Over at SoloPassion, Linz opines:
…I asked where Objectivism allowed for the animality in man, the “rational” animal.
Objectivism’s failure is its contention that any conflict between the two elements is illusoryâ€”a mere error in thinking; that they are fundamentally, metaphysically harmonious and the trick is to strip away the illusory barriers to their being in harmony. It’s a bit more difficult than that. It’s a matter of identifying and acknowledging without philosophical qualm that certain elements of our animality are vicious and destructive and just downright stupid … and given; while others, when informed by mindfulness, are not only joyous and intelligent but contain the seeds of our next evolutionary leap.
Objectivism’s failure is that it is both total nonsense, and correct on many points. As a philosophy, Randian Objectivism is gibberish, but as a capitalist restatement of Nietzsche, it is wholly accurate — and often terrifyingly insightful about the nature of the Left. This is not surprising, since Ayn Rand was born Alyssa Rosenbaum in Russia and watched as the Bolsheviks stole and dismantled her family’s business and failed to replace it with a functional option. She knows the Left because she has seen them unleashed.
But let us ask: is there an animal in man, and is it a logical animal? This leads to the other question: is nature logical, or can man do better?
I suggest that here we are imposing a category of good/bad onto a situation that is best measured in degree and degree over time. Nature thrives because it works under any circumstances, and slowly builds itself to higher levels. This is what is meant by degree: natural methods always work, but have the ability to do better when we act according to the same type of barebones literalistic realism that nature employs.
For example, rats in cages will eat each other if not fed. Humans might avoid doing the same in the hope of escape, knowing that they might be just around the corner from escape and that if not, eating others to prolong their own survival for a few more days would not help anything. At the same time, this can become a “pretense” or social signal through moral posture of being above such acts, when sometimes they are the right thing to do.
People trapped in a cabin over winter might eat each other in order to survive until spring. If you have a malevolent sociopath (as opposed to a benevolent sociopath like myself) among you, killing and eating him is a good solution. In warfare we kill; we kill bad people; to achieve good ends, one must often be evil, which is the conservative ends-over-means calculus (the Leftist ends-over-means calculus is that no sacrifice is too great to advance the Glorious Egalitarian Ideology, comrade, and if this means you die in horrible ways, we thank you for your sacrifice).
If the animal in man is illogical, then nature too is illogical. And yet nature works better than all of our “rational” designs. Human civilizations tend to collapse at the height of their rationality, and so far, there are no survivors, just a long trail of civilization-corpses. Maybe rationalism is a dead end, and the order of animals is more logical? And that if we are going to surpass it, we need to first understand it, then construct our version of it, instead of simply insisting that our feelings are more real and we need to act according to social sensations like compassion, fear, affection and the like?
One commenter adds a significant rebuttal:
Objectivism, as is the case for all Classical Liberal derived philosophies, is a blank slate worldview. This is a big problem; the source of *all* the problems we’ve seen in its history. Blank slatism leads to views that are consistent with both social constructivism and environmental determinism; ie it leads to views that are the same as those held by the Left (and by that I mean both the Left and the Neo-Conservative Progressive Right).
Excellent point. The assumption of people being equal/identical/interchangeable or otherwise “the same inside” (we all bleed Red, etc.) is the foundation of demotism, and it is expressed in politics through democracy, in business through consumerism — often funded by the welfare state, in sexuality through female promiscuity, and in socializing by the “we must all get along” kindergarten-teacher school of management. All of these make the same error, one which nature — being more logical than rational — does not make.
Tags: irrationalism, morality, nature, rationalism, rationality