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What book turned you Libertarian

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kingmonkey replied on Thu, May 29 2008 10:53 AM

She just sounds like a bitter b*tch to me.  All of the ideas she claims libertarians "plagiarized" aren't new.  All she did was write a couple of books that put these ideas in one singular place but nothing she talks about is original to her.  And the whole theory of ethics was already summed up by Christ 2,000 years ago:  "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Matt. 22:38).  That's it man.  That's the whole shebang right there.  If you live by those five words you are on the way to being the most ethical person in the world.

"It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds. " -- Samuel Adams.

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She was a system builder. Not much many libertarians do is original, at least it is not their own creation; the way they apply the principles are, though. The same goes in her case. I do not take people who seek to depreciate her as seriously knowledgeable of her works, for every flaw that exists in Rand I can point out in any number of the "great" philosophers.

-Jon

Freedom of markets is positively correlated with the degree of evolution in any society...

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Nitroadict replied on Thu, May 29 2008 11:53 AM

kingmonkey:

She just sounds like a bitter b*tch to me

This is partially why I cannot stand the "closed view" of Objectivism; it almost feels like some obligate themselves to emulate Rand a bit too much in this respect. 

As for liberetarianism "ripping-off" her ideas, it really shouldn't have been surprising to her as libertarianism is a rather dynamic philosophy contantly being applied to various areas; comments like that make me suspect that despite some of her ideas, she might've actually preferred a closed view of things, and ultimatley I don't see why that should be emulated at all.

 

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Ronorama replied on Thu, May 29 2008 12:10 PM

Nitroadict:
...she might've actually preferred a closed view of things..

I agree completely. One of the areas where libertarians and objectivists differ is in the principle of subjective/objective value. From the objectivist viewpoint, there is some objective standard of measure by which the value of anything can be determined, particularly with regard to such things as art and music. Austrians wholly rejected this concept. Objectivism also rejects the notion of voluntary charity, fully ignoring any subjective value may be provided to some people by engaging therein.

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No, Objectivists argue that all value is objective in the sense that it's agent-relative. Something is a good both because the consumer values it and because of those objective properties it possesses which render it of service to a consumer. This is not to overturn subjectivism but to adopt a different stance of looking at it. There's also a distinction between what is valued and what ought to be valued, the latter pertaining to the aesthetic/ethical realm, the former to the economic realm, so it's important not to mix these up. Rand most definitely does not reject charity - she rejects that it's a virtue, although whether she is correct in this is a matter for debate. Where libertarianism differs is not so much its stance on particular issues, but in virtue of the fact that it's a collection of various philosophies bound together by the NAP.

-Jon

Freedom of markets is positively correlated with the degree of evolution in any society...

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wombatron replied on Thu, May 29 2008 12:36 PM

Ronorama:

I agree completely. One of the areas where libertarians and objectivists differ is in the principle of subjective/objective value. From the objectivist viewpoint, there is some objective standard of measure by which the value of anything can be determined, particularly with regard to such things as art and music. Austrians wholly rejected this concept. Objectivism also rejects the notion of voluntary charity, fully ignoring any subjective value may be provided to some people by engaging therein.

 

"Objective" and "subjective" are used in 2 different ways by Austrians and Objectivists.  What they both mean, in the end, is "agent-relative."  Geoffery can explain it better than I  :-)

Also, Rand had no problem with voluntary charity.  The moral problem emerges when someone relies on such charity as the sole basis of living, and when one uses pity as a means to obtain such charity.

Market anarchist, Linux geek, aspiring Perl hacker, and student of the neo-Aristotelians, the classical individualist anarchists, and the Austrian school.

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Ronorama replied on Thu, May 29 2008 12:57 PM

Ah...thanks for the clarification, gentlemen.

 

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Jon Irenicus:

She was a system builder.

I just built my own system.  Haven't come up with a name for it yet but it's real simple.

Leaving out all of the mumbo jumbo "meta" BS and what not and the fancy book learnin' and highfalutin words PhD's use we have my system based off of four principles:

  • 1)  Don't tell me how to conduct my business or who I can conduct business with. 
  • 2)  Don't screw me over.
  • 3)  If you screw me over I have the right to screw you over just as bad as you screwed me.
  • 4)  Everything you do is for selfish pleasure anyway so you might as well help someone out in the process.

Seems simple enough to me.

Now, just to let you know I wasn't influenced by anyone elses thinking or any philosophical exporations that have been conducted over the past 6,000 years.  I made this up all by myself and if anyone else is using this same system and calling it their own they are just plagiarizing me.

Hey, if Ayn Rand can make a ridiculous claim like that why can't I?

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Ronorama:

Nitroadict:
...she might've actually preferred a closed view of things..

I agree completely. One of the areas where libertarians and objectivists differ is in the principle of subjective/objective value. From the objectivist viewpoint, there is some objective standard of measure by which the value of anything can be determined, particularly with regard to such things as art and music. Austrians wholly rejected this concept. Objectivism also rejects the notion of voluntary charity, fully ignoring any subjective value may be provided to some people by engaging therein.

 

I think that both views can be reconciled and synthesized by making a distinction between ethics and preferance or aesthetics. One of the problems with Objectivism, in my OP, is that it tries to apply objectivity to aesthetics, which I find to be absolutely absurd. On the other hand, the problem with a lot of mainstream Libertarianism is that it truly does not provide a sound or objective ethical framework for liberty. It's usually mostly restricted to either utilitarian or constitutional/legal arguments. I think that her criticism stands in this regaurd.

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She's being childish, though, about "plagiarizing" her ideas...as if all of her ideas were completely original, and as though simply agreeing with her constitutes some kind of theft.

Yea, that is ridiculous. She most certainly did not invent rational egoism or egoism in general, or the notion of objectivity (although, to her credit, her definition of objective is a bit unique).

Her views on IP were way off base due to her intellectual elitism.

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None really. The videos provided by the Mises website prodded me into thinking the right way.

 

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To my knowledge a synthesis between Aristotelianism and egoism is entirely original. Until I am presented with evidence otherwise, Rand maintains her claim to originality in this regard.

-Jon

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Jon Irenicus:

To my knowledge a synthesis between Aristotelianism and egoism is entirely original. Until I am presented with evidence otherwise, Rand maintains her claim to originality in this regard.

-Jon

http://books.google.com/books?client=firefox-a&lr=&as_brr=0&q=Aristotle+egoism+date%3A1700-1905&btnG=Search+Books

I found a good deal of results (on Google books) for pulbications before 1905 (ayn rand's D.O.B.) concerning the words Aristotle egoism date:1700-1905, but alas, have yet to find anything to disspove this :) .  Even more frustrating is the lack of access I have to JSTOR to aid in my curious search.

Imo, I have a slight feeling that someone may have been on to such before her, but perhaps not have spelled it out, so to speak.  Then again, I also hold the phrase: "All great artists steal, they don't do homages" as somewhat true as well, so perhaps I'm just chasing ghosts.

"Look at me, I'm quoting another user to show how wrong I think they are, out of arrogance of my own position. Wait, this is my own quote, oh shi-" ~ Nitroadict

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The Law--Bastiat (minus god)

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kingmonkey:
She just sounds like a bitter b*tch to me.

That's not entirely wrong, but don't confuse objectivist principles with Ayn Rand's dogma.  She did, to her detriment and to the detriment of the philosophy she championed. The dogma sometimes (often?) contradicts the priniciples due to her refusal to let go of the monopoly state, as her principles demanded.

kingmonkey:
And the whole theory of ethics was already summed up by Christ 2,000 years ago:  "Love your neighbor as yourself"

Objectivist ethics - and Ayn Rand's dogma, they agree in this matter - say just the opposite.

As far as I know, her epistemology is original to her.  But whether she is right or wrong, her whining about bieng "plagiarized" is indeed silly.

 

The state won't go away once enough people want the state to go away, the state will effectively disappear once enough people no longer care that much whether it stays or goes. We don't need a revolution, we need millions of them.

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Brainpolice:
One of the problems with Objectivism, in my OP, is that it tries to apply objectivity to aesthetics, which I find to be absolutely absurd.

As you say, her use of "objective" was different than the common usage.  Aesthetics is not purely subjective preference, there are values expressed in any form of art, and those values and form of expression can be objectively analyzed and evaluated.  But of course you can't objectively say anything about whether someone simply likes something or not.  And here, her dogma gets in the way again.

 

The state won't go away once enough people want the state to go away, the state will effectively disappear once enough people no longer care that much whether it stays or goes. We don't need a revolution, we need millions of them.

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histhasthai:

Brainpolice:
One of the problems with Objectivism, in my OP, is that it tries to apply objectivity to aesthetics, which I find to be absolutely absurd.

As you say, her use of "objective" was different than the common usage.  Aesthetics is not purely subjective preference, there are values expressed in any form of art, and those values and form of expression can be objectively analyzed and evaluated.  But of course you can't objectively say anything about whether someone simply likes something or not.  And here, her dogma gets in the way again.

 

 

I don't see anything "objective" about what flavor of ice cream one likes. Statements of pure preferance cannot be objective in that all that's being expressed is emotive. It'd be absurd to say "no, you don't like that flavor of ice cream" or "my prefered flavor of ice cream is objectively superior to yours". When we are dealing purely with "what I like", it's totally subjective. You can't assign moral properties to such things. You can "objectively" evaluate the properties of ice cream, but you cannot conclude any imperative from that. If I like chocolate and you like vanilla, there is no way that you can "objectively" tell me that vanilla is better for me. Vanilla is only better for you.

The problem with ethical subjectivism is that it reduces ethics to the level of "I like ice cream" or "I like chocolate ice cream". The problem with aesthetic objectivism is that it essentially tries to superimpose ethics onto taste or personal preferance and becomes little more than a tool for people to impose their personal preferances onto others. What makes people happy is in some ways separate from what is right or what is imperative. So long as what makes people happy does not violate what is right or what is imperative, it seems to me that it has total free reign and is indeed subjective. There is no way that aesthetics can sensibly or legitimately be made obligatory.

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Brainpolice:

histhasthai:

Brainpolice:
One of the problems with Objectivism, in my OP, is that it tries to apply objectivity to aesthetics, which I find to be absolutely absurd.

As you say, her use of "objective" was different than the common usage.  Aesthetics is not purely subjective preference, there are values expressed in any form of art, and those values and form of expression can be objectively analyzed and evaluated.  But of course you can't objectively say anything about whether someone simply likes something or not.  And here, her dogma gets in the way again.

 

 

I don't see anything "objective" about what flavor of ice cream one likes. Statements of pure preferance cannot be objective in that all that's being expressed is emotive. It'd be absurd to say "no, you don't like that flavor of ice cream" or "my prefered flavor of ice cream is objectively superior to yours". When we are dealing purely with "what I like", it's totally subjective. You can't assign moral properties to such things. You can "objectively" evaluate the properties of ice cream, but you cannot conclude any imperative from that. If I like chocolate and you like vanilla, there is no way that you can "objectively" tell me that vanilla is better for me. Vanilla is only better for you.

The problem with ethical subjectivism is that it reduces ethics to the level of "I like ice cream" or "I like chocolate ice cream". The problem with aesthetic objectivism is that it essentially tries to superimpose ethics onto taste or personal preferance and becomes little more than a tool for people to impose their personal preferances onto others. What makes people happy is in some ways separate from what is right or what is imperative. So long as what makes people happy does not violate what is right or what is imperative, it seems to me that it has total free reign and is indeed subjective. There is no way that aesthetics can sensibly or legitimately be made obligatory.


I conluded as much a while ago after discovering all debates about music were more or less centered around those trying to put objective ethics on subjective preferances, and those trying to impose them onto others. 

At least those hours spent in chat rooms weren't wasted, I suppose.

 

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In the case of music, my position is as follows. In terms of technical ability, yes, it can be "objectively" evaluated. However, technical ability is not primarily what people value in music. They get emotional value from it irrespective of technical ablity. One cannot conclude that a certain type or piece of music is "objectively superior" because what makes music "good" or "bad" is entirely a matter of the emotional value or happiness that people get from listening to it. From the standpoint of the listener, it's subjective.

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Brainpolice:
The problem with aesthetic objectivism is that it essentially tries to superimpose ethics onto taste or personal preferance and becomes little more than a tool for people to impose their personal preferances onto others. [ ...] There is no way that aesthetics can sensibly or legitimately be made obligatory.

Umm.... you quoted me, but you don't seem to be arguing against me. I said the values being expressed can be analyzed objectively (in that you can say, "this piece of art expresses such and such values, and here's what those values imply", but that the subjective reaction to a piece cannot - except perhaps to say that such and such a response indicates a certain view about the values expressed.  What is it about that you disagree with? Do you disagree that art expresses values?  Do you think that appreciation of any work of art is entirely arbitrary? If you want to lump the kind of ice cream you like into aesthetics, fine, but there's no relevance to the philosophical subject of aesthetics, so it's pretty pointless.

 

The state won't go away once enough people want the state to go away, the state will effectively disappear once enough people no longer care that much whether it stays or goes. We don't need a revolution, we need millions of them.

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Was just clarifying.

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histhasthai wrote:

That's not entirely wrong, but don't confuse objectivist principles with Ayn Rand's dogma.  She did, to her detriment and to the detriment of the philosophy she championed. The dogma sometimes (often?) contradicts the priniciples due to her refusal to let go of the monopoly state, as her principles demanded.

I've long felt that Rand was a bit of a 'control freak' so her acceptance of monopoly of force in the form of government makes sense FOR HER. But I also feel that it was a strong contradiction to her otherwise firm stance on individiualism.

After reading her novels and most of her other books, I felt I gained a much more balanced view of Rand as a person from reading the 2 books written by the Brandens (Barbara & Nathaniel). Rand may have had a brain sharp as a tack, but she also used that intelligence as a rapier on others. And she had a BIG emotional 'hole' IMHO. More than likely she carried some dysfunctional scars from her origins - family and revolutionary Russia.

And returning to the original question re becoming libertatarian, I agree with the basic non-agression stance of libertarianism, but I shun the politics of the Libertarian party. Guess my anarchic sympathies see little or no value in trying to change government by being part of it.

Jain

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Though it wasn't what made me a libertarian, 1984 certainly reinforced it.

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Road to Serfdom by Hayek

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