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Everything Wrong with Objectivism

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by Straw Dog, Nov 16, 2019.

  1. Straw Dog

    Straw Dog Person

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    Greetings all! It’s been a while since I’ve been online, but I’m excited to become active once again.

    I’m not sure how Ayn Rand fares in these waters. It seems like something adolescents and young adults would be more prone to study. I’ve only recently become hip to all the hype. My research has been exclusively online. I thought about reading Atlas Shrugged, but by the time I got around to a book store, I was also shrugging. I ended up buying a road atlas instead. No joke, I thought it would be more useful to my career goals.

    So let’s get into it. I want this to be an interactive conversation, so let’s take it one pillar of philosophy at a time. I find that each one becomes more flawed than the previous, slowly diluting the whole worldview into nonsense. Let’s look at metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and politics.

    Metaphysics: reality is objective and independent of human consciousness. This is something I can get on board with. I do believe that reality exists regardless of what we happen to think, feel, or believe about it. The whole scientific enterprise seems to be about discovering and understanding this objective reality.

    However, it starts to lose me whenever it denies the subjective realm. I see reality as both objective and subjective, like two sides to the same coin. Objectivism rejects this and claims dogmatically that we have direct absolute knowledge of objective reality through our sensory-perception. No further questions needed. It seems to be all downhill from here.

    Any thoughts? Counter-arguments? Where are my diehard Objectivists at?
     
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  2. Laika

    Laika Well-Known Member
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    I did briefly look in to Objectivism as an antidote to Marxism, hoping perhaps to find a fun exit in which I might become an aspiring Gordon Gekko or simply find ways to become more adjusted to a society that took "Greed is Good" to an extent that would make Gekko blush. As a die hard atheist, the fact that Rand was an atheist suggested the transition from Marxism to Objectivism might be easier than other routes away from Communism.

    I think I read most of "The Virtue of Selfishness" and "Capitalism:The Unknown Ideal". The latter was particularly interesting for it's take on a range of subjects such as anti-trust laws and the gold standard. Although I found the arguments for straight forward and naked self-interest novel given my background in the far left, the anti-dialectical nature of Rand's work was a major turn off. Portraying any kind of socialism, collectivism and altruism as reflecting a kind of "death wish" didn't make compelling reading. As bad as the history of communism is, reducing it to that was something of an insult to the good intentions that may have started me down that road in the first place (even if they did get lost along the way). The one lasting thing that did stick was her insistence on the necessity for logic in arguments and I've since had to look in to logic more than otherwise, even if it was in a Marxist context.

    So I found Objectivism was more of a phase that lasted a few months rather than anything long term. But it did serve its purpose in making me "think" about things in a way that I hadn't before. :)
     
  3. exchemist

    exchemist Well-Known Member

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    Strictly speaking the scientific enterprise is a bit more indirect than you suggest, I think. What science does, surely, is to make predictive models of aspects of the physical world. There is not a claim that these models "are" reality, just that they seem to approximate it well enough to predict the behaviour of nature.

    I certainly agree it seems hard for science to avoid assuming tacitly that there must be an objective reality to model. If there were not, why would we expect any success in our modelling, given that science is a collective enterprise, relying on reproducible observation? In other words, it depends on observations that are agreed upon by different people, in different places, using different methods.
     
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  4. Straw Dog

    Straw Dog Person

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    Thanks for sharing!

    Yes, I can see how it would be a breath of fresh air in contrast to that oppressive context. Perhaps Ayn Rand was also being partially reactive against the Soviet Russia of her youth. I agree that logic and rationality are worthy methods, and that extreme egoism is narrowsighted. I don’t know that I consider it a morality so much as an amorality.
     
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  5. Straw Dog

    Straw Dog Person

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    Yes, thanks for clarifying that aspect of modern science. We’ve certainly come a long way from the classical understanding in which the observer is separated from that which is being observed. We build working models of reality that depend upon empirical evidence and rationality, but also subjective interpretations.
     
  6. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Greased up & ready for action!
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    Objectivism is very interesting.
    And very hated here on RF (by some).
     
  7. dybmh

    dybmh Terminal Optimist
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    How does objectivism interpret the concept of chaos ( unpredictability )? IOW, for an objectivist, are all questions answerable? Or are there things which are beyond reason, logic, and science?
     
  8. Straw Dog

    Straw Dog Person

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    Hmm... I don’t believe anything can be fully hated when properly understood within its historical, biological, and psychological context. Although, I must admit that I do enjoy killing Nazis in video games.
     
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  9. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Greased up & ready for action!
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    I don't know.
     
  10. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Greased up & ready for action!
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    Some people take great offense at differences of opinion.
     
  11. Terry Sampson

    Terry Sampson ζει

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    Let me know when y'all get around to talking about Rand's love affair with Nathaniel Branden.
     
  12. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Greased up & ready for action!
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    But no pix....please.
     
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  13. Straw Dog

    Straw Dog Person

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    Really? Well, that’s a terrible mistake. Because alternative subjective interpretations are a big piece of the whole puzzle.
     
  14. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Greased up & ready for action!
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    Aye, they have some growing still to do.
     
  15. Straw Dog

    Straw Dog Person

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    Has any philosopher fully lived up to the ideals of their own philosophy? Like in recent history? Such time that we have both accurate and precise detail of?

    I’m not defending Ayn Rand, if you haven’t noticed. But I will tear a new hole in your consciousness if you test me.
     
  16. Straw Dog

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    Having said that, I did forget to stay on topic... my apologies, my internet skills are lacking, but let’s see if we cannot fine tune them.

    That is a fair point. Her own philosophy didn’t serve her in the long term. She had an affair and in turn was also cheated upon... according to the internal logic of Objectivism, they were both pursuing their own individual happiness.
     
  17. Straw Dog

    Straw Dog Person

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    Yes, it’s like every ten years we look back and we’re like, “What?!”
     
  18. SomeRandom

    SomeRandom Still learning to be wise

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    Completely off topic (sorry) but I really like your avatar. But courage fan, me.
    :D
     
  19. Straw Dog

    Straw Dog Person

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    Hello SomeRandom,

    Nothing necessarily wrong with going ‘off-topic’, it is an organic conversation.

    Yes, it is Courage the Cowardly Dog. I’m quite fond of ‘90s and much older cartoons, especially in so far as they can epitomize or explore meaningful existential or spiritual concepts. I love the cosmic horror of Courage and justifiably believe it’s closer to reality than many rainbow alternatives.
     
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  20. Terry Sampson

    Terry Sampson ζει

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    I'm not casting stones. It's just that when I come across Ayn's name, Nathaniel's comes to mind too.
     
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