Category Archives: Morality

Sex and Objectivism


Once in a while I will mosey on over to Leonard Peikoff’s site to listen to some of his podcast answers to questions submitted to him. Leonard Peikoff, for those who haven’t encountered every nook and cranny of American thought, is Ayn Rand’s successor. Ayn Rand was the author of Atlas Shrugged and of a quasi-philosophy called Objectivism. Rand was basically a good political thinker with a gift for writing very crisply and clearly, but not really a full fledged philosopher. Her philosophy basically reads as if she read Aristotle and Aquinas – stripped Aquinas’ metaphysics of theology, redefined his own terminology to omit God, and injected the rest with a hot dose of selfishness and capitalistic rigor.

The trapping of the philosophy, the net that gets you, is the coherence of the philosophy within itself. It could serve as a model example of the coherence theory of truth along side Hegel’s. Once you start buying a few of its premises – you could be hooked. Especially if, like me, you’re that logical type person that appreciates a straight line (I now prefer scribbles, thank you). The bait to get you to the hook is her axiomatical structure.

People say that the young are susceptible to her philosophy because it is natural to be selfish, ambitious and immature when you are young. When you are young you want to hear that life is about you, you needn’t think about the needs of others, go out and get that prize that is waiting for you. Now it has, at least, the virtue of putting forth some upstanding virtues for this end: honesty, integrity, hard work, etc, etc.

But this is not, I think, what attracts long-timers. It is the axioms that get you. Once you buy into them you start buying everything else she pulls from them. A is A, who the hell could deny it? Existence exists. Only a philosopher would explicitly deny it! And it hits a young person, a young person is also usually one who hasn’t had 1) a lot of life experience (especially in our cushion-padded society) 2) any philosophic training whatsoever.

Wow, you say, who is this God-like intelligence? Because you don’t know that someone basically already said these very things 2500 years ago. And when you finally do read this gentleman, he’s confusing, hard to read, there’s no explosiveness, its reads as the driest thing you’ve come across since your grandma asked you pumice her shins when you were a lad. And he doesn’t arrive at the same ends as she did. So you think as she did, he, Aristotle, started something…. and then 25 centuries later – that’s how long it took for another philosophical genius of that proportion to come along – she not only finished what he started but corrected all his errors.

Yes, that is in the sales brochure – I kid you not. Humility is not a virtue in Objectivism but a sin, or, rather, a vice. Boastfulness is not an explicit virtue in Objectivism, but, come on, when you’re making claims that you are the heir (and the better) of Aristotle, how are you not boasting?  Continue reading


The World Done Gone Fallen Off Its Rocker

Another article at Strange Notions called Love, Tolerance, and the Making of Distinctions by Fr. Robert Barron has stirred up even more evidence of extreme cognitive dissonance. A note first: while I find most, if not all, the atheists that frequent that site to be philosophically without rudder or clue (and most of them are proudly so) I only find a few of the Catholic commenter their to be worth their salt. So don’t assume I take the Catholic’s side (whoever that may be in a particular instance) or position.

While I am in agreement with a majority of Catholic morality and social teaching that does not mean every word from a Catholic meets my agreement. So don’t take it as a sanction.

Also I need the kind of work these people have. Apparently other people’s work day majorly consists of having unrelated online discussions with strangers!

Let’s break into this discussion (I’m not giving identities this time but will break it up):

We start with this loaded send off (you tell me how many assumptions are in this man’s faith!):

Fr. Barron beats Jenner with the fantasy stick of Gnosticism. (Jenner somehow proposes a female spirit in a male body*.) This is a gross, trumped-up charge, that allows the manifold hatreds of disgusted Catholics to rest easy in the demure shade of a concerned Godly “Love” for a wrong ‘un.

We are, in fact, badly made in no-one’s image by a set of sequenced fabrication instructions, that magnify early errors and that lead us to a premature birth so we can finish brain wiring in a wide variety of cultural environments. (Men, particularly FWIW, are a low tolerance product of their genes, having no back up copy X chromosome.)

We turn out all sorts of ways. The strict gender (and other) conformalisms of many religious faiths are some of the most politically noxious and reductive. The charge of “disordered” has a chilling ring to it. By contrast, cultures have only thrived on the rich stew of diversity.

*The Evidence? Jenner: “Deep down, I always knew that I was a woman, but I felt trapped in the body of a man. Therefore, I have the right to change my body to bring it in line with my true identity.”

I forgot to master the non-sequitor, I should ask this man to teach it to me.

To which a buddy chimes in:

This is a very good point. The false belief that we are somehow “designed” is obviously at work here. It is directly at odds with biology.

Well “designed” in a most generic sense could (used to) mean simply the end state to which man finds himself (his timescale being infinitesimally too small for evolutionary time to mean anything thus we can take a current state “now” as the end state) currently. Thus whether you meant it theologically as in God designed us the way we are now; or, nature through evolutionary processes designed us, or delivered us to the point of nature (our nature) we currently possess.

Obviously for man to have any nature is the view of some drooling Neanderthal.

And then a distant voice from ages past, reaching across the… millennia? no, …centuries? no, …decades? no, …years? I thought so. How about last week?

@William Davis: “It is directly at odds with biology.”

Wrong. A biological male who thinks he is a female would be “directly at odds with biology.”

And in that intervening space, in that whiplash that results when men’s thinking is a reflection of his fickle fashions, the man of just yesterday (literally) is given a bearskin and club and asked to retreat to the wilderness.

You aren’t worth a response.

The two go loggerheads for a few exchanges then the new world man who deemed the Neanderthal not worthy of a response apparently forgets and…

What, exactly, is a “biological male”? And even more problematic, what, exactly, is a “biological female”? If you know, please tell the various sporting organizations that have been unable to answer these questions satisfactorily.

Am I going to, in a few years, have to write out a dissertation when I ask someone to please pass the salt?

What, exactly is “salt”. And, even more problematic, what, exactly, is pepper?

I mean Jesus Tap-dancing Christ what are people willing to do to their minds simply to conform to groupthink? A guy has a ding dong and two balls (one ball is passable, nod to you Hitler ol’ chap), a girl’s got a vagina, hermaphrodites have some aspect of both.

To which the totally sane response is given.

Bruce Jenner has male DNA and has had fathered children. What sporting organization would be confused with that?

Then the inspiration of tonight’s post title…

You seriously need to learn about how genes make bodies and brains. They are not a map or body plan, but a sequenced list of fabrication processes, open to great variation in the final outcomes. Our neotenous nature, the facts of epigenetics and selection pressures affecting gene expression further detract from your simplistic vision of robust body and brain types.

“A biological male who thinks he is a female would be “directly at odds with biology.””.

No. Not at all. It is this variability that is the key to biology’s evolutionary success.

Hold it, the variability of introducing males that want to cut off their genitals is part of biology’s evolutionary success? Only if evolution has gone suicidal. Of course I don’t hold to the modern atheistic notion that evolution explains human behavior.

Which is SensibleMan’s point na-na-na-Na-Na-Na! Charge!

How successful will a colony of trans-gendered be if they “lie down with” those of the same biological sex?

To which Darwin’s deranged ancestor responds with more lip flapping lunacy,

Variability can aid evolutionary problem solving in general, but this specific variation can additionally aid directly.

So, how can non reproductive kin aid their own genetic reproductive fitness?

Have you any idea how much of a burden our effectively premature and helpless off-spring are compared to all other mammals or primates even?

We are the only species to trust even non-kin with the safeguarding of our children, so pressing is the need for childcare.

Before grandparents were invented (quite suddenly during the Aurignacian about 40,000BCE ish) any non reproducing adultish kin would be the ideal first choice. By which service they do pretty well for their own (shared) genes too. Nepotism and mini dynasties do very well for their genes in energy sparse environments, like the past.

Is this guy really implying that gender dysphoria is an evolutionary aid?!?!? That our genes sensed we needed babysitters and so have induced some of us to go around cutting off our wee-wees and women to get (sorry, not sure what women have done to them when they go for genital mutilation) whatever?

Gibberish and complete and absolute nonsense is coherence and common sense. Up is down and down is up.

Look, I’m not the Westboro Baptist Church. But how does making up a bunch of senseless crap help out anyone?

Maybe some of these people could be more helped by a more understanding culture than one that suddenly decides to cut off their own heads to make them feel better (and themselves – nothing like the feeling of being a man in the Now… or so I’ve observed). Like I often say, man is a creature in a small boat that, in trying to keep it level, keeps running frantically from one extreme end to the other.

I personally do not believe many of these people championing gay marriage, gender identity, etc, etc, have anyone’s best interest at heart but their own smug satisfaction and sense of superiority.

Such is usually the case of the man of NOW.

On a personal observation, if anyone told me a few years ago that I would be siding with the Catholics on most issues of the day, I would have had a hearty laugh.

Well, I can’t blame the Catholics, they don’t do the change thing. It is the world that went a little daffy.

How is it Wrong with God, but Alright Without?

It seems to me that if there is a God who puts an immortal soul into a human being at the moment of conception, intending the resulting person to be born and live a life in “this world,” then abortion is wrong.

I pilfered this quote from a discussion on abortion over at Strange Notions. I don’t participate over there as my days are only 24 hours long while everyone else seems to have upgraded to the 48 hour day.

Here is what I do not get about such an argument. On the one hand one of its unstated premises is: if doesn’t have a soul, you can kill it. Apparently it loses an innate right once deprived of this soul. If the whole of this creature is mortal, then it is licit to kill it. But, if God made a part of us immortal, then it becomes an evil to end its life.

It is one of those “ironic” positions (at least to me) where if I were a creature from a different realm altogether and I learned of this debate, I would be perplexed that those who deny eternal life propose the ending of lives. But those that believe in eternal life hold the killing of the mortal part of life to be a black crime.

I would, coming from another realm, expect the unbeliever to wail out, “no! you’ll end its life forever, you are wiping it out of existence before it even has a chance!” Surely if this life is it, if there is nothing beyond the cessation of organic processes that start at the moment of conception to death, one would (coming from this other realm) expect the unbelievers to react with horror at such a thing.

Instead you see doctors calmly snipping spinal cords and amputating limbs, you see “mothers” calmly putting Friday night behind them as they would the recycling.

You’d expect, again coming from that other realm, the believers to, perhaps, lament such a thing but not have it cause them too much grief. After all, the victims are immortal children of God, not all is lost. It is a tragedy, but not too much. If you took it far enough, coming from that other realm, you could reason that perhaps these young children were being done a favor – they got to go home to their heavenly father that much sooner. Indeed upon looking at much of this Earth that is strange and frightening, full of pain and evil and tragedy, you can’t say for sure whether or not a favor isn’t being done for them.

But then you see that the believers are actually where you expected the unbelievers to be. They, that believe in the ultimate transitory nature of this life and the eternity of the next, they are the ones bewailing the black evil of this deed.

Now, I did snip this comment out of its entire context, but it does illustrate the base set. No God, no immortal soul – why not? How does it become right sans God and an immortal soul? Where comes the right and dignity of man if it is bestowed on us as a litmus test, a state of function to get to and maintain (by death’s grip lest they pull your plug) and not from our existence in a certain class? Where comes it if it’s bestowed by the State as such an argument must reduce to?

You see, it makes perfect sense to me that it should be twice the evil in an atheist light. But when I say Man, and they say Man, I don’t think we are talking about the same referent. I don’t think the modern atheist (and I am not merely picking on atheists because I think modern man in general is affected by the same mental parasite) means anything more significant than a chicken when he’s having this conversation – perhaps less than a chicken – perhaps an egg – unless, of course, it becomes about his life, then the false abstraction would break.

Is Morality Arbitrary?

In the previous post below, I asked what justification, under atheistic premises, would there be for selfless behavior. To merely assume its rightness would suggest (and strongly) a Christian premise, or one derived by two thousand years of its influence. But certainly not an atheistic premise.

A reader responds with asking why the feeling of empathy is not sufficient reason. And further goes on to state that morality is arbitrary. As blog owner I’m going to arbitrarily make my comment a post, because I can, and I thought it furthered a terminated conversation. I missed the first volleys due to work and will probably be doing so again as I only have a single day off until next Thursday.

I pick up after the declaration that morality is arbitrary: And note I did not settle the question definitely but merely showed where the argument led.

So, would you agree that your desire to live and your murderer’s lust to shed your blood have equal moral status? Or the mob’s lust for your blood, say, if you were an apostate in a Islamic state? If morality is arbitrary, your protests are pointless squawkings of no more import or meaning than the arbitrary preference for Skippy peanut butter over Jif.

Except to you, but I suppose even the gazelle has some say as it falls to the ground under the lion’s teeth. But the lion also has his arbitrary say in the growl of his stomach. Neither “opinion” contradicts the other – except that the lion wins by Might.

That is the project you propose for humans with an “arbitrary morality”.

Morality as arbitrary = Might makes Right.

“We are just speaking on this particular scenario, in which I am acting in my own right.”

Cherry picking and concept stealing. You are merely hiding behind a safe action, the moral import of which only an Objectivist would disagree. You are denying morality while hiding it in your back pocket.

Tai, and I as well, were talking about universal principles of human action (more popularly known as morality). You want to stick to one action only (the safe, non-objectionable one) and then to declare the whole field of morality as invalid – which is what is meant when someone says morality is arbitrary.

You do not leave anything open for discussion. You say your question was never answered after disregarding the entire subject. This is like presenting us with a question of mathematics, but that you don’t believe in mathematics so we will have to answer you by non-mathematical means.

Tai’s response to your declaration of the arbitrariness of morality, “Well, there it is then.”, was perfectly just and the only response possible. Suppose you proposed to enter into a discussion of epistemology and as your starting premise you asked the table to accept, as an axiom, that man is a wholly determined creature of no free-will, that he functions as a falling rock functions, or as the snail-darter functions. The conversation would be wholly senseless then – everyone would, on those premises, have to believe whatever the unfathomable forces that determined his mind made him believe – and yourself likewise.

A sounder foray into the field of morality, indeed one of its founding questions, is: Are there universal principles of right action (and the resultant finding of right action which we call virtue) applicable to all men at all times or are there not? The question of whether morality is arbitrary or not reduces to: Is there morality, or is there not?

An arbitrary morality is a contradiction in terms.

You are also smuggling in a morality while declaring it arbitrary. Where did your empathetic feeling come from? And is it just that the needy have to wait for your empathy to spring up? Or are you one of the rare breeds that bleeds with the pain of the world 24/7? Don’t have a day where the world can just go piss off? Or that you are just indifferent? Bored, cynical, spent? Rolling in your own merriment (a date, perhaps) to give two hoots about some stranger’s discontent on this fine day? After all people the world over suffer everyday. Can’t you have a day off, two, three, a hundred?

If it is all arbitrary, each of those feelings are just as valid. You can’t really blame the person who can step over the homeless man without pausing to look or care. He simply has not the special feeling that unerringly compels him into action. You can’t object to him not having it any more than a psychologist can cure a depressive by screaming, “JUST BE HAPPY!”

And there is certainly nothing to say to the person who takes advantage of the person in need (robbery, murder, etc) he obviously is responding to a different emotional response. You may not like his action, nor the feeling that gave rise to it, but so what? He has his feeling, you have yours. Now, if you are bigger than he is, or have better weaponry, or a bigger gang or mob, you may enforce your arbitrary empathy over his arbitrary lust and greed.

Or do you say it is wrong for him to take advantage of someone in need?

Wrong? By what standard? You have disregarded those by disregarding morality.