exadyne wrote:Hippo, I've enjoyed your discussion. As you've eluded to, happiness or prosperity are really hard terms to define. If someone tells us they are happy, is that the best definition or measure? So what yardstick to we measure with, and how do we improve it once we have an agreed upon yard stick.
I appreciate that, and I'm glad you've enjoyed it so far, but I think I'm going to stay out because it's frustrating me and making me act more hostile than I want to be.HugoSchmidt
, I'm sorry if I treated you jerkishly. I'm pretty obsessive and zealous about a lot of things, so sometimes I overstep myself and act overtly hostile and impulsive when my points would be better served by taking a step back, breathing, and thinking about my approach.
I think you're wrong about irrational people being incapable of happiness--I think morality is definitely a key toward happiness, I think certain moral qualities lead to better emotional health, and I value things like honesty, justice, and integrity--but I also think you're exhibiting an enormous level of (unwitting) arrogance in your assumptions concerning just how clear the facts are in this relationship.
The terms we're throwing around--happiness, integrity, justice, honesty--are all incredibly vague and difficult to test for. Even if they weren't difficult to test for, my main problem with Rand as a moral philosopher is that she didn't
test for these things; she simply assumed they were necessary for emotional health and happiness. And the reason this
bothers me is because the claim Objectivism makes--that at its core is the element of pure reason, of logic, rationality, and empiricism--are so primal, so integral, so powerful. Saying "Empiricism is on my side" is pretty much the equivalent of saying "I am talking about FACTS, not IDEAS". It's an extraordinarily powerful claim--so it demands extraordinarily powerful proof.
Does Ayn Rand provide that extraordinarily powerful proof? Does she go to science for her morality? Does she make falsfiable
claims? Does she clearly define her terms and proceed to demonstrate, through scientific rigor
and evidence, how and why her claims are true? Does she follow the scientific process to show how her morality is the only morality that leads to human happiness? Does she spend time researching statistics in a library, or working in a laboratory, or compiling data and doing math? Or did she just get some ideas and decide to write some books?
There are people out there who are putting a huge amount of work into discovering facts about the universe--hard, soul-grinding, boring
work. Science is not easy, it's a fucking slog
. And at the end, the reward you get is discovering something true about the universe--"X is how things work", or "Y is not
how things work". Putting someone who wrote essays about morality on that level--it frustrates me, because I put an enormous amount of weight behind that process, and seeing someone harvest the social benefits of scientific claims--that weight we put behind this very rigorous, very long, very exhausting process--without actually doing the work--it's something our culture does constantly, and it frustrates me to no end to see otherwise intelligent people do it.
Science is rigorous, science is hard. But Ayn Rand is not a scientist. She's a philosopher. And while I'm not a big fan of philosophy, I won't hate too much on it--I'll even go so far as to admit that reading Ayn Rand, as a teenager, opened my eyes to the righteousness of selfishness--it made me realize that any
moral system that demands that I sacrifice my personal happiness for the sake of others is one that's engaged in tyranny. It didn't even occur to me that A Christmas Carol
is actually pretty backwards until after I had read about some of Ayn Rand's thoughts.
I'm just throwing this out there as one last attempt to plant a seed of doubt in your mind, partly because I really, really don't like it when people treat philosophy like it's science, but also because I don't think treating this particular moral philosophy as a science is going to do you or anyone else any favors.
I apologize for any hostility, and I respectfully bow the hell out of this thread before my brain explodes.EDIT:
Also I am not a scientist and never claimed to be one. I just have tremendous respect for the scientific process.