Objectivism and Tolerance...Your opinion.


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Is there room for the idea about tolerance within an objective approach?

Do you think that objectivism excludes tolerance?

I would greatly appreciate your opinions, and invite a discussion, for a NZ student wanting to understand more clearly, I thought I would come to ask you personally and to the heart of the matter with your weath of experience in Objectivism.

Thanks for your time.

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Hi Seekingsarah,

Welcome.

What kind of tolerance are you talking about?

Off the cuff, Objectivism is a philosophy and it is people who are tolerant or intolerant.

There is nothing inherent in the principles that will change you into an intolerant moralizer, if that's what you mean. There are many people who adopt Objectivism who are pretty nasty people to begin with, so they try to cover this with "moral intolerance" or something like that.

On the other hand, there are many nice people who adopt Objectivism. They tend to be benevolent (a term used much in Objectivism, but "nice people" is a good term too), which makes them more "tolerant" than the jerks. That doesn't mean they put up with bad things like murder, pedophilia and so forth.

There are two basic schools of Objectivism: ARI, which tends to be intolerant in matters concerning the philosophy and Rand's history, and they consider Objectivism a "closed system," and TOC, which believes in coexisting peacefully with people who are religious and hold other philosophies, prefer a "warts and all" history of Rand, and consider her work the starting point of Objectivism, not the final point ("open system"). There are some much smaller independent organizations, each with its own approach.

Ayn Rand was highly intolerant of many things and, from accounts, this side of her grew and got quirkier as she got older.

Here on OL, we are pretty intolerant of bickering and ill will. But we "tolerate" (encourage actually) intelligent discussion in checking premises that apparently is taboo or highly frowned upon at other places.

In general, you will find the intolerant people in Objectivism in the same manner you find them outside the philosophy. Those who group in tribes or gangs with a strong leader and have "us against them" approaches are intolerant. It's been that way throughout all human history.

Does that help?

(Edit - My post crossed with Paul's. He expressed the spirit wonderfully.)

Michael

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I have read David Kelley's "Truth and Toleration" (New edition is "The Contested Legacy of Ayn Rand") as well as Peikoff's and Schwatz's articles on the subject, and agree entirely with Kelley. If we do not excercise tolerance as a virtue, the alternative would be to withdraw from society and become hermits, or form objectivist colonies apart from the rest of society. Either way we would be forgoing the great value of dealing with mostly good people who have some mixed premises.

I know very few Objectivists personally that live in my area, and most of my friends that I meet through the hobbies and sports I enjoy are mostly DEFINITELY not Objectivists. Most of them have at least some belief in God, and they have a wide variety of philosophical and political beliefs. I have let them know what my beliefs are, but the thing is, while I am windsurfing, kitesurfing, or flying radio controlled airplanes, I am NOT talking politics or philosophy. I have to tolerate their differences in order to enjoy the very great value I gain from dealing with people who love certain activities we have in common. It would actually be very unselfish of me to try to proselytize when doing so would likely accomplish nothing much, and only cost me some friends.

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Seekingsarah,

There is one other comment I forgot to mention about tolerance.

Ideological intolerance is usually put into political practice through scapegoating - that is, targeting a person or group of people. Regardless of what these people do or say, they are judged as inherently evil and attacked. For example, the Nazis scapegoating Jews is an obvious example. This is a useful tool for organizing a gang, because hate and the heady feel of "trouncing an evil enemy" are easily manipulable emotions if you study crowd psychology.

Rand's works did set up some scapegoats: altruists, mystics and looters, however she could get personal, like calling Kant the most evil man in history. In fiction writing, bad guys are good for a plot and make for good reading. Real life is always more complicated than fiction as the variables increase by a vast margin. (In fiction, you have a theme as your "metaphysical" organizing principle - in real life, you have only have living in the full spectrum between all its glories and horrors.)

Some Objectivist organizations like to choose new scapegoats in the name of "reason." This is only a power thing, though. The trouble with scapegoating people is that you turn your reason off and go into collectivist mode. The final results are usually pretty ugly.

Michael

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I believe that if you are confident in yourself (healthy self-esteem), and you truly revere life, and civilization, your tolerance pretty much comes into place; it will measure itself well in most situations. Sometimes, often, intolerance comes from lack of understanding, unfamiliarity. Intolerant behavior is really something inward-turned, if you think of what the word tolerance actually means. Things like scapegoating, well, I have more direct terminology for that, but usually not in polite company...

best,

r

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Is there room for the idea about tolerance within an objective approach?

Yes. One must notice first and foremost that tolerance DOES NOT equate to acceptance. I can tolerate that someone talks about religion in their personal life but it doesn't meant that I accept religion into my own life. Tolerance also does not mean that you accept the Personal Bible of Subjectivism either. To me, it means understanding that another human being is on their own path and that their path is colored with their past experience and their unique identity. I would hope that their path converges with reality, truth, fact, happiness, and life. *How* the individual does that is up to them. Choices have consequences.

Do you think that objectivism excludes tolerance?

I think some people's take on objectivism excludes tolerance because they mistake tolerance for sanctioning, accepting, or "giving in" to some evil. Mindless tolerance gets you nowhere fast, as does mindless intolerance. It's up to your own insight and sagacity to know where to draw the line.

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That was very well stated Jenna. Tolerance is neither sanction nor agreement. Personally, I think of it as a neutral thing. Live and let live. We hear things nowadays about teaching tolerance. It is about not hating people for being different. It is better to just accept people for who they are, not what they are. Everyone is a unique individual with their own perspective. You don't have to agree with everything someone expresses to find value in them as a person. Sometimes you may choose not to tolerate them. You make your own choices and they make theirs.

Kat

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  • 3 weeks later...
Is there room for the idea about tolerance within an objective approach?

Do you think that objectivism excludes tolerance?

I would greatly appreciate your opinions, and invite a discussion, for a NZ student wanting to ...

(0) heretic /home/keeling_ dict tolerance

1. The power or capacity of enduring; the act of enduring;

endurance.

[1913 Webster]

I was recently involved in a discussion on Islam and Muslims: "What's honourable or good about Islam?"

I thought that was a pretty stupid question, and I replied mentioning Islamic architecture, quisine, and a few other things. It's also through the Arab nations that most of what we now know of the Hellenic Greeks was obtained. Xtian monks were ripping up their books and reusing the pages for their own writings. Meanwhile, the Arabs were preserving them. I can't tolerate book burners.

I've many friends and acquaintances who are religious; Christian or Muslim. I've no trouble tolerating them. Heck, they're my friends so it's more correct to say I appreciate them, despite my not agreeing with everything they think or accept. At the same time, they appreciate me for what they approve of in me.

Tolerance, as a value, is good for keeping the peace and that's about all. That's a good thing, I suppose, but not as good as appreciating whatever you believe to be a good, or denouncing or decrying evil.

We should keep an open mind, but not so open our brains fall out. :-)

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  • 4 weeks later...

I would take Howard Roark as a model for tolerance, and its limits.

When faced with architecture he didn't like, Roark did not attack the architects. Nor did he raise objections if someone had an atrocious structure built on his [the other person's] own property.

Neither did he pretend to agree with opinions he didn't share. It would have been another thing if (for example) Gordon Prescott had demanded the "right" to build something Roark didn't like, on Roark's property. That would have been the proverbial race horse of different colour.

Tolerance means respecting the line between mine and yours.

Tolerance of my actions should end, the moment my actions cross that line and violate someone else's legitimate rights. I underscore the word "legitimate" because I do not believe people have the "legitimate" right to tell me not to wear a T-shirt whose political message offends them. I don't tell them what they may or may not wear.

There is more that I could say. I will end the discussion here.

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It crossed my mind that even a more interesting topic than tolerance might be forgiveness.

Tolerance is good, properly applied. Forgiveness is a greater challenge.

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  • 1 month later...

the word also applies in engineering to the upper and lower limits of what will give acceptable performance.

one can view the individual h. sapiens as a mechanism that performs certain useful functions (or not) for the pursuit of one's values.

a person performing a function need not posses certain virtues to do his job well; if other attributes are irrelevant, he can still be tolerated in the specified context.

that's where we find truth- in a specified context, not floating abstractly.

then we examine ever larger contexts to see if other system performance may require adjustment of the tolerance, i.e., do we need to be more or less discriminating or general in order to achieve best economy til the projected exp. date of our dynasties or whatever, until the cost of evaluation itself exceeds the anticipated return on the effort.

it's amazing what a mixed bag of brilliance and stupidity may be encompassed within a single individual. fortunately, the fit survive and the truth persists. the splitting and the lumping to find the equilibrium that nature agrees is adequate are part of the process that carries us forth.

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I take forgiveness as this: people who don't forgive have no conception that people have potential to grow, change, learn, and become wise. People who don't forgive, or find it very hard to do so, have no real respect for human potential for good. And as always, if a person wants people to forgive them because they've learned, then it goes the other way too.

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my standards are these:

if the transgressor has the motive, means and opportunity to restore, repair or compensate the damage he's done, then fine- fix it and the claim vanishes and all is well- furthermore, the character has defined himself as responsible and safe to deal with.

if the transgressor has no such means, then it fell to me to exercise due diligence and i must adjust my tolerance with respect to what i allow myself to gamble on. forgiveness *may* be in the program- but i must be able to find a way to forgive myself first for sloppy tolerance settings. that generally means taking the steps to prevent the same error ocurring in future. that may mean 'delisting' somebody from the roster of associates with whom i deal and bitching at myself til i think i learned the lesson.

if the transgressor can but will not fix- then i have a salvage job. reclamation or compensation is first on the list, regardless of the transgressor's convenience. failing to achieve that, retribution might be next on the list- ahead of forgiveness. forgiveness is done at the sole discretion of the damaged party. the transgressor has no right to claim it. mr transgressor is obliged to inform himself that a victim may choose to set the price of his victimhood much higher than the life savings of the transgressor who may have made a seriously bad gamble as well.

forgiveness is 'writing off a bad debt'.

i've done it before to acknowledge my own failure in the bargain. it has to be accompanied by corrective action lest it be repeated and become a habit.

i've done it before to achieve the value of closing the case and recover some of my own brain power.

and i've done it before when the damage was simply irreparable.

i admit that i don't run into the situation often cuz as a general rule i do everything myself, so i know who is responsible for the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat. that guy gets hammered when he screws up. as a result of that discipline i have practically zero outstanding obligations. none have much potential to damage an innocent and make him do theses on ethics like we do here.

btw- it was a few weeks ago i actually completed ALL my promises and obligations in the whole world (but one) and i was not free! i was in danger of being bored- so i had to get up to my neck in something quick just to be comfortable...lol

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi:)

Could you give an example of an "objective approach" where the idea of "tolerance" might come into play?

"Tolerance", to me, implies a lack of agreement and a sense that it's OK for there to be that difference;i.e., that one feels no need to proselytize the "Objectivist" truth to the unenlightened.

In the sense given, it's not really a philosophical issue, but rather a maturational one. No matter what one's philosophy, if one talks with enough people and tries to have good vibes when talking, then one develops tolerance for others' opinions.

In much of life one can bypass stupidity or irrationality, so "tolerance" would be quite acceptable in Objectivism within that context. Sometimes one literally *must* have certain responses from people in order to live. In such cases, Objectivism would advocate "intolerance".

best wishes always,

Mike Rael

Is there room for the idea about tolerance within an objective approach?

Do you think that objectivism excludes tolerance?

I would greatly appreciate your opinions, and invite a discussion, for a NZ student wanting to understand more clearly, I thought I would come to ask you personally and to the heart of the matter with your weath of experience in Objectivism.

Thanks for your time.

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Hi Jenna:)

As I see it, forgiveness comes in 3 categories.

We got to forgive our parents for making mistakes as we grew up. All parents make some kinds of mistakes. Them's the cause of some kind of repression in just about everyone.

We got to forgive our enemies, and people who are malicious. We do this not out of altruism, but because it hurts us to hang onto resentments over time.

Most importantly, we got to forgive ourselves for the mistakes we made, and for the mistakes we continue to make. We *must* forgive ourselves, or else we focus on negatives and lose hope for the future.

These kinds of forgiveness don't come easily, particularly the latter one. I think that, for most folks, they end up hurting themselves ( to feel, paradoxically, more *in control* of their own hurts, which means their "destinies") far more than they are hurt by others. At least as adults. This is not to say that racial or religious discrimination don't exist. It's just that in a society such as ours, where so many wonderful strides have been made in those areas in the last 60 years, most of the time the prisons people experience are the ones they place themselves in every day of their lives.

best wishes always,

Mike Rael

I take forgiveness as this: people who don't forgive have no conception that people have potential to grow, change, learn, and become wise. People who don't forgive, or find it very hard to do so, have no real respect for human potential for good. And as always, if a person wants people to forgive them because they've learned, then it goes the other way too.
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