organon

A question regarding a particular venue of wealth acquisition, in an ethical context.

339 posts in this topic

Joe believes that anyone who works for a living is a chump and he goes around preaching that people should be lazy. Joe also loves to make widgits and when he starts making widgits he gets so wound up in the process that he is determined to keep at it until he makes all the widgits he can. Joe thus commits in action to creating material values but, since he is not practicing the laziness he preaches, he does NOT have integrity.
The context of my question was the Objectivist virtues of productiveness and integrity.

So was mine. Productiveness is the action of creating material values. Integrity is implementing one's ideas in action -- but it is not necessarily implementing Objectivist ideas.

Laziness is would be a violation of the Objectivist virtue of integrity, regardless of whether it was consistent with a man's preaching or not.

A virtue is an action one either does or does not do, not a rule or law one can "violate," so I have a hard time making sense of the above statement.

Thus, if the question is going to be answered by means of example, a different one needs to be used. In addition, while I have no problem with an example being provided, explicitly presenting an argument to identify the principle supposedly used in that example to distinguish 'loyalty in action to the process of creating material values' from 'commitment in action to the process of creating material values', would be extremely helpful in identifying your actual premises (instead of having to try to derive them from their implicit use in the example).

The above sentence is so abstract, I cannot tell what it refers to. I would appreciate it if it were concretized with examples.

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Laziness is would be a violation of the Objectivist virtue of integrity, regardless of whether it was consistent with a man's preaching or not.
A virtue is an action one either does or does not do, not a rule or law one can "violate," so I have a hard time making sense of the above statement.
The Objectivist virtues are moral principles. And principles can indeed be violated - ie one can act in contradiction to them.
The context of my question was the Objectivist virtues of productiveness and integrity.
So was mine. Productiveness is the action of creating material values. Integrity is implementing one's ideas in action -- but it is not necessarily implementing Objectivist ideas.
No. The OBJECTIVIST virtue of integrity, as Dr. Peikoff states, is "loyalty to rational principles". The Objectivist virtue of integrity is NOT merely "implementing one's ideas" whatever they might be (such as "laziness"). Since we do not agree on such a fundamental point like this, then the source of our disagreement in this thread (and elsewhere) has become very clear. We have extremely different understandings of the basic nature of the Objectivist virtues. And given that stark difference, I see no point in our continuing this discussion. Such a vast gulf will not be closed through personal discussion on an internet forum.

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productiveness, like every virtue, involves two integrated components: consciousness and existence; or thought and action; or knowledge and its material implementation. Neither of these components is dispensable to any productive man or activity

Could you please identify the "existence, action, material implementation" aspect of thinking purposefully about a material value?

Existence is what you are thinking about, the action is thinking, and the material implementation is the ultimate goal of the thinking which is the creation of a material value.

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This makes no sense to me. Existence is what I think about? If I'm thinking about a perpetual motion machine, that's existence? The act of thinking created time machines? Material implementation follows from thinking about something? Then I should be able to create anything I think about. Then what are the other virtues for? It sounds like your view of productiveness encompasses everything.

In my view, with respect to productiveness, existence is the perceptual and conceptual referents about which one is thinking, action is the physical rearrangement of those referents is a specific sequence, implementation is the creation of a material value. Rational thought guides the entire process, but it is not the process itself. Productiveness is the process, not just one or several steps of the process. Steps in the process are just that: steps in the process.

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Introspectively, I can tell the difference between drifting mentally and thinking purposefully. If I am thinking purposefully about creating a material value, then I am engaged in the virtue of productiveness.

What distinguishes the action you cite above from the activity of rationality?

Productiveness, like all virtues, is an instance of rationality. What distinguishes productiveness from non-productiveness rationality is the subject of the thinking process-- i.e., thinking about the creation of material values.

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That is not how I interpret the virtue. What distinguishes productiveness from other virtues is the value sought: the creation of material values. Which means the values must be created. Thinking about the creation of material values or friendship or the plot of a book is an instance of rationality. It is the consideration of what must be accomplished in order for man to live in reality.

"Productiveness" is the process of creating material values, whether goods or services. Such creation is a necessity of human survival in any age, whether the values take the form of bearskins, clubs, a pot full of meat, and paintings on the walls of caves; or of skyscrapers, ballet, brain surgery, and a gourmet meal aboard a computerized spaceship

Thinking is a step in the process. Nothing in the above quote states or implies that productiveness is only one element of the process. In fact, "creation is a necessity of human survival."

Unless you are prepared to state that productiveness is not a necessity of human survival, then one cannot substitute one step in a process as being the entire process.

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productiveness, like every virtue, involves two integrated components: consciousness and existence; or thought and action; or knowledge and its material implementation. Neither of these components is dispensable to any productive man or activity

Could you please identify the "existence, action, material implementation" aspect of thinking purposefully about a material value?

Existence is what you are thinking about, the action is thinking, and the material implementation is the ultimate goal of the thinking which is the creation of a material value.

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This makes no sense to me. Existence is what I think about? If I'm thinking about a perpetual motion machine, that's existence?

No it's not. Perpetual motion machines cannot exist in reality.

The act of thinking created time machines?

Time machines cannot exist either.

Material implementation follows from thinking about something?

No, it follows from thinking about REAL things -- i.e., what actually exists or what potentially could exist. Thinking about the metaphysically impossible is not thinking about existence.

Then I should be able to create anything I think about.

You can only create what existence (reality) will allow.

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productiveness, like every virtue, involves two integrated components: consciousness and existence; or thought and action; or knowledge and its material implementation. Neither of these components is dispensable to any productive man or activity

Could you please identify the "existence, action, material implementation" aspect of thinking purposefully about a material value?

Existence is what you are thinking about, the action is thinking, and the material implementation is the ultimate goal of the thinking which is the creation of a material value.

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This makes no sense to me. Existence is what I think about? If I'm thinking about a perpetual motion machine, that's existence?

No it's not. Perpetual motion machines cannot exist in reality.

But you said "existence is what [i'm] thinking about."

The act of thinking created time machines?

Time machines cannot exist either.

But you said "the action is thinking."

Material implementation follows from thinking about something?

No, it follows from thinking about REAL things -- i.e., what actually exists or what potentially could exist. Thinking about the metaphysically impossible is not thinking about existence.

Then I should be able to create anything I think about.

You can only create what existence (reality) will allow.

Then you need to reformulate what you have previously stated.

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Then you need to reformulate what you have previously stated.

OK, let's try this again.

productiveness, like every virtue, involves two integrated components: consciousness and existence; or thought and action; or knowledge and its material implementation. Neither of these components is dispensable to any productive man or activity

Could you please identify the "existence, action, material implementation" aspect of thinking purposefully about a material value?

If you are to implement the virture of productiveness, then existence (i.e., something real) is what you must be thinking about, the action you must be engaged in is thinking, and the material implementation -- the creation of a material value -- must be the ultimate goal of your thinking process.

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If you are to implement the virture of productiveness, then existence (i.e., something real) is what you must be thinking about, the action you must be engaged in is thinking, and the material implementation -- the creation of a material value -- must be the ultimate goal of your thinking process.

Great. We can agree on that, so far. Now, let's move beyond the "if" (the preconditions) and onto the actual exercise of the virtue. Rationality requires thought about reality, observation, conceptualization, integration. It is not the subject matter of rationality that distinguishes the virtues, it is the method by which rationality is used that distinguishes the virtues.

When I rely on my own judgment about reality, I am being independent. When I consider only those aspects that are relevent to the purpose I'm considering, I have integrity. When I don't let my emotions guide my thinking, I am being honest. When I am guided by my judgment and focus on those aspects that are relevant to achieving my purpose, and when I engage in physical activity to create a material value, I am engaged in productiveness. When I grant to others or myself (either through intellectual or physical trade) what has been earned, I am just. When I grasp that the power of my mind enables me to achieve my values, I experience pride.

Of these virtues, the activity of integrity, productiveness, and justice are intimately tied to the final value which exists apart from the virtuous activity exercised to earn the value. (The other virtues are the process, and the value is the activity of the virtue; i.e., reason is the exercise of rationality; self-esteem is the experience of pride in all aspects of one mental functioning.) Anything short of that means that the full exercise of that virtue has not been realized because the values have not been achieved. That does not mean that one is being unproductive or unjust if the end result is not achieved. It simply means that the process was undeway but not completed, in much the same way as certain chemical reactions may be interrupted if a catalyst is removed. I don't see the problem with regarding productiveness in this manner.

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As an additional example of the difference between the virtues as I indicated above, note that it would be impossible to use rationality and not value reason. It would be impossible to achieve self-esteem and not experience pride. It would be impossible to not be honest (in the Objectivist sense) and not be rational. It would be impossible to achieve reason or exercise rationality without independence. But one very well could create material values without exercising productiveness. One could very well trade with others and still be unjust. Purpose can still be achieved without the virtue of integrity. In the latter three virtues, the value ultimately exists externally to the virtue that created it. Therefore, the means of achieving those values are contextual upon the full and complete exercise of the virtues.

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Of these virtues, the activity of integrity, productiveness, and justice are intimately tied to the final value which exists apart from the virtuous activity exercised to earn the value. (The other virtues are the process, and the value is the activity of the virtue; i.e., reason is the exercise of rationality; self-esteem is the experience of pride in all aspects of one mental functioning.) Anything short of that means that the full exercise of that virtue has not been realized because the values have not been achieved.

If I am being virtuous, it means that I am acting to achieve a value and not to realize "the full exercise of that virtue." My goal is to get a value, not achieve a virtue. A virtue is a means, not an end.

That does not mean that one is being unproductive or unjust if the end result is not achieved. It simply means that the process was underway but not completed, in much the same way as certain chemical reactions may be interrupted if a catalyst is removed. I don't see the problem with regarding productiveness in this manner.

I agree if you are talking about productiveness, the result. I disagree if you are talking about productiveness, the virtue (i.e., the action). If I am trying to gain a particular material value -- let's say a profitable investment -- I might perform exactly the same thinking activities motivated by exactly the same goal whether or not I succeed in gaining the value. Virtue-wise -- which means action-wise -- there is no difference.

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As an additional example of the difference between the virtues as I indicated above, note that it would be impossible to use rationality and not value reason.

I don't think that is true. I know quite a few people who are compartmentalized -- rational at work and religious in their personal lives, for instance. They use rationality 9 to 5, but they don't value reason explicitly and often feel guilty when they exercise it.

It would be impossible to achieve self-esteem and not experience pride.

This doesn't sound right. Pride is the virtue -- something you do -- and self-esteem is the value -- what you feel as a result. Thus, pride is what you do and self-esteem is what you experience.

It would be impossible to not be honest (in the Objectivist sense) and not be rational.

This is definitely not true. I know some extraordinarily honest people who, unfortunately, have big problems with rationalism. As a result, they often lose touch with reality and, in order to cope with the resulting anxiety and inability to deal with reality, they end up intellectually dependent on other people. Honesty simply means never seeking values by faking reality and they don't. But that doesn't necessarily means they are rational across the board.

It would be impossible to achieve reason or exercise rationality without independence. But one very well could create material values without exercising productiveness. One could very well trade with others and still be unjust. Purpose can still be achieved without the virtue of integrity. In the latter three virtues, the value ultimately exists externally to the virtue that created it. Therefore, the means of achieving those values are contextual upon the full and complete exercise of the virtues.

I was with you up until the last two sentences. I don't see how that follows and I'm not even sure what you meant to say.

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Of these virtues, the activity of integrity, productiveness, and justice are intimately tied to the final value which exists apart from the virtuous activity exercised to earn the value. (The other virtues are the process, and the value is the activity of the virtue; i.e., reason is the exercise of rationality; self-esteem is the experience of pride in all aspects of one mental functioning.) Anything short of that means that the full exercise of that virtue has not been realized because the values have not been achieved.

If I am being virtuous, it means that I am acting to achieve a value and not to realize "the full exercise of that virtue." My goal is to get a value, not achieve a virtue. A virtue is a means, not an end.

That does not mean that one is being unproductive or unjust if the end result is not achieved. It simply means that the process was underway but not completed, in much the same way as certain chemical reactions may be interrupted if a catalyst is removed. I don't see the problem with regarding productiveness in this manner.

I agree if you are talking about productiveness, the result. I disagree if you are talking about productiveness, the virtue (i.e., the action). If I am trying to gain a particular material value -- let's say a profitable investment -- I might perform exactly the same thinking activities motivated by exactly the same goal whether or not I succeed in gaining the value. Virtue-wise -- which means action-wise -- there is no difference.

We are getting nowhere and beginning to repeat arguments already made. I would suggest asking Dr. Peikoff to change the definition of productiveness offered in OPAR to "productiveness is the process of thinking about creating material values." If he does that, as well as demonstrate that is what Ayn Rand meant by the concept, then we can end this argument. Until then, I think it is best for us to just acknowledge we have different concepts of productiveness. Perhaps you can get Dr. Smith to expand on her chapter on productiveness to include what you are saying and has been argued in this thread. When I read her chapter, I don't see the implications of what you are asserting.

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We are getting nowhere and beginning to repeat arguments already made. I would suggest asking Dr. Peikoff to change the definition of productiveness offered in OPAR to "productiveness is the process of thinking about creating material values." If he does that, as well as demonstrate that is what Ayn Rand meant by the concept, then we can end this argument. Until then, I think it is best for us to just acknowledge we have different concepts of productiveness. Perhaps you can get Dr. Smith to expand on her chapter on productiveness to include what you are saying and has been argued in this thread. When I read her chapter, I don't see the implications of what you are asserting.

Fair enough.

Whether we agree now or ever, I would like to thank you for raising issues and asking questions that have made me think.

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Fair enough.

Whether we agree now or ever, I would like to thank you for raising issues and asking questions that have made me think.

Same here. I've enjoyed this thread very much. It made me think about issues I've not considered before.

Thank you and every one else who contributed.

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