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15uliane
Post  Post subject: Objectivism  |  Posted: Sat Jun 22, 2013 5:06 am
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In the course of a little research for a little project I was doing I stumbled across a site dedicated to all things Ayn Rand. Normally I would have run ten miles in the opposite direction, but Ayn Rand's summary of objectivism posted front and center on the main page caught my eye, specifically point #3:

Quote:
Man—every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.

-Ayn Rand Institute (http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer? ... vism_intro)

When I saw this I got to thinking: what if she is right? What if man's individual happiness is the highest purpose of life? It seems cold and conflicts with my inner moral compass, but it also seems like an intelligent proposition.

I am hoping that you, the TSF community, could help me out here by airing your opinions/arguments for or against objectivism.


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iNow
Post  Post subject: Re: Objectivism  |  Posted: Sat Jun 22, 2013 5:20 am
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There is some truth in that comment, of course, but I think it misses a larger point. We would very much struggle to exist and to find that happiness were it not for the contributions of others. We are a social species. We have been successful as a result of our collaboration with each other. We've done great things because we've pooled our resources and helped one another, protected each other, and shared in large tasks like farming and dam building, etc.

To suggest that "it's all about me" I think misses a much more important point... that same "me" would be next to nothing if isolated and alone without others to offer a supporting structure.

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tridimity
Post  Post subject: Re: Objectivism  |  Posted: Sat Jun 22, 2013 7:32 am

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I agree with iNow's comments. I would add also that the second and third sentences of Rand's pose a potential contradiction: pursuing one's self-interest and one's own happiness may conflict with that of others (therefore sacrificing others to oneself). As for morality, I think the majority of us would agree that whilst we owe it to ourselves to protect our own self-interest to some extent, this is not sufficient for living a truly moral life - we must balance this with the needs of others. However, taken to its extreme, utilitarianism becomes a lacklustre path to universal happiness and morality: only the majority are satisfied and it is easy to imagine a world in which efficiency is optimised to the point where people realise that, actually, efficiency isn't always the most desirable option or the one most conducive to wellbeing.

You can hang your hat on the fact that 'every man is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others.' Like any other species of organism, humans do not need a purpose (indeed we do not truly have one). Life is about self-development and learning, none of us ever graduate from the Universe, there is always so much more to learn.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ~ Howard Thurman

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iNow
Post  Post subject: Re: Objectivism  |  Posted: Sat Jun 22, 2013 4:22 pm
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I'm reminded of this short article I read a while back by Jeffrey Sachs about how absurdities and extreme conclusions result from these simple-minded and one-dimensional objectivist and libertarian views of the world. I've quoted a few bits below, but the whole thing is worth the read and is close to the topic, IMO.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeffrey-s ... 07878.html
Quote:
Like many extreme ideologies, libertarianism gives a single answer to a complicated world. It seems to cut through the fog and get to the heart of solutions; illusions, alas, but powerful ones nonetheless.

Libertarianism is the single-minded defense of liberty. Many young people flock to libertarianism out of the thrill of defending such a valiant cause. They also like the moral freedom that libertarianism seems to offer: it's okay to follow one's one desires, even to embrace selfishness and self-interest, as long as it doesn't directly harm someone else.

Yet the error of libertarianism lies not in championing liberty, but in championing liberty to the exclusion of all other values. Libertarians hold that individual liberty should never be sacrificed in the pursuit of other values or causes. Compassion, justice, civic responsibility, honesty, decency, humility, respect, and even survival of the poor, weak, and vulnerable -- all are to take a back seat.

<snip>

By taking an extreme view -- that liberty alone is to be defended among all of society's values -- libertarians reach extreme conclusions. Suppose a rich man has a surfeit of food and a poor man living next door is starving to death. The libertarian says that the government has no moral right or political claim to tax the rich person in order to save the poor person. Perhaps the rich person should be generous and give charity to the neighbor, the libertarian might say (or might not), but there is nothing that the government should do. The moral value of saving the poor person's life simply does not register when compared with the liberty of the rich person.

Most ethical and political systems find the libertarian position abhorrent, indeed preposterous. Most would hold that the government can, should, and indeed must, tax the rich person to save the poor person. That's because most ethical and political systems hold that liberty is only one value among many important values, and that the value of the indigent's life takes priority over the liberty of the rich individual.

Libertarians defend their single-mindedness on three separate grounds: ethical, economic, and political. Ethical libertarians, exemplified by the late novelist Ayn Rand, hold that liberty is the only true virtue. Rand claimed when a rich man responds to a poor person's plea for help (even by giving mere pennies), the rich man actually debases himself.

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tridimity
Post  Post subject: Re: Objectivism  |  Posted: Sat Jun 22, 2013 5:15 pm

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There is a major discrepancy between the working definition of libertarianism as 'self-interest that does not incur direct harm for others' versus the examples given in the text (disrespecting others, failing to provide aid to those members of society most in need - are not these examples of directly inflicting harm upon others?)

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bunbury
Post  Post subject: Re: Objectivism  |  Posted: Sat Jun 22, 2013 8:15 pm
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Most individuals reject out of hand the idea that selfishness is a moral duty. It is different for corporations, for which attempting to do the best job of making money for shareholders is a fiduciary requirement. Thus, if a corporation decides to manufacture shoes in Indiana and pay decent wages, its officers could in theory be sued because they could have built their shoe factory in Indonesia and made more profit, never mind that the Indonesian workers don't get a living wage, or health care, and live in cardboard shacks. So Rand's philosophy is with us even if we don't always realize it, and we subscribe to it through the mutual funds in our savings accounts.


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GiantEvil
Post  Post subject: Re: Objectivism  |  Posted: Sun Jun 23, 2013 1:00 am
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I've always found objectivism quite objectionable.
Anyhow, according to Richard Dawkins, game theory and evolutionary biology say that Ayn Rand was just simply wrong.

Hmm, can't seem to make the u-tube thingy work. URL then;http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=BA4dZ6NVNbk

EDIT by iNow: Fixed it for you. Needed to take out the feature=player_embedded bit. :)

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15uliane
Post  Post subject: Re: Objectivism  |  Posted: Sun Jun 23, 2013 4:20 pm
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Thanks to all for your comments.

It seems that the general sentiment is that objectivism's fallacy lies in the fact that it ignores all values other than self-interest, and in the fact that biologically and historically we have seen that communities that work together are more successful than those who don't.

Correct me if I am wrong!


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tridimity
Post  Post subject: Re: Objectivism  |  Posted: Sun Jun 23, 2013 4:28 pm

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Thanks for the video, GiantEvil. Dawkins has a way of presenting his own brilliant ideas in a truly lucid fashion. Really enjoyable 45 minutes.

The part about tit-for-tat as a stable winning strategy under conditions that satisfy the requisite critical mass of tit-for-tatters reminded me of religions and, in particular, Christianity. I have always found Christians' simultaneous positions of forgiveness and retaliation ('an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth') intellectually contradictory. Perhaps instead Christianity can be understood as the tit-for-tat strategy played out across generations and in very large numbers (critical mass criterion satisfied) such that the social rules of all Christians come to be defined in this way, based in part on intellectual considerations, but embedded ultimately in natural selection occurring at the level of the gene? Co-selection of genes and memes.

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jimmydasaint
Post  Post subject: Re: Objectivism  |  Posted: Mon Jun 24, 2013 6:36 pm
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tridimity wrote:
I agree with iNow's comments. I would add also that the second and third sentences of Rand's pose a potential contradiction: pursuing one's self-interest and one's own happiness may conflict with that of others (therefore sacrificing others to oneself). As for morality, I think the majority of us would agree that whilst we owe it to ourselves to protect our own self-interest to some extent, this is not sufficient for living a truly moral life - we must balance this with the needs of others.


Whose idea of morality are you referring to? Is all morality not relative? Otherwise Socrates would not have been forced to drink poison because he was "perverting" the youth of Athens with his thinking.

tridimity wrote:
However, taken to its extreme, utilitarianism becomes a lacklustre path to universal happiness and morality: only the majority are satisfied and it is easy to imagine a world in which efficiency is optimised to the point where people realise that, actually, efficiency isn't always the most desirable option or the one most conducive to wellbeing.


This bit is very interesting because a utilitarian framework is effectively repression of the minority by the majority. Having read J.S. Mill a few years ago, I could subscribe to the view that a person should have the means to pursue their own happiness, as long as they do not trample on the rights of others or harm themselves. However, I cannot envisage the possibility of individual pursuit of happiness unless one does take away the rights of others. In a free market world, the winners can only be winners if there are also losers.

tridimity wrote:
You can hang your hat on the fact that 'every man is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others.' Like any other species of organism, humans do not need a purpose (indeed we do not truly have one). Life is about self-development and learning, none of us ever graduate from the Universe, there is always so much more to learn.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ~ Howard Thurman


However, don't you feel truly alive when the purpose of your life is greater than yourself? Be honest here! You will be helping to save lives in the future and putting your efforts into that worthwhile endeavour. IF our purpose here is to outstretch our hands to others to help them rise, then our purpose is not in vain, and our existence not a mere waste of entropy.

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seagypsy
Post  Post subject: Re: Objectivism  |  Posted: Tue Jun 25, 2013 8:00 am
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First a disclaimer: I am not a well read person. I rarely have any interest in the opinions of others unless they have relevance and/or direct effect on me. I don't know or care who this Rand character is and Dawkins is a name I only recently read. I kinda got fed up with other people's opinions after reading the entirety of a religious text that I was supposed to teaching to followers on Wednesday evenings many years ago.

I form my opinions based on my own observations. Are they objective? I doubt it. I'm not even sure I fully comprehend what that word means. Over time, I have given up on finding any evidence of any god, morality, ethics, or behavioral constant that can be described as good or bad, right or wrong. I see us as just another species of animal life on this planet. One which clearly has the propensity and staggering talent to justify any and every possible action one can take. And the same level of talent for judging that same action as deplorable, inappropriate or evil. And our motivations for labeling things in such a way seems, from my perspective, to be motivated by selfishness, sociopathy, and instinct. We are able to convince ourselves and those around us otherwise because we need to in order for the process to work. And we need the process to work on an individual basis because we all want to survive and breed.

Over time, we discover that the ultimate goal of surviving and breeding can only be obtained by making personal sacrifices. We are forced to demonstrate concern for others. Because if we help them, they will help us. We are not biologically capable of surviving and breeding alone. The majority of us figure this out early in childhood, though it is something most parents actively teach. Would a child that grows up in the forest away from parents show concern for other humans if they were discovered later on. Probably not. But they may show concern for species that they have come to depend on for survival. Maybe they know if they stay close to deer, the deer will alert them to danger, even if unintentional. So they become careful to not scare off deer grazing in a glen. Maybe they discover that keeping particular insects around help to keep insects they dislike away. So they are careful not to destroy the beneficial insects.

When I say we are selfish and sociopathic i do not mean it in the negative way that it is usually perceived. But to act solely on the reward system of the brain, learning to delay reward in order to get a greater reward, or making a small sacrifice for an ultimate pay off is still selfish and sociopathic. Breeding may be the only thing we do that is not necessarily selfish but even that can be. Ask someone why they want a child and more often they will start their response with "Because I want...." Our own personal desires drive us. But wisdom tells us that personal sacrifices are the only means to come near to achieving our desires. developing emotional attachments to those people who we need masks the sacrifices we make and actually turns those sacrifices into acts that will trigger the dopamine release in the brain. But only after your brain connects the sacrifice with the eventual external reward one gets for making that sacrifice.

This is not intended to say we are all monsters, that's something else I do not believe in. I do not believe in evil, bad, or wrong. I do not believe in benevolence, good or right either. I think whatever the majority of people agree to becomes the definitions of those terms and the definitions of those terms are subjective from one culture to the next. When we see someone acting against the norm of the local culture, we call call them bad. But are they really, or do they just fit better in some other culture. or maybe their brain did not wire the punishment reward system the same way as the rest of us. They are different. They are contradictory to what the local culture approves of. They are unpleasing to the local culture. And sometimes to the point that the local culture calls on special members thereof to dispose of the offender in a nice neat way that does not offend our personal desires to maintain the delusion we create.

I do my best not to offend my local culture. Because I do not want to be disposed of. It has noting to do with respect for the culture or agreement with it. I am simply out numbered. and wisdom tells me to comply or die.

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tridimity
Post  Post subject: Re: Objectivism  |  Posted: Wed Jun 26, 2013 11:54 am

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Quote:
jimmydasaint wrote:
Whose idea of morality are you referring to? Is all morality not relative?


Of course morality is relative, which is why I said ‘I think the majority of us would agree’. If you were to plot people’s responses to the question regarding Rand’s point, probably you would end up with a normal distribution, with the majority of people concurring with the opinion that self-interest must be tempered with the interest of others. A minority of people would fall at the extremes, regarding either self interest or self-sacrifice as the morally correct position.


Quote:
jimmydasaint wrote:
However, I cannot envisage the possibility of individual pursuit of happiness unless one does take away the rights of others. In a free market world, the winners can only be winners if there are also losers.


Perhaps in a purely free market context this would hold true. In reality the US and UK provide a welfare buffer on the back of capitalist profit. And for some people, empowering others as well as themselves is the key to happiness – by definition ruthless pursuit of self interest, at the expense of others’ wellbeing, would preclude their own happiness.

Quote:
jimmydasaint wrote:
However, don't you feel truly alive when the purpose of your life is greater than yourself? Be honest here! You will be helping to save lives in the future and putting your efforts into that worthwhile endeavour. IF our purpose here is to outstretch our hands to others to help them rise, then our purpose is not in vain, and our existence not a mere waste of entropy.


Yes – however there comes a point at which securing the survival and reproduction of other members of our species, and of other species, fails to provide sufficient subjective meaning in life (at least for most people). Imagine if the arts were destroyed and life was essentially just perpetuating genes, over and over. Then we would have no more meaning than that provided by the blind forces of natural selection – not much to live for if you ask me. We need a healthy balance of Science and the Arts, for this reason. As for our purpose not being in vain: that depends on the opinion of the individual. We have no objective purpose, as far as I can tell. Can you see an objective purpose? I was thinking recently, if the reason that people (in general) prefer to stay alive than to die is merely because natural selection has favoured that response, then can the individual really be said to have free will? And what implications does that have for murder cases?

Quote:
seagypsy wrote:
I form my opinions based on my own observations. Are they objective?


No – by definition that is impossible.

Quote:
seagypsy wrote:
I see us as just another species of animal life on this planet. One which clearly has the propensity and staggering talent to justify any and every possible action one can take. And the same level of talent for judging that same action as deplorable, inappropriate or evil. And our motivations for labeling things in such a way seems, from my perspective, to be motivated by selfishness, sociopathy, and instinct. We are able to convince ourselves and those around us otherwise because we need to in order for the process to work. And we need the process to work on an individual basis because we all want to survive and breed.


Same – natural selection will in general favour those who promote the survival and propagation of their own genes and those of others. Probably much of the framework of our contemporary Western morality is nothing more than the gut instinct emerging from the fact that we are the end products of this process. We may attempt to intellectually justify our positions, but when it comes down to it, our reasoning is nothing more than ‘I wouldn’t like it done to me so it is wrong to do it to others’. Pretty primitive.

Quote:
seagypsy wrote:
Over time, we discover that the ultimate goal of surviving and breeding can only be obtained by making personal sacrifices. We are forced to demonstrate concern for others. Because if we help them, they will help us. We are not biologically capable of surviving and breeding alone.


Reciprocal altruism

Quote:
seagypsy wrote:
The majority of us figure this out early in childhood, though it is something most parents actively teach.


And religious institutions – just another way of reinforcing survival strategies, with nuances to accommodate the fact that we are socially complex. Breaking the rules of the social/religious group (with whom one needs to co-operate in order to secure survival and reproductive advantages) means retaliation/forgiveness (at least in Christianity) so promoting an evolutionarily stable strategy – see the recent Dawkins video ‘Nice Guys Finish First’; tit-for-tatters have the optimal strategy.

Quote:
seagypsy wrote:
I do my best not to offend my local culture. Because I do not want to be disposed of. It has noting to do with respect for the culture or agreement with it. I am simply out numbered. and wisdom tells me to comply or die.


Same – people do not like when you remove their delusions that we are anything more than animal. They cannot handle the truth. Better to pacify them, let them stay in their fantasy world? Or stay away from them at least.

Quote:
If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you
Oscar Wilde

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jimmydasaint
Post  Post subject: Re: Objectivism  |  Posted: Wed Jun 26, 2013 7:57 pm
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tridimity wrote:
Of course morality is relative, which is why I said ‘I think the majority of us would agree’. If you were to plot people’s responses to the question regarding Rand’s point, probably you would end up with a normal distribution, with the majority of people concurring with the opinion that self-interest must be tempered with the interest of others. A minority of people would fall at the extremes, regarding either self interest or self-sacrifice as the morally correct position.


I have spoken to a supporter of Libertarianism, who mentioned that a libertarian society would also need people to do the social work and to administer welfare because of the complex economic interactions where people depend on each other in modern society. However, economics and libertarianism ultimately seem to reduce people to money-making robots and I don't want to be a deadhead money making robot. I object to the poverty that others have to suffer because they are deemed worthless by robotic humans who are at the top of the money-making pyramid. In short, most societies would tend towards the middle of the bell-shaped curve but I don't like the market-driven capitalist materialistic bulls---t that we are fed. There really has to be a better way to live!

Quote:
jimmydasaint wrote:
However, don't you feel truly alive when the purpose of your life is greater than yourself? Be honest here! You will be helping to save lives in the future and putting your efforts into that worthwhile endeavour. IF our purpose here is to outstretch our hands to others to help them rise, then our purpose is not in vain, and our existence not a mere waste of entropy.


tridimity wrote:
Yes – however there comes a point at which securing the survival and reproduction of other members of our species, and of other species, fails to provide sufficient subjective meaning in life (at least for most people).Imagine if the arts were destroyed and life was essentially just perpetuating genes, over and over. Then we would have no more meaning than that provided by the blind forces of natural selection – not much to live for if you ask me. We need a healthy balance of Science and the Arts, for this reason.


Hegel would turn in his grave if you neglected to add Philosophy... I take it that Philosophy is held as a branch of Science then. But, I agree, once people have food in their bellies and a means of shelter, they start to look beyond themselves. In my opinion, cave art shows the early creative instincts of a well-fed person put to use. I don't know what you mean as a healthy balance of Arts and Science but I agree that the two activities show man at his most creative and thoughtful and that Science uncovers an objective materialist truth at its best.

[quote="tridimity"As for our purpose not being in vain: that depends on the opinion of the individual. We have no objective purpose, as far as I can tell. Can you see an objective purpose? I was thinking recently, if the reason that people (in general) prefer to stay alive than to die is merely because natural selection has favoured that response, then can the individual really be said to have free will? And what implications does that have for murder cases? [/quote]

I can see a purpose in our existence, which is, in my view to learn about the world, to teach others from our gift of knowledge, to uncover the mind of God and to help to build a system which shows an absolute morality and not our sad compromises that we see today where the utilitarian attitude demolishes the wishes and aspirations of the minority whilst acquiescing to the wishes of the majority - and ultimately pleasing no-one. Just an opinion!

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tridimity
Post  Post subject: Re: Objectivism  |  Posted: Thu Jun 27, 2013 9:36 am

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Quote:
jimmydasaint wrote:
I object to the poverty that others have to suffer because they are deemed worthless by robotic humans who are at the top of the money-making pyramid. In short, most societies would tend towards the middle of the bell-shaped curve but I don't like the market-driven capitalist materialistic bulls---t that we are fed. There really has to be a better way to live!


Agreed

Quote:
jimmydasaint wrote:
Hegel would turn in his grave if you neglected to add Philosophy... I take it that Philosophy is held as a branch of Science then. But, I agree, once people have food in their bellies and a means of shelter, they start to look beyond themselves. In my opinion, cave art shows the early creative instincts of a well-fed person put to use. I don't know what you mean as a healthy balance of Arts and Science but I agree that the two activities show man at his most creative and thoughtful and that Science uncovers an objective materialist truth at its best.


No, sorry, I didn’t intentionally neglect Philosophy – Philosophy is one of the most important subjects, and underpins all of the others. One has to first decide where to fit on the scale between rationalism versus empiricism – i.e. whether to believe in an objective reality that exists independently of our senses, or if our sensory information is the only level of reality that we can ever know. Also it is important to decide upon one’s own moral compass: does that fit easily into a pre-existing religion, might one find beneficial community there, or is it preferable to follow a unique morality? All of these philosophical questions (and more) form the basis of any individual’s life – unfortunately some people do not invest the time and effort in pursuing these questions for themselves and so are unduly swayed by the opinions of their immediate neighbours or by the media. Failing to actively make a decision is effectively a ticket to allowing somebody else to answer those questions for you.

Also I should have added that there is, of course, a lot more to Science than preserving human life. Study of the Universe for its own sake is captivating and has a kind of poetry of its own. The Arts complement this appreciation of beauty and reveal truth about the human condition, if not necessarily about the objective reality that almost certainly exists independently of our senses.

Quote:
jimmydasaint wrote:
I can see a purpose in our existence, which is, in my view to learn about the world, to teach others from our gift of knowledge, to uncover the mind of God and to help to build a system which shows an absolute morality and not our sad compromises that we see today where the utilitarian attitude demolishes the wishes and aspirations of the minority whilst acquiescing to the wishes of the majority - and ultimately pleasing no-one. Just an opinion!


Excellent, how far have you got in finding an absolute morality? What is that absolute moral framework and how can you validate its correctness?

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GiantEvil
Post  Post subject: Re: Objectivism  |  Posted: Fri Jun 28, 2013 4:44 am
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jimmydasaint wrote:
to build a system which shows an absolute morality

Morality is relative, but I still find it easy to find some absolutes. Ghettoization, always wrong regardless of whom does it to whom and certainly not legitimized by history.
The Buddha wrote:
Do not be satisfied with hearsay or with tradition or with legendary lore or with what has come down in scriptures or with conjecture or with logical inference or with weighing evidence or with liking for a view after pondering over it or with someone else’s ability or with the thought “The monk is our teacher." When you know in yourself: “These things are wholesome, blameless, commended by the wise, and being adopted and put into effect they lead to welfare and happiness," then you should practice and abide in them…

And while I swallow no religion wholecloth, I find the above quote to be a useful moral guide. Although it is with logical inference and the weighing of evidence that I decide what is wholesome and blameless.
And there is also The Great Law of the Iroquois, which states that any action should be considered for its impact as long as seven generations away.

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seagypsy
Post  Post subject: Re: Objectivism  |  Posted: Fri Jun 28, 2013 7:59 pm
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As far as ghettoization is concerned, I know in the USA it originally started because immigrants would either by force or by nature group together in certain neighborhoods and depending on their social status among the established citizens of the US these neighborhoods would receive more or less services such as fire protection, police, and proper infrastructure maintenance.

But today, while there is still some corruption, if you can even call it that, taking place in the restriction of maintenance it is more based on the economic status of a neighborhood than the ethnic heritage of the people in it.

I have watched good neighborhoods become ghettoized over time. The one I am in now is in the early stages of it. The government is not forcing it to happen. Right now this is a middle to upper middle class neighborhood with everyone being of various racial backgrounds. On our little cul de sac, I would guess that it probably represents the racial demographic of the country as a whole. It is mostly Caucasians, with a few Latino families, a couple of African American families, one Asian. But recently because of the economy going to crap many people have moved away, some of them having their homes foreclosed on. If a home that is foreclosed on does not sell to a private homeowner right away, the bank can sell it very cheap to a corporate landlord or some other kind of investor. but when they do that the investor has restrictions on how they can use the property for the first 5 years that they own it. One of those restrictions is that it can only be rented to people on Section 8 rental assistance. Meaning they can only rent it to people who are on public assistance.

Now I am not saying that ALL people on public assistance are bad neighbors, but a good majority of them are. Having been in and out of the system myself throughout my life. People who live in housing projects or on section 8 rarely have that sense of pride that one gets when they own their own home, or work to pay their own rent. They know that the landlord cannot kick them out as easily as they would any other tenet. Having done work for a guy who primarly was a landlord with half of his properties being section 8 rentals, I would see the way the people acted in the section 8 homes compared to those who paid full market rent for the home.

Those on section 8 did not monitor their children and would let their kids destroy the homes. The homes would be messy and often unsanitary. They would let their kids knock holes in the walls, spill drinks on the carpet and not clean it up. They would leave food all over the stoves. They would have junk out all over the yards, that weren't mowed. They would turn the homes into eye sores. Not to mention neighbors would complain about them being up all hours of the night drinking and partying and being loud. They would often have more people living in the home than was allowed or on the lease. They would have pets that weren't reported, often times large aggressive dogs that would chew up the walls and carpets and yards.

We currently have a house across the street that went section 8 a couple of months before we moved here. The people that moved in are doing this very thing to the house. I had wanted to rent the house myself. Because it is 5 bedrooms and between NF and myself we have 5 kids. It would have been perfect for us. But we weren't allowed to rent it. Not because we couldn't afford it and not because our credit is bad. But because we aren't on section 8. The limit to how many people can legally occupy a home is 2 people per bedroom. so ten is the max for that house. We have counted 17 regular occupants of that house. there is never less than 6 cars parked there. All of them expensive late model cars with temp (meaning they just bought them) tags on them. On section 8 you aren't allowed to have extra roommates or unmarried, unreported lifepartners move in with you. You also cannot get section 8 if you have enough income to pay market rent. The slew of newly purchased cars is indicative that not only do they have ok credit but they have the income to be able to get approved for financing of those cars. That means more likely than not, there are members of that household making money that isn't being reported to section 8. This is pretty typical of people on section 8. They get income they don't report, they house people who are not approved to be living there. And as expected this family in particular has also brought with them 3 am loud music and drunken behavior and confrontation with neighbors. They don't maintain their yard and the house is being visibly torn apart. They have broken the gate to the back yard right off the hinges 3 times. The AC unit makes this insanely loud noise that could be fixed by the landlord if they would report it, but they wont because then he would see they have too many people there. and the garage doors are all dented in now from their kids throwing the basketball up against it. They also have a tendency to enter the home late at night by climbing up the front of the house and into a second floor bedroom window. The shades are all broken apart and visible from outside and they often have the curtains blowing out the windows because, as I said, they broke the AC and haven't reported it so we have to listen to all the goings on inside their house as they scream and cuss at each other all day and all night.

This one house caused to other homeowners to move out and they discovered that that house and its occupants dropped their property value by $10k. This is what causes ghettoization. People act like they live in ghettos way before they actually do. They can turn a neighborhood into a ghetto simply by acting ignorant and uncivilized. This neighborhood is going down hill. I have walked and seen on neighboring streets the same thing is starting to happen, as people are unable to sell their homes at their real value or in time to prevent foreclosure, they are going to section 8 and people with entitlement personalities are moving in and wrecking the neighborhood.

There are also times when people who have low income move into a ghetto because the rent is cheaper. They choose to live there and if they stay long term then it is either because they fit in personality wise, meaning they have no ambition to better themselves and achieve anything better and act just like everyone else there, or because they are elderly or disabled and can't afford to live anywhere else and are unable to improve their situations. More often than not though, it is due to lack of ambition if they never get out.

To me, if the people lack the ambition to improve themselves or become contributing members of society, then they deserve to live in the ghetto for the rest of their lives. Also, for people who have a little courage and ambition but meager means, it provides a place of cheap housing that they can afford without public assistance, while they work part time and go to school. They can hunker down in a place like that while they save up money for a down payment in a nice neighborhood, so long as they keep their wits about them, and avoid becoming part of the permanent landscape.

Varying economic strata is necessary and fair. If you refuse to work and put in the effort, why should you have nice things? If everyone has the same things, there is no motivation for effort. If it doesn't matter how hard you work you are going to come home to the same things as everyone else, why bother breaking your back or going to school for 12 years beyond high school? Our society will stop progressing and accomplishing anything if we all got life handed to us regardless of our efforts. Ghettos are necessary and fair, IMO. Unless you have ever fallen on hard times yourself you may never fully understand my perspective. I have been poor and I have been homeless before, with children in tow. Finding a place in a ghetto where the rent is $250/mo when you only have $600/mo to live on and 2 small children is a life saver. I spent a long time being technically eligible for section 8 which would have been a huge help for me, but anywhere I ever lived the section 8 had a 2-5 year waiting list and either wasn't accepting any applications or by the time my application came to the top of the list, i was no longer eligible because I was living with my mom to avoid being homeless. Living with my mom caused my "household" income to be well above poverty level.

I don't think section 8 is administered properly. I also don't think the welfare system is doing anyone any favors. Even having used it more than I like to admit in my past, I think for the most part it needs to be done away with. I have just witnessed too much entitlement attitude that doesn't seem to change until people get a scare that they will be cut off of the public tit. You won't believe how fast people scramble to find a job when they think their benefits are going to be cut off. And then when they get a job how their entire attitude towards their home changes. They become better parents, better neighbors, better people in general. Being given handouts does something to your mind that you don't even notice.

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tridimity
Post  Post subject: Re: Objectivism  |  Posted: Fri Jun 28, 2013 9:15 pm

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I agree with you that welfare services are there to provide a very specific resource for those who find themselves in financial difficulties and should not be used as a lifestyle choice, i.e. should not be abused, as a minority of people seem to do. However, I think you are overlooking those who need to rely on welfare at times who have done as much as possible, education and work wise, to 'try to better themselves'. As an example, I have received welfare support in the past and almost certainly will need to do so in the near future. Is this because I 'have not tried to better myself'? Well, I was born to working class parents, state educated, straight A pupil, finished sixth form, graduated University, held a research position - achieved all of this with no more than the basic familial support you might expect (food on the table, roof over my head). Well, I'll let you decide.
I still have some hope (what's the alternative option?) but you do not take into consideration those who, try as they might, can never seem to improve their lot in life. Social mobility has pretty much stalled of late whilst the disparity between wealthy and impoverished only grows. Being human, it is only natural that people in such situations will become dispirited.

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GiantEvil
Post  Post subject: Re: Objectivism  |  Posted: Sat Jun 29, 2013 12:18 am
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When I said ghettoization I was thinking of classically Warsaw, and contemporarily Gaza and some of the other Palestinian territories. Strange irony there, when the victims take on the role of the oppressors.

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seagypsy
Post  Post subject: Re: Objectivism  |  Posted: Sat Jun 29, 2013 12:33 am
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oh ok, I tend to restrict my view to more local issues. I don't have enough experience to really feel confident in my perceptions of world issues.

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Prometheus
Post  Post subject: Re: Objectivism  |  Posted: Sun Jul 07, 2013 1:09 pm
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Quote:
Man—every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.


I watched this documentary recently: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b036mrrj/Horizon_20122013_What_Makes_us_Human/

There was a series of interesting experiments about 15 minutes in. Chimps had to cooperate in order to complete a task which has a reward at the end. The chimps could cooperate, but if one chimp received their prize before the other, no further cooperation ensued, and the other chimp would not benefit from the cooperation.

Similar experiments were then conducted on toddlers. When there was a mismatch between the beneficiaries of cooperation, the toddlers shared their rewards. It is speculated that this behavioural difference between species is one of the defining features of humanity.

Objectivism would seem to be a regression back to monkey morals.


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seagypsy
Post  Post subject: Re: Objectivism  |  Posted: Sun Jul 07, 2013 2:43 pm
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tridimity wrote:
I agree with you that welfare services are there to provide a very specific resource for those who find themselves in financial difficulties and should not be used as a lifestyle choice, i.e. should not be abused, as a minority of people seem to do. However, I think you are overlooking those who need to rely on welfare at times who have done as much as possible, education and work wise, to 'try to better themselves'. As an example, I have received welfare support in the past and almost certainly will need to do so in the near future. Is this because I 'have not tried to better myself'? Well, I was born to working class parents, state educated, straight A pupil, finished sixth form, graduated University, held a research position - achieved all of this with no more than the basic familial support you might expect (food on the table, roof over my head). Well, I'll let you decide.
I still have some hope (what's the alternative option?) but you do not take into consideration those who, try as they might, can never seem to improve their lot in life. Social mobility has pretty much stalled of late whilst the disparity between wealthy and impoverished only grows. Being human, it is only natural that people in such situations will become dispirited.


I haven't ignored that at all. I am one of those people constantly struggling. I haven't even managed to get my degree yet because of medical issues that I am struggling with. It's taken me almost 10 years to get a 2 year degree. But I'm still plugging away at it.

I don't know how the welfare system works in UK. I can only speak on the one here in US. The way the welfare system is administered here creates a condition of dependence. There is too much handed out with few questions asked. I think the system needs to be overhauled. As it is, getting benefits does not require anyone to do anything to better themselves or show they are taking steps to get themselves back on their feet. One thing Clinton had done that was dismantled as soon as Bush took over was called the Welfare to work program that was excellent. In order to get benefits you HAD to be participating in some type of job training. If you refused to participate and were not eligible for any waivers that were available to people with special circumstances then your benefits were dramatically reduced if not cut off all together after a certain amount of time. I was on welfare when the transition from Clinton to Bush took place and while I had nearly completed the program and was about to be placed in permanent employment, the rug was just jerked out from under me and I was back where I had started. But I didn't give up. it just made going to school that much more difficult for me.

In America, welfare doesn't just stop with cash benefits, there are also benefits to cover housing, utilities, food and medical. Too many people on the housing program see it as a permanent solution and there is no limit to how long you can live in public housing. They also do not require that you are doing anything to better your situation. Again, reinforcing the entitlement attitude and dependency lifestyle.

My neighbors have 2 late model cars that they just recently purchased. Nice cars too. yet they have their rent paid for them. They have the biggest house on the street. If it were just the mom and her kids I wouldn't have such a complaint. But it isn't just the mom and her kids. It is the mom, the grandma, the aunt, the aunt's boyfriend, and their kids too. Knowing how section 8 housing works, you are only allowed one household per home. A household is defined as one parent or set of parents and their immediate children. A elderly grandparent can be included if the elder person cannot live alone. But ALL income from ALL adults in the home has to be reported and taken into consideration. And getting section 8 isn't that easy. There is a huge waiting list to get on it for one thing because there is no time limit to how long you can use it and so people get on it and never make any steps to get off of it. Instead they conceal income that would force them to leave the program because they are afraid to live without the safety net of knowing their rent will always be paid so long as they are in the program. The people across the street could with all the ones working in the house, easily afford market rent but they wont leave the program. But the program can only have so many recipients at any given time, so until people leave the program they cannot accept new applications for help. Leaving plenty of people eager to improve themselves continue to struggle just to keep a roof over their heads while others double dip the system when they don't really need it.

They simply don't have the checks and balances that they need in place. There need to be participation requirements, drug testing, and time limits on all types of benefits, with allowances made for those with genuine disabilities and extenuating circumstances that can be proven to exist. If employers can demand a drug test before hiring you, the state should be allowed to drug test you before giving you cash hand outs and free living. And they should be allowed to require that someone get drug treatment and attend job training in order to receive the benefits. But there are too many who insist that doing that is racist somehow. Some people have it in their heads that only minorities use or abuse welfare. And that certainly isn't the case.

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gottspieler
Post  Post subject: Re: Objectivism  |  Posted: Thu Jul 11, 2013 6:36 am
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iNow wrote:
There is some truth in that comment, of course, but I think it misses a larger point. We would very much struggle to exist and to find that happiness were it not for the contributions of others. We are a social species. We have been successful as a result of our collaboration with each other. We've done great things because we've pooled our resources and helped one another, protected each other, and shared in large tasks like farming and dam building, etc.

To suggest that "it's all about me" I think misses a much more important point... that same "me" would be next to nothing if isolated and alone without others to offer a supporting structure.


This x 47378787548384385.

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jimmydasaint
Post  Post subject: Re: Objectivism  |  Posted: Sat Jul 20, 2013 12:36 pm
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Prometheus wrote:
Quote:
Man—every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.


There was a series of interesting experiments about 15 minutes in. Chimps had to cooperate in order to complete a task which has a reward at the end. The chimps could cooperate, but if one chimp received their prize before the other, no further cooperation ensued, and the other chimp would not benefit from the cooperation.

Similar experiments were then conducted on toddlers. When there was a mismatch between the beneficiaries of cooperation, the toddlers shared their rewards. It is speculated that this behavioural difference between species is one of the defining features of humanity.

.


This experiment sounds interesting and I would like to read up more about it. Any other links Prometheus. I also wonder whether or not scientists a suitable model, in an evolutionary framework, which suggests that cooperative behaviour ensures survival? In my opinion, purely selfish behaviour seems a better survival strategy than sharing with others in an evolutionary timescale.

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Prometheus
Post  Post subject: Re: Objectivism  |  Posted: Fri Aug 09, 2013 10:07 pm
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Unfortunately the programme has been taken off iplayer so i can't watch it again to find who actually did the studies. Based on what i can remember i can find some similar articles, but not the ones i referred to. I'll keep looking though.

I've not yet read the selfish gene, but i'm led to believe it refers to the idea that the gene (or geneplexes), not the individual, is the important factor in evolution. In fact, the individual is only important in as far as it allows its genes to spread. It is successful spreading of genes then, not the individual which is important. That social tendencies are very common in the animal kingdom would seem to suggest it is an effective method of achieving this end.

Add to this that 'selfish' behaviour is likely to have a degree of mimetic as well as genetic input. Mimetics, being by their very nature social, i would imagine select predominantly cooperative behaviours.

Whether this can or should be adopted into politics is another question, but i would agree with Inow in tat everything humanity has done that is worthwhile has been done by humanity, not individuals.


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Prometheus
Post  Post subject: Re: Objectivism  |  Posted: Sat Aug 10, 2013 7:15 pm
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I don't buy the great man theory of history. Einstein would have not been able to do much without the maths of Riemann, or the work of Maxwell. If Darwin had not developed the theory of evolution, in large part by corresponding with his peers on mass, Wallace was ready to do so - the prerequisite ideas were all there. And we all know Newton's quote on shoulder standing.

But that's largely irrelevant to my point, which you are correct i did not mean to be circular. None of the people mentioned here would have done anything apart from searching for food and shelter if society hadn't existed. Einstein's milkman may not have been directly involved in developing relativity but by providing essentials it provided Einstein the time and freedom he needed.


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iceaura
Post  Post subject: Re: Objectivism  |  Posted: Tue Oct 15, 2013 11:19 pm
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So as Jared Diamond retells a conversation of his young career, with a resident of a South Sea island overlooking a harbor full of European shipping and technology and wealth:

are white people smarter than we are? No

do they work harder? No.

are they better than us in some way, better people? No.

then why do they have all the cargo?

Well, there are reasons - Diamond wrote about a few of them. And those reasons establish that Ayn Rand is essentially wrong.


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marnixR
Post  Post subject: Re: Objectivism  |  Posted: Wed Oct 16, 2013 6:42 am
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was that to do with the cargo cults there ?

is so, the answer is pretty clear : if you have the wrong of the world really works, then you will press lever A, expect reward B but nothing will happen
then it's not a bad idea to investigate why the other person does get reward B when pressing the same lever - is it a matter of knowing how and when to press it, or is your lever A not really the same as his lever A ?
or maybe getting reward B doesn't depend at all on pressing lever A, and from a parochial point of view only appears to do so

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iceaura
Post  Post subject: Re: Objectivism  |  Posted: Tue Oct 29, 2013 4:45 am
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Quote:
was that to do with the cargo cults there ?
Only in the term "cargo", a pigeon word for "stuff" - the white people had all the guns, machines, fishing gear, airplanes, reading and writing, clothing of many kinds and functions, etc etc etc. The black people living on these islands (the conversation was with a native of Papua New Guinea) had nothing of the kind on anything like that scale.

So why was that? The question was a deep one, and took Diamond many years to answer. The book, "Guns, Germs, and Steel", is excellent. The anecdote is from its introduction.

He has several examples of the general question, such as why it was not the navy of the Mexican Empire with its vast resources and large population sailing up to the smaller, dirtier (Montezuma had indoor water and sewer systems in his castle), backwards cities of fifteenth century Spain and Italy, and conquering their comparatively small and unsophisticated monarchies.


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