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Post 60

Tuesday, October 19, 2004 - 6:13amSanction this postReply
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Jeffrey:

When I was talking about "reason" I was thinking about logical , rational thought.

It would (I expect) be impossible to go through life with out the capacity to use reason.

If we put down the tool of reason perminantly, I suspect that we would all die very quickly... or slowly. Fortunatley it is very hard to put reason down. It keeps jumping into the mind when least expected, often when least wanted.

That said; A person who goes around with reason at the forefront of their mind at ALL times is like someone who goes around with their sword drawn all the time. Rationalising, analysing, picking holes in peoples ideas, constantly thinking... what an exausting way to live!

I think having a clear mind which is capable of springing into action instantly when the need arises is a lot more healthy, and a lot more pleasant. Then you are like a samurai with a sword sheathed but able to draw it instantly if an enemy appears.


Post 61

Tuesday, October 19, 2004 - 7:00pmSanction this postReply
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I can agree that it is and can be exhausting if you are not enjoying life. But, the interesting thing that I am finding by looking at how Objectivism effects my life is that it is not so exhausting when you are happy and you have the will to discover what is around each corner of your life. I mean what if Frank Lloyd wright just was exhausted when building falling water. The whole structure would have collapsed. I think that since he had a great passion towards everything he did he was able to remove exhaustion and stay focused. He use to tell his clients to go out and pick a plot that most architects would never touch because this is where the true character of your structure will come through. He explored nature, materials, modern machinery. All in exhilaration not in exhaustion. Trust me one of the negative things that I have found in my exploration of objectivism is I sometimes want to just get to the end result, the glory in whatever I am producing and not enjoying the path. But again with reason and consciousness in the forefront I am able to recognize this tendency and enjoy every moment during the path to whatever my goals may be. It is like wanting to see your child grow up to be a great man and forgetting to look at the beautiful person he is right now and I don't think anyone should miss on that. All that I am getting at it that I know it seems like a lot of people lose site of that on solo but I think that that is in the perception of the person reading the postings. Most are probably enjoying life and giving life more value than it may appear.

Anyway, I spoke my peace. Have a good day!
Sincerely,
JML

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Post 62

Wednesday, October 20, 2004 - 5:42amSanction this postReply
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Martin,

I agree that the idea of applying reason at the forefront at all times can seem a bit vulcanesque. But that may be because the idea of reason as rigor is not realistic. In fact, it is more elegant, more *natural*. The act of typing this, of deciding which words to use and when, results from reason. My sword is not drawn, and I am not breaking the kind of sweat that would occur if I were working on my dissertation. Same with daily life including moral choices. Rational, logical thought is possible as a matter of course. It can be cultivated by increased mindfulness, awareness and consciousness. It need not be calculus.

John

Post 63

Wednesday, October 20, 2004 - 9:19pmSanction this postReply
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Minfulness, awareness, consciousness.

If THIS is what you mean by reason - then by all means keep those always present.

Perhaps I have been using "reason" in a lot narrower sense than you?

To be mindful, to pay attention - to be aware of reality. This in one thing. To be constantly analysing it - debating about it - that is another. Often when people analyse reality too much they do not actually see reality at all. They just see their intellectualised concepts.

I just started reading "We are the living"... I can not comment on how the character develops but the lead character (at the start) seems to lack any of the former qualities.

She does not know when she gets hungry. Does not notice it gets dark. Does not know when people come and go or what is going on around her. She has become a rationaol machine with no awareness or mindfulness at all. A character who can not understand why her sister sees beauty in a sunset or a flower.....

This is the sort of thing I was talking about when I talked about "reason" becoming a cage...


Post 64

Wednesday, October 20, 2004 - 9:19pmSanction this postReply
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Minfulness, awareness, consciousness.

If THIS is what you mean by reason - then by all means keep those always present.

Perhaps I have been using "reason" in a lot narrower sense than you?

To be mindful, to pay attention - to be aware of reality. This in one thing. To be constantly analysing it - debating about it - that is another. Often when people analyse reality too much they do not actually see reality at all. They just see their intellectualised concepts.

I just started reading "We are the living"... I can not comment on how the character develops but the lead character (at the start) seems to lack any of the former qualities.

She does not know when she gets hungry. Does not notice it gets dark. Does not know when people come and go or what is going on around her. She has become a rationaol machine with no awareness or mindfulness at all. A character who can not understand why her sister sees beauty in a sunset or a flower.....

This is the sort of thing I was talking about when I talked about "reason" becoming a cage...

(Edited by Martin Shultz on 10/20, 9:51pm)


Post 65

Sunday, January 22, 2012 - 10:28pmSanction this postReply
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To martin wherever you may be..
Reason only becomes a cage when you are not used to using it.
Like any endeavor be it learning to play a musical instrument, a set of martial arts kata, or developing a keen rational mind it all seems rather difficult when you first begin to walk those paths.
However once the skills are developed it all becomes second nature and a part of your awareness in everything you do and enriches your life in ways you would not have thought before you began.

Good article joe!

Post 66

Monday, January 23, 2012 - 7:56amSanction this postReply
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Jules,
Reason only becomes a cage when you are not used to using it. Like any endeavor be it learning to play a musical instrument, a set of martial arts kata, or developing a keen rational mind it all seems rather difficult when you first begin to walk those paths. However once the skills are developed it all becomes second nature ...
This reminds me of when I was a personal trainer. After getting a diet history from someone once, I told her that if she follows my plan then she is actually going to gain weight at the start (even though weight loss was her goal). I assured her that, after a month on my plan, the weight would steadily and consistently start to drop. I can go into the physiological dynamics of why that is the case but my point is your point:

Sometimes, reality requires us to take a step backward before being able to take 2 (or 2 million) steps forward. A lot of folks, folks with a terribly narrow focus, cannot bring themselves to take that one single step backward.

The gal under my direction, however, believed in me enough to weather the initial weight gain (though she cried when it happened) -- and went on to a level of fitness only previously dreamed of.

Ed


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Post 67

Monday, March 26 - 3:02pmSanction this postReply
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We find it hard to imagine people actually acting out of hatred for ALL others, or a hatred for this country, or a hatred for things that are good for being good.  Especially that last.  Large numbers of people hate what is good - or some category of good.  They manage to hold a kind of contradiction by splitting their awareness into one part which in consciousness (what they hate) and the other part (that it is good) staying subconscious - just a habitual reaction.  They disemble and form attacks and rationalizations for their hate so that the split can stay separate.

 

These two things we know: 1.) It is natural and proper to value openness and honesty, and 2.) We automatically expect that people will personally value that which they know to be good.  These two things have a deeply anchored place in human nature - and for good reason.  That which we have accepted as good should be valued, pursued, and respected - not just for theoretical or academic reasonsl, but on a survival level and on a practical level.  If humans were wind-up toys, having (and valuing) that which we deem to be good is the wind-up mechanism.  It is how we run.  And as to honesty... on a basic level communications are most often intended to convey our understanding of some aspect of the world - not to present a lie.  And to be more successful, we cooperate with and trade with and interact with others.  We make friends, associates, and communities.  And those all require different degrees of openness.  And they are all harmed by deception. 

 

The point I want to make is that some people end up wiring themselves in a way that turns these basic mechanisms backwards.  Somehow, at the most basic level, they have formed an emotional dislike for whole categories of good.  They have formed triggers that incite negative reactions to examples of these categories of good when they arise in their consciousness.  And because at some level they sense the contradiction, they end up adopting deception as one of the defense mechanisms.

 

What I'm trying to lead up to is in response to this excellent article by Joe.  There is a common denominator to all forms of altruism.  They are all anti-individualism.  Individualism is the one good - and a very basic good - that the intense proponents of sacrifice are condemning.  This requires different degrees of dishonesty... which is obvious in the round-about avoidance of stating their actual goals, or of stating goals that aren't real goals.  And instead they serve up treacle in place of logic.  Openness is also lacking - for the same reason.

 

We are creatures with both reason and emotions.  The emotional side should be a simple, direct response to rational values.  With the use of reason we should have formed the values that become internalized as our most powerful, passionate emotional connections to the good.

 

Individualism is only one of the basic values that a person can come to hate.  Freedom, reason, benevolence, honesty... I've seen people who have wired themselves to hate each of these.  Sometimes, a strong desire to push for collectivism is a hatred for one or more of these, combined with a desire to force others to be a part of that hatred.



Post 68

Tuesday, March 27 - 5:56amSanction this postReply
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Entire cultures can cultivate such hatred of individualism.  I am currently reading an academic text on public speaking by Steven and Susan Beebe called the Public Speaking Handbook.  From page 361 with my own emphasis added:

Consider Audience Diversity

Researchers have discovered no universal, cross-cultural approach to persuasion that is effective in every culture.  Persuasion works differently for different cultural groups. North Americans, for example, tend to place considerable importance on direct observations and verifiable facts. Our court system places great stock in eyewitness testimony.  People in some Chinese cultures, by contrast, consider such evidence unreliable because they believe that what people observe is always influenced by personal motives. In some African cultures, personal testimony is also often suspect; it is reasoned that if you speak up to defend someone, you must have an ulterior motive and therefore your observation is discounted. Although your audience might not include listeners from Africa or China, given the growing diversity of Americans, it is increasingly likely that it may.

Hmmmm ....



Post 69

Wednesday, March 28 - 5:30amSanction this postReply
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Luke, I understand your point, and that is why I caution you to not accept the broad claims you cited. "Some African cultures" and "some Chinese cultures" are undefined collectives. These observations are come from validated statistical surveys:

  • Switzerland's high scores on uncertainty avoidance and future orientation help explain its centuries of political neutrality and world-renown banking industry.
  • Singapore is known as a great place to do business because it is clean and safe and its people are well educated and hardworking. Ths is no surprise, considering Singapore's high scores on social collectivism, future orientation, and performance orientation.
  • A worldwide survey of 30,000 managers by Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner, who prefer the term communitarianism to collectivism, found the highest degree of individualism in Israel, Romania, Nigeria, Canada, and the United States. Countries ranking lowest in individualism --thus qualifying as collectivist cultures--were Egypt, Nepal, Mexico, India, and Japan. Brazil, China, and France also ended up toward the collectivist end of the scale. 

(From Organizational Behavior, Seventh Edition, by Robert Kreitner and Angelo Kinicki, McGraw Hill Irwin, 2007, pp 119-120 "International OB: Managing Across Cultures.")

 

Even, so I have to note that China scored only "toward the collectivist end"? Why not completely collectivist? See this report from a trusted source. 

"How to Meet the Strategic Challenge Posed by China," by David P. Goldman, Imprimis, Hillsdale College, March 2018 • Volume 47, Number 3, here: https://imprimis.hillsdale.edu/how-to-meet-the-strategic-challenge-posed-by-china/

"...  Nor is China unified. It has a written system of several thousand characters that takes seven years of elementary education to learn, working four hours a day with an ink brush, ink pot, and paper. Learning these characters well enough to read a school textbook or a newspaper is how the Chinese are socialized. The current generation is the first where the majority of Chinese understand the common language, due to the centralization of the state and the mass media. But the Chinese still speak very different languages. Cantonese and Mandarin are as different as Finnish and French. In Hong Kong, you’ll see two Chinese screaming at each other in broken English because one speaks Mandarin and the other speaks Cantonese and they don’t have a word in common.

"China is inherently unstable because all that holds it together is an imperial culture and the tax collector in Beijing. It is like a collection of very powerful, oppositely charged magnets held together by super glue—it looks stable, but it isn’t.

[...]

"China’s Communist Party government is a merciless meritocracy, which is one reason the Chinese have difficulty understanding American politics. If you’re in the Chinese leadership, you made it there by scoring high on a long series of exams, starting at age twelve—which means you haven’t met a stupid person since you were in junior high school. The fact that democracies can frequently advance stupid people—we are entitled to do that if we wish—doesn’t make sense to the Chinese. The one thing President Xi Jinping cannot do is get his child into Peking University unless that child scores high on his exams. Here in America, you can buy your way into Harvard. You can’t do that in China. So while the Chinese Communist Party is not a particularly efficient organization, and is certainly not a moral one, it has a lot of incredibly smart people in it."

At some dinner meeting or other, someone who had been to both places, corrected me when I placed Chinese and Japanese society in the same culture of collectivism. It is true that Japanese studiously avoid conflict. However, unlike in Japan, on a crowded street in China, very much unlike in Japan, you might see two men pushing and hitting each other in an argument. And, as noted above, you are not likely to see that in Singapore or Switzerland.

 

Note, also, above Nigeria is said to be "individualist." It depends. Some peoples or tribes there are; others are not. Among some people, it is expected that you will grow up and leave your parents' home, and probably leave your village.  Nigeria's biggest cities bustle, as all urban cultures do.

 

These statistics are broad sample of big numbers. One aspect of globalism is that it is a direct outgrowth of urbanism. Cities draw people from the traditional countrysides. They lose their original cultures and adopt new norms. It is not perfect Randian individualism, but it is a broad trend.  And China has seen the largest migration in human history with truly millions of young girls, 15 to 18 years of age, leaving the farms for the cities. It has been going on since about 1985, so that's a full generation. 



Post 70

Wednesday, March 28 - 5:33amSanction this postReply
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On another note, in response to Luke above, we know now from closer examination of the objective facts that eyewitness testimony is highly unreliable. Dispassionate observation is a learned skill.  Richard Feynman's essay on "Cargo Cult Science" was such a warning about how hard it is to detach yourself from your beliefs when observing a new phenomenon.  The cautionary assumptions of some other people from some other cultures that we should check for personal bias before accepting evidence is well placed. And, in fact, in American courts, the attorneys are supposed to challenge such tainted testimony.



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