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Principles, Rights and Beliefs

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Angel Rand
Member
since 09-04-99
Posts 140
London UK, and Zurich Switzerl


0 posted 11-01-1999 03:15 PM       View Profile for Angel Rand   Email Angel Rand   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Angel Rand

Brad asked me to open my own thread for a debate on rights and principles. Here it is.

By what principles do you live your life? Why are you and how can you be certain of their validity? What is your purpose and your goal in life? What is good and what is evil? And what political viewpoint results from your beliefs?

Any viewpoints are welcome.
Angel

------------------
"Any alleged "right" of one man, which necessitates the violation of the rights of another, is not and cannot be a right." Ayn Rand
Angel Rand
Member
since 09-04-99
Posts 140
London UK, and Zurich Switzerl


1 posted 11-01-1999 05:13 PM       View Profile for Angel Rand   Email Angel Rand   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Angel Rand

You are right Brad; I am indeed an Objectivist, if only in training.
You stated in your own thread:

"When it comes to power, don't forget the 'Alpha male' factor. It is one aspect of human society (and perhaps a malapropism because I see it in women as well). Survival and competition are not the same thing except in the most general sense..."

"Alpha Male" and survival does tie in together though: Survival of the strongest. Everything in life goes back to that instinct of survival.
As for my own views, I believe that we, as stated in the Declaration of Independence, are born equal, have certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. And that those are the basics out of which all the other rights follow.
To be born equal means that no man has the right over another. So therefore we are also born free. If we are equal and free, we must also be allowed to work for our survival. It also means that no other person has a legal claim on the product of our labour. Or we would be slaves to society, the government etc. (Yes I am against taxes). This is also where my quote from Ayn Rand comes in:
"Any alleged "right" of one man, which necessitates the violation of the rights of another, is not and cannot be a right."
You stated that selfishness is evil. Who taught you it was wrong to be selfish? (Hint - the very people who rely on your efforts for their eventual survival!) Why is it evil to have your own happiness at heart? Why do you think that rational and enlightened self-interest would require ppl to walk over dead bodies? Why is selfishness the same to you as heartlessness? How can selflessness be good when it requires you to sacrifice something of high value for something of no value? How can it be evil to feel happy when you can help others? How can it be evil to want to help ppl BECAUSE that makes you happy?
Good to me means to recognise what is pro life, to recognise my ambitions and goals and to achieve those. I believe I am the only one who has any RIGHT over my earnings and I believe that I am not evil if I choose to keep them to myself. No one has any moral claim to your time or money simply because they might need it. If they did, you would no longer be free NOR equal.
Selflessness breeds communism. If you have no moral claim over your earnings, the next poorer man who is "entitled" to your money cause of his lack, has no claim over it either in the face of an even poorer man and has to hand it on and so forth. Which would naturally mean that no one is morally entitled to any earned possession. In other words, if selflessness is a good thing, then Soviet Russia was the most moral country in the world.

More on this later.
from Angel

Marilyn
Member Elite
since 09-26-1999
Posts 2646
Ontario, Canada


2 posted 11-01-1999 10:30 PM       View Profile for Marilyn   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Marilyn

Oh man! I have to really think here. How did you get to selflessness being communistic? Communism is the greatest proof of greed there is. Why do you think there is communism? Because one person is power hungery and knows how to attain that power. It is about control, domination and egotism.

Having goals and dreams and wanting to achieve them doesn't make you selfish. The way you arrive at those goals and what you do with what you earn, that is what makes you selfish or not. Wanting to do something that makes you feel good is not being selfish UNLESS it hurts, manipulates or uses others in the attaining.

Competition is good in measure but hurtful if taken too far. I want to succeed as does everyone but I will not abuse, neglect or hurt to get to where I would like to be. If I can help someone else out along the way, even better!

I am sure that in your life youhave met a self absorbed egomaniac. They are not pleasant people to deal with because they are self modivated and to **ll with everyone else.

You can achieve more in life with a soft heart and a kind word then with forceful resignation. You can go farther with knowledge and a gentle spirit then you can with egotism and self rightousness.


I am not sure if I am still on the topic or not. This is where my thoughts took me on this subject. I hope I contributed something usefull.
Angel Rand
Member
since 09-04-99
Posts 140
London UK, and Zurich Switzerl


3 posted 11-01-1999 11:21 PM       View Profile for Angel Rand   Email Angel Rand   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Angel Rand

Uhm Marilyn I am not quite sure what to answer to this except to say that I think you have misread what I said.
Selfishness means the same as self-interest, to have one's own interest at heart. It does NOT mean that your selfish interest requires the absence of a heart or to not be able to be loving towards ppl.
Selflessness means to deny one's own self-interest for the sake of another. It does NOT mean that you have a soft heart and gives you pleasure to give. Quite in the contrary. As soon as something you do for others makes you happy it is no longer SELF-less.
As for communism, I agree that it was used as a tool to get power and to fulfil ONE person's greed. But that was not the idea of its inventors. Communism is based on the notion of selflessness. It denies the rights of the individual in favour for *society*: "One for all and all for one"; "The needs of the many outweigh the need of the few"; "For the greater good" etc are all slogans used for communism and selflessness.
Yet what is society if not a collection of individuals? Society is not an entity and can therefore have no rights. Only an individual has rights. Take these away for the good of society and you make the individual disposable.
You say competition is ok as long as it is not taken too far. Again I say there is a difference between rational self-interest and greed. It is NOT in my rational self-interest to hurt ppl and to back-stab them. But to not do so doesn't mean that I am being selfless, in the contrary, it means that I am using my reason to understand what is in my RATIONAL self-interest.
Angel


------------------
"Any alleged "right" of one man, which necessitates the violation of the rights of another, is not and cannot be a right." Ayn Rand
Marilyn
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since 09-26-1999
Posts 2646
Ontario, Canada


4 posted 11-01-1999 11:50 PM       View Profile for Marilyn   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Marilyn

Selfishness means the same as self-interest, to have one's own interest at heart.

This is where you and I disagree. I believe there is a huge difference in self interest and shelfishness. Maybe because I lived with a selfish person and myself and my children suffered greatly for it.

A selfish person (IMHO) is someone that puts there interests before everyone else's. I guess I have to give somebackround for my position to be understood.

I was abused by my ex. Controlled, manipulated and repressed. I was not allowed to work, see friends (unless he oked it and was there)or have any free time away from the kids. He was free to come and go as he pleased, say what he wanted and do anything that pleased him. He saw me as a means to an end. (I come from an upper middle class family). FINALLY, when everything was over (long story) he completely abandoned my children and myself with a huge debt load to carry. He is free to live his life as he sees fit with allt he freedoms he wants. I have to struggle to survive.

There is a difference between survival and competition. Survival is having enough food to feed you kids. Clothing to cover them and a roof over their heads. These things I accomplish with just enough extra for me to have my computer and on line privilages.

There are many things I would love to pursue in order to improve myself and compete in this world. Those things are dreams that have to remain on the back burner in order to meet survival. There was one point for 6 months that I was on assistance from the government....talk about barely surviving!! The spirit becomes beaten down and hope is lost. (for me it was anyway) I worked 4 part time jobs before a full time one can along that paid enough to keep my children. I know survival..and I do not believe that what you speak of is that.

Survival is doing what you HAVE to do..not what you want to...to eat.
Angel Rand
Member
since 09-04-99
Posts 140
London UK, and Zurich Switzerl


5 posted 11-02-1999 01:57 AM       View Profile for Angel Rand   Email Angel Rand   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Angel Rand

I am sorry to hear that this has happened to you. I know what it feels like to be involved with a heartless brute...
And I think that we just have different interpretations of the word selfish. To you it obviously only means heartless brutishness. I hope it was made quite clear in my text that I in no way advocate such behaviour!
Selfish to me just means what it states in my dictionary.
Selfish: concern with one's own interests.
To quote Ayn Rand again on the matter:
"In popular usage, the word selfishness is a synonym of evil; the image it conjures is of a murderous brute who tramples over piles of corpses to achieve his own ends, who cares for no living being and pursues nothing but the gratification of the mindless whims of any immediate moment. ... The concept of selfishness does NOT include a moral evaluation; it does not tell us whether concern with one's own interest is good or evil; nor does it tell us what constitutes man's actual interest. It is the task of ethics to answer such questions.
The ethics of Altruism (selflessness) has created the image of the brute, as its answer, in order to make men accept two inhuman tennets: (a) that any concern with one's own interest is evil regardless of what these interests might be, and (b) that the brute's activities ARE in fact to one's own interest (which altruism enjoins man to renounce for the sake of his neighbours)."

So having somewhat suffered what you seem to have gone through myself, I think I may state that what ever your husband wanted to achieve by controling you like that, he didn't achieve it in the end as you have left him (and I congratulate you for that!). I highly doubt that any rational person would tell you that it is in his or her interest to inflict pain and suffering on a person they profess to love.

When we choose to bear certain responsibilities (such as responsibilities to our children or spouse) we are morally obligated to come through for them. Objectivism says that there are no unchosen moral obligations to others or to "society." From what you tell me it seems your husband not only was heartless but without honour or morals too... but then that usually comes as a package-deal...
I do understand that to you survival is the everyday life aspect of the issue. I was talking about this in a more general kind of way. Yet even applicable to you is the fact that you offer your employer a value the other applicants for the same job did not have. Competition doesn't have to mean to create a company that will be able to take on the dreaded Bill Gates. It is everywhere you go. For example you would buy your groceries at a particular store cause they offer better value for money etc.
I would wish for everybody on this planet that they would find some work that they truly enjoy so that they would work for the pleasure of it rather than for any secondary benefit such as money. For I do not believe that it should be anyone's primary goal to become rich. Money should not be an end in itself. It devaluates the pleasure of being alive and productive.
To yet again quote Ayn Rand:
"Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values."
With a from Angel


------------------
"Any alleged "right" of one man, which necessitates the violation of the rights of another, is not and cannot be a right." Ayn Rand
Brad
Member Ascendant
since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea


6 posted 11-02-1999 03:28 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

I just wanted to say that I loved reading this. Two intelligent individuals working on extremely difficult subjects that I hope are a benefit for both and indeed for all of us. I don't have time to join quite yet (work, work, work -- why does this insane thing keep interfering?) but please keep it up.

Okay, four points:

1) the 'Alpha male' instinct is for the domination of a tribe or group (presumably because they have the best genes to pass on for specie's survivability). This inevitably leads to physical force. This, I think, we can agree is not always the rational choice. How does RATIONAL self interest involve itself with this? How would you diffentiate objectivism from social Darwinism and/or 'might makes right'.

2. How do we define rational?

3. I really have no problems with objectivism on certain levels but the contrast with Communism is interesting. Marx, the way I read him, intended his vision to be based not on selflessness but on the rational self interest of each individual to understand the need for and participation in a society. Marx's vision is based on the freedom of each individual to reach his or her potential without being forced by the needs that Marilyn mentioned.

This isn't to say he wasn't wrong in many places. Just that he wasn't a philosopher of altruism.

I'll try to get back later.

I hope you guys are having fun,
Brad
Angel Rand
Member
since 09-04-99
Posts 140
London UK, and Zurich Switzerl


7 posted 11-02-1999 12:41 PM       View Profile for Angel Rand   Email Angel Rand   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Angel Rand

While cruising around the net on my favourite subject Objectivism, I found a great essay on selfishness. I hope it is not violating any copyright if I post this here. I thought it was too great in its simplicity to not do so. I shall be back later and try to answer the questions posed here by Brad that aren't covered in this little essay. Hope this is ok?
Angel

"What's So Bad About Being Selfish?
by Michael J. Hurd, Ph.D.

Most of us assume that selfishness is both wrong and unhealthy. But is this true? Selfishness means acting in one's rational self-interest. Contrary to popular opinion, all healthy individuals are selfish. Choosing to pursue the career of your choice is selfish.
Choosing to have children—or not to have children—is selfish. Insisting on freedom and
individual rights, rather than living under a dictatorship, is selfish. Indeed, even ordinary behaviors such as breathing, eating and avoiding an oncoming car when crossing the street are selfish acts. Without selfishness, none o f us would survive the day—much less a lifetime.
Selfishness does not mean self-destructive behavior. In other words, a car thief is not selfish. He has to run from the law constantly, something most car owners never have to do. Even if he escapes the law, he will not experience as much pleasure from possessing the car as would an honest person.
Lying to your spouse, or any loved one, is not selfish. The psychological stress of trying to "live the lie" of an extramarital affair—or any major secret—is enormous. A selfish person understands that honesty is the best policy and the least painful, in the long run.
The opposite of selfishness is self-sacrifice. Self-sacrifice means giving up a greater value for a lesser value. Consider the example of a battered wife, who is married to an alcoholic husband who refuses to seek help. She stays with him for reasons of "security" and "family stability." Yet in the process she sacrifices her self-esteem and physical safety (greater values) to the irrational whims of her husband (lesser values). Consider the example of the hard-working student who allows a friend to copy his answers on an examination. The student is sacrificing both his integrity and his efforts (greater values) to the laziness and low self-esteem of his "friend" (lesser values).
Or, consider the envious individual who tries to get you to feel guilty for your hard-earned success. "You are lucky to have done so well," the envious person says. "Now you have a duty to share some of your success with others." Certainly, a selfish person wants to share his success with those he genuinely cares about— his family, friends, or children (greater values). But why should he make sacrifices to individuals he does not know or care about (lesser values)?
Selfish individuals give to charity— if and when they choose. A selfish person is not "stingy." He simply values the use of his own judgment in making decisions about how to spend his money, and when to give it away. Most of us assume that some selfishness is healthy, but "too much" selfishness will lead to loneliness and despair. This idea rests on an incorrect definition of selfishness. Selfishness means acting in one's rational self-interest. By "rational" I mean that one can logically prove that an action is in one's self-interest—in the long run as well as the short run.
For instance, Mr. Jones might think that it is in his self-interest to cheat on his wife, in the short run. But if he considers the long-term, he will understand that he loses her either way by lying to her. If he really loves his wife, he will feel te rrible if he lies to her. If he no longer loves his wife, it is senseless to continue living with her and conducting an affair in secret.
A selfish individual does not like to lie, because he sees that it does not bring him long-term happiness.
Most of us assume that we cannot be both selfish and kind to others. This is simply not true. If a mother loves her son, it makes her happy to give up some of her money to buy him a bicycle. It is not a sacrifice— it is a supremely selfish act. Both mother and son benefit.
Similarly, the owner of a popular restaurant is not dutifully "serving the public." He provides good food and a nice atmosphere so that he can make a profit and beat the competition. Both owner and diners benefit.
A physician does not provide quality treatment for altruistic reasons. He provides it because he is financially and emotionally rewarded for being competent and caring. Otherwise, he quite appropriately loses his patients. Both patient and doctor benefit from selfishness.
In a rational society, selfishness is encouraged. A rational society is one where individuals are left free to pursue their self-interest. In the process, everyone benefits.
Rational selfishness means acting in your self-interest—and accepting responsibility for determining what truly serves your long-term interest. It is a nice alternative to a life filled with duty, drudgery and disillusionment.
We live in a world which does not even recognize the option of rational selfishness. We are taught, from childhood, that we must be either self-sacrificing or thoughtlessly "selfish."
I maintain that this is a false alternative. Rational selfishness, if practiced consistently, is the means of living both a moral and psychologically healthy life. If you choose to recognize this alternative, such a life can be yours."
Marilyn
Member Elite
since 09-26-1999
Posts 2646
Ontario, Canada


8 posted 11-03-1999 11:49 AM       View Profile for Marilyn   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Marilyn

I was reading this earlier but didn't have the time to respond. We were SNOWED in today...buses cancelled and the roads are bad..there for I shall attempt to reply...lol.

Brad asked us to ponder some ideas.

1) The "Alpha male" and his/her lust for domination. We can see clearly through history that these people try hard to rule but end up failing. Repression is generally their tactic. What this causes in even the most docile human is the need to "break free". Even the most stringent passivist will rebel against those kinds of constraints. I do not believe that the "Alpha male" approach will get anyone anywhere. The thought processes are too domineering.

Rational self interest doesn't have a place in a true "Alpha male". They are only interested in their own power. They believe that they are the only ones that are any good in the community. Hitler was a prime example of this. He believed that the german's were the perfect race. I am not sure how he came to his conclusions though. He thought blonde, blue eyed babies were the perfect start to a new race. He himself was dark haired and eyed...(or where his eyes blue? I can't recall at the moment. Anyway not overly important.)

It was these believes that caused him to begin the ethinic cleansing that shocked the world.

I have studied a little Darwin. His might makes right theories come from the instinctive behavor of animals. In the animal kindom might does make right. The weeker animals are the ones that fall pry to preditors and the stronger ones fight for the right of leader. Humans have always bragged about being better then the animal kindom because of our ability to think rationally. IMHO... Darwanism does not apply to humans in this case. We strive to help the week and aging to live longer and healthier lives. We make great strides to cure the sick and help the newborns that would have otherwise not survived illnesses. I was directed to a magiazine atricle by a friend of mine about the medical break throughs in fetal surgery. A doctor performed surgery on a fetus that was diagnosed with spinabifita. They closed an opening in the spinal cord on a fetus that was only 26 weeks old.

If might makes right is true why would we want to go to such great lengths to improve or save a life of one such as this?

2) How do we define rational. Oh my what a question! Very difficult because that is subjective. I am sure that Hitler thought what he was doing was rational but then he was supposed to be mentally unstable. I am really at a loss on this one.

3)Marx's idea of communism. I agree with Brad, Marx was trying to create a utopian community. Not creating selflessness but as one strives for self fulfillment the community is benifited. This is not a BAD idea except when you add the "Alpha male" into the equation. There will always be ones that will need to dominate those around him. Objectivity and open mindedness is the goal. He was striving to have the entire community succeed, so that everyone was prosperous and happy. Unfortunately, we can not please everyone therefore some group is always voicing outrage and reaching for more.

How do we solve these problems? I have NO idea. I think the place to start is in the home. Raise your children with respect for others and that they can achieve only through hard work and intelligence.

One last thought. I do not believe that there is such an animal as true selflessness. In everything there is a selfish motive. Mother Teresa's modivation was to praise her heavenly Father. This still comes back to her, she was satisfied as well as knew that her earthly acts would be awarded in heaven.

Someone who risks his/her life to save another has selfish motives. Be it as simple as not being able to live with themselves if they did nothing and poeple died.

Well I guess that is more then my 2 cents.
Brad
Member Ascendant
since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea


9 posted 11-04-1999 01:49 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Just wanted to say I enjoyed the Hurd piece. I actually recognize the name. He publishes in Reason a lot, does he not? I actually had a lunch interview with Virginia Postrell and Nick Gillespie -- I was trying to get a job but didn't know enough about desktop publishing (or that's what they said). It was a tough call for me because I'm more of a Libertarian Socialist than just a plain old Libertarian (but I still enjoy the magazine).

Of course, the other reason was I just wanted to meet Virginia. I thought she was pretty.
(Oh yeah, and intelligent)

Brad
Angel Rand
Member
since 09-04-99
Posts 140
London UK, and Zurich Switzerl


10 posted 11-08-1999 10:13 AM       View Profile for Angel Rand   Email Angel Rand   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Angel Rand

First of all, my apologies for not responding earlier. I am now in the US visiting my love and got a bit... uhm... side-tracked LOL.
Wow though so many points here that I would like to answer and I am afraid this post will get super long. Anyway here goes

1) The alpha male:
Humans are beings of thought and consciousness. We do not have natural defences like animals such as speed and strength, claws and sharp teeth. So we do not live by physical force but by intelligence. As we also are one of the very few beings (if not the only ones) who have a concept of death, we also, other than animals, have a value for life. Therefore we DO take care of our elderly and sick. Darwinism doesn't apply to humans anymore I agree cause humans have a choice. Remnants of that alpha male instinct are still seen today in our competitiveness though. And this is how it should be too. If we did not have that competitive streak we would end up back in the caves, as no one would invent anything to better the conditions under which we live. Indeed no one would bother to even repair anything existing either. Objectivism is not the philosophy that compares to Darwin's theory at all. Nietzsche and his idea of the super-human would answer that theory (and that is what inspired Hitler and any other fascist). Objectivism strongly believes that every human being is born equal and has the same rights as the next person regardless of colour or background. Objectivism never concerns itself with "power" or "domination". In fact Objectivism regards power hunger as a sign of insecurity, self-unfulfilment and co-dependency. Objectivism advocates that each person is a means onto him or herself. Every human interaction is seen as a trade of values for equal values. Never as might versus weakness. A dictator is as much dependent on his subjects as his subjects are dependent on him. To rule you need others. If only to have someone to rule in the first place. True freedom means you are responsible for your own self-interest AND you are the ONLY one who is responsible for YOUR self-interest.
2) Which brings us to Brad's second question: How do we define rational?
I think that was answered quite well in Hurd's essay posted above. Rational is what is objectively good for a human life. The means and the paths we choose to achieve a good life might be subjective to every individual. But overall the rational choices are objective and can be defined in one question: Is this good for me in the long run? Please note that I do not suggest that only those choices that will bring monetary security are the good choices. Good is the same as self-fulfilling and not equal to getting rich. Money should be a secondary consideration, as it, in itself, brings neither happiness nor self-fulfilment.
3) As for communism...
It never was a benevolent idea to start with and very altruistic indeed. Think of it this way:
A man works really hard everyday to make enough money to support himself and his family. He earns enough to pay for an occasional vacation and some nice things around the house. That is good would you not say? Then there is another man, he doesn't work so hard he in fact does the bare minimum. Hence takes no pride in providing for his own by his own efforts. Under communism the following would happen: The man who works will have all his hard-earned money taken away from him. The state decides how much of his effort he is allowed to keep or rather how much money he will need to survive. The non-working man will be given money that was made by the working man so that he too can survive. Is that right? How did the second guy deserve that money? By just existing?
You will say this is a scenario where one man abuses the system. Ok yes true. But let's view it from another angle: One man invents something truly great, something that might help ppl all over the world. Should he be allowed to reap the benefits of the output of his mind or should he have invented it just for the greater good and not earn anything for it? Should he give his invention to the world as if his mind's output (and in that his very mind itself) was theirs to claim or should he give his mind's output to the world and be paid for it by the ppl who would use his invention? If he decides that he wants no monetary benefit for it then ok, but should he by LAW be prohibited to earn anything for it?
Should you say: what about all the competitors who did not invent the thing? Should they all lose their business cause of him? Well I ask you this: Should a creative genius have to pay for the lesser creativity of his competitors? Is he responsible for their lack of invention? If we thought like: Oh no I cannot realise the idea I just had cause other ppl did not... we would not be so advanced in technology and living standards. And by the way under communism property was never to be had. Everything belonged to the state. To me that is legalised daylight robbery. Cause again, what does "for the good of society mean"? Who is society? Society is not an entity. It is a collection of individuals and only the individual can have rights. Communism means that you and your very mind belong to the state, the collective, the society. Is that really what you wish for? Do you really want any and every man to have a legal claim on you? What is the difference to a thief breaking into your house and stealing your computer? He has none, you have one, so therefore you must give? Even if you had 2 computers and he had none, do you therefore OWE him a computer? Oh so you say it is against the law to steal? But what if the law states that you're not ALLOWED to "have" property and the state legally takes it away from you? What makes the thief's claim less good than the states? That he takes by whim and the state takes by law and therefore force? I must say I'd rather give my computer to a thief than to a state that makes taking your property away from you, a law. At least I can have the hope that the thief knows what he is and does not hide it under the saying "for the greater good". Well I hope you don't think that way.
As for utopia... yes it would be nice if there was enough for everybody to live the good life. But that should never be achieved by taking from those who can, to give to those who cannot. Existence is not enough of a rightful claim on comfort. I do not see why any person should have to pay money so that some other person unknown to him or her can "realise their full potential", unless we are talking about scholarships and sponsors. But then again these have to be created by private investors' free will and not by the state who took that money away from society by force.

On another matter, Brad, the ppl you have mentioned in your last post are totally unknown to me . I hope that is due to my not being from the US rather than a shameful ignorance LOL.
One last thing, Objectivist politics and Libertarianism are not the same thing at all.

From Angel


------------------
"Any alleged "right" of one man, which necessitates the violation of the rights of another, is not and cannot be a right." Ayn Rand
Ron
Administrator
Member Rara Avis
since 05-19-99
Posts 9708
Michigan, US


11 posted 11-08-1999 07:01 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Angel, I largely agree with the cornerstone of what you and Mr. Hurd propose: self-interest (or selfishness, if you prefer) is the sole driving force of every single act throughout the history of humanity. Unfortunately, I fail to see where that truth gives us any real enlightenment or wisdom.

Hurd contends that the "opposite of selfishness is self-sacrifice," and defines self-sacrifice as "giving up a greater value for a lesser value." I would suggest that there is no opposite of self-interest, because nothing is ever done for any reason other than self-interest. His definition of self-sacrifice is what I would just call an unequal transaction, or simply a very bad deal. Those kinds of deals are made through lack of wisdom, rather any thought of sacrifice. The battered wife doesn't stay in a bad situation because she is willingly sacrificing herself. She stays because she perceives the consequences of leaving as being worse than the consequences of staying. We may not agree with her perceptions, but we should recognize her behavior as still serving her self-interests. Indeed, every single example Hurd cites is based not on selfishness, self-interest, or sacrifice - but on acquired living skills and the ability to differentiate between short- and long-term benefits.

I guess what I'm saying is that this particular "truth" is both self-evident and largely useless. It doesn't help us to make better decisions. It doesn't help us to explain bad decisions. It simply says that all of our decisions should be based on self-interest - as they inevitably are, even when we refuse to recognize it - and offers us no meaningful help in defining what those decisions should be.
Brad
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12 posted 11-09-1999 01:23 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

If you follow the definitions, I think Ron is right but isn't Ayn Rand really saying that someone like Bill Gates is a 'better' person than Mother Theresa? Isn't Ayn Rand saying that we shouldn't worry about society for its own sake but follow personal desires over and and above what we perceive as obligation? That is, as long as we don't hurt other people.

Individual satisfaction is one thing but isn't Rand (and Hurd for that matter) really trying to shift what we call the role models of our society?

Who is John Galt?

Brad
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Brad, you're pushing this old memory back a few decades, but I believe John Galt was one of the two principle protagonists in Atlas Shrugged - the "superman" of Objectivism, if you will.

And, yes, I think you are correct that the classic Objectivist would consider Gates "better" (more enlightened?) than Mother Theresa. I think Rand does much more than advocate rational self-interest over perceived obligation, but that's certainly what we're talking about here. And my contention is simply that there's no such thing as obligation - only self-interest (rational and not so rational). And I think Objectivism does little to help us differentiate between the rational and not so rational.
Angel Rand
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14 posted 11-09-1999 03:43 PM       View Profile for Angel Rand   Email Angel Rand   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Angel Rand

Ron I must disagree with you. Objectivism is the only philosophy that actually DOES show you the difference between the rational and the non-rational. Ppl might think that what they do is basically all down to self-interest. But that again is not true. Ppl in our Western civilisation have mostly been brought up on the belief that if you follow what serves you best you are necessarily evil and egotistical. To fulfil your own self-interests you have to walk over dead bodies. And that anyone who follows his or her every whim is a selfish person.
Hobbes (and many like him) requires that we give up our natural rights (to survival) to the group.
This means that we surrender our own interests to the group - putting their well being before our own.
The moral rules thus generated are negative - they tell us what not to do. But that is not really a guide to behaviour.
Rand's suggestion: We need a moral code that is positive: It tells us what to do, not what not to do. We need a moral code, which encourages the use of that faculty of human beings, which best enables, us to survive (instead of encouraging us to just go along).
What is this faculty? Since morality proposes to regulate our actions, we must ask ourselves: What must we do before we can act? The answer: THINK! Why is thinking so important?
Our only hope for survival is to think. We cannot act without thinking and expect to survive. In order to attain our desires, we need to think - and we need goals to direct our actions. We are beings of "volitional consciousness" - which means we must choose to think. Why Think? We need to think to define our goals - these goals direct our actions. We need to think to survive - we have no automatic code of survival: We are the only animal, which intentionally commits suicide! To make good choices, we must think. Good = enhances our survival. What is our most fundamental choice? To Live or Die!
What choice do we make if we accept the values of others? For one, we put their (survival) interests ahead of our own. Secondly, we adopt their goals as our own - these goals may be incompatible with our own. In essence, we choose our own death. Intellectually and possibly materially! Is it intelligent to choose your own death? Is this the act of an "enlightened" person? Rand Thinks not! If our mind is the key to our survival, then we should not subjugate it to the will of others - they are not interested in our survival. We should not sacrifice our selves "for the sake of Ghosts in Heaven or Incompetents on Earth" Morally right = It enhances the survival of the human individual. We need to select our own values - but how do we judge them? Enlightened self - interest: This is not simple self - interest. You see those people on Jerry Springer, Ricky Lake, Montel, etc. This is enlightened self - interest: Looking ahead, knowing how others will perceive your actions. Happiness is the state of mind, which is attained when you achieve your goals.
Bottom line:
Do not accept the values of others over your own.
Here are some examples of philosophical catch phrases that are used every day and what they really mean:
-Don't be so sure- no body can be sure of anything. That was David Hume. That statement is confusing and total rot of course cause how then could you be so sure that you cannot be sure of that either. It serves one purpose only; to lead ppl to believe that knowledge is impossible to humans. Or in other words that humans are not conscious!
-It's logical, but logic has nothing to do with reality... (Plato) That would mean:
a) things are not what they are;
b) things can be and not be at the same time, in the same respect, i.e., reality is made up of contradictions.

But then by what means was it discovered by anyone? Certainly not by logical reasoning.
All these philosophies serve but one purpose; to keep man in check; to keep him from fulfilling his own life.
-That was a rotten thing to do but I could not help it. I am only human. Nobody is perfect in this world (Augustine)
This one has to be one of my favourites! It puts humans down and makes you assume an unearned guilt. As if to say being human is equal to being bad! Once you accept this as the truth you pronounce your mind to be incompetent to judge your actions, you renounce morality, integrity and thought.

When I tell ppl about objectivism they tend to say that they have no wish to be an unemotional Vulcan and that analysing rationality is breeding the absence of feelings. They think that abstract thinking must be impersonal. But that would mean that the thought held no personal value to me and that I could not care less for the conclusion. And why do they think that? Cause they believe that anything personal would make my view on any given topic distorted. This again would mean that I can not accept reality as it is as reality is my enemy. But that is not so. If your thinking is determined on how you happen to feel on any given moment than yes you could not evaluate anything, personal or impersonal. But if you realise that reality and truth are not your enemies but rather of crucial and vital and even SELFISH importance to you and your life- then the more passionate the thinking the clearer the thought process. And that IS what Objectivism teaches you. It teaches you to analyse the flotsam of everyday catch phrases and to see them for what they mean. It teaches you that reality is what you should embrace and that reality is supremely rational. And you as a living entity are part of reality.
Angel
PS: Who is John Galt?
I know.
The face without pain or fear or guilt.
The man who loved his life.
------------------
"I swear -- by my life and by my love of it -- that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine." Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

[This message has been edited by Angel Rand (edited 11-09-1999).]
Ron
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15 posted 11-09-1999 06:23 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Angel, it seems that much of your thesis is based on the contention that we shouldn't feel guilty for following our own self-interests. I don't. Never have. Because I recognize that everything we do, consciously or unconsciously, good or bad, is the result of self-interest. That seems as self-evident to me as gravity, and far more inescapable. Even those who act out of the guilt you decry are acting out of self-interest - so they'll feel less guilty. Okay, I don't feel guilty - NOW what does Objectivism have to offer me?

Thinking? Again - self-evident.

Of course we should think before we act! And most do. We just don't always do it particularly well. You state that "Happiness is the state of mind which is attained when you achieve your goals." To which I add a quick addendum: "Only if those goals were in your best self-interest." Our society is littered with people who have diligently followed their goals, become successful in their chosen field - and feel miserable and empty at the end of the day. I know, 'cause I was one for a darn long time.

Does Objectivism help us to make better goals and decisions? How?
Trevor
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16 posted 11-11-1999 03:02 AM       View Profile for Trevor   Email Trevor   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Trevor

First all let me say WOW! Fantastic debate. All of you have made some great points and for the record I have to say that I agree a lot with what Ron has said. Everything we do is in self-interest. The policeman is as greedy as the bank robber. I believe that there is a balance to everything. Everything that exists (that includes thoughts/opinions), does so in the necessity for balance, I also believe some things balance on their own without a left or right side and exist without to's and fro's. I believe when dealing with thoughts, these are truths. I believe that Ron's comments on self interest prove that it does balance itself and that self interest has no opposite and therefore is a truth about human nature.....I could be completely wrong though but I will stick by this until I reach or hear a more accurate thought on this subject.

Angel Rand:

You've said,
"Or we would be slaves to society, the government etc. (Yes I am against taxes)."

First off let me say that society isn't some mysterious entity, society is us, we are society. Society is a representation of our human traits, characteristics, experiences, knowledge, etc....etc.... It is an extension of our wants, needs, and dreams. So with that in mind, can we really become slaves to society? I guess it could happen if you believe it is the government that dictates a society (this can not be true for no form of government has lasted forever) rather than vice-versa. You said you are against taxes. I guess that means you are against roads, you are against fire prevention, you are against parks, against social programs, against public education, against a government, against policing..... or did you really mean that you are against over-taxing and irresponsible use of tax dollars? If there was no government, there would be no social programs and there would be no policing. If there were no social programs, poverty would be a ridiculous problem. Can you predict what might happen with this formula?

"To be born equal means that no man has the right over another. So therefore we are also born free. If we are equal and free, we must also be allowed to work for our survival. It also means that no other person has a legal claim on the product of our labour."

Here's my bit on freedom. We are all free, all the time. You are free to keep the "fruit" of your labor just like societies are free to congregate and decide that all who want to be part of such said society must ante in the pot to have programs that the majority chose to create. It's not that at any particular time you don't have freedom but rather sometimes people's freedoms conflict with one another and success is not always achieved by all sides involved in a particular situation (is this making any sense??). Perhaps freedom is nothing more than having at least two different choices of action and/or thought all the time. Here's an interesting question ....just thought....who is more free? A person with no thoughts who has wandered aimlessly throughout the universe or a person with no actions or movement who is free to think as he/she wishes? Does freedom exist in thought or action or both? (Sorry, I know that wasn't completely on topic but I just had to get it out.)
People's freedoms will always seem trampled, whether intentionally or unintentionally, especially since I do believe that we all act out of self interest. Perhaps freedom doesn't even exist. Perhaps there are just varying (sp?) degrees of power and influence and that no one is free but rather a slave to the illusion of freedom.....I dunno, personally I think that we are all free, some use this power to hurt, some to harm and some for both(and maybe that is how the balance in freedom is achieved). Some use it to opress and some use it to eleviate opression. I also believe that I don't have either the intelligence nor the base of knowledge needed to give anything more than my opinion on such matters.

One final note before I sign off. Why is communism and social responsibility always looked upon as everyone going down instead of rising up. I believe that the intention of the Communist theory is not to have everyone living in straw huts and eating rotten carrots but rather everyone living in castles and eating chocolate cake

I don't know if my muddled words made any sense and I think only a few who have known me for awhile may be able to interpret this spagetti'd mess, so my apoli-geeze to anyone who is now scratching their head in bewilderment Take care everyone and once again a great topic and many wonderful inspiring thoughts.
The Trevor
Angel Rand
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17 posted 11-12-1999 03:07 AM       View Profile for Angel Rand   Email Angel Rand   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Angel Rand

Ron, there is much more to any person's psychology than I could ever dare to make a judgement about and about why you were miserable doing what you set out to do. I can only offer some ideas on that. I hope I won't sound too haughty, cause that was never my intention.
Objectivism helps you make the right choices. If your choice made you unhappy, it must have been the wrong choice. As stated before, money doesn't make happy. And if anyone chooses a job cause it will make him or her rich, they chose the wrong job. Money DOESN'T make happy it can only ever be a nice secondary benefit. The fulfilment of the ego has nothing to do with anyone's opinion of what is a worthy goal to pursue (like getting rich)but you own. If I deep down wanted to be nothing more than a Robinson Crusoe and live on an island providing for myself with my own two hands rather than live in a Gate-esque mansion, then playing the stockmarket would make me supremely unhappy. Even if I had a knack for getting rich really fast.
You say that most ppl think before they act. But there I disagree with you. Most ppl FEEL before they act. But feelings are not conclusive. They are only reactions to a prior input of values. That is why I listed some of the catch phrases that ppl so like to throw about. These phrases are what make ppl react emotionally without knowing to what they are reacting and why. Objectivism would help them to cut to the chase of it and embrace what is right for THEM in the long run. And as I stated before thinking out what is to your best interest isn't a disspassionate process but one, where feelings react to your thoughts and not vice versa. As for the guilt thing, I maintain that most ppl make choices on what they think they OUGHT to do, what is expected of them. Objectivism is the philosophy that shows you that a truly rational and selfish person is the person who is the least likely to hurt another. But not out of misleading saintlyness but out of the realisation that peace and "love" is to his or her own best interest. The approach is different and much more easy to take. To tell someone that hurting others is bad, cause you should love your neighbour like yourself, and if you cannot follow that, you are being sinful is not really a recipee for peace- as we have seen all too often. To show ppl WHY they hated in the first place and why there is no need to hate if you follow your own best and rationally selfish interest, is a lot better. And you don't even need deep psychology for that. Objectivism doesn't tell you just the "oughts" but also the "how-tos". And yes of course only those achieved goals will make you happy if you set them out in a rational and well thought through manner. That is what Objectivism is all about.

Trevor, yes I am against taxes. But let me be more specific. I am against all "forced" charity. That is to say I am against any enforced payment made from me that will not directly benefit me. Firemen, roadworks, police, army etc DO benefit me and I gladly pay for that. I will how ever most unwillingly part with any money that will finance healthcare, pensions and schooling of ppl I have never met and might never want to meet. Now IF I had a choice to help kids and elderly ppl to schooling or health then I would probably give what I can spare (in fact I am on the comittee for a charity fundraiser for disabled children every year). What I do protest against though is that either I give or I go to jail. And that is what would happen if I refused to pay my taxes. So I do pay, but not without knashing my teeth at the injustice of it.
You also talk about freedom. We are not free if the rights of the minority is not ensured. In a country where rights are not carved in stone but rather can be outvoted by the majority, freedom is non-existent. And unfortunately we live in a world where real freedom is not to be had. And I am not talking about the kind of freedom libertarians view as freedom where you are allowed to follow your every whim. I mean the freedom that the constitution and the declaration of independance originally had in mind when they were first set up.
Communism... urgh! That concept is revolting to me. I am NOT my brothers keeper! I can not see it as something good when the law and the government tell me by force what I am allowed to have and what I am meant to share with others. Society is a collection or a number of individuals. But that is again what I said before: the individual is the smallest minority there is. And as long as the rights of that minority isn't insured, "society" is not free. Society is only a word to name a group of ppl who live in the same country. So when I say to be a slave to society I meant a slave to an "entity" that would be made of ppl like me. If society as a whole had more rights than its individuals, it would mean that one person alone would account for nothing. Yet rights may not only apply to a group of entities but not to ONE entity alone.
Yes we do learn from other ppl and build our knowledge up from what other ppl know. But that again is not something that was forced away from these ppl who came before. It is beneficial to everyone. But I cannot condone that knowledge to be ripped away from its originator. You say that doesn't happen? You are probably right. But then that makes information from which we learn, free. It therefore cannot compare to anything an individual is forced to do for the good of "society" like pay taxes for their upkeep. Information is a trade and should remain thus. I have information I can share, I write a book, you buy the book to learn what I know and I get the money for it. I sell and get the money and you buy and get the info I can share. We both benefitted and that is how it should be in all things. It has to be mutual or my rights as an individual have been trampled on.

My brain is fogging over with tiredness. So I will stop here. More later... that is if y'all aren't tired of my ramblings
Big from Angel

------------------
"I swear -- by my life and by my love of it -- that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine." Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
Brad
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18 posted 11-12-1999 05:30 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

I can only touch on a little bit for now but I must say libertarians steadfastly do not believe in following every whim. The most popular magazine of libertarianism is called Reason. The other one is called Liberty but that's another story.

Angel, you said:
Objectivism helps you make the right choices. If your choice made you unhappy, it must have been the wrong choice.

Isn't that sort of a tautology? The right choice is defined by the outcome. If it is successful, it is correct. If it is unsuccessful, it is incorrect. Self-satisfaction equals right equals self-satisfaction equals right. But Ron's question is how do we make that 'right' decision. What you seem to argue is that we already know what is self-satisfying before we've actually done anything.

I agree that feeling and reason are initmately intertwined (there the same thing in my book). What you seem to be arguing is that most people follow cultural standards without any sense of self evaluation. Objectivism allows people to stand away from any cultural-societal value system and ask themselves is this appropriate for me. Perhaps, but Objectivism is certainly not the only way to accomplish that. I try very hard to do the same thing (after three cultures, value systems start getting a little muddy) and I am not an Objectivist.

My answer to Ron's question would be to see reality, not with the epistemological certainty that Rand seems to advocate, but with a provisional sense of attempts and failures -- both internal (self-satisfaction) and external (making money and recognition). And to get away from the Hume contradiction that in itself is provisional; you never know, you might see the light some day ).

By moving away from goal achievement as a source of self-satisfaction (It is but only temporary) and concentrating on the process itself, we move away from the absolutes of rational and irrational, of satisfaction and dissatisfaction, of selfishness and selflessness and into living. There is a tendency, I think, to see the goal as a monolithic point to be reached -- the ends justifies the means (which some of what you have said seems to allude to). Why not find something that you enjoy doing (through trial and error -- is there another way?) and see what happens.

I would also add that the process should be diverse, a singular moment or goal or job is limiting to any individual.

I'm not finished but that's all I have time for now,
Brad

Ron
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19 posted 11-12-1999 07:07 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Angel, we agree on far more things than we disagree. But I still fail to see how any of it is useful. Acting in our own self-interest is self-evident and completely inevitable. Thinking and setting rational goals is not enough to insure we make the right choices. We need knowledge. We need guidance. And, most of all, we need wisdom. Objectivism offers none of those.

And before we continue, let me quickly add that I agree completely that money is unimportant beyond basic survival. When I used the word "success" in a previous post, I wasn't talking about financial success. Money is easy. People who make decisions based on money will never be financially successful. Those who make money are the one's who care about what they do, not money, and the rewards just naturally follow. Sometimes it makes their lives easier, sometimes it complicates their lives. Mostly, it's simply irrelevant.

But sometimes doing what you care about isn't enough. Because every choice you will ever make - even the right, rational choices - will always preclude other choices. Pretend for a moment there are two men, both very much in love with you. And you love them, but know you cannot have both. You have to make a choice. One is shallow, with questionable morals. The other offers depth and integrity. Easy choice? Of course it is, at least as long as you look at it rationally. Deciding between what is obviously bad for you and what is just as obviously good for you isn't tough. Rand's philosophy works!

But now let's pretend it's not so easy. Both of the men are pillars of virtue, different but equally desirable in every way that matters to you. Being with either would serve your best self-interest - but you still have to make a choice. You know the two men will change over the years. One may grow in ways that are different than the way you grow, widening a gap that destroys your happiness. The other may grow closer. You don't know which is which. And you can think about it until your hair turns gray without ever knowing. Logically, rationally, you might as well flip a coin. Because Objectivism offers you no real guidance. Rand's philosophy fails.

Why? I think there are several reasons, but let's stick with just Rand's definition of "thinking" for now. And I think there are two major fallacies with it.

You said, "But feelings are not conclusive. They are only reactions to a prior input of values." Substitute the word "data" for "values" in that sentence and you have a pretty passable definition of thinking (and, truthfully, I might suggest the substitution isn't really necessary). Our feelings are only as valid as our experiences. Agreed. But our thinking is only as valid as our knowledge - or "prior input." You cannot and will not ever deduce anything without experience. Observation. Experimentation. Study. Your ability to think rationally is only as valid as your experiences.

Ayn Rand was raised and educated in Russia under a regime of Communism, a country that never really passed through the Age of Reason in the way that Western Europe did. As an adolescent, she saw her father's business nationalized, taken away by force. It could be argued, with some legitimacy I think, that her entire philosophy was based on "only reactions to a prior input of values."

Some of what you've said, Angel, suggests that you've veered slightly left of traditional Objectivism. That's good, because I feel that one of the weaknesses in Rand's philosophy was the failure to realize that feelings are another form of knowledge. Granted, they are often not as reliable as two plus two equals four. But when your decisions are between two plus two and three plus one, feelings - as subconscious knowledge - may be the only guidance you'll find. Ayn Rand, of course, would call that mysticism.

In my opinion (of course), that is Rand's first - and lessor - fallacy about rational thinking. The greater fallacy can perhaps best be illuminated by talking about those "catch phrases" you've again mentioned.

Don't be so sure- nobody can be sure of anything. (Hume) The only thing we can know for certain is that we don't know all that we don't know (that's logic, not knowledge). At one time, scientists believed (as did Rand) that all things were inherently knowable. "Give me the position and momentum of every particle in the Universe," Newton might have said, "And I will tell you the future." Relativity and Quantum physics changed all that. We now realize that what we "know" are only statistical probabilities, and Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle suggests (if not proves) the impossibility of knowing everything. In short, what Newton knew to be certain proved to be only a partial truth. Will Einstein's truths some day prove to be equally half-true? Some think so. But we just don't know.

It's logical, but logic has nothing to do with reality. (Plato) That would mean: a) things are not what they are; b) things can be and not be at the same time, in the same respect, i.e., reality is made up of contradictions. Travel at a speed approaching that of light and you will grow massively heavy, time will become distorted, and even your physical dimensions will alter. Is that logical? (Well, mathematically it is, but it's sure not intuitive.) Contradictions of reality? Scientists deal with them all the time. Think of light as moving particles (photons) and you can explain much of its behavior. But not all of it. Only if you think of light as traveling in waves can you explain the rest of its behavior. Which is it? Particles or waves? Scientists have realized that light is both. Simultaneously.

I am only human. Nobody is perfect in this world (Augustine) It puts humans down and makes you assume an unearned guilt. While this "catch phrase" has little to do with thinking, I'll address it simply to be complete. And your interpretation of it certainly has a lot to do with thinking. You are making an assumption, unwarranted I think, that making mistakes leads to guilt. Augustine was saying exactly the opposite. If you accept the inevitability of human error there is no reason to feel guilt. Disappointment, yes. Renewed determination, yes. But guilt comes only from fault. Being human isn't a fault. On the contrary, I think it's the expectation of perfection - and subsequent failure - that leads to guilt.

My point, of course, is simple. Objectivism's greatest fault is its insistence that reason alone can and should determine our course in life. Yes, we need reason. But we need more. And Rand's philosophy not only doesn't offer us that "more," its tenets preclude us from looking elsewhere for it. In much of her nonfictional work ("Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology" and especially her essays, such as "The Virtue of Selfishness") she had two favorite words: evil (which seemed to be anything outside her philosophy) and mysticism. Not surprisingly, she was vehemently opposed to any consideration of the possible validity of telepathy, ESP, or other psi phenomenon. But she felt exactly the same way about hypnosis! She was convinced it was all a fraud.

I think what Plato really meant was that our logic has nothing to do with reality. One of the pillars of Objectivism is that reality is what it is, that things are what they are, independent of anyone's beliefs, feelings, judgments or opinions. But our logic is very much based on precisely that: our beliefs, feelings, judgments, and opinions. Denying the mystical is questionable. Labeling anything you don't understand, anything outside your own realm of experience, as mystical is cutting yourself off from reality.

Ayn Rand thought some really great thoughts, especially concerning individuality and freedom. I agree with much of what she had to say, even if I disagree with her extremism. But I'm still looking for that "more."
Angel Rand
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20 posted 11-12-1999 03:56 PM       View Profile for Angel Rand   Email Angel Rand   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Angel Rand

Woohooo LOL I am getting a run for my money here. BUT- I enjoy it! LOL
Brad first of all I never meant to imply that only the outcome counts. From what I understood from Ron's posting I assumed (maybe wrongfully), that the whole choice made him unhappy, not just the end "product". I am the first to say that you should engage in an activity that will make you happy. I never meant to say that only the outcome counts and the way you get there is irrelevant. But by setting out for something you want to have, should make the "getting there" pleasurable. Or that would mean for example that I do not enjoy the process of painting but only the finished work.
As for feelings and reason being the same, that is just not true to most ppl. I often had a discussion with ppl where the question came up WHY they chose to do something. The answer all too often was "cause I felt like it". And when then asked "but could you not see from the start that it would bring unhappiness" they would answer that it "felt" right at the time or that they didn't think of any repercussion in the future.
And that also answers your point Ron. I do not need experience of most things that are clearly bad for me like drugs for example. You could argue of course that seeing what it does to other ppl is a form of experience too and I agree. And that is exactly my point. Wisdom and experience do not necessarily have to be same. You say: "We need knowledge. We need guidance." But I say that we do not need a "Guru" to tell us of things he went through to see the truth. We can come to the same conclusion any one with experience made, if we only use our common sense. I am not against risk taking, BUT it has to be a calculated risk.
Your point on the two men being in love with me is a calculated risk. I am presently involved with a man who is in many ways very different than I. His character and past made it very possible that the outcome of a relationship would mean heartbreak and pain. Yet I went head on into this relationship with the very conscious thought that even if it should end with heartache, the time we would have had together would make any the end worth while. So even given the possibility of his or my changing, it will not take away from the time we spend together in happiness. The question here was not will I be eternally happy but will the happiness I will certainly have for the time being, be worth the end we might (or might not) have to face. The answer was yes, yes, YES!! As long as anything was worth my time I cannot have regrets. Furthermore I do not believe that I could really love two men at the same time. Even if both of them had equal "moral value" (or whatever) in my eyes, I am certain that for some reason I would feel more drawn to one of them (or neither of them). If I choose to be with him or not first will be based on the question if I love him of course. But for my even being able to love him would have to mean that he is a good person. I think and hope I have changed enough to value myself high enough not to fall for someone again, who will be bad for me.
Feelings are NOT a form of guidance in them-selves. The reason WHY you feel them IS. Feelings are a result and not a primary. Even so called intuition is based on experience or subconscious "data input".
As for my catchphrases… Are you suggesting that we cannot know or are you saying that we do not know at present? Never did Rand say that scientist DO know all there is to know. She only said that they CAN know. At the very moment you say that Einstein was wrong, you prove that you CAN KNOW. We might not know NOW but we CAN know. All Rand ever said was that reality CAN be known.
As for light being two things at once. Yes that might be the property of light, I do not know enough about it to argue about that. But just because light is a wave and a particle doesn't mean that light is also an entity or a god even ( just an example). Light might have confusing properties but those properties make it light. It is either light or it is not. And besides just because we do not understand its properties as yet doesn't mean it is random and illogic. We just do not understand it as such yet. But that doesn't mean we CANNOT understand it in time.
To say being human means to make mistakes is a good excuse to too many ppl not to even try. And I did not put that there to say that ppl should feel guilty for being fallible. I put it there cause too many ppl use this as an excuse for mistakes they make they could have avoided, had they thought things out before. The guilt part is maybe not something you ever applied to yourself. But that makes you an exception. Ppl are taught through out their lives that as they are human they are inherently bad and need to seek the forgiveness of a higher power. I refuse to believe that. I am not bad. I am human and I am not infallible. That doesn't make me bad. BUT the choices I make in my life become bad when I do not make them with my eyes wide open to the consequences. Evil is all that that goes against my best interest when I could have avoided it easily.
Mysticism is the reverse of Objectivism. While Objectivism looks to the outside to see and understand reality, mysticism looks to the inside. But your inside is only made up of things that have been brought in from the outside. You can only experience reality through your senses and the evaluation of their input. I maintain that feelings are not a guide to action as long as you do not analyse WHY you feel something. It is much the same with physical feelings. Your knee hurts. Why? Cause you fell on it. The only difference between physical feelings and emotions is that the physical are a lot simpler to understand. But both are an outcome of something that happened before. Emotions are a direct result of your input value system. If for example some one is taught that physical pain is a good thing, he will experience pleasure when either hurting or being hurt. Does his pleasure indicate that he is doing something right and good? If he took his feelings as a guide then the answer would be yes. If someone is taught that physical love is bad and sinful he or she will experience tremendous feelings of guilt and shame. Is she or he right? His or her feelings or displeasure would indicate yes. You feel according to what ever value system you have subconsciously adopted through out your life. Feelings are not a guide if you do not analyse where they come from and why you have them. In fact only a supremely rational person may follow his or her feelings. As the value system of such a person would guarantee feelings that would indeed show him the proper way of action.
As for Ayn Rand's extremism. Yes I agree her biggest fault was her un-openness to things that even smelled a bit like mysticism. I cannot blame her for it though. She set out a revolutionary new philosophy and could not allow it to be diluted. Her passion for her own work I suppose. But just cause Rand was wrong on this issue and not totally objective, doesn't mean that pure Objectivism would make the same mistake.
Angel

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"I swear -- by my life and by my love of it -- that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine." Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
Marilyn
Member Elite
since 09-26-1999
Posts 2646
Ontario, Canada


21 posted 11-13-1999 05:12 PM       View Profile for Marilyn   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Marilyn

I have been so busy I have not had time to get back here. The only point I wish to make now is this:

I do not believe there is such a thing as true Objectivism. Every person is biased BECAUSE of what they had experienced in their lives. Rand was biased therefore she could not allow herself to view, objectivly, anything outside of her theory.

I agree with Ron in general. There has not been a decison in my life (since adolesence) That I made purely out of emotion. I always have been too much of a thinker for that. This does not mean I don't overact nor does it mean I make perfect decisions. It means I try to think. I am human...we are all. I do not believe that anyone doesn't react immediately purely by emotion or instinct. Inside or outside, we all have immediate responses.

I am not sure I am still on topic...lol.
Brad
Member Ascendant
since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea


22 posted 11-14-1999 12:07 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Ron has already said some of the points I wanted to mention earlier. I'll just say two things really quick. One, what I call Rand's EAP (Epistemological Assertion Prinicple) is one of her greatest faults. She assert reality as a postulate and denigrates all who disagree with her. This is a false proposition (and one that would cause her personal problems -- with Nathanial Branden for example) because as Marilyn points out we can never be truly logical and/or truly emotional; it is always a combination of both (and haven't I said that enough around here ) This is also akin to the Communist Party's claim that it can make no mistakes because it is scientific. A claim that makes no sense because Marx changed his mind all the time.

Two, what seems to undergird her philosophy is a distinction between competence and incompetence which I see as akin to owners and workers; Christians and heathens; Jews and Gentiles; Muslims and Infidels; and Masters and Slaves. How many objectivists have claimed that they themselves are part of the incompetent group (certainly not Rand) . Who determines competence? At what point in life are we capable of placing that label on someone else? I've been both competent and incompetent at different times in my life. Which one am I?

As long as we continue to essentialize individuals, we stay in a static world of hierarchy and class.

Still not finished yet. Angel, this may be the most interesting thread going right now. Thanks a lot.
Brad
Trevor
Senior Member
since 08-12-99
Posts 744
Canada


23 posted 11-14-1999 09:04 AM       View Profile for Trevor   Email Trevor   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Trevor

I don't know which hurts more, my eyes from reading this thread or my brain from trying to process it. All I know is that I feel like an under-read moron when reading it Objectism, tautalogy, Mr. Hurd, Altruism, and so on and so forth. You people smart, make HULK hurt head!

O.K. here's my latest thoughts (for anyone who cares), they will be muddled and scattered for there are many issues that I'd like to address....but the lack of stucture is all of your fault, you spurred to many thoughts :

Angel,
Earlier you said:

"Humans are beings of thought and consciousness. We do not have natural defences like animals such as speed and strength, claws and sharp teeth. So we do not live by physical force but by intelligence. As we also are one of the very few beings (if not the only ones) who have a concept of death, we also, other than animals, have a value for life. Therefore we DO take care of our elderly and sick."

Is not intelligence a natural thing? Intelligence is our sharp claws and our fanged teeth and humans do live by physical force (we've killed at least one of everything on this planet), though usually brought on by a conscious decision rather than an instinctive drive (though even that is debatable). Humans are animals, and we are not the only ones who have a concept of death or an attachment and will to live. Many herds (I'll use Water Buffalo as an example) will rally around a hunted member that is sick or elderly when it is attacked in an attempt to drive off the attackers. In some animal societies (such as elephants and gorillas) when a mother dies and leaves behind a baby, often another female adult will adopt it and raise it as its own. Without its intervention the baby would die. Does this sound like the actions of animals without a concept of life, death and society?

"Darwinism doesn't apply to humans anymore I agree cause humans have a choice. Remnants of that alpha male instinct are still seen today in our competitiveness though. And this is how it should be too. If we did not have that competitive streak we would end up back in the caves, as no one would invent anything to better the conditions under which we live. Indeed no one would bother to even repair anything existing either."

To say that Darwinism does not apply to humans anymore would be to say that humans are incapable of further evolution. To say that Darwinism does not apply is to say that "Survival of the Fittest" does not apply and to say that, is to say humans can not become extinct. (1) Mother nature and all her might could just wipe all humans out with a quick brush stroke (environment has as much to do with evolution and survival as does competition between other species), earthquakes, drought, famine,flood, big comet, etc. (2) We are at constant battle with rapid evolving viruses and diseases, and therefore always evolving (both physically and mentally{man made cures}) in order to survive (3) We are always in constant threat from other humans both in small scales and large (we are probably our most dangerous adversary) (4) We still do get eaten and poisoned by the odd other animal.
I contend that we are constantly practising survival of the fittest whether it be consciously, sub-consciously or genetically/cellular(sp?). "Survival of the fittest" is the will to live, at any cost and most humans still posess this. Futhermore because we are societal creatures this "will to live" is often encased as the "many acting as one" in order to keep alive the society, such as the case in many a war. You said that Darwinism doesn't apply to humans because they have choices. I don't see how having choices affects evolution and survival of the fittest, if this were true do you not think that we'd all die of old age? Would we all not choose to have super intelligent, super strong and resiliant(sp?) children that live to be 100? Humans have yet to fully evolve and are definately not in the clear from ever being on the extinction list.
Personally I think the business world has misused "survival of the fittest", giving it a bad rap and left everyone with a negative feeling about it the whole darn'd thing. But then you could say businesses are much like a society acting as one thereby somewhat justifing some of their actions???

I also think that too many people interpret Darwinism as a couple of animals tearing at each other (might makes right stuff) when that is really only part of the equation.

"As for communism...
It never was a benevolent idea to start with and very altruistic indeed. Think of it this way:
A man works really hard everyday to make enough money to support himself and his family. He earns enough to pay for an occasional vacation and some nice things around the house. That is good would you not say? Then there is another man, he doesn't work so hard he in fact does the bare minimum. Hence takes no pride in providing for his own by his own efforts. Under communism the following would happen: The man who works will have all his hard-earned money taken away from him. The state decides how much of his effort he is allowed to keep or rather how much money he will need to survive. The non-working man will be given money that was made by the working man so that he too can survive. Is that right? How did the second guy deserve that money? By just existing? "

Modern Communism (as opposed to theoretical Communism) is about the survival of a way of life and not about survival of the individual as well, which is where I think communism went wrong, for I believe the individual to be as important as the herd. But I don't think current democracy/capitalism is the answer either, for it pits survival of a society and individuals against the survival of materialistic and short term things. Also capitalism deems the few to be more important than the many, ie. large companies downsizing and relocating for the purpose of inflating stock prices will destroy individuals by destroying jobs thereby destroying communities in order to make a couple of rich people more rich. I think the whole theory of a capitalistic society (and I believe Western society to be more capitalistic than democratic) is equality through effort/hard work. To be able to reap what you sow. That is to say if you work hard, you can be as monetarily wealthy as the next person thereby creating the same opportunities. But lets face it, you can work as hard as you want in a capitalistic society and never "make it". You can open your own business and it can be squashed and taken from you by someone who deems you as competition and done so legally. Not everyone can be millionaires, at least not through the current practises of capitalism. Poverty is a man made creation.

"Trevor, yes I am against taxes. But let me be more specific. I am against all "forced" charity. That is to say I am against any enforced payment made from me that will not directly benefit me. Firemen, roadworks, police, army etc DO benefit me and I gladly pay for that. I will how ever most unwillingly part with any money that will finance healthcare, pensions and schooling of ppl I have never met and might never want to meet."

I'm sorry that you do not see how healthcare, pensions and schooling of ppl you've never met can't and doesn't directly benefit you. I'm also surprised you have this stance when you talk so much of rights, "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness".
I will first discuss the social programs that you state do not benefit you directly.
Example 1:
Education??? How can you say that you do not benefit from someone else's education? Do you think it is just rich children who grow up to be doctors, policemen, firemen, ambulance workers, engineers, etc.? Is it not everyone's right to have an education? Is that not part of equality? You have spoken about the importance of the individual, isn't education important in the creation of the individual?

Example 2:
Healthcare and Welfare. A healthy body helps a healthy mind function. A healthy mind and body is important in obtaining an education. An education is important to create the individual, the individual is important in creating the society.
If someone is laid off due to say downsizing, in fact lets say most of the town where he lives is unemployed because a large corporation picked up its factory and moved somewhere cheaper because it wanted to add 10 million dollars onto its billion dollar yearly revenue and there are very few jobs in town and no one has the money to move to find work (many, many people still live paycheck to paycheck). A few have relatives that will help them out but for the most part these people don't have a way to get an income. What should these people do?(a) kill their own food and where fur (b) die from starvation or hypothermia (c) go out and kill and rob from those who have money so that they can survive (d)sign up for the social programs that will help them stay on their feet until they are able to find work somewhere else....what would you choose, what would you choose if option (d) wasn't offered? If humans created their own society are we not also responsible for its problems as well? If you don't want to help them why should they want to help you? Say you were lying in pain, dying and some poor person walked by, should they stop to help you? Would you want them to stop and help you? If they are not your responsibility why should you be theirs? Why should anyone help anyone? Because to help others is to help yourself. The value of maintaining health and welfare for all through social resposibility is that you are also maintaining your own health and welfare. How many great minds,(and I'm not just talking about the famous ones, by far there are more unknown contributers to society than there are known), would be dead if we did not look out for each other? How many great inventions and ideas would have never been realized if these "great minds" weren't able to live? Besides you never know when you might be down on your luck and in need of help.

Pensions:
I'll help get rid of pensions if you'll go door to door with me and tell the elderly why we can't afford to help keep them alive anymore and also if you'll promise to help bury the millions of elderly people we'd be sending to their graves from extreme poverty.

This isn't meant in a mean way but it sounds like your solution to society's ills are to forget about them and cast away responsibility. I'm not saying the current solutions are the right ones either but they are probably better than none.

Perhaps forcing people to pay taxes for social programs is like forcing a child to go to school. It's done for their own good.


"Communism... urgh! That concept is revolting to me. I am NOT my brothers keeper! I can not see it as something good when the law and the government tell me by force what I am allowed to have and what I am meant to share with others."

Well I don't think Communism has ever been practised. Just because you call a gov't or society Communist doesn't make it so. Also a pure form of communism would be that everything the people want would be available because everyone would be working to give each other everything, including the government. In a way it would be like we were all millionaires instead of all paupers. If it is possible to give everyone two car garages and central air conditioning in a capitalist society, why would it be impossible, with the same work force and the same natural resources to do the same in a communist society, I mean in a theoretical way (human nature always seems to put a damper on real communism)?

"If society as a whole had more rights than its individuals, it would mean that one person alone would account for nothing."

I must agree with you completely on that point. If that was so then the individual would be squashed, no balance achieved and societal downfall. But what happens when the individual has more rights than the society? Is that possible? Does it exist today? Does this apply to the elitists of the World? Is the world good as it is? Now I've said this with the assumption that you have no problems with current capitalistic practises and that your "beef" is with forced taxes to help maintain society. If individuals make up a society, and wants and needs help motivate and control a society, then it is those very wants and needs of the individual that help in the creation of social ills. Should we not clean up our own mess? Personally I don't know about that one, just thought I'd lay it out there and see what bites. It seems society loves the individual more than the individual loves society, even though they both created each other.

I have much more to say on this topic but I am too tired to continue....HULK need sleep. I'd love to hear your comments on this Angel and anyone else as well. Thnks to all for getting my brain juices flowing.

On a final note, personal observation:
It seems now society loves the individual more than the individual loves society, even though they both created each other. I believe a balance is needed. The individual must compromise with society so that society may cater to the individual. Take Care everyone,
Trevor

-----------
"Any alledged "right" of one person, which necessitates the violation of the rights of many people, is not and cannot be a right."
Trevor Davis

"I swear -- by my life and by my love of it -- that I will always live for the sake of other people, so they may live for the sake of me."
Trevor Davis - Philosophy 101
Angel Rand
Member
since 09-04-99
Posts 140
London UK, and Zurich Switzerl


24 posted 11-15-1999 11:15 AM       View Profile for Angel Rand   Email Angel Rand   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Angel Rand

Hi Trevor,
First of all I would like to point out that I did put "As we also are one of the very few beings (if not the only ones) who have a concept of death... " Meaning that I have heard of the theory of (other ) animals with the concept of death. Dolphins, whales and elephants most prominently. And yes we kill with a conscious thought but if we are honest our survival doesn't depend on it, neither as a species nor as individuals. Especially not nowadays.
And when I said that Darwinism doesn't apply to humans anymore because they have a choice, I did not mean to say the human race will not evolve further but that survival of the fittest no longer applies. (Although it would be an interesting study to find out what part of our evolving over the last 4000 or so years is actually due to natural evolution and what is due to learning) In our society your survival no longer relies on your being faster or stronger than your neighbour. Nor will it ensure you to get the healthiest female to pass your genes on. Yes, there is the idea that the best looking male of our species will get the best looking of the opposite gender and vice versa. But there is where the choice thing comes in. Intelligence has replaced all our speed, claws and fang defences. But then again you will not perish if you happen to be less than an Einstein. And to bring up war as one of the dangers that might wipe us out as a species is to say that war is beyond our choice. We do have a choice if we want to make war or not.
The only place where I do still see "survival of the fittest" to some degree at least, is indeed as you mentioned in viruses and other illnesses. Yet even that we have combated rather well with the advancement of our medicine. And should you say that many ppl still die of diseases I would like to mention, that the diseases you DO die of nowadays can be found in the strongest and most resilient examples of our species. AIDS for example is an illness that no one can survive no matter how strong the sufferer. Cancer doesn't just attack the physically weak either, nor are its survivors only ever the very strong and initially healthy. In fact I almost believe that we are persecuted by such horrid illnesses precisely because there is no longer a law of natural selection applying to us. We have to have the least healthy and most "degenerate" "breeding stock" of all species on the planet.
As for capitalism… we have never had a true capitalistic society and what ppl call capitalism today is really only a mixed economy. But I would still like to point out that the more capitalistic countries in the world have a wealthier overall society than the ones that call themselves socialistic governments. The perfect example has to be the former East and West Germany. One was semi-capitalistic, the other more or less communistic. Germans in general are hard working ppl and both sides of The Wall started off from the same basic work ethic. One side made it to decent living standard for all its citizens; the other side gave its ppl all they needed to survive- but no more. Why would that be? Why would it not work? Only because ppl are greedy and do not want to share, or is it that making sharing a LAW is unfair and unjust?
As for downsizing a company. I wonder what you would do if you owned a middle-sized company (cause it's these that get hit hardest) and a socialistic government put the thumbscrews on you so tightly in form of taxes that you will lose your business if you do not let some ppl go? Will you stay the same size and not relocate to a tax-wise cheaper neighbourhood and in the end lose the whole business, make all your employees lose their jobs? I think not. Besides a company is not a charity organisation. You get your salary because you do work in exchange. Or do you think that just because someone made it on lets say the stock-market, he or she should have employees who do un-needed work just cause they can afford to keep them on? And how long do you think he or she can afford to do that till the money runs out? Any kind of wealth is made by productivity and not through charity. Do you really think that someone who has an idea for a company should pay all their employees the same salary as she or he gets from their invention? And btw, only wealth is man-made. The keyword being: MADE. Poverty is the natural state in which you are if you do nothing. And yes some can be millionaires and some can't. But what is so bad in not being a millionaire? And then to your point of maybe never "making it" in a capitalistic society even if you work really hard. Do you realise that you can work your hiney off in a socialistic society and make LESS than someone who doesn't work at all? And that you will NEVER EVER "make it" in such a society cause the law prohibits individual wealth? So I take (true) capitalism any day. At least there you have the legal chance at least to try and make it.
As for communism not working and why not. That is easy. Ppl WANT to be allowed to better themselves. They want to be able to buy that TV for their families. They want to achieve for themselves, and not for others. Communism cannot work cause again it forces ppl to put the needs of unknown ppl before their own. I do not believe that altruism is noble. I think it is a sin and perverse. You only have one life and to live it primarily for someone else is as sad as to throw it away. Do you really want a whole state to have a legal claim on your life and soul??
Your point on taxes. Of course I benefit from schooling and education of children. And that is actually the only payment point I can gladly live with. But not cause I think the law has the right to force me but cause I care for kids and I want them to do well. But let me explain the healthcare system over here in England. We have National Health Care and as you can imagine the hospitals are overrun and badly staffed. I have a private health insurance, cause I want to pay for my own treatment rather than have someone pay for me. Plus I want to be allowed to choose my own doctor, which I may not under NH. But this coincidentally means I can give my place at the NH to some one who cannot afford private insurance and making services that little bit faster for them. But do I get a NH tax reduction for paying for myself? No. The politicians always told the public that paying NH tax was paying for yourself in an emergency. But not only do I take care of my own health with my own money but also I cannot even get a reduction on NH taxes? Oh so you say I still HAVE to pay for others ppl's health though? By LAW? Don't get me wrong, I do not earn much money. I can give you the exact figure if you like and you will see that I am no where near wealthy. In fact I could claim help from the government. That I do not however doesn't make things easier for me as far as council tax goes. In fact I would be better off if I claimed support than by trying to fend for myself, which I think is perverse. Let me tell you a little story as to that. Last year I got my new council tax bill (that is for firemen, police, road works, public library etc in my area) and they had come significantly up in price. I went to the community hall and asked if there was anyway I could possibly get a reduction, as I only earn a certain sum every month. The nice lady behind the counter explained to me that with that salary I could ask for income support. When I told her that I don't want any support, she looked up my files and saw that I own my apartment. She said that as I own the apartment I live in I had to pay the full sum unfortunately. When I explained to her that just cause I own my apartment doesn't make me have that kind of money loose to spend every month on council tax, she said that I had two options open to me. Either claim income support OR sell my apartment and move into a smaller apartment in a cheaper area so that I would be able to afford the taxes! So in other words they were willing to give me income support but they would not give me a lower tax rate, even though the tax reduction would have cost them less than the income support. I declined and now I just grit my teeth and pay. So what is the whole point of this little speech? Under socialistic policies your are punished for doing well enough to not claim support and rewarded for living off the state. This is what it boils down to for the individual. Now tell me again that the rights of the individual outweigh the rights of the many.
You say if there was a dying person in the street should one not help? Of course one should! I did say that I am all for helping! I just don't see how a government may throw me in jail if I refuse to give to someone who I never saw and never will see. Paying taxes and helping a beggar in the street are no where near the same! One I help out of the kindness and compassion of my heart; the other one I am forced to pay because I do not want to go to jail! And don't tell me that I should pay taxes as gladly as helping a beggar in the street! I earn my money and I think that should give me the right to decide who is to have a share in it and who not. I am all for charity and I give freely and often. What I am against is enforced charity! Either pay or go to jail! And no, it is not like sending an unwilling child to school either! A child doesn't know what is good for it cause it has no means of evaluation. I am an adult and the government is neither my better nor my parent.
As for pensions: do you think it is right that soon it will be one pensioner to every 2 working adults? I don't. Do I want to let them starve? Of course not. But I do say that we should let pensions die out with the old ppl now claiming it. Besides, what foolery is it to not have a private pension plan! How can you possibly rely on society doing well by the time you get old? Ppl should look out for them-selves and not rely on the state to look out for them. If we all did, we would all be MUCH better off and all our living standards would increase dramatically.
As for your final point on the individual having more rights than society? Eh? How is that even possible? Do you mean to say that if one individual is doing well and ten million aren't, the individual is treating the ten million unfairly? Consider this: let us say there was only one person who invented the computer. That person would by now be super rich. All of us would not have earned a bean from his initial invention. BUT don't forget what other ppl have earned by USING his invention?! One man's genius might not bring society as a whole the same wealth as him personally and initially but he does give you something for the money you pay for his invention. And usually the advantages to society that come with any invention of this magnitude far outweigh the money he earned for inventing it. People all too often measure success by money and never see what a difference one successful man can make in the upping of general living standards. Capitalism as we know it is all about is inequality, I agree. But the scale is tipped away from the wealthy man. Society too wins every time some person gets rich by coming up with a new idea. But does the inventor get applauded? No. He gets hounded for getting rich on the fruit of his mind. How sad is that!
As for your signature: 1) tell me, what right of one individual violates the rights of many individuals?
2) Do you really want the state and any and all persons to have a legal claim on your life? Do you really want any beggar to have a legal claim on the contents of your pocket? Do you really want to go to jail if you want to keep your pennies to yourself?


------------------
"I swear -- by my life and by my love of it -- that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine." Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
"Any alleged "right" of one man, which necessitates the violation of the rights of another, is not and cannot be a right." Ayn Rand
 
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