Objectivists and Ayndroids
To an ayndroid
, the works Ayn Rand
- they sum up the entire
works of objectivism
. Objectivism itself is a tool in looking at the
way things work. It is not necessarily the Truth
about the way things
. Just as platonic form
s are a tool for looking at ideas
and how we deal with them. It is true that Rand has made useful
points about certain principles of philosophy - however she is not
. Neither are her mistakes to be taken as proof contrary
to objectivism. What does confuse the issue is her moving of personal
to philosophical principles
Androids: Objectivism is not dogma
Objectivism and the works of Ayn Rand are not necessarily the same.
It is a tool, like the scientific method. It is an open ended set
of principles, not a dogma. Accept the work of people who are
working to develop the implications of Objectivist Ethics.
Types of Self
There are several classes of people, and different ways to look at
selfishness. For comparison, the
- Selfish: Those who are concerned with their own advantage without care
- Selfless: Those who live for others, with little concern for the self
- Self-interested: Those who are concerned with self benefit, but are also
aware of social context.
The use selfish
to designate the third group is bad word choice. It
leads to misconceptions. In using selfish to designate the third category,
there is a failure to create a new term for the first category. Thus
the same mistake that is Rand accuses the altruist
s of making, classifying
the three groups of people into two.
Ayn Rand as a philosophical writer
One of the problems with her work as a piece of philosophy is that
she does deal with philosophy. She did not deal with existing arguments
but rather casts them aside and goes on to make her own claims.
The technique that she uses is an old one. Her conclusion is very
clear, but the proof is shrouded in mystery rather than a scholarly
fashion. In hiding the proof this way it confuses the reader's
critical facility. Pages of technical notes provide the look of
sophistication. Students believe that the teacher knows it. Teachers
believe that the commentators know it. And the Commentators believe
the author knows it. However, the author is blind to the simple fact
that there is no proof. People write PhD theses trying to find a
proof in the works of Objectivism. It is far easier to read Kant than
it is to read the basis of Objectivism.
Existence as the value
An animal ... . But so long as it lives, ... it is unable to ignore its
own good, unable to decide to choose the evil and act as its own destroyer.
The claim is that all things other than humans automatically act for their
own survival. This is a false claim
. Take the male mantis
, which is
eaten by the female as part of mating. Many other examples
exist in nature where it is not existence that is the value, but rather
Survival is a means to reproductive success - most of the time things
are trying to survive. However, salmon that put survival above everything
else would never go back to spawn, and thus would have no descendants
to be used as evidence for its objective existence.
This could all be dismissed as an irrelevant metaphysical argument,
however Objectivism claims to be based on the facts or reality - and this
"fact" that is false. Things built from it are flawed.
Since life requires a specific course of action, any other course will
destroy it. A being who does not hold his own life as the motive and
goal of his actions, is acting on the motive and standard of death.
Consider someone with a different value - a utilitarian
His own life is not the motive and goal of his actions, but rather
a means to the achievement of the goal. If he isn't alive he can't
himself, nor can he act to increase the utility of others.
Similarly a nationalist can't act to further the triumph of a nation.
However, it is not always the case that their life is the ends, and this
can be seen when a person has the opportunity to achieve their goal
at the cost of their on life - suicide bombers for example.
The first sentence is false. There is no specific course of action
required for life such that any other course will destroy it. There
are many different paths which preserve life with different degrees of
success. Taken literally, this contradicts the facts of reality.
If people were acting on motive and the standard of death, we would
have people committing suicide at the first convenient opportunity
and only Objectivists would be left. The fact that I am debating
this now is proof to the contrary.
Taken less literally, it means that if you do not take your life as your
goal, you are choosing a little death, a slightly higher chance of death,
or a slightly shorter life expectancy. However, this is true for all
philosophies - a utilitarian could argue that a non-utilitarian, by
not acting in the way that maximizes happiness is choosing a little
misery. "A being who does not hold the happiness of all men as the
motive and goal for his actions, is acting on the motive and standard
of human misery." This argument is as good (or bad) as the Objectivist.
Selfishness is important in that objectivists have made the
same flaws that were pointed out in altruists - grouping people into
two groups. Objectivist literature does not distinguish between
and self-interest, thus many who follow objectivism follow 'man is the
end' to the extreme. If a distinction could be drawn showing what selfish
things are allowed and what are not, it would go a ways to clearing up
the misconception. However, it would probably create yet another split
in the objectivist school of thought.
A living organism has to act in the face of a constant alternative:
life or death. Life is conditional; it can be sustained only by a
specific course of action performed by the living organism, such as the
actions of obtaining food. In this plants and animals have no choice:
within the limits of their powers, they take automatically the actions
their life requires.
--The Philosophy of Objectivism: A Brief Summary by Dr. Leonard Peikoff
The question of animal choice
for survival has been shown to be flawed
Many animals choose reproductive success over survival, salmon and
the male mantis
being two examples. Others choose their own death
for the survival of the hive
. Honey bee
s that sting kill themselves
with that act. What is the importance of the distinction between
man and animals and their choice? If there is a distinction as objectivism
claims, then the facts of the world do not fit.
At what point does man deviate from animal? Salmon and bees may not
have any choice in the matter. What about cats? or dogs? or
Can other animals choose to do something that may hurt them for some
other end? There are many
of pets traveling hundreds of miles
to go back to their families that they have been separated from. This
is a difficult trek and does not necessarily further their survival or
reproductive success. But yet they do it. Dolphins have rescued
people and done other acts of valor uncharacteristic of animals without
a choice. This question cannot be dismissed as metaphysical questions,
because these are facts. Objectivism has made the claim that animals
don't make choices based upon factual examples rather than metaphysical
arguments. Objectivism cannot dismiss this into the realm of
metaphysics without dismissing the distinction along with it and anything
built on that distinction. Nothing is built on this? The entire ethical
portion of objectivism is built on diffrentationg Man's mind from that of
Not all actions are equally approbate if one is to stay alive. Yep. So?
Not all actions are equally approbate for the maximization of utility.
Not all actions are equally approbate for furthering a nation. These
statements are equally true and valid and powerful as the objectivist
claim. So what?