Re: MD the ideology of capitalism - the notion of FRH

From: Mark Steven Heyman (
Date: Wed May 18 2005 - 04:36:28 BST

  • Next message: Mark Steven Heyman: "Re: DMB and Me (or, a Typology of the MD), Part I (A)"

    Hi Sam,

    On 17 May 2005 at 12:09, Sam Norton wrote:

    MSH said previously: "...the FRH understands that all humans share a
    common humanity, and that any perceived difference between
    individuals is a cultural illusion".

    sam before:
    So does that mean that the difference between Chomsky and Rand is
    an illusion? The difference between FRH's and non-FRH's is illusory? I
    think you need to spell things out more there.

    msh before:
    There is a difference in the value of Chomsky's FRH ideas versus
    the FRH ideas of Ayn Rand. There is no difference in the value of
    Chomsky's life versus the life of any Randian, or that of any chimp
    or dog or cat or spider or gnat. Most humans tend to believe that
    their lives are more valuable than a cougar's, although a treed
    cougar will not agree. Jingoist Americans believe that the life of
    a single invader GI is worth more than a thousand innocent Iraqi
    lives. My claim is that these beliefs are cultural and biological
    illusions which exist in inverse proportion to an individual's
    level of enlightenment.

    sam now:
    In which case, first of all, you're disagreeing with the moral
    hierarchy of the MoQ. Which seems surprising, as I thought you really
    valued that. Pirsig sees human beings as more valuable than animals

    msh says:
    I know. I disagree with Pirsig here, and have written about this
    before. I've seen no compelling reason to value human animals above
    others. In this respect, I'm closer to Buddhism than RMP. This does
    not of course mean that we shouldn't defend ourselves against an
    attacking dog, or leopard, or germ. But sometimes you eat the bear,
    and sometimes the bear eats you. I see no reason to say one outcome
    is more moral than the other.

    The fact that he sees such value in instrumental terms (ie they
    are the source of valuable ideas) rather than directly (ie human
    beings having value simply by virtue of being human beings as such)
    is something I have a problem with, but I'm surprised that you reject
    his perspective on this, ie that the MoQ is a cultural and biological
    illusion. (grin)

    msh says:
    I think the Moral Hierarchy works fine, even if we grant to other
    animals an equal intrinsic value. I wouldn't mind talking about
    this in another thread, if anyone is interested,

    But lets unpick this element a bit further. You assume a distinction
    between Chomsky and his ideas, and say that it is the ideas which are
    of value, and not the person who bears them.

    No. I say the value of the ideas has no effect on the value of the
    LIFE of the person. There's a difference. Chomsky could suddenly go
    into a tailspin of senility, and start spouting all sorts of venomous
    ideas. Killing him under these conditions would be just as bad as
    killing him at his humanitarian best.

    a) how do you draw a distinction between Chomsky and his ideas? is it
    simply what is communicated to others which is important?

    msh says:
    We can't evaluate his ideas unless he communicates them to us. So we
    evaluate his ideas by what he says, and by what we may infer would be
    the result if his ideas were put into action. We evaluate Chomsky
    the man by what he does.

    b) I thought the point about FRH was the action and activity that
    they undertook. As you put it "If we concentrate on what people DO,
    rather than how they describe what they do, the distinction between
    more and less fully-realized people becomes quite vivid." Here you
    seem to be saying that the ideas are more important than the actions,
    not less.

    msh says:
    I'm not sure what you mean by "here." In the quote above, I'm saying
    nothing more than the old homily "actions speak louder than words."
    Where do I say that ideas are more important than actions?

    c) is it possible to disentangle a person's character from the ideas
    that they hold?

    Sure. As above, character is displayed more by what people do, not
    what they say. Two people claim they hate homosexuals, but only one
    of them murders gay men. How would you describe their
    moral standing in relation to one another?

    Your position consistently seems to be that those who hold low
    quality ideas (IYO) are of low character.

    msh says:
    My position is that some ideas held by some people are of lower
    quality than other ideas, yes. By this I mean that those LQ ideas,
    if implemented, will cause evolution to take a hit. But a person's
    character is determined by what they do, not by what they say. (I'm
    starting to repeat myself. Again. Again.)

    Hence "no fully-realized person would make an attempt to cleverly
    rationalize selfishness". It thus seems axiomatic in your system that
    becoming an FRH entails a certain amount of moral progress, ie the
    development of character.

    Yes. Moral progress is measured by action, not just ideas. The
    attempt to cleverly rationalize selfishness is an action, and
    therefore is fair game in evaluating character.

    Is the difference between Rand and Chomsky purely a question of the
    manipulation of particular symbols, or is there some element of
    'selfishness' or 'altruism' at stake as well?

    Well, I've read the above sentence a dozen times and still don't
    understand the question. There is an IMMENSE difference between
    Rand's ideas and Chomsky's ideas. Their ideas are as different as
    the difference between "me" and "us."

    Onto Gewirth...

    This is a good place to post. Also, I'm stalling because I need to
    do my homework on Gewirth. : -)

    Mark Steven Heyman (msh)

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