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Sir Maxerpopple
Ayn Rand's philosophy of objectivism has been in my bookshelf rather recently. For an english assignment I created this dialogue and it expresses many objectivist ideas. For those who know of objectivism, what are your thoughts on the presentation? For those that do not, this is an intro to reading Atlas Shrugged or The Virtue Of Selfishness. While I do not completely agree with Rand, some of her ideas are rather intriguing. Enjoy.

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Thomas Marzo, a moral objectivist student of the founder of the philosophy, Ayn Rand, and his friend Arthur Zurrich are eating lunch at a sandwich café. There is a charity box on the counter and as Zurrich pays for his food he drops two dollars into the box. As they make their way to a table Marzo starts to question Zurrich about his donation.



Marzo: Arthur why did you put your money into that charity box?

Zurrich: Because it is a nice thing to do, to give to charity.

M: But why do you think it is a nice thing to do? Who says it is a nice thing to do? Where do you come to that conclusion?

Z: Well, I was taught from childhood too give to those in need, when I can.

M: But you live pretty comfortably, you have a nice house, you could give to charity a great deal more than you do. Why don’t you give all your money to charity, to those in need? After all, it seems you have been taught your entire life to give when you can, and you can give all the time, so why don’t you?

Z: I never thought about it that way, but it is not my obligation to give all my money to the poor since I have a life too.

M: That seems rather ethically inconsistent to me, to say “I will give when I feel like it even though I have always been taught to give when I can”. How could you live with such an irrational dichotomy?

Z: What do you mean, “irrational”?

M: Tell me Arthur, what is the purpose of ethics and morals?

Z: To live a good life and make sure things are done fairly, so that we can have a civilized society.

M: I am pleased that you do not stand by the illusion that ethics are of the grace of some god. However, if ethics are designed to keep everyone alive and unexploited, how can you stand by your charity ideas?

Z: I don’t quite understand, please explain.

M: The highest goal you have as human being is to keep yourself alive. It is to serve your needs before others. If you had only enough food for either you or a stranger and one of you would starve without the food, it would be counter-intuitive to give the other person the food. What has he ever done for you? Why should you be obligated to help him?

Z: Well of course I would keep it for myself.

M: Then you understand that ethics is about preserving yourself, which is its purpose. Without ethics, man would die. He would go extinct, because of our intelligence, we require ethics to survive.

Z: I understand that.

M: Then how could you live by an ethical code that says to place the society above you, to die for others. If we all died for others we would all be dead.

Z: But doesn’t the common good, the rights of the multitudes outweigh the rights of the individual?

M: How could you say such a thing! A society is a group of individuals, the individuals have rights, a society is an abstract, it has no rights. And when it comes down to it, your ethical code says to put everyone else ahead of you. If you could save the lives of your town, your ethical code would say that you would be last in line to be saved, that you must sacrifice yourself for others, or even just one person, even if that person has done nothing for you.

Z: But you are saying that if I had a choice of save the human race or save me, I should save me?

M: Not at all. Without the human race you would soon die without their goods to trade. You must understand I am no hedonist. I do not say you should do whatever you want. That is just as subjective as your altruism and cannot function in a world of objective realities, those of life, death, time, and space.

Z: Then what are you proposing?

M: I and others like me propose a society that is free, one where the individual’s rights stand over a stranger’s, where man is not morally obligated to do things he doesn’t want to. Think of a collection plate at a church. If you do not donate, you are looked down upon by your parishioners. If you do donate, you are in essence throwing away money you worked for that you may have wanted to spend on something that would make you happy. Either way, you are unhappy. I think that is unfair, that the moral good and the individual good conflict. I propose a system of rational selfishness, of objective rules to protect man from hedonism but does not bind him to others.

Z: You use the word selfishness proudly.

M: Why? What is wrong with making money? We are capitalists, are we not? Well, I take that back, I am a capitalist, you are not.

Z: We both live in the same society, are you calling me a socialist?

M: Do you feel that the government should create minimum wage laws, social security and welfare programs?

Z: Yes, it helps people.

M: Then yes, you are a socialist. There is no mixed economy; there is only true capitalism, complete laissez-faire, or various degrees of socialism. There is no gray, gray is just pure white that has been tainted by black. It is a degree of black. You are a socialist.

Z: You don’t think helping the poor is a good thing?

M: I hope the poor will make of themselves what they will. It is a good thing for everyone to be able to eat. I object to being forced to help Joe Somebody with the threat of imprisonment even if I don’t want to. The government has only the purpose of protecting the people from violence, not to be a Robin Hood organization.

Z: But the majority of Americans want those programs, aren’t we a democratic society?

M: Need I remind you that the masses have no rights, only the individuals that compose the masses. And I have just as many rights as the rest of America, they can believe what they want but they do not have the right to force it upon me.

Z: So I assume you are also against affirmative action programs?

M: Absolutely, they are racist to everyone. They make minorities look like they need help, and they unfairly oppress me, the white male, for my genetics. That is what racism is, it is no better than a KKK lynch mob.

Z: I understand you ethical position, what is it called? Objectivism, that is right. However I still hold on to my beliefs. I am interested in what you have to say, I find some of your ideas most enlightening, they surely are different.

M: And that is the difference between your ethical code and mine. Altruism would punish you for thinking such things. The altruists associate selfishness with blasphemy. Their inconsistencies abound in that sense. Even if they don’t want to admit it, altruists hold those beliefs. I however do not punish you for your ideas. I accept them, and I judge them, as you judge mine. However I do not condemn you to social isolation for them. If you told your family at the dinner table “I am selfish and proud”, they would look down their noses at you. They will try to belittle you for your beliefs but never directly argue them. It is called an argument from intimidation. In an objectivist family, if you said at the table “I am altruist and proud”, then we would not belittle you for it, we would discuss your ideas with you. Your acceptance and openness to calmly discuss opposing ideas is the first step to you becoming an objectivist.
CommieBastard
Good dialogue smile.gif This is my first introduction into objectivism, I'll have to go and research it some. You explained it pretty clearly, though.
Sir Maxerpopple
For a really good experiance of objectivist ideas I suggest the Fountainhead followed bt Atlas Shrugged. Both are great novels in their own sense, full of emotion.

For a more discourse oriented book, read The Virtue Of Selfishness.
gothictheysay
blink.gif If you don't get an A on that, I'm going to beat up your english teacher...nicely done! Got me thinking.
Thus Spoke Zarathustra
I've always found the objectivist position extremely interesting. It appeals to me in theory, I liked you dialogue because it highlights where in practice maintaining such a position becomes somewhat controversial.

The charity example reminds me of something my teacher proposed to me concerning justice, is it wrong for you to keep a loaf of bread, all to yourself if a starving person asks you for some? In the eyes of the law perhaps you have committed no crime, yet morally many would find your non-action repugnant. A bit of a tangent I know. But objectivism in theory and in practice reminded me of the inconsistincies between moral/justice/law in our society.
Alanity
I'm kind of ashamed to say I haven't read anything by Rand, though some of Neil Peart's lyrics have given me a pretty good introduction to her theories, that was a pretty good introduction to them. I think it could be interesting for Zurrich to try and justify his actions, to take a look at how well the philosophy stands up against a rational counter argument.
Sir Maxerpopple
QUOTE (gothictheysay @ Mar 7 2004, 06:06 PM)
blink.gif If you don't get an A on that, I'm going to beat up your english teacher...nicely done! Got me thinking.

Well then you don't need to beat up the poor fellow!

Hurray for me as of this morning.

/self congratulation laugh.gif
gothictheysay
Yay. (by the way, if you ever feel the need to for no reason, you may beat up MY English teacher.)

I wish we could apply knowledge in english, but it's more like researching and barfing out things we've been taught and read (yes, yes, paraphrased, as if it made a difference. mad.gif )
Tigersong
Excellent dialogue. I disagreed philosophically with everything from "That seems rather ethically inconsistent to me" down, but, hey, you pretty much put Rand's version of objectivism in a nutshell. So, I'd say you did an excellent job with the assignment (even though the altruist in me says the philosophy itself is flawed -- but that's no fault of yours! biggrin.gif ). Congrats on the good mark.
Sir Maxerpopple
QUOTE (gothictheysay @ Mar 23 2004, 10:51 PM)
Yay. (by the way, if you ever feel the need to for no reason, you may beat up MY English teacher.)

I wish we could apply knowledge in english, but it's more like researching and barfing out things we've been taught and read (yes, yes, paraphrased, as if it made a difference. mad.gif )

Unfortunately mine is much the same thing. Being in a spillover class because there were too many students who wanted honors (my high school practices self-selection), I have to spend my time in a class of completely apathetic proles. They don't care about learning, which annoys me. GET OUT OF THE CLASS IF YOU DON'T WANT TO LEARN. We have a very very very lenient teacher due to the spillover, my friends and I get bored. We are thinking of breaking off and creating our own discussion group with the teacher and let the others sort things out themselves(yes our teacher can be good, just not under conditions of mediocrity), it would only be me and maybe 3 other people, only one being a friend of mine. Oh well, easy class, maybe next year I'll get the in depth study of literature I'd like to have.
gothictheysay
QUOTE
GET OUT OF THE CLASS IF YOU DON'T WANT TO LEARN


It's really sad, because all these kids (edit: in my school) could be very well educated. I go to a very respected and very good school, and the high school we go to next year is EXTREMELY good, for example their music program is ranked #7 for the entire country, I believe. But most of the kids don't pay attention and don't even try to learn, and then complain about class and bad grades and have their mommies and daddies come in to persuade the teachers to pass them. These people better start applying themselves or they're hopeless. In almost every class, I'm one of the maximum of ten people who actually contributes. I want to smack these people sometimes.
Sir Maxerpopple
All the more reason to make class attendance voluntary. smile.gif

Those who learn shall learn, and those that prefer to slave shall slave for those who learn. smile.gif
gothictheysay
QUOTE
All the more reason to make class attendance voluntary.


Yeah, I think that's a good idea, but not too young. Maybe starting with high school, otherwise the kids might make uniformed decisions if they're let to (if for some reason their parents don't make them, yes that happens quite often huh.gif) I know for sure most kids in my middle school would not know how to make an educated decision. (bahahaha...because they wouldn't be educated. rolleyes.gif) and an eighth grade education is better than none, to be an added bonus.
Gothymothy girl
That was enlightening. Hey gothictheysay im sorry for being rude before in that other ..place.........stupid posts, you know........please forgive me, gothic. I will bake you a cherry pie.
gothictheysay
QUOTE
I will bake you a cherry pie.


blink.gif you're forgiven, but why not a french silk?

and do you agree with objectivism? I'm so nosy, I always want to know people's opinions. (anyone, feel free to PM me with random opinionated rants. I love it when people make great opinionated speeches with enough backup material. it restores my faith in humankind. laugh.gif
Sir Maxerpopple
QUOTE
and do you agree with objectivism? I'm so nosy, I always want to know people's opinions. (anyone, feel free to PM me with random opinionated rants. I love it when people make great opinionated speeches with enough backup material. it restores my faith in humankind.
I'm not sure if this was meant for me..but anyway now it is.

I agree with objectivism to a point. I feel that if everyone could do it, it'd be great. However since that's never going to happen as people are just to diverse, it is not a greta idea. I don't like to be guilted into giving, that's the only part of objectivism I pratice.
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