Sunday, March 25, 2012

391: The Utopia of the Free Market - The End of Rand

Take the following two core statements of Ayn Rand's philosophy:

1. Reason, the faculty which identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses, is man’s only means of perceiving reality, his only source of knowledge, his only guide to action, and his basic means of survival.

2. “the actor must always be the beneficiary of his action and that man must act for his own rational self-interest.”

Those, who have attended my project "The Mystery of the Brain" , will conclude immediately, that even from a scientific point of view statement number 1 is old-fashioned and completely out-dated philosophy, even a factual error.

The second statement immediately raises the question: where does this "MUST" come from? What kind of "must" is it? Does it mean "have to" or "ought"?

In both cases we need an reasoning. Is it deduced from the scientific knowledge about the homo sapiens, from evolutionary biology, from neurobiological data?

Rand claims that reality is absolute. What ever it may mean, this reality refutes statement 2 too, because nature offers us dozens of examples of altruistic behavior among animals.

Jorge Moll and Jordan Grafman (2006), neuroscientists at the National Institutes of Health and LABS-D'Or Hospital Network (J.M.) provided the first evidence for the neural bases of altruistic giving in normal healthy volunteers.

When volunteers generously placed the interests of others before their own by making charitable donations, another brain circuit was selectively activated: the subgenual cortex/septal region.

These structures are intimately related to social attachment and bonding in other species. Altruism, the experiment suggested, was not a superior moral faculty that suppresses basic selfish urges but rather was basic to the brain, hard-wired and pleasurable.

That doesn't mean that we are all altruistic saints by nature. It isn't without reason, that Rand so easily can appeal to the idea of selfishness and even can call is a virtue.

Psychological egoism is the thesis that we are always deep down motivated by what we perceive to be in our own self-interest.

Psychological altruism, on the other hand, is the view that sometimes we can have ultimately altruistic motives.

Suppose, for example, that Pam saves Jim from a burning office building. What ultimately motivated her to do this? It would be odd to suggest that it’s ultimately her own benefit that Pam is seeking.

After all, she’s risking her own life in the process. But the psychological egoist holds that Pam’s apparently altruistic act is ultimately motivated by the goal to benefit herself, whether she is aware of this or not.

Pam might have wanted to gain a good feeling from being a hero, or to avoid social reprimand that would follow had she not helped Jim, or something along these lines.

The story of psychological egoism is rather peculiar. Though it is often discussed, it hasn’t been explicitly held by many major figures in the history of philosophy. It is most often attributed to only Thomas Hobbes (1651) and Jeremy Bentham (1781).

Psychological egoism makes a stronger, universal claim that all of our ultimate desires are egoistic, while psychological altruism merely makes the weaker claim that some of our ultimate desires are altruistic.

Thus, the former is a monistic thesis, while the latter is a pluralistic thesis. Consequently, psychological egoism is easier to refute than the opposing view. And neurobiological evidence points in the direction, that behavior is not only controlled by the pleasure centers in the brain.

Ayn Rand gave the world with "Atlas Shrugged" its modern utopia of the free market. It was adopted with open arms by the financial world and the political world started privatization of what had long been services of the government.

So far the results are disastrous. People have become homeless. Taxpayers finance the banks to prevent them from collapsing, which could make thing even worse.

Those in society who do not fit the Randian model of man as the creative, productive and independent individual, that acts only based on reason,

so the sick, the poor, the mentally or physically handicapped, or just the less gifted people, the elderly, are the first victims of the utopia of the free market.

Therefore let me go on showing that this utopia of the free market is a Randian ideology, which is only in the interest of certain groups in our society.

And don't tell me that less government is certainly better and a step forward to a better world. The tremendous economic growth of China is completely government controlled.

And most Scandinavian countries have way more public expenditure than the rest of Europe, are prosperous and laugh at the Euro crisis.

The Discusion

[13:28] herman Bergson: Thank you....
[13:29] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): right! on the government involvement
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: its an interesting subject for sure
[13:29] Mick Nerido: Its ironic the "Free Market" is anything bur "Free!"
[13:29] Farv Hallison: we need a fair market/.
[13:30] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): there is a website of ayn rand in case you would like to listen to her defend some of her philosophy
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: its really crazy really that one author with a completely screwed up mind can wreck so much damage on the entire world
[13:30] herman Bergson: The right term Farv...a FAIR market...
[13:30] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): in her own voice
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: that one single person can do so much damage
[13:30] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): which seems to b e bigger than she was
[13:31] Farv Hallison: but how do we know what FAIR is?
[13:31] herman Bergson: That is the whole issue of politics Farv....what is FAIR....
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: aaa yes
[13:32] Lizzy Pleides: every political party has an own imagination about FAIR
[13:32] herman Bergson: Oh yes Lizzy....
[13:32] herman Bergson: Just look at the Tea Party ideas in the US...or the extreme right wing in Europe...
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: aa
[13:33] Farv Hallison: Ayn Rand thought there was no reason to be fair because we are only material objects. The only morality is survival of the fittest.
[13:33] herman Bergson: they even cant spell the word "sharing"
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: the rights are controlling sweden at the moment and made a hell for unemployed people
[13:33] herman Bergson: There she was a clumsy ignorant Farv....
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: take from the poor give to the rich
[13:33] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): Herman can you please give a few examples of animal altruism.
[13:34] Huntress Selene (huntress.selenium): Farve, that is the exact opposite of what she believed; she thought that man was a spiritual being, and that fairness only came to play if all there was was material objects to distribute
[13:34] herman Bergson: Oh plenty....
[13:34] Huntress Selene (huntress.selenium): And she would admit to animal altuism; she was concerned with life qua human.
[13:35] Lizzy Pleides: we know it from primitive people as well
[13:35] herman Bergson: That was her fundamental error Huntress....
[13:35] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): I am more interested in concrete examples
[13:35] Huntress Selene (huntress.selenium): To be concerned with life qua human?
[13:35] herman Bergson: She overlooked the fact that evolutionary we are as much an animal as all other animals on this planet
[13:35] herman Bergson: Real examples...
[13:35] Huntress Selene (huntress.selenium): So would you deny that here is human consciousness and rational activity of the soul?
[13:36] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Bees are altruistic
[13:36] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): They are?
[13:36] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ants more so
[13:36] herman Bergson: One moment all..I want to answer Annie
[13:36] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): They are?
[13:36] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): I have yet to see a bee or ant help an old lady across the road
[13:36] herman Bergson: Type Altruism in Wikipedia as search term....
[13:36] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Certainly regarding their reproduction
[13:36] herman Bergson: there is a lemma Animal altruism….
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: 'hehe but maybe they help themselves a lot
[13:37] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): and yeah, ants are related to bees
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: a bee hive is like a collective
[13:37] druth Vlodovic: I suspect that animals have consciousness and varying degrees of rationality
[13:37] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): Each Bee or Ant is related with a nest
[13:37] herman Bergson: Even some ants are biologically altruistic...
[13:37] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): with
[13:37] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): within
[13:37] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Yes thats it, the work to promote the clan genes not their personal ones
[13:37] druth Vlodovic: cats have a lot of empathy, for humans and each other, though they are often confused :)
[13:38] Lizzy Pleides: i heared it from elephants
[13:38] herman Bergson: In case of danger a specific species of ants closes the entrances of their nest...
[13:38] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): They do NOT help rival none related nests
[13:38] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): This came up in the consciousness talk Druth
[13:38] herman Bergson: But to complete this they need workers outside...
[13:38] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): I personally think animals perceive just as we do
[13:38] herman Bergson: which will perish...
[13:38] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Mammals anyway for sure
[13:38] Huntress Selene (huntress.selenium): Well, Rand grants altruism in an emergency; in the sense of individual sacrifice for what appears to be a greater good.
[13:39] Tessa Zalivstok: herman
[13:39] Tessa Zalivstok: let me take you up on an important point of fact
[13:39] herman Bergson: ok
[13:39] herman Bergson: Let tessa speak plz
[13:40] herman Bergson: Tessa is typing I guess.....
[13:40] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): hmmmm
[13:40] herman Bergson: Oh dear...she crashed....
[13:41] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): lol
[13:41] herman Bergson: Dont laugh Merlin ^_^
[13:41] herman Bergson: That is soooo annoying....
[13:41] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): *stifles further laughing
[13:41] Farv Hallison: thoughts can have profound effects
[13:41] herman Bergson: grins
[13:41] druth Vlodovic: if people must only work to their own good then any form of self-sacrifice for any reason would be counter productive
[13:42] Mick Nerido: When Pam saved Jim's life he "owes" her in some way...
[13:42] herman Bergson: yes Druth....
[13:42] herman Bergson: That is a major issue in evolutionary biology....
[13:42] Lizzy Pleides: wb tessa
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: Wb Tressa
[13:42] Volta (jerome.ronzales): wb
[13:42] herman Bergson: Welccome back Tessa...
[13:43] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Yes-ah!
[13:43] herman Bergson: Let all be quiet now and give the floor to Tessa...
[13:43] Lizzy Pleides: <= imagines what Tessa is thinking now*
[13:43] herman Bergson: You had a major point Tessa...
[13:43] Farv Hallison: We have a sense of time, a few generations anyway; we will sacrifce for our children or ourbreputation. We know we wont live forever.
[13:44] herman Bergson: Ok Tessa is still thinking...
[13:44] Volta (jerome.ronzales): we know?
[13:44] herman Bergson: To get back to Druth...
[13:45] herman Bergson: In my previous lecture I gave an example what looks like counterproductive for the individual...
[13:45] Volta (jerome.ronzales): ah-ok!
[13:45] llStopAnimation: Script trying to stop animations but agent not found
[13:45] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): I have looked at wiki Herman, I think Looking at the dictionary , altruism seems to have more than one meaning and perhaps that is why we disagree so profoundly
[13:45] herman Bergson: certain monkeys start calling out when there is a predettar in sight...that THEIR sight....
[13:46] Huntress Selene (huntress.selenium): Well, under Rand, it means sacrificing your highest values to a value you don't agree with.
[13:46] Huntress Selene (huntress.selenium): So sacrifice your children to Baal, drafting people for an unpopular war, that sort of thing
[13:46] herman Bergson: this means that they make themselves target of the in terms of survival as individual they seem to be not the fittest
[13:47] Huntress Selene (huntress.selenium): Unless, the group was their highest value; a mother sacrificing herself for her children is *not* a sacrifice in the Randian sense
[13:47] Tessa Zalivstok: sorry
[13:47] Tessa Zalivstok: I crashed
[13:47] Tessa Zalivstok: then somebody came to the door
[13:47] Volta (jerome.ronzales) " thats why monkey meat is appreciated in China restaurants"
[13:47] Tessa Zalivstok: thats very out of date btw
[13:47] herman Bergson: Exactly Huntress...
[13:47] Tessa Zalivstok: hard to get monkey meat in china nowadays
[13:48] herman Bergson: Rand is completely a-historical, a-social and a-cultural
[13:48] Volta (jerome.ronzales): ;)
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: in other words she's nuts
[13:48] Tessa Zalivstok: herman could I beg your indulgence to go back to my point?
[13:48] Tessa Zalivstok: sorry about my crash
[13:48] Huntress Selene (huntress.selenium): Not a social, but yes, she believes her truths are perrenial in history and transcend culture
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: at least seem to lack any social behaviour
[13:49] herman Bergson: look at the Youtube URLs I gave in the previous lectures Bejiita..and yes...there is someone who says that Rand was completely insane...
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: as said before she probably would bee a terribly dbad mother
[13:50] Tessa Zalivstok: you said before that the development of China was government driven
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: aa yes i watched this and when i can see about her so far might well be correct
[13:50] Tessa Zalivstok: my perspective on this is from very close quarters over several decades
[13:50] Tessa Zalivstok: Tessa isn't quite as young as she looks
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: esp if she is the one actually responsible for the world finance bancrupcy 2008
[13:50] herman Bergson: Give Tessa the floor plz
[13:50] Tessa Zalivstok: actually the government driven Chinese economy was a total disaster
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: when the world economy ground to a halt when us banks went down
[13:51] Tessa Zalivstok: in my experience most people were malnourished and poorly dressed
[13:51] Huntress Selene (huntress.selenium): Teresa, yes, the Chinese are doing so well as they have capitalism now, albeit a highly regulated one
[13:51] herman Bergson: I am talking about current politics inChina....
[13:51] Tessa Zalivstok: when I say poorly I mean cold in winter to the extent that they died
[13:51] Tessa Zalivstok: yes
[13:52] Tessa Zalivstok: the development of china started in 1978 with an important scientific meeting which basically decided that the government should butt out of economics
[13:52] herman Bergson: And I am only talking about the economic growth rate...
[13:52] Tessa Zalivstok: which they did
[13:53] herman Bergson: the 5 years planning system..yes
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:53] Tessa Zalivstok: interestingly the levels of development in various chinese regions correlate very precisely with the share of government in the economy
[13:54] Tessa Zalivstok: Shen Zhen where i live has basically zero government role and is the richest
[13:54] herman Bergson: Well Tessa..of course I am not an expert in this field....
[13:54] Lizzy Pleides: don't they have a black market? we call it shadow economy
[13:54] Tessa Zalivstok: Guizhou which is the poorest has 70% government
[13:54] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): that is happening all over
[13:54] Tessa Zalivstok: the economy is a market economy
[13:54] herman Bergson: but the Chinese economy is booming and the one party system keeps all in check, I would say
[13:54] Tessa Zalivstok: there is no black market
[13:55] Tessa Zalivstok: even so-called government enterprises work in the market economy
[13:55] Tessa Zalivstok: the question of what is a government enterprise could take up an hour in itself
[13:55] herman Bergson: Well..we get into detail here too much....
[13:55] Tessa Zalivstok: so I don't think it's accurate to say what you did
[13:56] Tessa Zalivstok: the governments share in the economy is lower than in most european countries
[13:56] herman Bergson: What my lecture was about is to show that the ideas of Ayn Rand quote Bejiita, 'nuts' form a philosophical perspective
[13:56] Tessa Zalivstok: that is an important figure
[13:57] Bejiita Imako: indded thats my view of her from what i've heard so far
[13:57] Bejiita Imako: started reading a bit on atlas too to see what its really all about
[13:57] Tessa Zalivstok: of course she's Russian
[13:57] herman Bergson: Look at the Scandinavian countries Tessa...
[13:57] Bejiita Imako: then ill get the perfect picture i guess
[13:57] Bejiita Imako: but nuts indeed
[13:57] llStopAnimation: Script trying to stop animations but agent not found
[13:57] Tessa Zalivstok: quite out of the mainstream of English thought on government
[13:57] herman Bergson: the government share seems to be there higher than in allother european countries....and they prosper...even in this crisis
[13:58] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): Please, I think everyone agrees that Ayn was at least a couple of cards short of a full hand, but then you taking a huge leap to dismiss capitaism in the same breath
[13:58] Tessa Zalivstok: I'm not sure why people spend so much time on her and her turgid novels
[13:58] Tessa Zalivstok: they hardly drive thought
[13:58] herman Bergson: No no Annie....I dont dismiss capitalism at all!
[13:58] Tessa Zalivstok: sounds a lot like it to me
[13:58] Bejiita Imako: the problem is the greediness
[13:58] Bejiita Imako: take from the poor and give to the rich
[13:59] Bejiita Imako: jump on the ones laying down
[13:59] Tessa Zalivstok: how do "they" do that?
[13:59] Volta (jerome.ronzales): take what?
[13:59] herman Bergson: ideology Tessa....
[13:59] Bejiita Imako: i use to say the world need a new Robin Hood
[14:00] Lizzy Pleides: that would be fun
[14:00] Farv Hallison: make the people work hard but don't pay them enough to buy the product.
[14:00] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): well here in USA the tax rate is higher on middle cllass workers than on the very very wealthy who pay so little
[14:00] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): so that is taking in a way
[14:00] Volta (jerome.ronzales): the concept of taking and the greediness idea can be pretty weird sometimes
[14:00] Tessa Zalivstok: ideology isn't a potent force for taking money from people presumably by force
[14:00] herman Bergson: Exactly too....
[14:00] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): thks
[14:01] herman Bergson: But let's not start a political discussion on details
[14:01] Tessa Zalivstok: look
[14:01] Tessa Zalivstok: the reality of history
[14:01] herman Bergson: This still is a philosophy class...
[14:01] Tessa Zalivstok: communism is a total economic failure
[14:01] herman Bergson: And what I wanted to make clear to you is
[14:01] Tessa Zalivstok: total
[14:01] druth Vlodovic: hard to separate if you're discussing the validity of an economic philosophy
[14:01] Tessa Zalivstok: details matter here
[14:02] herman Bergson: that the Ayn Rand philosophy is a huge erro
[14:02] llStopAnimation: Script trying to stop animations but agent not found
[14:02] herman Bergson: tho adopted by the financial begin with Greenspan...
[14:03] herman Bergson: What I want to clarify is...where the Utopia of the Free market leads to....and in what way it has its good features
[14:03] herman Bergson: I guess I need a few more lectures....
[14:03] Lizzy Pleides: TC Farv
[14:03] Volta (jerome.ronzales): the idea i take from here today is that the altruism of a economic philosophy is not favorable to the common wealth of today!!??
[14:03] herman Bergson: Thank you all for your vivid participation....
[14:03] herman Bergson: Class dismissed... ^_^
[14:03] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): Thank you very much Herman
[14:04] Bejiita Imako: hmm ot of interestigt stuff for sure
[14:04] oola Neruda: i think the takeaway is meant to be that altruism IS helpful to the commonwealth
[14:04] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[14:04] Bejiita Imako: oki now i need to rush to an event
[14:04] Bejiita Imako: cu soon all
[14:04] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Bye, Bye ㋡
[14:04] Volta (jerome.ronzales): herman i made a post on my jerome FB page
[14:04] Bejiita Imako: ':)

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