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Questioning Subjectivism

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mikachusetts Posted: Tue, Jul 3 2012 12:18 PM

So here’s the scenario that has me questioning the radical subjectivism adopted by a lot of Austrians.  Imagine a community living on a remote island.  The island has a variety of scarce resources:  fish, corals, trees with fruits and vegetables, medicinal plants, fresh water, etc.  It also has nearly unlimited amounts of sand and salt water.  Given what we know about money, is it possible that salt water emerges as money?

Or in modified Euthyphro’s Dilemma, are the characteristics of money what they are because we value those characteristics, or do we value those characteristics because they make for better money?

It seems obvious that despite the valuations of individuals, salt water could not emerge as money in that society because of its super abundance – It would be freely available.  I don’t think this undermines STV, or anything like that.  Rather, I think it opens up the possibility of talking about value in non-subjective ways, which has wider ramifications in fields like ethics.  If the nature of an object has an effect on its use regardless of how it is valued, then we can talk about that object as being good or bad for that purpose without reference to valuation.

For example, on that island, sand and salt water make for bad money no matter what people think otherwise.  If everyone tried to use sand and salt water as money, it would fail, because you could increase your supply of money by bending over and picking up more sand. 

they said we would have an unfair fun advantage

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Marko replied on Tue, Jul 3 2012 1:24 PM

It isn't regardless of how it is valued. Since there is no cost to aquiring a replacement unit there is zero possibility the community in question assigns any value to any one ounce of the super-abundant sand. We know one ounce of sand may not serve as a unit of money because we already know its value for any member of the community must be zero.

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Seraiah replied on Tue, Jul 3 2012 1:41 PM

The value of the item is inversely proportional to its supply, and directly proportional to its utility, and neither utility nor supply matters if it is not subjectively valued.

A person could have a glass of water on an island and decide not to drink it, then die of thirst. In principle even the most useful most scarce resource could have very little value. This is less likely to occur proportional to the size of the society, but is nonetheless true.

Since the value of a resource can be decided irrespective of supply or demand, it can be said that all value is subjective. Fortunately most people rationally act in their self interest!

"...Bitcoin [may] already [be] the world's premiere currency, if we take ratio of exchange to commodity value as a measure of success ... because the better that ratio the more valuable purely as money that thing must be" -Anenome
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Nielsio replied on Tue, Jul 3 2012 1:44 PM

I think this may clear up some things:

 

Menger versus Mises and Rothbard on how money works

http://nielsio.tumblr.com/post/25583537960/menger-versus-mises-and-rothbard-on-how-money-works

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Since there is no cost to aquiring a replacement unit there is zero possibility the community in question assigns any value to any one ounce of the super-abundant sand.

Well, there is some cost, like the small effort needed to bend over and pick up sand or walk down to the shoreline to get sea water.  And there is no a priori reason why a unit of sand or a unit of salt walter can't be valued at all.

 

they said we would have an unfair fun advantage

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One  comment for now:

Has anyone on this island even thought about it as currency?  If not, one can not expect to be used what they are ignorant of.

 

"As in a kaleidoscope, the constellation of forces operating in the system as a whole is ever changing." - Ludwig Lachmann

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Has anyone on this island even thought about it as currency?

Let's say they have.  I don't think, even if they tried though, it could function as money.  It would be more like some sort of ritual where I give you a pile of sand, and you give me some fruit, then you give that sand to Bob, and he gives you some fish.  I don't see how it would be an actual exchange.  I'm not denying that we all might value sand becuase we know we can give it to each other for other goods.  I'm saying that since that sand is all around us, the phenemona of sand is something other than money. 

I guess what I'm trying to get at is this: does the nature of certain objects precede our attitudes towards them?  Is valuation a secondary determinate of what can become money?

they said we would have an unfair fun advantage

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z1235 replied on Tue, Jul 3 2012 2:28 PM

mikachusetts:
I guess what I'm trying to get at is this: does the nature of certain objects precede our attitudes towards them?  Is valuation a secondary determinate of what can become money?

Does the nature of sand preclude it from becoming a thirst-quencher? Is valuation (of something as a thirst-quencher) a secondary determinate of what can become a thirst-quencher?

You are basically asking, does the nature of X determine whether it is being (subjectively) valued as a means toward end Y?

Sure. So what?

 

 

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You are basically asking, does the nature of X determine whether it is being (subjectively) valued as a means toward end Y?

Sure. So what?

Well, its an answer to my one question.  Do we value certain characteristics because they make for good money, or does something make good money because we value those characteristics.  The former means that the value (at least in some sense) stands outside of us, while the later means that value is entirely subjective. 

If value has one foot in the subjectivism and the other in objectivism (and I think it does), then (1) the object-subject divide isn't really a helpful dichotomy and (2) the radical subjectivism espoused by some Austrians may not be the right way to go.  More than anything else, it would show that the common phrase "value is subjective" doesn't tell us much of anything. 

they said we would have an unfair fun advantage

"enough about human rights. what about whale rights?" -moondog
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z1235 replied on Tue, Jul 3 2012 3:21 PM

mikachusetts:
Well, its an answer to my one question.  Do we value certain characteristics because they make for good money, or does something make good money because we value those characteristics.  The former means that the value (at least in some sense) stands outside of us,...

Where else would "valued" objects (items) stand if not outside of the subject that values them? 

...while the later means that value is entirely subjective.

The valuation of (external) objects and their characteristics is, indeed, entirely subjective. None other than the perceiving subject can value things (as means toward his own ends). NO value whatsoever exists beyond the one given to an external object (item) by a subject. 

If value has one foot in the subjectivism and the other in objectivism (and I think it does), then (1) the object-subject divide isn't really a helpful dichotomy and (2) the radical subjectivism espoused by some Austrians may not be the right way to go.  More than anything else, it would show that the common phrase "value is subjective" doesn't tell us much of anything.

Sure, both (1) a valued object and (2) a valuing subject are necessary for valuation to occur. I don't see how this (pretty obvious) fact makes valuation anything but subjective.

Of course, it is entirely possible that there may have existed agents who have subjectively valued sand as means toward the ends of thirst-quenching and/or indirect exchange (i.e. as money), but social and natural selection has likely resulted in them not being around for too long. The fact that means vary in their usefulness/effectiveness when used (by subjects) toward certain ends, and the fact that -- more often than not -- subjects are ignorant about the best means toward their ends (no omniscience), does not make valuation anything but subjective, either. 

Sorry, I still fail to see the significance (or even existence) of your quandary. 

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5 more quick thoughts for now:  Nothing is concrete, I'm just trying to feel you out while putting some thoughts together.  Some of the things I list, I don't even know how much I agree with.  Ignore anything that is missing the point

a) Money is an objective external thing.  We define what money is, and thn it must be so.  If I define money as I would a triangle, than there you have it.

b) I have heard it said that money is primarly a holder of value 1st, and a medium of exchnge second, could this be so?

c) Is it possible than that sand in this scenario, is just an externality than to the economic process?

d) Does the fact that you are setting up a stagnnt world with the rules in place, where you control the actors negate any worthwhile mening in this thought experiment?  What does it say about extant process, action, and how markets develop in complexity?

e) Is it possible that this long with ever other object is being measured in constant competiton for the use of currency, but sand is - at this point in time so microscopically weak it shows no real bearing on society at large in regards to sand as currency?

 

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I think you're on to something, Mika. I've also thought that it doesn't really make sense to say that value is subjective or objective since it's a mediation between the two. You might even compare it to qualia, such as color. We might be tempted to say that red is an objective property of a rose. But to someone who is color "blind" the rose might appear green. So the color of the rose depends both on its objective properties and the subjective properties of the perceiver. Of course this doesn't prevent us from narrowing our attention on the objective or subjective properties.

What would happen if there was the same amount of sand as in your example, but it was buried 10 feet underground? Could it serve as money then?

"The limits of my language mean the limits of my world." ~ Ludwig Wittgenstein
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What would happen if there was the same amount of sand as in your example, but it was buried 10 feet underground? Could it serve as money then?

 

You can create any "object" to be money in any hpothetical and abstract sitution.  What matters is how money is used as a proposition.

To think in terms of objects in this regard is self defeating

"As in a kaleidoscope, the constellation of forces operating in the system as a whole is ever changing." - Ludwig Lachmann

"When A Man Dies A World Goes Out of Existence"  - GLS Shackle

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You might even compare it to qualia, such as color. We might be tempted to say that red is an objective property of a rose. But to someone who is color "blind" the rose might appear green. 

It depends on the categories and context it is used in.  Once again, in relation to my other post - don't be a word Platonist

"As in a kaleidoscope, the constellation of forces operating in the system as a whole is ever changing." - Ludwig Lachmann

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OK, maybe I should have said: in your opinion, would it be more likely to serve as money?

"The limits of my language mean the limits of my world." ~ Ludwig Wittgenstein
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Clayton replied on Tue, Jul 3 2012 7:01 PM

@OP: This is a good question and I think the current Austrian scholarship should give some guidance on this issue. Basically, yes, individual valuation is subjective, but we also know that this subjective valuation operates parametrically within objective boundaries. For example, "drinking battery acid" is not something that anyone, anywhere could ever value. Whence this restriction on subjective valuation? The answer is that the particulars of human nature (our physiology and psychology) establish borders within which subjective valuation operates parametrically. I disagree with Rothbard on whether we can esatblish any of the particular features of human nature a priori. I think that the particular facts of human nature must be discovered empirically. Search "evolutionary psychology" on the forum search to see the many discussions on this topic.

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 "drinking battery acid" 

If by this you men something like "all bachelors are unmarried men", how does this not becomes a gigantic "so what" type of tautology?

 

If you mean something along the lines of a "will to life" or something as the ultimate value in itself, this isn't even empiraclly true.  Nor would it make a good starting premise for anything

 

Also, I don't think anyone would deny "borders on subjectivism" - what matters is it's scope, how it relates to ones actions, nd what can be said of it in an academic language within the context of human action.

I mean nobody in their right mind would say "it's all subjective" and mean that as an ultimate objective truth.  However, I can talk about what all is subjective. In other words, obviously when we speak of subjectivism, we speak of it in an objective sense.

Frankly, I think the word "perspectivism" may be a better word, but that's picking fly shit from pepper.  I won't argue this, but one may be tempted to conclude that a little cute quality about Austrianism is going through great analytical lengths to show the stupidity of people going through great analytical lengths and thinking much of it matters and the folly of "fly shit and pepper" / asburger / nuances/ nerd or whatever you want to call it styled thinking.

maybe something along theWittgenstein lines of:

6.54 My propositions are elucidatory in this way: he who understands me finally recognizes them as senseless, when he has climbed out through them, on them, over them. (He must so to speak throw away the ladder, after he has climbed up on it.) He must transcend these propositions, and then he will see the world aright.

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Clayton replied on Tue, Jul 3 2012 8:40 PM

"drinking battery acid"

If by this you men something like "all bachelors are unmarried men", how does this not becomes a gigantic "so what" type of tautology?

If you mean something along the lines of a "will to life" or something as the ultimate value in itself, this isn't even empiraclly true.  Nor would it make a good starting premise for anything

No, I don't mean a "will to life" nor do I mean to suggest that the empirical facts of human nature can tell us man's ultimate end. The ultimate end of action is a priori, formal. It is satisfaction because satisfaction is the only logically possible thing that can be the end which all other ends are seeking to attain.

Aristotle says in the Nicomachean Ethics:

Since there are evidently more than one end, and we choose some of these (e.g. wealth, flutes, and in general instruments) for the sake of something else, clearly not all ends are final ends; but the chief good is evidently something final. Therefore, if there is only one final end, this will be what we are seeking, and if there are more than one, the most final of these will be what we are seeking. Now we call that which is in itself worthy of pursuit more final than that which is worthy of pursuit for the sake of something else, and that which is never desirable for the sake of something else more final than the things that are desirable both in themselves and for the sake of that other thing, and therefore we call final without qualification that which is always desirable in itself and never for the sake of something else.

Now such a thing happiness, above all else, is held to be; for this we choose always for self and never for the sake of something else, but honour, pleasure, reason, and every virtue we choose indeed for themselves (for if nothing resulted from them we should still choose each of them), but we choose them also for the sake of happiness, judging that by means of them we shall be happy. Happiness, on the other hand, no one chooses for the sake of these, nor, in general, for anything other than itself.

Happiness, satisfaction, nirvana, ataraxia, whatever-you-want-to-call-it, it is that end which is formally entailed in any other (non-final) end. It is the final end and, therefore, the highest good (again, "good" should be understood here in a formal sense, not a moral sense).

But it is an empirical question why people will drink aspertame but never battery acid. After all, both are injurious to health. We can point out that battery acid causes painful sensations but so does running a marathon, yet people enthusiastically run marathons. So, clearly, the presence of neurological pain is not the sole criterion for deciding whether something can be a human end or not.

Also, I'm less interested in the extraordinary, individual exceptions (e.g. a sword-swallower) than I am in statements about humans qua humans, that is, humans as a population. For example, we can truly say, "Honey bees collect pollen." This is a true fact about honey bees, even if the odd honey bee has a derangement that causes him to fly in circles and never collect a bit of pollen. It is clear that "collecting pollen" is part of honey bee nature. We can list many such facts that are also true in the same sense about humans, even if there are pathological exceptions. These facts can be called "human nature." I think the key is to recognize that this list can only be constructed by empirical means... we have to go out and see what humans actually do in order to say what humans do or don't do.

A quick thought-experiment shows why this is the case. It is easy to conceive of an alien race that is intelligent and, therefore, acts. But we can imagine that the physiological facts of this alien race may be extremely different from our own. It would no doubt be a non-DNA based life form (unless panspermia is the case!) It might employ means of communication, locomotion, metabolism and reproduction wholly foreign to our ability to conceive. We can set some extremely general outside limits on what kinds of facts must be the case of an alien physiology but there aren't a lot of details we can give.

Yet human nature is intricately entwined with the particular facts of human physiology. "Humans dance" "humans create and enjoy music" are dependent on the physiological facts of our anatomy and our senses which can only be known empirically. An alien race may or may not dance or enjoy music, depending on the facts of its anatomy and not until we encountered the alien race and could observe its behavior, its anatomy, and so on, could we possibly outline the "facts of alien nature." Hence, it is not possible to give an a priori account of the facts of human nature from the armchair. You have to actually go out and observe what humans do and the specific facts of their anatomy and environment and how these originated. There are no shortcuts.

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"Honey bees collect pollen."

No they don't.  Or only within a very narrow and set up context. Only in a propositional sense. A context that you set up and contextualize.  The objects involved mean nothing.

 

Also, I'm less interested in the extraordinary, individual exceptions

Penecillian and the assasination of the Archduke Ferdinand were extrordinary exceptions- to say these things are any more or less "valuable" or worth considering, has no actual bearing on anything of an overriding sociological concern.  I could just as easily call the exceptions some of the more interesting and important things.  To take it one step further, to note exceptions means you are arbitrarily graphing things and calling things "normal" or "extrodinary".

 

 we have to go out and see what humans actually do in order to say what humans do or don't do.

Sure, than you become a tradesmen and use whatever intellectual categories you find useful at any given time, and just perform a practiced art/ τέχνη.  Frankly, there is no reason for me to even consider someone a human, or concern myslef with their nature as I could just as easily, and in practice many times do, look at something as a unique acting agent in relation to me.  I'll look at it as a human when I do something like practice medicine in a real context that is relevant to me.  And this is nothing more than τέχνη as well.

 

"Humans dance" "humans create and enjoy music" are dependent

No, these are subjective useful narratives at a given time for a particular context.  The truth is, the complexities as to what is going on where and when with a unique actor, in a unique situation, at a unique time is incalcuable and beyond us. 

 

 

 

 

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Neodoxy replied on Tue, Jul 3 2012 11:51 PM

Salt water would never emerge as money because people would never have a reason to exchange goods for it in the first place since they could just go and get their own.

At last those coming came and they never looked back With blinding stars in their eyes but all they saw was black...
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gotlucky replied on Wed, Jul 4 2012 12:42 AM

@Vive

To take it one step further, to note exceptions means you are arbitrarily graphing things and calling things "normal" or "extrodinary".

I was going to disagree with you here, but after thinking about it some more...nevermind. Keep up the good work!

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AJ replied on Wed, Jul 4 2012 1:17 PM

"Value" is a verb. It is only used in its noun form for convenience of expression or to hide agency. If confusion results from the noun form, just taboo it. Then it is impossible to say meaningless things like, "Part of the value inheres in the object."

 

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Seraiah replied on Thu, Jul 5 2012 7:37 AM

Clayton:
For example, "drinking battery acid" is not something that anyone, anywhere could ever value.

False.

Look up "Masochism".

"...Bitcoin [may] already [be] the world's premiere currency, if we take ratio of exchange to commodity value as a measure of success ... because the better that ratio the more valuable purely as money that thing must be" -Anenome
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Torsten replied on Thu, Jul 5 2012 8:14 AM

Or in modified Euthyphro’s Dilemma, are the characteristics of money what they are because we value those characteristics, or do we value those characteristics because they make for better money?

Hen and egg question?

The criteria we have for good money are the results of our judgements, which is basically stemming from our experience and logic and of course information exchanges we do have with other people. So it's kind of both, we agree that something is money, because it has characteristics we value as traits for good money. 

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z1235 replied on Thu, Jul 5 2012 8:17 AM

AJ:

"Value" is a verb. It is only used in its noun form for convenience of expression or to hide agency. If confusion results from the noun form, just taboo it. Then it is impossible to say meaningless things like, "Part of the value inheres in the object."

A two-line sublimation of my point. Thanks AJ. yes

 

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Seraiah replied on Thu, Jul 5 2012 8:31 AM

are the characteristics of money what they are because we value those characteristics

No, unless it's an artificial money. (Fiat, cryptocurrency.)

or do we value those characteristics because they make for better money?

Yes.

That's a false dilemma; One does not exclude the other.

We value money because it's useful to us as a medium of exchange. It's useful as a medium of exchange because of its characteristics (Which are either artificial or natural.)

Voluntary exchanges of the item in question is what gives us the average value among a society (market value.)

Any item in a free market will gravitate to what the society percieves as its most valuable use. In the case of fiat money, the perception must be artificially altered by means described in the "Regression Theorem".

"...Bitcoin [may] already [be] the world's premiere currency, if we take ratio of exchange to commodity value as a measure of success ... because the better that ratio the more valuable purely as money that thing must be" -Anenome
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Clayton replied on Thu, Jul 5 2012 10:56 AM

False.

Look up "Masochism".

I don't think so.

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AJ:
"Value" is a verb. It is only used in its noun form for convenience of expression or to hide agency. If confusion results from the noun form, just taboo it. Then it is impossible to say meaningless things like, "Part of the value inheres in the object."

The fact that "value" is used as a noun, for whatever reason, is proof that it isn't strictly a verb.  Trying to say that its really a verb, but not really a noun is nonsense, and it certainly doesn't falsify any claims about value lying outside of the self.

Neodoxy:
Salt Water would never emerge as money because people would never have a reason to exchange goods for it in the first place since they could just go and get their own.

What I'm interested in, for a claim like this, is how it squares with the general attitude of subjectivism. 

I guess here's where I'm going with all of this.  The subjective-objective dichotomy doesn't leave room for a middle ground where the relationship between the self and the external exists.  Essentially, the way the dichotomy ends up is: Objectivism (completely minde-independent) vs. Subjectivism (everything else).  But the difference between a hallucination and an experience, or a dream and a value judgement is significant enough to justify distinction.  If you can't value something as money because that thing can't be money (for whatever reason), then the external is exerting a real force on the mind. 

I'm really drawn to Rand's IOS dichotomy for this reason.  She makes the distinction between the inherent, the objective, and the subjective (the objective is the name she gave to the middle ground, while the inherent is the name she gave to the external, mind-independent).  When Rand said value was objective, she didn't mean that values were inherent traits residing in objects; rather, she mean't that valuation was not fully subjective -- it was valuation of an object, and effected by facts of reality. 

And like I said, I don't think this undermines value subjectivism as an economic theory.  What it does undermine, is the idea that we can't talk about values as being better or worse, good and bad.  Since they are towards real objects/goals with real characteristics, and since those real characteristics are effected by actual laws of reality, then some values are more in line with reality than others.  Mostly, this is aimed at the usual retort that "values are subjective."  You shouldn't value sea water as a medium of exchange -- and the STV doesn't change this.

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Seraiah replied on Thu, Jul 5 2012 12:22 PM

Clayton:
 I don't think so.

Ed Gein

See those black lines? Those are sewing needles. Self inflicted without any coercian.

As a society, you might say that people wont choose to drink battery acid, but to say categorically that no one anywhere would ever do it through their own volition is just wrong.

"...Bitcoin [may] already [be] the world's premiere currency, if we take ratio of exchange to commodity value as a measure of success ... because the better that ratio the more valuable purely as money that thing must be" -Anenome
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Clayton replied on Thu, Jul 5 2012 2:17 PM

@Seraiah: You're making my point for me... the evidence you've given that you imagine supports your argument is an X-ray... obviously taken at a hospital or doctor's office. In other words, this is clearly pathological behavior. No one can deny that the intentional self-infliction of pain is one means that people use in the pursuit of satisfaction (the ultimate/final end). The example I gave (drinking battery acid) is illustrative of the kind of behavior that can only be pathological but never a means to the satisfaction of any human end, not even masochism, not even euthanasia, not even for renown (because the individual won't be around to reap the benefits, he cannot be being satisfied by them). It is in the same category of pathological behavior as self-immolation, hara-kiri or any kind of protest-suicide/notoriety-suicide.

You can imagine a hostage situation where you must perform a sadistic act specified by the hostage-taker in order to redeem someone or something you care about more than your own life and freedom from excruciating, long-term pain. But this kind of behavior is not action at all, any more than when a high school bully slaps you with your own hand. It is what Mises called "autistic exchange", that is, the situation where you see what appears to be an "exchange" occurring but where, in fact, the will/ends of only one of the parties is being expressed. There is no mutuality, hence, there is no exchange, hence, there is no possibility of action on the part of the dominated party.

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Seraiah replied on Fri, Jul 6 2012 9:13 AM

You're arguing that the person was dominated by his own mind and therefore what he did wasn't an "action"? Some people's subjective values can be completely apart from the mainstream, there's nothing mysterious going on here.

Clayton:
[Drinking battery acid] can only be pathological but never a means to the satisfaction of any human end, not even masochism...

Drinking battery acid can be the means to the satisfaction of a human end. Namely; Masochism.
I could not possibly disagree more.

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Torsten replied on Fri, Jul 6 2012 2:14 PM

Suicide and self-harm can be purposeful human actions, even if they are generally seen as bad things destroying value. And of course one can also regret such bad action later. That doesn't impair on Praxeologie as a method, yet someone may make plead for paternalistic intervention in the light of such things.

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Clayton replied on Fri, Jul 6 2012 2:52 PM

Suicide and self-harm can be purposeful human actions

Let me crank up the contrast to the maximum to make the point.

Imagine that everyone, once a year, must (and does) go to an audit. At this audit, they must choose between two options: a) Nothing (go out the door and live ordinary life) and b) guaranteed, life-long, excruciating, way-beyond-any-threshold-you-can-handle-but-still-not-black-out pain. Who will choose option b? Will anyone, ever, in the history of all humanity choose option b? Of course not.

And if some freak did choose option b, we could safely categorize such an individual as mentally ill. There's something wrong - in a medical/biological/psychological sense - with anyone who chooses option b. In other words, to avoid all this silly debate about people who stick needles where the sun doesn't shine, we can just make it a tautology - anyone who knowingly chooses suffering for its own sake - not even to serve God, not even for notoriety, not for any other purpose but simply to suffer - is unwell. That is what we mean by pathological behavior.

Euthanasia (as distinct from, say, protest-suicide or other kinds of suicide) is a form of human action, in that the individual is choosing to forego the quantity of his life in preference for quality. Epicurus has explained at length why such a decision is rational. But other kinds of suicide are pathological. They are often dramatic precisely because the individual is not in his right state of mind, he is not making a rational choice regarding the maintenance and cultivation of his own homeostasis. He is exhibiting behavior that is evidence of mental disease, like the individual in a high fever who lashes about wildly and utters delusions.

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AJ replied on Fri, Jul 6 2012 7:58 PM

Mika, the challenge would be to define the word "value" without reference to an agent.

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Seraiah replied on Fri, Jul 6 2012 11:42 PM

Would I be correct in assuming that you want to categorically remove people who want pain for its own sake from everyone else for the purpose of espousing that "do what thou wilt" should be the whole of the law? The reason I'm inclined to do so is because of your other thread talking about a sort of secular church.

The contradiction would be glaring if you included them, aye?

Thing is, there's no reason to believe that Albert Fish was any less in control of his actions than you or I. He was a human acting on his desires. Often people need to restrain themselves, and this is not at all a bad thing. People that cannot control their desires are killed or indefinately detained because the rest of society doesn't want to live with them.

Perhaps I've assumed to much, why do you think the distinction is important, and at what point does a person go from being extremely masochistic to sub-human (Or some other word you want to use...)?

"...Bitcoin [may] already [be] the world's premiere currency, if we take ratio of exchange to commodity value as a measure of success ... because the better that ratio the more valuable purely as money that thing must be" -Anenome
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gotlucky replied on Sat, Jul 7 2012 12:15 AM

Seraiah,

I don't think that is what Clayton is trying to say.  Masochists like pain because it brings them pleasure (in some capacity).  It brings them satisfaction.  Just like how a priest taking a vow of celibacy brings him satisfaction (I wonder how well they all follow it, but that's something else).  We can disagree with their choices, but we can see that these choices lead to their satisfaction.
 

I think what Clayton is saying, is that when someone chooses pain and it does not bring them satisfaction, then there is something wrong them.

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Malachi replied on Sat, Jul 7 2012 11:31 AM
Money has to be scarce, thus excluding salt water and sand from your scenario.
Keep the faith, Strannix. -Casey Ryback, Under Siege (Steven Seagal)
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I just clicked this thread and don't really want to read back...

If anyone is using this quote,

...to stand up for "freedom" they should know that Crowley's "Book of the Law" is a bible type book.  It doesn't mean "freedom."  In fact, George H.W. Bush's mom was a mistress of Crowley.  Crowley was the spiritual guru of FDR's Secretary of Treasury.  FDR's Treasury Sec. designed the dollar bill.  Those people are so far from freedom it hurts.

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Clayton replied on Sun, Jul 8 2012 7:27 PM

 when someone chooses pain and it does not bring them satisfaction, then there is something wrong them.

Right - when someone chooses pain for no reason but to suffer, there is something wrong with them. People choose to undergo all sorts of pains - the pain of heart surgery, the pain of dental work, the pain of leaving family for a career, and so on. But all of these pains have a purpose which, on balance, the individual has calculated is worth it. This is a reflection of the nature of any acting being - the capacity to trade off short-run against long-run consequences. Humans are unique among the animals in the time range over which we are able to trade off consequences. 

The extremist Jesuit who self-flaggelates as a form of penance does so because he believes that this is bringing him closer to God, which is the most satisfying thing of all to him. The masochist who has someone inflict neurological or other kinds of pain on him does so because - by definition - he derives sexual satisfaction from this or derives satisfaction from giving sexual satisfaction to another who enjoys the infliction of pain. None of these are examples of choosing pain for its own sake. We might miscalculate and choose a course of action that is painful but does not lead to our own satisfaction (as did the masochist whose x-ray is featured above), but then it is the recognition that we have made a mistake - not the neurological pain - that is the criterion for determining that we have failed to attain our end, that is, our satisfaction. 

When you push it further to the extreme, you get into the realm of psychosis, that is, pathological behavior. I have a relative who inflicted serious bodily harm on himself on the basis of a passage of Scripture he read. It must have been extremely painful, painful beyond words. He is paranoid schizophrenic, that is, there is something wrong with his mind. There is something in his mind/brain that is manifestly set against its intended function (a pathology). The proper dividing line between pathological behavior and miscalculation is the presence of delusion, whether delusion regarding means ("inflicting grave bodily injury on myself will bring me satisfaction") or delusion regarding ends ("My end is not my own satisfaction, it is something else.") People who miscalculate aren't deluded, they are either ignorant, not intelligent enough or are suffering from a crisis of self-worth that prevents them from correctly calculating the proper means to achieve their final end or identify what their final end actually is (satisfaction).

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