Friday, February 16, 2007

Objectivism Redux

Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling writes:

Heavens, thirty-four comments and a few blog links, I am impressed. I'll try to address some of your points to sort of wrap things up (although you're all most welcome to keep on going).

I don't agree with your objection to "sheeple" so much, I kind of like it, along with "Helengrad" and "Nanny State" because it confronts people without, being abusive or over the top. And Objectivism does belive in fallibility. They just don't shout it from the rooftops so much.

My take is that Objectivism is a virtue based ethic, because rights come after the virtues, and you have a fair way to go before you even get to the virtues.

Rand starts off with the question "What gives rise to ethics". From there she goes on to the fact that Life is a conditional form of existence, that human beings have free will, and that human life is the standard of moral values. To go to the next step, the virtues, you have to make the choice to live. If you chose "Yes", then you move on to the sort of actions that you must take to sustain your life. If "No," then you can stop here..

The Values in Objectivism are Reason, Purpose, and Self Esteem. After the Values come the Virtues. Virtuous, acts involving Rationality, Independence, Integrity, Honesty, Justice, Productiveness, Pride, The Trader Principle, and Benevolence, are that enable us to keep our values. After this, and after establishing Rand's concepotion of Egoism, do we move on to Rights. Objectivism defines Rights as a moral concept that defines how individuals should act towards each other in order that each person can freely act out the virtues and values.

Rights come a fair way through the system, before the virtues, which themsel;ves come after a fair bit of (dare I say it) philosophical work, and so I would term Objectivism as more virtues than rights based. But I think your misunderstanding serves my point well. Objectivists spend far too much time banging on about Rights, and not enough on establishing why and they are rights, and on living out the virtues - especially benevolence and the Trader Principle - themselves.

That Morthos Stare.
Sure Perigo was a pratt here, but as Josh points out Nola was hardly at his best either. Perigo, to be fair, does have good quailities. The fact that there is libertarianism in New Zealand to the extent that it is - my guess is there are around 6,000 of us - for starters, the Libertarianz political party, the Free Radical magazine, "sheeple" and "Helengrad".

I look forward to your take on Objectivist Epistemology. I haven't looked at it much myself, the ethics and politics are more my thing.

Apathy Jack.
Good story, and one where Bates provides an excellent example of how to make sure your political philosophy never gets any traction. Simply don't show any interest in solving the problems people have with it.

Far too many libertarians, myself included as I have done the same thing Bates did, make no effort at persuasion. You need to sell your ideas to your audience, you can't just be an arse and hope that the truth of your conclusion will do all the work, fighting through your lack of argument and hopeless presentation. Effective persuasion is as simple as following Harry Browne's points here.


And, personally, I refuse to believe that "Freedom" just refers to paying less income tax.

It doesn't. It does to the National Party, who are happy to keep government the same size but with less income tax, but to a libertarian "freedom" is less income tax, but also a much smaller government. And of all the viewpoints on the spectrum I would class a liertarian as the least likely to sell his principles out.


One problem with libertarianism is that it's unattractive to most rational voters.

True. And libertarianism is unattractive to most rational voters because libertarians are often unattractive to most rational voters - the explanation of why being the point of this exercise :-). You are right later on where you claim that people often benefit from government services - they do, and they will keep voting for government services unless the libertarian manages to sell them the idea that not only will those services still run under a libertarian system, but they will be better, cheaper, more efficient, and moral.


I think you go too far, at least with how the party is at present. If you go to the Libz site and look at the people currently involved you would find an overwhelming majority of good people. Bernard and Julian are of very high calibre, as is Scott Wilson and yes even Peter Cresswell (despite his odd irritating snipes at academic philosophy). Bates is a good guy as well, and Nik Haden also came across as perfectly sane when interviewed about his census burning on the radio.


I think your first point is correct. From what I have gathered Objectivists don't like how in Philosophy you spend a semester being presented with all sorts of viewpoints and arguments, be it in ethics or philosophy of mind or whatever. To them, Philosophy is pretty much settled now and it should be taught as a science like geology where you learn how the world works.

Re: Humanism, you might find this interesting. I don't know how you can put Humanism in the same cluster as Marxism and Objectivism myself, Humanists don't actually believe in anything. You might not like Objectivism but at least there is something there.


Firstly, Objectivism is not a cult. This explains why not. Unfortunately the orginal seems to have been taken down, so a google cache is all I could find.

Discussion between Duncan / Josh / That Morthos Stare / Rick.

Duncan, thank you for coming in to bat for Objectivism (lighten up about the cartoon though).

Josh, I think Objectivism puts certainty and context together by saying that something is "contextally absolute", as in "to the best of our knowledge at this time 'x' is the truth". But I haven't relly studied Objectivist epistemology and we await That Morthos Stare's take on it.

That Morthos Stare is also correct with his philosophical elitism. I can't stand people just bandying the word about "This is my philosophy" "Deepak Chopra is a philosopher" Fuck off. Whether government run or private, "Philosopher", just like "Doctor" and "Lawyer" should have something behind it. You can't call yourself a botanist because you have a vege garden, you are a gardener. You can't call yourself a philosopher because you've had a bit of a think, you've just had a bit of a think.

That should do for now. If I get another thirty comments we might keep on going, but I think I've made my point and everyone else has made theirs so we'd all end up going around in circles. I'll try and find a video on Youtube of a baboon masturbating into a car at one of those drive in zoos for my next post for a bit of balance.


Josh said...

I think Objectivism puts certainty and context together by saying that something is "contextally absolute", as in "to the best of our knowledge at this time 'x' is the truth"

Yes, that's what I gathered, and I don't see how it's anything other than an oxymoron - "absolute, relative to a context"??

It's basically claiming that certainty is possible by lowering the bar for what counts as certainty.

Paul said...

"Humanists don't actually believe in anything."

Quiet, Eric: they might hear us. Just between you and me, I think Humanism is a kind of solipsism. Humanists claim a legacy from the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, but the humanists from those eras are as different from each other as they are from modern Humanists, whose common position seems to be "the world would be so much better if it were more like me."

Rick said...

I'm impressed again at how much more thoughtful your view of Objectivism is than the average bear, Eric.

Whether government run or private, "Philosopher", just like "Doctor" and "Lawyer" should have something behind it.

Sounds good to me.