virus: An impassioned rant!

Haphaestus (
Mon, 13 Oct 1997 13:37:15 -0500 (CDT)

Nateman and I square off in a dusty alley:


>> The capitalist mechanism I referred to was Marx's, not Rand's.
>> However: What is the distinction between using an individual as a resource
>> or item of livestock, ("harvesting" them through wages, etc.) and engaging
>> in free trade with individuals who hold private property?

>The difference is one is a thinking [being] with themselve as thier own
value whereas
>livestock are unthinking animals.

Humans often appear to be unthinking animals. Likewise, livestock
often appear to think (albeit in a different manner than do humans). If they
didn't, what fuction does their nervous system perform?
This appears to be a way of justifying the "humans are not just
another animal" viewpoint. It is useful in certain contexts, but I find it
more effective to judge value based on context rather than species caste

>> Isn't that just a
>> change from a first person limited to third person omniscient point of view?

>Huh? What is a "first person limited" view? What is a "third person
omniscient point
>of view"? Your going to have to define these for me so that I can give you
a decent

These are literary terms. "First person limited:" spoken from the
narrating character's point of view, without the benefit of relating the
other characters' thoughts and emotions, etc. to the reader. "Third person
omniscient:" spoken from an abstract narrator's perspective, with the
addition of insights into thoughts, emotions, etc. related to the reader.

>> As far as "individuals" go, we're running into a semantics problem
>> here. Replace my use of that word with "human beings viewed as isolated
>> organisms." Rand's use of "individual" is a much more loaded version.

>Of course it's "loaded". That's the whole point! I'm not going to dismiss
>as a mere object like they were just some squiggling microbe under a
>Individuals are HUMAN BEGINS, not just some theoretical objects for
>They are ,the reason , the purpose for why we have values in the first place,
>because that's what we ARE. Our existance is conditional on the values we
choose to

"Humans are not just another animal," stated forcefully. I have seen
(and experienced) no reason to take up this meme, although I agree, there
are differences between a human being and, say, an amoeba. For one, we are
multicellular; for another, we nourish ourselves by different mechanisms.
But are human beings just "theoretical objects for observation?" No, no more
than is a microbe.
Your last two sentences confused me a bit, but here's my stab at a
response: Yes, we have values primarily for the benefit of human beings, but
that is because (1) we are human beings, genetically, and (2) we have
survival as a basic drive. [There are circumstances in which this second
point does not apply, where suicide serves to better the social organism.
Ref. Bloom's _The Lucifer Principle_, Atlantic Monthly Press, 1996; several
chapters on this point, but I don't have my copy handy. Alas.] Yes, our
existence is conditional on our values -- but then I thought that was the
basis of memetics in the first place. I don't see how this relates directly
to any specific view of human life vs. other life (as a basic principle).


>> The question of "how" they are worked is covered in the lines
>> following this excerpt. However: we are again encountering the semantic
>> problem here, re: "individual" or "person."
>It's more than just "mere" semantics. It's an effort on your part to reduce
>to the same status as a bug!

On the whole, yes, I am. However, how I determine a bug's value is
different from how you do it. If, as some (Japanese?) scientists were
attempting, I had the opportunity to use an electrically-guided cockroach
with a small video camera to explore the inner workings of a malfunctioning
nuclear reactor, I would definitely value that bug more than I would a
nonproductive alcoholic in Sparta, WI. Then again, I would value the
developers of that technology more highly than I would the roach. In one
sense, you're right: If I were forced, at gunpoint, to kill one of the
three, I would kill the alcoholic. However, the values implied in that
action do not relate to how I value humans as a whole compared to
cockroaches as a whole.


>> Question: does consideration of an individual as "an end in and of
>> themselves" serve any practical purpose?

>Sure does! If the people of Germany in 1939 had believed that they were
"ends in and
>of themselves" instead of the counter belief that they are merely objects
>purpose it is to serve the state do you think they would have let Hilter
come to
>power as he did?

Yes. I think that they felt that they would benefit from the regime
-- and there was some proof to that effect in the economic conditions
accompanying the rise of the NSDAP.

N, cont.:
>If the Russian people had generally thought of themselves as
>individuals with soverign individual rights rather than mere units of
>whose duty it is to be consumed do you think the Russian people would have
>themselves to all those years of poverty and suffering under communism?

Yes. They probably perceived themselves as being exploited under the
Whites, and thought that they would benefit under the Reds.

N, cont.:
>If the
>fathers of the American Revolution had thought of themselves as the duty bound
>servants of somebody in power who claimed he spoke for God (Such as the King of
>England) rather than as individuals with inalienable rights do you think that
>America would be the shining beacon of hope in the world that it at least
>remains today. (I say partly because of the encrouching and deadening hand of
>socialism upon this fair nation!)

I do think that the Founding Fathers had an abstract authority that
they functioned for: Freemasonry. The American Revolution, I think, was
inspired in a large part due to a "duty" to Freemasonic ideals ("ideals,"
not conspiracies).

N, cont.:
>Far from being a trival item of little importance
>it is the substance of which history itself is determined!

If you are referring to the valuation of a human being, I agree
(although I think that such valuations chance according to purpose and
circumstance, and you obviously don't). If instead you are referring to the
specific definition of a human being as "an end in and of themselves," I
disagree: I have seen no effects attributable to that meme other than the
rise of existentialism and nihilism. A literal interpretation of the meme
suggests that (1) I don't have to do anything unless I want to do it, and
(2) there is nothing which can dictate what I want to do except my own
thoughts. Possibly Rand's ethics were developed to counteract these

>> Where would psychology (or
>> memetics) fit in? What about self-development?

>SKGIt fits in where you'd like it to. Afterall it's YOUR life and YOU
should should
>be the boss of it. You are afterall "an end in and of yourself ! "The Nateman

Perhaps you did not intend to evade this question, which was about
the mechanics of memetics, et. al. and how they related to the
self-determination that Rand's definition of "individual" suggests but does
not analyze. Unfortunately, your answer still appears to be an evasion. Try

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