Rand and Darwin - Conflict or Not?

Doug Bandler's picture
Submitted by Doug Bandler on Fri, 2011-01-14 09:06

A common critique of the Objectivist ethics from evolutionary theorists is that it is in violation of the facts of biological reality. These critics say that Rand based her ethics on an Aristotelian meta-biology and not a Darwinian one. Thus for Aristotle, the teleology of an oak tree, the essence of the tree's existence, is the full grown tree itself. But Aristotle's biology has been replaced by Darwin's, in which an oak tree is an acorn's way of making more acorns.

The criticism is that Rand is wrong in one of her basic statements about life. She says that every function of a living organism is directed toward a single goal: the organism's survival. But this isn't true. Living organisms have reproductive organs, and the functioning of those organs is not directed to the organism's survival. Most living organisms spend a significant part of their lives living for the sake of something that will happen when they are no longer there to care about it, that something being the survival and reproduction of their descendants.

Thus the characteristics of living organisms are best explained by reproduction, not by survival. It is argued that this fact seriously undermines if not destroys the Objectivist ethics.

What are some opinions on this. I understand that Binswanger weighed in on this subject. Does anyone know what his answer was?


You state you were a

darren's picture

You state you were a card-carrying member.

Yep.

How did you discover your own thoughts and identity?

It usually happens when you wake up one day and discover that what Rand asserted about, e.g., impressionist paintings, was bullshit based on ignorance of art -- she was just demanding that you like what she liked; her statements about Beethoven's "malevolent sense of life" were bullshit, based on ignorance of music -- she simply needed you to like what she liked; her statements about Tolstoy, Hemingway, Faulkner, et al., were bullshit, based on ignorance of literature -- she simply needed you to like what she liked.

If you were a card carrier how do you now know you are essentially any different?

You mean, how do I know that I'm essentially any different now from before? Easy. I burned my card.

"The true individualists were the ones who got out."

That seems like defining a negative,

Yes, I suppose it would seem that way . . . if I were offering strict definitions within the context of a course on predicative logic. However, I'm not. Neither are you. Contrary to what you might have memorized during a taped Peikoff lecture on logic, it's actually perfectly valid to describe something or someone informally as being "Not A." We do it all the time and there's no loss of communicative clarity.

So, as I said previously, the real individualists were the ones who took the positive step of leaving the hive; not the ones who remained for the sake of continued "self-validation" from others.

Your switching the terms of the dialogue from informal description to one of strict definition is a typical bit of Objectivist dishonesty that makes normal communication with most O'ists either impossible or simply unpleasant.

though getting out can be a great step.

Why would it be a great step unless you agreed with me; and why would you agree with me when you claimed I was attempting to "define a negative"? Sounds like you're sanctioning attempts to define a negative. Rand frowns.

But wouldn't a true individualist be defined by their actions rather then what they didn't do?

Their positive actions were the following: they got out. That's a positive, not a negative.

You're speaking of "political

darren's picture

You're speaking of "political systems"; I'm speaking of "societies." Atheist societies will "recognize" individual rights only to the extent they serve the state or the man in charge. "Man Worship", as Rand called it, is the essence of cults, and is ultimately a call to some form or other of statism.

The societies that have recognized individual rights in history and tolerated a person doing his "merry thing" have all been theistic. You find that inconvenient historical fact to be irrelevant. I don't.

Michael

Brant Gaede's picture

I was part of that. It goes back to the summer of 1963 when I first read "Atlas." I came to New York in the spring of 1968 seven months after Vietnam and it all blew up in my face. Starting that year I went to Boston 6 or 7 times to experience Rand at The Ford Hall Forum. The last time was the first time it was done in the new auditorium and I just listened to it on my station-wagon radio. I was pissed when the broadcaster didn't do the Q and A. I met Ayn Rand once, in 1969. It was a weird and queer experience I never elaborate on. I've experienced all these upper-level Objectivists first hand before and after The Break, except Greenspan. I only saw him in person once waiting to go up and see Ayn's body at the Robert Campbell funeral home in 1982.

Here's an interesting story, at least to me: In the winter of 1969 Rand was in the middle audience as my acting teacher, Phillip J. Smith and his wife did a series of skits in a Carnegie Hall auditorium. Not the main room there, but not small. There was Rand next to Frank on her left and a handsome red-headed young man on her right with his arm around her shoulder. I thought it was strange, as if there was some kind of statement being made that she didn't need Branden. By the young man, not her. At the intermission Rand was in the lobby alone and that's when I met her.

One more thing to say here about this. As deep psychologically as I got into Rand and her Objectivist culture--and it was very deep--it was the cultists even deeper--much deeper--into it than I ever was that helped wake me up to the hole I had dug myself into. I knew something was wrong. They were not intellectual types but talked the Objectivist talk in clipped cliches and acted a certain way to project a certain thing: I'm in this thing, are you too? Sort of like a secular church similar some what to a certain Protestant sect's members publicly displaying they had been "saved" by going through particular gyrations, physical and verbal, only not so vulgar and ostentatious.

--Brant

ad and ad

Brant Gaede's picture

There is a difference, Leonid, between ad hominem and argumentum ad hominem. Ayn Rand used a gigantic lot of the former and none of the latter (that I now know of).

--Brant
been "out" nearly forty years

Darren: " I never claimed

Newberry's picture

Darren: " I never claimed that the atrocities of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pot, et al., were the fault of Objectivism. I said that Objectivism has precisely the same potential to commit such atrocities because of its militant atheism, and -- moreover -- that atheism leads to atrocities, not peace, tolerance, and goodwill."

The latter was what I understood to be your meaning.

"Much better to be an atheist in a theistic society than a theist in an atheistic one. In the former, you will be pitied as "lost" and left alone; in the latter, you will be reviled as "irrational" and therefore "dangerous" and will be hanged."

Don't you think it is much better to be any kind of person living in a political system that recognizes individual rights, enabling your freedom to do your merry thing?

"However, having been a card-carrying Objectivist for many years...[!]...I can honestly attest to the fact that I have rarely seen as much conformity -- intellectual and social -- as I have with Objectivists (self-professed individualists, all of them) in the Objectivist movement."

You state you were a card-carrying member. How did you discover your own thoughts and identity? If you were a card carrier how do you now know you are essentially any different?

"The true individualists were the ones who got out."

That seems like defining a negative, though getting out can be a great step. But wouldn't a true individualist be defined by their actions rather then what they didn't do?

Michael

www.michaelnewberry.com

Leonid: "It seems that you

Newberry's picture

Leonid: "It seems that you [Brant] confuse Objectivism with some Objectivists."

Quite right.

Michael

www.michaelnewberry.com

Brant : "The primacy of

Newberry's picture

Brant : "The primacy of individualism in Objectivism is an Objectivist myth."

Myths are awesome. But your not meaning that; are you saying that individualism is a lie and not possible to human nature?

"Check out the idiots at ARI. At least in the 1960s at NBI almost everybody was similarly deluded while Rand and Branden ruled the roost they gathered under."

Were you there, where you part of that? If so it must have been weird.

Michael

www.michaelnewberry.com

Individualism: real vs. phony

darren's picture

It's a very good argument to bring up socialistic atheism and its atrocities of genocide and lay that at objectivism's welcome mat.

I'm glad you like it. The problem is, that isn't what I posted. I never claimed that the atrocities of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pot, et al., were the fault of Objectivism. I said that Objectivism has precisely the same potential to commit such atrocities because of its militant atheism, and -- moreover -- that atheism leads to atrocities, not peace, tolerance, and goodwill.

Much better to be an atheist in a theistic society than a theist in an atheistic one. In the former, you will be pitied as "lost" and left alone; in the latter, you will be reviled as "irrational" and therefore "dangerous" and will be hanged.

A key difference between objectivism and communism/socialism is the primacy of the individual, which plays out in radically different ways.

That's what they tell me. However, having been a card-carrying Objectivist for many years, I can honestly attest to the fact that I have rarely seen as much conformity -- intellectual and social -- as I have with Objectivists (self-professed individualists, all of them) in the Objectivist movement.

The true individualists were the ones who got out.

Brant

Leonid's picture

"The primacy of individualism in Objectivism is an Objectivist myth"

It seems that you confuse Objectivism with some Objectivists. Ad hominem argument is a logical fallacy.

primacy

Brant Gaede's picture

The primacy of individualism in Objectivism is an Objectivist myth. Check out the idiots at ARI. At least in the 1960s at NBI almost everybody was similarly deluded while Rand and Branden ruled the roost they gathered under.

--Brant

Individualism vs. Collectivism

Newberry's picture

Darren: "I have no doubt that the numbers murdered under various cults of atheism would be about the same even if the particular sect in control had been Objectivism itself with Ayn Rand as the duly elected Goddess of the Market. "

It's a very good argument to bring up socialistic atheism and its atrocities of genocide and lay that at objectivism's welcome mat. A key difference between objectivism and communism/socialism is the primacy of the individual, which plays out in radically different ways.

www.MichaelNewberry.com

Brant

Leonid's picture

The meaning of my quotation is that determinism negates any possibility of choice. If we, as you said, are determined creatures, than we cannot make any free choices. That would be contradiction in terms.
I fully agree that the universe is what it is-this is the law of identity. Man also is what he is and in accordance with his nature, unlike the rest of unanimated Universe and like any other living organism, he is facing constant alternative to live or to die. This alternative creates the possibility of choice. In order to live man has to take certain course of actions. Mind, rationality is his only tool of survival and man exercises his rational faculty by choice. This is his free will. Life cannot be reduced to unanimated matter because life is a process of self-generated goal orientated action, driven by self-causation, when the cause is the organism's goal projected into the future. Another name for the living organism is anticipatory system. A living organism qua living organism acts, not acted upon. Animals have build-in mechanism for that purpose, but man, since he possesses self-awareness, chooses his course of actions. Paraphrasing Ayn Rand, in order to say " I think" one should be able first to say "I". Therefore, the source of free will is self-awareness. The man-made Universe, noosphere, is contingent as well as the course of man's life.

I'm merely assuming

Brant Gaede's picture

I'm merely assuming materialistic determinism--that is the universe had to be what it is--because it's hardly worth arguing or thinking about. Maybe it could have been different. Who cares? I don't; here we are. I focus on people and what they do, what they can do and what they have done and who and what they affect.

I'm sorry, but I can't follow your schematic lines of reasoning too well. I'll try again later. Thanks for the references. They look interesting.

--Brant

Brant

Leonid's picture

Thank you for your summary. I understand that your position is that of compatibalism-the thesis that free will is compatible with determinism or compatibility between moral responsibility and determinism. Unfortunately such a position is ridden with contradictions.

"Any agent, x, performs any act a of x's own free will if x has control over a.
x has control over a only if x has the ability to select among alternative courses of action to act a.
"If x has the ability to select among alternative courses of action to act a, then there are alternative courses of action to act a open to x (i.e., x could have done otherwise than a).
If determinism is true, then only one future is possible given the actual past, and holding fixed the laws of nature.
If only one future is possible given the actual past, and holding fixed the laws of nature, then there are no alternative courses of action to any act open to any agent (i.e., no agent could have done otherwise than she actually does).
Therefore, if determinism is true, it is not the case that any agent, x, performs any act, a, of her own free will.
For ease of reference and discussion throughout this entry, let us simplify the above argument as follows:

If a person acts of her own free will, then she could have done otherwise (A-C).
If determinism is true, no one can do otherwise than one actually does (D-E).
Therefore, if determinism is true, no one acts of her own free will (F)."

http://plato.stanford.edu/entr...

Besides, the notion of compatibalism leads to explanatory gap, the question how free will could emerge as result of deterministic process?

"Compatibilists are sometimes called "soft determinists" pejoratively (William James's term). James accused them of creating a "quagmire of evasion" by stealing the name of freedom to mask their underlying determinism.[6] Immanuel Kant called it a "wretched subterfuge" and "word jugglery."[7] Ted Honderich explains that the mistake of Compatibilism is to assert that nothing changes as a consequence of determinism, when clearly we have lost the life-hope of origination.

^ James, William. 1884 "The Dilemma of Determinism," Unitarian Review, September, 1884. Reprinted inThe Will to Believe, Dover, 1956, p.149
^ Kant, Immanuel 1788 (1952).The Critique of Practical Reason, in Great Books of the Western World, vol. 42, Kant, Univ. of Chicago, p. 332
^ Ted Honderich, The Consequences of Determinism, 1988, p.169"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C...

Impostors all the way down

Richard Goode's picture

I'd suggest immediate exposure and denunciation of this dastardly impostor.

Impostor? It's impostors all the way down.

Baade ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Someone pretending to be you is posting nonsense that even you would be embarrassed by. I'd suggest immediate exposure and denunciation of this dastardly impostor.

The Big Coder

Richard Goode's picture

Do we live in a computer simulation?
Nick Bostrom

========

SCIENCE has revealed much about the world and our position within it. Generally, the findings have been humbling. The Earth is not the centre of the universe. Our species descended from brutes. We are made of the same stuff as mud. We are moved by neurophysiological signals and subject to a variety of biological, psychological and sociological influences over which we have limited control and little understanding.

One of our remaining sources of pride is technological progress. Like the polyps that over time create coral reefs, the many generations of humans that have come before us have built up a vast technological infrastructure. Our habitat is now largely one of human making. The fact of technological progress is also in a sense humbling. It suggests that the most advanced technology we have today is extremely limited and primitive compared with what our descendants will have.

If we extrapolate these expected technological advances, and think through some of their logical implications, we arrive at another humbling conclusion: the "simulation argument", which has caused some stir since I published it three years ago.

The formal version of the argument requires some probability theory, but the underlying idea can be grasped without mathematics. It starts with the assumption that future civilisations will have enough computing power and programming skills to be able to create what I call "ancestor simulations". These would be detailed simulations of the simulators' predecessors - detailed enough for the simulated minds to be conscious and have the same kinds of experiences we have. Think of an ancestor simulation as a very realistic virtual reality environment, but one where the brains inhabiting the world are themselves part of the simulation.

The simulation argument makes no assumption about how long it will take to develop this capacity. Some futurologists think it will happen within the next 50 years. But even if it takes 10 million years, it makes no difference to the argument.

Let me state what the conclusion of the argument is. The conclusion is that at least one of the following three propositions must be true:

1 Almost all civilisations at our level of development become extinct before becoming technologically mature.
2 The fraction of technologically mature civilisations that are interested in creating ancestor simulations is almost zero.
3 You are almost certainly living in a computer simulation.

How do we reach this conclusion? Suppose first that the first proposition is false. Then a significant fraction of civilisations at our level of development eventually become technologically mature. Suppose, too, that the second proposition is false. Then a significant fraction of these civilisations run ancestor simulations. Therefore, if both one and two are false, there will be simulated minds like ours.

If we work out the numbers, we find that there would be vastly many more simulated minds than non-simulated minds. We assume that technologically mature civilisations would have access to enormous amounts of computing power.

So enormous, in fact, that by devoting even a tiny fraction to ancestor simulations, they would be able to implement billions of simulations, each containing as many people as have ever existed. In other words, almost all minds like yours would be simulated. Therefore, by a very weak principle of indifference, you would have to assume that you are probably one of these simulated minds rather than one of the ones that are not simulated.

Hence, if you think that propositions one and two are both false, you should accept the third. It is not coherent to reject all three.

It should be emphasised that the simulation argument does not show that you are living in a simulation. The conclusion is simply that at least one of the three propositions is true. It does not tell us which one.

In reality, we don't have much specific information to tell us which of the three propositions might be true. In this situation, it might be reasonable to distribute our credence roughly evenly between them.

Let us consider the options in a little more detail. Proposition one is straightforward. For example, maybe there is some technology that every advanced civilisation eventually develops and which then destroys them. Let us hope this is not the case. Proposition two requires that there is a strong convergence among all advanced civilisations, such that almost none of them are interested in running ancestor simulations. One can imagine various reasons that may lead civilisations to make this choice. Yet for proposition two to be true, virtually all civilisations would have to refrain. If this were true, it would be an interesting constraint on the future evolution of intelligent life.

The third possibility is philosophically the most intriguing. If it is correct, you are almost certainly living in a computer simulation that was created by some advanced civilisation. What Copernicus and Darwin and latter-day scientists have been discovering are the laws and workings of the simulated reality. These laws might or might not be identical to those operating at the more fundamental level of reality where the computer that is running our simulation exists (which, of course, may itself be a simulation). In a way, our place in the world would be even humbler than we thought.

What kind of implications would this have? How should it change the way you live your life?

Your first reaction might be to think that if three is true, then all bets are off and you would go crazy. To reason thus would be an error. Even if we are in a simulation, the best methods of predicting what will happen next are still the familiar ones - extrapolation of past trends, scientific modelling and common sense. To a first approximation, if you thought you were in a simulation, you should get on with your life in much the same way as if you were convinced that you were leading a non-simulated life at the "bottom" level of reality.

If we are in a simulation, could we ever know for certain? If the simulators don't want us to find out, we probably never will. But if they choose to reveal themselves, they could do so. Another event that would let us conclude with a high degree of confidence that we are in a simulation is if we ever reach a point when we are about to switch on our own ancestor simulations. That would be very strong evidence against the first two propositions, leaving us only with the third.

========

Nick Bostrom is the director of the Future of Humanity Institute at the University of Oxford

Summarize

Brant Gaede's picture

The few posts I made on this thread going back to 4-15, plus: Basically we are determined creatures but in the context of whom we are as human beings generally and differing particularly, we are free to make choices from alternatives, basically out of thinking. What's the point of thinking--conceptual thinking--except to weed out the choices for the best choice we can think of out of our experiences and knowledge? In a way we are forced to think because we tend to bump into things. So we use thinking to vitiate the bumping. If I had wanted as a young man to be a professional, for instance, I would have thought about how my mind worked and my interests and concluded that being a doctor wasn't for me because I'd have had too much trouble memorizing all those facts, but being a lawyer with conceptual chains of reasoning would have been much more up my alley. I'm very smart but my smarts are narrowly focused. I could never in this life ever get a PhD in mathematics, for instance. I can't even stand to think about accounting. Being a Special Forces Aidman told me to stay away from medicine after the army. Now being a denizen in the world of ideas and human interactions, my real choices are to be found there and I ended up there as a generalizer--that is to say I have given myself a classical liberal arts education covering science, sociology, psychology, philosophy and political philosophy, history, politics, geo-politics, cultures and anthropology, even archeology, art and literature, economics, investing, medicine, war, geology, geography and everything else I'm interested in. Nothing to brag about, really, you'd not consult me as an authority on these disciplines, but I'm always thinking about these things for several purposes. I never went to (the metaphorical) graduate school, which in itself was a choice. I'm still trying to put it all together. Because of what's going on in my life I may fail in that. I don't know if that would be tragic or not. I'm primarily happy my brain still works and should keep working pretty good for another 20 years.

All determinism is is looking backwards and making the preposterous claim that nothing could have been different. It's preposterous because it's beyond hypothesis so one jumps from the proposition to claimed knowledge skipping that. All free will is is acknowledging that humans are thinking creatures making some choices out of thinking. I believe there is also the idea that free will is choosing to ramp up or down the strength of mental focus.

--Brant

"What is then, your free will

Leonid's picture

"What is then, your free will idea?"

"Anything I have posted on it."

Can you please summarize?

What

Brant Gaede's picture

"What is then, your free will idea?"

Anything I have posted on it. My point is when I write about free will I'm explaining my understanding of it, not trying to tell anyone anything about Rand's views unless I explicitly say so.

--Brant

Brant

Leonid's picture

"I did not state my free will idea corresponded to Rand's."

What is then, your free will idea?

Brant

Leonid's picture

"Try not to think; see how far that gets you."

This is true that man cannot operate on perceptual level. However he can live and even function to some degree on concrete-bound level of mentality, out of focus, accepting contradictions,evading facts of reality, context and conceptual cognition beyond his immediate needs. Such a cognitive process one hardly can define as thinking.

Richard

Brant Gaede's picture

"But one cannot choose otherwise; no one ever has."

Sure one has. The "otherwise" was the choice. You can't choose both the chosen and the non-chosen. You put one egg in your basket, not two. That we float down a river full of choices doesn't mean we can willfully overflow its banks and go hunt deer instead of fish. What you are really on about is confusing choices with non-contradiction by stating the impossibility of the arbitrary. If so, I agree. So would Ayn Rand.

--Brant

Leonid

Brant Gaede's picture

Try not to think; see how far that gets you. "To think or not to think" is not the same as refusal to think about something you ought to. The latter is an expression of free will. The former is not. Rand's statement was much too broad for her proposition. Suicide is one way to stop thinking. Another is to load up on certain drugs. Rand was talking about something else, but she really didn't say here what that was.

--Brant

Leonid

Brant Gaede's picture

I did not state my free will idea corresponded to Rand's.

--Brant

Richard

Leonid's picture

Peikoff's statement is not equivocal to metaphysical libertarianism. This notion is based on mind-body dichotomy which Objectivism rejects. This is not Peikoff but your straw man.

" "the fantasy of an agency situated outside the realm of nature altogether" accurately describes Rand's account of man. Rand's distinction between the "metaphysical" and the "man-made" is nothing more and nothing less than the distinction between the "natural" and the "supernatural".

This is another attempt to build straw man, another fallacy of equivocation. According to you, any building, I-phone, computer or even this post of yours belongs to the realm of supernatural.
And when Ayn Rand ever said that man situated outside of the realm of nature? She said exactly the opposite-man and his mind has specific nature which includes free will.

"So your choices are determined by your goals. Nice."

That's right. And I myself define my goals. You as well.

"Even on your own account, the only genuinely free choice you get to make is the original choice to think."

Yes, this is essential, primary choice.It doesn't mean that other choices don't exist. What is your point?

"It's a shame you didn't choose something you're good at, instead."

According to you there is no such a thing as choice and therefore I cannot choose anything. Thus there is no shame. You, from other hand, could try at least not to contradict yourself, but apparently you also have no choice.

Varieties of free will worth wanting

Richard Goode's picture

I, as a human animal, have the ability to focus my mental energy on the subject of my next meal, analyze all my options and choose the one that I think best serves my goals. That is free will right there. What the hell else are people expecting?

Why would you even want the freedom to choose an option that you thought didn't best serve your goals?

No free will. No great loss.

Ellen

Richard Goode's picture

You're correct (#97485) that "Objectivism has no account of how free will is supposed to work"

Thanks for the acknowledgement.

although I wouldn't say that Leonid has "established" that.

Well, perhaps not, but he's certainly dismissed as non-Objectivist all the accounts of how free will is supposed to work listed under the metaphysical libertarianism heading in Wikipedia's article on free will...

Leonid has his own gloss which as best I can see amounts to assertions.

Assertions, and obfuscatory hand-waving.

But what do you mean in the sentence bolded here #97449? ... One cannot choose otherwise; no one ever has. ... Sounds to me like merely a play on words. No one has ever chosen otherwise than the person DID choose. This doesn't say that the person didn't have real alternatives from which the person selected.

When you deliberate about which course of action to take, you select from real epistemic alternatives. Such is the nature of anticipatory systems. But these are not real metaphysical alternatives. Free will is an illusion. So powerful an illusion that to some it seems "self-evident" that they could have chosen otherwise. But one cannot choose otherwise; no one ever has. Which is just to say, there is no physical evidence that we are ever presented with real metaphysical alternatives.

Is your claim that there are no real alternatives of action, that whatever action a person does take is uniquely necessitated by the person's prior physical state?

Yes.

Leonid

Richard Goode's picture

The Objectivist concept of free will is metaphysical libertarianism. Peikoff says so.

Reference, please. If he says so he's also wrong. I don't accept an argument from authority.

I already gave you the reference, below. (Sorry, my link was broken.) Like it or not, Peikoff is the authority on what constitutes the philosophy of Objectivism. Rand said so.

[One must] distinguish metaphysical facts from man-made facts—i.e., facts which are inherent in the identities of that which exists, from facts which depend upon the exercise of human volition. Because man has free will, no human choice—and no phenomenon which is a product of human choice—is metaphysically necessary. In regard to any man-made fact, it is valid to claim that man has chosen thus, but it was not inherent in the nature of existence for him to have done so; he could have chosen otherwise.

That's metaphysical libertarianism. Here are a couple more definitions.

Metaphysical libertarianism is the view that human beings are responsible for their actions as individuals because they have free will, defined as the ability to do other than they do. Metaphysical libertarianism is opposed to determinism, according to which human beings do not have free will but rather are determined by antecedent conditions (such as God or nature or environmental factors) to do exactly what they do.

Libertarianism (metaphysical) A view that seeks to protect the reality of human free will by supposing that a free choice is not causally determined but not random either (see dilemma of determinism). What is needed is the conception of a rational, responsible, intervention in the ongoing course of events. In some developments a special category of agent-causation is posited, but its relationship with the neurophysiological workings of the brain and body, or indeed any moderately naturalistic view of ourselves, tends to be very uneasy, and it is frequently derided as the desire to protect the fantasy of an agency situated outside the realm of nature altogether.

The second definition is telling. Because "the fantasy of an agency situated outside the realm of nature altogether" accurately describes Rand's account of man. Rand's distinction between the "metaphysical" and the "man-made" is nothing more and nothing less than the distinction between the "natural" and the "supernatural". Rand's a supernaturalist! Except that, in her philosophy, it's man who is supernatural, not God!

"Do you agree, Leonid, that the last time you made a free choice you could have chosen otherwise?" -yes, I do.

"If so, why didn't you?"

Because my choices usually made in order to achieve my goals which I myself have chosen. All choices are goal orientated. The choice of goals depends on the choice of values which in turn depends on the choice of value's standard.

So your choices are determined by your goals. Nice.

In other words, man has only one essential choice: to think or not. All other choices depend on it. I chose to think.

Even on your own account, the only genuinely free choice you get to make is the original choice to think.

It's a shame you didn't choose something you're good at, instead.

Brant

Leonid's picture

"The doctrine of free will is the doctrine of taking responsibility for one's action or lack of action and underlays morality and jurisprudence."

Nothing of this kind.

Ayn Rand postulated times and again that she is PRIMARY not an advocate of capitalism or rational egoism, but of reason. Objectivism , therefore, is a philosophy of reason; Objectivist ethics follow from Objectivist metaphysics and epistemology. From the Objectivist point of view, there is only one primary essential ethical choice: to think or not to think. The rest is just consequences.

Doug

Leonid's picture

"If I'm hungry, I need to eat. If all that is available in my freezer is a frozen burrito, then I will eat that burrito. Yes, in one sense the outcome is pre-determined. "

Nothing is pre-determined outside of the realm of human volition. If I'm hungry but on diet, or have to be starved before surgery, or on hunger strike, I'll not eat. Every conscious human action is by choice. Choice depends on the chosen hierarchy and standard of values. Such a choice presupposes volition. Volition is the human way of self-determination.

The doctrine

Brant Gaede's picture

The doctrine of free will is the doctrine of taking responsibility for one's action or lack of action and underlays morality and jurisprudence. Morality is the heart of Objectivism, not reason. No morality no Objectivism. No reason and we wouldn't be here to contemplate this philosophy. The basic promulgated fallacy of Objectivism is to lead with morality, not reason. It is only reason looking backwards. You end up with a philosophy that's practically the end-all and be-all. This great ball of verbiage becomes a tempting target for skeptics because it's indefensible in its classic form. The founders insisted on this. It was their job to tell people what it was, hoi polloi only that it was--basic cult stuff.

--Brant

good point Leonid

Doug Bandler's picture

Man's free will in Objectivist theory, pertains directly to the action of his mind and only indirectly to its content or subject matter.

This is my understanding of O'ism's approach of free will too. I think the man to read in this regard is Binswanger (ignoring whatever personality flaws he may have). Binswanger argues that free will is the choice to "focus" at any moment in time. He has elaborated that "focus" means constantly shifting your mental activity from a state of lesser focus to greater focus. Essentially, as I understand it, Objectivism' approach to free will is that volition entails mental energy directed to goal achievement; all of this happening in spurts alternating between moments of focused mental attention and lapsed mental drifting (which is probably a necessity for a healthy brain).

I just don't get people arguing "pre-determined" outcomes. If I'm hungry, I need to eat. If all that is available in my freezer is a frozen burrito, then I will eat that burrito. Yes, in one sense the outcome is pre-determined. But that has nothing to do with free will and volition. I, as a human animal, have the ability to focus my mental energy on the subject of my next meal, analyze all my options and choose the one that I think best serves my goals. That is free will right there. What the hell else are people expecting?

I suspect that there is some serious rationalism going on with this question.

Philosophy or Science?

Doug Bandler's picture

taking the official literature as the source for what constitutes "Objectivism," hasn't even a passing hand wave beyond self-generated activity, details unspecified, as to how volition actuates motion.

How is the question of how volition actuates motion a philosophical question? Its a question for science not philosophy.

Ellen, I think you are criticizing Rand and Objectivism for not answering scientific questions. That's an illegitimate criticism of any philosophy IMO.

Ellen

Leonid's picture

"Objectivism, taking the official literature as the source for what constitutes "Objectivism," hasn't even a passing hand wave beyond self-generated activity, details unspecified, as to how volition actuates motion."

Then what you'd say about Ayn Rand's own explanation: " we live in our minds, and existence is the attempt to bring this life into physical reality" ( Fountainhead pg 541).

This is a description of anticipatory systems.

And how do you refer to the position of Harry Binswanger, the Objectivist philosopher who defines volition as species of cognitive self-regulation? This is not Leonid's assertions but explicit Objectivist position: "Man's free will in Objectivist theory, pertains directly to the action of his mind and only indirectly to its content or subject matter. The exercise of reason , then, is a casual primary..no antecedent factor can explain why one does or does not choose to to exercise his reason in any given instance. Man has a primary, irreducible control over the operation of his conceptual faculty."

If you want to learn the Objectivist position, I suggest to read the whole article " Volition as Cognitive Self-regulation" and " The biological Basis of teleological Concepts" by Harry Binswanger.

Finally, volition doesn't actuates motion. Man does. Volition is a mental choice-making process, and the primary choice is to think or not.

Richard, re "free will"

Ellen Stuttle's picture

You're correct (#97485) that "Objectivism has no account of how free will is supposed to work" -- although I wouldn't say that Leonid has "established" that. Leonid has his own gloss which as best I can see amounts to assertions. Objectivism, taking the official literature as the source for what constitutes "Objectivism," hasn't even a passing hand wave beyond self-generated activity, details unspecified, as to how volition actuates motion.

But what do you mean in the sentence bolded here #97449?

The claim that a free choice is a choice where one could have chosen otherwise is what identifies the Objectivist notion of free will as metaphysical libertarianism. The trouble is that there is no such thing as free will, as so construed. One cannot choose otherwise; no one ever has. How free will works is not an unsolved question of neuro-science. There is no such thing as free will, so the question of how it works does not arise.

Sounds to me like merely a play on words. No one has ever chosen otherwise than the person DID choose. This doesn't say that the person didn't have real alternatives from which the person selected.

Is your claim that there are no real alternatives of action, that whatever action a person does take is uniquely necessitated by the person's prior physical state?

Ellen

Richard

Leonid's picture

"No, I'm right. The Objectivist concept of free will is metaphysical libertarianism. Peikoff says so"

Reference, please. If he says so he's also wrong. I don't accept an argument from authority.

"What you've just established is that Objectivism has no account of how free will is supposed to work."

I think I presented detailed Objectivist account how free will works.

"Mysticism is the claim to some non-sensory, non-rational, non-definable, non-identifiable means of knowledge, such as "instinct," "intuition," "revelation," or any form of "just knowing."

Introspection is not instinct, intuition or revelation. It is another word for self-awareness. I hope that you wouldn't call your knowledge that you are Richard, living and thinking human being who is aware of existence of his own mind and its content (memories, thoughts, feelings etc...), a mystical knowledge.

"Do you agree, Leonid, that the last time you made a free choice you could have chosen otherwise?" -yes, I do.

"If so, why didn't you?"

Because my choices usually made in order to achieve my goals which I myself have chosen. All choices are goal orientated. The choice of goals depends on the choice of values which in turn depends on the choice of value's standard. This choice could be objective-life, or arbitrary-anything else. In other words, man has only one essential choice: to think or not. All other choices depend on it. I chose to think.

Leonid

Richard Goode's picture

Yea, I'm afraid,you are wrong.

No, I'm right. The Objectivist concept of free will is metaphysical libertarianism. Peikoff says so.

Objectivism strongly rejects mind-body dichotomy... Objectivism rejects reductionist approach to mind.

What you've just established is that Objectivism has no account of how free will is supposed to work.

For Objectivist Free Will is self-evident property of human consciousness observed by introspection.

Well, you can't get more mystical than that! Here's Rand on mysticism.

What is mysticism? Mysticism is the acceptance of allegations without evidence or proof, either apart from or against the evidence of one's senses and one's reason. Mysticism is the claim to some non-sensory, non-rational, non-definable, non-identifiable means of knowledge, such as "instinct," "intuition," "revelation," or any form of "just knowing."

Observing "self-evident" properties of your own mind by introspection doesn't count as the evidence of one's senses and one's reason. It counts as a form of "just knowing".

Do you agree, Leonid, that the last time you made a free choice you could have chosen otherwise? If so, why didn't you?

Richard

Leonid's picture

Yea, I'm afraid,you are wrong.

"Accounts of libertarianism subdivide into non-physical theories and physical or naturalistic theories. Non-physical theories hold that a non-physical mind overrides physical causality, so that physical events in the brain that lead to the performance of actions do not have an entirely physical explanation. This approach is allied to mind-body dualism in philosophy"

Objectivism strongly rejects mind-body dichotomy.

"Some libertarian explanations involve invoking panpsychism, the theory that a quality of mind is associated with all particles, and pervades the entire universe, in both animate and inanimate entities."

Objectivism rejects reductionist approach to mind. From the objectivist point of view mind is irreducible phenomenon, emergent property of life, when life itself defined as "self-originated self-sustained goal-orientated process". The driven force of such a process could be only self-causation. As Rosen observed in his book " Life Itself" " the material system is an organism if and only if it closed to efficient cause."

For Objectivist Free Will is self-evident property of human consciousness observed by introspection. Any attempt to deny it is self-refuting-if there is no Free Will, then any further discussion on the topic and any other topic is meaningless, since denial of Free Will is denial of mind.

Self-causation of the organism is its ability to project its goals into the future and to act on them.

In other words, self-causation is organism's anticipatory system.

"According to Rosen (1985, ch. 6), an anticipatory system is:
[...] a system containing a predictive model of itself and/or its environment, which
allows it to change state at an instant in accord with the model’s predictions
pertaining to a latter instant."

http://www.istc.cnr.it/doc/1a_...

Since man possesses self-awareness and conceptual cognition, he's able to build his predictive models, to choose and project his goals consciously. This is Free Will.

Free Will is simply the state of self-awareness of one's mind, which as any other biological process, is driven by self-causation and anticipation. In other words, Free Will is self-initiated goal-orientated action of mind on conceptual level.

How are such things possbile?

Marcus's picture

It must the intelligent designer!

Leonid

Richard Goode's picture

Objectivism postulates that life is a natural self-initiated, goal -orientated process, driven by self --causation. Mind is biological phenomenon and therefore its causation is self-causation. Free Will is self-awareness of this process.

Darren's right, you know. "Self-causation" is Nouveau Objectivistese wankery.

According to Objectivism, a free choice is a choice where one could have chosen otherwise. This is what identifies the Objectivist notion of free will as metaphysical libertarianism. If you think I'm wrong about this, if you think I "simply don't understand Objectivism", then please read Wikipedia's article on free will (or the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on free will) and tell me where in its taxonomy to locate the Objectivist account.

Perigo freely chooses

Richard Goode's picture

Perigo freely chooses to join the fray and commit the genetic fallacy.

Baade can't help saying what he's saying. Therefore we may discount it.

The above, of course, is a non sequitur.

The Dogma...

Marcus's picture

"Crick's "Central Dogma" -- now being questioned but certainly not debunked..."

Crick didn't actually mean to use the word dogma because he misunderstood its meaning.

He said:

"My mind was, that a dogma was an idea for which there was no reasonable evidence. You see?!" And Crick gave a roar of delight. "I just didn't know what dogma meant. And I could just as well have called it the 'Central Hypothesis,' or — you know. Which is what I meant to say. Dogma was just a catch phrase."

Baade can't help writing:

Lindsay Perigo's picture

There is no such thing as free will, so the question of how it works does not arise.

So Baade can't help saying what he's saying. Therefore we may discount it.

Darren

Leonid's picture

It's better to masturbate then to run a risk of making such an idiot as you are. You don't know a fuck about how cell operates, what causes to block or unblock certain genes, how cell itself regulates the whole translation process in accordance to its needs. Go back to school to learn basic biology and proper behavior.

If you weren't so dazzled by your idea of "intelligent" leprechaun, you'd see that code presupposes an entity or process which has to be coded. If "idiot" is code word for Darren, then it has to be Darren in the first place in order to create such a code. You see, Darren precedes "idiot", not other way around.

But I suppose it's too much to ask from you to understand.

"Self-Causation" is Nouveau

darren's picture

"Self-Causation" is Nouveau Objectivistese for simple "masturbation" -- surely you're fluent in this by now, Leonid.

Besides, what I presented is a plausible explanation of how the process of life emerged,

In other words, it was a fantasy scenario based on ignorance, which you invented on a whim. That's your notion of "plausible."

Darren, fuck off

Leonid's picture

Darren, you are living refutation of your own ideas. If your alleged "intelligent" leprechaun created you, then he is even more a moron than you are. However, I don't think that there is all mighty leprechaun who doesn't need any cause-effect connections and moves in mysterious ways. You are simply an imbecile, a freak of nature who couldn't grasp the idea of self-causation. If you weren't so dogmatic and stupid, you'd know that information in the cell flows in both directions. Besides, what I presented is a plausible explanation of how the process of life emerged, not its current status. But you are too dull to understand all these. I'm wasting my time on you. You are not amusing anymore. Fuck off.

Pop Quiz!!!

darren's picture

No, it couldn't.

Yes it could have.

The metaphysical cause which determines nucleotides' sequence is a sequence of amino acids in proteins.

Dumb good-for-nothing fuck-all. You probably think you're smarter than Watson and Crick, but you're not . . . you're just uglier. Crick's "Central Dogma" -- now being questioned but certainly not debunked -- asserts that the flow of information -- hence, the flow FROM cause, TO effect is: FROM the nucleotide sequence (however it it came into being), TO the sequencing of amino acids . . . never the other way around. Got that? Good.

Oh, and what's the reason for that, again? (Let's see if you've been paying attention, you double-espresso-slurping Neanderthal): The reason is that nature obeys mathematics, including the basic mathematics of coding theory. Since there are two character sets that need to be mapped -- the set of all possible nucleotide sequences and the set of all possible biologically-necessary amino acids -- the mapping must flow from a larger set to a smaller set (or one as large, but not larger). The set of all possible 3-base nucleotide sequences = 64; the set of all possible biologically necessary amino acids = 20; the mapping can go from 64 to 20, but it cannot go from 20 to 64. If you don't understand why that must be so, then reread my posts on that topic below.

The metaphysical cause of particular sequence of amino acids is its ability to support life process.

Say wha, white boy? You say "the CAUSE of the amino acids' sequencing into functional proteins is the FUTURE ability that such a sequence would have in supporting life processes?" Uh, no. Come here, Leo, I wanna whisper something in whatever ear doesn't have a fucking cell-phone glued to it:

YOU DUMB TWIT!!!! THE ABILITY TO SUPPORT LIFE PROCESSES IS THE EFFECT, THE EFFECT, THE EFFECT, OF A FUNCTIONAL PROTEIN, HENCE ITS AMINO ACID SEQUENCE! YOU'VE FUCKING CONFUSED CAUSE AND EFFECT!! (Yet again.)

You're useless, Leonid.

Darren

Leonid's picture

"There are no metaphysical causal forces determining the sequence of nucleotides along the deoxyribose spine of the DNA molecule: the sequence could have been in any order."

No, it couldn't. The metaphysical cause which determines nucleotides' sequence is a sequence of amino acids in proteins. The metaphysical cause of particular sequence of amino acids is its ability to support life process. All sequences unsuitable for this purpose had been eliminated by natural selection.
But you postulate primacy of DNA molecule as a coder of proteins. This is like to put a carriage before horse. To have a code one needs first something to code. Your postulate inevitable leads to the mystical idea of Big Codifier who somehow manages to exist out of realm of existence, which is obvious contradiction. What mystics refuse to understand is that existence exist, but contradictions not. They also fail to know the difference between metaphysically given and man-made. Existence is what it is and could not be different. If it could, it would require a creator, which is contradictory idea by itself. Living process determined by causation of the living organism which is self causation.
Free Will is a particular case of self-causation on conceptual level.
Your belief that life had been created by non-human intelligence doesn't resolve anything. It brings more questions-how such an intelligence emerged? Evidently it had being created by another intelligence-and so ad infinitum.

Richard

Leonid's picture

"Objectivists believe in metaphysical libertarianism."

Nothing of this sort. You simply don't understand Objectivism.

Objectivism postulates that life is a natural self-initiated, goal -orientated process, driven by self --causation. Mind is biological phenomenon and therefore its causation is self-causation. Free Will is self-awareness of this process.

When Christianity ruled...

Leonid's picture

"One of the leading thinkers of recent decades in this field is the Dutch economist, Angus Maddison. According to Maddison’s research, Europe suffered through zero economic growth in the centuries from 500 AD to 1500, the exact period that Stark describes. Maddison shows that for a millennium there was no rise in per capita income, which stood at an abysmally low $215 in 1500. Further, he estimates that in the year 1000, the average infant could expect to live to roughly the age of 24 years—and that a third would die in the first year of life. These are global estimates, with Europe showing no appreciable difference from the rest. Not surprisingly, per capita living standards show no dramatic increases until the 18th-century Enlightenment—the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.(Angus Maddison, Phases of Capitalist Development (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982), pp. 4–7.)"

"While other economic historians argue that some economic growth did take place in the late Middle Ages, they nevertheless recognize that the growth was of so minimal a degree that it hardly improved the horrifying destitution of the European masses. For example, the research of economist Graeme Snooks indicates that economic growth occurred in England in the six centuries between 1086 and 1688. “If the average person in 1086 had about one-sixth the income of the average person in 1688, he or she did not have much. . . . English peasants in 1086 had little more than enough food to keep them alive, and sometimes not even that. Houses were crude, temporary structures. A peasant owned one set of clothes, best described as rags, and little else.” (, “The Standard of Living Through the Ages,” in The State of Humanity, edited by Julian Simon (Malden, Mass.: Blackwell Publishers, 1995), pp. 136–39.)"

"W. T. Jones, the 20th century’s leading historian of philosophy, succinctly captured the essence of the decline, and of Christianity’s causal role in promoting it, when he stated: “Because of the indifference and downright hostility of the Christians . . . almost the whole body of ancient literature and learning was lost. . . . This destruction was so great and the rate of recovery was so slow that even by the ninth century Europe was still immeasurably behind the classical world in every department of life. . . . This, then, was truly a ‘dark’ age.” ( W. T. Jones, A History of Western Philosophy, vol. 2, The Medieval Mind (New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1969), pp. 139–142.)

Read the full article
http://www.theobjectivestandar...

Any natural phenomenon, i.e.,

darren's picture

Any natural phenomenon, i.e., any event which occurs without human participation, is the metaphysically given, and could not have occurred differently or failed to occur;

(i) What about events caused by goal-directed action on the part of animals? If Rand believes that animals -- especially the "higher mammals" -- are simply machine-like automatons, then she's quite mistaken.

(ii) What about events -- or possible events -- caused by goal-directed action on the part of non-human intelligent agents? Knee-jerk Darwinbots on this board never tire of asserting that life is everywhere in the universe because the chemical affinities that putatively cause life to appear are (i) causally inevitable and (ii) ubiquitous.

(iii) What about the fact that certain events in the natural world do not have any metaphysical, causal necessity determining them? There are no metaphysical causal forces determining the sequence of nucleotides along the deoxyribose spine of the DNA molecule: the sequence could have been in any order. Yet the order we actually find -- a highly improbable order when all possible combinations are taken into account --precisely maps onto a set of 20 amino acids in such a way that the ribosome can use the information in the sequence (via RNA) to sequence amino acids into functional proteins for the goal of helping the organism continue its life. This is a case of something existing as a given, metaphysically, but with no necessity: it could have been different; the challenge is to discover how and why it is not.

Don't worry. There's plenty

darren's picture

Don't worry. There's plenty on which we *don't* agree.

Our first fight. (Sigh. So romantic . . .)

Now, if I can just finish the itemized expenses for L's and my taxes, I might get a chance to read the details of the many posts on the thread I've had to skim in haste.

Don't forget: That great Vice President, Joe Biden, asserted that paying one's taxes is a matter of patriotism.

Nah...

ding_an_sich's picture

I do not mind being called Ding.

Also, to wreak further havoc on Kant's philosophy, aside from Einstein rendering much of Kant's philosophy non-sensical, Saul Kripke thoroughly scutinized the notion of the "necessary a priori" by means of modal logic. Not everything that is necessary is a priori and there seems to be a confusion between the two, as one deals with possible worlds (necessity) while the other concerns epistemic matters (the a priori). Isn't modal logic grand?

I hope that Rand is not inadvertently Kantian. I have not read enough to really come to such a conclusion.

But sometimes I do wonder if Objectivists take into account a lot that has been going on in philosophy and logic (even though they may despise the former as of late and remain ignorant in some sense to the latter), especially the analytic tradition (which I think they can learn a lot from). I doubt they'll touch the continental aside, with Aristotle and Aqcuinas remaining the exceptions: moreover, there is definetly a lot more to engross oneself in. Heidegger is a perfect example.

Ding

Richard Goode's picture

I don't suppose you'll mind being called Ding, now that you're no longer Kantian?!

Einstein blew out Kant's theory of a priori pure intuitions via Theory of General Relativity.

Of course, he did. It's ironic that Objectivists—who regard Kant as the most evil man in mankind's history—still won't think outside Kant's "categories of the understanding".

The law of identity...

ding_an_sich's picture

is that not a=a? I do not understand why the properties have to be detectable by the senses. Is this what constitutes propertyhood?

An object, call it 'a', has a set of properties P; 'a' is identical with itself iff it has exactly all the members found in P (Im pretty sure I formulated that correctly). These properties do not need empirical verification. We could simply enumerate them, e.g, a is infinite, a is omnipotent, a is omniscient, etc., without coming up with a justification as to how we know them.

Furthermore, I wonder if Rand would ever have accepted Leibniz's Indiscernibility of Identicals and Indentity of Indiscernibles. Maybe?

Metaphysical libertarianism

Richard Goode's picture

Objectivists believe in free will. There is no Objectivist position on the philosophy of mind because Rand didn't give one. How free will works, how it is compatible with physics is a question that has not been answered yet. I am not even sure if it is a question for philosophy or for science.

Typical from an Objectivist. Don't know why something is - just say "There is no Objectivist position on it because Rand didn't give one." That solves nothing.

But none of that changes the fact that your answer for free will is that the mythological Christian goblin gave it to us... Dr. Goode, all you're doing is offering an absurd answer for an as yet unsolved question of neuro-science (with philosophical implications).

Steady on, Doug! You don't know what my answer to the free will question is. You're confusing me with an Objectivist stereotype. Your rebellion against my identity is the wish for non-existence.

Objectivists believe in metaphysical libertarianism. Metaphysical libertarianism is fundamental to Objectivist metaphysics. It's the basis of Rand's metaphysical vs. man-made distinction. As Rand puts it,

Any natural phenomenon, i.e., any event which occurs without human participation, is the metaphysically given, and could not have occurred differently or failed to occur; any phenomenon involving human action is the man-made, and could have been different.

Or, as Leonard Peikoff puts it,

[One must] distinguish metaphysical facts from man-made facts—i.e., facts which are inherent in the identities of that which exists, from facts which depend upon the exercise of human volition. Because man has free will, no human choice—and no phenomenon which is a product of human choice—is metaphysically necessary. In regard to any man-made fact, it is valid to claim that man has chosen thus, but it was not inherent in the nature of existence for him to have done so; he could have chosen otherwise.

The claim that a free choice is a choice where one could have chosen otherwise is what identifies the Objectivist notion of free will as metaphysical libertarianism. The trouble is that there is no such thing as free will, as so construed. One cannot choose otherwise; no one ever has. How free will works is not an unsolved question of neuro-science. There is no such thing as free will, so the question of how it works does not arise.

Objectivist metaphysics is founded on something that doesn't exist.

Can't get more mystical than that.

The law of identity

Richard Goode's picture

The law of identity states that an object is the same as itself; or, in other words, everything is what it is. The concept "identity" does not indicate the particular natures of the existents it subsumes; it merely underscores the primary fact that they are what they are.

God is the same as Himself. God is what He is. Yahweh (the God of Judaism) even says as much: "I am who I am" (Hebrews 3:14). I don't see any particular problem here.

The concept of a non-material, transcendent "super-natural" _being_ destroys the concept of identity. A "being" has an identity. It has properties which are detectable by evidence of the senses.

I think you're confusing the law of identity with empiricism. I think Rand did, too. Please try to use the correct terminology.

Gazzler...

Marcus's picture

"Now you're settling for the claim that the religious upbringings of Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin might have played a part in turning them into the monstrously evil men they undoubtedly were."

That's your fault actually. You started the argument in terms of German, Japanese and Italian Fascism being atheist - but when I pointed out that those societies were not atheist you started the argument about the attitudes of Hitler and Mussolini towards religion.

Decide what your argument is. Are you talking about fascist-ruled society, fascist parties or specific fascists?

By the way, it might interest you that Franco was a fascist who portrayed himself as a defender of the Catholic faith in Spain. Both Mussolini and Hitler were good friends and supported him with troops during the Spanish Civil War.

God is no answer to free will

Doug Bandler's picture

Objectivists believe in metaphysical libertarianism

Objectivists believe in free will. There is no Objectivist position on the philosophy of mind because Rand didn't give one. How free will works, how it is compatible with physics is a question that has not been answered yet. I am not even sure if it is a question for philosophy or for science.

But none of that changes the fact that your answer for free will is that the mythological Christian goblin gave it to us. How did he get free will? Is his will even free?

Dr. Goode, all you're doing is offering an absurd answer for an as yet unsolved question of neuro-science (with philosophical implications). Typical from a theist. Don't know why something is - just say "God did it". That solves nothing.

Super-naturalism does not

Doug Bandler's picture

Super-naturalism does not deny the law of identity.

Yes it does. The concept of a non-material, transcendent "super-natural" _being_ destroys the concept of identity. A "being" has an identity. It has properties which are detectable by evidence of the senses. Theism denies all that and provides some metaphysical impossibility as the "personal creator" that "created" the universe.

Of course you could argue that your god really does have an identity; that it is something tangible, something physical. But where does that get you? You would have to prove it and then show how it is possible for one "being" to be everything and all the other stuff. Good luck with that.

Leonid

Richard Goode's picture

Atheists reject mysticism of any kind

Objectivists believe in metaphysical libertarianism.

Can't get more mystical than that.

Doug

Richard Goode's picture

super-naturalism argues that there is no law of identity

Super-naturalism does not deny the law of identity.

The law of identity states that an object is the same as itself; or, in other words, everything is what it is.

Can't argue with that.

Thanks for the compliments...

Ellen Stuttle's picture

...on the Newton post, Darren and Doug.

Darren: Ellen -- we've got to stop meeting like this.

Don't worry. There's plenty on which we *don't* agree. Eye

Now, if I can just finish the itemized expenses for L's and my taxes, I might get a chance to read the details of the many posts on the thread I've had to skim in haste.

Ellen

Naturalism vs. Super-naturalism

Doug Bandler's picture

The real debate here is between super-naturalism and naturalism.

Rational atheism has philosophic naturalism at its base. The core of naturalism is that all human knowledge can be reduced to the evidence of the senses (or what the senses can detect through instrumentation). Another major premise of naturalism is identity; that for something to exist, it must be what it is and only what it is.

Super-naturalism on the other hand, of whatever variety, argues that human knowledge does not need to be reduced to the level of the senses. That there is a dimension which exists which we can not prove as there is no direct evidence of it. All we can do is derive or infer its existence from previous philosophic premises (a case of rationalism if ever there was one). Also, super-naturalism argues that there is no law of identity because the divine or supernatural realm is a "non-material", "transcendent" "realm" that is "beyond" the evidence of the senses". We can never point to it, we can only deduce it from prior premises.

Super-naturalism is the destruction of human cognition. It makes a mockery of the science of epistemology. It is the legacy of primitivism; of the early philosophic attempts by man to understand the world in which he lived. The first philosophers really had no choice but to turn to another dimension which "lay in back" of this one. This is what they inherited from religion.

We are still trying to work this crap out of our system.

Mystics of Number

darren's picture

Atheists reject mysticism of any kind,

"A-theism" means "Without-God", not "Without-Mysticism-of-any-kind."

You just wrote that communists/socialists/fascists are "mystics of muscle." Since they are also a-theists, then it follows that at least some a-theists are mystics (so-called "mystics of muscle").

The other atheists -- those who claim they subscribe to capitalism -- are Mystics of Number. They mistakenly fantasize that if only non-existent chemical scenarios existed in the past, and if only they had infinite time, then anything would be possible, including the appearance of self-replicating living organisms. Alas, their chemical scenarios never existed, and they only have a finite amount of time to make life appear.

Not dying Fetus, just living

Leonid's picture

Not dying Fetus, just living sub-humans

From Annapolis, Maryland...

Richard Goode's picture

If Hitler and Stalin were aborted, it would save the World from a lot of atrocity.

... this is Dying Fetus.

Reed

Leonid's picture

If Hitler and Stalin were aborted, it would save the World from a lot of atrocity. But this statement is, of course, a fallacy of attribution of humans qualities to fetuses, as you do by claiming that abortion is an atrocity. Unless you mean that this is atrocious thing to do to the mother.

"Atheism is a form of mysticism? Hardly!

Leonid's picture

"Atheism is a form of mysticism"

This is the most moronic statement you have posted so far. Atheists reject mysticism of any kind, including yours, which is based on arbitrary premise and using blind faith, revelations, feelings ,dreams and hallucinations as a tool of cognition.

" All you have to do is prove it by crunching some plausible numbers"

And why should I? After all, you came with this silly idea that body count could serve as an argument, as like as tragic human history is some stupid Hollywood movie. But if you want to use statistics, do it properly. Absolute numbers are meaningless. For example alleged Cain killed alleged Abel on religious grounds. That constituted a quoter of the world's population of that time.

It's such a blessing...

Richard Goode's picture

... Brown, Smith and Jones each had a religious upbringing. If they'd been brought up in secular households they might have turned out psychotic and murderous and not normal.

It's such a shame Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin all had a religious upbringing.

If only they would have been brought up in non-religious secular households they might have turned out normal and not psychotic and murderous.

Or, they might have turned out even more psychotic and murderous!

I suggest, Marcus, that you are overly attached to your overarching hypothesis that religion is the root of all evil. It seems you've backed away from your claim that German, Italian and Japanese strains of fascism were not atheistic, because that claim doesn't sit well with the evidence subsequently presented to you. Now you're settling for the claim that the religious upbringings of Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin might have played a part in turning them into the monstrously evil men they undoubtedly were. But does the evidence tend to support this? Somehow, I expect the evidence to be equivocal and inconclusive at best.

Cherry picking and massaging your data is no way to proceed. A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence. The man who proportions the evidence to his belief is a fool.

Did you read my post, Twelve Virtues of Rationality? I recommend cultivating these, especially, in your case, the virtues of relinquishment, lightness, and evenness.

The second virtue is relinquishment. P. C. Hodgell said: “That which can be destroyed by the truth should be.” Do not flinch from experiences that might destroy your beliefs. The thought you cannot think controls you more than thoughts you speak aloud. Submit yourself to ordeals and test yourself in fire. Relinquish the emotion which rests upon a mistaken belief, and seek to feel fully that emotion which fits the facts. If the iron approaches your face, and you believe it is hot, and it is cool, the Way opposes your fear. If the iron approaches your face, and you believe it is cool, and it is hot, the Way opposes your calm. Evaluate your beliefs first and then arrive at your emotions. Let yourself say: “If the iron is hot, I desire to believe it is hot, and if it is cool, I desire to believe it is cool.” Beware lest you become attached to beliefs you may not want.

The third virtue is lightness. Let the winds of evidence blow you about as though you are a leaf, with no direction of your own. Beware lest you fight a rearguard retreat against the evidence, grudgingly conceding each foot of ground only when forced, feeling cheated. Surrender to the truth as quickly as you can. Do this the instant you realize what you are resisting; the instant you can see from which quarter the winds of evidence are blowing against you. Be faithless to your cause and betray it to a stronger enemy. If you regard evidence as a constraint and seek to free yourself, you sell yourself into the chains of your whims. For you cannot make a true map of a city by sitting in your bedroom with your eyes shut and drawing lines upon paper according to impulse. You must walk through the city and draw lines on paper that correspond to what you see. If, seeing the city unclearly, you think that you can shift a line just a little to the right, just a little to the left, according to your caprice, this is just the same mistake.

The fourth virtue is evenness. One who wishes to believe says, “Does the evidence permit me to believe?” One who wishes to disbelieve asks, “Does the evidence force me to believe?” Beware lest you place huge burdens of proof only on propositions you dislike, and then defend yourself by saying: “But it is good to be skeptical.” If you attend only to favorable evidence, picking and choosing from your gathered data, then the more data you gather, the less you know. If you are selective about which arguments you inspect for flaws, or how hard you inspect for flaws, then every flaw you learn how to detect makes you that much stupider. If you first write at the bottom of a sheet of paper, “And therefore, the sky is green!”, it does not matter what arguments you write above it afterward; the conclusion is already written, and it is already correct or already wrong. To be clever in argument is not rationality but rationalization. Intelligence, to be useful, must be used for something other than defeating itself. Listen to hypotheses as they plead their cases before you, but remember that you are not a hypothesis, you are the judge. Therefore do not seek to argue for one side or another, for if you knew your destination, you would already be there.

It's an interesting debate whether the rise of science and capitalism in the Western world occurred because of, or in spite of, Christianity, but I'm not interested in joining it. Capitalism and science are both under attack, now. New Zealand is a largely secular nation, yet we suffer the same political ills as the United States, which is a whole lot more religious. So, I'm led to conclude that religion isn't the problem. I think the problem is collectivism. (I think it's worth noting that there isn't a single reference to religion as such in the Ayn Rand Lexicon entry I just linked to. Just mentions of, e.g., "some unspecified claim to superior wisdom" of the ruling elite.)

Which brings me to another point. We're pretty much all individualists here, whatever our other differences of opinion. We believe in personal responsibility. Shouldn't we be holding individuals responsible for their actions, rather than the ideologies which those individuals might or might not subscribe to?

Communism didn't kill 100,000,000 people. Communists did.

Marcus

Richard Goode's picture

why is [it] appropriate to swear in court or to take an oath of office on the bible?

It's not. The book you're supposed to swear on says, quite clearly, don't swear on this book! There's irony for you.

As I was going to say Richard...

Marcus's picture

...why is appropriate to swear in court or to take an oath of office on the bible?

"I swear by Almighty God that I will tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth."

Matthew 5:34-37

Richard Goode's picture

The oath of allegiance of the German Forces from 1934-1945.

"I swear by God this holy oath, that I want to offer unconditional obedience to the Führer of the German Reich and people, Adolf Hitler, the commander-in-chief of the Wehrmacht, and be prepared as a brave soldier to risk my life for this oath at any time."

But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. All you need to say is simply 'Yes' or 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

Apologies to Richard Goode...

Marcus's picture

...I deleted his latest post by accident.

It was a short quote from the bible debunking the idea that one could swear an oath by god.

I hope he will retype it again.

Science was going to have to

darren's picture

Science was going to have to cut through the shroud of religion no matter what religion came to dominate the European world.

The only shroud science had to cut through was Aristotelianism. The geocentric model adopted by the Church as its own "official" model was an Aristotelian one, initially adopted by the learned and wise academics of antiquity and the middle ages.

Gods

Brant Gaede's picture

Gee, the Muslims slaughtering Hindi in India is "secular"?

--Brant

It's such a shame...

Marcus's picture

...Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin all had a religious upbringing.

If only they would have been brought up in non-religious secular households they might have turned out normal and not psychotic and murderous.

Ellen makes a really good point

Doug Bandler's picture

I can't think of any physicist today who approaches doing physics the way Newton did. I doubt that a physicist could, today, think of the universe the way Newton did. Newton was the major divide between speculative "natural philosophy" and what came to be called "science." I think it's difficult for people today to imagine Newton's frame of mind, because his own work had the unforeseen-by-him result of altering the approach of subsequent investigators of the material world into a different approach from his own unified conception of the cosmos.

This is a really profound point. When you're good Ellen, you're good.

It is the point I was trying to make regarding religion. What we think of as the natural world is a viewpoint that was inconceivable before Newton and certainly inconceivable to the Ancient world. Which is why the debate over whether Christianity was pro or anti science is something of a red herring. Science was going to have to cut through the shroud of religion no matter what religion came to dominate the European world. Think about it. The ancients thought that the world was flat and that the stars were semi-divine entities. They also thought the world was a spherical structure housed in the great "firmament". They had no conception of what the universe looked like; ie of modern astronomy. A theistic conception of nature was all that was possible prior to the modern era; and I mean here the last 300 years or so.

Religion had to be the default mode for human thought. A fully secular, naturalistic conception of the universe is something that took thousands of years to develop. It had to be resisted given the nature of societal development. And it will continue to be resisted. It doesn't help that the first secular philosophies that have been developed are skepticism-drenched nihilistic ones. That's Rand's historical importance. She represents a major breakthrough in humanity's conception of itself.

She will be resisted and she will be despised because humans don't want to grow up. "Big god" and "Big Government" are legacies of our primitive past. The question for humanity is whether it can survive long enough to overcome the destruction from 1) political collectivism and 2) nature-oriented catastrophe - ie vulcanism, ice-age, planet-killing asteroid, natural temperature fluctuations outside the range of human survivability. All of these are possible. We need a super advanced civilization in order to be able to ensure the survival of our species. That is only possible under laissez-faire which is the only politics suitable for the human animal.

Off topic...

reed's picture

Leonid and some others
You are apologists for the world's current atrocity - abortion.

The operative meaning of

darren's picture

The operative meaning of "Newtonian physics" in the quote is how Newton himself thought of his physics explorations, not what today we'd call "Newtonian physics." Newton wasn't a "Newtonian," as that term has come to be used.

Agree.

Newton's religious views were bracketed from his physics in subsequent development of a Newton mythos, and were even swept under the carpet. Much of Newton's writings weren't even read until the fairly recent past by anyone except Newton. They were kept in the Newton archives but were thought of as an embarrassment to the Newton image and weren't examined.

Concur.

I'd agree, ideally. The practice has its lapses from the ideal.

That's for sure!

I don't agree with your description of Newton as "attempting to reconcile the observable universe with his notion of God." The point is that *Newton* didn't think in such terms as reconciling his notion of God with physics. His physics was premised on his notion of God.

Absolutely!

Neither do I agree "that the majority of today's scientists would profess to having the same goal." I think that today scientists in general draw a sharp dividing line between their scientific work and whatever religious beliefs they hold. I've mentioned in an earlier post physicists who resort to God as pulling some sort of miracle violating the laws of physics enabling humans to have volition.

Positively!

There are others who take the Stephen J. Gould approach according to which there's a sharp separation between science and values and science can say nothing about religion. They don't attempt a reconciliation. They compartmentalize the two domains.

Damn right!

I can't think of any physicist today who approaches doing physics the way Newton did. I doubt that a physicist could, today, think of the universe the way Newton did. Newton was the major divide between speculative "natural philosophy" and what came to be called "science." I think it's difficult for people today to imagine Newton's frame of mind, because his own work had the unforeseen-by-him result of altering the approach of subsequent investigators of the material world into a different approach from his own unified conception of the cosmos.

Brava!

(Just beautiful! Ellen -- we've got to stop meeting like this.)

Socialists/communists/fascist

darren's picture

Socialists/communists/fascists are mystics of muscle. Religionists are mystics of spirit.

Ah. I knew there was a catch. Thanks for, uh, explaining it to me. (?)

The inevitable outcome of any mysticism is a slaughter, though body count may differ.

Then it appears that atheism is itself a form of mysticism -- "muscle mysticism", as you call it.

Adjust the numbers to the global world population of the given time, in other words calculate the number of deaths in percents and see that the difference is not so big as you claim.

The old baseball-fan trick of ignoring absolute numbers and comparing percentages, instead. Say . . . why don't you crunch these numbers for us, this time, Leonid? Personally, I'm curious to see what you come up with.

If you add to these numbers all deaths from diseases and starvation during Dark Ages,

Would it be all right if we also added in the numbers from disease and starvation during the Classical Age, too?

caused by Church which regarded any scientific inquiry or innovation as the work of Devil,

And don't forget to add in the 1918 flu epidemic which killed off millions internationally -- no big, bad Church to worry about.

you could see that religionists performed as "good "as Stalin and Hitler combined.

Sounds great! All you have to do, Leonid, is prove it by crunching some plausible numbers for us.

Again, I wonder, what makes you think that you can fool all the people all the time?

(Yawn) We're waiting, Leonid.

This type of stuff is what

darren's picture

This type of stuff is what discredits you Dazz.

Moi?

You are one very compartmentalized person;

Sad

very smart in some areas

Smiling

but utterly clogged in others.

Sad

Robert, re Newton

Ellen Stuttle's picture

#97318: I disagree with your(?) statement that *"Newtonian physics cannot be disentangled from Newtonian theology"*. As would any 20th or 21st Century High School student of Physics and Calculus learning to apply Newtonian Mechanics to the world he sees around him.

It wasn't my statement but was a quote from an earlier post by Darren. The operative meaning of "Newtonian physics" in the quote is how Newton himself thought of his physics explorations, not what today we'd call "Newtonian physics." Newton wasn't a "Newtonian," as that term has come to be used.

Newton's religious views were bracketed from his physics in subsequent development of a Newton mythos, and were even swept under the carpet. Much of Newton's writings weren't even read until the fairly recent past by anyone except Newton. They were kept in the Newton archives but were thought of as an embarrassment to the Newton image and weren't examined.

Modern science has kept (with revision) that of Newton's that worked and discarded the rest. Scientific discovery is an iterative process with reality as its standard. Do you disagree?

I'd agree, ideally. The practice has its lapses from the ideal.

All you have shown is that Newton was involved in attempting to reconcile the observable universe with his notion of God. I would expect that the majority of today's scientists would profess to having the same goal. Do you disagree?

Darren is the one who provided the source material. I didn't have time.

I don't agree with your description of Newton as "attempting to reconcile the observable universe with his notion of God." The point is that *Newton* didn't think in such terms as reconciling his notion of God with physics. His physics was premised on his notion of God.

Neither do I agree "that the majority of today's scientists would profess to having the same goal." I think that today scientists in general draw a sharp dividing line between their scientific work and whatever religious beliefs they hold. I've mentioned in an earlier post physicists who resort to God as pulling some sort of miracle violating the laws of physics enabling humans to have volition. There are others who take the Stephen J. Gould approach according to which there's a sharp separation between science and values and science can say nothing about religion. They don't attempt a reconciliation. They compartmentalize the two domains.

I can't think of any physicist today who approaches doing physics the way Newton did. I doubt that a physicist could, today, think of the universe the way Newton did. Newton was the major divide between speculative "natural philosophy" and what came to be called "science." I think it's difficult for people today to imagine Newton's frame of mind, because his own work had the unforeseen-by-him result of altering the approach of subsequent investigators of the material world into a different approach from his own unified conception of the cosmos.

Ellen

PS about Mendel: The issue isn't the same. Mendel was not attempting to explain how the cosmos works. I think it isn't known just what he was attempting to study -- something pertaining to hybridization, but why? Whatever his goal, his religious beliefs weren't foundational to his theories the way Newton's were to his.

"Smart" ass Dazz

Leonid's picture

Socialists/communists/fascists are mystics of muscle. Religionists are mystics of spirit. The inevitable outcome of any mysticism is a slaughter, though body count may differ. Adjust the numbers to the global world population of the given time, in other words calculate the number of deaths in percents and see that the difference is not so big as you claim. If you add to these numbers all deaths from diseases and starvation during Dark Ages, caused by Church which regarded any scientific inquiry or innovation as the work of Devil, you could see that religionists performed as "good "as Stalin and Hitler combined. Again, I wonder, what makes you think that you can fool all the people all the time?

a few numbers -- seems as if atheism is bad for one's health

darren's picture

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L...

Religious wars throughout history:
30-years war: avg 7.25 million over 30 years
Crusades: 10 million over ~200 years
Sudanese Civil War: 1.5 million over 22 years
French Wars of Religion: 3 million over 36 years
= ~ 21.75 million over 288 years = ~75,520/year

Secular wars just in the 20th century:
WWI: 40 million over 4 years
WWII: 56 million over 8 years
Russian Revolution & Civil War: 7 million over 4 years
Korean War: 3 million over 3 years
Vietnam: 4.25 million over 20 years
Congo War: 4 million over 5 years
=~114.25 million over 44 years = ~2,596,590/year

Japan: http://en.wikipedia.or

darren's picture

Japan:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S...

. . . there was a new current of thought among militarists, industrialists and landowners that emphasized a desire to return to the ancient Shogunate system, but in the form of a modern military dictatorship with new structures. It was organized with the Japanese Navy and Japanese Army acting as Clans under command of a supreme military native dictator (the Shogun) controlling the country. In this government, the Emperor was covertly reduced in his functions and used as a figurehead for political or religious use under the control of the militarists.

[NB: I.e., militant statists used the religious traditions and beliefs of the Japanese people as a cynical cover to wield power and maintain it. This is worship of the state, not worship of a creator God. Pretty much the same strategy was used by Hitler and Mussolini.]

Mussolini:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B...

Mussolini said the following:

"Religion is a species of mental disease. It has always had a pathological reaction on mankind."

"The God of the theologians is the creation of their empty heads."

"The history of the saints is mainly the history of insane people."

"When we claim 'God does not exist', we mean to deny by this declaration the personal God of theology, the God worshiped in various ways and divers modes by believers the world over... that God of absurd attributes who is an affront to human reason."

"Science is now in the process of destroying religious dogma. The dogma of the divine creation is recognized as absurd."

"Religious morality shows the original stigmata of authoritarianism precisely because it pretends to be the revelation of divine authority. In order to translate this authoritarianism into action and impose it upon humanity, the priestly class of revealers has sprung up and with it the most atrocious intolerance."

Religious beliefs

Anti-clericalism

Mussolini was raised by a devoutly Catholic mother[106] and an anti-clerical father.[107] His mother Rosa had him baptized into the Roman Catholic Church, and took her children to services every Sunday. His father never attended.[106] Mussolini regarded his time at a religious boarding school as punishment, compared the experience to hell, and "once refused to go to morning mass and had to be dragged there by force".[108]

Mussolini would become anti-clerical like his father. As a young man, he "proclaimed himself to be an atheist and several times tried to shock an audience by calling on God to strike him dead."[107] He denounced socialists who were tolerant of religion, or who had their children baptized. He believed that science had proven there was no God, and that the historical Jesus was ignorant and mad. He considered religion a disease of the psyche, and accused Christianity of promoting resignation and cowardice.[107]

Mussolini was an admirer of Friedrich Nietzsche.* According to Denis Mack Smith, "In Nietzsche he found justification for his crusade against the Christian virtues of humility, resignation, charity, and goodness."[109] He valued Nietzsche's concept of the superman, "The supreme egoist who defied both God and the masses, who despised egalitarianism and democracy, who believed in the weakest going to the wall and pushing them if they did not go fast enough."[109]

Mussolini made vitriolic attacks against Christianity and the Catholic Church, "which he accompanied with provocative and blasphemous remarks about the consecrated host and about a love affair between Christ and Mary Magdalen."[110] He believed that socialists who were Christian or who accepted religious marriage should be expelled from the party. He denounced the Catholic Church for "its authoritarianism and refusal to allow freedom of thought..." Mussolini's newspaper, La Lotta di Classe, reportedly had an anti-Christian editorial stance.[110]

Lateran Pact

Despite making such attacks, Mussolini would try to win popular support by appeasing the Catholic majority in Italy.

[NB: in other words, just as Japanese military fascists used the traditional religion of the Japanese in order to obtain power and hold it, the Italian fascists did the same thing with the traditional religious beliefs of Italians.]

In 1924, Mussolini saw that three of his children were given communion. In 1925, he had a priest perform a religious marriage ceremony for himself and his wife Rachele, whom he had married in a civil ceremony 10 years earlier.[111] On 11 February 1929, he signed a concordat and treaty with the Roman Catholic Church.[112] Under the Lateran Pact, Vatican City was granted independent statehood and placed under Church law—rather than Italian law—and the Catholic religion was recognized as Italy's state religion.[113] The Church also regained authority over marriage, Catholicism could be taught in all secondary schools, birth control and freemasonry were banned, and the clergy received subsidies from the state, and was exempted from taxation.[114][115] Pope Pius XI praised Mussolini, and the official Catholic newspaper pronounced "Italy has been given back to God and God to Italy."[113]

After this conciliation, he claimed the Church was subordinate to the State, and "referred to Catholicism as, in origin, a minor sect that had spread beyond Palestine only because grafted onto the organization of the Roman empire."[112] After the concordat, "he confiscated more issues of Catholic newspapers in the next three months than in the previous seven years."[112]

Mussolini reportedly came close to being excommunicated from the Catholic Church around this time.[112]

Mussolini publicly reconciled with the Pope Pius XI in 1932, but "took care to exclude from the newspapers any photography of himself kneeling or showing deference to the Pope."[112] He wanted to persuade Catholics that "[f]ascism was Catholic and he himself a believer who spent some of each day in prayer..."[112] The Pope began referring to Mussolini as "a man sent by Providence."[110][112] Despite Mussolini's efforts to appear pious, by order of his party, pronouns referring to him "had to be capitalized like those referring to God..."[112]

In 1938 Mussolini began reasserting his anti-clericalism. He would sometimes refer to himself as an "outright disbeliever," and once told his cabinet that "Islam was perhaps a more effective religion than Christianity" and that the "papacy was a malignant tumor in the body of Italy and must 'be rooted out once and for all', because there was no room in Rome for both the Pope and himself."[116] He would publicly back down from these anti-clerical statements, but continued making similar statements in private.

* Well, how 'bout that? So was Ayn Rand.

Crazy

Doug Bandler's picture

I have no doubt that the numbers murdered under various cults of atheism would be about the same even if the particular sect in control had been Objectivism itself with Ayn Rand as the duly elected Goddess of the Market. Gulags and re-education camps would be full of those with ostensibly "malevolent psycho-epistemologies", the litmus-test of which is whether or not they've read (and liked) the Bible, Tolstoy, or perhaps Jack Kerouac; or whether they've heard (and liked) any music other than Rachmaninoff, Scott Joplin, and light operettas by Victor Herbert.

This type of stuff is what discredits you Dazz. You are one very compartmentalized person; very smart in some areas but utterly clogged in others.

Arguing that Rand's politics would lead to mass slaughter is so crazy that its not even worth debating.

As for who killed more: religion or socialism - it doesn't matter. They are both irrational thought systems with a collectivist politics. Socialism is secularized Christianity - specifically secularized Christian altruism. The debate over who killed more, Christianity or 20th totalitarian systems, is a classic case of misdirection - deployed by Christians. If Medieval clerics had 20th century weaponry, they would have racked up quite a number count too. Christianity and socialism are far more similar than they are different.

The oath of allegiance of the German Forces...

Marcus's picture

...from 1934-1945.

"I swear by God this holy oath, that I want to offer unconditional obedience to the Führer of the German Reich and people, Adolf Hitler, the commander-in-chief of the Wehrmacht, and be prepared as a brave soldier to risk my life for this oath at any time."

Exactly...

Marcus's picture

....the dictates of their fascist philosophy did not lead them to denounce religion publicly.

That is exactly why you have to dig these things up!

They were not made public knowledge at the time.

Instead they were all too willing to accept Church backing to stay in power.

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