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  1. Standard of Value?

    Well, I am struggling to not be rationalistic, and keep my ideas grounded...but I seem to be running into the same brick wall here. Come to think of it, I ran into the same problem with axiomatic concepts. I was troubled by the fact that, as axiomatic concepts, they are directly perceived and are self evident; but it is impossible to define them. Now, that problem doesn't bother me, for whatever reason. I just think, "I directly perceive existence, and that's that". But, I look at this question, the value of existence, I think : Well, life *is* great, I am happy, I pursue things, etc. etc., but what is life qua life (existence qua existence)? It doesn't make any sense to say it is "good" or "bad", because the only reason why those terms have meaning is because of life. In fact, the only reason any thing in this world is valuable is because of life. More specifically, things have value because life is an end in itself. But why? Well, I can't even ask this. "Why" presupposes a I'm stuck there. So, it seems to me that either life is intrinsically valuable (which doesn't make sense), or life has no meaning (as the absurdists say...which also makes no sense). I am just very confused....
  2. Standard of Value?

    Thank you to (most) everyone who posted. 1. This thread is turning out to be a very difficult thing for me to talk about, emotionally. I think just based on the nature of subject matter - we are talking about the choice to live. Any confusion I have is in turn threatening all my values; as, if I cannot provide a defense against these questions, the very value of life to me is attacked. 2. I took the advice of several people, and went back to OPAR. Dr. Peikoff makes a great point - there is no choice between "existence" and "non-existence". "Non-existence" does not exist, "it isn't". All that there is *is* existence. So it is impossible to step "out" of existence, objectively look at both, then decide. This point seems to help. 3. There is a difference then between saying that rationally one's life is no longer worth living (ex. life in Soviet Russia, perhaps), and saying my existence qua existence is not worthwhile. This latter statement doesn't seem to be able to be asked - existence is worthless....compared to what?
  3. Standard of Value?

    System Builder, thank you very much for your post. As much as it annoyed to to see what I thought was my answer to my own question challenged, you raised some interesting points. Firstly, you are right in bringing up my inaccurate usage of specific terms/phrases. I don't want to spend any time here, because I would agree with all the objections you raised. (emphasis mine) Right, I understand this. My question is; how do we go from the "is" (my existence), to the "ought" (my life as the standard of value)? This to me seems to be the main problem I have. I understand that in order to remain alive, in the long run, this is what I must do. But, as no god exists, and life has no intrinsic value, then why should I live? You see my problem? Any justification at all (lets say on account of "happiness" or "social good" or something) depends on some implicit standard of value. But, in accepting any standard, you have already said "yes" to existence.
  4. Standard of Value?

    Actually, that isn't entirely accurate. "Acceptance" is an action, and one could not justify it if it was. It is more, "awareness of my existence", and "awareness of reality".
  5. Standard of Value?

    I'd agree here with bborg. Firstly, thank you everyone who responded. There are so many posts that I don't think I have the time to respond individually to each. The gist of what people have been saying to me is that the choice to live is pre-rational, that there can be no *argument* for the value of life. I don't think we can apply the terms "value" or "good" to life qua life. It doesn't make sense, as life is what gives those terms meaning. Actually, it would be circular reasoning. And I don't think even asking "do I choose life or not?" makes sense, as again, that question can only be answered by reference to some standard, which becomes circular reasoning, etc. I think it is more, "do I accept reality, and my place in it, and my existence?". Then once one does, then ethics can jump in and one can go from there. That seems to be right.
  6. Standard of Value?

    This is very interesting. As a pre-moral choice, as a prerequisite, one must choose existence - or no ethical standard can possibly apply. But once one *does* choose life, one has the choice to pick any standard. I don't like the word "choose" here though. "Choose" suggests a course of action, in this case with 2 options possible. To be able to act, one must have an ethical system in place; but we have decided that existence is a pre-moral choice. What is a better way of describing it?
  7. Standard of Value?

    I can't disagree with this, this is certainly what happens. But, again, I feel that you run into the same problem. As an adult then, on what basis can you say then that life is good? You would be saying; according to the standard I have already chosen, I deem my life thus far to be good. I guess I am demanding that we be able to step out of existence and sort of judge the merits of both "existence", and "non-existence" (which technically can't exist). This is nonsense, as that is impossible. I think that the answer is that we have to simply embrace existence (whatever that means). But, why? This is difficult to understand.
  8. Standard of Value?

    This doesn't make sense to me. You say, "if you do want to live", but my question is *why* would you want to? I understand your point in that, in order to live, one *must* place life as the standard. Any action a person takes is informed by *some* standard of value (be it known explicitly or not). My confusion lies in the fact that there does not seem to be any justification *possible* for wanting to live. It seems to be simply an expression of our free will.
  9. Standard of Value?

    Context: In any ethical system, a standard of value must be chosen. A standard of value allows one to judge whether a given action, idea, etc. is moral (or immoral), and to what extent. In Objectivism, the standard is man's life. Question: It is clear to me why a standard must be chosen, but how does one choose? I understand why man's life must be the standard of value in order to remain alive, but I cannot see a reason for man's life to be a value. I liken my question to the Axiom of Existence, in which there are no concepts which precede it. Is this is same here; in that one cannot ask why man's life is valuable (for it is what gives rise to all possible values)? In other words, must it be simply accepted or denied (as an axiom)?
  10. What I was talking about was referring to the ideas people hold (not just logical fallacies), so, it was actually unrelated to our discussion. Sorry 'bout that. But, I do think that in terms of ideas, what I said holds weight. You had mentioned that you were talking about formal debate, where I had in mind informal ones. For instance, a conversation with an employee at work. I don't think it is possible (even within an informal debate) to have omniscience about a person's context, but, I so think you can pick up on clues. It all depends on the situation, and the person. I would have to think about exactly what clues are possible to pick up on.
  11. I'm not sure what you meant with the last part, "means assuming that which you are attempting to disprove". I thought about it, and I think you are right about that (I think it is a subtle distinction). I can't find an entry in the AR Lexicon for "floating abstraction" though. How ought one judge someone morally then, if you catch someone using a fallacy? In my opinion, one should judge someone on their context of knowledge - what they know to be right or wrong, a truth or an error, etc. We judge a person's access to the knowledge you needed to reach the conclusion in question. And, if they indeed did have the same access to developing the same context as you (which, I think, is most of the time), then you judge both the statement ("altruism isn't evil, what's wrong with helping people?", etc.) as wrong, and the person as immoral. You say that the person is making a logically fallacious claim, and point it out, or do whatever you decide on doing. I think then that the varying degrees of immorality depend on that specific person's situation - has that person been raised in a good home - given a good education? Is that person psychologically healthy? Is that person a child? etc. Would you agree Betsey?
  12. Context: In debating a topic with someone, it is possible for someone to "mouth" concepts, but not hold their relation to sensory data. This is what Ayn Rand called "The Fallacy of the Stolen Concept". In other words, it is possible for there to be a difference between what someone says, and what that person hopes to mean by his statements. I have found this in particular in discussing (so called) "environmental ethics" with people. People will implicitly choose a standard of value such as "biocentrism" or "ecocentrism", but still hold that human life is somehow important. Question: How should one approach this fact while debating with someone? It is hard to reduce the concepts individuals use down to perceptual data (especially in issues of politics, which is far down the line), where the philosophical context is so great; in the time usually alloted in a debate with someone. If I can tell that a person is using a "stolen concept", by what standard ought I judge whether his choice of ideas to be right or wrong? (I am only talking about cases where a person "mouths" wrong ideas, but implicitly is using other right ideas.) For example, suppose someone says, "I believe in altruism, there is nothing wrong with helping people." or "Nature has intrinsic value, but we ought to protect humans above trees."
  13. My introduction

    Thank you JRoberts and Arnold!
  14. My introduction

    In particular, I would like to add that the posts of member Burgess Laughlin have been a pleasure to read. The clarity with which he speaks (as expressed through the organization of his writing), and intellectual discipline he exhibits (as expressed through the content of his posts) is truly admirable. Also, the posts of Stephen Speicher are a pleasure to read. His immense knowledge of science and math, in addition to his expert knowledge of O'ism, are inspiring (it is indeed unfortunate to hear of his passing).
  15. Hi everyone! I am very happy to be here on THE FORUM. I have been studying O'ism on my own for quite some time now, and it has done nothing but improve my life. As I have been studying, it it feels as if I have been a hunchback intellectually, and O'ism is helping to straighten me out. My Purposes on this site: - To help understand O'ism - This includes help in "chewing" certain ideas, and help in applying O'ist ideas to specific situations. - Charting my growth - I think in the future, when I have been on this site for a while, it will be very enjoyable to see how far intellectually I have come. - Movie/TV Recommendations - I hope to pick up on some great recommendations to movies and TV shows that are funny or uplifting, i.e. good romantic realistic art. - Socialize - I hope to get to know some fellow students of Ayn Rand; and make great friendships while I'm here. My Intellectual Interests: - Metaphysics - This is a field of philosophy which has done a lot to help straighten out my thinking. I am currently listening to OPAR, chapters 1 and 2 (fantastic stuff). - Objectivism - Studying Ayn Rand has cleared up a lot of my thinking, and has had amazing practical results. I study O'ism to help understand the nature of the world I live in, how to live (with the intent of attaining happiness). I do not have any interest in philosophy from a technical perspective (although I recognize that it is a legitimate pursuit). -Psychology - I find the study of psychology, but more specifically "self-help" books, to be tremendously helpful. Apart from that, I am curious in many many subjects, and I study them as I become interested in them.