If Objectivism is not Pragmatic, of what use it it?

Posted by  $  Thoritsu 3 weeks, 5 days ago to Philosophy
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Some have asserted strict and sterile terms for being in-line with Objectivism, very philosophically consistent.

Others have asserted practical actions and decisions, that are clearly in their self-interest, and do not compel others.

Is Objectivism just an abstract concept, like higher mathematics, theoretical physics and various philosophies, or is Objectivism a practical manner to conduct basic decision making?

I'll provide an analogy...because I like them, not an a basic for argument, but as a means of communication:
Judo is both a sport and a martial art. I've practiced it since I was 15 yrs old. One can readily find sport-only practitioners, that will take action in matches that are complete failures in martial arts. (arching one's back to land on their shoulders to avoid points scored when thrown...and landing on your head/shoulders). There are many examples, and people will take strong positions on each side.


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  • Posted by WilliamRThomas 3 weeks, 4 days ago
    Objectivist ethical principles are meant to be practical, in the same way that principles of engineering are meant to be practical.

    When the principle involved is not very clear, then it makes sense to act in the way that you've judged to be practically beneficial.

    If the principle is clear, it may remind you what the difference is between a short-term gain and a full-context, long-run benefit.

    I discussed this in much more detail in "Why Act on Principle?"https://atlassociety.org/objectivism/... when The Atlas Society used to teach Objectivism.
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  • Posted by DrZarkov99 3 weeks, 4 days ago
    Evangelical puritanism has no place in the real world, and usually leads to constant conflict with those you regard as less pure, and therefore unworthy. It's indeed ironic to see those who passionately aspire to Objectivist purity adopt a religious fervor over their stance (ewv comes to mind).

    Pragmatism is "whatever works," and can lead to complete abandonment of principle. I prefer the concept of practicality, as in what decision can I make that most closely holds to my philosophical/moral beliefs?
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    • Posted by term2 3 weeks, 3 days ago
      I would argue that rational thinking “works” in practice, so there isn’t this dichotomy in most situations I can think of
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      • Posted by ewv 3 weeks, 3 days ago
        In what situations do you think rational thinking does not work?
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        • Posted by term2 3 weeks, 3 days ago
          In the case of rational thinking based on insufficient knowledge, the result wouldn’t “work” . Not the fault of a rational approach, and what better way to approach a situation could there possibly be, but the actual result would be sub optimal
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          • Posted by ewv 3 weeks, 2 days ago
            That isn't rationality not "working". The whole process is rationality working properly. You have to reason to assess whether you have enough information and evaluate what you have found out (and possibly try to anticipate probability where applicable).

            Not every question has an immediate answer that you can find or an answer to the precision you need. You don't yet know what you wanted to find out, but that doesn't leave a dichotomy between principle and the practical

            You may not have adequate general principles for a theory and have to experiment to get something to work, but that is just using different principles for whatever experimenting you have to do, with no guarantee that you will find what you mean. It's not a philosophical principle/practical dichotomy.
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    • Posted by ewv 3 weeks, 3 days ago
      I am not one who "passionately aspires to Objectivist purity" with "a religious fervor over their stance (ewv comes to mind)." Whatever put that smear in your mind it has nothing to do with me or Ayn Rand's philosophy. Consistency, integrity and objectivity are not "evangelical puritanism", not "a religious fervor", and not at odds with "practicality". This is not a matter of subjective "preference". Is exploiting a forum to attack its foundation with smears part of "what most closely holds to your philosophical/moral beliefs"?
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      • Posted by  $  3 weeks, 3 days ago
        More like passionately avoids direct discussion, and enjoys fallacies and intentionally quoting out of context,
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        • Posted by ewv 2 weeks, 1 day ago
          The context of the quotes is the smear in the post that contained them. Raising again the question of what happened to the forum policies for posting here is that that follow-up only adds a dishonest smear in an ongoing sequence of personal insults.
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  • Posted by LibertyBelle 3 weeks, 3 days ago
    I consider Objectivism practical. I do not like the term "pragmatic". From what I have read (admittedly, not from Pragmatists), Pragmatism seems to advocate just trying something first, to see what is true or not, without any reference beforehand to what is actually true.
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    • Posted by  $  3 weeks, 2 days ago
      Not sure there is a meaningful difference in English between the adjectives practical and pragmatic. There is that sticky practicable, that gets people regularly, but only by William F Buckley and Hyman Rickover.
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  • Posted by chad 3 weeks, 3 days ago
    Unfortunately pragmatism has come to mean compromise with those who would enslave in order at some point to achieve the goal of being free. Objectivism is practical and factual but cannot be achieved by relenting and compromising with slavery. Eating well then compromising by taking poison to please another who wants to kill you does not move you toward the desired result of living a healthy life. There is nothing pragmatic about compromising with a socialist to win their support for your being free. They have no intention of living objectively, they only desire to live at your expense. If that expense is the cost of your life they don't care, the socialist believes there is always another victim of their violence.
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    • Posted by  $  3 weeks, 3 days ago
      I would compromise with a socialist to change welfare to a publicly funded, privately executed program(s) to educate, instill discipline, relocate, et al people to get them off welfare, with incentives for long-term evidence.

      We are already in a massively negative state. We will not get out of this state in one step. Each step from here to a state without non-Objectivism will have issues. There is no avoiding this. If one refuses to agree with the improved state (vs the ideal end state) one has no chance of succeeding in the politics. Therefore, compromise is required.

      It is fantasy to believe even an improvement is not possible without compromise.
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      • Posted by LibertyBelle 3 weeks, 3 days ago
        I don't want a "publicly funded, privately executed program to educate..." In the first place, it wouldn't really be privately executed. In fact, what statists usually prefer is privately funded, but publicly executed programs". That is, they want private enterprisers to put up the money, then shut up and take orders from the government. And "publicly funded, privately executed programs" would never pass, or if they did, would result in a mess which would cause the population to clamor for reinstatement of the previous "welfare".
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        • Posted by ewv 3 weeks, 1 day ago
          Yes, compromising on principle is destructive and not a practical way to make incremental improvements. It doesn't "work".

          We are contending with a statist-collectivist trend that is driven by false philosophical premises widely accepted. Those premises do not permit a sequence of incremental changes for the better (which does not include a more fascistic public-private "partnership" in the name of improvement) -- they are in the opposite direction of the ideologically based trend. Occasional back lashes when the left goes too far in one step do not reverse the overall trend. We'll take the backlashes when they occur, but it's not enough for the future of the culture and the country.
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          • Posted by Lucky 3 weeks, 1 day ago
            public-private partnership- a catch phrase of the nineties. Unfortunately not quite dead.

            No legitimate role for government can include partnering with private entities.
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            • Posted by ewv 2 weeks, 1 day ago
              Yes, government "partnering" with private entities in areas government should not be in at all is not a legitimate role for government. Illegitimate government power does not become legitimate by mixing it into private action. It typically results in government funding of ideological statist organizations, with even less accountability, giving illegitimate power to obnoxious, illegitimate "private" organizations.

              A good example is the widely publicized ACORN scandal from about 10 years ago (ACORN then ceased to exist but it's pieces simply reformed under different names and continued on). Planned Parenthood is another one that is particularly anathema to conservatives. There are many, many more examples that continue to function with no public knowledge of the abuse.

              Ayn Rand pointed out that fascism is a form of socialism in which private property is nominally acknowledged, but in fact controlled by government. It's the ultimate "public-private" partnership. The road from what we have now to an individualist government is not through fascism.
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              • Posted by  $  1 week, 6 days ago
                Well then, we can just stick with what we have then.

                I assume this means you find the simple present redistribution of wealth superior, or do you have another suggestion for what is next? Remember there are three answers here:
                1) Yes,
                2) No, but my idea for changing the world is...(yes, we know, not happening, but can't wait for the wisdom*.)
                3) Silence.

                Just want to make sure we don't head off on another "but I don wanna answer the question. I wanna pontificate."
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            • Posted by  $  2 weeks, 4 days ago
              I really like couching terms like "legitimate". It makes the rest of the assertion so much easier to be correct, but so often irrelevant to the discussion. Congratulations.

              We are "here". Socialism has taken hold. Public services are everywhere, and growing. Private competition is generally controlled by the government in favor of stability...or favor. I prefer "favor of favors" to describe over-reach, but whatever.

              So most services that are provided by the government:
              1) should stay that way
              2) should be abolished and replaced with private services paid for individually, or
              3) transitioned out in favor of private enterprise.

              Let me help you. 1) is wrong. 2) has no chance of succeeding politically. 3)...maybe some people come along.

              A. If you enjoy being angry for the rest of your life, watching the continued erosion of freedom, pick 2), start now, enjoy angry, and stop commenting on my notes.

              B. If you realize that showing examples of the success possible of engineered solutions, basic incentives and private enterprise, pick 3) and let's explain a rational, functional future to people (the majority) who presently control the outcome of political decisions.

              C. Go Gulch. You recommend going gulch, and waiting for the breakdown...which won't happen in your lifetime...ballsy. Maybe. I question your integrity if you say you are doing so.
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          • Posted by  $  3 weeks, 1 day ago
            So it would be better under Hillary?
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            • Posted by ewv 3 weeks, 1 day ago
              I have never advocated Hillary and supported keeping her out with Trump since before the 2016 election. That was the only means possible in the election and not a compromise on principle.
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              • Posted by  $  2 weeks, 4 days ago
                Well good then, we agree:

                "Hillary was a disaster. Trump was a negative, but temporary relief from disaster."

                Yes? and likely the same in 2020?
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                • Posted by ewv 2 weeks, 4 days ago
                  I have said that several times. We were discussing the role of principle versus pragmatism. Compromising on principle for the sake of pragmatism does not "work". Voting within the context of a limited choice need not compromise principle because moral choice only pertains to choices that are possible. One of Trump or Clinton was going to win, we had no choice about that. Every discussion does not reduce to repeating 'Hillary is worse'.
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                  • Posted by  $  2 weeks, 3 days ago
                    II have said that several times....so awesome. To what does your pronoun "that" adhere?
                    t is a simple question. Is Hillary worse than Trump. Many people can just answer.
                    For one, I assert "Trump is better than Hillary."

                    You have pranced around the simple question. I assert, that you are incapable of answering, because you enjoy the ambiguity. Answer the simple question. It really isn't hard, unless you revel in obfuscation.
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                    • Posted by ewv 2 weeks, 1 day ago
                      It does not matter what relative frame of reference one uses to compare Trump and Clinton -- one is worse than the other means the other is better than the other and vice versa. Compared to a proper limited government both are terrible. One can recognize that and still recognize the nature of limited choice in an election. That is not "obfuscation", "enjoyment of ambiguity" or "prancing around". Thoritsu's "assertions" about me are false personal attacks with no substance, just a sustained sequence of personal attacks.
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                      • Posted by  $  1 week, 6 days ago
                        I like this very much.

                        The correct is -here-,
                        Trump is way over -there-
                        Hillary is way over -there- (a different there).

                        Rather than actually say:
                        1. I think Trump is better than Hillary
                        2. I think Hillary is better than Trump

                        You say:
                        "-there is far from -here-" I can not even be bothered to consider the difference, but we will argue about Libertarians vs Objectivists (they are really, far apart...relative to the others).

                        How convenient "He who wins chess matches in not three, but just one move". "We only play the winning cards." Fantastic. Not likely to succeed...at anything...but fantastic. Glad to know you have so much staying power to expect to see the massive change from your wisdom. /s/

                        No, sorry, well all still be here, in socialist hell, as "Whining about compromise" is engraved on your headstone.
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        • Posted by  $  3 weeks, 2 days ago
          So you prefer hand outs?
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          • Posted by LibertyBelle 3 weeks, 2 days ago
            No, I prefer to have a laissez-faire system, without government involvement. (But I don't want Socialism pretending to be private enterprise).
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            • Posted by  $  3 weeks, 2 days ago
              We have to get from here to there. Without a means and evidence to break the welfare cycle we will keep pouring money down the drain until a collapse.
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              • Posted by  $  Technocracy 2 weeks, 4 days ago
                Even if we had the means Thoritsu, the Will would not step up until after the collapse starts.
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                • Posted by  $  2 weeks, 3 days ago
                  I accept that you assert a "gulching is required. (I think that is what a "collapse" means).

                  I am not there yet. This will not manifest in my lifetime, unless war with China precipitates it. It may happen in the next generation or or the one after. If we are here to discuss "Gulching", I am fine with that. It is of value to consider. If we are here to discuss how to avoid the need to"gulch", even better. I am happy to engage and discuss.

                  I just want to make sure we are speaking about the same assumptions.
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            • Posted by  $  2 weeks, 4 days ago
              Shocking that you didn't respond to this one.

              I'm still waiting. You could've just been quiet, but you jumped on my answer. What is yours?

              Oh, I know, we wake up tomorrow and their is laissez-faire! It's been hiding under the couch all the time.
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  • Posted by  $  puzzlelady 3 weeks, 1 day ago
    Pragmatism is the pursuit of results without concern for ethics or morals. "The ends justify the means." No wonder it was on the negative end of Ayn Rand's scale of values. As for doing the practical thing to achieve ends, Rand had it down to the simplest formulation: "The moral is the practical." Her formulation of the golden rule integrates the morality of rational self-interest with all non-predatory and non-sacrificial human relationships. I see it as the dynamics of economic interactions and the trader principle of win-win through exchange of values for mutual benefit by mutual consent. That makes Objectivism the prime directive for conducting all ethical decision-making, the foundational building block of free societies and lasting civilizations.
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  • Posted by BCRinFremont 3 weeks, 4 days ago
    A philosophy of any ilk will not survive long in our little, ever changing corner of the universe if it can not also change. Thus the conundrum for any thought that is rule based. Even such basic rules as presented in The Mosaic Ten Commandments need to be and have been interpreted in many ways.

    My favorite example of breaking a commandment is: A bad guy comes to your front door and asks you where your children are....
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    • Posted by LibertyBelle 2 weeks, 5 days ago
      Objectivism is not supposed to be a philosophy of "commandments", but of principles. The principle, as I understand it, is : look at things for what they are, and don't misrepresent things. In the case of the "bad guy", he has already been misrepresenting things, at least to himself, by convincing himself that it is all right to commit murderer, and he is trying it now. So he is not entitled to the truth, and if he assumes he's getting it, that is a matter of his own self-deception. In that case, the basic principle remains the same. That does not mean that the basic philosophy changes.
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      • Posted by ewv 2 weeks, 1 day ago
        Yes, a murderer is not entitled to being told the truth because of what he doing -- there is no contradiction between the virtue of honesty and defending yourself against a thug. Correctly applying the meaning of both, in context, is not a "basic philosophy changing". Neither is discussing the relation between the two a confusion over the right of self-defense.
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      • Posted by  $  2 weeks, 4 days ago
        ...so we don't have to tell the truth to a stranger at the front door asking arbitrary questions. Excellent. Glad we cleared that up.

        We were all very confused about why it was ok. It never had anything to do with our own self-interest or rights...It was all about the guy lying to himself...great...
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      • Posted by BCRinFremont 2 weeks, 5 days ago
        It is probably possible to match a commandment with a principle that underlies it. We are breathing the thin air in a land where naming the tune that angels dance to is a respected hobby. Needless to say, I enjoy the headiness of such dialogue and name the tune as Running Down a Dream by the late, great Tom Petty.
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        • Posted by ewv 2 weeks, 1 day ago
          The Big Ten are not matched to principles, they are principles, but principles misconstrued as duties for a primitive subject matter. Some of them can be strained into a different and proper principle once you already know where to take it, like the virtue of honesty (starting with self-honesty) out of not lying (Ayn Rand's primary virtues are all corollaries of the virtue of rationality).

          But most of the big Ten are totally irredeemable primitive religious in nature and far from fundamental in subject matter. That is to be expected from something originating thousands of years ago in a pre-philosophy religion, but it is very damaging to treat them as 'guidelines' today, which we often hear, accepting their specific subjects while retaining the duty mentality.
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    • Posted by  $  3 weeks, 3 days ago
      BCRinFremont, one of my mentors told me a long time ago, if someone can't explain something to you simply and concisely, it is they who don't understand it.

      Don't fall for the patronizing homework assignment from ewv.
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      • Posted by ewv 2 weeks, 1 day ago
        There was no "patronizing homework assignment". Those on an Ayn Rand forum who want to know where Ayn Rand explained the role of principles in terms of cause and effect in contrast to "duties" can read what she wrote about it. Those who don't can do what they want.
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    • Posted by ewv 3 weeks, 3 days ago
      The principles of Ayn Rand's philosophy are not "rules" as out of context duties like the Ten Commandments. They are the opposite. See for example her article "Causality Versus Duty".

      "Evolving" basic principles versus commandments as duties are a Pragmatist false alternative.
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      • Posted by LibertyBelle 2 weeks, 5 days ago
        Thank you very much for making those things so clear. False dichotomies are a real problem.
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        • Posted by ewv 2 weeks, 1 day ago
          Ayn Rand's 'causality' versus 'duty' analysis of principles is related to her emphasis in general on the "objective" versus the "intrinsic", of which religious duties are only one instance. The comparison is part of her emphasis on the objective as against both the "intrinsic" and the "subjective". That three-way distinction is emphasized throughout her philosophy and explains a lot of common false alternatives.

          Thank you for showing that there is still some interest on this forum for this level of discussion.
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      • Posted by  $  3 weeks, 3 days ago
        Here we go again. A reading assignment from the arrogant, lazy and perhaps ignorant teacher. No time to reduce your homework to simple, clear points.

        Also here again comes the "Pragmatist" term, completely out of context. "Practical" and "pragmatic" here have been used as adjectives, not nouns.
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        • Posted by ewv 3 weeks, 2 days ago
          The notion of evolving principles he referred to is from Pragmatism, as stated.

          The example of the Ten Commandments he referred to does not apply to Objectivism because "principles of Ayn Rand's philosophy are not 'rules' as out of context duties like the Ten Commandments".

          Those on this Ayn Rand forum who would like to understand Ayn Rand's detailed explanation of that can read it in "Causality Versus Duty". It's not an "assignment", "homework', "arrogant", "lazy" or "ignorant".
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          • Posted by  $  3 weeks, 2 days ago
            Yeah, or someone who actually understands it could explain it simply, like I can with a question about suppressors, engines or electric machines.
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            • Posted by ewv 3 weeks, 1 day ago
              It's an entire article. It has been briefly explained here many times. It's not something to attack.
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              • Posted by  $  3 weeks, 1 day ago
                Everyone understands it is an entire article. “It” (the article) is not being criticized.
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                • Posted by ewv 3 weeks, 1 day ago
                  Neither should suggesting reading it for an explanation too long to post, which suggestion, contrary to Thoritsu's personal attack, is not an "assignment", "homework', "arrogant", "lazy" or "ignorant".
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                  • Posted by  $  2 weeks, 4 days ago
                    Oh good god. blah, blah, blah.

                    While you think of a response, all day in retirement, wondering how best to tear down this person who dares challenge a firstborn of Objectivism, but who agrees with you on almost every point of the ideal state, ask yourself, "why do I alienate the people who believe so like me."

                    If the answer is: He is a a fundamental dissident, and I will not share a foxhole with him, fine. You and I have nothing in common, but a love of freedom.

                    If the answer is: We generally agree, but he resists my perspective so. Then maybe we should identify the basis of the resistance.
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  • Posted by Robert_B 1 week, 4 days ago
    Objectivism is not pragmatic. "Pragmatic" never describes a rational code of thought. The Nazi's were a pragmatic bunch; look at all that was accomplished: ruin and desolation. A philosophical code of thought cannot be pragmatic. In fact, I am unsure as to how to define an action as pragmatic. Practice describes an action, which of course is based on a practical frame of mind. The same can not be said of a "pragmatic" attitude. This is the very reason Ayn Rand identifies pragmatism: to criticize it as an attitude; nothing more, nothing less.
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    • Posted by  $  1 week, 3 days ago
      One can not assign negativity to being practical (pragmatic) by noting a group being practical was also ethically vile.

      I do not believe Ayn Rand addressed being pragmatic/practical (the adjective) in a negative manner. She addressed "Pragmatism", which is a cult, not an adjective. Something I learned about in this post.
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  • Posted by  $  Maritimus 3 weeks, 2 days ago
    Hallow Thoritsu and hallow all others,
    I have to confess that I was disheartened by what I read in this discussion. I am virtually certain that I will not address all instances here where, I think, better thinking is necessary. At the same time, I hope that nobody will find my comments and criticism offensive. Trust me, no personal offense intended. We are here, at least I am, for sure, to learn together and from each other.
    “… very philosophically consistent.” It seams to me that something is consistent or not. Consistency is a property and an adverbial descriptor such as “philosophically” does not change the consistency of whatever.
    Objectivism is a philosophy in contrast to mathematics, higher or lower (what’s the distinction?), which is a special science. Have you had a chance to read “Where Mathematics Comes From” by George Lakoff and Rafael E. Nún͂ez (Basic Books 2000)? It is fascinating and beautiful.
    I have “The Ayn Rand Lexicon”, edited by Harry Binswanger (New American Library 1986). I wish to give two quotes, because whenever I read them, I am deeply impressed by the clarity and precision of her thinking. On pp. 358-359: “Philosophy studies the fundamental nature of existence, of man, and of man’s relationship to existence. As against the special sciences, which deal only with particular aspects, philosophy deals with those aspects of the universe which pertain to everything that exists. In the realm of cognition, the special sciences are the trees, but philosophy is the soil which makes the forest possible.” In the next quote she explains the components of philosophy: metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics and esthetics.
    In the Lexicon, on p. 377, there is a piece entitled Pragmatism. It is very much worth reading. I think that it shines much light onto the discussion on whether the Objectivism is or is not “pragmatic”.
    ” Objectivist ethical principles are meant to be practical, in the same way that principles of engineering are meant to be practical.” I think that Aristoteles would shudder if he heard that ethical principles are intended to be “practical”. Let’s start with the concept of principle. Let me use the three principles of thermodynamics as the object. The first scientists who discovered them called them principles because they realized that they are like axioms in geometry. Self-evident truths that nothing in nature can violate. Laws are limited in their applicability. You might enjoy one description of the three principles of thermodynamics I found long time ago. The first says that the best you can do is break even. The second says that you must loose and can break even only at absolute zero temperature. The third says that you can never reach absolute zero. How is that for optimism?
    The other objection I have for that quote is the concept of principles of engineering. As one of the most prominent practitioners said; “Engineering is the art of things that work.” Imagine developing a new version of a product that is expected to operate flawlessly for, say, 40 years. Of course, with periodic maintenance shut downs. You have a limited budget and three years to develop a new (faster and more cost-effective manufacturing technology) version of a vital component of the product. There is no way of calculating the design, based on accelerated testing for a couple of years, to design a thing that you say we live 40. You have to rely on your gut feelings, the past experience of successes and failures and hope. Do you see why it is an art and not science? You use sciences as the tools of you trade. But, in the end, you have to gamble and put your name on the decision?
    This is way too long already, so I will stop. I have a plea: please think through what you are writing. One of my sons taught me decades ago: “To write well you have to think well. If you found somebody who can teach you how to write well, you really have found somebody who teaches you how to think well.” Just one example that older can learn from the younger.
    Best wishes to you and to all your loved ones.
    Sincerely,
    Maritimus
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    • Posted by  $  3 weeks, 2 days ago
      Nice note. Thank you.

      I totally agree, people who write well, have an excellent grasp of what they write (speaking well is similar, but not as definitive). The gentlemen that were classically trained (I mostly know engineers) 50 years ago or more, and were still contributing recently had a firm grasp of the fundamentals, and they could communicate them clearly, to another engineer or a lay person.

      Do you really not see a distinction between arithmetic, algebra and calculus or diff equs?
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      • Posted by  $  Maritimus 2 weeks, 6 days ago
        Hallow Thoritsu,
        Thank you for the compliment.
        Just two clarifications.
        I perceive mathematics as a ladder into the skies, infinite, building each rung on the lower ones and branching into some specialties. That is why I recommend that book. It goes from finger counting to the Euler equation. The book clearly shows the continuum and the branching. I wish I had read it some 40 years earlier. (It was published only about 19 years ago!)
        I must not pretend.
        I did not study engineering. I graduated in physical chemistry (undergraduate) and graduate (physical chemistry of macromolecules). All my life I did, or managed others doing, what you would call development engineering. My father and my mother's father were prominent engineers in their time. I guess genes get things to go their way. Now, I am just an 84 years old fogy.
        Best wishes.
        Sincerely,
        Maritimus
        EDIT: Corrected two typos.
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        • Posted by ewv 2 weeks, 1 day ago
          Yes consistency is required (not "sterile"). Yes, you didn't say there is no distinction between branches of mathematics, and the abstract hierarchy of abstractions in concepts and of branches of knowledge you refer to is crucial.

          I read Lakoff and Nún͂ez a few years ago, having bought it for reasons similar to what you wrote about it, but was disappointed in one major aspect of it. You are no "old fogy"; I would like to ask you some questions about your personal views of the book that are off-topic here. Could you PM me?
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        • Posted by  $  2 weeks, 5 days ago
          Chemistry is nothing to sneeze at. I loved it in HS, and thought about Chem Eng, but opted for ME for breadth. Still love Chemistry. Can't believe how many people have forgotten the valence of everything.

          Sounds like you did some interesting stuff. You do have me by a few years. Still working, I do navy power and propulsion now.
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          • Posted by  $  Maritimus 2 weeks, 5 days ago
            I think of physical chemistry as quantifying of chemistry. When I think of concepts like equilibrium, structure or change, I see a necessary imposition of mathematics into the thinking about chemical elements or compounds and their behavior in reality.
            My first course of organic chemistry was remembering thousands of compound names by rote. Turned me off completely. Mendeleev came up with periodic table without a clue about quantum mechanics.
            As you can tell, I still love physical chemistry. It helped me understand the world. And with the philosophy helping me understand human life, I am all set. They together helped me practice the art of engineering for 44 years. No complaints.
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            • Posted by ewv 2 weeks, 1 day ago
              I had the same reaction you did to organic chemistry but also to some of the study of compounds and reactions in general chemistry. More interesting were physical and quantum chemistry courses and their precursors that also appeared in general chemistry (not my major but five semesters of chem courses plus labs required).

              You are right about the hierarchy of knowledge in science and your relating it to Ayn Rand's conception of the role of philosophy. It all illustrates your opening emphasis on the practical as the purpose of principles of theoretical knowledge, not just in science but also in the "clarity and precision of her thinking" in a unique philosophy that is the antithesis of Pragmatism.

              We both saw that early in studying science and engineering and found it later in philosophy by discovering the right one. Ayn Rand viewed the proper role of philosophy and her philosophy as a reality based conceptual, systematic science in the realm of its own subject matters as you quoted.
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              • Posted by  $  Maritimus 1 week, 6 days ago
                Thank you ewv!
                I went for undergraduate education abroad, so I could not have done there what I see being done here. My eternal regret is that I did not have a chance to take dual majors: physical chemistry and philosophy. But, I got there eventually, on my own, and an enormous push by Ayn Rand.
                Good talking to you.
                Best regards.
                Sincerely,
                Maritimus
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            • Posted by  $  2 weeks, 4 days ago
              Like I said I loved Chemistry. I did a little organic. Not being a ChemE, i never did P-Chem, but heard/saw it separating the men from the boys. Sounds awesome. We had some like that in ME too. Compressible fluid dynamics (shock waves and supersonic weirdness) was hard for me, but I think it was really the teacher, him being a formula-nut, vs grasp of the physics, but who knows. I do mostly electrical now, but do love acoustics and controls.

              I knew a girl in HS that scored 1600 on SATs, two actually. One failed out of college physics, into astro physics, into languages... The other did similarly, but I forget the details. They were astounding at rote retention, but not so good with fundamental understanding. The best example was one of these girls (women now) setting up a physics experiment, St Louis motors (I think). I gave her a few red leads with banana plugs. She said "This won't work. Negative electricity won't flow through a red wire." A comical example, but true.

              So happy to see another engineer here. There are a few. It is all in the grasp of fundamentals.
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              • Posted by  $  Maritimus 2 weeks, 1 day ago
                In my view your key word is "grasp". I use "understand" for the same concept. And there is an enormous difference between memorizing and understanding. For the first, it is just words. For the second it is concepts. Words are just labels.
                Stay well.
                Maritimus
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                • Posted by ewv 2 weeks, 1 day ago
                  Ayn Rand emphasized knowledge and truth as a "mental grasp" of the facts of reality through a hierarchy of abstract concepts based on and organizing sense perception as man's means of understanding -- this in contrast to both emotional thinking and rationalization with floating abstractions as two common alternatives.

                  There is a well known story about the difference between knowing what things are versus what they are called in James Gleick's very interesting and motivating biography, Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman (which is the least technical of the Feynman biographies I've read, all very good). If you haven't read it I'm sure you would like it.
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                  • Posted by  $  Maritimus 1 week, 6 days ago
                    Hallow, ewv,
                    As you know, I think, I was born in a language other then English. Started learning English at age 13.
                    So, a priori, please do not trust my judgements about language and meanings of words.
                    But, that notwithstanding, for the concept of becoming familiar with philosophical ideas and their relationships with other ideas and truths and fundamental principles of a philosophical system, the word "grasp" connotes, to me, too much a hand grabbing something. To my mind, "understanding" gives some feeling of deeper and broader familiarity than a hand grab.
                    Confession: I am too lazy to get up from my desk and take my Oxford Dictionary to explore what they say about grasp and understanding. Where I am is 6 minutes past midnight and far long past my bed time.
                    I hope that you were wiser and already produce those (Disney's?) series of Zs.
                    Good night.
                    Maritimus
                    EDIT: Corrected a typo.
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  • Posted by  $  Stormi 3 weeks, 4 days ago
    I have often heard JFK referred to as a pragmatist. I have most often seen it with making the best of a situation., That is not equal with Objectivism, which is is man acting for his own good, which, authentically, which in a perfect world also is best for society. I doubt Rearden or Roark would compromis to the level of being prgmatists. That would have been giving too much of their beifef system. Pragmatism is making do but Objectivism is a life goal of constant attemps to be true to to self. It is not always an easy journey. The resolution of the Cuban misile crisis, however, was pragmatism at work via Ex-COM.
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    • Posted by  $  3 weeks, 3 days ago
      I think you missed my admission of confusing everyone with a capital “Pragmatism”. I meant it as an adjective, meaning practical, not the philosophical group (or non-philosophical as people have noted).
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  • Posted by jimjamesjames 3 weeks, 4 days ago
    prag·ma·tist

    1. a person who is guided more by practical considerations than by ideals.
    "hardheaded pragmatists firmly rooted in the real world"
    2.
    PHILOSOPHY
    an advocate of the approach that evaluates theories or beliefs in terms

    pragmatism is goal oriented. objectivism provide principles to apply in achieving those goals
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    • Posted by  $  3 weeks, 4 days ago
      This discussion is not about “Pragmatists”, the (new to me). It is about practical actions and decisions being consistent with a philosophy, in the case Objectivism.

      It is quite clear that an immediate principled decision/action is possible that does not support a long term outcome that is congruent with the philosophy.
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  • Posted by tdechaine 3 weeks, 4 days ago
    Any philosophy is abstract in that it is the science that studies the fundamental nature of existence.
    It is a guide to (hopefully - as in Objectivism) living life rationally/morally.

    Pragmatism is the dispensing of all absolutes and standards; there are no fixed laws of logic, certainty or objectivity. Pres. Trump is a pragmatist.

    Thus, Objectivism is the philosophy of greatest use to man. Any philosophy that incorporates pragmatism is of no practical value.

    Some decisions/actions one takes (e.g. sports) are not philosophical in nature - do not have moral consequences. But that is not acting pragmatically.
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    • Posted by  $  3 weeks, 4 days ago
      I tried (unsuccessfully) to separate the noun, “Pragmatism”, from the adjective, “practical”.

      No one here is suggesting Pragmatism.
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      • Posted by tdechaine 3 weeks, 4 days ago
        The title of the blog includes "pragmatic"!!
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        • Posted by  $  3 weeks, 4 days ago
          Yeah, caps are bad. Just typed it because it is a title.

          “pragmatic” is an adjective too.
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          • Posted by tdechaine 3 weeks, 4 days ago
            Being practical is generally being concrete bound, not attuned to theory/philosophical axioms/fundamentals.
            It is being pragmatic. it is often not being rational.
            There is no philosophical guide to being pragmatic. But a good phil. guide does not prevent practicality when the latter is also rational.
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            • Posted by  $  3 weeks, 4 days ago
              Just like math. Being good at arithmetic is not indicative of being good at abstract math, and vice versa.
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              • Posted by tdechaine 3 weeks, 4 days ago
                Not really an analogy. It isn't a matter of degree of difficulty with rational vs. irrational thinking or the lack thereof.
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                • Posted by  $  3 weeks, 3 days ago
                  I don’t know. Some people gravitate to a bunch of individual, disconnected views. I do think people who think about it and are at least consistent are more abstract (like geometry) than people who just adopt views from their favorite characters.

                  Look at the irony of a “Union Strong” bumper sticker in a Walmart parking lot (buying cheap Chinese stuff). This is a great example of a disconnected decision.
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  • Posted by mia767ca 3 weeks, 4 days ago
    reductio ad absurdum...you need to study philosophy...
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    • Posted by  $  3 weeks, 4 days ago
      Oh stop. As I explained to ewv, a more modest version exists which is not ridiculous. I used the example for communication, not argument.

      There are unquestionably immediate actions/decisions that one can make being consistent with a principled philosophy, that will result in long term outcomes that are not consistent with the same philosophy.

      How do we deal with these?
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      • Posted by mia767ca 2 weeks, 6 days ago
        as a student and judge of "high school debate clubs" for the last 50 years, it is ...define or be defined...you cannot have a meaningful discussion without first agreeing to the definition of the words you use...it is "first use" terminology...you go nowhere without it...
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      • Posted by ewv 3 weeks, 3 days ago
        You "deal with" it by not embracing contradictions. What is a "modest version" of Ayn Rand's philosophy? No, he has not "explained" it.
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        • Posted by  $  3 weeks, 3 days ago
          I really wonder if you have a firm grasp of English and can read, or you just gather the words, throw them in the air and figure out what you want them to mean.

          The only one who use "modest" as an adjective to modify Ayn Rand's philosophy is you. I have no idea what this means. I used the word to describe the severity of an immediate decision in another comment.

          Do you have aluminum cookware?

          Here again, I made a simple point. You troll, comment, and don't address my point or assertion. Just paint your little graffiti all over.
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          • Posted by  $  Maritimus 1 week, 6 days ago
            Hallow Thoritsu,
            I do not know you. In this context and the comments is the first time I saw your name.
            But, please allow me to express an opinion: I think that you should be ashamed for having made the comment above.
            If it were addressed to me, I would demand an apology and if it were not fore-coming, consider leaving the Gulch here.
            As many of the old timers expressed to me, it has deteriorated much. Your comment does not make it any better, for sure.
            Sincerely,
            Maritimus
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          • Posted by ewv 3 weeks, 2 days ago
            The phrase "modest version" is yours in your thread on Objectivism and practicality. It's less than clear what you meant, which is why I asked.

            The assertion "As I explained to ewv ..." is false. There has been no attempted explanation.

            It's not "aluminum cookware","trolling", failure to "address a point or assertion", inability to "read" or understand "English", "throwing words in the air", or "graffiti".
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  • Posted by Lucky 3 weeks, 5 days ago
    What is 'pragmatism? There are formal definitions. I prefer to regard it as short term actions which get you off the hook but are likely to come back to bite later, there is a parallel view that it is doing what you can get away with, cheating, lying and theft can be part of pragmatic actions if the perpetrator benefits.

    As a policy for action I prefer to use the response of Rand (when speaking thru Dagny Taggart). The motor had no history, it had no origin, Dagny could claim it. But Dagny will not steal, even from an unknown inventor.
    It is the living to these values which define Objectivism.
    Strict- yes maybe, actions are to follow thought and evaluation against values, not at all the post-modern view of follow your heart, take it as it comes, regret nothing, think nothing, learn nothing.
    Sterile- no, Objectivism demands that the rights that you claim be acknowledged to everyone else. There is no other way - try it.

    The analogy- as I understand that kind of situation, you can score points and have fun by doing it wrong, that may be ok for you if you are unwilling to put the time into learning the correct way, the real winner has put in the practice to show the theory is right (assuming it is) and their performance looks effortless.
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    • Posted by  $  3 weeks, 5 days ago
      What you assign to being pragmatic (I am unaware of this “Pragmatism cult”) is really just short sightedness. Being practical and understanding the long game are two different things and are not inconsistent.

      Here is an example:

      One likes nuclear power but opposes socialism.
      A senator that supports nuclear power, but wants to subsidize it using public funds.
      Another senator opposes nuclear power, has had a mistress, and curses continually, but seeks minimal government and is well connected.
      Which one does one vote for?

      For me both are wrong. I would vote for the minimal government senator, because the long-term effects are better. In addition, the first senator is unlikely to succeed with nuclear power due to significant opposition.

      There is no third choice for senator. There will be a senator. Not voting, or a “write in” accomplishes nothing, unless there is certainty one’s candidate will win anyway.

      This is pragmatic. I think it is consistent with Objectivism.
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      • Posted by  $  Technocracy 3 weeks, 4 days ago
        The prickly part of any Philosophy is what happens when it interacts with the physical world rather than remaining in the world of thought. This can sometimes cause a base conflict that is incompatible with one or the other.

        Your example here is an example of this.

        Also one other point for your example, not choosing by not voting is also a choice even though many see that as avoiding a choice.

        I have seen people be as dogmatic over Objectivism as others are over religion.

        Who is the better Objectivist? The one who hews to principle and makes the selfish decision in their own interest or the one that makes a decision against their own interest in service of the appearance of Objectivism?
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        • Posted by term2 3 weeks, 3 days ago
          i think choosing the best one of two alternatives when there are only two alternatives is indeed the proper selection. If objectivism stands in the way of that, of what use IS objectivism?
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          • -1
            Posted by ewv 3 weeks, 3 days ago
            Objectivism does not stand in the way of that. Moral choice concerns the possible.
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            • Posted by  $  3 weeks, 3 days ago
              Yet, we've had an circular argument for days about this very choice.

              Are you now saying that Objectivism does not weigh on this decision? Are yo saying Moral choice is separate.

              What the hell do you mean when you say "Objectivism does not stand in the way of making the better choice between two candidates"?
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              • Posted by ewv 3 weeks, 2 days ago
                It was a response to term2, using his own terminology, on choosing among alternatives both of which have bad features but which one has no control over. Unlike many other philosophies Objectivism recognizes on principle that the moral only applies to choices possible in reality.

                There was no "circular argument" about this. Thoritsu is apparently referring to the post here https://www.galtsgulchonline.com/post... the content of which he did not respond to.
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        • Posted by  $  3 weeks, 4 days ago
          Very, very well said!!!
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          • Posted by Tavolino 3 weeks, 4 days ago
            The Usage of Pragmatism

            It is important in any discussion to understand the terms and context used. Being pragmatic runs the gamut of what one is trying to convey, as well as the interpretation of the intended receiver. On this platform many are familiar with the philosophical implications, but most others utilize the word with different intentions. Rand had the same issue with selfish and self-interest, having to qualify both by preceding them with rational, eliminating any subjective misunderstanding. Objectivists sometimes fail in their communication, relying on the intrinsic abstract without relating to actual applications that may have a myriad of unknowns.

            To properly utilize a word, concept or idea we must first understand its definition. Merriam-Webster defines pragmatism as:
            1-A practical approach to problems and affairs
            2-An American movement in philosophy founded by C.S. Peirce and William James and marked by the doctrines that the meaning of conceptions is to be sought in their practical bearings, that the function of thought is to guide action, and that truth is preeminently to be tested by the practical consequences of belief

            These two definitions are profoundly different and can have implications that are polar opposites. The first can be seen as a rational attempt to understand the world around us. We begin by observation and formulate an idea or question. We continue to acquire and integrate data to propose and test a hypothesis, and then analyze the information to form a conclusion. That is the scientific method and has demonstrated its efficacy in the sciences that has immensely advanced the human condition. Proofs and principles are firmly grounded and form the basis of the inductive/deductive logical method.

            The second definition is more reflective of a philosophical movement that began in the late nineteenth century. The dilemma was to reconcile the claims of science on one hand with those of religion and morality on the other. “The people needed a philosophy that is both empiricist in its adherence to facts yet finds room for religious belief.” To accomplish this they needed to sever the relationship of the real world and knowledge to justify actions of a predetermined morality or conclusion. Simply put, the ends justify the means. Rand more eloquently stated “the pragmatists declared that philosophy must be practical and that practicality consist of dispensing with all absolute principles and standards—that there is no such thing as objective reality or permanent truth—that truth is that which works, and its validity can be judged only by its consequences…………there is only an undifferentiated package-deal labeled ‘experience,’ and whatever one wishes to be true, is true, whatever one wishes to exist, does exist, provided it works and makes one feel better.” She further stated that “a later school of pragmatists (including Dewey) amended this philosophy……….and decided that objectivity consists of collective subjectivism-that knowledge is to be gained by means of public polls among special elites of ‘competent investigators’ who can ‘predict and control’ reality.……since reality is indeterminate and people determine its actual nature.”

            Which of these two definitions more aptly defines today’s political culture. Does Jonathan Gruber’s or Pelosi’s comments on Obamacare come to mind? Or is it Bushes neocon foreign policy of nation building. The 2016 Clinton strategy was void of any substance and driven by lies, spins and deceptions to achieve a win at any cost. Much of today’s political rhetoric is based on the essential of Trump or anti-Trump, without regard to specific concretes, not to mention the use of governmental force and investigations, including threats, to accomplish a desired end. Re read the above definitions and decide which is the current political establishment and which one Trump represents. I am only using Trump as he is viewed as the quintessential pragmatist, and do not want to turn this discussion to him, but stay on understanding the intended concept.

            While Trump may not be able to articulate his principles with the scientific factuality of a Stephen Hawking or the eloquent consistence of the philosophical writings of Rand, he still appears to have an “intuitive” common sense, not only of practicality but also of right and wrong. One need only to look at his children to realize some form of proper values was present and even Hillary recognized that in the last of the debates. His productivity and financial success had to be seated in proper fundamentals as opposed to a chaotic unprincipled achievement of goals or theft. And many, if not all (including his adversaries) that have personally engaged with him have echoed his likability. So does he have a “practical approach to problems and affairs”? Absolutely and if that is pragmatic so be it. But our political system is more reflective of the second definition of pragmatism and it’s what Trump, along with many clear coherent intellectuals can identify, moving it away from the “ends justify the means,” to the principled means justify the principled ends.

            We are at a crossroads and as the more rational policies are instituted and succeed, we need to recognize the “cause and effect” to connect the dots of the practical existential applications to the proper fundamental principles, in the same manner and integrity that the scientific method accomplishes for the physical sciences. And just maybe we need to coin a new term, “rational pragmatism.”
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            • Posted by  $  3 weeks, 4 days ago
              I completely agree with your comments about context. Email, or worse, blogs are a terrible vehicle, always lacking body language and inflection, often lacking good grammar.

              I was completely unaware of the Pragmatism movement, and see how this confused people.

              The rest of your note is extremely well written. Thank you! I certainly accept the new coined word for our purposes here, unless someone else has an objection.
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            • Posted by ewv 3 weeks, 3 days ago
              The usage as a practical approach is much narrower than the philosophical definition. Your relating the scientific method as an example of the first definition required a whole philosophy of at least implicit Aristotelianism; a "practical approach" by itself does not provide the required epistemology. You have to know how to think in principles practically.

              The spread of the philosophy of Pragmatism, which came from European philosophy that had already "severed the relationship of the real world and knowledge", has corrupted the common idea of what is practical as being divorced from principle, creating a false dichotomy.
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        • Posted by ewv 3 weeks, 3 days ago
          Many philosophies do "remain in the world of thought". Objectivism does not and is not incompatible with the physical world.

          What "appearance of Objectivism" tells anyone to not vote, contrary to his self-interest?
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          • Posted by  $  3 weeks, 2 days ago
            Apparently the people who rail on at the negativities of Trump, without noting the further negativities of the alternatives.
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            • Posted by ewv 3 weeks, 2 days ago
              Who is "railing" without noting the further negatives of the alternative to Trump to tell people to not vote, contrary their self interest, and what does it have to do with "appearance of Objectivism"?

              In the past some Objectivists (like Leonard Peikoff) have advocated (not railed) for voting for Kerry against Bush or not voting (both of which I disagreed with), but never to vote contrary to one's self interest. They thought that the advice was in one's long term self interest. The dispute over that was political assessment, not about an "appearance of Objectivism" or a call to sacrifice one's own self interest.
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      • Posted by ewv 3 weeks, 3 days ago
        A free society versus socialism is more fundamental than liking some kind of power production, let alone making it state funded. It's also far more fundamental to running a country than some cursing politician's personal life.
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        • Posted by  $  3 weeks, 3 days ago
          Here we go again. I don't like the argument, so I'll change the subject to a huge esoteric concept so no one can make tangible assertions and conclusions, and you go on preaching

          A free society versus socialism is more fundamental than liking some kind of power production,

          Yes of course, who said it wasn't? Not me.

          let alone making it state funded.

          again, who recommended state funded power production?

          It's also far more fundamental to running a country than some cursing politician's personal life.

          a Free society vs socialism is more fundamental than cursing a politicians personal life. Yes, ok.

          Now address the simple question I proposed, or shut up.

          Saying "It is all more complicated than that", and walking away is not an argument. It is the cowardly, trolling of someone who is incapable of addressing or too lazy to address the clear logical discussion posed as a decision.
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          • Posted by ewv 3 weeks, 2 days ago
            You don't tell people to "shut up" and stop "preaching" in another of your "here we go again" snide personal attacks . We are not your peons. I did not "change the subject" to a "huge esoteric concept" or to anything else, did not say what you quoted, did not "walk away", am not "cowardly", "trolling', or "lazy", and do not evade "clear logical discussion".

            I did answer the question by naming the simple basic principles why the socialist should not be supported, the obvious result, which is naturally in accordance with the practical. It took two sentences. It does not require utilitarianism and an after-the-fact claim that someone "thinks" the choice may be "consistent" with Objectivism. This addresses the issue you raised in the thread title.
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  • Posted by ewv 3 weeks, 3 days ago
    Thoritsu: "Some have asserted strict and sterile terms for being in-line with Objectivism, very philosophically consistent. Others have asserted practical actions and decisions, that are clearly in their self-interest, and do not compel others."

    Who are the "some" who have asserted consistency as "strict and sterile"? What is non-strict consistency? How is consistency "sterile"? Is being consistent claimed here to be contrary to "practical"?

    Thoritsu: "Is Objectivism just an abstract concept, like higher mathematics, theoretical physics and various philosophies, or is Objectivism a practical manner to conduct basic decision making?"

    Why the dichotomy? Higher mathematics and physics are practical. So is Objectivism. As Ayn Rand put it, it's a "philosophy for living on earth". Thinking and living require abstract concepts and principles. Man differs from the lower animals by his rational faculty.
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