Thursday, March 1, 2012

384: The Utopia of the Free Market ... Ayn Rand ethics

One of the most influential persons at the cradle of today's financial crisis is Allen Greenspan (1926), till 2006 president of the Fed, the Federal Reserve Bank, a powerful financial institution in the US and internationally.

He himself is not so convinced of his responsibility of the crisis. He prefers to blame 'human nature'. According to him it is a common fact that in times of prosperity people only want more and more.

The tenth commandment of christianity is "You shall not covet
your neighbor's goods.", which you could interpret as the advise, that you should control yourself, be content with what you possess and not be greedy.

In the book "Atlas Shrugged", in the creation of which Allen Greenspan played an important role, Ayn Rand turns the world upside down.

When she describes her utopia, her Atlantis, in her book "Atlas Shrugged", then chapter 2 in part III carries the title "The Utopia of Greed".

So, let's focus on Ayn Rand's philosophical ideas. She describes her philosophy of Objectivism thus:
1.Reality exists as an objective absolute—facts are facts, independent of man’s feelings, wishes, hopes or fears.

2.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.

3.Man—every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.

4.The ideal political-economic system is laissez-faire capitalism.

In short is means 1. Metaphysics: Realism, 2. Epistemology: Reason, 3: Ethics: Self-interest and 4. Politics: Capitalism. Let's have a closer look at 'Reason'.

It sounds so obvious, that you are immediately inclined to say: sure... yes.. absolutely true. But let me ask you a simple question.... it says "reason is a means". We all will claim that we use our reason every day, but how does reason work? What kind of machinery is it?

"Philosopy: Who Needs It", pg 62: "Reason integrates man’s perceptions by means of forming abstractions or conceptions, thus raising man’s knowledge from the perceptual level, which he shares with animals, to the conceptual level, which he alone can reach. The method which reason employs in this process is logic—and logic is the art of non-contradictory identification." Ayn Rand.

If this is a knowledge claim and I can't read it otherwise, I really have serious questions to ask, especially while Ayn Rand holds the view that we are born with an empty mind, a tabula rasa. All we know, we know by experience only. In other words..who sent her this revelation about reason?

Let us first put it into historical perspective. Historically we have two kinds of reason. The 17th century philosophers like Descartes saw Reason as opposed to Experience, while the philosophers of the Enlightenment saw Reason as opposed to Faith.

When we take an overall view of the work of Ayn Rand, her ardent condemnation of mysticism and religion, I would conclude that she uses the concept of reason in the way as the Enlightenment philosophers like D'Alembert and Voltaire did: reason as opposed to faith.

That doesn't bring us much further, but it is a start. The question I still want to see answered is, how can we have knowledge of the existence of reason?

In this form it becomes very clear that the question raises at least two highly disputable issues. First, it is far from immediately clear what reasoning is, on what occasion, in what activities or processes, reason is exercised.

And second, if we determine, probably with some degree of arbitrariness, what reasoning is (according to Rand it is "using logic"), it may very well be highly disputable whether this or that can or cannot be achieved by reasoning.

So, in the end, saying that reason is the only guide man has to survive is not clarifying the human condition that much. And if reason is opposed to faith I even encounter a paradox in Randianism, for you have to accept the truth of her philosophical axioms in good faith, which is against reason.

In my previous project I have shown, that reason is an overestimated faculty and that consciousness and our interaction with our environment for our survival is much more complex than the statement that there exists an objective world, which we understand by means of our reason.

A simplification, however, a simplification that is believed by many followers of Ayn Rand. Just google on this name or do a search with it in YouTube. Then you see, that it is still a current topic in the US.

The Discussion

[13:21] herman Bergson: Thank you.....
[13:21] Qwark Allen: ::::::::: * E * X * C * E * L * L * E * N * T * ::::::::::
[13:21] Bejiita Imako: YAY! (yay!)
[13:21] Merlin Saxondale: Herman
[13:21] herman Bergson: Merlin... ㋡
[13:22] Merlin Saxondale: When we started this I thought you were in great a greememt with Rand, but now you seem less so.
[13:22] herman Bergson: smiles
[13:22] herman Bergson: I never have been in agreement with Rand Merlin....
[13:23] Merlin Saxondale: Oh OK. It was my first impression at the first talk
[13:23] herman Bergson: First of all....using words like reason giv ethe impression that you are talking about something distinct...
[13:23] Qwark Allen: what come to my mind when you talked about that "reason" definition, is that after all, it`s ruled the same way as "free will"
[13:23] herman Bergson: Yes Qwark....
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: aaa yes that can be true
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: seems related in a way
[13:24] Mick Nerido: Rand reason = common sense?
[13:24] Qwark Allen: somehow, feeling that reason and freewill are not on our side
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: cause its our will that make us eason
[13:24] Qwark Allen: like we have seen before
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: reason
[13:24] herman Bergson: in the previous project we have learnt how th ebrain wokrks....and that is definitely doesnt work only by using reason (whatever that may be)
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: at least in some way
[13:24] Qwark Allen: we are orientated to the reason , "others" want
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: if i say i have a reason for something its because my own will make me reason that way
[13:25] herman Bergson: Waht I want to make clear from the beginnning at least is that Rand's philosophy is begging the question
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: whan I want
[13:26] herman Bergson: she just defines her concepts as it suits her philosophicla interpretation of the human being
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: but reasoning is also about taking into conciderationn some ethic rules i think, is this om to do?
[13:26] herman Bergson: and his motives and drives
[13:26] Lizzy Pleides: reason is also influenced by education, not only logic
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: ok
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: to do
[13:26] Qwark Allen: its very cultural thing
[13:26] oola Neruda: i was struck by the phrase... not sacrifice others...which i see as counter to the rest of what she has said
[13:26] Mick Nerido: we are in agreement that there is an objective reality...
[13:27] Qwark Allen: and in our society ruled by mass media
[13:27] herman Bergson: yes Lizzy, but we then first need a clear definition of reason....
[13:27] herman Bergson: We know that it is a brain function...even coming from which part...
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: aa yes we reason in a certain way cause we either have learned that it works this and that way and this and this is ok and that is not
[13:27] Lizzy Pleides: thus reason must by very individual
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: however some people reason otherwise it seems
[13:28] herman Bergson: That is aninteresting point too Bejiita...
[13:28] Mick Nerido: Reason is one way of seeing that ojective world...
[13:28] herman Bergson: the generalization of the concept of Reason.....
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: greedy people for ex reason only for their own cares and dont care all about others
13:28] Bejiita Imako: but they still reason that "its ok"
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: and sleep well at night
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: seems so
[13:28] herman Bergson: yes Bejiita... ㋡
[13:29] herman Bergson: And they base their reasoning on the ideas of self-interest as developed by Ayn Rand
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: that can very much be true
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: getting bad influences
[13:29] herman Bergson: And then say...well....this is just how an objective reality functions...
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: that affect their reasoning
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: in a bad way
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: that greesiness is ok
[13:30] herman Bergson: I am a part of this objective reality as my reason I am objective in what I do
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: greediness
[13:30] herman Bergson: no...we shouldn't use the word greediness anymore form now on...
[13:30] herman Bergson: we call it self-interest
[13:31] Mistyowl Warrhol: Think you had it right the first time, Bejiita. greesiness :)
[13:31] Qwark Allen: ehhee i was thinking the same
[13:31] Qwark Allen: sticks the same way to people
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: hehehe well they really are some greasy types some of those rich high ones up there
[13:31] Mistyowl Warrhol: Grease the hand, etc.
[13:31] herman Bergson: hello Clerisse ㋡
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: a big mess
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: big and sticky mess
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:32] Clerisse Beeswing: Hello Professor ! Sorry I am late
[13:32] Mick Nerido: Nations behave the same for their self interest
[13:32] herman Bergson: The main idea of Rand is that altruism is a horror, the biggest mistake mankind made ever
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: yes that as well
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: North Korea is an extreme example of that id say
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: really sad story
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: that need to be changed
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: read some article recently in the news about it
[13:33] Qwark Allen: i agree totally with Ayn in some things, and totaly disagree in other
[13:33] Qwark Allen: she had a really good vision what was about to society to become
[13:34] herman Bergson: Well Qwark....yes but not the way she dreamt it would go...
[13:34] Mick Nerido: In America there is the "frontier" mentality... rugged individualism
[13:34] Qwark Allen: yes
[13:34] Lizzy Pleides: it is fascinating that she has a logic concept
[13:34] herman Bergson: the current neoliberalism, the Tea Party ideas....
[13:34] herman Bergson: all aiming at destroying the welfare state...
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:35] Mistyowl Warrhol: Reason is the process we use to take past experiences and knowledge with what feels good to us, to create a truth we think should apply to all. That is reasonable, unless you disagree with that 'reasonable" person.
[13:35] herman Bergson: destroying on what principle we used in the 60s.....solidarity as the leading principle of a society
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: aaa yes might be
[13:35] Qwark Allen: seems every time more a utopia
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: yes unfortunatley
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: gets worse and worse instead
[13:36] Qwark Allen: yes
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: going in completely wrong direction
[13:36] herman Bergson: all privatization these days....all utopia of the working of the free market....!
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: really worrying
[13:36] Lizzy Pleides: but solidarity is reasonable, isn't it?
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: aaa yes
[13:36] herman Bergson: Let me give you an example....
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: in sweden they have ruined both the reailroads and the eldery care by privatizing them
[13:37] herman Bergson: We have notaries in the Netherlands....
[13:37] herman Bergson: They used to have fixed rates....
[13:37] herman Bergson: There was a TV program on how to make a good testament....
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: and now the old people die in their feces because the owner want to build a luxury house worth 6 million dollars
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: really nasty
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: and the railroads here work worse and worse and get so expensive its cheaper to fly instead
[13:38] Merlin Saxondale: Someone said that before
[13:38] herman Bergson: the rates for that specific action ran from 215 euro to 690 euro....for the same action!
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: that's insane
[13:38] Qwark Allen: awesome
[13:38] herman Bergson: The rates are free remember...
[13:38] herman Bergson: well...
[13:39] herman Bergson: the old fixed rat e for the action was 460 euro....
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: yes that's how it all works today
[13:39] herman Bergson: what happened....
[13:39] Mistyowl Warrhol: Breaking news on CNN. maybe a little bit about what we are discussing.. "Dow closes over 13,000 for first time since 2008 after a 25-point gain on lower crude prices and strong consumer report." Speaking of greed.
[13:39] herman Bergson: within a week ALL notaries in the Netherlands charged 460 euro for the action...
[13:39] herman Bergson: thta is how this so called free market should work...
[13:40] herman Bergson: One big mistake....
[13:40] Merlin Saxondale: Do I need to know what notaries are?
[13:40] herman Bergson: Same with the dentists this year.....
[13:40] Qwark Allen: according to ayn rand the free market should have rules, and rulers
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: yes you cant just let it run away like it does today
[13:41] herman Bergson: these are layers...special kind who draw up testaments, mortgage contracts things like that
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: then the greedy ones take over and everything escalates
[13:41] Merlin Saxondale: ah ok ty
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: thats what we see today
[13:41] herman Bergson: Yes Bejiita...take the dentists for instance....
[13:41] Qwark Allen: omg
[13:41] herman Bergson: They clal it an experiment...
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: banks health care everything will soon be only for rich people and the poor will not survive, that seems the way they reason in general
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: that to survive you need lot of money
[13:42] herman Bergson: They had fixed rates...and this year they are free to set their rates...
[13:42] Zinzi Serevi: i have to go, thanks for the lecture Herman , bye bye all
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: money
[13:42] herman Bergson: Should stimulate competition...
[13:42] Mick Nerido: we could go back to the Feodal system lol
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: ok ZInzi
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: bye
[13:42] herman Bergson: And you know what happened....all dentists increased their rates
[13:42] Beertje Beaumont: yesterday I heard that 30% !! of the households in the Netherlands can't pay their regular bills
[13:42] Qwark Allen: in a way we are at a feudal system, ruled by few organizations
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:43] Qwark Allen: no longer politics are in charge
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: the bosses of the organizations
[13:43] Qwark Allen: but lobbies
[13:43] Clerisse Beeswing: even in usa things cost
[13:43] Lizzy Pleides: and now people come all to germany for the teeth
[13:43] Hagar: ellos
[13:43] herman Bergson: Yes Lizzy.... ㋡
[13:43] Merlin Saxondale: People were going to Hungary etc from UK for dentistry
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: yes dental ahd healthcare should logically be something for everyone but not today
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: and
[13:44] Merlin Saxondale: Now the Hungarian dentists have come here.
[13:44] Merlin Saxondale: Mine is one!
[13:44] herman Bergson: So, I guess you see how important it is that we dismantle the Utopia of the Free Market....
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: aa yes it has gone totally out of control
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: cause nothing to create ethic rules
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: the bosses and directors decide
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: it becomes like a nuclear reactor with no control rods = KABOOOOOM!
[13:45] Lizzy Pleides: and we can't trust the politicians
[13:45] Merlin Saxondale: lol
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: runaway
[13:45] herman Bergson: smiles
[13:45] Beertje Beaumont: oh yes Bejiita
[13:45] Qwark Allen: that is why i like ayn rand, and her vision, we should make the separation of state and economics
[13:45] herman Bergson: next lecture I'll elaborate on the third point of Rand's philosophy
[13:45] herman Bergson: 3.Man—every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.
[13:45] Qwark Allen: so politics are not on government for the economics
[13:46] Merlin Saxondale: yeah. I missed that one as a child
[13:46] Beertje Beaumont: lol Merlin
[13:46] Merlin Saxondale: Jesus's selflessness was the big thing then
[13:46] herman Bergson: The big debate is Keyensian against Neoliberalism or worse..the Tea Party ideas...
[13:47] Mistyowl Warrhol: Not getting any arguments from me about the Tea Party.
[13:47] oola Neruda: with the super pacs funding campaigns now... i think that an elected post is "bought" by a rich few
[13:47] oola Neruda: who pull the strings of the ones they have funded
[13:47] Qwark Allen: off course
[13:47] herman Bergson: I'll show you that the way our society is organized is not an obvious conclusion....
[13:47] herman Bergson: Economy has its own history too...
[13:48] herman Bergson: Our idea of making profit is only a 15o years old
[13:48] Mick Nerido: The world id flat...
[13:48] Qwark Allen: hehehe
[13:49] herman Bergson: Well Columbus showed us that the earth was round in 1492 ㋡
[13:49] Qwark Allen: vasco da gamma, was first in americas then colombo
[13:49] Qwark Allen: °͜° l ☺ ☻ ☺ l °͜°
[13:49] Qwark Allen: lol
[13:49] Lizzy Pleides: when you are living in this profit system you have to adapt or you will go down
[13:49] herman Bergson: ok...Next lecture on the ethics of Rand.....
[13:49] Mick Nerido: Flat econimically speaking :-00
[13:50] herman Bergson: Thank you all for your participation ㋡
[13:50] Clerisse Beeswing: time will tell about anything else
[13:50] Mick Nerido: Thanks Herman
[13:50] Lizzy Pleides: Thank you Herman!
[13:50] Qwark Allen: i think the iranians want to flat the world in another way
[13:50] herman Bergson: Class dismissed ^_^
[13:50] Mistyowl Warrhol: Interesting :-)
[13:50] Clerisse Beeswing: Thanks professor
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: very interesting as always
[[13:50] Qwark Allen: very interesting
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: cu next time
[13:50] Qwark Allen: ¸¸.☆´ ¯¨☆.¸¸`☆** **☆´ ¸¸.☆¨¯`☆ H E R MA N ☆´ ¯¨☆.¸¸`☆** **☆´ ¸¸.☆¨¯`
[13:50] Qwark Allen: thank you
[13:50] Mick Nerido: Iran just wants to join the club
[13:51] Beertje Beaumont: thank you professor
[13:51] Qwark Allen: i think they want to flat the world
[13:51] Qwark Allen: °͜° l ☺ ☻ ☺ l °͜°
[13:51] Qwark Allen: lol
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: hehe no north korea is
[13:51] Qwark Allen: lets see how it goes this year
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: first Kim starves his own people then annihilate us all with nuclear weapons
[13:51] Qwark Allen: hehehehe
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: hope that does NOT happen
[13:51] herman Bergson: yes exciting times Bejiita...
[13:51] Merlin Saxondale: Bye Herman and everyone
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: shudders
[13:52] Lizzy Pleides: Good night everybody
[13:52] Qwark Allen: yes, that will be the end of this class for sure
[13:52] Qwark Allen: ˜*•. ˜”*°•.˜”*°• Bye ! •°*”˜.•°*”˜ .•*˜ ㋡

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