I'm an Objectivist. Debate me.

Discussion in 'Religion & Philosophy' started by Appleo, Sep 3, 2018.

  1. Appleo

    Appleo Newly Registered

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    If you don't know what Objectivism is, it is a philosophy created by Ayn Rand. Ayn Rand said that it is a philosophy for living on Earth. Objectivism has four layers to it: reality, reason, self-interest, and capitalism. Ultimately, this leads to a life of rationality, purpose, and self-esteem.

    For more information go here --> https://www.aynrand.org/ideas/philosophy

    I absolutely love Ayn Rand and her philosophy. Atlas Shrugged is my favorite book. I think everyone should be an Objectivist because I am convinced that it is the best philosophy there is.

    However, I am young person. (I've noticed many young people are attracted to Ayn Rand). I am inexperienced. I am new to philosophy and politics. And I always want to keep my mind open to the truth because there is a possibility that I don't have the truth.

    If someone thinks they have a better philosophy, or political view, or the truth to life, I want to have respectful debate. I will give up Objectivism if there is a better alternative. Because there is a possibility that my views are wrong and I want to exposed to views that are correct. I also look forward to learning something new from other people.
     
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  2. Diuretic

    Diuretic Well-Known Member

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    Is it a bit like ethical egoism?
     
  3. yardmeat

    yardmeat Well-Known Member

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    Yep. Her ethics were ethical egoism. But there is more to it than ethics. Rand saw here beliefs as a complete all-or-none system. It is a combination of ethical egoism, minarchism (smallest government possible, but not anarchism), semi-direct realist epistemology (we basically experience the world as it is rather than having a "veil" of senses), etc. She was also insistent that aesthetics is objective and that the only appropriate form of literature was Romantic heroism. IMO, she had some good ideas and some bad, but her all-or-nothing approach (If you like Beethoven you are anti-reason and anti-life!) often leads me to focus on the bad. And her ethics could get a little incoherent and self-defeating. One minute she says that one's own life is the only thing of objective value, the next she says it is ethical to sacrifice one's life for a loved one if that loved one is what gave your life value. She also hated philosophical experiments/intuition pumps. So any time someone proposed a scenario that challenged her ethics, she would just wave the scenario away as something she could ignore because it isn't likely to happen in exactly that manner. I think she called them "life raft" scenarios since they often involved extreme cases of you-or-me survivalism, like two people stranded on a life raft and fighting for survival.

    She also got into weird stuff about how it was okay for her to smoke cigarettes, despite smoking obviously going against her ethical theories of personal survival/self-interest, because cigarettes were like mini torches -- symbols of man's mastery over the elements. And she wasn't consistent about how her ethics applied to men and women -- men were to be heroes and women hero worshippers. And she made some good points about racism . . . which she would abandon any time it came to native populations being attacked by colonizing forces, always favoring the colonizers and painting the natives with an "oh well, they are savages anyway" brush. She didn't like evolution because it went against her theories, but she ended up just kind of ignoring it rather than trying to argue much against it.
     
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  4. Questerr

    Questerr Well-Known Member

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    How can you like Ayn Rand knowing her total hypocrisy regarding the private property rights of "savages"?
     
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  5. Appleo

    Appleo Newly Registered

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    No, the the ethics in Objectivism is egoism.

    Seems like you're attacking her instead of debating the actual philosophy.

    Nobody is perfect and everyone is a hypocrite at one point or another. I do not agree with Rand's personal views, only her philosophy.

    There are many reasons to like Ayn Rand.

    But I would prefer to discuss the philosophy, not Ayn Rand.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2018
  6. yardmeat

    yardmeat Well-Known Member

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    I mentioned some flaws in her philosophy: massively inconsistent ethics (especially when it comes to women, native populations and an inability to provide a consistent stance on inherent value despite claiming that it exists), an inability to handle the challenges of intuition pumps, and a tendency to avoid scientific facts when they go against the philosophy. Then, of course, there is the all-or-nothing aspect of the philosophy, which tries to place aesthetic requirements on people based on their ethics -- having to hate Beethoven, for example. These are both problems with Rand herself and flaws in her philosophy. There's a reason it was, from the beginning, a cult of personality

    She is the source of the philosophy. You can't discuss the philosophy without discussing her thoughts and opinions.
     
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  7. tecoyah

    tecoyah Well-Known Member

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    Perhaps USING Rand rather than following her would allow for the mixture of beliefs that form personal philosophy vs. blind adherence and misguided worship. As with most societal commentaries the are useful aspects and useless choices.....the key is knowing which is which without having to experience the negativity of stupidity.
     
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  8. Appleo

    Appleo Newly Registered

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    As I've said before, I do not want to talk about her personal views. I want to discuss the philosophy.

    I am a homosexual. Ayn Rand has said some harsh things about homosexuals that I disagree with. But the philosophy itself does not deny homosexuality. An Objectivist would actually say that it is moral to seek out same-sex relationships if is in your nature, and immoral to seek them out if it not in your nature.

    Anyway, I'll argue your first point: "massively inconsistent ethics." Could you further clarify what is inconsistent about the ethics of self-interest/egoism?
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2018
  9. yardmeat

    yardmeat Well-Known Member

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    There is no discussing Objectivism without discussing the views of the founder. That's precisely what Objectivism is: the philosophical views or Rand. The ethics of Objectivism say that only one's own life has inherent value, but contradicts itself by excusing risking one's life for a loved one based on the view that this loved one provides your life with value. These two points of view are mutually exclusive. Objectivist ethics champion the individual and opposes living for anyone else . . . unless you have a vagina. Then your life's purpose is the hero worship of a man who lives this way. Again, this is self contradictory. Objectivism champions individualism over "the greater good" . . . unless you are a part of a native population being colonized, then your property rights don't matter because you didn't put your property to a "greater good" use, so now others are justified in violating your individual rights. Objectivist ethics also claims that the nature of man is holis rationalism, ignoring man's emotional nature. Which is part of why they shove their heads in the sand when it comes to the psychological fact that humans, aside from cases of mental illness and brain damage, care for the well being of other humans and want to exclude this part of human nature from their ethics.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2018
  10. Appleo

    Appleo Newly Registered

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    I would argue that to be egoistic one would sacrifice themselves for someone they love because to love someone means that you have a self-interest in that person. To NOT sacrifice yourself for someone you love is a betrayal of what you value, which is ultimately a betrayal of the self.

    How is caring for someone that you have no personal interest in, moral?
     
  11. Swensson

    Swensson Devil's advocate

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    There are plenty of avenues that one could take to discuss any issue. If you want me to, I can address some specific to objectivism, but out of my own interest, this is the bit that I would like to highlight.

    I am suspicious of the implicit idea here that there is a "right way" to think about politics and philosophy. There have been many ideas which have presented a "grand narrative", a way of thinking which resolves a lot of issues. Communism, libertarianism, dictatorships, religions of almost all persuasions, and many other ideas, all seem persuasive when we are inside them. To a communist, communism seems to present a set of problems which only communism can solve. To a libertarian, libertarianism seems to presents a set of problems which only libertarianism can solve. The fact that the libertarian can't solve the communist's problems and that the communist can't solve the libertarian's problems doesn't bother either of them.

    Basically any set of ideas can appear perfectly persuasive when you're thinking in the terms that they have presented. Therefore, I think we should remain suspicious of ideas which seem to present a coherent solution. Of course, we should remain even more suspicious of idea which present incoherent solutions, but my point is that being fully persuaded by an idea opens a bigger door to brain washing than it does to the off chance that anyone stumbles upon a previously unknown idea which solves every problem.

    Of course, the idea I have presented is self-defeating. It has been distilled into post-modernism, deconstruction, neo-liberalism etc., all of which in turn can get targeted with the same logic that created them. However, given that we have turned suspicion on every coherent idea, that's not necessarily as much of a problem as it might seem.

    Ok, but I'm rambling. What's my point? The world has gone through so many misguided people thinking that they are undeniably wrong, that the correct course of action (in my opinion) is to remain suspicious even of ideas which seem perfect. We should be open to the idea that there might not even exist a "best" philosophy, or if there is, trying to find it might be doomed, and more likely to mislead than to help.
     
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  12. Appleo

    Appleo Newly Registered

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    What are you saying?

    So is your philosophy is skepticism? That the only thing we know is that we know nothing. And that the only absolute is that there are no absolutes?
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2018
  13. Swensson

    Swensson Devil's advocate

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    Something in that direction. It gets a bit more complicated in that in my suspicion of seemingly coherent ideas, I actually have more tolerance for demonstrably (or arguably) false sets of ideas than many others I speak to, which might be contrary to skepticism. I think the hunt for the perfect idea is poisoning the well, it doesn't cause more truth, it just forces people to double down on ideas, regardless of how true they are (and given that there is maybe none or at most one true idea, doubling down on ideas is on average going to cause more problems than it solves).

    The quotes you mention above seem a bit pretentious for my taste. Of course they are self-defeating in a way, but even beyond that, they seem more aimed at trying to say something clever and yet undeniable, without actually conveying anything useful.

    My stance has a practical angle in addition to the useless platitudes (although not a super strong one). I encourage communication between enemies, debates that are exchanges of ideas rather than screaming matches, etc. I think democracy and politics shouldn't be the competition of ideas so much as the process of figuring out how people who disagree can coexist.

    Ok, this has become a bit navel-gazy. Obviously, the ideas I present, and in particular the practical aspect to it, in itself suffers from the problems I oppose. Not quite to the point where I think it particularly needs reigning in, but I'm not unaware of the irony.

    Anyway, to make this less about my stance, do you support the idea that we should find an idea and double down on it? Rand is certainly no centrist, nor does she seem particularly concerned with other ideas and their merits.
     
  14. HereWeGoAgain

    HereWeGoAgain Well-Known Member

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    You do know that Alan Greenspan - Chairman of the Federal Reserve from 1987-2006 - was a student and close friend of Ayn Rand, right? This led to his guiding principles of capitalism, which nearly destroyed the global economy in 2008. When Congress asked him why his model failed, he basically shrugged and rode off into the sunset.

    So it was Greenspan who shrugged, not Atlas.

    Here is what we now know: Markets left to their own forces will eventually self destruct. And sure, markets will eventually correct themselves. But we can't survive the corrections. A 20 year global depression and the collapse of the banking system is not an acceptable correction. That is objective truth.

    Ayn Rand is dead. Leave her that way.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2018
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  15. tecoyah

    tecoyah Well-Known Member

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    The detailed evaluation and critical consideration of ANY societal commentary will always allow for a more comprehensive understanding and the separation of positive from negative aspects which eventually form the political and personal formation of a more useful and fruitful opinion.
     
  16. Questerr

    Questerr Well-Known Member

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    Who cleans the toilets in Galt's Gultch?

    Or to put it in a less glib way: How do non-skilled laborers survive in a society where every seller in every transactions makes maximizing profit and capturing all consumer surplus their number one goal?
     
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  17. Appleo

    Appleo Newly Registered

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    Well, I'm trying to understand where you coming from. When you say this:
    To me, that makes me think you are a skeptic. If there is no moral/philosophical/political truth, then how to decide what the best course of action is? And skepticism in itself is contradictory because for you to believe there are no truths that must be your truth. And what I dislike about a skeptic the most, is that they deny the truth even if the truth is presented to them.

    I'm not sure what you mean by "doubling down" on an idea, so I don't know whether or not I can support it.

    As I've stated before, I am convinced that Objectivism is correct, and that I am open to other ideas. And if they present themselves to be true I will adopt them. That is why I'm encouraging debate so that I can learn something new.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2018
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  18. Appleo

    Appleo Newly Registered

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    Alright... so what do you have to say about Objectivism?

    By making themselves more skilled.
     
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  19. Questerr

    Questerr Well-Known Member

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    And that’s free right? Education costs nothing?

    It’s also instantaneous too right? They don’t have to survive for a time while they are still unskilled?
     
  20. Appleo

    Appleo Newly Registered

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    We didn't have a free market before and after the crash of 2008. What caused 2008 was the fault of crony capitalism and government intervention.

    So what are you proposing? That we don't want free voluntary exchange of value among men?
     
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  21. Appleo

    Appleo Newly Registered

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    It doesn't matter to me whether or not an unskilled laborer can survive or not. If he wants money, he needs to develop his skills to earn the money he desires. But he is not entitled to money that he didn't earn.

    Do you think that people are entitled to money that they didn't earn?
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2018
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  22. Questerr

    Questerr Well-Known Member

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    Ok, so if unskilled workers can survive, how do you have a functioning society?

    Even Ayn Rand had to handwave this by giving John Galt a magical, physic-violating free energy machine.
     
  23. HereWeGoAgain

    HereWeGoAgain Well-Known Member

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    No it wasn't. It was because of a lack of regulation of dark markets; in particular loan bundling and the derivatives market.

    Companies will not always act in their own best interest long term. They will act in the best interest of those running the companies short term. And that's where the entire philosophy failed. CEOs have no interest in the long-term interests of the company. They can plant land mines for the sake of bonuses, and bail out before the explosion hits.

    I said what I meant. If left unchecked, free markets will self destruct. I still believe in markets being as free as possible. But Reagan's claim that the best government is no government nearly destroyed the global banking system. Both Bush I and Clinton continued that paradigm, And keep in mind that I not only supported Reagan, I campaigned for him. I'm not a fiscal liberal. But the facts are the facts. Ayn Rand was wrong. Reagan was wrong. Greenspan was wrong. And I was wrong.

    A twenty-year global depression is not an acceptable market correction!!!
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2018
  24. Appleo

    Appleo Newly Registered

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    I believe that an individual is only entitled to money he has earned.

    I argue for capitalism from a moral perspective. I believe in free trade among men, regardless of the results. And as I've said, the 2008 recession was created from an economic system that was not free to begin with. I am not supporting the capitalism that we have now which caused the recession. A free market doesn't just self-destruct under rationally self-interested people.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2018
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  25. Questerr

    Questerr Well-Known Member

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    That isn't an answer to the question. How does a society function if unskilled labors cannot survive in it?
     

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