One is Not one's own "Standard of Value"


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4 hours ago, anthony said:

"It is time to grant to man's consciousness the same respect one grants to his body--i.e., the same *objectivity*". AR

I had to throw in a word from our sponsor, only for back-up to your comments. Nicely put. Yes, this type of thinking roughly goes - that it is not enough that reality is independent of the subject's consciousness ... but... that the consciousness is independent of reality! There is still some God-wish left in many secularists, I notice.

 

The real Reality may be independent of our thoughts,  but our -knowledge- of the real Reality is totally wired to our internal processing of data.  Our knowledge is never independent of what is going on in our brains and nervous system.  A do remember that the image of Reality retained in our brains  only roughly resembles what is really Out There.  We cannot see atoms.  They  are smaller than the shortest wavelength our eyes can respond too.  Our knowledge of the real Reality is patched together from the rough impressions  our senses have of what is Out There. Most of our internal picture of the real Reality is made up,  a human creation.

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5 hours ago, BaalChatzaf said:

The real Reality may be independent of our thoughts,  but our -knowledge- of the real Reality is totally wired to our internal processing of data.  Our knowledge is never independent of what is going on in our brains and nervous system.  A do remember that the image of Reality retained in our brains  only roughly resembles what is really Out There.  We cannot see atoms.  They  are smaller than the shortest wavelength our eyes can respond too.  Our knowledge of the real Reality is patched together from the rough impressions  our senses have of what is Out There. Most of our internal picture of the real Reality is made up,  a human creation.

Going down the road doing 90 mph--in heavy traffic--the reality out there and the reality in your head's about the same.

--Brant

or you won't be long

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7 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

Going down the road doing 90 mph--in heavy traffic--the reality out there and the reality in your head's about the same.

--Brant

or you won't be long

At man scale that is true.  At subatomic scale  it is not.  Our senses evolved in such a way that we can process Nature  at our scale of time and space.  We simply cannot -see-  very tiny things. We make machines that produce an image in the manner and scale that we can see (and hear, smell,  taste and feel).  Our ears work between  15 Hz and 20,000 Hz.  Anything outside that range we cannot hear. The nerves in our skin are distributed in such a way that we cannot distinguish two pin pricks less than a a thousandth of a meter apart.  And so on.  Anything outside the capabilities of our sense organs  requires that we guess (hypothesize)  the small and far things  the produce what we do perceive.  So to get a more complete grasp of the world  we have to make instruments whose workings are interpreted on the basis of hypotheses and theories.  And that is where independent witness comes in.  To corroborate our hypotheses we need the witness of observers who perceive independently of us.

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17 minutes ago, BaalChatzaf said:

At man scale that is true.  At subatomic scale  it is not.  Our senses evolved in such a way that we can process Nature  at our scale of time and space.  We simply cannot -see-  very tiny things. We make machines that produce an image in the manner and scale that we can see (and hear, smell,  taste and feel).  Our ears work between  15 Hz and 20,000 Hz.  Anything outside that range we cannot hear. The nerves in our skin are distributed in such a way that we cannot distinguish two pin pricks less than a a thousandth of a meter apart.  And so on.  Anything outside the capabilities of our sense organs  requires that we guess (hypothesize)  the small and far things  the produce what we do perceive.  So to get a more complete grasp of the world  we have to make instruments whose workings are interpreted on the basis of hypotheses and theories.  And that is where independent witness comes in.  To corroborate our hypotheses we need the witness of observers who perceive independently of us.

Enough data are available for rational human functioning--if the humans be rational.

We are made to survive for the sake of reproduction. That gives us a lot of time slack to play around with.

The Einsteins of the world are like children in playpens having a lot of fun.

Just like us OLers.

--Brant

there are Internet sites for grownups

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1 hour ago, Brant Gaede said:

Enough data are available for rational human functioning--if the humans be rational.

We are made to survive for the sake of reproduction. That gives us a lot of time slack to play around with.

The Einsteins of the world are like children in playpens having a lot of fun.

Just like us OLers.

--Brant

there are Internet sites for grownups

Those "Einsteins"  provided you with your  GPS, your computer and with the means of surviving infections.   You dismiss your Benefactors  far too easily.

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19 hours ago, BaalChatzaf said:

The real Reality may be independent of our thoughts,  but our -knowledge- of the real Reality is totally wired to our internal processing of data.  Our knowledge is never independent of what is going on in our brains and nervous system.  A do remember that the image of Reality retained in our brains  only roughly resembles what is really Out There.  We cannot see atoms.  They  are smaller than the shortest wavelength our eyes can respond too.  Our knowledge of the real Reality is patched together from the rough impressions  our senses have of what is Out There. Most of our internal picture of the real Reality is made up,  a human creation.

You sense, perceive and identify what you can, of what there is. It's enough to keep any individual busy. And men have designed specialized 'instruments' and constructed hypotheses to "see" further, to perceive atomic structure of entities and search the galaxies. With your knowledge, you'll appreciate how outstanding these advances are. At all levels - direct perception, and acquired knowledge - a mind needs to create concepts on concepts on percepts, in that way to build up an "internal picture" of reality. I don't know what more you wish for. To visibly see atomic structures - X-ray vision? All of existence to be instantly revealed to you? For omniscience.. That is not given to us, thank god for that. I reckon for you, it has to be an "ineffable" consciousness, or nothing is good enough. One has to respect the sensory limitations of consciousness (as with the physical limits of a body, and of any existent) - or else turn to neo- mysticism - or else, doubt one's mind in disillusionment. 

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19 hours ago, anthony said:

I think I get you. Agreed, that man is a volitional being, with and without Objectivist principles. It is a metaphysical fact. Only - *which* virtues, values, etc. does a man choose? A person well might - volitionally- select these by unfitting standards, and finish up with say, humility as his singular virtue - or say, destructive, hedonistic 'values'(-disvalues).  I'm aiming to get ahold of Rand's metaphysical base of rational egoism, which clearly places the ethics in a totally different league to any other egoist ethics. Man's life the standard of value, answers this when one deduces all its parts. Because a man still has to make the fundamental choice to live properly as "man". This informs every choice he makes thereafter, as I see it. Probably "subordinate" to a principle is poorly put, this is a work in progress.;)

I can't say we really disagree, though you might still.

I can't say we really disagreed, either.  As to the metaphysical base, I would say it has to do with the axioms, existence and identity.  Man exists, and he exists as something.  So a particular man should be aware of his own existence and that he exists as something, in order to know what to do.  And to this particular man there is a question of metaphysical presence and absence, does he want to remain existing, or go out of existence.  And here Rand indicates this is the fundamental choice as the need for a man to pursue values, and then it's up to this man to choose his own values, and how he goes about both is reason and the core virtue of rationality.

To the issue of happiness, a man's highest moral purpose in her ethics, why happiness?  She says the alternative is suffering, and I think some science today can back her up on that.  Stress is being linked to heart disease, gastrointestinal issues, and even cancer.  So a man can be inflicted with these problems (even if not to a severe degree, to some degree) which are metaphysical problems to his body.  Metaphysical suffering, then, can be the alternative to choosing happiness, and by contrast, happiness is linked to both mental and physical health.  Sure, Rand didn't have the scientific studies of today, but I believe she had good a sense of it, and the studies of today would further encourage a healthy mind-body integration, and rational egoism to pursue one's self-interest.

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James Rachels was Professor of Philosophy at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, circa '90's. I have his book, The Elements of Moral Philosophy.

If this is what he taught ...

I want to share his conclusions at the end of the Chapter "Ethical Egoism" (in which he quotes a little Rand).

JR:

"Ethical egoism is a moral theory of the same type. It advocates that each of us divides the world into two categories of people--ourselves and all the rest-- and that we regard the interests of those in the first group as more important than those in the second. But each of us can ask, what is the difference between myself and others that justifies placing myself in this special category? Am I more intelligent? Do I enjoy my life more? Are my accomplishments greater? Do I have needs or abilities that are so different than the needs and abilities of others?

*What is it that makes me so special?*

Failing an answer, it turns out that Ethical Egoism is an arbitrary doctrine, in the same way that racism is arbitrary.

The argument then is this:

1. Any moral doctrine that assigns greater importance to the interests of one group than to those of another is unacceptably arbitrary unless there is some difference between the members of the groups that justifies treating them differently.

2.Ethical Egoism would have each person assign greater importance to his or her own interests than to the interests of others. ~But there is no general difference between oneself and others, to which each person can appeal, that justifies this difference in treatment~.

3. Therefore, Ethical Egoism is unacceptably arbitrary.

And this, in addition to arguing against Ethical Egoism, also sheds some light on the question of why we should care about others.

We should care about the interests of other people *for the very same reason we care about our own interests*; for their needs and desires are comparable to our own. Consider, one last time, the starving people we could feed by giving up some of our luxuries. Why should we care about them? We care about ourselves, of course--if we were starving we would go to almost any lengths to get food. But what is the difference between us and them? Does hunger affect them any less? Are they somehow less deserving than we? If we can find no relevant difference between us and them, then we must admit that if ~our~ needs should be met, so should ~theirs. It is this realization, that we are on a par with one another, that is the deepest reason why our morality must include some recognition of the needs of others, and why, then, Ethical Egoism fails as a moral theory."

---

!? Where to start with this Professor, except that his superficial arguments, and I have to think, deliberate misrepresentations reveals how puny and weak is the opposition.

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6 hours ago, anthony said:

You sense, perceive and identify what you can, of what there is. It's enough to keep any individual busy. And men have designed specialized 'instruments' and constructed hypotheses to "see" further, to perceive atomic structure of entities and search the galaxies. With your knowledge, you'll appreciate how outstanding these advances are. At all levels - direct perception, and acquired knowledge - a mind needs to create concepts on concepts on percepts, in that way to build up an "internal picture" of reality. I don't know what more you wish for. To visibly see atomic structures - X-ray vision? All of existence to be instantly revealed to you? For omniscience.. That is not given to us, thank god for that. I reckon for you, it has to be an "ineffable" consciousness, or nothing is good enough. One has to respect the sensory limitations of consciousness (as with the physical limits of a body, and of any existent) - or else turn to neo- mysticism - or else, doubt one's mind in disillusionment. 

The operation of the instruments (e.g. telescopes, microscopes etc)   is theory laden.  We need some kind of theory  to connect what our instruments tell (in a perceptible way)  about the  "invisible" entities that we cannot perceive.  Part of the connection  is hypothetical. 

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16 hours ago, anthony said:

James Rachels was Professor of Philosophy at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, circa '90's. I have his book, The Elements of Moral Philosophy.

I'll bet his spending of money and time is at least 90% for his own benefit, and maybe a very small number of others of his choosing, as opposed to any outsiders. Why does he find the outsiders so much less deserving than himself and his chosen few?

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12 hours ago, BaalChatzaf said:

Those "Einsteins"  provided you with your  GPS, your computer and with the means of surviving infections.   You dismiss your Benefactors  far too easily.

Bob--I was not denigrating or dismissing them.

--Brant

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13 hours ago, merjet said:

I'll bet his spending of money and time is at least 90% for his own benefit, and maybe a very small number of others of his choosing, as opposed to any outsiders. Why does he find the outsiders so much less deserving than himself and his chosen few?

You noticed that the ethical egoist is a "category" and group which assigns to itself "greater importance" of talents, needs, abilities - etc. - in order to call itself ethical egoists? He sees a collective of egoists ( in self-contradiction). And because "there is no general difference between oneself and others" (the "other group") - one's choice of the ethics is "arbitrary" and unjustified. He asks and implies  - what makes one think one is so different, or that special? ... because you, and your life, are not. But, if you ever felt hunger then you should care about the hungry, since there's "no relevant difference between us and them"..

Rachels' view tries to completely eliminate the concept of ~value~ from morality and men.

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58 minutes ago, anthony said:

You noticed that the ethical egoist is a "category" and group which assigns to itself "greater importance" of talents, needs, abilities - etc. - in order to call itself ethical egoists?

Yes. I didn't believe it was necessary to say that Rachels is a member of that group, whether he believes so or not.

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After quoting a passage from Rand on altruism, Rachels writes:

"By ~sacrificing one's life~ Rand does not necessarily mean anything so dramatic as dying.[...] Furthermore, throughout her writings Rand also suggests[!] that there is a *metaphysical* basis for egoistic ethics. Somehow[!], it is the only ethics that takes seriously the *reality* of the individual person.

She bemoans "the enormity of the extent to which altruism erodes men's capacity to grasp...the value of an individual life; it reveals a mind from which the reality of a human being has been wiped out".

What then of the starving people? It might be argued, in response, that Ethical Egoism "reveals a mind from which the reality of a human being has been wiped out"--namely, the human being who is starving." [!] J.Rachels

---

Although noting the "metaphysical" element in Rand's explanation, Rachels does not seem to understand - or evades - that Rand was denoting the metaphysical reality of "man", by virtue of the nature of man's mind -- thus, for all individuals and for all time. He does not take the leap from "the reality of the individual person" - to "man". Again, what happens when metaphysics is disregarded.

"Man's life is the standard of value..." The statement as central as it is to an honest appraisal of rational egoism, he doesn't address.

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