Monday, August 31, 2009

Against Altruism

Existence actually exists. We are aware of existence; therefore our consciousness actually occurs. Consciousness can distinguish things and actions one from another. There is identity. Identity in action is causality. These are axiomatically obvious and result in realization that knowledge constitutes conscious apprehension via casual process of the facts of existence. That knowledge is a metal causal process of apprehension of the facts of reality, reached either by perceptual observation or by a process of reason based on perceptual observation means that understanding of what is the good is also a mental casual process. Understanding can only occur via means of reason. Reason is the faculty of individual human beings that identifies and integrates the material provided by the senses; it integrates the individual’s perceptions by means of forming abstractions or conceptions, thus raising the individual’s knowledge from the perceptual level, which she shares with animals, to the conceptual level, which she alone can reach. The method which reason employs in this process is logic—and logic is the art of non-contradictory identification. Individual human beings operate via means of reasoning. To live, individuals must employ reasoning in a rational manner to obtain that which is necessary for life. To improve their circumstances such that a greater degree of benefit is obtained, to thrive, individual human beings must manipulate their environment via means of rational action. The good then is that which is beneficial to the life of a rational individual human being; all that which destroys it is the evil. The good is neither an attribute of “things in themselves” nor of an individual human being’s emotional states, but an evaluation of the facts of reality by an individual human being’s consciousness according to a rational standard of value. (Rational, in this context, means: derived from the facts of reality and validated by a process of reason.) The good is an aspect of reality in relation to individual human beings. It must be discovered, not invented, by the individual human being. It is that which is of value to the life of individual human beings. There is only one fundamental alternative in the universe: existence or nonexistence—and it pertains to a single class of entities: to living organisms. The existence of inanimate matter is unconditional, the existence of life is not: it depends on a specific course of action. Matter is indestructible, it changes its forms, but it cannot cease to exist. It is only a living organism that faces a constant alternative: the issue of life or death. Life is a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action. If an organism fails in that action, it dies; its chemical elements remain, but its life goes out of existence. It is only the concept of ‘Life’ that makes the concept of ‘Value’ possible. It is only to an individual living entity that things can be good or evil. Since the valuation that is foundational for the good only applies to individual rational human beings, then the good can only occur relative to an individual rational human being. The concept of good does not permit the separation of “value” from “purpose,” of benefit from beneficiaries, or of human action from reason.

Human beings are called rational, but rationality is a matter of choice, and the alternatives human nature offers are: rational being or suicidal animal. Human beings have to be what they are by choice; they have to hold their individual lives as a value by choice; they have to learn to sustain it —by choice; they have to discover that which is beneficial to their lives and value those things by choice. To be rational, human beings must understand the requirement for and then practice their virtues. A code of values accepted by choice is a code of morality. The objective standard of value in ethics is the standard by which one judges what is good or evil. And that is the individual human’s life, or that which is required for survival and thriving as an individual human. Since reason is the individual human’s basic means of survival, that which is proper to the life of a rational being is the good; that which negates, opposes or destroys it is the evil. Since everything humans need has to be discovered by their own mind and produced by their own effort, the two essentials of the method of survival proper to a rational being are: thinking and productive work.

Altruism is the doctrine that human beings have no right to exist for their own sake, that service to others is the only justification for human existence, and that self-sacrifice is the highest moral duty, virtue and value. The irreducible primary of altruism, the basic absolute, is self-sacrifice—which means; self-immolation, self-abnegation, self-denial, self-destruction—which means: the self as a standard of evil, the selfless as a standard of the good. Altruism is not about being kind or loving towards others; its not about making donations to charity. The issue is not whether you should or should not give a dime to a beggar. The issue is whether you do or do not have the right to exist without giving him that dime. The issue is whether you must keep buying your life, dime by dime, from any beggar who might choose to approach you. The issue is whether the need of others is the first mortgage on your life and the moral purpose of your existence. The issue is whether human beings are to be regarded as a sacrificial animals. Any human being with self-esteem will answer: “No.” Altruism says: “Yes. You must die so other may live.”

An understanding of what constitutes the good operates as a valid and sound premise leading to the conclusion that altruism is evil. The good is that which is beneficial to and proper for the promotion and enhancement of the lives of individual rational human beings. All that hinders or obstructs individual human beings in their quest for life is evil. Altruism is in the later category; therefore, altruism is evil. Any justification of the State that depends upon altruism thus is evil and must fail as an argument against human freedom and self-determination, human dignity and self-esteem, or human voluntary cooperation and free market exchanges, or as an argument for violently suppressing human beings allegedly for the sake of an imagined human collective.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I decided I'm going to use this blog again.

After a six month hiatus, I'm back. I was looking through stuff I've wrote in the past and found one that I think will be appropriate for this blog. I wrote the following as a response to a confused young person on a You-Tube video page.

This is a brief response to an objection to the Axioms of Objectivism as valid metaphysical starting points to all cognition. This piece is directed to a message text poster identifying themselves as “willthiswork” who commented on a Youtube video submitted by a user who identifies themselves as “bitbutter”. This missive is intended to partially address fallacious ideas confusing existence, identity, causality and time. It is beyond the scope of my purpose to compose a comprehensive rebuttal to willthiswork's confusion. Such correction has been elegantly written by the Objectivist Philosophers and is easily available via local libraries or online. An interested person may learn more by reading “Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand” by Lenord Peikoff.

willthiswork's objection is "If something must 'be' in order for existence to manifest itself, why can't that something be eternal? If it can, then why is existence more fundamental?"

This conditional question does not have the necessary form that would make it subject to a material conditional truth table. Willthiswork’s gambit fails. However, the antecedent-like conditional if clause betrays the questioner’s false presumptions. By conceptually loading the conditional if clause with a denial of the fact of existence, the questioner attempts to slip a stolen concept past reason. The first of two false presuppositions entailed in the antecedent is a metaphysical reverse packaging entailing that existence is a separate metaphysical precondition necessary for instantiation. This is false. The principle of instantiation states that if a thing has a property, then that thing necessarily exists. To have a property is to have a specific identity. The Objectivist Axiom of Identity is expressed by the Law of Identity, A=A. Identity and Existence are inexorably bound together. The brute fact that things are what they are arises from material existence. Existence is the set of all things that are instantiated. The very idea of a thing explicitly refers to absolute existence. Can a thing exist without existence? No, of course not, for it is intuitively obvious that the external world actually exists.

“For the statement "existence exists" refers to all that exists,” related Anton Thorn in his essay “God and Pure Self-Reference”. Thorn continued thusly: “i.e., to all entities, to all objects, to all attributes, to all qualities, which exist. In short, "existence exists" declares explicitly that reality exists, for 'reality' according to Objectivism is the realm of existence. The concept 'existence' is the widest of all concepts in that it is all-encompassing. The statement "existence exists" does not refer to its own referring; instead, its reference is all that exists. The concept 'existence' has reference beyond itself. To hold that the axiom "existence exists" commits the fallacy of pure self-reference constitutes a fundamental breach of cognition. For such a claim would amount to the claim that all of reality (to which the statement "existence exists" refers) is merely a reference having no reference to reality. But reality (i.e., the realm of existence) is the object of reference for the Objectivist. This ultimately reduces to an attack against man's cognition, for it essentially constitutes the claim that one cannot refer to reality by use of concepts. Such a position would contradict the very purpose of concepts, and therefore commit, in grand scale, the fallacy of the stolen concept.” - Ayn Rand wrote: “Existence and identity are not attributes of existents, they are the existents .... The units of the concepts “existence” and “identity” are every entity, attribute, action, event or phenomenon (including consciousness) that exists, has ever existed or will ever exist.” - “Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology” p.74

Asserting a distinction between existents, (i.e.: things) and existence is a method commonly employed by those who wish to have their metaphysical cake and eat it too. There is no escape from the primacy of existence because the Law of Identity, A=A, mandates that an existent have a specific nature. To exist is to have an identity, and to have identity is to exist with specific nature. But the mystic wishes to have both a ruling consciousness capable of modifying existence and fixed certain reality; this is impossible. Existence is not directly amenable to any form of modification or manipulation by any form of consciousness. Ayn Rand, via her character John Galt wrote: “The law of identity does not permit you to have your cake and eat it, too. The law of causality does not permit you to eat your cake before you have it . . . . The law of causality is the law of identity applied to action. All actions are caused by entities. The nature of an action is caused and determined by the nature of the entities that act; a thing cannot act in contradiction to its nature.” - Galt’s Speech, “For the New Intellectual”, 152.

Willthiswork’s second false presumption is implicit in the phrase “…to manifest itself…”. Manifest is defined as “readily perceived by the eye or the understanding” ( This overtly implies an assessing consciousness with sensory apparatus and reasoning ability. The question at issue is whether the Primacy of Existence holds true and existence has therefore always existed, or whether the Primacy of Consciousness is true and existence is therefore contingent to consciousness. In this context to assert that existence is manifest, is question begging and circular reasoning because the assertion assumes its unstated conclusion as its own premise. Additionally, to characterize existence as “itself” is to anthropomorphize reality and to imagine a personality intrinsic to reality. Simply fantasizing a primal consciousness controlling reality does not make it so because the Law of Identity is an inescapable fact. Ayn Rand via John Galt wrote: “Consciousness is the faculty of perceiving that which exists. ... If nothing exists, there can be no consciousness: a consciousness with nothing to be conscious of is a contradiction in terms. A consciousness conscious of nothing but itself is a contradiction in terms: before it could identify itself as consciousness, it had to be conscious of something. If that which you claim to perceive does not exist, what you possess is not consciousness.” Galt's speech - “For the New Intellectual”, 124.

Ayn Rand's great insight was that existence, reality, the Universe is ultimate. There is no reality beyond reality, no existence higher than or outside of existence. She informed her readers that: “To grasp the axiom that existence exists, means to grasp the fact that nature, i.e., the universe as a whole, cannot be created or annihilated, that it cannot come into or go out of existence. Whether its basic constituent elements are atoms, or subatomic particles, or some yet undiscovered forms of energy, it is not ruled by a consciousness or by will or by chance, but by the law of identity. All the countless forms, motions, combinations and dissolutions of elements within the universe—from a floating speck of dust to the formation of a galaxy to the emergence of life—are caused and determined by the identities of the elements involved.” Ayn Rand in “The Metaphysical and the Man-Made,” from “Philosophy: Who Needs It”

These fallacies together constitute a further fallacy, the stolen concept. First identified by Ayn Rand, a concept is 'stolen' when one asserts a concept while denying or ignoring its epistemological or genetic roots. In this case the denial is of the genetic roots of the fact of existence while stealing the idea of existence to conceptually vivify a self-referring notion of a primordial consciousness associated with the use of the world ‘eternal’ in the consequent like why question. The mystic will attempt to posit either causality, consciousness, or in this case time as if they were not dependent on existence – as if they could ‘exist’ prior to or outside of - and therefore without - existence. But since the antecedent-like conditional if clause is not even false but rather fallacious, then the consequent like why question is non-sequitur and can be validly ignored. I will, however, address the questions, “why can't that something be eternal?” and “why is existence more fundamental?”. There is a reason why any hypothetical ruling consciousness cannot be eternal or extra temporal and outside of time. That is because there is no outside of time or extra temporal anymore than there is any existence outside of existence.

The theological concept “eternal” refers to timelessness rather than unending duration. Timelessness explicitly excludes the notions of duration or knowing temporal indexicals. Lack of duration is lack of existence, for to exist is to be in time. This is a brute fact of reality. A timeless consciousness could not know temporal indexical facts. By definition, the fantasy god of classical theism is said to be all knowing or omniscient. Omniscience is defined as knowing all knowable facts. Anything a human being knows is logically knowable to an omniscient being. A human being knows they are doing something now, before, or after in time. This is a temporal indexical fact. But an omniscient, timeless being cannot know anything in time or any temporal indexical fact. This is a contradiction. That which is self contradictory cannot exist. Therefore, an eternal, timeless, omniscient consciousness cannot objectively exist.

The reason why existence is fundamental is because existence is all that exists and only that which exists. Thus existence exists is a self apparent and axiomatic obvious truth. The Primacy of Existence cannot be defeated or evaded by invoking mystical fantasies because existence exists absolutely, has always existed, always will exist, and is all that exists. The interested reader may wish to examine this further. If so, please consider “The Argument From Existence” by Anton Thorn found at and “The Axioms and The Primacy of Existence” by Dawson Bethrick found at .