Ayn Rand/Objectivism Sightings
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So then, what is rationality? Rationality is the recognition of the facts and acting in accordance. This means gathering, to the fullest extent possible, all relevant facts at hand. This means not narrowing one’s awareness to whatever facts one “feels” like, for doing so would be tantamount to mere rationalization, i.e., selecting some facts while ignoring others.
For example, take a lawyer who has cheated on his pregnant wife, with one of his clients. After the client leaves the office, and the lawyer now begins to follow his brain rather than his hormones, and is smacked in the face with the sudden reality of what he has done: cheated on his wife, destroyed his values, and disintegrated his moral character. In a heartbeat, he switches into “rationalization-mode”, he begins to search –even nitpick- his mental filing cabinets for any historical facts which he can use to rationalize the act he has committed. In a flash, he searches ‘Category: Marriage – subcategory: Unpleasant experiences – sub-subcategory: Conflicts” and recalls various experiences involving acrimonious arguments, unpleasant disagreements and verbal violence. As the lawyer continues to recall these facts, he begins to feel relief, as if a very heavy weight has been taken off his back. In reality, however, he has only shifted the weight from one place to another – from the weight of inconvenient guilt to the weight of diaphanous righteousness.
In attempting to maintain such a precarious balance, he has ignored the fundamental facts at hand, all of which can be summarized by the fact that he has had no essential conflict in his marriage. All these unpleasant occurrences he recalled during rationalization-mode, were in fact frivolous disagreements which nearly no substantial marriage ever escapes, intentionally over-exaggerated by his emotional distortion. He has also ignored the very fact that he vowed to not violate the relationship with his wife during their ceremonious wedding; he also ignored the fact that prior to his relapse of moral certitude and conviction, he recognized all the reasons why the very vow he made was not a mere castle in the air, supported by arbitrary convictions. Indeed, he had fully realized that in fact, such a commitment was not only to his wife, but grounded in the reality of Mother Nature herself, and explicit awareness of her encompassing, immutable laws of existence.
Yet, he evades these pesky little facts in willful ignorance. By virtue of such ignorance, he fervently slams shut all these mental-filing cabinets, psychologically tip-toeing around them as if walking through a war-zone laden with landmines. He has now systematically disintegrated his rational faculty, for as a human organism, he is an integrated being. To default on one element of his consciousness; of his knowledge, is ultimately to default on the entire system of integration.
If the lawyer is fundamentally moral; if he has been self-programmed with a philosophy that establishes the proper relationship to reality, then his façade will indeed collapse, for there is no fundamental structure compatible with its own architecture. This will lead the lawyer to come face to face with his own weaknesses, and hopefully, with a clear and solution-focused mind, he will systematically analyze the anatomy within the collapse of his commitment to reality. Upon discovering a solution, he will engineer a code of ethics to put in practice and proceed to expend effort in correcting the problem.
If the lawyer is fundamentally immoral; if he has been self-programmed with a philosophy that establishes an improper relationship to reality, then the façade of virtuosity which he has imposed during aforementioned times [i.e., his wedding], will further disintegrate, for there is no fundamental structure compatible with its own architecture.
Here, two broad pathways are possible, depending on whether the lawyer is genuinely confused and simply lacks correct knowledge, or if the lawyer is explicitly aware of the mechanics behind the situation and is simply evil.
If the first pathway is true, then the lawyer may not gain the correct knowledge and will proceed to live a lifetime of consistently failure, only to wonder why he “does the things that he does”. He will either conclude that it is in his “human nature” or that he simply lacks control over some unfathomable historical/social strings that manipulate his current actions, i.e., that he is a victim [rather than a hero] of a series of incidents during his childhood.
As in some cases, there is the possibility that he will merely accept such consistent “cycles” as a “part of life”, which is tantamount to thinking merely in concretes rather than concepts – in other words, to evade one’s rational faculty; to not think. In order to assist him with this evasion of his mind; of his responsibility to think, he may indulge, often under the guise of social customs, in routine alcohol or drug consumption, which blocks his consciousness from reality; which ephemerally relieves the pangs of awareness of such pesky, annoying facts.
If the second pathway is true, then the lawyer has simply concluded that “morality is impractical”, that it is simply some arbitrary, restrictive social-convention designed to impede a life lived to its fullest. He may then blindly reject, at the hint, any form of morality, regardless of how fundamentally different or rational. He may go so far as to adopt a range-of-the-moment philosophy, best summarized as “if it feels good, do it”. To live such a philosophy consistently, is ignore reality and the laws of existence – so of course, it cannot be practiced consistently for a rational human being, much less a lawyer. Thus an implicit morality does kick in, but this is nothing new. In fact, this is the innate, fundamental drive behind all attempts to devise a code of morality. This is called the will to live; the will to flourish.
Therefore the lawyer implicitly knows that some actions are against his favor and some aren’t – but unless he engages in an active thought-process, he will fail to explicitly map out what actions are pro-life and what actions are anti-life. This failure will only become compounded by his irrational resistance to any and all form of morality – and he will remain as a man of some mutant, hybrid and largely incoherent philosophy that hardly gives him a sense of clarity as to any proper course of actions. Consequently, he acts on impulse, feelings and intuition. He treats his emotions as a tool of cognition. He may even seek out mystical-oriented philosophies that offer him volatile bubbles of fantasy, in which he can find diaphanous relief in evasion-focused premises, i.e., "there is no objective reality", “reality isn’t real”, “existence is an illusion”. But he then only creates a further need to seek refuge from constant assault of reality, i.e., of facts and consequentially, of his rational faculty. Ironically, in any of the above situations, he engages in something which he claimed to have despised in his rejection of morality: impracticality. As a result he has become a self-contradicting man, and may even implicitly know this. If such implicit connections in his brain have been formed, he may also walk the same path as the lawyer who indulges in routine detachments of his inconvenient consciousness from reality, fueled by mind-altering alcohol or drug consumption. Darn, those pesky facts.
This essay began with rationality, and throughout, two other concepts have been implied: honesty and integrity. Honesty is the commitment to reality and to one’s own consciousness. Integrity is the loyalty to one’s rational principles. Rationality is the explicit recognition of all relevant facts within any given context, and acting in accordance. To intentionally ignore relevant facts in a given situation is to cripple one’s rational faculty, and to default on honesty. Such an evasion of honesty is to destroy one’s proper relationship to reality and to evade one’s own consciousness. To commit such an act of evasion is to create a breach of integrity, which is tantamount to disintegration: death. We are incorporated, integrated, mortal organisms. This necessitates the need for a code of ethics, IF one wishes to survive, let alone flourish.
This is because every action has an effect, however infinitesimal or vast. Therefore we must gauge our actions on the life-death spectrum, i.e. we must think, before we act. This applies to the lawyer in the aforementioned circumstances as equally to the man living on an island.
Whatever our situations, circumstances and locations, the elemental fact remains: Rationality is of pivotal, fundamental and vast importance to your life as a rational organism - if you want to enjoy your existence to the fullest.
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