I would like to start a conversation re: Ayn Rand's Objective Ethics. I recently listened to her entire book 'The Virtue of Selfishness' on youtube. It was very interesting. I think she's very intelligent, even if her value system is scary, particularly to those of us who are living in poverty and understand the kinds of things that arise from her worldview.
I do believe ethics is objective, she suffered terrible injustice as a young woman in the name of socialism, and well, it changed something in her.
I'll bite, Hiram. Right now, I, too, am poor. BUT, this is MY fault. Sometimes it is someone else's fault (discrimination or non payment), but only occassionally. Most of us have drank the religious Koolaid of religion, wanting a Utopia, wanting not to have to struggle for existence. But this is not how nature works. Every species struggles to survive. yes, we should TRY to make things easier, more peaceful, but not at the expensive of those who work 14 hour days or who forwent partying in college in favor of studying hard or working a second job to pay for school.
Ayn Rand is also a bit idealist, sometimes making the mistake that MOST humans are or should be heroic.
She often thinks mankind will make the right decision, but that is rarely the case. But, she does think mankind, in general, is more HEROIC and less animal, less victim. I like this message. As a woman brought up in a very Christian environment, I fight the 'woman should be a passive victim' mentality all of the time. It is what I hate most about myself.
The modern day Objectivists tend to be a bit harsh...from the posting I've read that they wrote. They don't always see all sides and how we all influence eachother. I aslo dislike their lack of concern about the environment. I think, from what I read in the Fountainhead, that Rand DID appreciate nature, large open spaces uncluttered with human creations/buildings.
But, I like her view of personal responsibility. The poor often get or stay poor by giving their money t0o large companies when they buy thier products or services. It is the trickle up effect of economics. Humans so often refuse to vote or vote with their dollars and time. It is a passive choice to be a victim. I, too, often make the wrong chioce..maybe I fear going against others and appearing rude or antisocail, maybe I fear others' jealousy if I do become better off (went through that once already)...
If you are poor, it is your unconscience choice, which means that you can change it with every choice you make...who you date/marry, where and how you spend your time, who you hang around, what you listen to on the radio..
Anthony Robbins' books/tapes helped me once. Wish I could afford his newer stuff. He's studied many books on the successful and walks you through the subject if an invigorating, painless way. We need to give ourselves permission to succeed/be happy. Most of us still have that religious-hangover that we must suffer and that our poverty and/or suffering is our virtue. BULLSHIT. The well off spend money that helps keep the poor employed!!!
BTW, the Virtue od Selfishness, is the best booki I ever read. Fountainhead the second best!
I can't say that it's my fault for being poor, I was laid off by Bank of America during 2008 just after the bailout and got into a mortgage that I could afford AT THE TIME based on my debt to income ratio when I purchased. I had no idea the economy would change so drastically. People who fail to contextualize the cycles of poverty sometimes scare me. It's not always the poor who are at fault.
I realize that utopia is not how nature works. But questions of ethics deal with how human life and behavior SHOULD be, not how nature operates. Nature is amoral, ruthless. Nature serves to teach us how things are, not how they might be. In other words, by proposing an Objectivist ETHICS, Ayn Rand takes up a challenge that goes beyond our nature, to tame it, to civilize man. Ethics is anti-natural.
I do agree with many of Ayn Rand's views, particularly her views on personal responsibility. I have to read more of her stuff to form a more complete opinion.
And forced altruism, like forcing people to say that they're religious or forcing them to go to church, only breeds and celebrates hipocrisy.
I work in hospitality and catering. My bosses are not doctors, they are people who place workers in temp gigs. And they live large.
I haven't read Rand, but from what I've read of Objectivism, I'm not satisfied with her answer to the is-ought problem. In my opinion, Objectivism violates the naturalistic fallacy by assuming whatever that is good for life, in her view, must be good for moral values. I reject that the quality of one's own life has anything whatsoever to do with moral values.
I've thought about the ought-is problem. And the idea of natural ethics is troublesome precisely because ethical questions ultimately force humans to act against nature, and in many ways we are required to curb our natural tendencies in order to effectively function as a civilized species. In nature, there is cannibalism, and survival of the fittest demands injustice.
Civilization and morals are NOT NATURAL. Again, they are NOT NATURAL. We are a civilized species and we have to assume the responsibilities that come with our power, which include legal, ethical and behavioral codes that run against what nature intended. Otherwise, we revert to the ape-like alpha-male-dominated might-makes-right society that our ancestors evolved out of.
By the way, since we're speaking of the wealth gap and the moral issues and ironies related to it, Noam Chomsky gives a fantastic speech entitled Free Market Fantasies, which touches on some of the issues raised by Ayn Rand's ideology. It's on youtube.
In it, he says several times that in our times of austerity our country is actually AWASH with capital, so much so that those who have it don't even know what to do with all the money they have, it just rests on fewer and fewer hands.
I agree with you Hiram except, since we are natural and we create moral codes and civilization,that makes them natural. They are new and we struggle with them, but they do occur in nature. With these codes perhaps we are forging our evolution.
There was an interesting radio lab the other day about domestication that touches this topic. http://www.radiolab.org/2009/oct/19/new-nice/
I'm a Chomsky fan and will check out that video, thanks.
Sorry to go on and on, just wanted to add that I did enjoy reading Atlas Shrugged many years ago and found it a very compelling tale. But I would not want to live by her principles.
Lastly, I disagree that people are poor because they unconsciously want it that way. Ayn Rand teaches poor people to hate and blame themselves when in fact a large portion of the rich were born that way.