RAND: First my philosophy is based on the concept that reality exists as an objective absolute. That man's mind reason is his means of perceiving it. And that man needs a rational morality. I am primarily the creator of a new court of morality which has so far been believed impossible. Namely, a morality not based on face, not on faith, not on arbitrary whim, not on emotion, not on arbitrary edict, mystical or social, but on reason. A morality which can be proved by means of logic. Which can be demonstrated to be true and necessary.
RAND: Now may I define what my morality is, because this is merely an introduction. My morality is based on man's life as a standard of value. And since man's mind is his basic means of survival, I hold that if man wants to live on earth, and to live as a human being. He has to hold reason as an absolute. By which I mean, that he has to hold reason as his only guide to action. And that he must live by the independent judgment of his own mind. That his highest moral purpose is the achievement of his own happiness. And that he must not force other people nor accept their right to force him. That each man must live as an end in himself and follow his own rational self-interest."
WALLACE: May I interrupt now?
RAND: You may.
WALLACE: Because you put this philosophy to work in your novel Atlas Shrugged. You demonstrate it, in human terms, in your novel Atlas Shrugged. And let me start by quoting from a review of this novel Atlas Shrugged that appeared in News Week. It said that, "You are out to destroy almost every edifice in the contemporary American way of life. Our Judeo-Christian religion our modified government regulated capitalism our rule by the majority will." Other reviews have said that, "You scorn churches, and the concept of god." Are these accurate criticisms?
RAND: Ah.. Yes... I agree with the fact, but not the estimate of this criticism. Namely, if I am challenging the base of all these institutions, I'm challenging the moral code of altruism. The precept that man's moral duty is to live for others. That man must sacrifice himself to others. Which is the present day morality.
WALLACE: What do you mean sacrifice himself for others? Now were getting to the point.
RAND: Since I'm challenging the base, I necessarily will challenge the institutions you name, which are a result of that morality. And now what is self-sacrifice?
WALLACE: Yes...What is self-sacrifice? You say that you do not like the altruism by which we live. You like a certain kind of Ayn Randist selfishness.
RAND: I will say that, "I don't like" is to weak a word. I consider it evil. And self-sacrifice is the precept that man needs to serve others, in order to justify his existence. That his moral duty is to serve others. That is what most people believe today.
WALLACE: Yes.. .We're taught to feel concern for our fellow man. To feel responsible for his welfare. To feel that we are as religious people might put it, children under god, and responsible one for the other. Now why do you rebel? What's wrong with this philosophy?
RAND: But that is in fact what makes man a sacrificial animal. That man must work for others, concern himself with others, or be responsible for them. That is the role of a sacrificial object. I say that man is entitled to his own happiness. And that he must achieve it himself. But that he cannot demand that others give up their lives to make him happy. And nor should he wish to sacrifice himself for the happiness of others. I hold that man should have self-esteem. And cannot man have self-esteem if he loves his fellow man?
WALLACE: What's wrong with loving your fellow man? Christ, every important moral leader in man's history has taught us that we should love one another. Why then is this kind of love in your mind immoral?
RAND: It is immoral if it is a love placed above oneself. It is more than immoral, it's impossible. Because when you asked to love everybody indiscriminately. That is to love people without any standard. To love them regardless of whether they have any value or any virtue, you are asked to love nobody.
WALLACE: But in a sense, in your book you talk about love as if it were a business deal of some kind. Isn't the essence of love, that it is above self-interest?
RAND: Well, let me make it concrete for you. What would it mean to have a love above self-interest? It would mean for instance that a husband would tell his wife if he were moral according to the conventional morality, that I am marring you just for you own sake, I have no personal interest in it, but I'm so unselfish, that I am marrying you only for your own good. Would any woman like that?
WALLACE: Should husbands and wives tally up at the end of the day and say, "well now wait a minute, I love her if she's done enough for me today, or she loves me if I have properly performed my functions?
RAND: No, you misunderstood me. That is not how love should be treated. I agree with you that it should be treated like a business deal. But every business deal has to have its own terms and its own kind of currency. And in love the currency is virtue. You love people, not for what do for them, or what they do for you. You love them for their values, their virtues, which they have achieved in their own character. You don't love causes. You don't love everybody indiscriminately. You love only those who deserve it.
WALLACE: And then if a man is weak, or a woman is weak, then she is beyond, he is beyond love?
RAND: He certainly does not deserve it, he certainly is beyond. He can always correct it. Man has free will. If a man wants love he should correct his weaknesses, or his flaws, and he may deserve it. But he cannot expect the unearned, neither in love, nor in money, neither in method, nor spirit.
WALLACE: You have lived in our world, and you realize... recognize... the fallibility of human beings, there are very few us then in this world, by your standards, who are worthy of love.
RAND: Unfortunately.... yes... very few. But it is open to everybody, to make themselves worthy of it and that is all that my morality offers them. A way to make themselves worthy of love although that's not the primary motive.
|First, there are few philosophies that aren't based in reason. Those that try not to be based in reason, try to be based in empiricism, though it is typically difficult to achieve normative ethics through empirical means. Now, the purpose of basing ethics on reason and not on emotion or whim is because morality is supposed to be universal. When you say that something is 'good' or 'evil', you are saying that it is something that should be celebrated/deplored regardless of who does it. Saying that something is good for you and not necessarily good for someone else has very little weight and ends in a pointless, non-information-bearing state. So what she is saying is that she is attempting to use universally accessible reasoning to come to a universal ethical standard. Her basis for her ethical theory is really a very broad statement that could be applied to most other philosophers. She wasn't writing for the ivory tower, though, so she doesn't always state things in excruciating detail.|
|Emotion does come into play once the standard is determined. Those who react emotionally to good and bad things appropriately are more likely to follow the moral law. Theoretically, one should be able to train oneself to react appropriately, the way Aristotle said that virtue is a matter of habit. According to Aristotle (whom Ayn Rand admired), one cannot be virtuous until virtuous behavior flows freely from one's character. Any hesitation or second-guessing is considered to be a sort of stain on one's virtue. The best way to habituate oneself to behaving virtuously is to feel positive feelings toward good and negative feelings toward bad. Notice that she didn't dispose of emotion in her description of her ethical theory: she referred to pursuing one's own happiness. Now, happiness in Aristotle doesn't necessarily refer to the emotion, but more to the state of living a good life, but one should theoretically be happy when living a good life.|
|Getting into the meat of her ethical theory: if ethics are universal and other people are worthy of your concern and aid for their betterment, why are you not worthy of that same concern and betterment for yourself? I think this is one way of approaching Rand's theory. You are worth at least as much as everyone else. To take it further though, there are three main reasons why you should be concerned about yourself first: if everyone is so concerned about everyone else, there is no one who is especially concerned about them, because everyone's concern is so shallow and spread out that no one has someone who is primarily responsible for him/herself. There is no one to take care of you because to everyone else, you aren't particularly special. You are special to yourself, however, so you must take care of yourself. The second reason is that moral responsibility relies on self-responsibility. If everyone is responsible for everyone, who is to blame when someone commits murder? Practically speaking, the one who committed the murder is the one who is to blame and the one to target for correction. But if everyone is responsible for that murderer, everyone has to be blamed and punished to deter future violence. This is a nonsensical, inefficient system of responsibility and punishment. The other reason is because, if you want to help others, you have to make sure that you are in the condition to do it. If you give all of your money to charity, you won't have enough to cover your own needs and you will find it harder to make more money to give to charity. If you spend all of your time helping others, you will have no time to help yourself and, again, you will find it harder to help others when you don't spend the time to do things like keeping yourself healthy. Even the Bible, which is supposed to be all about love thy fellow man, has a story about taking care of yourself first so that you are able to help others. I'm probably going to recall this poorly, but Jesus asks someone if his brother had a splinter in his eye and he had a beam in his own, which problem should he take care of first? The man answered with the feel-good answer of removing the brother's splinter first, but Jesus told him he was wrong because he would be unable to remove the splinter from his brother's eye while there is a beam in his own. You probably know that I'm not religious, but for a religion that is supposedly all about loving everyone equally and being self-sacrificing, to have such a story is meaningful. It shows that even that kind of feel-good mindset recognizes the necessity of taking care of oneself first.|
|Further, it is possible to interact with people in a self-interested way, without being friends, but also without making enemies. If Rand wanted to hire someone to build her a house, it is in her self interest to do so. It is in the self-interest of the contractor to charge her for it. As long as the price isn't excessive, it is still in her self-interest to pay it. Both parties benefit from the transaction, but there need not be any love between them. This is how pure capitalism works.|
Originally Posted by Nekowolf
I agree that, in a sense, morality does often try or become "universal." But not universal in the sense of being world-wide. That's just not possible. It's universal in the sense of specifics. A specific nation. A specific culture. A specific region, or religion, or even something small, like tribes. The thing is, when I say something is "good" or "evil," yes, I'm saying that it should be celebrated or deplored regardless of who does it... based on my interpretations of what good and evil are. And those interpretations can be different amongst all those things I said above. There is no set definition of what is good, and what is evil. For that, you would need a god or something of equal measure, that everyone believes exists, because for that standard to become the world-wide universal, it would need either all people to be under the same norms, or for there to be some outside force who dictates the rules.
|Sorry, I misread "accessible" as "accepted" for some reason. Oh, but I will say this, since I reread the comment. Saying something is good for you, but perhaps detrimental to someone else (as that is how I mean it) does not have "very little weight and ends in a pointless, non-information-bearing state." If I go around fucking other people, in spite of my fidelity to my girlfriend, because it makes me feel good and (as you are apparently trying to say) I don't need to care about her feelings, how does that not bear weight? It bears a great deal. It is certainly not pointless. And non-information-bearing, well, that really doesn't even make any sense. Information is information. If you learn something, or realize a variable, that is information in itself.|
|I can't offer any opinions on Aristotle at the moment. I should reread my philosophy textbook. Anyways, I disagree that "any hesitation or second-guessing is considered to be a sort of stain on one's virtue." Many times, things are both good and bad together, sometimes you have many options that are so muddled. I do not see hesitation as such a bad thing; sometimes, you should process your options and their consequences. Nor do I think second-guessing is so bad. Sometimes, you make a mistake. You should learn from the decisions you make. The idea of no hesitation, no second-guessing is almost robotic, and simply, I don't think, is truly possible. You can try, but that's about it.|
|Anyway, I also disagree that she disregards emotions. "He has to hold reason as an absolute. By which I mean, that he has to hold reason as his only guide to action." That sounds pretty clear to me. Only reason should hold any sway.|
So I'm going to take this part piece by piece; apologies if some of it seems a bit disjointed, I'll try to correct that.
So firstly, the first point of why you should be your primary concern. It's ego-inflation. "I'm special!" Yeah, like you said, you're special to yourself. But you are not special. Not really. By the way it sounds, you are saying you are inherently special just by existing. But that, in itself, is nothing special. If you want to be special, some people are born with it, yeah, but you could also try working for it. Isn't that one of the core ideas here; working for what you want? So if you want to be something, an icon or whatever, you should have to work for it instead of seeing yourself as someone of importance just because you exist.
|Really, the biggest flaw in this is that, again, black-and-white. What you're arguing over is if everyone is concerned with everyone else, or if you are concerned only about yourself (or rather, you are the highest priority; admittedly, it's not a true black-and-white scenario, but it's bordering the line). You can look out for yourself, as well as balance concern for others. You can sacrifice some things, just try not to sacrifice too much. Also, if everyone is concerned about everyone else, then that would mean everyone would be concern about you, so while you may not take yourself into account, everyone else is.|
The second part, you're using an example that does not fit. "If everyone is responsible for everyone, who is to blame when someone commits murder?" The killer. Even under the idea that everyone is responsible for everyone else. You are mangling the idea of "everyone is responsible for everyone." You are saying they are all responsible of other peoples' actions. That is not the case. What they are responsible for is the attempt of safety, of trying to help when needed, of administering justice as needed. They are responsible for peoples' welfare, for their society, these abstract ideas directly influence by the people in it. If my sister kills a person, I am not responsible because I am not my sister. But what you are arguing is that I am responsible in spite of me not being my sister. It makes no sense. The only thing people are responsible for is the influence of the environments around that murderer, and perhaps a few people of his life directly. But only he could pull that trigger, or, whatever weapon he used, only he was the one who used it.[QUOTE]
As I said above, the two kinds of responsibility are linked. If you take care of yourself, you take care of yourself morally as well. You are responsible for any moral judgments that may fall on you for your behavior. If you believe that you are responsible for taking care of everyone else, you necessarily believe that you have some control over everyone else's life. If you didn't have control over other people's lives, you couldn't be blamed for a failure to provide for another. So because you have control over other people's lives, if they do something wrong, you are partially responsible. You could have prevented it, but you didn't. I don't think we have that kind of control over people's lives. If someone's life is screwed up, it may be simply a matter of bad luck (which is out of your control, anyway), but it may also be that that person did not make good decisions. You weren't capable of making those decisions for that person, so why should you automatically be held responsible for his errors? That is what is advocated in a system in which you are obligated to support others. It is far better to freely choose to help those in need, partly because it allows you to have moral character and partly because the responsibility is still on the shoulders of that person in need. That person can rightly be praised or blamed for their actions only when s/he is allowed to be responsible for them.
[QUOTE]And again, you can balance both your needs, and the need or want to help others in the way Rand suggests. And what is it she suggests? "I say that man is entitled to his own happiness. And that he must achieve it himself. But that he cannot demand that others give up their lives to make him happy. And nor should he wish to sacrifice himself for the happiness of others." You should not sacrifice yourself for the sake of others. Again, I think it's pretty clear what she means. You are the end-all, be-all.
But even then, the funny thing is, this idea of capitalism is completely ass-backwards. She saying, well, you should not rely on others. And yet, how do you make your products? On the backs of others. You are demanding that others sacrifice their time and effort for you. Sure, you pay them for it, but that does not change the fact that they are giving themselves up to you, and you are accepting that they do.
"I say that man is entitled to his own happiness. And that he must achieve it himself. But that he cannot demand that others give up their lives to make him happy." And that is exactly what employment is. Giving up yourself to a business, a business ran by a person or a group. They make a profit off of your work, they become wealthy off of your work, so they are not achieving it themselves, and they are demanding the sacrifice of others.
|Okay, and that may be great and all, if the price is not excessive. And that is where things fall apart. What if it is excessive? What if it is unreasonable? What if they all are? It is not in her self-interest to pay a price that steep, but she has no other options. It's pay the price, or don't have a house.|
|No, better yet. Take the current gas prices. The lowest in the area is $4.23 per gallon. It is NOT in my self-interest to pay that much. But I have no options. I live out in the rural, so biking is not an option unless I want to bike for miles to the cities (the nearest is like... I forget. Five miles? Seven miles?). I can't ride a bike anyway. My leg never formed straight, and my balance is off. I don't have enough money to move, so I'm stuck where I am. The buses go out my way. So I absolutely need gas in my car. It is not in my self-interest to pay those prices, just a week ago, those prices were below $3.00, and I do not really benefit from the transaction because while, yes, I get the gas I need, the sheer cost of it is damaging, and as it increases, it consumes more money, making my own net profits even less, so therefor, it is detrimental. Only one party is really benefiting, and that is the oil industry. That is "pure capitalism." I'm stuck without options, while they profit on my necessity for their products, and I don't have a damn say in it because, guess what, it's a necessity.|
|What makes you think that you are entitled to becoming wealthy off of your work? No one is entitled to any amount of wealth unless they earn it, and you as an individual grunt worker in a larger company are not likely to be contributing so much to the betterment of that company that you might have gotten rich off of it. Even if you work hard, you arenít necessarily providing a service that is highly useful/in-demand. In order to earn wealth, you have to be skilled and shrewd. The people further up the chain are more important and usually contribute more, though they, too can suffer for providing a service not in-demand. Managers are necessary because, without direction, a slew of laborers can't get much done. And most of the profits that companies make go back into investing in the future of the company. It's not some CEO pocketing all of the profits. Not everyone can be rich. But everyone can labor to make a living, so long as businesses are given the freedom to grow.|
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Originally Posted by kiwi_tea
It's true that the money a company makes gets reinvested, but you're making a total mockery of the situation by claiming that the ultra-wealthy don't ensure they pocket a disproportionate amount of the profit as their due - using the market as an excuse. Haven't "performance bonuses" morphed into "retention bonuses" during the GFC? Yes they have.
Originally Posted by Oaktree
When wages are reduced, profits are down. Businesses work for profit, so they want society to be affluent. There are only a few businesses that might possibly benefit from a poor society, businesses that deal in necessities. Even then, they would still probably see better profits in better times. Further, our market is inundated with luxuries, so those businesses would want to improve the economy. The problem comes when businesses are not allowed to set reasonable wages, or if they are forced to jump through hoops to hire employees. The vast over-regulation of businesses in our social democracy hurts businesses, which, in turn, hurts consumers and laborers.
Originally Posted by Tempscire
Reasonable wages? The biggest regulation I can think of in regards to wages is the minimum wage. I'm no economic policy expert for sure, but I can't think of anything limiting businesses as to how high they can pay workers (barring taxation sneakiness and such, but that only really starts being an issue at the upper echelons). Which makes me think you believe setting a minimum wage is holding businesses back and things would be better if it were done away with.
There was a time, not too long ago, when businesses were not held back by all these regulations. Society in general and the everyday workers were not, in fact, benefited. Companies, in fact, do not want an affluent society if it means they only make $100m in profit rather than $110m in profit. There's a reason a minimum wage (and other bothersome regulations) was mandated in the first place: it was necessary, otherwise the bulk of society (the working poor) would not only not have been affluent, they wouldn't have been able to support themselves at all and still have time for, say, sleep.
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Originally Posted by Black_Barook!
1. Is Ayn Rand the middle aged women with the the cold hateful eyes, who looks like she badly needs to be hugged, in the pictures of the back of her books?
|2. Is it normal to have her work in the Fiction section as opposed to the Philosophy section? Cause I spotted her work as such in one of the bookstores in Kuwait.|
|It'd be great if everyone had all the stellar qualities of Rand's heroes (the self-respect and responsibility and so forth, not necessarily the selfish assholery) and the "looters" of money or affection could be effectively starved out into being productive members of society, but that's just not how people work, nor will they ever, if you consider the repetitive nature of human behavior for the last few thousand years.|