Saturday, December 17, 2016
My views on Objectivism, Socialization and Human nature
Sorry, no editing, just a straight out copy-paste from a discussion. Parts may seem to be somewhat missing context, but the main points are still all there, and this is such an important subject that I have to post about it.
I used to think a lot more "through Objectivism" rather than through my life experiences/ induction. That course by Peikoff changed a lot for me. While I was always striving toward independent thinking I didn't realize how much of the philosophy I was just adopting without real understanding.
It seemed very convincing, (and it is!) and so I decided it is the right thing to adopt and defend it. I refuse to hear from all the smartasses that they are doing it differently. I can recognize original thoughts when I read them.
The more interesting topic is why I think some aspects of socialization belong in philosophy and not just psychology.
Philosophy is about the most fundamental ideas relevant to human life.
So not every detail about relationships belongs in philosophy because a lot of it is detailed and involves more knowledge about how the subconscious works. (Psychology).
We can compare it to politics. Not every detailed information in the field of politics is part of philosophy. Only the most fundamental aspects and also only because living in a society is a fundamental aspect of human life. It underlies all our productive endeavor. Going to continue in a follow up comment so I don't lose what I typed so far)
Similarly, we are born and wired as social beings. Even more so, in some ways, than other animals that live in a pack.
Our species is the only one that has a very advanced network of facial muscles that are responsible for nothing more than creating facial expressions. Not for chewing meat or running faster but solely to be able to communicate emotions to other humans.
On top of that we have a built in need for love and we are born with the capacity and the mechanism to love and bond. That is also a fundamental aspect of our nature. Not all organisms are born with the ability to love or bond. The existence of this mechanism goes parallel to our rationality and is not born out of it. This is why babies can become attached before they have a single concept.
And this accompanies us our entire life and becomes more and more guided by our philosophy and psychology as we grow up and our brain matures as our thinking is more informed. But the fact that we are metaphysically built to live a social life is is fundamental and extremely central to our lives.
That makes relationships a lot more than just an optional value.
Yes, we have a self regulating consciousness (as Harry Binswanger brilliantly wrote) which gives us the option to choose even against our own nature. Our ability to reason and override immediate emotions is a very powerful one. We can even decide to stop eating and starve ourselves to death out of a strong belief in an ideology. That's freakin amazing.
However that is not a reason to ignore our other aspects.
Our species evolved to survive through cooperation and bonding. Babies can't survive without love care and guidance and as adults we become severely depressed as a result of isolation.
All these things make socialization a value in a similar way eating is. We can choose not to eat but we still need it.
And in actuality our life is social in almost every aspect. Our productivity is based on trade and on learning from past knowledge, our enjoyment comes from loving others and being loved and even our entertainment is all about human beings.
When people finally get home after a long day at work, they turn on the TV to look at more humans doing various things.
It's not a coincidence.
So my point is that it should be an integral part of ethics and not mentioned as a mere "optional value".
I love that you asked me how it fits in with everything else. See I've spent the last few years just coming up and putting into words all the stuff I wrote above.
And the social aspect of our existence seemed missing from Ayn Rand's philosophy. In politics we just say "the most efficient way to live is as a society of traders. Therefore (... +a few more reasons) -> Capitalism. But that is a superficial reason as to why we live as a society. We live in society because it is in our nature. Because we are social animals (who are also and primarily capable of functioning alone).
But that leap from ethics of individualism to politics based entirely on living in a society is not fully explained, I think. There's a missing link.
But that's not even where we should start exploring socialization as a value. It should start way before politics, in ethics. (Tbc in the next comment)
Ethics is what informs you of what kind of entity you are, it clarifies for you, what is your nature, because when you know it, you have conscious clarity about your desired course of action in life.
For example, we can still function OK if a philosopher never stresses the fact that we are rational beings. We will still be rational in some limited capacity because it is in our nature. But once they tell us "you are a rational being", well that opens up the way for us to pursue and preserve rationality in our life. We now understand that this is something good.
Similarly, we are social beings. As kids and as adult we continue to pursue connection with others as a value, even if no one tells us that it is in our nature.
However when such a thing IS clarified the same thing happens in this department as with rationality. You consciously pursue it as a value and you think of good and bad ways to do it and you have clarity that this is the right course of action for you in life as oppose to being more blindly lead by your nature.
Philosophy only discusses the fundamental aspects of our existence, not all aspects of our existence.
For example, we are creatures with thumbs, and that's certainly important for putting on socks in the morning, but it doesn't underlie everything else you do in life.
Being social does. It just about touches nearly every area of our lives.
Even the man who isolates themselves from human company and then writes books researching the origin of species is being social. The books are their way to connect to humanity.
So now ethics deals with forging our own soul or personality as well as the primary values we need to pursue as dictated by our nature and the nature of the world.
The fact that we have a self regulating consciousness is the reason we need ethics. In order to know it we have to reason and learn it.
I don't think socialization goes as deep as epistemology, except maybe to say that our consciousness develops through interaction with other human beings at our early stages and that this is what enables us to know.
I think it also gives a fuller picture to what it means to "know" as a human because we don't only discuss the mature adult but also address knowing at earlier stages of being human.
But anyway to go back to ethics.
So we need guidance as to what virtues are required in the context of our top values. Reason purpose and self esteem are the core values Ayn Rand identifies... I think relationships would be high up there as one of the core values.
I never really thought of this so everything i I say from this point on is more of a "rough draft" as far as I'm concerned and maybe I'll change my mind and realize part of it is wrong later on.
I think her emphasis on individualism was spot on. You have to become your own person and not part of a hive. And then pursue relationships as a fully formed individual.
I do think some of the traits we need to develop though have to do with creating connections with others and not just skills to survive on a desert island.