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  1. #181

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mal+ View Post
    I know all that. Unfortunately, this definition doesn't come out of any dictionary. It's just made up wholesale.
    Not by a long shot!

    Dictionaries report common usage. The migration of common usage is often the product of the philosophy/culture dominant at any given time. When a philosopher like Rand overturns the common philosophy, it results in a new and different understanding of a multitude of concepts and their relationships.

    Sometimes a concept or a context will be different enough to require a new word like psycho-epistemology. Sometimes it requires disambiguation by separating two words that have lapsed into having one meaning, like duty/obligation. And sometimes it requires discarding a meaning that is self-contradictory or otherwise not logically viable and replacing it (or adding another context for it) with a viable meaning, as Rand did with selfishness.

    In a discussion such as ours, the words and definitions are a means to the end of communicating the concepts. The meat of the discussion is only the latter. In this case the alternate concepts of chosen v. unchosen moral imperatives stand untouched by your complaint that Rand's use of duty does not comply with common usage of the word. And, speaking of new words, Rand maintains the word "duty" is an anti-concept: an artificial, unnecessary and rationally unusable term designed to replace and obliterate some legitimate concept. “Duty” — Ayn Rand Lexicon

    Ultimately, if we do not reach agreement on the symbols of these concepts, as Rand uses them, you are free to signify these concepts with different words and I will create a foreign language dictionary so I can translate your words into mine.

  2. #182

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mal+ View Post
    Yes, and because all her ideas are throwbacks to a previous generation.
    This bit of desperation is self-refuting. It constitutes an example of the fallacy of argument from intimidation, that is itself an original identification of hers.

  3. #183
    Senior Member Mal12345's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by B.simaruba View Post
    Not by a long shot!

    Dictionaries report common usage. The migration of common usage is often the product of the philosophy/culture dominant at any given time. When a philosopher like Rand overturns the common philosophy, it results in a new and different understanding of a multitude of concepts and their relationships.

    Sometimes a concept or a context will be different enough to require a new word like psycho-epistemology. Sometimes it requires disambiguation by separating two words that have lapsed into having one meaning, like duty/obligation. And sometimes it requires discarding a meaning that is self-contradictory or otherwise not logically viable and replacing it (or adding another context for it) with a viable meaning, as Rand did with selfishness.

    In a discussion such as ours, the words and definitions are a means to the end of communicating the concepts. The meat of the discussion is only the latter. In this case the alternate concepts of chosen v. unchosen moral imperatives stand untouched by your complaint that Rand's use of duty does not comply with common usage of the word. And, speaking of new words, Rand maintains the word "duty" is an anti-concept: an artificial, unnecessary and rationally unusable term designed to replace and obliterate some legitimate concept. “Duty” — Ayn Rand Lexicon

    Ultimately, if we do not reach agreement on the symbols of these concepts, as Rand uses them, you are free to signify these concepts with different words and I will create a foreign language dictionary so I can translate your words into mine.
    All you can rightly say is that you prefer Rand's definition of "duty." But you can't say that it's the right definition, only that it's her personal philosophical definition versus the common definition. And you can rightly say that Rand's considered "duty" to be an anti-concept, but not that it's commonly used as an anti-concept. It may have been used that way at various points throughout history or by certain political or religious factions. The special philosophical status that Rand granted that word, however, is peculiar mainly to her.

    And yet "duty" itself is not a common thing. I see it used by people who have been given certain powers in society which also come with certain responsibilities, and they consider it their duty to uphold those responsibilities.
    "Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth." Mike Tyson
    “Culture?” says Paul McCartney. “This isn't culture. It's just a good laugh.”

  4. #184
    Senior Member Mal12345's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by B.simaruba View Post
    This bit of desperation is self-refuting. It constitutes an example of the fallacy of argument from intimidation, that is itself an original identification of hers.
    It only seems like an original identification when you haven't studied any philosophy beyond that of the goddess Rand. But if you look back into the history of philosophy, you will find many philosophers who have said the same things as Rand, only they said it better.
    "Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth." Mike Tyson
    “Culture?” says Paul McCartney. “This isn't culture. It's just a good laugh.”

  5. #185
    Senior Member Mal12345's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by B.simaruba View Post
    This bit of desperation is self-refuting. It constitutes an example of the fallacy of argument from intimidation, that is itself an original identification of hers.
    The argument from intimidation, if that's what it is, does not refute any argument because it is not a logical or formal fallacy. If that were the case, then 90% of Rand's writing would be self-refuting. Notice how she wrote an article on the psychology of psychologizing which itself contains psychologizing on her part.
    "Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth." Mike Tyson
    “Culture?” says Paul McCartney. “This isn't culture. It's just a good laugh.”

  6. #186
    Senior Member Mal12345's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by B.simaruba View Post
    Rand and Objectivists do not assume there is no "higher" being. They just do not include factors for which there is no evidence of existence in their deliberations of what kinds of actions are life enhancing or not for human beings.

    When and if such evidence does appear, Objectivists would be first in line to account for it in their lives, because they more than any other group on earth are compulsively loyal to evidence.
    However, they don't make much effort to look for the evidence or consider evidence to prove their philosophy. Sometimes that "evidence" is nothing more than "just look around you." But they make too much out of the Law of Contradiction when nothing is being contradicted in reality, only one of their beliefs.

    For example, I could say that Life is not the ultimate value. That's not to say it isn't good, only that it's not the ultimate. I would be accused at this point of some kind of logical fallacy that Rand "originated." However, it is simply the case that Rand offered no evidence, empirically or otherwise, that Life is the ultimate value. The best one can say is that someone chose it to be their ultimate value, but in that case it suffices as only a subjective truth for this or that personal value system, and is not objective in the slightest. In particular, it is not empirically objective, for it has not been formed from any sort of empirical proof whatsoever. She just says that life offers you a "fundamental alternative," but that proves nothing morally, it only points out that there is some biological distinction, viz., that something is either dead or it's alive, which we all know anyway as a colloquialism.
    "Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth." Mike Tyson
    “Culture?” says Paul McCartney. “This isn't culture. It's just a good laugh.”

  7. #187

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mal+ View Post
    All you can rightly say is that you prefer Rand's definition of "duty." But you can't say that it's the right definition, only that it's her personal philosophical definition versus the common definition. And you can rightly say that Rand's considered "duty" to be an anti-concept, but not that it's commonly used as an anti-concept. It may have been used that way at various points throughout history or by certain political or religious factions. The special philosophical status that Rand granted that word, however, is peculiar mainly to her.
    Yes and no. The "right" definition is the one that denotes the concept being communicated. The definition in most common usage is only "right" when the concept one is communicating is also the one most prevalent among the common users. But when Rand uses the word, the right definition is the one that best explains the concept she is communicating that is decidedly not the most common one. Rand's revision of the dictionary was deliberate, because it was necessary, and she prepared her fans by badgering them incessantly with "words have specific meanings" and "define your terms." Objectivists spend a good deal of time in any debate getting everyone seated at the same terminology table, but its worth the effort to get the superior efficacy of her definitions.

    And yet "duty" itself is not a common thing. I see it used by people who have been given certain powers in society which also come with certain responsibilities, and they consider it their duty to uphold those responsibilities.
    It's contextual: In an Objectivist society free from force, all human exchanges of values, tangible or intangible, are voluntary contractual relationships. Integral to such relationships are responsibilities and obligations, but not duties.

    In authoritarian societies, the left demands one to fulfill the duty imposed by society to sacrifice oneself to needs of others (altruism), while the right demands one to fulfill the duty imposed by God/Country to sacrifice oneself to the flag (chauvinism). Duty is a tool tyrants cannot live without.

  8. #188

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mal+ View Post
    However, they don't make much effort to look for the evidence or consider evidence to prove their philosophy. Sometimes that "evidence" is nothing more than "just look around you." But they make too much out of the Law of Contradiction when nothing is being contradicted in reality, only one of their beliefs.
    Just as we do not spend a lot of our lifetime validating the existence of miracles, in spite of the steady stream of "evidence" that allegedly supports them. Life is short!

    For example, I could say that Life is not the ultimate value. That's not to say it isn't good, only that it's not the ultimate. I would be accused at this point of some kind of logical fallacy that Rand "originated." However, it is simply the case that Rand offered no evidence, empirically or otherwise, that Life is the ultimate value. The best one can say is that someone chose it to be their ultimate value, but in that case it suffices as only a subjective truth for this or that personal value system, and is not objective in the slightest. In particular, it is not empirically objective, for it has not been formed from any sort of empirical proof whatsoever. She just says that life offers you a "fundamental alternative," but that proves nothing morally, it only points out that there is some biological distinction, viz., that something is either dead or it's alive, which we all know anyway as a colloquialism.
    Rand does not start with a rationalist notion of an "ultimate value." That's what the mystics do. She specifically states that the first question is not what to value, but rather why does one need to have values in the first place?

    She then answers by stating the biological facts of life: that life consists of an unending sequence of alternative actions from which every living entity must select in order to continue its existence. Since man is volitional we must choose from those alternatives. The most fundamental of those is life or death.

    IF one chooses life, then it is one's fundamental goal and standard for measuring all other actions one selects. In order to deny life is the standard, you would have name a more fundamental alternative. And you can't choose death, because it obviates the need to have values, so it would not qualify as an ultimate value.

  9. #189

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mal+ View Post
    It only seems like an original identification when you haven't studied any philosophy beyond that of the goddess Rand. But if you look back into the history of philosophy, you will find many philosophers who have said the same things as Rand, only they said it better.
    More desperation! Every now and then some feeling of inadequacy sweeps over you and you try to deprecate Objectivism with statements wholly irrelevant to its content. To wit:

    1) the "goddess" Rand hopes for a broad rebuttal of my thinking by associating it with the irrationality of religious devotion. If I were guilty of that, why don't you demonstrate it instead of insinuating it? Answer: because its only something you wish for, not something you know.

    2) what possible significance to the validity of the Objectivist system as a whole would there be if it agrees with accurate principles previously discovered by other philosophers? Furthermore, while your comments here testify to an extensive knowledge of the philosophy, they also frequently red-flag a shallow grasp of some of its key principles. So until you document the alleged similarities, we can't be too sure that they are what you say they are. Just remember, that if you go to all that work to document them, the result will still say nothing about the validity of the ideas.

    Ultimately, only ideas matter; and they stand or fall on their own merit.

  10. #190
    Senior Member Mal12345's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by B.simaruba View Post
    Yes and no. The "right" definition is the one that denotes the concept being communicated.
    There's a problem right away. Empirical evidence? Not! To you it's about the concept, not the referents of the concept.

    Is this kind of epistemology really what Rand intended?


    Quote Originally Posted by B.simaruba View Post
    The definition in most common usage is only "right" when the concept one is communicating is also the one most prevalent among the common users. But when Rand uses the word, the right definition is the one that best explains the concept she is communicating that is decidedly not the most common one. Rand's revision of the dictionary was deliberate, because it was necessary, and she prepared her fans by badgering them incessantly with "words have specific meanings" and "define your terms." Objectivists spend a good deal of time in any debate getting everyone seated at the same terminology table, but its worth the effort to get the superior efficacy of her definitions.
    Yes, that is desirable, and in philosophy it's a rare thing to gain that kind of agreement. But in the long run nobody is convinced, and that's the problem. So the most we can do is talk about someone's definition, be it the common dictionary one, Rand's, Heidegger's...



    Quote Originally Posted by B.simaruba View Post
    It's contextual: In an Objectivist society free from force, all human exchanges of values, tangible or intangible, are voluntary contractual relationships. Integral to such relationships are responsibilities and obligations, but not duties.
    You missed my point. I'm not saying that the common usage involves force. I'm saying just the opposite, and my context is empirical - the observable fact is that people voluntarily take on duties, be it those of a judge, of a police officer, or perhaps even of a parent. And they call them duties, without any notion of external authoritarian force involved in their duties.

    Quote Originally Posted by B.simaruba View Post
    In authoritarian societies, the left demands one to fulfill the duty imposed by society to sacrifice oneself to needs of others (altruism), while the right demands one to fulfill the duty imposed by God/Country to sacrifice oneself to the flag (chauvinism). Duty is a tool tyrants cannot live without.
    That's a different context, assuming it still exists and isn't just a throwback to something that happened pre-1950s. Believe it or not, the same word can have different definitions. Remember what you said about context?
    "Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth." Mike Tyson
    “Culture?” says Paul McCartney. “This isn't culture. It's just a good laugh.”

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