Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Faith versus Reason or Faith in Reason?

Ayn Rand

Self-esteem is reliance on one’s power to think. It cannot be replaced by one’s power to deceive. The self-confidence of a scientist and the self-confidence of a con man are not interchangeable states, and do not come from the same psychological universe. The success of a man who deals with reality augments his self-confidence. The success of a con man augments his panic.
Return of the Primitive, 181

Ayn Rand states that it is better to use one's mind for a "self-confident" stance toward reality, than to rely on simplistic trust that depends on a "con game". Those that believe are "conning themselves" to be dependent, and hindering much of what could become of their lives!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Enough Said.....

Ayn Rand

To live, man must hold three things as the supreme and ruling values of his life: Reason—Purpose—Self-esteem. Reason, as his only tool of knowledge—Purpose, as his choice of the happiness which that tool must proceed to achieve—Self-esteem, as his inviolate certainty that his mind is competent to think and his person is worthy of happiness, which means: is worthy of living.
For the New Intellectual, 128

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Need for an Objective Law to Uphold a Free Society

[A]ll laws must be based on individual rights and aimed at their protection.

“The Nature of Government,” Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal

Under objective law, what is the fundamental difference in the scope of private action versus government action?

A private individual may do anything except that which is legally forbidden; a government official may do nothing except that which is legally permitted.

“The Nature of Government,” Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal

[W]hen men are caught in the trap of non-objective law, when their work, future and livelihood are at the mercy of a bureaucrat’s whim, when they have no way of knowing what unknown “influence” will crack down on them for which unspecified offense, fear becomes their basic motive, if they remain in the industry at all—and compromise, conformity, staleness, dullness, the dismal grayness of the middle-of-the-road are all that can be expected of them. Independent thinking does not submit to bureaucratic edicts, originality does not follow “public policies,” integrity does not petition for a license, heroism is not fostered by fear, creative genius is not summoned forth at the point of a gun. Non-objective law is the most effective weapon of human enslavement: its victims become its enforcers and enslave themselves.

“Vast Quicksands,” The Objectivist Newsletter

An objective law protects a country’s freedom; only a non-objective law can give a statist the chance he seeks: a chance to impose his arbitrary will—his policies, his decisions, his interpretations, his enforcement, his punishment or favor—on disarmed, defenseless victims. He does not have to exercise his power too frequently nor too openly; he merely has to have it and let his victims know that he has it; fear will do the rest.

“Antitrust: The Rule of Unreason,” The Voice of Reason

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Principles of a Free Society!

Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness — Principles of a Free Society

The Tyranny of Religious Authority

Ayn Rand

For centuries, the mystics of spirit had existed by running a protection racket—by making life on earth unbearable, then charging you for consolation and relief, by forbidding all the virtues that make existence possible, then riding on the shoulders of your guilt, by declaring production and joy to be sins, then collecting blackmail from the sinners.
Galt’s Speech, For the New Intellectual, 153


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Is Historical Evolution the Way to Evaluate Everything....?

Evolution is the way that some evaluate everything, but is this the right srtategy for "human flourishing? That is really the question, when one assumes that the "natural" describes in "wholism" or historicism. The difficulty in thinking in "wholistic" terms, is the problem of "thinking", itself, because "wholism" isn't logical, because everything is interdependent. That becomes a problem for liberty of conscience, because strategy is imperative to "measure success". "Thinking" is only for those who are the elites, others are to "trust and obey" and "do their duty".

Wholism is Eastern thinking, as paradox is embraced, it is dialetical thinking, where a synthesis of opposites creates a supposedly "better" outcome. It is Marxist economics in "human form", or "humans" heralding "Marxist" economical theory or equality. It is the "use" of the "poor" for the sake of "eltie"s "outcomes" and plans...

There is a philosophical dilemma between an "elite" and a "equal" society. This isn't resolvable, if one really wants to affirm the individual, as the individual must determine his own course for his life. But, when some "elite" determines (or strategically plans) how goals are to be accomplished, "the people" aren't enjoined. Theirs is the "right" of serving the interests of "the common good", for universal purposes and human evolution, both personal and corporate.. Egalitarianism is an "ideal", but not practical, as "leadership" is needed if any "goal or outcome" is to be accomplished! Therefore, choose your leaders wisely, as you will suffer the consequences!

The problem is "who is to be the leader" and how do those leaders "see" or understand "elite" and "equal"? Do they believe in liberty of conscience, where individuals are allowed the right to choose, or do they believe in a pre-determining "force" or "wholistic agenda" driven by ignoring those they lead? That is of interest "to all people" who believe and affirm "equality and justice" group identity will not lead us in the right direction, as it doesn't leave room for dissent, free thought, or difference....the globe cannot give us any universal..And those that believe in "wholism" are just "selling a bill of good" to those they want to manipulate toward what they believe is "human progress", and human development......Terms need to be defined, if there is to be any "consensus" about meaning.....and meaning is everything in living in a free society!!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Groups and "Others"...

I find it disturbingly paradoxical to talk about  "the other"," the Other" or "Othering". Why?

Groups form their identities by various distinctives. These are cultural differences, which define values. The problem comes when values conflict with another "group", which they inevitably will. Focusing on these differences and using them as forms of "entitlement" does not help those of a minority race to "overcome". But, it enables an entitlement mentality. Ethnic identities are a biological fact, but we don't have to promote the idea that their social status deserves special treatment! This is a nonesstialist position.

I read recently where the Academy has gone from "the other" to "the Other" to "Othering". It seems to me that "the other" is a particular individual that is different from you. "The Other" is another group, whether  defined by differences of interest or values, or a "people group", while "othering" is an action taken toward "the other", and/or "The Other". Discrimination is about distinguishing, while "othering" is looking at commonalities. Both are useful, but must be understood within the proper "frame.

Groups are dangerous to individuation, as they do pressure individuals to conform to certain standards, or values. While this is good for children, it can be deadly for adults. Deindividuation has illustrated how group behavior all too easily becomes "herd mentality" and "mob behavior". Mobs create unrest and undermine the ability to think critically for oneself. It is peer pressure, plain and simple. Such "group think" is the group's "protection", security or defense against "foreign bodies" and is useful to maintain their survival. But, "group think" can also provide a cover for oppressive government or abusive dictators to defend their "territory". In these cases, propaganda can be used to manipulate and marginalize those that ask questions, or think "outside the box". Social conformity, in these cases, create a society where oppression rules over creativity, and individuation.

An identity is formed by  one's values, which must be underwritten by liberty, not paternalistic government, that "tells you what those values MUST be", in areas that really do not make a difference in societal flourishing. Otherwise, the individual is left without the ability to choose his vocation, or compete for a particular job. Americans have valued this form of individual liberty. While it is true that not everyone has the same capacity to perform every job, it is also true that there is a wide variety of jobs or interests that should be open to the individual in a free society.

In America, the States determine many social norms or values, such as abortion, gay marriage, legal ages for marriage, and other such "standards". These "standards" are the "cultural norm" for a particular local culture. But, at the national level, diplomacy is always negotiation of differences between or among different interests, cultural values, or standards of behavior. And these are determined by international law. It does become problematic when certain cultures do not allow liberty of conscience to the individual, as to religious conviction/claims. These cultures have been given "special priviledge" or exception, to the Universal Human Rights Declaration, which is disturbing to the nonessentialist. The West has paid a high costs in tolerating "intolerance".

Both postmodernity and multiculturalism are anti-thetical to rationality. Rationality is the only way or means of finding a place for "law and order". Otherwise, laws will be conflicting and confusing, because they will defend a particular culture, while discriminating against other cultures....or individual values.. An exclusivist culture defends a particular Tradition, while an individualist defends biological propensity/genetic identity. It is probably that both social conditioning AND genetic identity make for the uniqueness of individuals across the globe. And reason, not tradition, is the only way to understand those differences.

I am only beginning to think through these issues, so I can form my own opinion, and not be led by a paternalistic "authority", that limits my ability to come to my own conclusions.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Message on Marriage (and other kinds of relationships)

I bought my husband a card a few years ago, because it said what I believe about marriage. And I plan on giving the same card to my son's friend today, as he embarks on "a challenge of his lifetime"! All healthy relationships are defined, I believe, on some or most of these principles, so I thought I would share them, as they are of important value to me.

Marriage is (by Barbara Cage)

A commitment. Its success
doesn't depend on circumstances,
feelings, or moods-but on
two people who are loyal to
each other and the vows they
took on their wedding day....

A relationship where two people
must listen, compromise, and respect.
It's an arrangement that requires a
multitude of decisions to be made
together. Listening, respecting, and
compromising go a long way toward
keeping peace and harmony.

A union in which two people learn
form their mistakes, accept each
other's faults, and willingly adjust
bahaviors that need to be changed.
It's caring enough about each other
to work throught disappointing and
hurtful times and believing in the
love that brought you together in the
first place.

Patience and forgiveness. It's being
open and honest, thoughtful and kind.
Marriage means talking things out,
making necessary changes, and forgiving
each other. It's unconditional love at it's
most understanding and vulnerable-
love supports, comforts, and is
determined to triumph over every challenge
and adversity.

Marriage is a partnership of two unique
people who bring out the very best in each
other and who know that even though
they are wonderful as individuals
they are even better together.

Except for the personal terms, i.e. forgiveness, disappointing and hurtful times,I believe that this kind of  commitment  could also be applied to other kinds of relationships (business, and diplomacy). The personal terms are to be replaced by the "rule of law", which is considered respect in a civil society.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

"Self", as the Center to Self Awareness

Atlas Shrugged

‎"Let a man corrupt his values and his view of existence, let him profess that love is not self-enjoyment but self-denial, that virtue consists, not of pride, but of pity or pain or weakness or sacrifice, that the noblest love is born, not of admiration, but of charity, not in response to values, but in response to flaws—and he will have cut himself in two."

There is something insincere about people who try to patronize others. But, perhaps, their patronizing attitude is due to their superior opinion of themselves as the "saviors of the world".
It is imagined that one cannot be a "Christian" if one has concern for oneself, one's own family or cultural values. That is absurd. Christian has as many meanings as there are cultures, because Christiainity is compliant to different values, primarily, I believe, due to Protestantism. "Faith" can mean anything and does in American culture. I think we should seek to keep it that way, otherwise, we will limit America's foremost value, liberty.
The above quote suggests that to defy one's values and one's commitment to them, is to "cut oneself in two". Why? Because men are made to make choices about what they respect, admire and want to accomplish for themselves and their families. This is a motivation to set goals. And goals to accomplish inevitably lead to benefitting society.
When one is prone to be taught to "feel sorry for" and pity, then one is not respecting, or admiring another. And this "feeling" of pity/compassion is demeaning and demoralizing to those that are also meant to set goals and excel.
Expectations in America are individualized, so there is not "one way" to view life and its purposes, or value. And that is as it should be, otherwise, some willl always be defining their life by another's need. And that leaves a co-dependent relationship that is not healthy or beneficial to either party.
Value what you value and know why you value it. This is the only way to "own your own life" and defeat "class warfare" and give your own life purpose and meaning.