Delusions of Randeur: The missing link

Richard Goode's picture
Submitted by Richard Goode on Wed, 2008-02-27 12:56

An animal has no choice in the knowledge and the skills that it acquires; it can only repeat them generation after generation. And an animal has no choice in the standard of value directing its actions: its senses provide it with an automatic code of values, an automatic knowledge of what is good for it or evil, what benefits or endangers its life. An animal has no power to extend its knowledge or to evade it.

Man has no automatic code of survival. He has no automatic course of action, no automatic set of values. His senses do not tell him automatically what is good for him or evil, what will benefit his life or endanger it, what goals he should pursue and what means will achieve them, what values his life depends on, what course of action it requires. His own consciousness has to discover the answers to all these questions—but his consciousness will not function automatically. Man, the highest living species on this earth—the being whose consciousness has a limitless capacity for gaining knowledge—man is the only living entity born without any guarantee of remaining conscious at all.

Ayn Rand, The Objectivist Ethics

Beginnings

So... according to Rand, an animal has an automatic code of survival, but man does not.

Leaving aside the fact that man is an animal (a fact which has been common knowledge for nigh on 150 years), we must ask how man—a creature with, allegedly, no automatic code of survival but a limitless capacity for gaining knowledge—evolved from an ancestral Tetrapod with no power at all to extend its limited knowledge but completely reliant on an automatic code of survival.

Evolution is a process of gradual change in a population over time. Thus, either the origin of a creature so radically different from other animals as man was an act of special creation, or there existed a "missing link"—a creature with the power to extend its knowledge without limit and an automatic code of survival.

Evolution, of course, is the survival of the fittest. Obviously, a creature with a limitless capacity for gaining knowledge and an automatic code of survival is fitter than a creature with a limitless capacity for gaining knowledge but no automatic code of survival

So... according to Rand, we shouldn't even be here. But we are. Rand's conception of man—and, thus, her conception of man qua man—is irredeemably wrong.


( categories: )

Richard

Leonid's picture

Richard "Evolution, of course, is the survival of the fittest. Obviously, a creature with a limitless capacity for gaining knowledge and an automatic code of survival is fitter than a creature with a limitless capacity for gaining knowledge but no automatic code of survival "
This is not obvious at all. Man has volitional conceptual code of survival which gives to him enormous evolutionary advantage. Conceptual thinking enables him to adjust his environment to his needs, when automatic code allows only self-adjustment to the environment. When the change of environment overcomes the limits of automatic mechanisms of adjustment, the animal perishes. As a matter of fact, 99% of animals which ever existed on the Earth became extinct. That alone proves that automatic code of survival has very limited capacity. However, conceptual code of survival, as you said, has limitless capacity. Homo neanderthalensis was a creature with no automatic code of survival and with limited capacity for gaining knowledge. It gave to him enough capacity to compete with animals but not with Homo sapiens. BTW, I don’t think that there is such a thing as limitless capacity. Everything is limited.

A topical question

Richard Goode's picture

Was Homo neanderthalensis a creature with no automatic code of survival but a limitless capacity for gaining knowledge? Or a creature with no power at all to extend its limited knowledge but completely reliant on an automatic code of survival?

You're welcome, although you

EBrown2's picture

You're welcome, although you might want to reserve that later on. Smiling

In any case, I immediately noticed a problem with this entry over at Barnes's place:

http://aynrandcontrahumannatur...

deprecating her use of the term "metaphysical."

I have no trouble in decoding it as meaning:

"the necessary conditions of experience, which cannot be altered by human action, rational or otherwise"

The closest technical philosophical term I can propose for that concept is "transcendental," which, unfortunately for Rand, is tainted by association with Kant and the phenomenologists. The use of "physical," on the other hand, as Barnes dubiously proposes, would put her dangerously close to approval of the reductive materialist program, and she doesn't want to lead her argument there, atheism or no.

"Be it a question of science, metaphysics, or religion, the
man who says: 'What is truth?' as Pilate did, is not a tolerant man, but a betrayer of the human race."-Jacques Maritain

Mr. Brown

James S. Valliant's picture

Thank you.

Well, granted that he has no

EBrown2's picture

Well, granted that he has no -duty- to hang around, his participation here seems to be more aphoristic than Socratic.

I'm going over "The Case against Hume" now, it's very informative.

"Be it a question of science, metaphysics, or religion, the man who says: 'What is truth?' as Pilate did, is not a tolerant man, but a betrayer of the human race."-Jacques Maritain

MIA on Substance or Engagement

James S. Valliant's picture

We'll need that search party for Richard if you start asking him pointed questions...

No snap "contradiction-hunts," please

EBrown2's picture

Professor Goode, paradox and contradiction are not necessarily co-extensive.

"Be it a question of science, metaphysics, or religion, the man who says: 'What is truth?' as Pilate did, is not a tolerant man, but a betrayer of the human race."-Jacques Maritain

Pathetic

James S. Valliant's picture

Oh, Richard, must you stoop to altering what the man meant -- as well as utterly ignoring explicit refutations of your nonsense?

Very sad.

Shall we send out a search party?

Richard Goode's picture

Mr. Valliant is both wrong and right

Yup, it's a contradiction all right. Mr. Valliant has abdicated his mind and evicted himself from the realm of reality.

Shall we send out a search party?

Oh...

James S. Valliant's picture

I see.

I still regard Barnes as an unreliable source for an Objectivist bibliography on anything, however. Smiling

It was a paradox I couldn't resist

EBrown2's picture

"Continued reliance on Barnes, Richard, can only lead to still more humiliation."

Your comment implied that he would go astray relying on Barnes.

I was pointing out the irony of Goode's citation of Barnes's web site actually -showing- the proper context of the Rand quote, although it is one of the commentators (Ellen Stuttle, another Rand critic) that makes the point. Smiling

"Be it a question of science, metaphysics, or religion, the man who says: 'What is truth?' as Pilate did, is not a tolerant man, but a betrayer of the human race."-Jacques Maritain

?

James S. Valliant's picture

I am well aware of the Branden material cited. I'm pretty sure that what I posted is completely consistent with it.

Then, how exactly am I "wrong"?

Ironically, Mr. Valliant is

EBrown2's picture

Ironically, Mr. Valliant is both wrong and right, since the last comment at Goode's link gives a cite to Branden in The October 1962 Objectivist Newsletter's Intellectual Ammunition Department which deals with the question by casting doubt on the conceptual soundness of "instinct" as an explanatory device in so far as it reduces animal behavior to Cartesian clockwork. The concept of "open instinct" would go far to explaining the transition between automatic responses and current human volition.

"Codes"

James S. Valliant's picture

You know, why don't you finish reading before you start your tirades, Richard? It would mean less embarrassment for you. If you keep reading, you'll discover exactly why the one is an analogue of an ethical "code" while the same kinds of things in humans will not suffice. Possessing something new -- a consciousness that works in abstractions -- we need to know what to do and what we are doing in a way other animals do not.

There is -- obviously -- no contradiction here at all.

That the pleasure-pain mechanism and the like work automatically -- as they do in other animals -- does not mean that they must control our behavior, i.e., that they can be called a complete and automatic "code" for human conduct, obviating the need for a chosen ethical code. But such things are the only equivalent of a "code" that other animals possess.

A human society can proclaim child-murder an ethical mandate (like the Aztecs, the Bronze Age Greeks and probably the Bronze Age Hebrews) -- or it can consider such a thing to be a serious crime (like the Classical Greeks and ours today).

Sticking to the evolutionary perspective: A human code can be a great improvement over the animal analogue -- that is, IF it operates by the same standard governing the automatic ones: life. Rather than waiting for evolution to change our emotions and behaviors, our thinking can make these improvements as soon as such are discovered.

(BTW: Continued reliance on Barnes, Richard, can only lead to still more humiliation.)

Richard

Leonid's picture

"The physical sensation of pleasure is a signal indicating that the organism is pursuing the right course of action. The physical sensation of pain is a warning signal of danger, indicating that the organism is pursuing the wrong course of action..."

So is your vision,Richard,tast,smell,hearing and tactility. Your perceptions are not automatic tool of survival they just tell you what is it out there.It is up to your mind to decide what to do with this information.It also called volition or free will.There is no contradiction between perception and mind ( unless one is Kantian).There is a difference between guard and code.Now check your premises again.

Scott

Richard Goode's picture

It appears that your point has been conceded.

Indeed, it does. Smiling

Even Rand agreed with you. You simply need to find where she says it. Good luck, and add a link when you find it.

She says it in The Objectivist Ethics (pp. 17-18).

    The pleasure-pain mechanism in the body of man—and in the bodies of all the living organisms that possess the faculty of consciousness—serves as an automatic guardian of the organism's life. The physical sensation of pleasure is a signal indicating that the organism is pursuing the right course of action. The physical sensation of pain is a warning signal of danger, indicating that the organism is pursuing the wrong course of action...

But then, on the very next page (p. 19), we find the passage(Drunk I quoted in my original post.

    Man has no automatic code of survival. He has no automatic course of action, no automatic set of values. His senses do not tell him automatically what is good for him or evil, what will benefit his life or endanger it...

Whenever you think that you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong. (To maintain a contradiction is to abdicate one's mind and to evict oneself from the realm of reality!)

Hat tip: Daniel Barnes.

The Evolution Highway.

Mark Hubbard's picture

Scott

James S. Valliant's picture

Something isn't "conceded," Scott, if the "answer" was already built-in before the objection was raised.

In that case, the objector was just ignorant.

Leonid

James S. Valliant's picture

Forgive the misspelling -- "subtraction," of course.

I think this is what answers Richard.

He also seems oblivious to Rand's whole theory of volition to which this directly relates, how it is thinking that opens up options for us.

He also doesn't seem to grasp how a pre-set or highly constrained repertoire or range of behavior -- i.e., an automatic code -- is so much less adaptive.

James.

Leonid's picture

That true. The addition is that conceptual consciousness which can control subconsciousness is in charge. Neo-cortex took over from amygdala.The car still the same,but driver is different.

Leonid

James S. Valliant's picture

Yes, that distinction is important, but, from an evolutionary perspective, I think we can say that it was more a matter of addition than substraction.

James

Leonid's picture

I was talking about insticts versus mind,not about emotions or pleasure-pain mechanism. However since you mentioned them I'd like to elaborate: these two mechanisms are not the same. Pleasure-pain mechanism is sensation,input,exactly like vision or hearing. Emotions are outputs,automatical value-judgments.In animals emotions mostly preprogrammed,instinctive responses or based on conditioning. Humans, however, first have to internalize certain code of values in their subconsciousness. This is volitional,rational process. If one's emotions are inadequate one can by means of introspection volitionaly reprogramme his emotional response.

Grady

Leonid's picture

Leonid

Automatic functions you refer to are no insticts-they are vegetative functions-like breathing,blood pressure, temperature,glucose level and other parameters of homeostasis. They also responsible for reflexes-for example pupil's contraction. Flight and fight reaction is also vegetative reflex which causes blood vessel constriction,elevation of blood pressure ,increase of the level of stress hormones-like corticosteroids and noradrenaline and so on. We don't have conscious control over these physiological reactions( yogi claim they do).But they are not instincts-they don't tell us what to do. This is function of neocortex.If one "loses his mind" one simply wouldn't know what to do untill he " put himself together".

Leonid

James S. Valliant's picture

And, Leonid, it's not as though we no longer possess a pleasure-pain mechanism, or an emotional capacity (although certain of the primates' capacities do appear to have been lost to us). It was the addition of self-consciousness and cognitive self-regulation which rendered these things less than determinative of behavior.

Koestler's Argument

Grady's picture

double post deleted

deleted

Grady's picture

deleted

Koestler's Argument

Grady's picture

Leonid: "As evolutionist you understand that Nature is constantly removing obsolete tools of survival. That why we don't possess insticts."

Curious as to what you think of Arthur Koestler's argument in GHOST IN THE MACHINE that we have a three-structured brain (core, mammalian, and neo-cortex) that don't always communicate well. The argument includes ideas that the basic part of the brain control automatic functions (instincts?), the neocortex was, relatively speaking, "slapped on" fairly recently over the mammalian brain, and the two don't communicate perfectly. His example included talk about the role of the amygdala, "flight or fight," and explains why rationality sometimes fails us in stressful situations (the amygdala takes over and we "lose our minds." If evolution removed the instincts, it didn't remove the hardware, which still play a part....

I found his argument interesting, and aware that Koestler was an influence on Nathanial Branden, but I wonder how much of the science, given the time period in which it was written, stands up today...

Thanks

Richard

personallydisinterested's picture

It appears that your point has been conceded.  Even Rand agreed with you.  You simply need to find where she says it.  Good luck, and add a link when you find it. 

Leonid had an excellent point.  We have no instincts because reason is a much fitter attribute.

I would say, we have so few instincts because reason is a much fitter attribute. 

Additionally, I would say Rand's point is still valid.  People who argue that intuition is more powerful than reason, are relying on instinct, which is not our strength. 

Richard

Leonid's picture

It seems that you possess vivid imagination so I propose thought experiment. Suppose you are living in fourteen century. Suppose you have all knowledge and instincts of all your human and animal ancestors like fictional characters of Frank Herbert's "Dune". Now tell me would it help you to make microchip, cyclotron, nuclear power station or just pair of jeans? Obviously not-all these things haven't been invented yet and by no means you can have this knowledge stored as innate knowledge or instinct. Can you see my point now? Creativity distinguishes man from beast. Instinct is antecedent knowledge which cannot tell you how to create,to invent new,non-existent things. When ancient ape or Homo erectus created first stone axe he became Homo Sapient-since he used his mind, not an instinct. With development of conceptual thinking instinct became negative evolutionary factor since instinct allows only adjusting an animal to static environment. Mind, from other hand allows adjustment to changing environment and, more importantly, allows adjustment of environment to man. As Ayn Rand put it “Man's unique reward, however, is that while animals survive by adjusting themselves to their background, man survives by adjusting his background to himself. If a drought strikes them, animals perish—man builds irrigation canals; if a flood strikes them, animals perish—man builds dams; if a carnivorous pack attacks them animals perish—man writes the Constitution of the United States. But one does not obtain food, safety or freedom—by instinct." As evolutionist you understand that Nature is constantly removing obsolete tools of survival. That why we don't possess insticts. You said: "Obviously, a creature with a limitless capacity for gaining knowledge and an automatic code of survival is fitter than a creature with a limitless capacity for gaining knowledge but no automatic code of survival". That not obvious at all. Instinct would be a hindrance since,as automatic mode of behavior it'd preclude the use of mind.If man were possess both instinct and mind and were to choose which one to use in any given situation , than by this very action he would become rational animal. In other words man cannot use both instinct and mind. Evolution's choice was mind and that why we are having this conversation.

Richard

James S. Valliant's picture

No, I do not "care to" -- for you.

You will do your own homework on this one.

As I wrote elsewhere:

"I present detailed arguments which you totally ignore, logic for which you have zero response and facts to which you have given no answer. You willfully refuse to engage anything. You drop a silly and insulting bomb, invariably, one which is obviously ignorant of what Rand actually said, and then disappear when it is thoroughly answered -- and then behave as though nothing was ever said.

"Anyone can simply track your blog posts and the discussions that follow to see what I mean.

"You accuse Objectivists of acting like religious zealots, taking things 'without question,' when you know you have given no answer to detailed argument after detailed argument. This has proven to be a thankless and unproductive effort on my part. Such epistemological bankruptcy as you complain of is being displayed here only by you with your pseudo-logic, the rank equivalent of asking how many angels can dance on the head of a pin -- all constructed while you simultaneously evade logical integration of fact after logical integration of fact.

"You admit you have an ethics, but insist that it is (and must be) a stranger to logic and reason -- and you have the nerve to call us 'religious'!

"Go put a bone through your nose and go away.

"I have spent more time than you happen to deserve on your 'challenges.'

"This has nothing to do with the need to make our case, just the need to make it to you.

"I'm tired of correcting your 'logic.' There's no challenge to it, and, most especially, no reward in it.

"Intellectual honesty is an act of will.

"The unwilling should be ignored."

If you are intrigued by yet another concept familiar to most students of Rand, but which, as usual, you seem never to have heard of -- and you do seem to be devoting a good deal attention to Rand lately -- why don't you go read and listen to some lectures on the subject first -- i.e., before making your ignorant assertions?

But -- HINT -- that "remnant" was all over my lengthy discussion of her metaethics, hard to miss, in fact.

The truth is out there!

(And material on the evolution of the eye is copious -- you and Reed might want to bone up there, too.)

Reed

Richard Goode's picture

As far as I am aware the evidence is that there is a wide range of types of eyes that exist and have existed; and that eyes and their components vary in complexity.

As far as I'm aware, that's the extent of the evidence. (I'm an evolutionist because no other explanation of life as we know it seems even remotely plausible.)

I wasn't so much interested in an explanation as I was in the clear evidence James had.

I hope that James will answer your questions. Smiling

James

Richard Goode's picture

Rand states that man has no automatic code of survival.

Now you're telling me that

we humans also still possess the remains of such an automatic system, as Rand also observed.

Would you care to elaborate? Isn't this a contradiction?

Richard - I have read that

reed's picture

Richard -

I have read that eye evolution perspective before, in fact when I first heard the proposal that evolution of the eye was impossible (or hard to explain) I imagined a similar scenario. I wasn't so much interested in an explanation as I was in the clear evidence James had. As far as I am aware the evidence is that there is a wide range of types of eyes that exist and have existed; and that eyes and their components vary in complexity.

Cheers,

Reed.

Richard

James S. Valliant's picture

Man is unique -- in fact.

So are other creatures.

Each small step in our evolution towards greater cognitive self-regulation did, in fact, confer survival advantage, as it obviously would. In no way are we presupposing any disadvantage was ever conferred at any stage -- and there is no reason to suppose so from Rand's description of plainly observable facts about man. We can observe the advantages primates have due to their superior capacity to learn and adapt -- and even, to some degree, teach -- steps on the very path we are discussing. Moreover, we humans also still possess the remains of such an automatic system, as Rand also observed. And, yes, we are "fitter" for survival because of this fact, to use your terms.

You'd be better served by learning what exactly Rand is saying here and what her conception of man is before, once more, embarrassing yourself with public proclamations of your ignorance.

James

Richard Goode's picture

There you go: try convincing Reed that something like the eye evolved.

You try convincing an evolutionist that man (as conceived by Rand) evolved.

Could be tricky. Unlike the eye, man (as conceived by Rand) doesn't exist.

The evolution of the eye

Richard Goode's picture

New things happen.

Get over it.

This is a level of explanation that satisfies the intellectually undemanding. Whereas, those who are puzzled by what seems "absurd in the highest possible degree" - such as Darwin himself in the case of the evolution of the eye - demand a missing link or, rather, a series of missing links to show how the evolution of the eye is even possible.

Darwin went on to say, "Yet reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a perfect and complex eye to one very imperfect and simple, each grade being useful to its possessor, can be shown to exist; if further, the eye does vary ever so slightly, and the variations be inherited, which is certainly the case; and if any variation or modification in the organ be ever useful to an animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, can hardly be considered real." (Emphasis mine.)

And here is what zoologist Dan-Erik Nilsson has to say. "Here's how some scientists think some eyes may have evolved: The simple light-sensitive spot on the skin of some ancestral creature gave it some tiny survival advantage, perhaps allowing it to evade a predator. Random changes then created a depression in the light-sensitive patch, a deepening pit that made "vision" a little sharper. At the same time, the pit's opening gradually narrowed, so light entered through a small aperture, like a pinhole camera. Every change had to confer a survival advantage, no matter how slight. Eventually, the light-sensitive spot evolved into a retina, the layer of cells and pigment at the back of the human eye. Over time a lens formed at the front of the eye. It could have arisen as a double-layered transparent tissue containing increasing amounts of liquid that gave it the convex curvature of the human eye." (Emphasis mine.)

So, what the hell was your actual "argument"?

Honestly, I couldn't detect an ounce of logic.

Still don't after your recapitulation.

No surprises there. I'll try to spell it out more clearly.

If we accept Rand's conception of man, then we must suppose that, through a series of gradual changes, a creature without an automatic code of survival evolved from a creature with an automatic code of survival. But each change must confer a survival advantage, no matter how slight. What we are supposing is that each change confers a survival disadvantage, as the creature which is to evolve into man progressively loses the automatic code of survival which has stood every one of its ancestors in good stead over the course of millions of years.

Obviously, a creature with a limitless capacity for gaining knowledge and an automatic code of survival is fitter than a creature with a limitless capacity for gaining knowledge but no automatic code of survival. It is that creature which should have won the battle for survival, not Rand's auto-pilotless pilot. And, indeed, we are that creature. Man, as conceived by Rand, is an evolutionary chimera.

 

Richard

James S. Valliant's picture

There you go: try convincing Reed that something like the eye evolved.

It's all absurd...

reed's picture

... nevertheless I can imagine the evolution of the eye (just like evolutionists do) but evidence for it is not "pretty clear" to me. A good first step would be to find evidence of new information in any area and then evidence of evolution from an organism without eyes to an organism with eyes.

It's good that you, James, are aware of some evidence which makes the evolution of the eye pretty clear to you. Do you think eyes evolved multiple times or do you think there is one common sighted ancestor that sighted animals share? And what evidence do you base your opinion on?

Back on topic... almost...

What is the proposed mechanism of thoughts or instincts being passed from one generation to the next?

The Origins of It All

James S. Valliant's picture

No more or less "absurd" than the emergence of human consciousness by that same means.

Both eyes and volition evolved, and the evidence for this is pretty clear.

And the evidence that both exist is even stronger.

On the Origin of Eyes

Richard Goode's picture

You sound no better than the creationist who demands a "missing link" for the eye...

To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree.

Yep -- Blah, Blah, Blah!

James S. Valliant's picture

You sound no better than the creationist who demands a "missing link" for the eye, the hand, and multiple working parts to a cell.

New things happen.

Get over it.

How is this any different from the emergence of sexual reproduction, the capacity to fly, or consciousness itself?

Thus:

"Blah (1) Most animals have no capacity to fly.
Blah (2) Birds do fly.
Blah (3) Birds evolved from an animal ancestor which could not fly."

Each of these premises is anything but "blah" -- it is simple truth.

Now, according to you, if 1 and 2 are true, how could 3 not be false? This is some serious blah -- and I do mean "blah"!

Hmm. Shouldn't science be explaining the observations of flying animals, e.g., birds, not explaining them away with "logic"?

So, is this supposed to cause me to question my observations of animals which do fly?

Seriously?!

So, what the hell was your actual "argument"?

Honestly, I couldn't detect an ounce of logic.

Still don't after your recapitulation.

btw: if you would only do your homework -- i.e., learn about the subject on which you make such embarrassingly ignorant assertions -- then you might stand a chance of discovering its relevance.

Seems to me that anything less is irresponsible.

At some point, it becomes obviously dishonest.

Old habits die hard

Richard Goode's picture

Just More Blah, Blah, Blah, Richard?

Blah (1) An animal has an automatic code of survival.
Blah (2) Man has no automatic code of survival.
Blah (3) Man evolved from an animal ancestor.

I have presented an argument which purports to show that, if (1) and (2) are true, then (3) must be false. In other words, that Ayn Rand was either a creationist or very much mistaken about human nature.

For once, why don't you -- first -- go figure out what Rand actually said about human volition, Richard?

For once, why don't you address the argument?

How is what Rand said about human volition relevant? Note that my argument is based on "what Rand actually said". Refer to the passages I quoted.

I will not wade into the subject your ignorance -- once more -- without more of a reason.

A knock-down, drag-out argument against Rand not good enough for you?

But, in short, it is our capacity to choose which makes playing golf on the moon possible, splitting atoms possible, our studies of other animals possible, our genetic engineering of life forms possible, etc., etc. It is precisely the lack of an "automatic" code which makes all of this creativity possible. An "automatic" code of survival would preclude any of this -- as it does for the rest of the animal kingdom. Our behaviors are not determined -- and our knowledge is not limited to the results of trial and error or any kind of "conditioning."

I see that you concur with Rand that an animal has an automatic code of survival, but man does not. Explain, then, how it is man - rather than a fitter "missing link" - who evolved from our animal ancestor. (And, while you're at it, explain how an auto-pilot mode precludes a pilot.)

Get serious.

No, James. You get serious.

Interesting as usual Richard

personallydisinterested's picture

there existed a "missing link"—a creature with the power to extend its knowledge without limit and an automatic code of survival.

Is it possible that we are these creatures that you talk about and that Neitche and Rand are the creatures that they talk about?

The argument that we have no instincts has always seemed a bit pointless to me.  Is reason devalued when man has instincts?  When I first heard this idea, I remembered my first grade lesson on the first Thanksgiving.  A misleading and irrelevant introduction to colonial history.  I have an aversion to dumbdowned lessons.

However, imagine if you were to quote a first grade teacher instructing her class on the first Thanksgiving, and published it as an historical essay.  It would be easy to laugh at her, as she was catering to one audience and being used by another. 

Just More Blah, Blah, Blah, Richard?

James S. Valliant's picture

For once, why don't you -- first -- go figure out what Rand actually said about human volition, Richard?

I will not wade into the subject your ignorance -- once more -- without more of a reason.

But, in short, it is our capacity to choose which makes playing golf on the moon possible, splitting atoms possible, our studies of other animals possible, our genetic engineering of life forms possible, etc., etc. It is precisely the lack of an "automatic" code which makes all of this creativity possible. An "automatic" code of survival would preclude any of this -- as it does for the rest of the animal kingdom. Our behaviors are not determined -- and our knowledge is not limited to the results of trial and error or any kind of "conditioning."

Yes, it makes self-destruction possible, as well.

It is our moral capacity -- our danger and our glory.

Get serious.

Anosmia

Richard Goode's picture

The flexibility of a limitless capacity for gaining knowledge is far
superior to a fixed automatic code of survival and therefore the former
would replace the latter by evolution.

A sense of vision is far superior to a sense of smell and therefore the former would replace the latter by evolution. Actually, no. Obviously, your argument is invalid.

Not obvious

Rick Pasotto's picture

Obviously, a creature with a limitless capacity for gaining knowledge and an automatic code of survival is fitter than a creature with a limitless capacity for gaining knowledge but no automatic code of survival

It's not obvious to me. The flexibility of a limitless capacity for gaining knowledge is far superior to a fixed automatic code of survival and therefore the former would replace the latter by evolution.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.