Rise Above..

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Paul Ryan: A Walking-Talking Contradiction

Ari Armstrong has a nice blog piece regarding Paul Ryan, highly recommended. In addition to Ari’s points, I would humbly add that in addition to those who were touched by Ayn Rand, but are not avowed Objectivists, you could have added as texture and contrast, for example, George H. Smith. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Implicit Problem of “Faith”

Words mean things, and conflating the word “faith” with knowledge based reasoning is really troublesome. Diana explains that fundamentally faith is believing something just because you feel like it, or that you simply want it to be true, despite any facts (or worse, in the face of contrary evidence) to support its veracity.

Please visit Diana’s awesome Philosophy in Action for more rational thinking!

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Happy Randsday!

The 20th century’s most important philosopher, Ayn Rand, advocated for a revolutionary philosophical system she called Objectivism. It is no understatement to note that even today it is widely misunderstood, often misquoted, and all too frequently, patently, and purposefully mis-stated. In short, it is the incredibly visionary and liberating world-view that a person ought to always operate under the premise of rational self-interest. Meaning that one should use one’s best judgement in the achievement of life-serving, long range, values: those things one works to gain and keep that are necessary for the achievement of happiness.

And make no mistake about it, her philosophical system was what was missing in the brilliant work of the Founding Fathers. It is what gives fundamental power to the political system they envisioned. Had they had her then, we would not have Obama nor would we have had the incredible rise of the interventionist state we all are force to live under today. Her admonition was to always keep the long-range in view, and never commit a sacrifice – never “surrender a greater value for the sake of a lesser one”. To Rand this was the essence of morality, and as such a profound virtue.

Today is the anniversary of Ms Rand’s birthday, she would have been 107 years old today.. So, as Harry Binswanger writes:

“February 2nd is the birthday of Ayn Rand, the author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. Ayn Rand developed and defended Objectivism, a philosophy that advocates “rational selfishness.”

To celebrate Randsday, you do something not done on any other holiday: you give yourself a present. Randsday is for getting that longed-for luxury you ordinarily would not buy for yourself. Or for doing that long-postponed, self-pampering activity you cannot seem to fit into your chore-packed schedule.

Randsday is for reminding ourselves that pleasure is an actual need, a psychological requirement for a human consciousness. For man, motivation, energy, enthusiasm are not givens. Pathological depression is not only possible but rampant in our duty-preaching, self-denigrating culture. The alternative is not short-range, superficial “fun,” but real, self-rewarding pleasure. On Randsday, if you do something that you ordinarily would think of as “fun,” you do it on a different premise and with a deeper meaning: that you need pleasure, you are entitled to it, and that the purpose and justification of your existence is: getting what you want—what you really want, with full consciousness and dedication.”

Let’s hope it won’t take another 100 years to fully grasp and embrace her profoundly moral philosophical system!

Happy Randsday!

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Ayn Rand and Gun Rights

The one person who clearly delineated the concept of “individual rights” as I think I made rather clear in my two previous posts-more clearly than anyone else-was Ayn Rand. You can study her theory of rights more fully in several places, but three I would recommend (in proper reading order) are Craig Biddle’s book, Loving Life; Ayn Rand’s book, The Virtue of Selfishness; and then Tara Smith’s fantastic work, Ayn Rand’s Normative Ethics.

Ms Rand appears to have said very little, and wrote even less, on the specific topic of gun control and gun rights vis-a-vis the individual citizen. One somewhat singular exception to this was in an interview where she stated:

“I have given it no thought at all and, off-hand, I would say, no, the government shouldn’t control guns except in very marginal forms. I don’t think it’s very important because I don’t think it is in physical terms that the decisions and the fate of this country will be determined. If this country falls apart altogether, if the government collapses bankrupt, your having a handgun in your pocket isn’t going to save your life. What you would need is ideas and other people who share those ideas and fighting towards a proper civilized government, not handguns for personal protection.”

In addition, in the book Ayn Rand Answers a Q&A was cited as follows:

I do not know enough about it to have an opinion, except to say that it’s not of primary importance. Forbidding guns or registering them is not going to stop criminals from having them; nor is it a great threat to the private, noncriminal citizen if he has to register the fact that he has a gun. It’s not an important issue, unless you’re ready to begin a private uprising right now, which isn’t very practical.

It’s a complex, technical issue in the philosophy of law. Handguns are instruments for killing people — they are not carried for hunting animals — and you have no right to kill people. You do have the right to self-defense, however. I don’t know how the issue is to be resolved to protect you without giving you the privilege to kill people at whim.

My take on this is that to Ms Rand it was ideas that mattered, and to the extent people grasp and understood her foundational concepts regarding the initiation of physical force coupled with the unique status of police and the military gun rights, per se, were clearly a subordinated right to the overriding fundamental right to an individuals own life. I plan on revisiting this one in the future as I contemplate it further.

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The Source of Natural Rights: Part I

“Though the argument for rights can be made in the absence of God, I find it difficult to completely separate the two.”

I have heard and read the above response on numerous occassions, I reject it and its various forms emphatically. There is no logic in this idea that natural law can be divined from a supernatural source. Moreover, the notion that there are natural laws atributable to men that are somehow “intrinsic” is also false and indefensible. Such mere assertions open the door wide for any would-be looter of either the mind, your life here on earth, and all too often your pocketbook! More importantly, without a rational basis for this claim of natural rights anything created on its back, e.g. The Declaration and The Constitution, become easy targets for subjectivist reinterpretation and utter bastardization if not total dismissal. Be they Christians, Moslems, Jews, Buddhists, Marxists, Liberals, Republicans (Conservatives), etc. Let me take this all the way through the door to its logical outcome, and then let’s take a different tack..

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The Source of Natural Rights: Part II

Physical force is anti-life. And to whatever extent or degree it is used, it restricts or prevents one from acting on his or her own judgment. The greater the force the less human a life one can live. This is not an opinion, a social convention or a divine decree – it is a metaphysical fact.

The way that humans live (survive) is by acting on their rational judgment, as opposed to animals or plants that survive by evolutionary instinct and/or biochemical reactions which mutate over time via natural selection. Of course, humans also evolve and mutate but their fundamental tool of survival is their rational mind. And when we humans are precluded or stopped by force from exercising our rational judgments our lives are ratably lessened, and in the worst case resulting in death. Choosing to ignore this objective, metaphysical, fact of the need to act rationally and use reason to survive and live will just as directly limit an individual’s independence; his freedom to act on his own judgment, which is the definition of liberty. Remember, man has no innate instincts to guide his actions. If a man chooses to ignore reason and rational action there are no innate instincts that will save him; pain, suffering, and even death will eventually find him, and it will find him whether he likes it or not because that is the nature of reality.
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