I just discovered this philosophy yesterday. I agree with the majority, but don't quite see eye-to-eye when it comes to rejecting religion.
Is it possible to be an 80% Objectivist for failing to reject religion? It sounds like a great set of concepts, especially after watching V for Vendetta, and Atlas Shrugged. I just can't bring myself to accept Atheism on any terms, making me hesitant to call myself an Objectivist.
Thanks in advance!
EDIT: I made a mistake. Instead of failing to reject altruism, I meant to say that I don't want to give up volunteering by my own free will. I love to serve others for the sheer joy of it, not because I have to. It seems Ayn Rand has no problem with that.
Hey Ideas for Life! Sorry I didn't finish responding. My response was a bit too long for two or three comments.
You're right, It does seem a bit hasty to try and commit to something on such short notice. I guess I was just excited to find something that put my thoughts into words, even if only part-way. Actually, I'm a big fan of Atlas Shrugged, and am in total agreement with the capitalist, anti-communism viewpoints. I have always been for individuality, and hate the idea of a completely homogenous society, and "what's yours is ours" economic system. That, along with a strong affinity for the character Anarky from Batman's cause, let me to discover Objectivism.
That being said, I didn't exactly stumble upon some new idea and decide to "convert". It was more like I already had similar ideals, but didn't have a name for them.
I definitely believe in individuality, but maybe not how it's used in Objectivism? I believe that everyone has a unique purpose, and combination of talents, experiences, and traits that let them achieve their purpose. I believe that everyone is different, and should be treated as such. It's more anti-Socialist than "I'm all about me-first".
It seems Objectivism(in the ways I agree with or misunderstood) is more like a set of philosophies more on the extreme side of the spectrum than what I intended.
Do you think my ideals are far enough from Objectivism that it'd be better to start my own philosophy than trying to fit in the cookie-cutter, or should I just stick with my (now) 47%? Anyone?
You cannot be a consistent Objectivist without rejecting religion and altruism.
However, that does not mean that you cannot reasonably find yourself in a transitional state in which you believe some principles of Objectivism, don't understand or don’t believe other principles of Objectivism, and continue to cling to certain principles of your old religion.
People cannot digest all of the principles of any philosophy in a short period of time. It can take years of study merely to understand all of the principles of Objectivism. Moreover, in addition to understanding the principles you will need to first-handedly validate the principles by observing the facts of reality and integrating these facts with your new understanding, which can take a lot of additional time as you reflect on you prior experiences, seek out new experiences, and do the mental work required to relate these experiences to the principles. Naturally, in this process of seeking to understand and validate the principles of Objectivism, you will come to understand and validate some principles before others, and thus it is perfectly acceptable that you may not agree with every principle of Objectivism right away.
Further, it can be very painful to examine religious beliefs, even when we suspect on a certain level that they are wrong. Often, people brought up religiously are trained to feel guilt if they even so much as question any core religious belief---after all, faith is the cardinal virtue to most religions, and thus if you are “questioning” your religious beliefs, you are lacking faith and therefor being unrighteous. To most religious persons, their sense of themselves as a worthy and good person is proportional to their devotion to their religious beliefs, and thus even the thought of questioning these beliefs makes the person feel like a bad person. Facing down these emotional defenses can take some time and effort. In addition to overcoming this “guilt barrier”, there are also mental “habits” that have to be corrected, false integrations that have to be torn down, and emotional reactions that have to be retrained. Accordingly, it understandably takes some time for people to shed these beliefs. Even if the person is trying their best to be completely rational it doesn’t happen overnight.
However, the transitional state described above (in which some principles of Objectivism are accepted while others are not, and in which certain principles of religion are accepted) is an unstable state. Eventually you will have to fully accept all of Objectivism (including rejecting altruism and religion) , or you will end up rejecting all of Objectivism. This is because Objectivism is an integrated philosophy, and all of its principles are related to each other.
As one who made the difficult transition described above, I encourage you to continue learning and do your best to consider the principles first-handedly. Don’t be afraid to challenge old beliefs, but don’t just substitute those old beliefs with new beliefs taken on faith either---the truth is the goal, and reality is the standard. Eventually, if you are honest with yourself, I believe that you will accept all of the principles of objectivism. But you have to make that discovery yourself.
answered Sep 02 '14 at 16:54
I do not see how someone can be considered even "20% Objectivist" (not to mention 80%) if he:
What can possibly be left of Objectivism in such an approach? (And does religion sanction following religious commandments only 20% of the time?) Objectivism identifies reason and faith as incompatible opposites. For elaboration, refer to the topics of "Faith" and "Reason" in The Ayn Rand Lexicon.
It's certainly "ok," of course, to be sincerely interested in Objectivist ideas even if one is not yet ready to endorse and follow them fully in practice.
I just discovered this philosophy yesterday.
One day is a little short to learn enough about Objectivism to decide to base one's future approach to one's life on Objectivism or not. One needs to study it and think about it in more depth before major life decisions can be rationally based on it.
I just can't bring myself to accept Atheism on any terms, making me hesitant to call myself an Objectivist.
Try separating the issue of being an Objectivist (or not) from the challenges of learning about it. Objectivism is not some kind of cult-like membership movement seeking ardent followers who may or may not know much about it. Objectivism advocates living for oneself, by one's own informed choice, not joining a movement on the basis of "faith" in some mystical dogma or in the emotions of others.
I love to serve others for the sheer joy of it, not because I have to. It seems Ayn Rand has no problem with that.
Ayn Rand's views on charity are well stated in the topic of "Charity" in The Ayn Rand Lexicon. She did not consider it a major virtue or moral duty, and she fought against those views. She also said, "There is nothing wrong with helping other people, if and when they are worthy of the help and you can afford to help them."
I'm a big fan of Atlas Shrugged, and am in total agreement with the capitalist, anti-communism viewpoints. I have always been for individuality....
"Purpose" defined how and by whom? "Individuality" in this description seems to be intended to mean mainly opposition to egalitarianism. This usage of "individuality" is not the same as individualism. Additional explanation can be found in the Lexicon topics of "Individualism" and "Egalitarianism."
Do you think my ideals are far enough from Objectivism that it'd be better to start my own philosophy than trying to fit in the cookie-cutter....
Objectivism is not a "cookie cutter." The values and virtues that Objectivism identifies as essential for man's life are very abstract and broad, with many variations possible in the concrete details from one person to another. It is only the most basic fundamentals and their essential implications that are common for all humans, including characteristics such as "living entity," "rational animal," "reason as man's basic means of cognition and survival," "reason as volitional," man's need for "thinking and productive work," and so on. But "productive work" subsumes a huge range of possible work choices, and "thinking" subsumes a huge range of specific topics and issues to think about.
If the question seeks a label for it's stated preferences, one that comes to mind is "pragmatism," especially in what I call the "grocery aisle" approach to principles (walking down the aisle and picking items off the shelves according to whatever happens to "feel good" at the moment). Refer to "Pragmatism" in the Lexicon for further explanation. If or when the questioner starts seeking some sort of connection, if any, between the stated political views and the deeper religious premises, then the questioner probably will also qualify as a "religious conservative," depending on how much "individuality" he is willing to disavow in non-economic personal issues. At this stage, however, the questioner may still be too eclectic and free-wheeling to "fit in" with conservatives. Historically, especially prior to the Renaissance (and to this day in the Middle East), religion has been just as responsible for suppression of individuality as the many forms of socialism, and for longer periods of time.
Update: Meaning of Purpose
From the original question:
I believe that everyone has a unique purpose, and combination of talents, experiences, and traits that let them achieve their purpose. I believe that everyone is different, and should be treated as such.
From a comment by the questioner:
Purpose of all people is observed by my own senses every day. The right things happening at the right times. "Situational Irony". if you look at Christian Missionaries(local or abroad), can you explain why so many of them die well before they could achieve a "ripe old age"? By my own deduction of reason, I connect the dots and say "they must have achieved their ultimate purpose on earth."
Without the benefit of a Christian perspective, the early deaths of missionaries most likely would be due to missionary work not being the kind of work that leads to long-term prosperity and happiness for man on earth.
I could always say "God defines our purpose", but you would probably discount it
There is no basis in reality for the view that man's purpose on earth is defined somehow by something that is other-worldly. The Objectivist view is that a productive purpose in worldly life is a cardinal value for man when defined by each individual for himself. And, yes, Objectivism certainly discounts religion and denies that there is any rational reason to believe in disembodied life after death or in a pure, all-powerful, all-pervasive consciousness without any specific form.
The questioner's belief in "individuality" is becoming clearer. Apparently the idea is that the Christian God defines man's purpose, so who is man to impose it on other men? Governments must be subservient to the Creator and take good care of all of "God's children." (It's a very old, long-standing idea.)
Obviously this is not Objectivism, and the questioner shouldn't expect to find any "middle ground" between faith and reason. Kant understood this. The Lexicon topic of "Kant, Immanuel" mentions:
Kant's expressly stated purpose was to save the morality of self-abnegation and self-sacrifice. He knew that it could not survive without a mystic base -- and what it had to be save from was reason.
When I was in college many decades ago, there was an organization called "Campus Crusade for Christ" which proclaimed, among other things, "God loves you and has [or offers] a wonderful plan for your life." (A Google search confirms that this organization, also known as Cru, still exists and has grown considerably since its inception in 1951.) But if man's purpose on earth is defined by the supposed Creator, what is to stop the Creator's alleged voices on earth from telling man that man's purpose and duty is to serve the alleged Creator, to sacrifice himself for the Creator? How can any concern for earthly prosperity and happiness survive such claims of sacrificial duty to serve the Creator, with his alleged "will" being expressed by those on earth who claim to be his spokesmen and representatives?
Plank #2 in the Cru agenda states: "Man is sinful and separated from God." I.e., man exists to serve the Creator. If, or as, a neo-Christian influence takes hold and grows in the U.S., the logical end result will be totalitarian theocracy -- the sacrifice of all for other-worldly (anti-worldly) ends. Today's exponents may try to deny this implication, but the logic of the ideas is what it is. Leonard Peikoff's book, The DIM Hypothesis, predicts that the transition to theocracy will most likely be completed by the future grandchildren of today's young adults (unless Objectivism can become far more widely understood and accepted soon enough, a historically formidable challenge).
In the comments, the questioner expresses a very significant thought:
Even if I truly couldn't call myself an Objectivist, I would still need a better word [than "interested"], because being interested [in Objectivism] implies more that I'm fascinated with the concepts than in semi-agreement.
In other words, the questioner wants to merge Objectivism and religion if he can, but Objectivists are telling him (very correctly) that it can't be done. There was a time in Western history, however, when it wasn't so clear that it can't be done, a time when Objectivism didn't exist but Aristotle did. It was the beginning of the Renaissance.
Another comment by the questioner reiterates:
It's a shame [that Objectivism and religion can't be reconciled]; I really did like a good half of what I heard [in Objectivism]....
(If my editorial additions misstate the questioner's intent, he is welcome to elaborate.)
The attempt, many centuries ago, to bring Aristotle into religion and use Aristotle's ideas to strengthen religious dogmas accomplished nothing less than to set off the entire Renaissance in Western civilization, followed by the Enlightenment and numerous fundamental revolutions in art, science, industry, technology, politics, and even religion (although the effect on religion was more like a grudging compromise with forces that proved too powerful for medieval-Christian religion to withstand at the time. Modern Islam, however, is surviving without a Renaissance, largely unchanged from its Medieval essence.)
The writings of Aristotle had been lost to the West since the fall of Rome, followed by the rise of Christianity in the Dark and Middle Ages. But Aristotle's works had been preserved in Constantinople, a one-time alternate capital of the withering Roman Empire, now known as Istanbul in modern Turkey. Aristotle's works were eventually rediscovered during the period of the Crusades and reintroduced to the West, principally to theological intellectuals affiliated with the church. Thomas Aquinas was the most important church theologian and intellectual who studied Aristotle's rediscovered works in detail and wrote honestly about them. Almost no one at the time ever dreamed that Aristotle's ideas could ever threaten the church; the churchmen were too busy seizing upon Aristotle's ideas to strengthen church doctrines and make them more believable by the intellectually and materially impoverished populace.
In a 1965 letter to a Catholic priest (Letters of Ayn Rand, p. 634), Ayn Rand wrote:
I have the impression that you are a follower of Thomas Aquinas, whose position, in essence, is that since reason is a gift of God, man must use it. I regard this as the best of all the attempts to reconcile reason and religion—but it is only an attempt, which cannot succeed. It may work in a limited way in a given individual's life, but it cannot be validated philosophically. However, I regard Aquinas as the greatest philosopher next to Aristotle, in the purely philosophical, not theological, aspects of his work. If you are a Thomist, we may have a great deal in common, but we would still have an irreconcilable basic conflict which is, primarily, an epistemological conflict [faith vs. reason].
OPAR, p. 454, explains:
For centuries, Aristotle's works were lost to the West. Then Thomas Aquinas turned Aristotle loose in that desert of crosses and gallows. Reason, Aquinas taught, is not a handmaiden of faith, but an autonomous faculty, which men must use and obey; the physical world is not an insubstantial emanation, but solid, knowable, real; life is not to be cursed, but to be lived. Within a century, the West was on the threshold of the Renaissance.
A biographical overview of Aquinas can be found in the Wikipedia article, "Thomas Aquinas." In the section titled, "Nature of God," the article explains:
Thomas believed that the existence of God is self-evident in itself, but not to us. "Therefore I say that this proposition, "God exists", of itself is self-evident, for the predicate is the same as the subject.... Now because we do not know the essence of God, the proposition is not self-evident to us; but needs to be demonstrated by things that are more known to us, though less known in their nature -- namely, by effects."
The article summarizes each of the five arguments.
Leonard Peikoff's article, "Religion Versus America" (VOR Chapter 9, pp. 66-67) describes Aquinas' five arguments as follows:
As the whole history of philosophy demonstrates, no study of the natural universe can warrant jumping outside it to a supernatural entity. The five arguments for God offered by the greatest of all religious thinkers, Thomas Aquinas, are widely recognized by philosophers to be logically defective; they have each been refuted many times, and they are the best arguments that have ever been offered on this subject.
Refer also to pp. 72-73 in the same VOR article regarding Aquinas' influence on the West, far out of proportion to what he thought he was doing at the time that he did it.
I hope the questioner will study Aquinas further -- and Aristotle, too.