perfection" is 'out there', possibly out of reach. If one can't take total pride and confidence in a past -and- present "state" - as well as in one's future "direction" - where would that leave one's chances of happiness? Hanging on future conditions and performance, evading the present.

At the same time, if one is aiming for "moral perfection" one recognizes that there ~are ~standards, and so would not be lackadaisical or subjective, to the point of smugly resting on one's laurels.

Bring them together, and I think in short : 1. to not harshly castigate oneself for errors of performance/thinking - especially, adopting the self-harming fallacy of omniscience/omnipotence - i.e. to learn to be forgiving (and correcting) of one's cognitive and moral mistakes...2. be true to yourself, one's objective standards, reason, virtues and values, to the best of one's increasing knowledge and ability (and only we ourselves know the extent of our knowledge and ability).

It is hard, and there'll be "lapses", "temptations", (and weariness) "... to make a choice that lines up perfectly with an abstract code of values". I think is plain (not just implicit) in Rand the ready acknowledgment that man is animal also, and in the mind-body integration, to take care to not evade the reality of one's body. (In particular, those emotions).

 In general, each of us is a "work in progress" - and - a "state". That's my best answer for now...

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This is the kind of headline Harry Binswanger is probably haunted by ... wait till he grapples with The Internet of Things.

 

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Yay! One step closer to skynet!

😈😈

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The crucial time will be when "robots" become self aware according to Michio Kaku in "The Future of Humanity." I think the agreement to not nuclearize space is a very good idea, but if humans disperse to the moon and Mars, or the moon of a gas giant, they will need power and the further away from the sun humans go, the more nuclear energy will be used. Peter     

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On ‎7‎/‎23‎/‎2018 at 10:58 AM, Peter said:

And I think our species will be genetically modified in the near future, to aid in exploration of the cosmos and for survival and health on earth. 

When I lived in Japan and South Korea paper masks were popular to keep dust, pollution and sand out of your face. So, there I was in a store the other day, and I saw a man walking the aisles with a hospital type mask. Immunity problems, I wondered? I assumed the mask was to protect him from me and not me from him.

The air is full of microorganisms. Human bodies are full of microorganisms. We could not live without them and it is a symbiotic relationship between “the bugs” and us. Some earlier plans for a Mars expedition included the reintroduction of cold and flu viruses to the humans on board at least once a year to keep our immune systems up to par.

If we visited a planet with life we would need to be very careful about exposure to their “bugs” and the alien lifeforms, to our bugs. And any terraforming we accomplish, could give rise to microorganisms evolved in an alien environment, that might harm any humans who at a later date, travel to live there. Peter        

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