# Galt's Oath

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30 minutes ago, KorbenDallas said:

Ba'al, do negative numbers exist in reality?

Yes, there are negative temperatures, negative electrical charges (ions, for example), and negative acceleration is deceleration.

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3 minutes ago, merjet said:

Yes, there are negative temperatures, negative electrical charges (ions, for example), and negative acceleration is deceleration.

Negative temperatures and deceleration are computations based off a positive.  An electrical charge exists, which is a positive philosophically.

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13 minutes ago, merjet said:

Yes, there are negative temperatures, negative electrical charges (ions, for example), and negative acceleration is deceleration.

Sorry, but -10 degrees F below zero is not a negative except epistemologically speaking. The same for your acceleration/deceleration. "Negative electrical charges" connote something that exists. Everything that exists is actually positive metaphysically speaking.

A negative temperature is when you hit absolute zero and keep on going. That is literally impossible except in one's mind; there is nothing there. You cannot have less movement than no movement.

--Brant

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5 minutes ago, KorbenDallas said:

Negative temperatures and deceleration are computations based off a positive.  An electrical charge exists, which is a positive philosophically.

When you get much older and your body and memory recall start slowing down, let me know if you believe that's a positive.

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2 minutes ago, merjet said:

When you get much older and your body and memory recall start slowing down, let me know if you believe that's a positive.

That, I think, would be an exception

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8 hours ago, merjet said:

When you get much older and your body and memory recall start slowing down, let me know if you believe that's a positive.

Hit 90 in a Ford Interceptor last week. Hit 110 in a 1957 Ford Fairlane in 1965. (Loved that car.) Guess that means I've slowed down 25mph.

--Brant

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6 hours ago, merjet said:

When you get much older and your body and memory recall start slowing down, let me know if you believe that's a positive.

I believe it might be. The lovely is lovelier. Evil is not a surprise any more. The days matter.

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7 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

Hit 90 in a Ford Interceptor last week. Hit 110 in a 1957 Ford Fairlane in 1965. (Loved that car.) Guess that means I've slowed down 25mph.

--Brant

It seems like your arithmetic skill has slowed down by 5 mph.

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15 hours ago, KorbenDallas said:

Ba'al, do negative numbers exist in reality?  ie. Can you have -1 apples?  Can you travel -1 miles?  Can you have -1 seconds?

Do credits and debits exist?   Do temperatures  above and below freezing exist?  do motions to the left and right  exist? do bodies with more electrons than protons  exist?  Do bodies with more protons than electrons exist?

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On 8/14/2016 at 7:47 AM, Brant Gaede said:

As a newbie here and as an Objectivist newbie suffused with the philosophy of Ayn Rand you haven't begun to digest it all. (I think you said you were three years into it.)

No, I think you must be confusing me with someone else. I am new to this forum, but not new to Objectivism. I first read Atlas Shrugged 20 years ago, and soon after that I read all her fiction and non-fiction, and I've continued to read a lot of the other Objectivist literature as well. So I'm well-versed in Objectivism, and I do consider myself an Objectivist.

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Don, you can simply assume honesty here for the dishonest people leave soon enough; they can't get any traction. What we do have is people coming at things from their unique perspectives.

Thanks, that's good to know.

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1 hour ago, Don E. said:

I'm well-versed in Objectivism, and I do consider myself an Objectivist.

Good. Takes some bottom to say it.

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Don, oops--sorry. I did confuse you with someone else--someone else no longer here, gone 6 weeks.

--Brant

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2 minutes ago, wolfdevoon said:

Good. Takes some bottom to say it.

First I've ever read the phrase. I've never heard it. I assume it's a compliment, but there's another word for "bottom."

--Brant

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3 minutes ago, Brant Gaede said:

First I've ever read the phrase. I've never heard it. I assume it's a compliment, but there's another word for "bottom."

--Brant

I have long suspected that we hail from different planets. It's a music industry expression.

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2 minutes ago, wolfdevoon said:

I have long suspected that we hail from different planets. It's a music industry expression.

About which I'm almost completely ignorant.

--Brant

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merjet, thanks for elaborating. I do now see that your position is sincere, and I can sort of see where you're coming from, so I apologize for taking an accusatory tone earlier. But I still disagree with you. We may just have to agree to disagree. But I'll try to argue my side again.

On 8/14/2016 at 8:41 AM, merjet said:

Let's examine that general principle. You also said, like Ayn Rand did, "the beneficiary", which is singular and subtly excludes a second beneficiary. As I said earlier (link #1) and further explained (link #2), this posits a false dichotomy, as follows. The actor can be the only beneficiary, or somebody else can be the only beneficiary. In other words, the choice is (1) all the benefit to the actor and none to anybody else, or (2) all the benefit to somebody else and and none to the actor. There is no middle ground. That is a false dichotomy. The father buying braces and his daughter stand on that middle ground.

So the statement we're talking about (out of context) is: "The Objectivist ethics holds that the actor must always be the beneficiary of his action..." I agree that IF you interpret that literally, out of context, it presents a false dichotomy as you've pointed out, because it implies one beneficiary. Which is exactly why you can't interpret it literally and out of context! Obviously, an action can have any number of beneficiaries, including zero. It's just common sense that not all actions are single-beneficiary actions. And I believe Rand had some common sense. So I am forced to conclude that she didn't mean this as a literal statement to be applied universally and robotically to all actions. Instead, I look at the context and conclude that she meant this as a general principle, to contrast with the general principle of altruism, which is the purpose of the entire Introduction.

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I asked: What is your interpretation of the breach assertion? How does it exclude the father buying braces for his daughter? You replied:

Don E.: [quote]  I've already answered this question in my previous posts, and I've elaborated on it again above. The answer is that it is a general principle, not a commandment. [end quote]

I don't agree you've answered the question. I think you have tried to direct attention away from the breach assertion and not tackled it head-on. Here is her breach claim again: "[A]ny breach between actor and beneficiary necessitates an injustice: the sacrifice of some men to others, of the actors to the nonactors, of the moral to the immoral."  The father is the actor, and the daughter is a beneficiary. There is a breach, as you even admitted here.  In my last post I asked:

Me: [quote] 3. Could the beneficiary-breach passage in VoS have been better written? If so, how?

4. What is your interpretation of the breach assertion? How does it exclude the father buying braces for his daughter? [end quote]

You didn't answer either question. You did not explain how the father buying the daughter braces doesn't contradict her breach claim. Note that Rand wrote "any breach". At a minimum "total breach" or "complete breach" would have been much better. That would have hit her polemical target and only her polemical target. It would not have included the father buying his daughter braces.

I agree that the father/daughter situation does contradict the breach claim, IF and ONLY IF you interpret that breach claim literally and out of context. Which, again, is exactly why you can't interpret it literally and out of context!! Clearly, I think we both agree, it would be ridiculous to claim that it's always immoral for a father to buy braces for his daughter. And I don't think Rand was ridiculous. So again, I look at the context, and I am forced to conclude that she meant this as a general principle, not as a literal description of all possible actions under all circumstances.

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No, I do not believe Rand would have considered every case of a father buying his daughter braces immoral. On the other hand, what if she believed that the father's motive was "a moral duty" or "altruistic"?

I agree. It would be immoral according to Rand in the "moral duty" case. I made the same point in my earlier post here: link

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You have given no indication that there might be anything wrong with the breach claim. The only problem you've seen is "my interpretation". Do you believe the breach claim applies only to "altruism"? She didn't say that. Also, that is a way to whitewash the breach claim, but whitewashing isn't my style. Did Rand write the breach claim in an overzealous, polemical mood? Did she misfire and shoot herself in the foot? Did an editor/typesetter badly botch what Rand submitted and Rand failed to catch it? I don't know. I can't mind-read what her intentions were, but I can read with eyes wide open what she wrote literally. And I'm convinced there is something very wrong with her breach claim, whether she intended it or not.

I don't think there is anything wrong with the breach claim, in context. Could it have been worded better? You could make that argument, and I think that is your argument. I personally had no trouble understanding what she meant, because I was considering the entire context, so I would not ask her to reword it if I was given the chance. But, having said that, if you're asking me to rephrase it in my own words, expressing what I think she intended, I might put it like this:

"The altruist ethics holds that it is immoral for the actor to benefit from his own action, and that this is the only criterion of the morality of an action. In contrast, the Objectivist ethics holds that it is moral and proper for the actor to benefit from his own action; however, this is not the only, nor the primary, criterion in determining the morality of an action."

Do you agree with the above statement? And do you agree that's what she intended?

Again, I would NOT ask her to reword it, and I don't think any rewording is necessary, because she already said all of this explicitly and clearly in the surrounding context of that statement. I think it's my (and your) responsibility as the reader to take all of the available context into account when interpreting any statement.

Here's my theory about our different perspectives - correct me if I'm wrong. I think you're demanding a much higher precision from her writing than I am.

I look at communication in general as a two-way street. Yes, it is absolutely the responsibility of the writer to be as clear and precise as possible, so that the reader can understand what (s)he's saying. But, nobody is perfect, not even Ayn Rand, and therefore it is unreasonable to expect 100% precision from everyone all the time. So it's always the responsibility of the reader to consider all the available context, and try to come up with the most reasonable interpretation.

Moreover, in this case, Rand is not writing a PhD thesis on philosophy. She is writing essays, for the common man, with style and force and vigor, intentionally being provocative and uncompromising, because she's taking on the monumental task of challenging the philosophy of altruism, which has been embedded deep in human thought and religion and morality for thousands of years. And, this isn't even an essay, it's the Introduction to the essays. So again, as the readers, it's our responsibility to take all of that into account. When we see a statement that might sound crazy or unreasonable in the Introduction, it's our job to continue to read, and see what she really meant. And if it still doesn't make sense, re-read and consider the context again, until we find the reasonable interpretation, if it exists.

If a statement, when taken and interpreted out of context, leads to a false dichotomy, ridiculous result, or some other contradiction or irrational idea, it's our job as readers to consider the context and look for a more reasonable explanation. We should introspect and check our premises to see how we can read and understand better, and determine the author's actual intent. We should look for how we erred as readers. We can't place all of the blame on the author, especially when the author gave us plenty of explanatory context to consider. When faced with an irrational interpretation out of context, and a reasonable one in context, it is our duty, as honest readers, to use the context and choose the reasonable one.

So, I don't agree with you that the statement is inaccurate, in the context she put it in. But, even if it IS inaccurate, I believe that if you take it out of context and draw an unreasonable conclusion from it, you haven't done your due diligence as a reader, because a more reasonable explanation is readily available, if you consider the context.

So it seems like I place much more importance on context than you do - would you agree? I still believe you are omitting the context, and I still don't understand why you think it's ok to do so.

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Don, I went back and reviewed all your posts to re-orient myself on where I think you are coming from.

It's going to be very interesting to get our [hands on the?] first truly Ortho-Objectivist on OL. After 20 years you should be rock solid on it. Expect constantly being argued with. There is no extant Randian dictum here that rational people will rationally agree and out of that get along swell. It's much more like George H. Smith arguing with Jeff Riggenbach then they go into the kitchen for a beer, only there's no kitchen, beer or break unless it's solo.

--Brant

Fresh meat, everybody!

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28 minutes ago, wolfdevoon said:

Good. Takes some bottom to say it.

What's that supposed to mean? I get the impression that you're repeatedly going out of your way to hurl insults at me, and I'm not sure why.

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5 minutes ago, Don E. said:

What's that supposed to mean? I get the impression that you're repeatedly going out of your way to hurl insults at me, and I'm not sure why.

You just have to trust me, it was a compliment. I'm perfectly capable of insulting people openly, without ambiguity, which I very rarely do. I think it's solid, meaningful, takes bottom or guts to declare that you are an Objectivist, instead of "studying" it or quibbling about what Objectivism is. Okay?

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Don, you have to be very careful about the possibility of mis-representing Rand with in context/out of context or literally or not. She did state emphatically, "And I mean it!" She was--take her word for it--a moralist [and an absolutist]. Her philosophy--the philosophy of Ayn Rand (her "Objectivism") gives no room to swim around in, which is what we do here--lots and lots of swimming.

--Brant

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21 minutes ago, Brant Gaede said:

Fresh meat, everybody!

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1 hour ago, wolfdevoon said:

You just have to trust me, it was a compliment. I'm perfectly capable of insulting people openly, without ambiguity, which I very rarely do. I think it's solid, meaningful, takes bottom or guts to declare that you are an Objectivist, instead of "studying" it or quibbling about what Objectivism is. Okay?

Haha, ok, thanks for clarifying. And thanks for the compliment. I did look up "bottom" before I questioned you, because you seemed to be using it in a way unfamiliar to me, and I already "gaffed" on your "guffaw" earlier. But the only definitions I found were "the lowest part", "the buttocks", and also a rather untoward definition on urbandictionary.com: <link>. So it sounded like you were calling me some kind of lowly person, some kind of ass, or something else entirely (not that there's anything wrong with that). I'm glad you had another definition in mind.  I've never heard "bottom" as a synonym for "guts".

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1 hour ago, Brant Gaede said:

Don, I went back and reviewed all your posts to re-orient myself on where I think you are coming from.

It's going to be very interesting to get our [hands on the?] first truly Ortho-Objectivist on OL. After 20 years you should be rock solid on it. Expect constantly being argued with. There is no extant Randian dictum here that rational people will rationally agree and out of that get along swell. It's much more like George H. Smith arguing with Jeff Riggenbach then they go into the kitchen for a beer, only there's no kitchen, beer or break unless it's solo.

--Brant

Fresh meat, everybody!

Haha, sounds good. I've always been interested to hear rational people with reasonable arguments against Rand's ideas. Every criticism I've ever seen of her before has either misinterpreted her ideas, or been based on uninformed hearsay (i.e. people who have never even read her work, just heard that "it's all about selfishness"), or criticized her style rather than the substance, or attacked her as a person for insignificant things. And I've also heard the criticism that "you fall in love with Ayn Rand in high school, but then when you get into the real world, you grow out of her". And I've never understood how you can "grow out of" reason or reality. All of her ideas make sense to me, and seem to conform to reality. I fell in love 20 years ago, and I've continued to re-read her work since then, and I find it just as true and powerful as it was the first time. So I'm very interested to hear what parts of her philosophy people disagree with - reasonable people who have actually read and understood her ideas - and why.

I've even attempted to read Immanuel Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason", because she referred to his philosophy so many times as basically the root of all evil. But I couldn't even read one chapter - I found it unreadable and nonsensical. This just made me appreciate Rand's writing even more - how she writes plainly and clearly, with reasonable arguments, and elaborates on her ideas, and gives examples, in a way anyone can understand it.

Now that I know I'm not among dishonest attackers here, I think I will enjoy getting a different perspective, and examining her ideas deeper, and seeing if my arguments hold up.

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2 hours ago, wolfdevoon said:

I have long suspected that we hail from different planets. It's a music industry expression.

It's an old North England expression, having staying power, courage, 'balls'. None of that mentioned by slang online dictionaries, they all seem obsessed with gay sex.

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Jeez, the debate still ticks on. It's sent me back to VoS; it is good to see the clarity of her Intro again. It should, as ever, be taken *literally* in one swoop, no parsing, second-guessing and over-analyzing.

"If you wonder [yup]about the reasons behind the ugly mixture of cynicism and guilt [and how!] in which most men spend their lives, these are the reasons: cynicism [more today than ever] because they neither practice nor support the altruist morality--guilt because they dare not reject it"....

"The reasons why man needs a moral code will tell you that the purpose of morality is to define man's proper values and interests, that ~concern with his own interests~ is the essence of a moral existence, and that *man must be the beneficiary of his own moral actions*".

"Since all values have to be gained and/or kept by men's actions, any breach between actor ..." (no need to quote any further). I emphasised Rand's primary role of values from the start, not picked up on: one can't separate values, from actions, from life, from morality. i.e., not tolerate any breach.

Objectivism has a 100% value-virtue based morality I think.

The actor/beneficiary must get all he has -morally and virtuously- earned, in order to sustain and nurture his VALUES, his life the supreme one. And pay for those goddamn braces. His hierarchy of values should determine who will be the, um, "secondary beneficiary", tertiary, and so on.

"Man must be the beneficiary of his own moral actions".