What did I say about lying?
Like for example, she said she favored selfishness. When you look at what she actually meant in detail, she was just saying that you should try to get what you want -- which is vacuous, tautological, and utterly boring
Case in point. This statement is, I shall put it bluntly, a fucking lie.
It is not. When you have to lie about what your guru said, how can you even live with yourself? But I'll talk to you anyway.
Aaaand here's the part where they lose people:
4- Extreme atheism and hostility towards any and all forms of spirituality or superstition.
5- An aesthetic theory that is basically Socialist Realism but for capitalists.
6- Egotism as not just a rational pursuit, but an ethical obligation.
First thing to note is that "losing people" isn't the same thing as "being wrong".
That's true. However, the opposite is also true -- just because some people fervently believe it, does not make it true.
As regards 4, yes - 100% rationality requires a rejection of superstitious nonsense.
Only for the simpleminded. When something appears to be nonsense to you, there is the possibility that you have not yet understood it. It makes no sense to reject ideas you don't understand -- or accept them either. There is a third category, "I don't know".
And there is a fourth category as well. When somebody says things that appear to be self-contradictory, then there is the possibility that they cannot be "true". But there is another possibility that the person has a way to choose which of the contradictory beliefs to apply which time, and they don't really contradict. But he has not yet said his whole approach. So again you don't know.
And 6, that is wrong; it is that egoism is the only way to be ethical (properly understood).
Are you sure? How can you be sure of that?
The problem I have with Ayn Rand is her narcissism and her love of dogma. She's equal and opposite to Stalin. I'd much rather live under a Rand dictatorship than a Stalinist one, but she's still a zealot and a narcissist.
And here are where the fucking lies start. Ayn Rand would never have taken coercive power over another human being, her books repeatedly denounce such a thing, and the fundamental ethical rule of human interaction in Objectivism is that no man may initiate physical force against another.
I agree with this part. Rand cannot be just like Stalin in that respect. If she had gotten 100 million converts to Objectivism in her lifetime she would surely not have taken over the government by force and violence and required everybody to do what she said. Or if she had, she would have been a great big hypocrite. Which I guess would be like Stalin.
"Equal to Stalin", this is called by IcedT, and this is, as I said, a fucking lie.
He probably didn't mean it in exactly that way. I don't think he was talking about using force and violence to make people do things her way. As far as I've seen, the only thing Rand ever did when people disobeyed her was to scream at them and call them names and throw them out of the Ayn Rand fan club. No firing squads, no gulags, no mass starvation. But in other ways I can see the resemblance. She insisted that she had the only true philosophy, just like marxist-leninists do. She said her way was provably right by logic -- like marxist-leninists. She did not listen to any contrary arguments but rejected them out of hand, like Stalin. It seems very similar, except that where Stalin used force against his opposition, she says it's absolutely wrong to use force on anybody. (Unless they use it first, maybe?) One important twist that makes them different.
Now, let me state the fundamentals simply, and what I would consider a refutation: the absolutism of reality, of reason as our only means of perceiving reality, and our survival depending on our use of reason. That a rational life built around the virtues of rationality, independence, integrity, honesty, justice, productiveness and pride provides the best, and really only, chance for a happy and successful life, that these are not "social obligations", but the most profoundly selfish virtues a man may practice, that and that altruism - and let's be clear what that means, not kindness or thoughtfulness or solidarity, but the idea that your life only has a value if lived for someone or something other than yourself, the principle of self-sacrifice - is evil and the power behind every major killer in human history, and that, finally, a free society with capitalism being the economic embodiment of that freedom, is the only moral and practical system.
Now, I'll take a challenge on any of those. I will be very interested to hear someone explain how, say, the world will be so much better off with dishonest, unjust, selfhating cheaters, or that these people will be happy. But no such challenge will be forthcoming, I am certain.
I have a bit of unexpected spare time, so I'll make a quick swipe at it.
Now, let me state the fundamentals simply, and what I would consider a refutation: the absolutism of reality,
Let's say that there's something that deserves the term "absolutism". We can call that something "reality". I'm with you so far. But how do we find out what reality is?
of reason as our only means of perceiving reality,
Obviously not. Our only means of perceiving reality is our perception. We might have forms of perception that we often fail to notice, that don't fit our preconceptions of what our perceptions ought to be, and we might call those "extrasensory perceptions" etc. That would be because we don't understand our senses well enough, and probably when we figure them out better we will understand how they are sensory perceptions after all. Or maybe there might be something that isn't sensory that we don't understand yet. Or maybe we get nothing beyond the senses we do understand. I don't know about this and neither do you.
But our reason gives us ways to abstract thoughts away from reality. We notice patterns, and we decide the patterns are important. We make up stories about those patterns. Sometimes we decide the patterns we noticed (or made up) are more important than the reality we abstracted the patterns from (or made them up). This is certainly not our only means of perceiving reality. This is a sometimes-useful way to deal with reality, but it is something other than perception.
and our survival depending on our use of reason.
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"Gisli was smart and brave. No one had a steadier hand or a braver heart. But he was not a lucky man."
from The Gisli Saga
"It is better to be lucky than smart." This ancient saying sums up the problem with your claim. What is it that results in one man surviving when another does not? Nobody really knows. We call it "luck" because we don't understand it. Reason tells us that survival depends on reason, just as religion tells us that survival depends on piety. One of those might possibly tend to be true. But I haven't really seen it.
That a rational life built around the virtues of rationality, independence, integrity, honesty, justice, productiveness and pride provides the best, and really only, chance for a happy and successful life, that these are not "social obligations", but the most profoundly selfish virtues a man may practice,
That sounds kind of plausible. I'd like it to be true. How would we find out if it's true? Well, apart from truth, it might be socially advantageous. If people believe that behaving this way is their only chance to be happy and successful, they are more likely to do it than if they believe it's an obligation. So even if it is completely untrue it still might be socially good to lie and tell people it's true. But I don't want to believe things just because it's probably good for society for me to believe them. At the very least I want to find out whether it's good for society and not just take it on faith. How would we find out?
that and that altruism - and let's be clear what that means, not kindness or thoughtfulness or solidarity, but the idea that your life only has a value if lived for someone or something other than yourself, the principle of self-sacrifice - is evil and the power behind every major killer in human history,
That's a tall claim. I can kind of imagine it. Maybe Tamurlane and Genghis Khan only succeeded in their butchery because their men were ready to sacrifice themselves. And yet, the large majority of their men survived and shared in the wealth they won. It doesn't look like a bad deal for them, on average.
When white people in the USA intentionally gave smallpox to the native americans, was that because of self-sacrifice? I thought it was because they wanted land and wanted the indians to be less able to defend their land. I really don't see where self-sacrifice comes in on that one.
Slavery in the USA? Half the slaves died on the voyage over, which was OK with the slaveship operators because the survivors were worth so much more at their destination than at their start? See the arithmetic ... if you buy a slave for $x and sell it for 10$x, then if you cram one more slave onto the ship who has a 50% chance of surviving, your average profit on him is $4x. If one less slave means the survival is 50.1% for 200 others, you make slightly less money. 10*.5*201 - 201 in the one case, and 10*.501*200 -200 in the other. How does this involve self-sacrifice?
and that, finally, a free society with capitalism being the economic embodiment of that freedom, is the only moral and practical system.
This is at best incomplete. My first thought is that if this is the only practical system, why is it that nobody has ever done it?
I'm kind of attracted to the idea. But it seems to me that the best system would be the one where people do the most good and the least harm. Freedom is a means to that end, not an end in itself. So when a communist system keeps people from doing good, that's very bad. But suppose we had a system that was truly free, and 1/4 of the people were Objectivists while 1/4 were Catholics who wanted to make everybody else abide with Catholic morality, and 1/4 were Communists who wanted to create a totalitarian government that controlled everybody, and 1/4 were from ancient Rome and they wanted to rebuild the Roman army and conquer everybody else, so they could be the nobility and the others could be plebes and slaves. Would you want everybody to have complete freedom to do what they want? Of course not! You'd want freedom for people to do good things, and they should be restricted in doing bad things.
So I can imagine that a free society where everybody was an Objectivist might work very well, but a free society where many people chose not to be Objectivists would have difficulties.
Similarly, there may be some truly excellent way to organize capitalism, but nobody has found it yet. We always get stuck with inferior forms of capitalism that sometimes roar ahead, sometimes limp along, and occasionally collapse. If you know the right form of capitalism to use, do you know how to make people use it?
The Law of Fives is true. I see it everywhere I look for it.