the psychology of objectivism - one possible narrative

Here, in my view, is one particular rendition of what I construe to be the “psychology of objectivism”. Applicable to either Religion or to Reason.

1] For one reason or another [rooted largely in dasein], you are taught or come into contact with [through your upbringing, a friend, a book, an experience etc.] a worldview, a philosophy of life.

2] Over time, you become convinced that this perspective expresses and encompasses the most rational and objective truth. This truth then becomes increasingly more vital, more essential to you as a foundation, a justification, a celebration of all that is moral as opposed to immoral, rational as opposed to irrational.

3] Eventually, for some, they begin to bump into others who feel the same way; they may even begin to actively seek out folks similarly inclined to view the world in a particular way.

4] Some begin to share this philosophy with family, friends, colleagues, associates, Internet denizens; increasingly it becomes more and more a part of their life. It becomes, in other words, more intertwined in their personal relationships with others…it begins to bind them emotionally and psychologically.

5] As yet more time passes, they start to feel increasingly compelled not only to share their Truth with others but, in turn, to vigorously defend it against any and all detractors as well.

6] For some, it can reach the point where they are no longer able to realistically construe an argument that disputes their own as merely a difference of opinion; they see it instead as, for all intents and purposes, an attack on their intellectual integrity…on their very Self.

7] Finally, a stage is reached [again for some] where the original philosophical quest for truth, for wisdom has become so profoundly integrated into their self-identity [professionally, socially, psychologically, emotionally] defending it has less and less to do with philosophy at all. And certainly less and less to do with “logic”.

Yes, but as to how tenuous these constructs may be, one only has to look at the ease revisionists have with these seemingly - come unfounded beliefs, to become undermined.

That’s why it is only one possible narrative.

  Would You say , one probable narrative better describes one possible narrative?  

   The learning from various sources encompasses a blank check type of choosing any number of types of experience, through which, the set point of view becomes establishes.  This variability may be possibly cover a universal applicability of learning through usage.

 Probability, on the other hand, may minimize learning's scope, by increasing application of awareness to all possible awareness at hand.

 To reach the point of what ultimately becomes possible, is to function yes, through an increasing narrow field of the possible within the constricting range of the most probable,

 I would like to back this up with some real experience.  Let's say, an environmentally disadvantaged child sets up a life plan through conscious or sub-conscious effort, and the stage of evaluation, his capacity infects his environment.  Let's call that point O.  Here he proceeds to make choices of the possible options available to him, again, partly known, partly unknown.

 The options available are absolute at this stage, but the most probable choice available here, is the one which he will most probably use.  The prisoner's dilemma subverts the possible into the probable.

 Once he makes the choice, let's say based on the major premise of wanting to leave the ghetto environment of his original circumstance, the possible has become a subset of the most probable.

This most probable course aa the subset of all available subsets within that premise, become minor premises, say 1., and so on, until the major premise is either fulfilled or unfulfilled.

At stage 3, he may already gone through some activities which may enhance the chances of going forward to the basic premise, and the field consequently narrows to such an extent, that the minor steps, may no longer be differentiated from the conscious awareness of what was possible originally.  The man, for he has grown up, has opened the field of possibilities, by such actions, but narrowed the choices by which he can reverse them backwards.  The most probable events, taking place in say stage 4, becomes more and more determined by earlier possibilities, and hence less and less becomes possible at this stage.

At 5, for the sake of argument, the most probable within the very narrow range of possibilities become almost identical.

Here, the scholar or whatever, in order to get a job, has to have credentials to be able to apply the learning, now widely shared among others of his type, to go on.

 Of course by this time, he most likely has left his external confinement of the ghetto, although the internal ghetto may still loom as a shadow or trace of his former self, interfering with some aspects of seeking by this time , finally attuned most probable options: such as where to seek employment, what to write, and where to look for like minded.

At 6 and beyond the differences in the various options become almost indistinguishable between possibilities and most probable courses of action, unless, he were able or willing to take an existential leap.

 Such a leap, is not without at least some degree of evaluation, as far as the new vista of becoming opens up with new possibilities and corresponding capacities, with degrees of inherent risk.

For those reasons,I would think, for most, probable actions would be more descriptive as a springboard or a starting point, depending on whether the person is a risk taker, or not.

What might be a probable narrative for one may only be a possible narrative for another. But then something in their life changes [again, new experiences, new relationships, new ways of thinking about things] and the narrative becomes increasingly more probable.

There are so many [maybe too many] variables to factor into something like this. All I can do is to note how, based on my own experiences, relationships, points of view encountered, this narrative seems reasonable to me. Here and now. But I would never argue that something like this can be calculated objectively. But then that’s my point.

I’m not sure, Ambig, if that final stage is just for some. We all reach a point where our set of beliefs is pretty much established and rest on our chosen assumptions that, in turn, float on thin air. It is this floating on thin air, the nihilistic perspective, that allows us to perpetuate our individual ideological praxis since the only thing that could change or undermine our assumptions is another assumption that actually had a firm grounding. And I have yet to see such a thing. This why most debates (such as abortion or economic policy) always work their way down to an impasse of assumptions such we had with Von Rivers. Complimentary of your narrative, we were dealing with someone who had come up in an environment that brought him to believe that there was an objective basis to beauty (for instance, the notion that the choice of the young girl over the hag was necessarily universal) or ethics (our general revulsion at throwing acid on a woman’s face). But as we tried to argue, his conclusion was more a matter of sensibility than fact. But then our response also came down to a sensibility that rested on certain assumptions. Where as Von Rivers probably could not intuit the disconnect between facts and value statements, we could in some vague sense -at least vague in my case.

But at least his endgame was noble and benign. Where this gets scary is the potential for sociopathic extremes such as with Rand who got to the point where she talked about facts so much and had such a faith in them that she could no longer distinguish between making factual statements and speculative ones such as her assertions about Capitalism.

We should also note here that recent research in mind science suggests that there may even be a physiological basis for our belief systems.

Still, these ideological comfort zones would seem to make it imperative (for sake of the integrity of our process) to at least try to stretch out of them and get some sense of what is going on in other zones. It wouldn’t serve us to approach the other as a 1 or 2 dimensional being -even if we’re always finding ourselves, and falling, at the impossible point of differends.

What always concerns me most about objectivism is the extent to which objectivists then pursue their “objective truth” as authoritarians – at least with respect to moral and political values.

What can we know factually [know factually] about the world around us and when can we only use particular facts [that we can know] in order to defend a set of values rooted [at least in part] in dasein and in conflicting goods.

Here von rivers and folks like James Saint seem inclined to agree that objectivism is derived only from an understanding of particular contexts; and that, therefore, are not applicable universally.

But then [to me] both somehow seem to project this sense of certainty regarding any particular moral and political issue – as though not to share their own value was to be irrational [and therefore immoral?]

Saint more or less from the right, rivers more or less from the left.

For me though these perspective are always just existential leaps – subject always to change.

On the other hand, some analysis seems more reasonable than others. I am more able to embrace Marx with respect to capitalism because he grounded it [as a political economy] in the historical evolution of actual human interaction [empirically, materially] over the centuries. Rand, on the other hand, starts with the assumption that rational human interaction can be understood [deduced]philosophically [metaphysically?] and that capitalism was aligned with these assumption – if you shared the very same assumptions she did about it.

Yes, of course, some arguments are simply better than others. I was not arguing for an egalitarian relativity. My only point was that regardless of how good an argument is, it always reaches its limits at the level of the basic assumptions (what Deleuze refers to as presuppositions). And it is this aspect that lends a great deal of credibility to your description and cause for despair since it is the thin air upon which they float that enables the authoritarian element to go right on believing as they do regardless of how good an argument you pose against it. This is because you can never overturn their assumptions since the assumptions you’re working from are also floating on thin air. It can only reduce to an impasse of assumptions or differends.

There was a term you once used having to due with incompatibility of arguments and consequent inability to effect one another: incomiserability -or something like that.

With respect to value judgments [i.e. capitalism vs. socialism] it is [to me] less thin air the arguments/assumptions rest on than the manner in which actual human behaviors can be deemed either good or bad as a component of Barrett’s “conflicting goods” [conflicting bads?]

And regarding the manner in which I construe dasein.

Marx described the actual organic, historical evolution of human social, political and economic interaction [nomadic, slash and burn, hunter and gatherer, feudal, mercantile etc] into the capitalist mode of production. Rand more or less concocted the ideal mode of human interaction in her head and then deduced that capitalism fits the bill.

It is in these two very different modes of analyzing human relationships over the years that I note with respect to “political economy”.

I then make suggestions regarding the limitations of both from the perspective of moral nihilism. But I’m sure there are plenty of limitations here as well.

Exactly. Both systems have become untestable because both have become disengaged. The disengagement is due to rhetoric with different signifiers, one a floating discernment and repetition if one and the other, an outdated analogy toward like minded models.

 The actual way may not obsessively  disclaim  and repeat the basic  underlying  rearward of alienation , only by the call  to action toward actions which  negative the abounding  rhetoric. A reversal  from  positivism forbearing  such  semantic games ; and a revaluedbehaviorist model may be the new  prescriptioni.  Whether, the springboard  from which  to leap has already been reconstructed., is too early  to see.

I have, recently, come to believe that while abstractions, such as Socialism vs. Capitalism, and the component principles involved with them, may be useful for the kind of language games we play here, in matters of social and political policy, we need to take the more pragmatic approach of thinking in terms of concrete policies that we think may work or have proven to do so. Of course, many of those policies might be tagged as being socialistic -that is since Limbaugh generally considers any policy that might actually help people, rather than Capitalists, to be such. But I can’t help but feel that the primary failure of German Social Democrats in post WWI and the failure of France’s present Socialist government are partially the result of coming into it with a lot of abstract notions (such as government ownership of the means of production) only to face depleted resources because they’re generally voted in out of desperation in the face of the failures of Capitalism. This only sets it up for failure out of kind of operationalism.

I fully agree with Ambig’s analysis that gives Marx privilege over Rand. And I’m humbly awed by the point:

“Marx described the actual organic, historical evolution of human social, political and economic interaction [nomadic, slash and burn, hunter and gatherer, feudal, mercantile etc] into the capitalist mode of production. Rand more or less concocted the ideal mode of human interaction in her head and then deduced that capitalism fits the bill.”

At the same time, I would argue that when comes to deciding on what policies to implement, the abstraction of Marx and socialism is such that it needs to be delegated to a kind of ambient background. But by the same token, it should equally so for Capitalism and its Neo Con proponents.

sorry, wrong thread

Which one can translates (in your narrative AND using your narratives terms) as your narrative views them as bad and since you have spend a huge amount of time trying to demonstrate this to others your are pursuing the spread of this narrative as a (rather nice) authority (who makes disclaimers sometimes.) (still within your narrative…) We have no way of knowing if the effects of the objectivists is bad or good, in the specific or as a whole, so the presence of lack of objectivists should each cause concern (if one Believes your narrative) as long as one is aware of the possiblity of objectivists. If I cannot know whether Walking through door A leads me to being carved up in Little pieces or if it will happen if I walk through door B, even if door B is analogous to the effects of the Objectivists on the World (and it where they compel me to walk through, I should be just as concerned about Walking through door A. I have no way of knowing what is good or bad.

Another way to sum up the narrative is

It would be better if everyone stopped using moral terms and just said and fought for what they wanted.

And maybe it would be a better World. Of course ants and wasps are like this, never couching things in moral terms and struggling for what they want.

(not that those examples prove anything and I have no idea who has the burden)

Yes, and we have been over this before. Dasein, conflicting goods and political economy are terms I use to express my own subjective narrative regarding what “I” construe to be the nature of objective narratives made applicable to moral and political values.

Which is just another way of noting the limitations of language in discussing relationships like this. Again, back to Wittgenstein’s, “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.”

But, come on, who is kidding whom? Though we can’t speak of moral and political values objectively, we certainly cannot choose to be silent about them.

Not if we choose to interact WITH others.


But then that is when my narrative brings me back around to this:

There is an aspect of my own frame of mind [moral nihilism] that is particularly troubling for others. And it is troubling for me too: how can I think like I do and interact with others at all? If I am always of the opinion that 1] my own values are rooted in dasein and 2] that there are no objective values “I” can reach, then everytime I make one particular moral/political leap, I am admitting that I might just as well have gone in the other direction instead…Then “I” begins to fracture and fragment to the point there is nothing able to actually keep it together at all. At least not with respect to choosing sides morally and politically.

In my view, it is to avoid this very frame of mind themselves that others tend to resist [many mightily] accepting it as true.

Now, others can then argue that in professing it to be true I am in turn becoming fixated on it [psychologically] in the same manner in which I profess the moral and political objectivists become fixated on their own alleged truths – re this very thread.

But then that just brings us back around to how tricky language can be in attempts [like these] to align words with worlds.

Is there a way around that? Well, none that I have ever come across. Not yet. But in part that is why I still frequent places like this. I mean who really knows what the next post might bring.

Yes, but I addressed that on the mundane babble thread:

[i]What I want is no less embedded in dasein.

Why do I want one thing and not another? Why do I want one thing while others want something else? Why do I think I ought to behave in one manner rather than another? Why do I think I ought to behave in one manner while others think they ought to behave in another manner?

Of course others [who do not share my perspectives on dasein] might imagine I ought to want what they want…that I ought to behave as they behave. Why? Well, because they have come to conclude that what they want and how they behave is the most rational thing that one can want and the most rational manner in which one can behave.

Either way, what we want and how we think we ought to behave will become attached [existentially] to “goods” that come into conflict. Or will if we choose to interact with [around] others.

But how often are folks asked about these relationships so as to prompt/compel them to think about them in the manner in which I do?

If you wish to transcend dasein here the question to ask is: What do I need? Obviously, there are things that we all need in order to sustain our very existence.[/i]

It’s either discuss morality as best we can [subjectively as daseins in a world of conflicting goods and political economy] or live in a might makes right, survival of the fittest, dog eat dog world.

“According to Deleuze, “the mistake of dogmatism is always to fill that which separates, [while] that of empiricism is to leave external what is separated (Difference and Repetition, G. Deleuze)”. In other words, dogmatism posits an extra-worldly realm of essences that falsely unify the diversity of the world, while empiricism falls prey to a nominalistic atomism which treats all beings in terms of an indifferent diversity.” –Levi Bryant: Difference and Giveness.

As luck would have it, this extract from my Deleuze study puts a little shine on the conflicting agendas at work in objectivism -especially as it is practiced by Rand. Starting with latter point on empiricism, it seems to me that the primary limit being described here is empiricism’s obligation to work with isolated systems. And we can say as much as concerns “objectivity” which the objectivists claim to have some kind of firm commitment to. And we can agree with them that there are brute facts in the world that can be observed “objectively”. But what can statements that stay within these perimeters tell us?


Water boils at 212 degrees at atmospheric pressure

And even a relativistic hippy knows better than to step in front of a moving bus

(Not, BTW, that Capitalism is the only system under which individuals can reach their true potential)

Enough said. The problem here is that such statements (based on isolated systems) lack enough span or reach to justify collecting them into some over-riding ideology or “ism”. In this sense, the notion of objectivism becomes a kind of oxymoron. But this, clearly, is a complete blind spot to the objectivists in that they repeatedly fulfill the the previous point on dogmatism by filling in gaps with universal principles that falsely unify reality.

The only narrative I would ascribe to objectivism is that of a badge of authority that gives its practitioners a rationalization for making smug generalizations about reality and doing so as if they are talking about isolated systems that can be demonstrated. One only need look to the sci-fi speculations Rand made about what government intervention would lead to in order to see the hypocrisy she engaged in by calling her system objectivism. As far as I can tell, there was no collection of facts that led to her general conclusions. There was just a knee-jerk reaction to her experiences in Communist Russia and a flight to the other extreme that she then justified by adopting certain buzzwords such as “objectivity” or “facts”. And as impressive as these terms might seem, all she really developed was a dogma that she knew would work to her advantage among rich patrons.

The problem for me is that a lot of people would like to convince you that they started with the facts and worked their way to a conclusion. And they will do so to make seem as if it gives some kind advantage over everyone else. But all it really adds up to is a con job that appeals to doxa: socially programmed responses to socially programmed cues. We would all like to be so above the fray. But as far as I can tell, we all start with experiences (generally of the emotional and anecdotal kind) and dispositions. To act as if one is so special as to bypass or overcome this starting point can only be a form of self deception.

“Which is just another way of noting the limitations of language in discussing relationships like this. Again, back to Wittgenstein’s, “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.””

It would be important to note that even Wittgenstein had to abandon this agenda which, if I understand it right, is how he arrived at the concept of language games. This, in turn, may have been a precursor to Deleuze’s argument that philosophy is a form of conceptual play that involves the creation of new concepts. As you said:

“But, come on, who is kidding whom? Though we can’t speak of moral and political values objectively, we certainly cannot choose to be silent about them.”

Wittgenstein couldn’t do it. The objectivists, as I tried show above, couldn’t. Nor could anyone who wanted to engage in philosophy. It is this human impulse, I believe, that ultimately leads to the self contradiction and hypocrisy that inevitably emerges in anyone who neurotically harps on such terms as objectivity, facts, Truth with a capital T, the scientific method, etc., that is as compared those who choose to simply follow these principles, without flouting them, to make their case. As you know as well as I, ambig, encounters with such people more often than not degrade into debates over the legitimacy of such terms as compared to the legitimacy of the argument itself.

The silly thing about it, to me, is that use of such terms seems a little redundant in that everyone, to some extent or other, defer to these principles since they are generally accepted as legitimate tools by which to build an argument. Take, for instance, the scientific method. Don’t we all, to some degree of formality (including the informal) form our ideas about how things hang together then test them against reality? Then, according to how they hold up, go back to our mental labs and either build on them or revise? And who doesn’t prefer to back their assertions with objective facts when they are available? It’s just how anyone who thinks naturally works. Beyond that, all there is is the question of who the argument works for: the ever present matter of resonance and seduction.

“If error is foreign to philosophy, if it cannot be that which philosophy strives to avoid, this is for no other reason than that philosophy is ill equipped to deliver us denotative truths about reality or the world. Philosophy is not an empirical practice, even among those who call themselves empiricists. It is never a matter of making true or false statements about states of affairs in the world, but rather a practice of creating and critiquing concepts. Philosophical claims pertain not to referential truths but rather to the medium of basic concepts that free a region of experience so that referential judgments might be made at all. Before one can discourse about the world, the sense of the world must have already announced itself.” –Levi Bryant: Difference and Giveness

One of things that is emerging for me in this study is the similarity between philosophy, as a form of conceptual play, and mathematics and even science. In the sense of conceptual play, philosophy, given the armchair discipline it is, must admittedly also work with the isolated systems of the abstractions we create. This, for instance, is why paradox is the field in which philosophy dominates. We use the concepts of space and the way distance breaks down into infinite digress in order to establish why it is Zeno’s arrow will never reach its target. But that doesn’t mean any one of us would go prancing around between an archer and their target. One would think us smart enough to recognize the difference between reality and conceptual play. But at the same time, doesn’t this suggest a similarity between what the mathematician and the philosopher does? Doesn’t the mathematician also play with numbers (quite often (simply for the sake of playing with numbers –that is with no regard to whether what they’re doing actually refers to reality or not? But it is this kind of play, a sort of brainstorming, that can lead to some very real implications.

(At the same time, some of the most dangerous people in this world are those who want to bypass the play, because it doesn’t serve their serious purposes, and get to the real implications. These people want to own reality.)

The last sentence:

“Before one can discourse about the world, the sense of the world must have already announced itself.”

:refers to the initial encounter with the object/event in which, for a split second, we are completely stupid and intuitive. This is the point at which the sensible is bombarded with information but hasn’t quite processed it. At this point, the mind/brain complex starts repeating the different singularities through the different faculties (in a sense similar to Dennett’s multiple draft theory) until it composes them into a coherent concept. At this point, the object/event is being passed back and forth between the sensible and thought. The important thing to recognize here is that, given this process, there is no hierarchy between the sensible (intuition) and thought (concept). There is only a relationship that produces our experience of reality. Our initial encounter with the object/event is naturally creative. This is reflected in language in the way we listen to what the other has to say and base our understanding of it on similar sentences we have heard, then proceed to answer it with a sentence unlike any we have spoken based on previous sentences we have uttered. Our encounters, like the language we use to describe them, are inherently creative.

It just seems like philosophy should reflect that.

And just to give you sense of the connection, Ambig, between my present study and what you’re doing here, to let you know I’m not just arbitrarily importing this stuff:

“Perspective is the structure wherein the subject unfolds and without which it would not be. In this respect, perspective is similar to Heidegger’s being-in-the-world [or Dasein as you like to put it]. Perspective is the inseparability of the subject from its world. In other words, the perspective is not in the subject; rather, the subject is in the perspective.” -Levi Bryant: Difference and Giveness

In this sense, we can see how misconceptions, such as objectivism, can result from assuming the subject/object dichotomy or the failure to recognize the truth of Dasein as you would put it. It is also behind Deleuze’s assertion of the truth of relativity (that is by virtue of the perspective of Dasein) as compared to the relativity of truth (which results from the dogma of the subject/object dichotomy).

That said, I would also note the role played by the moral dimension of repetition (or that which can be perfectly repeated) as pointed out in the original text:

“Moralists sometimes present the categories of Good and Evil in these terms: every time we try to repeat according to nature or as natural beings (repetition of a pleasure, of a past, of a passion) we throw ourselves into a demonic and already damned exercise [difference –my addition] which can only end in despair or boredom. The Good, by contrast, holds out the possibility of repetition, of successful repetition and the spirituality of repetition, because it depends not upon a law of nature but on a law of duty, of which, as moral beings, we cannot be subjects without also being legislators. What is Kant’s ‘highest test’ if not a criterion for what can, in principle, be reproduced –in other words, what can be repeated without contradiction in the form of moral law? The man of duty invented a ‘test’ of repetition; he decided what could be repeated.” -Difference and Repetition, pg. 4

If we really look at what the pseudo-objectivists are trying to do, we see how the moral imperative of perfect repeatability has bled, through a residual effect, into the assertions of those who would make claims concerning their adherence to the criteria of “objectivity”, “facts” (that is when they’re usually talking about data), and the “scientific method”. In effect, what they are asking us to do is to accept their conjectures and speculations based on their almost religious faith in these terms as a kind of moral imperative –much as we are suppose to accept the authority of a priest based on their commitment to Christianity or any religion for that matter.

This is one of the cool things about French philosophy to me: it doesn’t approach the authoritarian element from an us-and-them perspective; it looks, rather, to the core of the human predicament common to us all to find the source of the authoritarian perspective. In this sense, it has never been as important as it is now.

wrong thread – sorry

Why? Because it doesn’t make you the guru? Actually, I think everything I have said is perfectly pertinent:

You offered one narrative of the psychology of objectivism. I offered others via Delueze. And generally when I create strings like this, rather than snub down my nose at the input of others, I consider it my responsibility to bring it back on track.

Frankly, Ambig, I’m a little repulsed by you right now.