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My understanding of Objectivism is that by studying what is, we can then determine what we ought to do. While I do believe that we are born tabula rasa, I cannot ignore the fact that my genes determine who I am, as a man.

So how does Objectivism draw the boundaries between the mind vs. the genes with regards to our physical actions? Take for example the spider who "sacrifices" itself to the mate.

"In over 60% of cases the female of the Australian redback spider kills and eats the male after it inserts its second palp into the female's genital opening; in fact the males co-operate by trying to impale themselves on the females' fangs"

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spider

Is that animal just responding to genetic "instinct" or is there something else at play here?

asked Mar 26 '12 at 20:46

Humbug's gravatar image

Humbug
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edited Mar 27 '12 at 01:42

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦
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Are you suggesting that spiders might have minds and free will?

(Mar 27 '12 at 21:52) Ideas for Life ♦ Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

I'll ask another question.

(Mar 28 '12 at 01:34) Humbug Humbug's gravatar image

The full statement of the question begins:

My understanding of Objectivism is that by studying what is, we can then determine what we ought to do. While I do believe that we are born tabula rasa, I cannot ignore the fact that my genes determine who I am, as a man.

This issue is presented in Objectivism as the issue of automatic actions versus volitional actions (and automatic knowledge versus volitionally acquired knowledge). Objectivism recognizes that there are a great many areas of automatic action in man, as well as some very crucial areas of volitional action. "Action" here includes mental actions as well as physical actions. Automatic mental actions include sensation and perception, while volitional mental action pertains primarily to conscious conceptual functioning. (There is also man's subconscious to consider in relation to what is automatic and how it depends on prior volitional actions.) The whole reason why man needs to be concerned about "ought's" (values and moral principles) at all is because of the volitional aspects of man's basic nature, which give him the capacity to identify "ought's" explicitly as well as the need to do so. For further insight, interested readers can check the topic of "Free Will" and related topics in The Ayn Rand Lexicon.

answered Mar 28 '12 at 21:42

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦
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Asked: Mar 26 '12 at 20:46

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Last updated: Mar 28 '12 at 21:42