Henrik Unné

Am I still an Objectivist?

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Henrik,

I believe that I have identified where your ideas may disagree with Objectivism. Ethics, by its very nature, is a study of actions, not necessarily ideas. Thinking or having knowledge of the good does not make a person good. Virtue comes only when an individual has acted virtuously so many times as to make the virtue a habit. Virtue, then, is the summation of millions (or more) of individual choices. Though it is undeniable that an individual born into a savage society will be impacted by that society, every individual still has the power to make a choice. Look at Ayn Rand.

When we look at society as a whole and try to "pass judgement" on it, we are really just playing a percentages game. Translated: "In my opinion, 60% of the people of [insert region] posses sufficient [insert virtue or collection of virtues] to make this area relatively good." Nice to know-so you can increase your chances of coming into contact with a person of your ethical persuasion. But in reality, mostly pointless.

I think that you conflated the ethical issue with a "sense of life" issue. If this is the case, then the first place you need to turn is yourself: what experiences have led you to believe that the sense of life of the average man is savage or "second-handed"?

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That is unproved and is the fallacy of questionable cause. Are you telling me that an industrial civilization is maintained by second-handers? I doubt it.

Of course an industrial civilization is *not* maintained by its second-handers, even if they constitute the vast majority of the population, as I think they do. One of the points of The Fountainhead and of Atlas Shrugged, is that the Howard Roarks and the Hank Reardens and the John Galts carry modern civilization on their shoulders. The Peter Keatings and the Jim Taggarts ride on the thinking done by the first-handers. as a kind of parasites on consciousness. Of course, as long as the second-handers work, and work does require some element of first-handedness, then they are not parasites economically. Those second-handers who work produce material values, and the first-handers benefit from them, by virtue of the division of labor. But it is, fundamentally, the first-handers who keep mankind alive, or at least living above the level of the Stone Age.

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Henrik,

I believe that I have identified where your ideas may disagree with Objectivism. Ethics, by its very nature, is a study of actions, not necessarily ideas. Thinking or having knowledge of the good does not make a person good. Virtue comes only when an individual has acted virtuously so many times as to make the virtue a habit. Virtue, then, is the summation of millions (or more) of individual choices. Though it is undeniable that an individual born into a savage society will be impacted by that society, every individual still has the power to make a choice. Look at Ayn Rand.

When we look at society as a whole and try to "pass judgement" on it, we are really just playing a percentages game. Translated: "In my opinion, 60% of the people of [insert region] posses sufficient [insert virtue or collection of virtues] to make this area relatively good." Nice to know-so you can increase your chances of coming into contact with a person of your ethical persuasion. But in reality, mostly pointless.

I think that you conflated the ethical issue with a "sense of life" issue. If this is the case, then the first place you need to turn is yourself: what experiences have led you to believe that the sense of life of the average man is savage or "second-handed"?

Yes, ethics is about (physical) actions. But the second-handers automatize a policy of acting, in a sense, on the basis of the thinking of others. So I think that second-handers can be evaluated morally, qua second-handers. Even though morality is about actions, I think that it is immoral to default on the responsibility of thinking, and the more a person does it, the more immoral he is. Remember that ethics is about the volitional, and the act that is directly under a man´s volitional control, is the choice to focus his mind or not.

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Yes, ethics is about (physical) actions. But the second-handers automatize a policy of acting, in a sense, on the basis of the thinking of others.

Be careful about conflating multiple issues. There is not a problem necessarily with people listening to, ingesting, and integrating the philosophy of others (indeed, to a large extent, we all do this). Thinkers and more intellectually inclined people contemplate more about the issues, as opposed to accepting them as true, in the similar way that an engineer knows the inner workings of an airplane, how it flies, and why, while your common man only knows that the plane flies and accepts this fact without learning the necessary knowledge behind flight. This issue is different than a person who is a second-hander.

So I think that second-handers can be evaluated morally, qua second-handers.

They only need to be evaluated qua human.

Even though morality is about actions, I think that it is immoral to default on the responsibility of thinking, and the more a person does it, the more immoral he is. Remember that ethics is about the volitional, and the act that is directly under a man´s volitional control, is the choice to focus his mind or not.

This is true. But once again, be careful of conflating issues. Accepting an idea as true without rigorously investigating and studying all aspects and technical issues of the idea is different from defaulting on thinking.

I think it would help the situation if you would expand on your definition of a second-hander, and what it takes to be one. The more concrete examples, the better.

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I do get on with living my life. But it is good, in principle, to acknowledge the facts of reality. And a couple of facts about reality are:

1) The majority of the members of mankind are second-handers.

2) Second-handers, by their nature, are morally depraved.

I am not sure about second-handers necessarily being depraved. Think of Gail Wynand, for example: Roark thought of him as the epitome of the second-hander, yet still loved him.

With regard to the acknowledging the facts of reality part, I can only repeat what I said in the older thread: One ought to evaluate concrete individuals, not mankind as a collective.

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They [second-handers] only need to be evaluated qua human.

I think it would help the situation if you would expand on your definition of a second-hander, and what it takes to be one. The more concrete examples, the better.

!) Well. in regard to evaluating second-handers as qua human - second-handers are, in a sense, sub-human, since they do not think for themselves, and thinking is the distictive attribute of a *human* being. If a second-hander´s consciousness does not bother to reach the level of higher-level concepts, i.e. if it functions only on the level of percepts and lower-level concepts, then that second-hander is little better than an animal.

2) Can I expand on my definition of a second-hander, and what it takes to be one? And can I give more concrete examples? Well, it would take me weeks to give you a full answer, and the Forum would not have space for the full answer.

A second-hander is a person who relies on the thinking of others, instead of making the effort to understand reality with his own mind. He accepts whatever others say is true, without bothering to check their assertions against the facts. This is of course only the pattern. No individual is exactly like another, and that goes for second-handers too. Just about all second-handers do think independently about *some* issues, as long as they are not "too hard". So, some socialistic second-handers will do enough thinking to realize that an outright socialist dictatorship would be bad, even though they will not do enough thinking to realize that the welfare state that they have learned from others to worship, is also bad. A young person who accepts the Communist ideology when young, in a second-handed fashion, may stop and do *some* thinking at a later point in life, when he reads about the atrocities in, for example, Pol Pot´s Kambodja, and may re-eavaluate Communism (I have seen this here in Sweden, a lot of the Communists lost faith in Communism when the atrocities in Cambodja were exposed after the Vietnamese invasion 1979).

Since men have free will, second-handedness is not irreversible. A second-hander *can* decide to start thinking on his own, even though it is difficult, if he is used to being a second-hander. But since he *can* start thinking, he is morally responsible for himself. His errors of knowledge are not innocent, since his ignorance of the truth is self- induced.

A second-hander will, as a rule, react with dishonesty, if he is presented with rational arguments against the ideas that he has accepted as true, on the authority of "significant others". For example, I have many times presented to supporters of the welfare state, irrefutable evidence that the welfare state destroys the people´s welfare. I give them the government statistics that show that the frequency of alchohol and drug abuse has skyrocketed during the last 60 years in Sweden, the same time period that the welfare state was built up, and I ask them - "If the welfare state improves the people´s welfare, then why did the frequency of drug abuse skyrocket? Do people drink and take drugs because they feel well?" The second-handers never have a decent answer to that question. And if they are willing to listen, which they usually are not, I can continue and ask them "Why are there so many young Swedes nowadays who cannot even read and write decently, if the welfare state´s public schools are such a blessing? And why do the government´s own reports show that at least 3.000 Swedes die each year from maltreatment in the government hospitals? And why is the rate of suicide among Swedish teen-agers at record levels today? Do young people commit suicide because the welfare state has succeeded at making their lives happy, as the Social Democrats promised that it would do? The second-handers just evade my arguments. They go by their feelings, rather than by reason. And they typically don´t listen for more than perhaps 20 seconds or so.

I do not have time or space for a detailed presentation of my understanding of the concept "second-hander". I´ll just state that I believe that my understanding of the concept is the "standard" one in Objectivism, the one presented in The Foutainhead and Atlas Shrugged. It is just that my evaluation of the second-hander is not the standard one. I believe that the reason for my disagreement with, probably, most other Objectivists, is that I see clearly that second-handers *can* help it. Their errors of knowledge are not *innocent*, since it is their own fault that they are ignorant second-handers. Second-handedness is chosen, it is volitional.

Can I give some examples of second-handers? I could give you a really long list, if I had the time and space.

1) All the socialists, who learned to be socialists from the adults around them in their school years (from the Marxist professors in college for example), and they are so lazy, intellectually, that they subsequently, throughout their entire lives, see fact after fact that indicates that socialism is wrong, but they stick stubbornly to what they accepted on faith when they were young, in face of growing mountains of counter-evidence.

2) The religionists. Most religious people just believe in whatever religion their parents happened to believe in. For example the children of Catholics become Catholics, the children of Lutherans become Lutherans, the children of Unitarians become Unitarians., the children of Jews become Jewish. And so forth. And the second-handed religious people are loathe to re-evaluate their beliefs. The more radical the re-evalution, the less frequent it is. Some Lutherans will convert to other Protestant denominations. Fewer will convert to Catholicism. Fewer still will convert to Judaism. And, probably, fewer still will become died-in-the-wool atheists.

3) The Libertarians. They are second-handers with a penchant for "rebellion". They see the rational ideas of Objectivism, but they accept them on faith, without understanding them. And when they find that such relatively "superficial" Objectivist ideas, such as support for freedom and capitalism, clash with their more fundamental premises, such as subjectivism, they stick with their deeper premises, instead of doing the hard thinking necessary to reappraise their deep premises. And so they become anarchists.

Of course, there are some individual socialists, religious people and Libertarians who have significant elements of first-handedness. It is primarily those individuals, among the socialists, religionists and Libertarians, that we can reach. The degree to whick the somewhat first-handed among those who are philosophically wrong can be reached, is proportional to the degree to which they are first-handed, the degree to which they are not dead wrong in particular issues and the degree to which the issues they are wrong in are *not* fundamental.

So here are a few attributes of second-handers, in my understanding:

1) They are unwilling to do *hard* thinking.

2) They are unwilling to think about *abstract* subjects.

3) They accept ideas on faith.

4) They do not really understand the ideas that they say they accept. They have not "chewed" these ideas, and integrated them with the rest of their knowledge.

5) They typically use fallacies as "ad hominem" and "ad verecundiam" when they argue with you.

6) They typically evade when their cherished premises are challenged with rational arguments.

7) They want the approval of others. So they will say whatever they think is "in" and "popular". They lack courage.

8) They lack courage, because they do not really have firm convictions, even when they are belligerent. They cannot have *firm* convictions, when they have not integrated those "convictions" with percepts, and with the rest of their knowledge.

9) The second-handers´ consciousnesses, to the extent that they are second-handers (and their are individual differences in the degree of their second-handedness), functions on the level of percepts and lower-level concepts. So second-handers are, in a sense, little better than animals.

10) Because they do not think for themselves, second-handers are essentially helpless. Their fates are in the hands of others. (One of the reasons that I despise them is that they permit themselves to exist in a state of helplessness. When I was helpless myself, after my bout with schizophrenia, I struggled hard to escape that state, because I could not stand being helpless).

11) They prefer stagnation to effort.

12) They lack strong values, since they lack firm convictions. Their idea of pleasure is typically to watch television, to play video games and the like. Their interests are non-intellecual.

13) They feel an aversion to people like me, who show an interest in ideas. They resent people who do more thinking than they do themselves.

14) They think that people like me, who spend time on intellectual activities, are "odd" and amusing.

15) Since they do not have strong values, they do not really value their own lives much. A piece of evidence for that is that they let the world go to hell, without lifting a finger to do anything about it. The fact that second-handers do not *really* value their own lives, is probably the most important reason that I despise them.

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I do get on with living my life. But it is good, in principle, to acknowledge the facts of reality. And a couple of facts about reality are:

1) The majority of the members of mankind are second-handers.

2) Second-handers, by their nature, are morally depraved.

I am not sure about second-handers necessarily being depraved. Think of Gail Wynand, for example: Roark thought of him as the epitome of the second-hander, yet still loved him.

With regard to the acknowledging the facts of reality part, I can only repeat what I said in the older thread: One ought to evaluate concrete individuals, not mankind as a collective.

Yes. one should evaluate individuals, not mankind as a collective. I do *not* evaluate mankind as a collective. When I meet a person that I have never met before, I act and think on the premise that he is "innocent until proven guilty". Whenever I meet a person for the first time, my "default position" is that he is a morally good person. In fact some of my friends think that a weakness of mine is that I am too innocent, that I even have a streak of Pollyannaism in me. My friends probably think that I am gullible, because I am so prone to trust people.

But I am never surprised any more, when people that I meet for the first time, subsequently turn out to dissappoint me. I regard it as the statistically normal, but not the *metaphysically* normal, that people are second-handers and are morally depraved. I have learned from experience, as a rational person should.

The reason that I regard second-handers as morally depraved is the same one that I do not evaluate mankind as a collective. Every individual has free will. So everyone, *including* the second-handers, *can* help it (as long as he lives in a free society and has a normal brain), if his life becomes a failure (barring really bad luck, such as an illness or an accident).

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I am not sure about second-handers necessarily being depraved. Think of Gail Wynand, for example: Roark thought of him as the epitome of the second-hander, yet still loved him.

I would say that Gail Wynand had a residual element of first-handedness in him (what was left of the potential that he once had). Namely the will to put forth prodigious effort. I would say that Gail Wynand was better than the average second-hander, since he was not *indifferent*. I hate the quality of character, indifference. I hate the kind of people who just don´t give a damn about anything. Such as the second-handers who just work, eat and sleep, without having any ambition.

But I would never love Gail Wynand, as Howard Roark did. Since Gail Wynand deliberately destroyed so many good people around him. Although, to his credit, he made an exception for Howard Roark.

Gail Wynand did display an heroic honesty at the end of The Fountainhead. So morally, he was mixed.

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Yes. one should evaluate individuals, not mankind as a collective. I do *not* evaluate mankind as a collective.

Then on what basis do you make the statement "The majority of the members of mankind are second-handers" ? Do you personally know the majority of the members of mankind?

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Yes. one should evaluate individuals, not mankind as a collective. I do *not* evaluate mankind as a collective.

Then on what basis do you make the statement "The majority of the members of mankind are second-handers" ? Do you personally know the majority of the members of mankind?

No, I do not know personally the majority of the members of mankind. But there is a wealth of evidence for my generalization. And I am not alone in making generalizations about the most, or all, of mankind. Harry Binswanger does it, Leonard Peikoff does it, and even Ayn Rand herself did it. For example, Ayn Rand made the generalization that *all* men, assuming normal brains, have free will. And Ayn Rand stated that *all* men form concepts in certain ways. And so forth. And Ayn Rand certainly did not personally know all the members of mankind.

Of course, I am no Ayn Rand, or even a Leonard Peikoff or Harry Binswanger, but even laymen and non-geniuses have the ability to make generalizations and inductions.

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Henrik,

It seems as if you are using the term "second-hander" as a generalized "one-size fits all" put-down for anyone whose ideas you don't agree with and/or whose behavior you don't approve of.

In fact, "second-hander" has a precise meaning and definition: someone who uses other people as their cognitive or normative frame of reference instead of reality.

In addition, there is a context where that is a proper and necessary thing to be and do

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Henrik,

It seems as if you are using the term "second-hander" as a generalized "one-size fits all" put-down for anyone whose ideas you don't agree with and/or whose behavior you don't approve of.

In fact, "second-hander" has a precise meaning and definition: someone who uses other people as their cognitive or normative frame of reference instead of reality.

In addition, there is a context where that is a proper and necessary thing to be and do

I know that "second-hander" has a precise meaning. I do not say that anyone who disagrees with me is a second-hander. For example, I do not think that the Objectivists here on the forum, who strongly disagree with me in this thread, are second-handers.

I have stated repeatedly what I mean by "second-hander". A person who does not put forth the effort to think about abstract subjects, and who therefore just uncritically accepts the views of others in those subjects (I think that second-handedness is restricted to at least somewhat abstract subjects. Nobody is second-handed on the level of low-lever concepts and percepts. For example, if you pointed to a cat, and said to Peter Keating - "That is my pet dog." - he would not believe you, he would believe his own eyes.) That is essentially the same thing as using other people as their cognitive or normative frame of reference in abstract subjects.

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No, I do not know personally the majority of the members of mankind. But there is a wealth of evidence for my generalization. And I am not alone in making generalizations about the most, or all, of mankind. Harry Binswanger does it, Leonard Peikoff does it, and even Ayn Rand herself did it. For example, Ayn Rand made the generalization that *all* men, assuming normal brains, have free will. And Ayn Rand stated that *all* men form concepts in certain ways. And so forth. And Ayn Rand certainly did not personally know all the members of mankind.

Of course, I am no Ayn Rand, or even a Leonard Peikoff or Harry Binswanger, but even laymen and non-geniuses have the ability to make generalizations and inductions.

But the statement "The majority of the members of mankind are second-handers" is NOT an induction. An induction is when you see concretes possessing an attribute and conclude that all units of the concept you subsume them under must possess the same attribute, for the same reason that the concretes you saw possess it. For example, you know that your cellphone fits in your pocket, and that your sister's cellphone fits in your pocket, etc., and after seeing a number of contemporary cellphone models, you figure that any company that made cellphones that were too larget to fit into your pocket must have gone out of business by now, so you conclude that all cellphones made today fit into your pocket.

You cannot make a similar induction about second-handedness, or any other human attribute in which volition plays a role. You may see that your neighbor is a second-hander and that the guy next desk in the office is a second-hander, but these two facts do not have a common cause. There is nothing in the nature of man that necessarily makes him a second-hander. It is an individual choice; your neighbor is a second-hander because of the choices HE has made, and your coworker is a second-hander because of the choices HE has made. The fact that your neighbor has made certain choices in no way implies that your coworker must have made the same choices, or that any other member of mankind must have made the same choices.

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No, I do not know personally the majority of the members of mankind. But there is a wealth of evidence for my generalization. And I am not alone in making generalizations about the most, or all, of mankind. Harry Binswanger does it, Leonard Peikoff does it, and even Ayn Rand herself did it. For example, Ayn Rand made the generalization that *all* men, assuming normal brains, have free will. And Ayn Rand stated that *all* men form concepts in certain ways. And so forth. And Ayn Rand certainly did not personally know all the members of mankind.

Of course, I am no Ayn Rand, or even a Leonard Peikoff or Harry Binswanger, but even laymen and non-geniuses have the ability to make generalizations and inductions.

But the statement "The majority of the members of mankind are second-handers" is NOT an induction. An induction is when you see concretes possessing an attribute and conclude that all units of the concept you subsume them under must possess the same attribute, for the same reason that the concretes you saw possess it. For example, you know that your cellphone fits in your pocket, and that your sister's cellphone fits in your pocket, etc., and after seeing a number of contemporary cellphone models, you figure that any company that made cellphones that were too larget to fit into your pocket must have gone out of business by now, so you conclude that all cellphones made today fit into your pocket.

You cannot make a similar induction about second-handedness, or any other human attribute in which volition plays a role. You may see that your neighbor is a second-hander and that the guy next desk in the office is a second-hander, but these two facts do not have a common cause. There is nothing in the nature of man that necessarily makes him a second-hander. It is an individual choice; your neighbor is a second-hander because of the choices HE has made, and your coworker is a second-hander because of the choices HE has made. The fact that your neighbor has made certain choices in no way implies that your coworker must have made the same choices, or that any other member of mankind must have made the same choices.

I agree with you! The mere fact that most of the men that I have observed so far are second-handers, does not mean that whenever I meet a new man for the first time, I can say that he is a second-hander. I never do that. I regard all men as "innocent until proven guilty". My "default position" is the every man I meet is a decent human being. But I am often dissappointed when I get to know them better.

When I said that I had induced, I meant that I had seen that most of the men that I had met in my own life were second-handers, and I generalized that most of the members of mankind in general also were second-handers. Maybe that strictly speaking was not an *induction*, but only a generalization, since I was not saying "*all* s is p".

Also, I do not think that second-handedness is normal, in the metaphysical sense, I am only saying that it is statistically the norm, that it is far more prevalent than first-handedness. And I think that it should be uncontroversial among Objectivists that there are far more Peter Keatings out there, than Howard Roarks and Eddie Willers.

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Also, I do not think that second-handedness is normal, in the metaphysical sense, I am only saying that it is statistically the norm, that it is far more prevalent than first-handedness. And I think that it should be uncontroversial among Objectivists that there are far more Peter Keatings out there, than Howard Roarks and Eddie Willers.

Since when was that the issue? The issue in the various threads you've been participating in was your moral denuncation of them without sufficent evidence.

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Also, I do not think that second-handedness is normal, in the metaphysical sense, I am only saying that it is statistically the norm, that it is far more prevalent than first-handedness. And I think that it should be uncontroversial among Objectivists that there are far more Peter Keatings out there, than Howard Roarks and Eddie Willers.

Since when was that the issue? The issue in the various threads you've been participating in was your moral denuncation of them without sufficent evidence.

"Denunciation" doesn't quite capture the degree of this backpeddling. "Moral monsters" is the term he originally used, later saying the average person is more evil than Hitler.

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Also, I do not think that second-handedness is normal, in the metaphysical sense, I am only saying that it is statistically the norm, that it is far more prevalent than first-handedness. And I think that it should be uncontroversial among Objectivists that there are far more Peter Keatings out there, than Howard Roarks and Eddie Willers.

Since when was that the issue? The issue in the various threads you've been participating in was your moral denuncation of them without sufficent evidence.

"Denunciation" doesn't quite capture the degree of this backpeddling. "Moral monsters" is the term he originally used, later saying the average person is more evil than Hitler.

Yes, thanks for reminding me about that.

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Also, I do not think that second-handedness is normal, in the metaphysical sense, I am only saying that it is statistically the norm, that it is far more prevalent than first-handedness. And I think that it should be uncontroversial among Objectivists that there are far more Peter Keatings out there, than Howard Roarks and Eddie Willers.

Since when was that the issue? The issue in the various threads you've been participating in was your moral denuncation of them without sufficent evidence.

"Denunciation" doesn't quite capture the degree of this backpeddling. "Moral monsters" is the term he originally used, later saying the average person is more evil than Hitler.

No, I did not say that the majority of common men are more *evil* than Hitler. I said that they are, in a sense, more morally depraved. I have explained the difference, as I see it, between the concepts evil and morally depraved in a post, but I do not have the time to find it now. And I do still think that the majority of common men are "moral monsters". I am sorry if I have given anyone here the impression that I have changed my mind, or back-pedaled.

I honestly do not understand how anyone can say that I have not given sufficient evidence for my assertion. The evidence can be condensed into three points.

1) Enormously much is at stake when a person chooses habitually not to think. A person who does it renders himself metaphysically helpless, and in a sense, he dies (being unconscious is like being in a state of living death). So he gives up everything..

2) The choice habitually not to think is volitional.

3) The choice habitually not to think is made knowing that it is wrong. Everyone knows, in some terms, that they *should* bother to think.

I maintain that it follows from these three premises that anyone who habitually chooses not to think is betraying life, and is therefore a moral monster. If you still disagree with me, please show me either that one of my three premises is wrong, or that a person who betrays life is not a moral monster.

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Also, I do not think that second-handedness is normal, in the metaphysical sense, I am only saying that it is statistically the norm, that it is far more prevalent than first-handedness. And I think that it should be uncontroversial among Objectivists that there are far more Peter Keatings out there, than Howard Roarks and Eddie Willers.

Since when was that the issue? The issue in the various threads you've been participating in was your moral denuncation of them without sufficent evidence.

"Denunciation" doesn't quite capture the degree of this backpeddling. "Moral monsters" is the term he originally used, later saying the average person is more evil than Hitler.

No, I did not say that the majority of common men are more *evil* than Hitler. I said that they are, in a sense, more morally depraved. I have explained the difference, as I see it, between the concepts evil and morally depraved in a post, but I do not have the time to find it now. And I do still think that the majority of common men are "moral monsters". I am sorry if I have given anyone here the impression that I have changed my mind, or back-pedaled.

I honestly do not understand how anyone can say that I have not given sufficient evidence for my assertion. The evidence can be condensed into three points.

1) Enormously much is at stake when a person chooses habitually not to think. A person who does it renders himself metaphysically helpless, and in a sense, he dies (being unconscious is like being in a state of living death). So he gives up everything..

2) The choice habitually not to think is volitional.

3) The choice habitually not to think is made knowing that it is wrong. Everyone knows, in some terms, that they *should* bother to think.

I maintain that it follows from these three premises that anyone who habitually chooses not to think is betraying life, and is therefore a moral monster. If you still disagree with me, please show me either that one of my three premises is wrong, or that a person who betrays life is not a moral monster.

Or that it does not follow from the three premises that a person who chooses habitually not to think is betraying life.

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Also, I do not think that second-handedness is normal, in the metaphysical sense, I am only saying that it is statistically the norm, that it is far more prevalent than first-handedness. And I think that it should be uncontroversial among Objectivists that there are far more Peter Keatings out there, than Howard Roarks and Eddie Willers.

Since when was that the issue? The issue in the various threads you've been participating in was your moral denuncation of them without sufficent evidence.

"Denunciation" doesn't quite capture the degree of this backpeddling. "Moral monsters" is the term he originally used, later saying the average person is more evil than Hitler.

No, I did not say that the majority of common men are more *evil* than Hitler. I said that they are, in a sense, more morally depraved. I have explained the difference, as I see it, between the concepts evil and morally depraved in a post, but I do not have the time to find it now. And I do still think that the majority of common men are "moral monsters". I am sorry if I have given anyone here the impression that I have changed my mind, or back-pedaled.

I honestly do not understand how anyone can say that I have not given sufficient evidence for my assertion. The evidence can be condensed into three points.

1) Enormously much is at stake when a person chooses habitually not to think. A person who does it renders himself metaphysically helpless, and in a sense, he dies (being unconscious is like being in a state of living death). So he gives up everything..

2) The choice habitually not to think is volitional.

3) The choice habitually not to think is made knowing that it is wrong. Everyone knows, in some terms, that they *should* bother to think.

I maintain that it follows from these three premises that anyone who habitually chooses not to think is betraying life, and is therefore a moral monster. If you still disagree with me, please show me either that one of my three premises is wrong, or that a person who betrays life is not a moral monster.

Henrik,

As has been mentioned previously and elsewhere, you need to provide a factual identification when you make a moral judgment. A moral judgment is a factual assertion. Your conclusion is asserted and not associated with the premises.

Whose life are they betraying? Life as such? Where is the evidence connecting their alleged actions and your assertion of them being moral monsters? Premise 2 is not true unless contextualized. Premise 3 is not demonstrated (and in my opinion, not true). I have said this many times, but the fact that individuals are confronted with the choice to think does not in any way determine what they will think or that they will arrive at correct conclusions. You assertion amounts to requiring infallibility.

You state "Enormously much is at stake when a person chooses habitually not to think." I have not thought about many subject that don't interest me, even if those subjects are alleged to help me understand things: The biological structure of grass, quantum mechanics, bioengineering, the literary ideas of Shakespeare, etc., etc. My interest in philosophy and economics is limited to those areas that I can apply to my life. I habitually do not think about the esoteric issues in those fields. I guess that makes me a moral monster.

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Or that it does not follow from the three premises that a person who chooses habitually not to think is betraying life.

If you could demonstrate that such actions habitually betray his life, then that is all you'd be able to state. You have no demonstrative evidence to claim that they are moral monsters.

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------------

Also, I do not think that second-handedness is normal, in the metaphysical sense, I am only saying that it is statistically the norm, that it is far more prevalent than first-handedness. And I think that it should be uncontroversial among Objectivists that there are far more Peter Keatings out there, than Howard Roarks and Eddie Willers.

Since when was that the issue? The issue in the various threads you've been participating in was your moral denuncation of them without sufficent evidence.

"Denunciation" doesn't quite capture the degree of this backpeddling. "Moral monsters" is the term he originally used, later saying the average person is more evil than Hitler.

No, I did not say that the majority of common men are more *evil* than Hitler. I said that they are, in a sense, more morally depraved. I have explained the difference, as I see it, between the concepts evil and morally depraved in a post, but I do not have the time to find it now. And I do still think that the majority of common men are "moral monsters". I am sorry if I have given anyone here the impression that I have changed my mind, or back-pedaled.

I honestly do not understand how anyone can say that I have not given sufficient evidence for my assertion. The evidence can be condensed into three points.

1) Enormously much is at stake when a person chooses habitually not to think. A person who does it renders himself metaphysically helpless, and in a sense, he dies (being unconscious is like being in a state of living death). So he gives up everything..

2) The choice habitually not to think is volitional.

3) The choice habitually not to think is made knowing that it is wrong. Everyone knows, in some terms, that they *should* bother to think.

I maintain that it follows from these three premises that anyone who habitually chooses not to think is betraying life, and is therefore a moral monster. If you still disagree with me, please show me either that one of my three premises is wrong, or that a person who betrays life is not a moral monster.

Henrik,

As has been mentioned previously and elsewhere, you need to provide a factual identification when you make a moral judgment. A moral judgment is a factual assertion. Your conclusion is asserted and not associated with the premises.

Whose life are they betraying? Life as such? Where is the evidence connecting their alleged actions and your assertion of them being moral monsters? Premise 2 is not true unless contextualized. Premise 3 is not demonstrated (and in my opinion, not true). I have said this many times, but the fact that individuals are confronted with the choice to think does not in any way determine what they will think or that they will arrive at correct conclusions. You assertion amounts to requiring infallibility.

You state "Enormously much is at stake when a person chooses habitually not to think." I have not thought about many subject that don't interest me, even if those subjects are alleged to help me understand things: The biological structure of grass, quantum mechanics, bioengineering, the literary ideas of Shakespeare, etc., etc. My interest in philosophy and economics is limited to those areas that I can apply to my life. I habitually do not think about the esoteric issues in those fields. I guess that makes me a moral monster.

1) The habit of not thinking is *always* volitional. Not thinking is a choice. There is abundant material on that subject in the Objectivist literature.

2) Anyone who habitually does not think is betraying primarily his own life, and is likely to harm others as well.

3) No, I do not require infallibility. I do not condemn people for *trying* to acquire correct knowledge, and failing. I condemn them when they do not even try.

4) No, I do not think that you are a moral monster, if you have bothered to give some thought to those areas that you can apply to your own life. Thinking about the subjects that affect his own interests is precisely what I think that every decent human being should do. And a lot of people do *not* do that. That is one of the 2 reasons that the world is in such a bad state (the other reason is the bad philosophy in our culture). People cannot defend themselves against bad ideas, if they do not even bother to enter the field of ideas. I meant that enormously much is at stake, when a person does not bother to think even about the subjects that his life depends on (for example political science and philosophy, when one lives in a statist society).

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Or that it does not follow from the three premises that a person who chooses habitually not to think is betraying life.

If you could demonstrate that such actions habitually betray his life, then that is all you'd be able to state. You have no demonstrative evidence to claim that they are moral monsters.

Life is a precious gift (in a metaphorical sense, I do not believe in God). If you throw it away, for no good reason, then you are a moral monster. And if you do not bother to think about the questions that your life depends on, because thinking feels like too much of a bother, then you are throwing away your life for no good reason.

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When you say "chooses habitually not to think," do you mean evasion, or just a lack of effort to seek out knowledge?

I mean primarily a lack of effort to seek out knowledge. Because, in my experience, most men do not actively evade most of the time, but they *are* anti-effort.

I regard the lack of effort to seek out knowledge as being as depraved as active evasion, because in both cases you wind up lacking the knowledge that you need to live (if you do it to any great extent). And also, a lack of effort to seek out knowledge necessarily entails some evasion, because you have to evade the knowledge that you need to be aware of things, in order to default on seeking out knowledge. Lack of effort is, beyond a point, not an innocent error.

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