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Thursday, February 26, 2009 - 6:16amSanction this postReply
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Good find, Jeffrey,

It's difficult to tell whether Kim Girard misunderstands Rand or just simply made an error or two. Take this sentence string:

The gifted should do whatís in their self-interest. If you have a sharp mind, it is your moral responsibility to make yourself happy. The weak are not your problem.
But that's not a good outline of the Objectivist ethics. It's not just the gifted who should do what's in their self-interest. It's not just those who have a sharp mind. Stating it this way -- along with a prescribed disregard for "the weak" -- makes Objectivism appear like an elitist philosophy. But that's not accurate.

Let me know if you're a third-party who's reading this, but you don't agree with what I just said.

However, careful analysis of how she treats Objectivism throughout the rest of the article makes it appear that she does understand it. Take this:

... Objectivist philosophy ... calls for facts over feelings, reason over mysticism, individual over state, and selfishness before altruism ...
Now the trick is to correctly interpret the word "over." Does it mean that feelings, mysticism, states, and altruism should still hold us in sway -- but that facts, reason, individuals, and selfishness should merely predominantly drive us? Or does it mean that once you have a higher value (facts, reason, individuals, selfishness) that you do not sacrifice it for a lower value, or a dis-value (feelings, mysticism, states, altruism).

On the second interpretation, Girard could be said to truly understand the heart of Objectivism. Also, in the "key stats" box at the top-center of the page, Girard correctly identifies the 4 main pillars of Objectivism.

Ed
(Edited by Ed Thompson on 2/26, 6:17am)




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Thursday, February 26, 2009 - 7:40amSanction this postReply
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But didnít Objectivists believe greed is good?

This comment caught my attention. Before soliciting anyone's opinion, I checked my Oxford English Dictionary and came up with a definition of 'greed' as follows:

an intense and selfish desire for something, esp. wealth, power, or food.

That is the denotation. The connotation, I think, is that greed is an unhealthy or obsessive or irrational desire.

I am comfortable enough with the dictionary definition of greed, to agree with the statement made above. However, I am uncomfortable with the connotation attached to the word 'greed', and that is the meaning I think is usually inferred or intended by the general public when discussing Capitalist or Objectivist ideals.

Comments? Thoughts?

jt






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Thursday, February 26, 2009 - 8:13pmSanction this postReply
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I think that one of the chief obstacles to more people adopting objectivism as a personal philosophy is simply in a misunderstanding of the terminology and of the way in which Rand meant it.

If, from a personal standpoint, to be "selfish," for example, is simply to pursue what one values, then everyone is selfish all the time - or at least attempts to be.  In that sense, selfishness is indistinguishable from motivation.

From the purely personal motivational standpoint, one can tie ones self into all kinds of logical knots attempting to be "unselfish," only to discover that whatever choice one makes to act or not to act, is still a reflection of what one values - and is therefore "selfish" in its essense.  "Selflessness" is only possible to the dead.

Rand's challenge to that status quo was to ask, ~"but is your 'value' in fact correct?"  The very question carries the implication that one can assess a "value" and a standard of value on some objective basis.  This is very puzzling as well to many people, as they surely wonder how it is that one can judge ones own values.  After all, wouldn't you be inherently employing your own values in making the judgment?  And, of course, the answer is "Yes!"

But we didn't emerge from the womb knowing that we were Republicans, Catholics or Marxists.  Values are in fact identified and they are initially perceptually identified on the basis of observation, experimention and consistency.  We are born with a bias toward correct values by the nature of our nervous system and our capacity to experience pleasure and pain, reflecting what harms or helps us.  However, we have a vast capacity for error, and this results in people adopting all manner of silly "values," many of which can be traced to vicious socially transmitted memes that function as epistemological parasites.

Thus, because values for each individual are chosen on such grounds as consistency with prior choices, it should be possible - and is, in fact - to deconstruct the set of values that an adult possesses, and examine them against that standard of consistency.  When one does, it turns out that only values which are consistent with survival and life as a human being can be consistently pursued.  And trying to pursue impossible values is only consistent with failure.  It does not take stepping outside the self somehow, as religions often demand, to perform this checksum.  It merely takes a more fundamental focus on what it is that forms ones core beliefs.




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Friday, February 27, 2009 - 4:13pmSanction this postReply
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It may not be the book definition, but I've always considered "greed" to mean an inappropriate lust for something. In this case inappropriate would be defined as destructive to one's own values. So under my working definition greed would be the type of situation where desire for X caused a person to alienated loved ones, violate rights, etc. A professional or businessman expecting to profit from their legitimate endeavors wouldn't apply.

On the other note, I've always thought that people have trouble with Objectivism because its so black and white, while being very thorough at the same time. Its presented as an all or nothing affair, and to a large extent, it is. When you alienate the folks who agree with atheism, but cling to socialism, and the people who agree (they think) with individualism, but cling to religion, you don't have many people left.



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Friday, February 27, 2009 - 5:58pmSanction this postReply
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One has to understand that the idea of greed came in the time when wealth was acquired by plunder, not trade - so when traders began becoming wealthy, it was assumed they had done so by plunder, however they claimed otherwise... which is why 'greed' actually is not a word applicable to traders, however wealthy they may become - as their wealth stems from productiveness and is as such reinvested in further productivity, a continual spiraling upward... their 'wealth' as such is not static, but functional, rewards to their mindfulness, and incentives to furthering their mindfulness...

So - what really is needed is a new word to cover this so different idea from the so old notion of greed...
(Edited by robert malcom on 2/27, 5:59pm)




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Friday, February 27, 2009 - 6:46pmSanction this postReply
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If we use the connotation for the word "greed", which appears to be the more widely used interpretation, then greed suggests the embracing of more common meaning of materialism - where worth is measured by accumulation of material possesions than by the values required to earn them.

In this regard, I don't think it matters whether someone is considered a plunderer or a capitalis trader. If they ignore the values required to earn wealth, and simply pursue accumulation of possessions, it is unhealthy - 'greedy' , but has nothing to do with capitalism.

jt




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Saturday, February 28, 2009 - 6:54amSanction this postReply
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For examples of the new word for greed -- following the Rev'rend's advice -- I like:

***************************
--"avarice" (unchecked cravings)

... and ... 

--"covet" (inordinate desire)

... and ...

--"idolatry" (worship)
***************************

Money can be "wrongly" loved when it's loved in-and-of-itself -- which is idolatry (worshipped as a god). The visual is the miser, holed up in his own basement, his mattress stuffed to the hilt with green paper, his shotgun in hand, and his eyes locked on the door. Like Smeegle (Gollum) -- "my precious!" -- from Lord of the Rings.

:-)

However, there's a right way to love money, too (as an instrumental value to many other values). A new word for greed has to account for that (pun intended, wah, wah, waaaahhhh).

Ed



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