AnitaB86

Do you sometimes hesitate to call yourself an objectivist?

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The word strikes me as a little culty when rank-and-file fans use it, on a par with some religion or other. If someone asks me who my favorite authors or thinkers are, I mention Rand. If something she said is germane to a conversation, I say it and give credit. I still like Nathaniel Branden's suggestion that we reserve the word to professional intellectuals actively engaged with the theory.

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s

Have you, Ba'al, never been alone? Physically, or metaphysically? Never faced a seemingly insurmountable problem, that not one other person can help you with?

That's the desert island.

No. But if I found myself isolated I would need basic survival skills more than ethics or morals.

1. Food, water, shelter, warmth are the first considerations, not ethical rights and wrongs.

2. Basic navigations skills so I can map the neighborhood. Any particular hazards? etc. etc.

3. Find out where I am and if I can signal my distress or communicate with others.

Where is there morality and ethics here?

Ba'al Chatzaf

Ba'al,

I don't know why you're being so obtuse about this. Before you do anything to save your own life you need to value your own life. An ethical system that places personal survival at the apex of the value hierarchy provides the best moral justification for the necessity to save your own life.

Hypothetical:

Two individual cases: these individuals are shipwrecked alone on a desert island.

Individual #1: Regards the situation is hopeless, makes minimal attempts to survive, becomes emaciated, dies after a few weeks when rescuers fail to come. His bones and little else are discovered some years later when the island is explored.

Individual #2: Spends every waking moment trying to improve his situation, builds shelters, discovers every food source available makes good use of it. He lives for many years, decades, before dying of natural causes. Years after his death his island is discovered. His bones are discovered along with his very well built shelters, stone and wood sculptures, poems and prose written in stones and carvings, and messages to family and possible descendants. Observations about the details of life on this island for every year he lived, how he survived are recorded for whoever may find it.

Question: Who is the more moral person? Individual 1 or 2?

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Anita B,

Labels are sometimes accurate and useful.

Years ago, I called myself an Objectivist. I don't any more, because I disagree with Rand about a number of issues, mainly in epistemology and aesthetics.

There is the further problem that certain people, most of them affiliated with the Ayn Rand Institute, want to monopolize the label for themselves and their tribe. Since they have become known for bad behavior and extremes of zeal, I'm willing to let them keep it.

Robert C

I just got to reading this one down (I have been busy partnering with Industrial Light & Magic, producing spectacular special effects for a Phil Coates thread) and Robert said most of what I was contemplating during said reading. Sometimes I will say "it is the Objectivist in me. . ." or something like that. If you do that, you can get Orthodox types saying you are either in, or out. This does not affect me, especially these days because of the rigid, judgmental behavior that so often oozes from them--their problem, not mine.

Anyway, I think it is a good question. If you are strong in an area, if you have been aligned with, or are now, strongly so with a system of thought, it is good to bring it up at least as a frame of reference. It is the question of labeling, of what is a group, vs. each unique individuality. And it depends upon which group you might be a part of. It is much more comfortable if you choose to associate yourself with something that resonates with you very strongly. For instance, I am very comfortable to say that I "am" a Unitarian Universalist. That is because I agree with and as much as possible practice the most basic tenets that define the UU world, and I am highly active within that community (primarily as a performing musician). But that is not the all of me, of course not. It gives me great pride and honor to say that I am, too, because of the good things that spring from that world, which include my own efforts. Open vs. closed is what you will find when discussing this in the O-world. I am in the open area. I have no interest in any form of Orthodoxy.

rde

Edited by Rich Engle

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In a third of a century, I've never called myself "an Objectivist," except inadvertently.

I have, however, been Objectivist for those same years.

The difference is between, respectively, a noun and an adjective. The noun connotes making myself conform to a particular set of ideas, one that was fixed with Rand's passing. (I would not call it a reified and untenable construct of "a philosophy," as I've written about at OL and elsewhere. No such entity legitimately exists.)

The adjective, on the other hand, connotes ideas that conform with and contribute to what I accept as being valid, from my own analyses and rational processes.

Everyone would do well to be Objectivist. Nobody should limit their abilities, achievements, outlooks, or personal independence by being an Objectivist.

Interesting distinction. The adjective is already growing on me.

(I am Objectivist. Mmm... I like it.)

Thank you

Tony

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I don't know why you're being so obtuse about this. Before you do anything to save your own life you need to value your own life. An ethical system that places personal survival at the apex of the value hierarchy provides the best moral justification for the necessity to save your own life.

Hypothetical:

Two individual cases: these individuals are shipwrecked alone on a desert island.

Individual #1: Regards the situation is hopeless, makes minimal attempts to survive, becomes emaciated, dies after a few weeks when rescuers fail to come. His bones and little else are discovered some years later when the island is explored.

Individual #2: Spends every waking moment trying to improve his situation, builds shelters, discovers every food source available makes good use of it. He lives for many years, decades, before dying of natural causes. Years after his death his island is discovered. His bones are discovered along with his very well built shelters, stone and wood sculptures, poems and prose written in stones and carvings, and messages to family and possible descendants. Observations about the details of life on this island for every year he lived, how he survived are recorded for whoever may find it.

Question: Who is the more moral person? Individual 1 or 2?

Morality does not apply. There was no question of wronging another person.

What does apply was the determination to survive. That is the exercise of a preference. Sort of like choosing between vanilla and strawberry. Or like between living and dying. Just a choice. And no other party was involved so it has no moral import whatsoever.

I would rather live than die. That has nothing to do with morality. Whereas choosing between stealing and not stealing. That is a moral choice. Why? Because stealing wrongs another.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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I don't know why you're being so obtuse about this. Before you do anything to save your own life you need to value your own life. An ethical system that places personal survival at the apex of the value hierarchy provides the best moral justification for the necessity to save your own life.

Hypothetical:

Two individual cases: these individuals are shipwrecked alone on a desert island.

Individual #1: Regards the situation is hopeless, makes minimal attempts to survive, becomes emaciated, dies after a few weeks when rescuers fail to come. His bones and little else are discovered some years later when the island is explored.

Individual #2: Spends every waking moment trying to improve his situation, builds shelters, discovers every food source available makes good use of it. He lives for many years, decades, before dying of natural causes. Years after his death his island is discovered. His bones are discovered along with his very well built shelters, stone and wood sculptures, poems and prose written in stones and carvings, and messages to family and possible descendants. Observations about the details of life on this island for every year he lived, how he survived are recorded for whoever may find it.

Question: Who is the more moral person? Individual 1 or 2?

Morality does not apply. There was no question of wronging another person.

What does apply was the determination to survive. That is the exercise of a preference. Sort of like choosing between vanilla and strawberry. Or like between living and dying. Just a choice. And no other party was involved so it has no moral import whatsoever.

I would rather live than die. That has nothing to do with morality. Whereas choosing between stealing and not stealing. That is a moral choice. Why? Because stealing wrongs another.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Thanks, you all! Interesting posts!! I'm in a thinking mode now.

Pip, no worries.

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I find it interesting to learn that a large minority like Bob Kolker simply don't even know what Objectivism is, while the rest apparently seem more concerned with the opinions of others than anything else, showing they too don't get it. Does no one here think that what matters is the definition of the term and whether, in fact, it applies to him in the individual case?

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I find it interesting to learn that a large minority like Bob Kolker simply don't even know what Objectivism is, while the rest apparently seem more concerned with the opinions of others than anything else, showing they too don't get it. Does no one here think that what matters is the definition of the term and whether, in fact, it applies to him in the individual case?

I have read the sacred scriptures of Objectivism thoroughly. Do not confuse a lack of agreement with a lack of understanding.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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I find it interesting to learn that a large minority like Bob Kolker simply don't even know what Objectivism is, while the rest apparently seem more concerned with the opinions of others than anything else, showing they too don't get it. Does no one here think that what matters is the definition of the term and whether, in fact, it applies to him in the individual case?

Ted:

Yep. Me Ted that is why I am the one maybe in the poll. I need a definition to answer the poll.

Adam

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I find it interesting to learn that a large minority like Bob Kolker simply don't even know what Objectivism is, while the rest apparently seem more concerned with the opinions of others than anything else, showing they too don't get it. Does no one here think that what matters is the definition of the term and whether, in fact, it applies to him in the individual case?

I have read the sacred scriptures of Objectivism thoroughly. Do not confuse a lack of agreement with a lack of understanding.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Well, yes, even the poorest of students can say something coherent about Shakespeare if he limits himself to stating the obvious truth that he does not appreciate the poet.

Having read does not mean having understood, and in your case, certainly doesn't mean having the ability to apply or even explain in your own words faithfully what you have read. You have demonstrated your rather conventional lack of understanding of Objectivism repeatedly, from metaphysics to epistemology, with your recent equivocation of ethics and politics, equating the ethical treatment of others with ethics itself, as the latest example.

The essence of Objectivism is its hierarchical theory of concepts, with rejection of the stolen concept being its central tenet. Almost every philosophical error you make (and most others make) results from your not having learned that lesson.

Edited by Ted Keer

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I find it interesting to learn that a large minority like Bob Kolker simply don't even know what Objectivism is, while the rest apparently seem more concerned with the opinions of others than anything else, showing they too don't get it. Does no one here think that what matters is the definition of the term and whether, in fact, it applies to him in the individual case?

Ted:

Yep. Me Ted that is why I am the one maybe in the poll. I need a definition to answer the poll.

Adam

Don't you sometimes feel like we are on a rather peculiar desert island -- one with a zombie-overcrowding problem?

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The essence of Objectivism is its hierarchical theory of concepts, with rejection of the stolen concept being its central tenet. Almost every philosophical error you make (and most others make) results from your not having learned that lesson.

What you call "my error" is my coherent and logically consistent view. I am not plagued by contradictions. My brain does not work like your brain and my view is not your view. I have a different operating system from yours.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Anita,

I am an Objectivist, but I rarely use the word to refer to myself anymore because I always have to qualify it.

I am not the kind of Objectivist who is on a mission to save the world by spreading the Good News of Ayn Rand and denouncing irrational evil in all forms at all times.

I am a person who was (and is) highly influenced by Ayn Rand's works, but who uses them as a starting point to look at the big wide world of ideas, regardless of their shape and size. I do my own thinking and essentially I am a Michael-Kellyist. :)

Since I learned her stuff, though, I know what I learned. I see no reason to disqualify that, especially as I agree with most of it. But over time, I am coming to the view that many of her notions are correct within a more limited scope than what she presented. (For example, you can reprogram some of your subconscious, but not all of it. Things like that.)

I also include Nathaniel Branden's input as another standard to use in judging things. Rand's focus was on good and evil. Nathaniel's is on healthy and unhealthy. This is more pronounced in his works after the break--but it was already noticeable in parts of his earlier work.

I am an Objectivist in that sense.

I don't like the fact that this term comes with a public branding effect due to some other people who use the term, but who are quite nasty and vocal and use mental blinders.

There was a time when I was considering dropping the title because of this, but some of those nasty people tried to bully me into doing it and I got pissed. (I can't stand bullies.) They claimed that my use of the term was not valid because I didn't agree with them and that the word Objectivism was somehow the personal property of Ayn Rand and her more fundy followers. I said it wasn't, and it isn't. So I kept the term.

At times, though, I swear, I feel like I am using a term like Scientology or something and, frankly, I don't like being identified with people I don't believe in--nor like.

Something once happened to me that made me acutely aware of this. I corresponded for a while with Michael Prescott, a former Objectivist and now best-selling thriller author. I will never forget when he made a post on his blog that started like this:

Objectivist Michael Stuart Kelly says...

I remember thinking, "Oh my God. The readers of his blog are going to think that I am like one of those snarky dudes."

:)

So I commented on his blog back then and made my qualification.

Even today, that's what I feel I have to do when I go to other places. It's inconvenient, but I believe it's necessary.

Is all this worth it? In the end, I think so. At the present, it's irritating. But time will pass and all of us will go into history. Some will be remembered and some won't. I don't hold much hope for the reputation of the fundies once Rand's works enter into the public domain and more scholarly works are written about her and her works from truly objective people. I think her ideas will spread and become part of mankind's intellectual wealth despite those folks. I'm convinced that it certainly won't be in the form they try to impose on others.

Also, don't forget that the Atlas Shrugged movie is going to hit this year. I expect to see a lot of dust spinning all over the place about this stuff.

But in short, I am not Objectivist Michael Stuart Kelly with what that implies fundy-wise. I am simply Michael Stuart Kelly, a person who knows and cares about Objectivism as a main interest among several others.

I hope that helps you a bit in thinking through what you will ultimately conclude.

Michael

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The essence of Objectivism is its hierarchical theory of concepts, with rejection of the stolen concept being its central tenet. Almost every philosophical error you make (and most others make) results from your not having learned that lesson.

A view of concept formation not the least bit supported by neurophysiology. It is Rand's opinion of how concepts are formed.

Write us when Rand's view is scientifically corroberated.

Rand couldn't prove Noether's theorem, but I can. . Perhaps her mode of concept formation was deficient.

My system of metaphysics, if you want to call it that is very simple:

There is an Out There out there and neurologically competent human beings can grasp enough of it to survive.

End of my metaphysical doctrine. I call it Reality Lite.

I am surviving. How are you doing?

Ba'al Chatzaf

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A view of concept formation not the least bit supported by neurophysiology. It is Rand's opinion of how concepts are formed.

Write us when Rand's view is scientifically corroberated. [sic]

Your usual materialist nonsense and blustering non-sequitur, Bob. You offer no evidence that neurophysiology contradicts Rand's theories - which you have yet to coherently show you even comprehend once on this forum. Nor do you offer the neurophysiological basis for such bullshit talismans of yours such as Goedel's Theorem.

If I thought you were interested in a theory of brain function coherent with brain science and Rand's theory of concepts I'd refer you to Jeff Hawkins' On Intelligence.

But I understand you are too busy with your brilliant long-awaited refutation of Harriman.

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Your usual materialist nonsense and blustering non-sequitur, Bob. You offer no evidence that neurophysiology contradicts Rand's theories - which you have yet to coherently show you even comprehend once on this forum. Nor do you offer the neurophysiological basis for such bullshit talismans of yours such as Goedel's Theorem.

She put forth the theory. The burden of proof is on her (or those who advocate her theory). As far as I can tell, her theory of concept formation is just another instance of pop-psychology having little or no grounding in neuro-physiology.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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She put forth the theory. The burden of proof is on her (or those who advocate her theory). As far as I can tell, her theory of concept formation is just another instance of pop-psychology having little or no grounding in neuro-physiology.

Ba'al Chatzaf

you may qualify for the quote

"it is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing."

gnite

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Ba'al,

I don't know why you're being so obtuse about this. Before you do anything to save your own life you need to value your own life. An ethical system that places personal survival at the apex of the value hierarchy provides the best moral justification for the necessity to save your own life.

I am genetically obtuse. I am literal minded. If morality is about right and wrong, then it must concern those who are treated rightly or wrongly. It is all about the decisions we make in dealing with others, the only persons whom we can possibly wrong, in the moral sense. Which leaves the question open: can we wrong ourselves? Answer: not in the moral or ethical sense. Since we all are self owners anything we do to ourselves is within the domain of permissible behavior. And if we wrong ourselves, in the sense of harming ourselves, it is our very own property we are damaging, which we have a perfect right to do. Self harm due to stupidity or error is not a moral issue at all. It is akin to making a mistake in arithmetic. Oops! We hurt ourselves, we pick ourselves up and learn not to do it again. On the other hand, the wrong we do to others is violating their property rights (in themselves). That is a moral/ethical no no. Which is why I claim there are no moral issues in a world consisting of just one human or no humans.

I will go one further. There are no moral/ethical facts either. Nothing in morality and ethics flows from physical laws. There are facts about this moral code or that moral code but those facts ABOUT moral codes pertain to the moral codes whatever they may happen to be. Morality is a kind of convention. It is a set of rules made on how to play the game by participants in the game. Humans have been making up moral codes ever since there have been humans. The fact that there is no moral code which is grounded in physical nature tells us that morality is not about the factual, real makeup of the world outside our skins. The laws of gravitation (for example) are graven into the very stuff of the world. We don't make these laws up out of whole cloth. We have to identify what the world is to come by these laws. Moral laws on the other hand are conventions. They could be this, they could be that. Which is why there are so many different moral codes. The matter and energy of the world do not determine them.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Which leaves the question open: can we wrong ourselves? Answer: not in the moral or ethical sense. Since we all are self owners anything we do to ourselves is within the domain of permissible behavior.

Bob,

Your standard is 100% other people. (Permissible by whom? For instance. Who decides what is "permissible"? Other people, of course.)

Replace that standard with man's nature and you can easily see how you can act unethically to yourself.

Consciously choosing to take the easy way out when you know for a fact that it is wrong to your own best interests is a good example. From the standard of other people, there is no ethical wrong. From the standard of man's nature, you are violating it by choosing against yourself.

Even the golden rule from religion ("Do unto others as you would do unto yourself") is seated in man's nature and not other people as the fundamental standard.

Michael

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Which leaves the question open: can we wrong ourselves? Answer: not in the moral or ethical sense. Since we all are self owners anything we do to ourselves is within the domain of permissible behavior.

Bob,

Your standard is 100% other people. (Permissible by whom? For instance. Who decides what is "permissible"? Other people, of course.)

Replace that standard with man's nature and you can easily see how you can act unethically to yourself.

Consciously choosing to take the easy way out when you know for a fact that it is wrong to your own best interests is a good example. From the standard of other people, there is no ethical wrong. From the standard of man's nature, you are violating it by choosing against yourself.

Even the golden rule from religion ("Do unto others as you would do unto yourself") is seated in man's nature and not other people as the fundamental standard.

Michael

Permissible in two senses:

a. What we permit our selves to do.

b. What will result in forcible interference. That is a practical definition of not permissible. What will bring the cops and the army down on one.

And whatever I do to myself, be it good or ill is within MY rights as self owner. I can dispose of myself in anyway I choose provided I do not harm others in the process. In particular the right of suicide which is as sure as the right to life.

I reject the atomic, non-social or a-social definition of morality. Morality is primarily (if not exclusively) about how we act in relation to other human agents who also are self owners and have certain rights (such as the right to life and the right to commit suicide). Which is why I (logically) conclude that morality is either moot or non-existent in a world with one or zero human inhabitants.

No one is under any moral obligation to treat himself well or to flourish or even survive. If one does set out to do well by himself, he is simply exercising a preference as in choosing between cake or ice cream for desert. Likewise, if one sets out to do ill to himself. His choice, his preference and no one else should interfere or interpose. Anyone who prevents a suicide is a buttinsky.

My motto: Hands off. Mind your own business as I will mind my business and keep my hands off of what is yours.

What is Mine is Mine, What is Yours is Yours.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Bob,

You are floating back and forth between fundamental and non-fundamental, and between cause and effect, treating them all as if they were the same.

Ironically, by wanting to be in total control of yourself and call that morality, you fundamentally have given it up to other people.

But anyway, boy, did I screw up.

The golden rule is actually, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." And that is still seated in man's nature within the meaning I am using.

Michael

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Bob,

You are floating back and forth between fundamental and non-fundamental, and between cause and effect, treating them all as if they were the same.

Ironically, by wanting to be in total control of yourself and call that morality, you fundamentally have given it up to other people.

l

You are saying because I do not want to be a thief, murderer and defrauder and well as a person who mistreats orphans and widows that I have given up control to others? Nonsense. Nonsense^2. Crapdoodle! I am rationally selfish and egotistical to the bone. I live for my own sake protecting myself and that which I value.

My ego is bigger than your ego. Whip it out and let us compare!

Ba'al Chatzaf

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You are saying because I do not want to be a thief, murderer and defrauder and well as a person who mistreats orphans and widows that I have given up control to others?

Bob,

Dayaamm!

Did I say that?

Where?

(btw - Do I hear someone protesting too much?)

:)

Michael

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Anita,

Just came here for a little "recreation" and saw your post.

In the old days I didn't call myself an Objectivist because I thought that I didn't know enough. I still think that I have some pretty ignorant stretches of mental real estate on that subject, but now I constantly introduce myself as an Objectivist because the isms are becoming important in terms of offering shortcuts to people who want to know from whence you are coming and because I have a little to say on the subject and hope to arouse some curiosity about it.

The more time I spend in studying the Objectivist philosophy, the less terrifying the daily news is to me. More importantly, I'm becoming acquainted with other O'ists and so have others to turn to when I need answers in an area with which I'm not knowledgable. In short - being an Objectivist makes me happy.

May you find some happy times here in OL land.

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