You want to play candy-stripes—the lazy man's way. This is twice you did it. So I'll play (for a while anyway).
This one here's a doozy. I ask for empirical evidence and you make a proclamation and quote another proclamation by Rand. Here is how our discussion on this has gone so far (not exact words, but my understanding of the arguments):
Can you name me a group of people who are "truly rational" according to your standard? Don't say Objectivists, because you include good will as part of the package and I see way too much ill will among Objectivists.The point is that all moral virtue is connected, and the virtue of rationality is the lynchpin holding it all together. Check out Rand's words here ...
Me: Good will needs to be chosen, time and time again, just like any other virtue.
Ed: Rationality will always arrive at good will. It cannot do otherwise. Virtues are all interconnected and all start with rationality. Being rational is enough.
Me (pointing): Hmmmm. Look at those people (X). They are rational but do not have good will.
Ed: Ah, but they are not "truly rational."
Me (pointing elsewhere): Well look at those people over there (Y) . They are rational but they are sourpusses too.
Ed: Ah, but they are not "truly rational," either.
Me: How can they learn to be truly rational"?
Ed: Study and integrate Objectivism, of course.
Me: Well look at the Objectivists over the years. Look at them now. Where did the good will go during all those schisms and all that bickering? I see tons of ill will flowing around.
Ed: Shit happens.
Me: So who are the "truly rational"? Where do I find them?
Ed: That's not the point. Virtue is... (fill in the blank). Rand said... (fill in the blank). btw—Do you believe in rational values?
(Insert toothy grinning smiley.)
Concepts are supposed to have referents in reality, Ed. I still don't know what a "truly rational" person (in your sense) looks like. Moving right along. You wrote the following.
Temperament's tough. It's kind of like an inherent disposition to interact in a certain way with one's environment (eg. introverts get energized from down time; extraverts get energized from parties and other social gatherings). Habits are easier to deal with. Habits are, on paper (at least), easy to change. It just takes a strong will and some right answers. I wasn't playing around, Michael -- though I admit to avoiding talk of temperament (until now).You see how easy it is to discuss something when you define a term only according to your own manner? That's called not listening. The correct statement would have been something like, "Oh, so that's what you meant by 'temperament.' I usually use this term to denote..." This is precisely what I am talking about when I say getting at the concepts regardless of the words. Let's say that takes a special kind of temperament to do that—and you can choose to be that way if you want to. You gotta' want to. (Just being rational ain't enough.)
(Insert another toothy smiley.)
(I ain't really ragging you, Ed, my friend, but if it looks that way, this is because you are highly intelligent, have oodles of good will, are very, very good people, and I hate to see a bad habit like cognitive stubbornness just so you can win an argument forming. You are much better than that. The real purpose of philosophy is wisdom, not competitive sports.)
Didn't I just say that? Did you read the phrase above or what? Here it is again in case you missed it: "except maybe on the level of choosing to use reason over something like daydreaming as a mode of focusing and cognition."
Being rational does not always involve normative decisions (except maybe on the level of choosing to use reason over something like daydreaming as a mode of focusing and cognition). Sometimes mental activity is purely cognitive - identifying "what is it? or "where am I?". Normative only comes in with "what should I do?" Well, normative even comes in with "what should I think about" -- integrate THAT, buster.
But let's use your standard—keeping the gross category but eliminating both degree and any further division of kind. Doing that, why bother thinking at all? You could even say that the act of taking a breath is normative. Then we move completely outside the realm of applying concepts to reality. David Kelley discusses this error at length (but not with my example). I highly recommend his works, especially The Contested Legacy of Ayn Rand (which is probably the world's worst title for a magnificent explanation of what a philosophy is in fundamentals, like he provided for Objectivism).
Anyway, I am learning that the initial act of cognitive focus in infants is an affect, not a choice (please see that link I posted in my last post). The affect of focus is not volitional in the very young—just like crying is not. So it is not even a value. It is a reaction. It only becomes a value after the volitional faculty develops while merging with the affect. This is what leads to purely cognitive abstractions. But if you need Rand quotes, Here is a great one from "The Psycho-Epistemology of Art." She was no dummy. She knew that purely cognitive mental activity exists.
(Intermediary Stripe A - Rand):
Consider the enormous conceptual integration involved in any statement, from the conversation of a child to the discourse of a scientist. Consider the long conceptual chain that starts from simple, ostensive definitions and rises to higher and still higher concepts, forming a hierarchical structure of knowledge so complex that no electronic computer could approach it. It is by means of such chains that man has to acquire and retain his knowledge of reality.Yes, Virginia. You see? Purely cognitive abstractions do exist in Objectivism. They are separate from normative abstractions. They have to be in order to be later integrated with them. This is straight from the horse's mouth in Rand's published work.
Yet this is the simpler part of his psycho-epistemological task. There is another part which is still more complex.
The other part consists of applying his knowledge—i.e., evaluating the facts of reality, choosing his goals and guiding his actions accordingly. To do that, man needs another chain of concepts, derived from and dependent on the first, yet separate and, in a sense, more complex: a chain of normative abstractions.
While cognitive abstractions identify the facts of reality, normative abstractions evaluate the facts, thus prescribing a choice of values and a course of action. Cognitive abstractions deal with that which is; normative abstractions deal with that which ought to be (in the realms open to man's choice).
Here is another quote from "Art and Sense of Life":
(Intermediary Stripe B - Rand):
There are many special or "cross-filed' chains of abstractions (of interconnected concepts) in man's mind. Cognitive abstractions are the fundamental chain, on which all the others depend. Such chains are mental integrations, serving a special purpose and formed accordingly by a special criterion.But there's more. Here is one from "Art and Moral Treason":
Cognitive abstractions are formed by the criterion of: what is essential? (epistemologically essential to distinguish one class of existents from all others). Normative abstractions are formed by the criterion of: what is good?
(Intermediary Stripe C - Rand):
The process of a child's development consists of acquiring knowledge, which requires the development of his capacity to grasp and deal with an ever-widening range of abstractions. This involves the growth of two interrelated but different chains of abstractions, two hierarchical structures of concepts, which should be integrated, but seldom are: the cognitive and the normative. The first deals with knowledge of the facts of reality—the second, with the evaluation of these facts.I know this is terrible, terrible news to those who think all concepts (which are abstractions) are normative in Objectivism. But that idea was Peikoff's baby, especially in "Fact and Value." Definitely not Rand. You decide who is the greater philosopher and who actually decides what Objectivist epistemology is on something like this.
Then you wrote (about emotions):
I'll be as brazen as I want to be with my theories (but thanks for the warning, anyway). When I have more time, perhaps I will look past Rational Emotive and Cognitive Behavioral theory -- but for now, it's my story ... and I'm stickin' to it.Well, ignorance is strength. But you can still be brazen after being informed. That is entirely within the realm of human possibility. I think it is far better to be brazen because you know something. I hold extremely low value for those who proudly and brazenly proclaim their ignorance for all mankind to hear.
It is true that a drug addict and a miser both have compulsive behavior. But that is where the similarity ends. Narcotics impede cognitive activity and degrade the organism. (Don't forget, you are talking to a expert.) Being a miser does neither. It's his itch. Let him scratch it. Scratching an itch can be very rational within limits.
What's wrong with a miser accumulating money if he gets his jollies doing it?The same thing that is wrong with narcotics addicts -- as THEY are getting their jollies "doing it."
Before I go on, let's stop these damn candy-stripes and do some real discussing. I can do this crap all day. I know you have it in you.
Finally, you asked me:
Michael, do you believe that there may be such things as objective (discoverable) human values?Yup.