Low-Grade Opponents of Ayn Rand

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture
Submitted by Kyrel Zantonavitch on Wed, 2012-08-15 13:26

Ayn Rand was a brilliant philosophical innovator. People of low quality who oppose her tend to rather pathetically say that her ideas are both old and false. But this is self-refuting.

Whenever her lowlife opponents admit that one of her brilliant philosophical innovations is true, they generally say either that it's isn't new (she stole or plagiarized it) or that it isn't insightful (a banal and obvious observation any child could make). Whenever her lowlife opponents deny that one of her brilliant philosophical innovations is true, they generally say that it's (obviously) self-contradictory or that it's (absurdly) incoherent. Evidently Rand's thought is a collection of the really trite mixed with the really dumb! Poor Ayn!

But virtually no-one systematically refutes her. It's almost always an act of intellectual intimidation by her lesser opponents. But if she's such a philosophical thief, why not cite the three or four most important ideas she stole, and then point out in a scholarly fashion from who, where, and when she stole them? And if her intellectual claims are so blatantly untrue and self-contradictory, then it should be laughably easy to name her three or four worst mistakes, and then show in a formal and rigorous way how they're deeply ignorant as well as contradictory.

Part of the problem in evaluating the person of Ayn Rand, and understanding her thought, is Rand was never quite as original and innovative as she mostly-sincerely thought and claimed. Considerably more than she knew or admitted, Rand's thought -- and even her intellectual approach, attitude, and psychology -- was hugely part of the Western liberal tradition of Greece/Rome and the Renaissance/Enlightenment. And thus she should have cited these liberal sources and influences more in her work. But she didn't do this partially because she both wanted to claim a bit more than she really accomplished, and partially because she was somewhat unaware of her own philosophic background. Hence there was a bit of offensive and confusing grandiosity in her personality.

But even with a moderate amount of unjust arrogance, Ayn Rand is still the new Aristotle. She's just that intellectually brilliant and innovative, in my view.

This issue is also complicated by the fact that many mainstream illiberal thinkers (i.e. post-modernist conservo-progressives) honestly disagreed with her in her time because they didn't have her level of insight and genius -- but she presumptuously thought that they were mere liars and evaders of reality. As for those who studied Objectivism and understood most of her ideas, and then honestly disagreed with her, she also thought they were liars and evaders of reality -- as well as betrayers of her personally.

Most of those ignorant about Objectivism, and educated about Objectivism, were thus. But a large and hugely important minority were not. What a tragedy that -- based on outrage, indignation, and fury -- Ayn Rand almost always refused to debate them! If she had discriminatingly chosen to debate the intellectual and moral elite from both groups she would have emerged philosophically and personally stronger. And these two phenomena would have sweetly reinforced.

Instead, Rand somewhat deliberately, and somewhat ignorantly, choose to live as a kind of intellectual guru and cult-leader, especially at the end. This makes it easy to cheap-shot and smear her, but her massively important and almost-all-true ideas continue to have an impact.


( categories: )

A couple of interesting commentaries

Tom Burroughes's picture

Brant, I came across this very interesting essay by an academic from Canada by the name of Marc Champagne (he has, among other places, written for the Journal of Ayn Rand studies). He has this essay, in which he skewers the argument that a suicide bomber could be portrayed as an example of ethical egoism. The whole essay is excellent, and it raises a point I just hadn't thought of before in my exchanges here. http://yorku.academia.edu/Marc...

"The actions of a suicidal maniac who wants to take others down with him in a bloodbath are therefore not at all “neutral” or “amoral.”Much the opposite, since I (Marc Champagne) passionately want tolive/flourish, those actions are as bad as bad objectively gets. So if one truly comprehends Rand’s ethical philosophy, it becomes clearthat the most appropriate response to a terse objection like “Whatabout suicide bombers?” is a confident and equally terse assertion“ But, I don’t want to get blown up.”

I seriously recommend the whole piece.

William Thomas also has this to say about suicide, the life/death choice and the foundations of morality, here: http://www.atlassociety.org/su...

In nearly all cases, the proper response to suicide, such as in the case of a person who chooses to end their life due to terrible pain and illness, or suchlike, is deep sadness that such a path was chosen, even though this does not mean that the person concerned despises life as such, as a maniac does. Even in the case of those who willingly sign up for jobs and tasks where the threat to their life his pretty high (emergency services workers, soldiers, oil rig workers, deep sea divers, etc), they do not cheerfully embrace death, as a suicidal terrorist does. (A wise soldier also wants to live another day to defeat more enemies and defend life.)

Get lost

Tom Burroughes's picture

The Pope probably has better facilities.

Eye

Self-evidently crazy

Richard Goode's picture

Also, you made the claim that I would have shouted "filth!" etc at the sight of an earthquake ...

You wrote:

"If an earthquake had caused the collapse of the twin towers, would Burroughes have shouted, "Filth! Unadulterated filth!"?

Does the Pope shit in the woods?

Brant, it is fair to suggest

Tom Burroughes's picture

Brant, it is fair to suggest that people need to be careful in their claims about the morality or evil of a choice and use those words sparingly and accurately. No debate there.

You want a citation, you can have one

Tom Burroughes's picture

You wrote:

"If an earthquake had caused the collapse of the twin towers, would Burroughes have shouted, "Filth! Unadulterated filth!"?

And I made it clear as crystal that I would not have done so, for obvious reasons, given that we need to talk about human will and volition in discussing morality and ethics. A bomber chooses suicide for a mad goal and his action puts him at war with others who DO choose life.

Tom (Atta Boy!)

Brant Gaede's picture

Did I say Atta and co. weren't wicked? I thought I said they didn't think they were wicked.

There is subjectivism in ethics or morality. There is objectivism in ethics or morality. Note the small "o". They co-exist in any person to varying extents with or without conflict. Thinking can manufacture that conflict--thus non-thinking fanaticism. The subjectivism appertains to any single human being. The objectivism appertains to homo sapiens generally. The trick is to mesh the two, if you're inclined--to the extent you can (noting that one's flexible and the other isn't, absent illusion)--most people aren't. This is part and parcel of the quest for human understanding. It's been going on for a while. Any objectivity in ethics needs objective understanding of the human organism qua organism. Human beings being human are all over the (subjective) place. The caveat is Objectivists need to be a lot more modest in their objectivity claims, just like scientists in their science claims. This is because of the tentativeness of knowledge, especially the complicated concept on top on concept stuff, for if you find your edifice is concepts all the way down, you're purely a subjectivist respecting that matter.

--Brant

Tom

Richard Goode's picture

Also, you made the claim that I would have shouted "filth!" etc at the sight of an earthquake

Citation?

Tom

Richard Goode's picture

So if your beliefs and ultimate ends (the afterlife, mass-murder) are self-evidently crazy an unattainable, you are showing rationality by not criticising them?

No, that's not what I said.

The crucial distinction Hume makes is between *beliefs* and *desires*.

Beliefs CAN be irrational. Desires CANNOT be irrational, except in so far as they are subsidiary desires in whose genesis irrational beliefs played a part.

For example, if you desire to get laid by 72 hot virgins for the sake of it, well, that desire in and of itself cannot be commended as rational or condemned as irrational. But if you think martyring yourself is a means to attaining that end, then your desire to martyr yourself can be condemned as irrational because it's a "means insufficient for the end."

It really is, just as Hume says, all "so obvious and natural."

What's the problem?

"self-evidently crazy"

Richard Goode's picture

What's self-evidently crazy about wanting to get laid by 72 hot virgins?

"I think the reason

Tom Burroughes's picture

"I think the reason Objectivists hate on Hume so much is that Hume makes it absolutely clear that, in terms of rationality, one's *ultimate* ends are beyond criticism."

So if your beliefs and ultimate ends (the afterlife, mass-murder) are self-evidently crazy an unattainable, you are showing rationality by not criticising them? My charge of moral relativism, made earlier, stands.

No wonder Rand attacked Hume, at least for this sort of argument. I thought she used to be unfairly harsh on the old Scot, now I think she was actually quite gentle on him, at least on this aspect of his thought.

Ross, let's leave Richard to spin his nonsense on his own. I'm done here.

Why Objectivists hate on Hume

Richard Goode's picture

I think one reason Objectivists hate on Hume so much is that Hume makes it absolutely clear that, in terms of rationality, one's *ultimate* ends are beyond criticism.

Where a passion is neither founded on false suppositions, nor chuses means insufficient for the end, the understanding can neither justify nor condemn it. 'Tis not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger. 'Tis not contrary to reason for me to choose my total ruin, to prevent the least uneasiness of an Indian or person wholly unknown to me. 'Tis as little contrary to reason to prefer even my own acknowledge'd lesser good to my greater, and have a more ardent affection for the former than the latter.

Ross

Richard Goode's picture

are suggesting that an act is justifiable on the basis of a subjective view?

You mean morally justifiable? No.

Richard, you're saying that rationality consists of being true to your beliefs, of following them to their conclusions.

Kind of close. Have a cigar, anyway.

Rationality is multi-faceted. Here's what Hume said

[P]assions can be contrary to reason only so far as they are accompany'd with some judgment or opinion. According to this principle, which is so obvious and natural, 'tis only in two senses, that any affection can be call'd unreasonable. First, when a passion, such as hope or fear, grief or joy, despair or security, is founded on the supposition or the existence of objects, which really do not exist. Secondly, When in exerting any passion in action, we chuse means insufficient for the design'd end, and deceive ourselves in our judgment of causes and effects.

Hume takes a folk psychological approach according to which people have beliefs ("judgments" or "opinions") and desires ("passions" or "affections"). For Hume, rationality in its primary sense has to do with choosing sufficient or optimal means to bring about the satisfaction of ones desired ends. And he identifies two ways in which things can go horribly wrong. (See quote above.)

Strike as champions at the heart of the non-believers
Strike above the neck and at all extremities
When you reach ground zero you will have killed the enemy
The great Satan!

Is that what Mohamed Atta hoped to achieve? If it was, then he acted RATIONALLY. "'Tis only in two senses, that any affection can be call'd unreasonable," and Atta's actions were unreasonable in neither sense.

Smile at the face of God
And your reward will be eternity
Holy warriors
Your patience will be justified
Everything is for Him
God will give victory to his faithful servants

Or is this what Mohamed Atta hoped to achieve? If it was, then he acted IRRATIONALLY. His desires were "founded on the supposition or the existence of objects, which really do not exist."

Truly nasty little fucker, was Mohamed Atta. Who better to say so (and who says it better?) than SLAAAYYYER!

Huh?

Ross Elliot's picture

Is that your concession speech?

Ross

Richard Goode's picture

Promise me you won't run away.

Oh, c'mon, Richard...

Ross Elliot's picture

"If Mohamed Atta is "outside the realm of where morality and ethics applies," then there is no danger at all that he will commit "a wicked act."

...are suggesting that an act is justifiable on the basis of a subjective view? Of course Atta thought he was justified.

But is that the point? Any psycho is justified on that basis. Are they not? Are you suggesting that rationality is contingent upon mere belief? He was perfectly consistent with his beliefs. But were his beliefs rational? You seem to conflate belief with rationality.

Richard, you're saying that rationality consists of being true to your beliefs, of following them to their conclusions. Isn't that just a recipe for anarchism? If I can justify it, I can do it.

Tom

Richard Goode's picture

What I said is that a person who chooses to kill himself (and others) for a non-existent, mad goal is in danger of committing a wicked act, since, as Rand argued, in choosing physical death, the person concerned puts themselves outside the realm of where morality and ethics applies: namely, to where life is held as the ultimate value.

"The person concerned" in this case is Mohamed Atta. (Correct me if I'm wrong about that.)

You describe him as "a person who chooses to kill himself (and others) for a non-existent, mad goal." You go on to say that he "is in danger of committing a wicked act" since, in choosing physical death, he puts himself "outside the realm of where morality and ethics applies."

If Mohamed Atta is "outside the realm of where morality and ethics applies," then there is no danger at all that he will commit "a wicked act."

Tom

Richard Goode's picture

Why are you so arrogant as to refuse to accept you got this wrong or made a mistake?

Just acknowledge your error.

Then we can move on.

Forget it

Tom Burroughes's picture

I will leave it to others to judge who is misinterpreting who then. Bye for now.

Tom

Richard Goode's picture

Also, you made the claim that I would have shouted "filth!" etc at the sight of an earthquake

No, I made no such claim.

Richard, you are twisting my words so much that this is becoming very boring to everyone

No, you are twisting my words. See above for one example of many.

Richard, you are twisting my

Tom Burroughes's picture

Richard, you are twisting my words so much that this is becoming very boring to everyone; I am not going to bother much further beyond a few more words.

"On the one hand, you tell us that the Objectivist ethics DO NOT APPLY to Mohamed Atta. On the other hand, you tell us he committed an act of human will that can be described in terms of WICKEDNESS."

What I said is that a person who chooses to kill himself (and others) for a non-existent, mad goal is in danger of committing a wicked act, since, as Rand argued, in choosing physical death, the person concerned puts themselves outside the realm of where morality and ethics applies: namely, to where life is held as the ultimate value. Take away life as the goal and no valuing can happen. (This also applies to what the writer William Stoddard (a critic of Rand) has called "legacy ethics": where a person aims at leaving a legacy beyond their physical lifespan because they want and hope that people they love and respect will remember them and continue to live in a certain way.) The goal is as important as the means. If you have a crazy goal, that does not automatically mean that your actions will be immoral, but it creates a significant risk of it being so. A reckless person who endangers his life to save another might come close to being immoral if he is more interested in martyrdom than in actually helping someone, but that is very different from someone who despises his own physical life and that of others.

Remember, you argued - for want of a better word - that Atta represented an extreme form of Randian ethics in practice. I responded that this was nuts.

Also, you made the claim that I would have shouted "filth!" etc at the sight of an earthquake, and pointed out, as Ross did, that it is nonsense to take such a view about a natural disaster. Why are you so arrogant as to refuse to accept you got this wrong or made a mistake? I made an error in a response of mine to Brant, and accepted it as part of the misunderstandings you get on internet comment jousts. Show some class.

Brant, Atta and others may not have thought they were wicked. According to their own twisted logic, they were good people. A lot of supremely wicked people sincerely believe they are good people. But as the late Milton Friedman once said, sincerity is a much over-rated virtue. It is actions, and the willingness to think critically about them, and to show honesty in reasoning, that matters.

Brant

Richard Goode's picture

But you could quite easily and pleasurably just plunge in by starting with his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. In fact I recommend you do just that.

Seconded.

Brant

Craig Ceely's picture

I'm sure Tom's book recommendations are quite worthy, and I probably wouldn't mind reading them myself. I've already outed myself here as a non-hater of Hume, after all.

But you could quite easily and pleasurably just plunge in by starting with his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. In fact I recommend you do just that.

Brant

Richard Goode's picture

The 9-11 hijackers didn't think they were wicked.

Tom doesn't think they were wicked either. He thinks that, morally speaking, they're "out of the equation." According to Objectivist ethics, he's quite right. By not making the pre-moral choice of "life," the 9-11 hijackers opted out of morality entirely, according to Objectivist ethics.

But wait! Tom does think they were wicked. He's arrived at a contradiction and he's maintaining it. Sadly, rather than confessing an error in his thinking, he's abdicated his mind and evicted himself from the realm of reality.

Tom

Richard Goode's picture

An earthquake is not [a deliberate act of wickedness]. That is the whole point of why I said it was absurd to describe a natural event as wicked. Ross also made that point.

It was *I* who made the point that an earthquake is not a deliberate act of wickedness.

Very funny - and proves nothing other than you are snide when pressed into the intellectual corner.

It is *you* who is pressed into an intellectual corner.

On the one hand, you tell us that the Objectivist ethics DO NOT APPLY to Mohamed Atta. On the other hand, you tell us he committed an act of human will that can be described in terms of WICKEDNESS.

If you can't see the blatant contradiction in this, staring you in the face, there's something wrong with you.

Thanks

Brant Gaede's picture

Thanks, Tom.

--Brant

wickedness

Brant Gaede's picture

The 9-11 hijackers didn't think they were wicked. Others did. I think what they did was wicked out of what I think is an objective evaluation of that situation. Richard may disagree but maybe not with the idea that wickedness as here referenced is quite complicated with different levels and types of reference. Consider the wickedness of with-holding DDT from the world with tens of millions of consequentially dead babies and half a billion people infected with the malarial parasite. Consider the wickedness of putting corn into gas tanks, driving up its and other grain prices in international markets when many poor people live on a buck a day, spending most of it on food--and now comes this drought.

--Brant

Okay, fair enough

Tom Burroughes's picture

Brant, point accepted. Jousting with Richard carries its risks. I hope he shows more care when using heavy machinery.

The late Anthony Flew wrote some good things on Hume. Here is one:http://www.amazon.com/David-Hume-Philosopher-Moral-Science/dp/0631151958

Another book that might be worth a look:http://books.google.co.uk/books/about/A_Humean_Critique_of_David_Hume_s_Theory.html?id=k1PQN0hON5gC&redir_esc=y

http://humestudies.org/

I have a copy of this at home, and it is full of brilliance:

http://www.econlib.org/library...

Tom

Tom

Brant Gaede's picture

I reached no conclusion that "ethics are logically autonomous." Richard said Hume said that and that's why I used quotation marks. I atempted to counter that proposition without reference to its context.

I'm now going to have to read Hume. I'd like to start with an excellent secondary work on him before I go to the original material. Does anyone have any suggestions?

--Brant

Of course 9/11 was a

Tom Burroughes's picture

"Earthquakes can't be evil, they're "out of the equation."

Very funny - and proves nothing other than you are snide when pressed into the intellectual corner. Behave yourself.

Of course 9/11 was a deliberate act of wickedness; there was nothing remotely natural about it. I said so. Several times. An earthquake is not. That is the whole point of why I said it was absurd to describe a natural event as wicked. Ross also made that point.

As for how I defend free will alongside science, there is a lot more to physical reality than the sort of naively simplistic determinism that comes from a superficial reading of Newton, for example.

Consider this passage from The Fabric of Reality, by David Deutsch, page 338: "The difficulty of reconciling free will with physics is often attributed to determinism, but it is not determinism that is at fault. It is....classical spacetime. In spacetime, something happens to me at each particular moment in my future. It makes no sense to speak of my "changing" what is on that cross-section. Spacetime does not change, therefore, one cannot, within spacetime physics, conceive of causes, effects, the openness of future or free will."

page: 339: "Consider this typical statement referring to free will: `After careful thought I chose to do X; I could have chosen otherwise; it was the right decision; I am good at making such decisions.'.......I am merely pointing out that, thanks to the multiverse character of quantum reality, free will and related concepts are now compatible with physics."

Or this short line from the Atlas Society:http://www.atlassociety.org/objectivist-view-free-will-volition-objectivism-ayn-rand

"Many determinists see themselves as hard-minded advocates of the scientific worldview. But actually there is nothing scientific about rejecting free will. Science is, first and foremost, a set of objective explanations of observable facts. Science explains observable facts; it does not explain them away. And free will is, indubitably, an observable fact.
We observe it through introspection, the inward perception of our own conscious processes."

Tom

Free will

Richard Goode's picture

Free will does not, in my view, require the existence of a Creator, as some have claimed.

What does free will require, Tom? Violations of the laws of physics?

Tom

Richard Goode's picture

Are you normally stupid or are you being deliberately obtuse?

an earthquake is a horrible, real-world event, not an act of human will that can be described in terms of wickedness.

Of course, 9-11 was both.

But my point is that you cannot, by your own lights, describe 9-11 as "an act of human will that can be described in terms of wickedness."

The Objectivist ethics apply and apply only to rational people. By definition, and as how Rand framed it, irrationalists are out of the equation.

Tom

Richard Goode's picture

How can earthquakes be evil, Richard?

Don't be silly, Tom.

Earthquakes can't be evil, they're "out of the equation."

Tom

Richard Goode's picture

Hume is certainly one of the greats ...

We can be friends, after all. Smiling

How can earthquakes be evil, Richard?

Tom Burroughes's picture

Richard writes:

“Burroughes hasn't bothered to read Hume. In particular, he hasn't read the most important words ever written by the greatest philosopher who ever lived, which I posted here and, more recently, here.”

Oh I have read him plenty, Richard, so don't jump to conclusions about what I have or haven't read. (I greatly recommend his political and economic essays; his articles on religion are marvellous also. My central problem is his uber-skepticism, which I believe collapses in upon itself, as even Karl Popper, no objectivist he, pointed out in Objective Knowledge. Hume is certainly one of the greats, if not as great as you claim).

You then quote Hume, but alas, the passage does not do the job you want it to do, namely, to unseat Rand’s point that Man operates in the real world and as a rational creature, faces a basic choice in how to deal with it. And it is right and proper to examine the goal of an actor in examining how this goal is attained. You seem to be using Hume to excuse total moral relativism.

“One further epistemic (or meta-epistemic) principle over which Burroughes rides roughshod is the principle of charity. Why did Mohamed Atta fly a hijacked passenger jet into a skyscraper. Because he was sexually frustrated, right? No, despite what Tom may have you believe, I never suggested that. Blowback, more likely. Or, perhaps, hatred of the good for being good. Or envy. Or ...”

That is absurd. Atta and his fellow mass murderers believed, and their admirers certainly believed, in the possibility of an after-life. No doubt there were other motivations also and apologists for such maniacs, such as the Chomskys et al, have tried to list them. But remember, Richard, you asserted initially that Atta and others like him could somehow be given as examples of Randian ethics in extreme action, and I argued why this made no sense, given what the Randian ethical base is and how the irrational goal of a non-existent fantasy cannot be the base for morality, given how Rand posited what the starting point has to be.

“What I actually suggested was that Atta wanted to score (what he considered to be) "a glorious moral victory against the Great Satan." Did Atta "chuse means insufficient for the design'd end"? No, he chose a commercial airliner. Did Atta "deceive himself in his judgment of causes and effects." Well, no. If anything, he underestimated the impact flying a comercial airliner into one of the twin towers would actually have, viz., total collapse.”

I am sure that Atta, once he had chosen his goal of mass death, was as practical and purposeful as an architect, jet pilot or hospital surgeon. But these person aim at life, at what is real and what is rationally graspable; Atta did not.

“If irrational people (such as Atta, according to Burroughes) are, morally speaking, "out of the equation," then there is no grave danger at all of them being "immoral". If an earthquake had caused the collapse of the twin towers, would Burroughes have shouted, "Filth! Unadulterated filth!"?

No, because an earthquake is a horrible, real-world event, not an act of human will that can be described in terms of wickedness.
Earthquakes and natural disasters: to use the language of morality to talk about a natural disaster is to make a basic category error.

Tom

Thoughts on morals, ethics, etc

Tom Burroughes's picture

"The logical autonomy of ethics" implies both circular reasoning or one being stuck in an epistemological construct or constructs. This makes morality or ethics essentially arbitrary or irrationally "reasonable" or even plastic.” Writes Brant.

I am not sure how you reach the conclusion that ethics are “logically autonomous”, Brant; I should have thought that they cannot be separated from the aims and intentions of human actors. The question is: what is morality/ethics, what are they for and where do they come from? Religions and some duty-ethic philosophies try to answer these questions by essentially saying that morals/ethics are inborn, and put there by something/someone else, such as a god. That is obviously very different from the Objectivist way of putting it.

“Ethics and philosophy flow out of free will.”

I agree that we have free will. Free will does not, in my view, require the existence of a Creator, as some have claimed.

“By referencing human nature we have a chance of coming up with a valid morality and ethics”.

Yes.

“Morality is right and wrong experienced within a person while ethics is morality projected into social relationships including the political ones.”

When you say “experienced within a person”, what exactly does this mean? Does this mean that what is considered moral is something that a person rationally arrives at, or is a sort of innate characteristic standing outside the rational faculty? (This is the view of some intuitionists, like Michael Huemer.)

Tom

(I will respond to Richard Goode a bit later when I am less rushed).

Richard....

Ross Elliot's picture

"If an earthquake had caused the collapse of the twin towers, would Burroughes have shouted, "Filth! Unadulterated filth!"?"

...stop being silly.

Atta had a choice. An earthquake has no such thing.

If you're suggesting that Atta's morality was akin to that of an earthquake then you're forgetting that Atta is human and can make decisions. Earthquakes can't.

Or are you suggesting that Atta is equivalent to an earthquake in that he is driven by forces outside his control?

Public display of irrationality from Burroughes

Richard Goode's picture

Burroughes hasn't bothered to read Hume. In particular, he hasn't read the most important words ever written by the greatest philosopher who ever lived, which I posted here and, more recently, here.

Why would it be rational for someone to actively seek their annihilation in the belief that they can attain the impossible, and unverifiable goal of an afterlife?

If he had, he'd know the answer (mine and Hume's) to his question.

[P]assions can be contrary to reason only so far as they are accompany'd with some judgment or opinion. According to this principle, which is so obvious and natural, 'tis only in two senses, that any affection can be call'd unreasonable. First, when a passion, such as hope or fear, grief or joy, despair or security, is founded on the supposition or the existence of objects, which really do not exist. Secondly, When in exerting any passion in action, we chuse means insufficient for the design'd end, and deceive ourselves in our judgment of causes and effects.

Failure to read and to comprehend the most important words ever written by the greatest philosopher who ever lived is, self-evidently, failure to evince the virtue of scholarship, which is one of the Twelve Virtues of Rationality.

One further epistemic (or meta-epistemic) principle over which Burroughes rides roughshod is the principle of charity. Why did Mohamed Atta fly a hijacked passenger jet into a skyscraper. Because he was sexually frustrated, right? No, despite what Tom may have you believe, I never suggested that. Blowback, more likely. Or, perhaps, hatred of the good for being good. Or envy. Or ...

[P]assions can be contrary to reason only so far as they are accompany'd with some judgment or opinion. According to this principle, which is so obvious and natural, 'tis only in two senses, that any affection can be call'd unreasonable. First, when a passion, such as hope or fear, grief or joy, despair or security, is founded on the supposition or the existence of objects, which really do not exist. Secondly, When in exerting any passion in action, we chuse means insufficient for the design'd end, and deceive ourselves in our judgment of causes and effects.

What I actually suggested was that Atta wanted to score (what he considered to be) "a glorious moral victory against the Great Satan." Did Atta "chuse means insufficient for the design'd end"? No, he chose a commercial airliner. Did Atta "deceive himself in his judgment of causes and effects." Well, no. If anything, he underestimated the impact flying a commercial airliner into one of the twin towers would actually have, viz., total collapse.

Note, also, how Burroughes manages to contradict himself in the space of two sentences.

I pointed out that a goal that is irrational and unattainable (an afterlife) means that any action towards it must carry the grave danger of being immoral (ie. a threat to a person's existence and ability to live and flourish). The Objectivist ethics apply and apply only to rational people. By definition, and as how Rand framed it, irrationalists are out of the equation.

If irrational people (such as Atta, according to Burroughes) are, morally speaking, "out of the equation," then there is no grave danger at all of them being "immoral". If an earthquake had caused the collapse of the twin towers, would Burroughes have shouted, "Filth! Unadulterated filth!"?

Oh

Brant Gaede's picture

"The logical autonomy of ethics" implies both circular reasoning or one being stuck in an epistemological construct or constructs. This makes morality or ethics essentially arbitrary or irrationally "reasonable" or even plastic. Ethics and philosophy flow out of free will. No free will then they are an illusion: we are fooling ourselves as being non-determined in a deterministic universe. But we can accept determinism if we see it as a giant hand holding up conceptual thinkers who are only determined by particular constraints of physical reality including their own nature( s ). By referencing human nature we have a chance of coming up with a valid morality and ethics. Morality is right and wrong experienced within a person while ethics is morality projected into social relationships including the political ones. All ethics is morality and only part of morality is ethics. Ethics is the derivative concept. Or, considering the generality of human nature, which must be IDed, then X moralty and Y ethics would be valid if--big if--it is supportive of human life. All the is-ought problem is is question begging as to what is right in morality and wrong in ethics. It's a smokescreen and I don't know why Objectivists are blowing more smoke by bragging how they solved the problem as if it ever were a real problem to begin with. It's like riding on the prestige of Hume's coat-tails.

--Brant

This is pretty lame by Goode

Tom Burroughes's picture

Why would it be rational for someone to actively seek their annihilation in the belief that they can attain the impossible, and unverifiable goal of an afterlife? I mean, given there is, and never has been, any hard evidence of it, despite the occasional claim to have seen ghosts.

Richard did not use "God" as an argument, but he did say that if a person chooses to die in order to meet his imaginary pal in his head (Allah), that this, according to Goode, meant that the person "ought" to do X (such as killing thousands and himself). I pointed out that a goal that is irrational and unattainable (an afterlife) means that any action towards it must carry the grave danger of being immoral (ie. a threat to a person's existence and ability to live and flourish). The Objectivist ethics apply and apply only to rational people. By definition, and as how Rand framed it, irrationalists are out of the equation.

Goode claimed - without clear reasoning - that the "oughts" that come out of what a person needs to live and flourish are "uninteresting". Well, they may be boring to him, but that's hardly proof, is it? One might as well say that some of the virtues required by "duty ethic" codes are also "uninteresting". I am pretty dulled out by the supposed virtue of self-sacrifice, let me tell you.

Brant: I have already dealt with the overlap issue, as have others. Apart from integrity, I cannot really think of a serious cross-over and in fact there are clear conflicts (reason vs faith, etc).

As to whether Rand and her ideas are being "torn to pieces" by the internet, as Brant claims, I might just as well reply that the internet enables people to respond to those criticisms as never before. It is a two-way street. In some ways, the internet is a positive boon to such ideas, I should have thought.

Brant

Richard Goode's picture

Goode doesn't really use God as an argument unless he's engaged on that level, so consider what he is saying sans God.

Ought we not consider Goode's arguments considering what they is?

Thank you.

If Rand solved the is-ought problem--is there really a problem?

Hume established what moral philosophers refer to as the logical autonomy of ethics. What this means is simply that no moral conclusion can be validly deduced from non-moral premises. Problem? I report, you decide.

Brant

Richard Goode's picture

Perhaps the is-ought problematic problem might be solved--with a gun.

Great minds think alike.

Hume

Richard Goode's picture

I think you've nailed Rand's epoch-making significance. With other thinkers we got grab-bag intimations of reason in epistemology, ... individualism in ethics and freedom in politics; in Rand they were all validated and integrated into an original and irresistible whole.

Nothing is more usual and more natural for those, who pretend to discover anything new to the world in philosophy and the sciences, than to insinuate the praises of their own systems, by decrying all those, which have been advanced before them.

is-ought-why-rational

Brant Gaede's picture

"Rational to whom"? To whomever thinks it's "rational." And sometimes it's rational to be irrational. Chew on that a while or "rational" it away right away.

Perhaps the is-ought problematic problem might be solved--with a gun. I have a gun. You ought to do what I say so I don't shoot and kill you. By introducing compulsion I am traducing free will--aka your freedom. Facts are facts (A is A) and are immutable assuming they aren't fancied up, but ought to do is optional. Mixing up facts with that seems contradictory in the context of freedom. That's political and personal freedom from compulsion from our fellow humanoids. Now, in our land of the free we are not free to act against facts without destructive consequences. You can do that and I can pull that trigger. Or, you can go skydiving without a parachute, which you ought not to do if you don't want to die. So, if we want to live facts being as they are we ought to do things--or not do things--a certain way and not other ways. I want to get laid so I ought to study how to get laid, if I haven't already. With "ought" there is always a choice and all choices are moral and morality is about control. It's either imposed by you or existentially but generally it's always an admixture. This is true of philosophy, the software of the mind. Facts are essentially a matter of science, but a broader and deeper science that flows into and out of a certain philosophical base supposed to be common with axiomatic Objectivism, but only a properly understood Objectivism. We need ask ourselves how "Introduction to Objectivist epistemology" informs scientific methodology for if it doesn't it's only a word salad.

Absent compulsion, why is there an is-ought problem? Over seven billion people don't have this problem. I don't. The only problem is making best choices and knowing why they are the best choices and acting respecting those with courage and integrity using our brains to evaluate the data as best we can, always aware that for unknown or unforeseen reasons no matter how rational, good and courageous we are our choices may result in disaster. That's where calculated risk comes into all this. Life is risky and no one can avoid all the risks. In the 1970s the data told me I ought to move to Lo Angeles. I couldn't. If I had I'd almost certainly be dead by now. I went to war and was almost killed. If I had volunteered for more war instead of coming home and leaving the army I'd probably be dead with my name on that wall in Washington. In the latter case rationality worked for me, in the former, it wouldn't have.

--Brant

Tom

Richard Goode's picture

Her morality is about what a rational human needs for successful life on earth.

Rational according to whom?

According to Hume

'Tis not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger. 'Tis not contrary to reason for me to choose my total ruin, to prevent the least uneasiness of an Indian or person wholly unknown to me. 'Tis as little contrary to reason to prefer even my own acknowledge'd lesser good to my greater, and have a more ardent affection for the former than the latter.

Richard's chaotic logic on full display

Tom Burroughes's picture

Richard, your attempt to slap down Ayn’s derivation of morality from her initial choice of life vs death with the example of a suicide bomber fails totally.

Her morality is about what a rational human needs for successful life on earth. She is talking about reality. She did not say, “Man has three choices: life, death or an after-life where you get to shag 72 virgins after having blown up lower Manhattan”. A suicidal religious fanatic falls outside her starting point of choosing to live or die, because to crave death in the hope of an after-life is to seek the irrational, the impossible. What is irrational cannot be a goal that a rational person can seek to pursue and cannot be a foundation for morality in this Universe. So to argue, as you try to do, that the 9/11 mass-murderers were somehow living out a version of the Objectivist ethics says more about your own chaotic reasoning skills and unseriousness than it does about such ethics.

Of course, the example of the suicide bomber (or “homicide bomber”, as the late Christopher Hitchens used to describe them) certainly does point to one of the most vicious aspects of belief systems where the unattainable and irrational goal of an after-life can lead. Think of the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Thirty Years’ War, or more recent outbreaks of Islamic repression in the Middle East, parts of Indonesia, West Africa, South Sudan, and so on. Or think of the “secular” religions of Marxism and Fascism, which partook of a sort of Millenarian approach of how we were on some “inevitable” journey to a utopian final resting place. Of course, just as acts of unspeakable cruelty are carried out by people who delude themselves about irrational goals in this way, so also are some good acts too, such as the bravery of soldiers defending freedom that they think, mistakenly, are created by God. But while a person can do good for irrational purposes, such an act always operates under a shadow of the irrational starting point and can tip over into horror.

Life is both a source of values and a reward of them; by life, I am not, as Tara Smith likes to say, just talking about not dying. I like how she puts it in Viable Values, page 106: “While `the choice to live,” then, may carry the misleading connotation of a single, momentous decision, what is essential is that this is a choice insofar as a person has alternatives. It is a constant choice. People can and do sometimes choose not to carry on. Suicide is a genuine option, as all sorts of less definitive self-destructive options. While the `embrace’ of life might better suggest the wide-ranging activities that a person is affirming, in maintaining his life, `choice’ conveys the presence of alternatives. The important is, the choice is real. We are not fated, irrevocably, to live.”

Of course, this argument is complicated, and it took me a while to get to grips with it in all its subtler aspects. I am aware of how ethical egoism repels those who, almost without realising it, imbue morality as a set of commands issued by a certain authority (their parents, their priest, senior teacher, sergeant, monarch, “proletariat”, public “opinion” or whatever). But all these form of duty ethics, whether expressed in the desiccated prose of Kant, or more lyrical form of the Book of Common Prayer, are ethics that ultimately commit the fallacy of argument from authority. And that is not really an argument at all. Rand went outside this realm to ask what morality is for in the first place, rather than to accept whatever is held as moral as a sort of external “given”. And of course this point of views scares some people who wonder what might happen. But given the appalling history of “duty ethics” when, for example, they are combined with the technological powers of a modern, collectivist state and allied with fanatical belief in an afterlife, those who mock Rand’s argument would do well to exercise precisely the sort of humility they like to lecture us about.

Ah, but Richard...

Craig Ceely's picture

As you say, tails ain't legs.

Heads we win ...

Richard Goode's picture

... legs you lose.

Same ratio

Richard Goode's picture

1:0, 2:0, 3:0 ...

Ah

Craig Ceely's picture

Well then, you've got the score wrong, and I'm right in my critique of the scorekeeper.

Your titles, well....as you wish. Smiling

Oh...

ding_an_sich's picture

it does involve score and not members. I was talking about changing our title from "low-grade" to "high-grade" opponents of Ayn Rand. Smiling

You know

Brant Gaede's picture

Goode doesn't really use God as an argument unless he's engaged on that level, so consider what he is saying sans God.

Rand did claim too much for herself and some of her followers have trumped even her that way. Objectivism is 95% cultural, 5% intellectual. If you have to study it for years you are studying its cultural catechism.

All Rand did with Objectivist ethics and/or morality was rend ethics out of the monopolistic hands of religious and secular authorities. There sure is a great overlap in Christian and Objectivist virtues. A virtue is a virtue, right?--objectively speaking. She was right with the basic principle, not denoted by her corruption of "selfishness," but with a morality of rational self interest.

Randian heroes were basically conventional heroes. Consider the heroes' self-sacrifice in letting Dagny go her own way while they went on strike to save the world--a strike, ironically, not against political and moral collectivism, but their own heroism. Nobody's being a hero in Galt's Gulch. The need for heroisn is on the outside, in the real world.

Ought we not consider Goode's arguments considering what they is?

If Rand solved the is-ought problem--is there really a problem?--then she followed in the footsteps of uncounted millions. If she didn't, who did? I've never begun to understand this "problem." Whatever it is, does science need it solved?

Yes, Rand was essentially an empiricist--however, once she got on board her Objectivist ship she defended it with deductive reasoning out of her basic principles, which was the real source of her certainty and the power of her reasoning. The Internet age is tearing her to pieces in some respects and she could not have personally stood up to it, just as Peikoff and Binswanger cannot stand up to it.

--Brant

Oh what a tangled web we see...

Craig Ceely's picture

...when we fall victim to amphiboly!

Wouldn't cast you as anything other than opponents -- I thought the reference was to points scored by each side, not to the number of opponents.

I'm pretty sure...

ding_an_sich's picture

Dr. Goode and I are high-grade opponents of Ayn Rand. Sticking out tongue

standards....

Craig Ceely's picture

That's what we get for engaging a scorekeeper with inadequate math skills...

1 : 0

Richard Goode's picture

Low-Grade Opponents of Ayn Rand vs. Top-Notch Disciples of Ayn Rand

I would have to agree with Dr. Goode

ding_an_sich's picture

These hypothetical normative statements aren't particularly, well, normative. There needs to be a better criterion for determining what man ought to do.

given a,b,c,...,n, we can infer inductively that man ought to do p.

I'm sure that we have to go back to Rand's epistemology in order to determine this; but, if it is the case that Rand's epistemology cannot give sufficient grounds for inferring what man ought to do, then this has been a waste of time for all parties involved. And I will argue later on that Rand's epistemology cannot give sufficient (or necessary) grounds for her ethics, precisely because her epistemology is filled with an assortment of problems.

What...

ding_an_sich's picture

makes a living entity a living entity? And, no, it's not values. That's secondary at best for higher gradations of objects, which include conscious entities such as ourselves.

Tom

Richard Goode's picture

one can, by looking at what sort of creature Man is, think through as to what sort of ethics Man needs to thrive and flourish. ...

I can observe that Man has certain requirements if he chooses to live and flourish. I can clearly think through normative "oughts" as a result.

Is that the best you've got?

The problem is that the resulting oughts are not moral oughts. They're not even normative oughts in any genuine sense. They're hypothetical oughts.

*If* you choose to "live" and "flourish", *then* perhaps certain uninteresting conclusions follow about what you ought to do.

You know, if I want to vote, then I ought to register to do so. Well, duh.

TOE is a faux moral philosophy. A "How to" manual is all it is.

*If* you choose to martyr yourself in the cause of jihad and die in a fireball of office stationery and aviation fuel, *then* you ought to hijack a plane and fly it into a tower block.

According to Rand, Mohamed Atta is a moral saint. He did what he ought to have done, given his choice to submit to Allah. (You cannot criticise Atta on moral grounds for not choosing life. The choice of life is a pre-moral choice.)

According to Rand, the destruction of the twin towers was a glorious moral victory against the Great Satan. (Think about that.)

Premises and conclusions

Richard Goode's picture

"Rand's conclusions do not follow from her premises. ..."

Give an example and work it through to explain your reasoning and I will be happy to respond.

Tom, do you want me to give an example and "work it through" to explain Rand's fallacious non-reasoning?

Better, I think, for you to give an example where Rand's conclusion(s) do(es) follow from her premise(s). (If you can find one.)

Best of all, I think, for you to demonstrate how Rand derived an "ought" from an "is". (This will be a world first, so I expect a great deal of fanfare. Culminating in a non-event.)

Plagiarism and The Objectivist Church

Craig Ceely's picture

(First two lists from A Prayer Book for Orthodox Christians, copyright 1956 by the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America)

The Seven Grievous Sins

1. Pride
2. Greed
3. Lust
4. Anger
5. Gluttony
6. Envy
7. Sloth

The Seven Capital Virtues

1. Humility
2. Liberality
3. Chastity
4. Mildness
5. Temperance
6. Happiness
7. Diligence

The Objectivist Virtues

1. Rationality
2. Independence
3. Integrity
4. Honesty
5. Justice
6. Productiveness
7. Pride

So yes, Richard Goode is absolutely correct: the Objectivist virtues are clearly the same, or at least plagiarized, from Christianity. Anyone can see that. Of course, you have to really, really squint.

There's also, since we've been outed as a Church, the Holy Trinity: Reason -- Purpose -- Self-Esteem.

Ah, and then there are my two decorative Egyptian book stands, brought back from Alexandria. They're each designed to hold a large Qur'an, but of course one of mine holds Altas Shrugged, and the other holds a copy of Human Action.

What's strange is...

Marcus's picture

...I've heard people talking about the Protestant Work Ethic in the past as a given.

I've never heard one person, religious protestant or otherwise, ever preach it as a virtue though.

I guess the closest I've come to it would be the common phrase, "idle hands make the devil's work".

However that's only ever been said tongue-in-cheek, never seriously.

Work ethics

Tom Burroughes's picture

Back on the more substantive point about Christian attitudes toward to work, a number of writers have, of course, reflected on issues such as the Protestant Worth Ethic thesis of Weber and others. It is, however, hard to see how a joyless approach to work, that exalts work for its own sake - regardless of the enjoyment at the results or process - can be remotely akin to how Rand talked about the virtue of productive work, given her own approach.

Indeed, it is possible to argue that many of the early Fabian socialists, such as the Webbs and so on, had a sort of PWE approach, particularly as a PWE approach seems to fit with notions of sacrifice. Stalin's Russia even seemed to have a sort of secularised version of this PwE, where one worked, not for self-enrichment and happiness, but for the state, or proletariat, or somesuch. What is key to Rand's approach to work is that it sits within a broader framework of values which exalt the individual and his/her entitlement to pursue happiness as they see it.

As I said before, the only virtue that overlaps in any significant way is integrity. But that applies to many other philosophies.

Virtues

Richard Goode's picture

One more to add to the list ... KASSness. Smiling

Plagiarism?!

Richard Goode's picture

the Christian virtues of rationality, honesty, justice, independence, integrity, productiveness, self-esteem, and so on.

The Objectivist virtues are: rationality, independence, integrity, honesty, justice, productiveness, and pride.

Plagiarism?! Evil

Erm ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

The Objectivist virtues (with the notable exception of pride) are a subset of the Christian virtues

The Objectivist virtues are: rationality, independence, integrity, honesty, justice, productiveness, and pride.

The Goblian virtues are: faith (irrationality), parasitism, hypocrisy, wishful thinking, injustice of unimaginable magnitude, indolence and humility. The Objectivist virtues are antipodes of Goblian "virtues." All of them. No exceptions, notable or otherwise.

Hideously ungrammatical

Richard Goode's picture

C/f Rand:

No self-respecting goblin fetishist would allow itself to be polluted by contemporary airheadery and illiteracy.

Linz

Richard Goode's picture

I can't wait till Baade gets to pride.

I already did.

The Objectivist virtues (with the notable exception of pride) are a subset of the Christian virtues, as I argue here.

What part of 'notable exception' don't you understand?

Tom

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I can't wait till Baade gets to pride. Will he take issue with C. S. Lewis?

"According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind."

C/f Rand:

"Pride is the recognition of the fact that you are your own highest value and, like all of man’s values, it has to be earned—that of any achievements open to you, the one that makes all others possible is the creation of your own character—that your character, your actions, your desires, your emotions are the products of the premises held by your mind—that as man must produce the physical values he needs to sustain his life, so he must acquire the values of character that make his life worth sustaining—that as man is a being of self-made wealth, so he is a being of self-made soul—that to live requires a sense of self-value, but man, who has no automatic values, has no automatic sense of self-esteem and must earn it by shaping his soul in the image of his moral ideal, in the image of Man, the rational being he is born able to create, but must create by choice—that the first precondition of self-esteem is that radiant selfishness of soul which desires the best in all things, in values of matter and spirit, a soul that seeks above all else to achieve its own moral perfection, valuing nothing higher than itself—and that the proof of an achieved self-esteem is your soul’s shudder of contempt and rebellion against the role of a sacrificial animal, against the vile impertinence of any creed that proposes to immolate the irreplaceable value which is your consciousness and the incomparable glory which is your existence to the blind evasions and the stagnant decay of others."

Linz

Richard Goode's picture

No self-respecting goblin would allow itself to be polluted by contemporary airheadery and illiteracy.

Try this instead.

My new pick-up line is, "Do you wear a head scarf in church?"

The Christian work ethic (and

Tom Burroughes's picture

The Christian work ethic (and let's not forget the whole Weberian Protestant work ethic) is a different beast from productiveness as Rand understood it. Don't conflate the two. The purpose of productiveness is to acquire the things and services that one needs to live and flourish and be happy on this Earth. That's not at all the same as the stiff-necked approach of the kind of approach you cite in those links, which seems to honour work almost as an end it itself. The "purpose" of work on Christian grounds seems to be a very different thing.

Shudder

Lindsay Perigo's picture

"Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need."

Hideously ungrammatical. For that reason alone it can't be taken seriously. No self-respecting goblin would allow itself to be polluted by contemporary airheadery and illiteracy. And note the rationale for work: to have something to share with those in need. The philosophy that upholds "a man's right to exist for his own sake" is derived from that filth?!

Of course Tom is right at the fundamental level: faith and reason are opposites, so Goblianity and Objectivism are opposites also.

Tom

Richard Goode's picture

The virtue of productiveness: this is at odds with religion and its disdain in general for wealth creation and material satisfaction;

Heard of the Christian work ethic?

Ephesians 4:28

2 Thessalonians 3:10

John 5:17

Conclusions and premises

Tom Burroughes's picture

"Rand's conclusions do not follow from her premises. This is not to say that Rand's conclusions are false. It is just to say that her conclusions do not follow from her premises."

Give an example and work it through to explain your reasoning and I will be happy to respond. (Putting up a link to Wikileaks doesn't count).

"Non sequitur is Latin for

Tom Burroughes's picture

"Non sequitur is Latin for "it does not follow."

I know that.

"Objectivist ethics is based on Christianity. And a good thing that is, too. Rand's NIOF principle is Objectivism's redeeming feature."

It isn't and I have explained that before (to which you did not respond). To save you the effort of going back down the thread, I repeat:

The virtue of productiveness: this is at odds with religion and its disdain in general for wealth creation and material satisfaction;
Pride: at odds with humility and self-abasement before a Supreme Being;
Rationality: at odds with faith in an afterlife, miracles, and other such;
Justice: at odds with the idea of mercy, as religious people hold that justice is ultimately none of Man's business, but God's;
Independence: at odds with the idea that Man ultimately owes it all to God.

Your assertion that Rand's ethics can be derived from Christianity is, therefore unfounded.

Tom

Richard Goode's picture

Yes I know what it is.

No, I don't think you do.

Non sequitur is Latin for "it does not follow."

*All* logical fallacies are non sequiturs. (There is one exception. I leave identifying that exception as an exercise for the reader.)

Rand's conclusions do not follow from her premises. This is not to say that Rand's conclusions are false. It is just to say that her conclusions do not follow from her premises.

You, earlier, claimed ... that certain of Rand's ideas are derived from religion. Ergo, a philosophy that you mock endlessly with your asinine comments is, on your view, partly based on religion.

Yes, indeed. (And there you have the exception I just referred to.)

Objectivist ethics is based on Christianity. And a good thing that is, too. Rand's NIOF principle is Objectivism's redeeming feature.

You, earlier, claimed (on the basis of nil evidence) ...

I gave an argument. One which, so far, you have not addressed. Run along now ...

Yes I know

Tom Burroughes's picture

Yes I know what it is.

You state that Objectivism is one big non-sequitur. You, earlier, claimed (on the basis of nil evidence) that certain of Rand's ideas are derived from religion. Ergo, a philosophy that you mock endlessly with your asinine comments is, on your view, partly based on religion.

You are not a serious debater but nothing better than a prankster. Run along and confess to a priest, or whatever it is you do in your spare time.

"It's like intelligent

Tom Burroughes's picture

"It's like intelligent design, a buck each way."

And of course Pascal, the old French dude, explicitly took the approach of a hedge fund manager approaching sub-prime debt to cover his intellectual arse.

Tom...

Ross Elliot's picture

...Richard's one of those who seek to rationalise the bible.

That is, you don't take it on faith, you justify it. So now it all seems so much more reasonable. It's like intelligent design, a buck each way.

I once had a conversation with a Jehovah's Witness over their admonition of blood transfusions. Not for one second did the JH try to justify their belief upon the altar of any science, although they could have made some good points regarding screening, safety, etc.

No, they said their reading of the bible forbade them to accept a blood transfusion. Now that's principle. Dumb, but principled.

Tom

Richard Goode's picture

Do you actually know what a non sequitur is? (Hint: you just committed one.)

Richard shoots himself in the foot - again

Tom Burroughes's picture

"I would say that Rand's entire philosophy is an astonishing example of a non-sequitur."

Writes a man who implausibly claimed on this board earlier on, that Rand took most, if not all, of her ideas on ethics from Christianity, a religion of which Mr Goode purports to believe in. So by this logic, his own professed religion is based on a lot of such non-sequiturs also.

Oh, Craig

Richard Goode's picture

Deep in your heart, do you believe that one ought to choose life?

This is correct...

Ross Elliot's picture

"That "is" is there, but the "ought" is not forced on you. There's an "ought" implied, but you needn't take notice of it."

...as I mentioned below.

And it speaks to subjectivism.

We shall overcome the Humean challenge ...

Richard Goode's picture

... we are not afraid today!

We shall overcome Hume's gap ...

Richard Goode's picture

... some day.

Craig

Richard Goode's picture

I'm not sure whether No, Richard, I can't is an advance on I Have Done That or not ...

Richard, you wrote: "She did?

Craig Ceely's picture

Richard, you wrote: "She did? 'Tis necessary that it shou'd be observ'd and explain'd."

Well done!

You went on with:

"Can you present Rand's derivation of an "ought" from an "is" formally, with clearly labeled premises and a clearly labeled conclusion?"

No, Richard, I can't. That would be deduction, which was Hume's mistake, as opposed to induction, which was how Rand overcame the Humean challenge. I refer you instead to the previously mentioned Objectivist literature, with which you seem to be familiar.

Craig

Richard Goode's picture

But overcoming Hume's gap? Yes, I think she clearly did.

She did? 'Tis necessary that it shou'd be observ'd and explain'd.

Can you present Rand's derivation of an "ought" from an "is" formally, with clearly labeled premises and a clearly labeled conclusion?

Sorry, Richard...

Craig Ceely's picture

I think the Empress, as you have her, is still wearing the regal purple (or more likely, as was her wont, something blue-green).

I do hold Hume in rather higher regard than do many other Objectivists (yeah, I'm watching my back), but I think she got him on this one, and I admire her for it.

As for the cloaks, hey, theirs to do with as they will.

And I'll take the small branches of trees -- I've three dogs needing chewing materials.

But overcoming Hume's gap? Yes, I think she clearly did.

EDIT: And Richard, please, even the quote you yourself chose from Hume explains some of the how and why. Hume himself refers to "observ'd and explain'd," and then immediately falls back upon "a deduction." Unless you think that Hume used "deduction" as totally synonymous with all reasoning? I think more highly of Hume than that.

Craig

Richard Goode's picture

Rand's approach to Hume's "is/ought" gap succeeds by being inductive, as opposed to Hume's assumed deductive, syllogistic approach.

My point is that the Empress wears no clothes.

Rand never bridged Hume's "is/ought" gap. (Although I'm sure her "approach" was triumphal, and that people laid down their cloaks in front of her, and also small branches of trees.)

In every system of morality, which I have hitherto met with, I have always remark'd, that the author proceeds for some time in the ordinary ways of reasoning, and establishes the being of a God, or makes observations concerning human affairs; when all of a sudden I am surpriz'd to find, that instead of the usual copulations of propositions, is, and is not, I meet with no proposition that is not connected with an ought, or an ought not. This change is imperceptible; but is however, of the last consequence. For as this ought, or ought not, expresses some new relation or affirmation, 'tis necessary that it shou'd be observ'd and explain'd; and at the same time that a reason should be given; for what seems altogether inconceivable, how this new relation can be a deduction from others, which are entirely different from it.

Language Barrier: PTDE

Craig Ceely's picture

Okay, so you were employing your Perigo Turandot Derangement English from a few years back, when, in writing "I didn't hear anything," you meant "I remain unconvinced." All right, you remain unconvinced. Fair enough.

On my part, no, it's true, now that I give it another listen, she didn't bring it quite down to the level of Peikoff's lawn or Tom's dark brown piece of wood, but she did end her answer by saying that man still must choose, which is the crux of the matter. As I tried to make clear in my initial response to Tom, the is doesn't necessarily create an ought, it implies one: there must be a valuer. Only a thinker, a valuer, a chooser, can recognize an implication and act on it (or not). Choices must be made.

You, Linz, needn't be that valuer. Or you could choose to reject whatever's offered (Tom could choose not to make that guitar, or deck chair, or whatever). You might hear of a terrible tornado in Lawton, Oklahoma: doesn't create an "ought" for you, as you might be in Timaru or Timbuktu. But it's there. That "is" is there, but the "ought" is not forced on you. There's an "ought" implied, but you needn't take notice of it. Again, this is not Kant. It's not universal.

Rand, Branden, and Peikoff (in OPAR) discuss this at a fairly high level (where I think you still agree with them); Binswanger puts it into the context of biology and teleology; Peikoff in his discussion group (which I believe included Valliant) and in his 1989 Moral Virtue lectures brings it down to the very concrete level, which you mock, of the number of blades of grass in his own lawn. I find it convincing. You don't. But I don't see it as rationalistic, nor as a non-sequitur.

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