Sunday, 13 September 2009

Reply to Richard Goode

The following is an excerpt of a discussion on the Libertyloop. Although a larger variety of topics are being discussed, I decided to take issue with one particular statement by Richard Goode. Below it is my reply.

Now, from the viewpoint of our many philosophers on SOLO, I would like to get an opinion on it - especially the last part.

> > Libertarians, if they act with integrity, apply the principle of
> > non-initiation of force in their dealings with other people.
> > Libertarians who are Objectivists apply the zero aggression principle
> > because they hold that rational self-interest in the pursuit of
> > happiness is the morally correct way to behave.
> >
> But the NIOF principle doesn't follow from "rational self-interest".
> IOFIYCGAWI (initiation of force if you can get away with it) does.

Richard, Ayn Rand's metaphysics wasn't for nothing. Indeed, the most fundamental idea behind her entire philosophy is that reality cannot be faked; therefore man, in complying with his nature as a being with a conceptual consciousness, needs to develop a system of morality that recognizes this (it is also upon this principle that Ayn Rand put so much emphasis on man's ability to reason: logic, briefly, is the process of rationally identifying the world around us, through the very use of concepts).

Following from this, it is only through the application of the mind to the external world that human values can be gained (the origins of values being a topic for another time). The reason why actions such as theft, murder, etc. are contrary to Rand's morality is that they deny this principle. Rather than man depending on the use of his own mind, he is reduced to the position of a second-hander - someone who, in denying the conceptual nature of man (even if he doesn't know it consciously) declares himself unfit for genuine productivity that results from the proper use of the mind, and therefore proceeds to live off the fruits of others' labour, that being his only possible course of action.

In Randian terms, this is the ultimate form of altruism - the complete reduction of man to an complete parasite. Similarly, the differences between the Randian use of the word "altruism" and the common use of that word is a topic for another time.

Now, in response, you may say something like this:

The situation is, group A has more of something than group B. Wouldn't Group B therefore "use their minds" and go and pillage group A?

The answer of course, is no. This is because that particular situation is only peculiar to the time period it's happening in, and Group B may well become richer than Group A through perfectly rational means later on.

The conceptual nature of humans, however, is a fundamental aspect of humanity, completely regardless of who's got the bigger share of the pie. Therefore, such a statement would be trying through non-essentials, much like the people who talk about Capitalism in terms of profit and ownership, rather than the NIOF principle. It is also where the difference between the metaphysical and the man-made comes in, which is another essential part of the Objectivist philosophy.


Elijah Lineberry said...

Ha ha! I am sure this thread has attracted a lot of comment, Callum!

Well done.

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