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I am an Objectivist. I follow the philosophy developed by the Russian Immigrant, Ayn Rand.

Ayn Rand summarized her philosophy in 1962 as follows:
At a sales conference at Random House, preceding the publication of <cite>Atlas Shrugged</cite>, one of the book salesmen asked me whether I could present the essence of my philosophy while standing on one foot. I did as follows:
  1. Metaphysics Objective Reality
  2. Epistemology Reason
  3. Ethics Self-interest
  4. Politics Capitalism
If you want this translated into simple language, it would read: 1. “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed” or “Wishing won’t make it so.” 2. “You can’t eat your cake and have it, too.” 3. “Man is an end in himself.” 4. “Give me liberty or give me death.”
If you held these concepts with total consistency, as the base of your convictions, you would have a full philosophical system to guide the course of your life. But to hold them with total consistency—to understand, to define, to prove and to apply them—requires volumes of thought. Which is why philosophy cannot be discussed while standing on one foot—nor while standing on two feet on both sides of every fence. This last is the predominant philosophical position today, particularly in the field of politics.
My philosophy, Objectivism, holds that:

  1. Reality exists as an objective absolute—facts are facts, independent of man’s feelings, wishes, hopes or fears.
  2. Reason (the faculty which identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses) is man’s only means of perceiving reality, his only source of knowledge, his only guide to action, and his basic means of survival.
  3. Man—every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.
  4. The ideal political-economic system is laissez-faire capitalism. It is a system where men deal with one another, not as victims and executioners, nor as masters and slaves, but as traders, by free, voluntary exchange to mutual benefit. It is a system where no man may obtain any values from others by resorting to physical force, and no man may initiate the use of physical force against others. The government acts only as a policeman that protects man’s rights; it uses physical force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use, such as criminals or foreign invaders. In a system of full capitalism, there should be (but, historically, has not yet been) a complete separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church.
If Objectivism had a commandment, that commandment would be "THINK". To never accept anything as given simply because someone says one should, but to evaluate it for yourself and determine in your own judgment, "Is it true?"

I have done this with the philosophy of Objectivism, and believe it (based on my current knowledge) to be the only rational framework for a philosophy to exist today.

I fully expect to be a Kith of 1 on this for some time, but really it's far past time for me to start this Kith. If there are any other Objectivists here, I look forward to hearing it! :D
 

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Isn't this kind of the same as libertarianism?
 

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Libertarianism is a political party. Objectivism is a philosophy.

Objectivists often vote libertarian, but the problem we have with Libertarians is that they base their politics on what we call a "stolen concept".

Basically they took the idea of "no man may initiate the use of physical force against others" and used it as a startingpoint. They treat that concept as axiomatic - meaning self-evident and unable to be denied without first accepting it as true.

As a result, Libertarian's hold that morally, anything goes as long as it hurts NO ONE ELSE. Objectivists hold that while no man may STOP you from that which is self-destructive, the self-destructive is inherently immoral.

People focus on the latter aspects of Objectivism - freedom and capitalism - and tend to disregard the more fundamental concepts - Metaphysics, Epistemology, Ethics - but it is upon those concepts that Government and Economics MUST be based if one wishes to have a moral Government and a moral Economy.
 
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I should read Atlas Shrugged. I remember reading The Fountainhead in high school and agreeing with it just about 100% (to the horrors of my classmates, who tended to be very liberal / socialist leaning).
 

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Interesting! I'm now going to look up about 7 of the words you used...more later...

:huh:

I hope you don't mind me asking questions...this stuff is fascinating.
 

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How do objectivists deal with the unknown and the unknowable?
 

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I should read Atlas Shrugged. I remember reading The Fountainhead in high school and agreeing with it just about 100% (to the horrors of my classmates, who tended to be very liberal / socialist leaning).
I think you'll enjoy it - but I advise you now - there are some VERY long speeches in the book, and they are the best material as well - hard to read but WELL worth it.

Interesting! I'm now going to look up about 7 of the words you used...more later...

:huh:

I hope you don't mind me asking questions...this stuff is fascinating.
Which 7? :)

How do objectivists deal with the unknown and the unknowable?
Humans are not infallible. Errors of knowledge are forgivable. Errors of the deliberate type - refusing to think, refusing to see the facts, etc - are not.

That which is "unknown" is yet to be discovered. New facts can refine our understanding of reality - but there are no facts of reality which contradict other facts - only errors of knowledge. (For example, gravity on quantum scales vs. gravity on "normal" scales - they don't contradict, they're on different scales)

That which is "unknowable" is cognitively null. That which is cognitively null is to be ignored because it HAS no meaning. The arbitrary falls in this category - if you can neither prove it NOR disprove it, it's logically meaningless, and thus not to be bothered with. Giving credibility to ANY arbitrary concept demands that credibility be given to ALL arbitrary concepts, which leads to contradiction where 1=0, which is false.
 

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How are axioms 3 and 4, themselves, not arbitrary?
 

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How are axioms 3 and 4, themselves, not arbitrary?
If you are referring to Ms. Rand's items 3 and 4 listed above - the Ethics and Politics, they are not axioms. They are summaries of key points arrived at as one works from Metaphysics up to ethics and politics.

They are quite high, in fact, in the hierarchical structure of the philosophy of Objectivism.

We have three axioms in Objectivist Metaphysics and Epistemology:
1) Existence exists
2) Existence is identity
3) Consciousness exists

See, to get Epistemological (Epistemology is the philosophy of knowledge - how we think, how we know things, what is truth, etc) ALL knowledge is hierarchical - math starts with counting, then addition, then multiplication, then calculus. Physics starts with basic motions, and develops into quantum operations.

Philosophy is no different. Any philosophy which *starts* in the middle (and quite a few do) without any prior grounding amount to trying to cognitively build a sky-scraper starting on the 15th floor, not with the foundation.

So in Objectivism, our Ethics, our Economics and our Politics are all based upon our Epistemology and our Metaphysics. They aren't arbitrary at all - they're conclusions built on quite a lot of prior groundwork.

I have only summarized the points - like if someone explained what a cosine was without working their way up through geometry first. To get from Metaphysics through Epistemology and into Ethics alone would take a lot of explanation, which isn't the point of *this* forum. (And the work has already been done, so I don't need to repeat it, just refer you to it and let you judge for yourself. ;))
 

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Its nice to see mek42 using the thought process rather than the feeling process to evaluate the philosophy of Ayn Rand (Objectivism).

There are many, many of us who admire her works. Strange how this process has worked worked through the years. For example, way back if one were, say, 'gay' or an 'atheist' one kept the knowledge to oneself; but that ended eventually....... The overwhelming majority of those who admire her do so today in the social closet. Albeit, more and more of those are 'coming out'- and surprisingly, the number of those who do so and earnestly grapple with her ideas and try to get their arms around it and then attempt to integrate Objectivism into his/her life, is accelerating world wide.

Well done, mek42. Thanks.
 
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