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Heinlein vs Rand 
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Post Re: Heinlein vs Rand
BillMullins wrote:
LeonArtO3D wrote:
From all my readings of his works, I do not recall a single act of self sacrifice by any of his heroes.


I take it that you have not read "The Green Hills of Earth", where Rhysling sacrifices himself, or "The Long Watch," or _Time for the Stars_ (Uncle Steve), or _Citizen of the Galaxy_ (Baslim), or any of dozens of other works by Heinlein.

Seriously, are you trolling to stir up a thread?

I believe that Leon is using an unfamiliar definition for "sacrifice:"
Quote:
Sacrifice is the surrender of a higher value to one that is lower.

I think, in this definition, that dying, as long as it is to save something more important (to you) than your life, is not considered a "sacrifice." But then, I may be wrong; I am not always competent in reading philosophy.

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Wed Oct 05, 2011 3:14 pm
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Post Re: Heinlein vs Rand
BillMullins wrote:
LeonArtO3D wrote:
From all my readings of his works, I do not recall a single act of self sacrifice by any of his heroes.


I take it that you have not read "The Green Hills of Earth", where Rhysling sacrifices himself, or "The Long Watch," or _Time for the Stars_ (Uncle Steve), or _Citizen of the Galaxy_ (Baslim), or any of dozens of other works by Heinlein.

Seriously, are you trolling to stir up a thread?


No, not intentionally anyway. Of all the stories you mention, I do not recall how they went nor in some cases reading them at all. Looks like I have some reading and study to do, but you are sure these are cases of self-sacrifice, by definition?

LilLeaguer, you are 100% correct. That is the definition of sacrifice, giving up a higher value for a lower value, or a non-value, otherwise it is not a sacrifice.

I do hope we don't have any RAH aficionados who use words as if they had no definition established. I had understood we all used British/English here, not merely sounds.

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Wed Oct 05, 2011 3:45 pm
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Post Re: Heinlein vs Rand
"Self-sacrifice" is the cardinal virtue of the moral code of altruism, a prerational code of ethics.

""Sacrifice" is the surrender of a greater value for the sake of a lesser one or a nonvalue. Thus, altruism gauges a man's virtue by the degree to which he surrenders, renounces or betrays his values (since help to a stranger or an enemy is regarded as a more virtuous, less "selfish," than help to those one loves). The rational principles of conduct is the exact opposite: always act in accordance with the hierarchy of your values, and never sacrifice a greater value to a lesser one.

This applies to all choices, including one's actions toward other men. It requires that one posses a defined hierarchy of rational values (values chosen and validated by a rational standard). Without such a hierarchy, neither rational conduct nor considered value judgements nor moral choices are possible.

"Sacrifice" does not mean the rejection of the worthless, but of the precious. "Sacrifice" does not mean the rejection of evil for the sake of the good, but of the good for the sake of the evil. "Sacrifice" is the surrender of that which you value for that which you do not...."

a partial quote from Galt's speech, Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand.

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Wed Oct 05, 2011 5:50 pm
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Post Re: Heinlein vs Rand
Oh.

By the non-standard definition of "sacrifice" that is being used here, I'm not sure that the question "Did any Heinlein heroes ever sacrifice?" can be answered. It's too subjective. Lazarus Long's estimation of whether a value is higher or lower may be different from mine, and different from the author's, and different from any other readers.

I think RAH would expect most of his readers to agree, though, that a character giving up his life for that of another, or for an ideal, is sacrifice; and that it can be moving; and that is why he included characters doing that so many times. We know from his story about the hobo in Swope Park that such an act of sacrifice was moving to him personally.


Wed Oct 05, 2011 9:33 pm
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Post Re: Heinlein vs Rand
Words - even English ones - often have many definitions, sometimes conflicting. It's best to be clear about which one you're attaching to any particular loaded term. See "If This Goes On--" You leave my mother out of this! "All I said, in fact, was that you were the legitimate offspring of a legal marriage."


Wed Oct 05, 2011 10:02 pm
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Post Re: Heinlein vs Rand
Excellent points from both of you.

More after I get this first cup of espresso into me.... Beginning to wake up now.

Being an artist myself, like the two of them, and a bit of a philosopher, in the sense that I first consider all things in terms of their basis in reality, ie., their identification, I do look at words in terms of their definition, as contrast to the floating, often contradictory, abstractions of current usage. I learned early-on that many of the weapons used by the enemies of reason, were one's of identity switching, context dropping, etc., what can easily be called "loaded terms." So, I make it my business to try* and use the terms I do in their exact meaning, with my eye on ways that a term is often misused to confuse the gullible. This last consideration, the 'misuse of' terms, kind of sits on the shelf of my mind, and doesn't enter my normal thought pattern unless I get the hunch that someone is trying to pull a fast one on me. All my normal thinking is done with those terms I have already examined and tested, which join the mainstream (which may still contain terms that I have never had need to challenge). I am committed to objectivity, to clarity, to reason, to reality, very much in the terms used by Ayn Rand and often enunciated by Heinlein, though not in as exact terms. Ayn Rand is the leading philosopher of our day, though not yet with the largest following, but surely the most influential in terms of movement... hmmmm I mean, Ayn Rands ideas have influenced more people living today in our culture, than any source except the bible, those ideas are moving our culture in positive ways, and this movement is the largest, most powerful factor in action today. There are large groups of antithetical philosophies in opposition to those ideas but they are impotent, and will be washed away. I give you the Tea Party, who are largely influenced by Ayn Rand as well as by, and in contradiction with, a bunch of bible thumpers. There are many wishful thinkers in this movement (Ron Paul for instance) who believe that the "Sermon On The Mount" can be reconciled with "Who is John Galt". They like Ayn Rand on Capitalism, but choose to ignore that she is an atheist, and to use an analogy, they hold that if you stir it long enough you can get oil and water to stop trying to separate out. I find it fascinating, watching all this unfold, and being able to fairly guess what the future holds. Republican Party changing from the look-alike to the Democratic Party as in days gone past, to a more economically sound basis, and the fight between men of reason and the bible thumpers, later on, and the eventual Democratic Party becoming the look-alike, "me too" Party for a time, then it too changing further, into an intellectually viable, promoter of reason (good sound economic thought including the gold standard) and a moral system without religious overtones (the demise of mysticism).

* I try, but, like my fumbling with the word "identical" far above, I had to go back and edit the sentence, and still have not said what it is I mean there.

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Thu Oct 06, 2011 2:53 am
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Post Re: Heinlein vs Rand
PeterScott wrote:
Words - even English ones - often have many definitions, sometimes conflicting. It's best to be clear about which one you're attaching to any particular loaded term. See "If This Goes On--" You leave my mother out of this! "All I said, in fact, was that you were the legitimate offspring of a legal marriage."


"Semantic content: zero," RAH
One of my favorite and most influential concepts*, acquired from RAH even before I started studying philosophy. In fact, that idea, that words have a measurable value in terms of their referents, was what moved me into philosophy, as such. If you ever do discover Ayn Rand, you'll find she has zeroed in on this idea and expanded it in sound conceptual terms. Try Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, but for pure reading pleasure, sink your teeth into The Fountainhead and then for the creme de la creme, Atlas Shrugged. There's one thing that both authors spoke of, that is identical to my deepest artistic convictions, that a novel should not be just another version of a story told over and over. "Grumbles from the Grave" is loaded with disdain for this type of laziness on the part of artists. Both artists strive to write unique stories, and Ayn Rand is the master. My first reaction to both her main novels was sheer joy at reading something completely new and unslobbered over, and yet was precise and to the point, well thought out. She was dead serious, while RAH was more sternly playful. Consequently, he was faster, like King. Ayn Rand took the time to make her ideas clear (to all but a few neanderthals). It took her ten years to write Atlas Shrugged, while in the same time period RAH was cranking them out like gangbusters. He wasn't struggling to make revolutionary ideas come to life, he was just telling some damn good stories that matched a superb mind, and were delightfully playful in metaphysical terms, without going overboard about it. I had to laugh when the planet that appeared before them had a yellow brick road, and another dimension had some characters from another of his works, and on and on. As I say, DELIGHTFUL!

*I call this, "Intellectual Ammunition."


OK, I'm done fiddling with this post. enough editing LOL. But I will clarify that "non-standard difinition," just not here.

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Thu Oct 06, 2011 6:20 am
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Post Re: Heinlein vs Rand
BillMullins wrote:
Oh.
By the non-standard definition of "sacrifice" that is being used here, I'm not sure that the question "Did any Heinlein heroes ever sacrifice?" can be answered. It's too subjective. Lazarus Long's estimation of whether a value is higher or lower may be different from mine, and different from the author's, and different from any other readers.

I think RAH would expect most of his readers to agree, though, that a character giving up his life for that of another, or for an ideal, is sacrifice; and that it can be moving; and that is why he included characters doing that so many times. We know from his story about the hobo in Swope Park that such an act of sacrifice was moving to him personally.


I agree that the "non-standard definition" was "subjective" because far too many users believed they had the right to make up their own definition to a term that was practically the entire basis of the philosophy of Altruism. Far too much of the English language has been butchered this way. What Ayn Rand did was clear away all the misconceptions about this idea, and thereby making it objective, and in it's original sense. Altruism was always corrupt intellectually, but it was Ayn Rand who blew the lid of that particular trash can. To clarify the point even further, I'll quote the rest of this subject, from where I left off in the post above, quoting from Galts speech in Atlas Shrugged:

"If you exchange a penny for a dollar, it is not a sacrifice; if you exchange a dollar for a penny, it is. If you achieve the career you wanted, after years of struggle, it is not a sacrifice; if you then renounce it for the sake of a rival, it is. If you own a bottle of milk and give it to your starving child, it is not a sacrifice; if you give it to your neighbor's child and let your own child die, it is.

"If you give money to help a friend, it is not a sacrifice. If you give it to a worthless stranger, it is. If you give your friend a sum you can afford, it is not a sacrifice; if you give him money at the cost of your own discomfort, it is only a partial virtue, according to this sort of moral standard; if you give him money at the cost of disaster to yourself - that is the virtue of sacrifice in full.

"If you renounce all personal desires and dedicate your life to those you love, you do not achieve full virtue: you still retain a value of your own, which is your love. If you devote your life to random strangers, it is an act of greater virtue. If you devote your life to serving men you hate - that is the greatest of the virtues you can practice.

"A sacrifice is the surrender of a value. Full sacrifice is the full surrender of all values. If you wish to achieve full virtue, you must seek no gratification in return for your sacrifice, no praise, no love, no admiration, no self-esteem, not even the pride of being virtuous; the faintest trace of any gain dilutes your virtue. If you pursue a course of action that does not taint your life by any joy, that brings you no value in matter, no value in spirit, no gain, no profit, no reward - if you achieve this state of total zero, you have achieved the ideal of moral perfection (according to altruism).

"You are told that moral perfection is impossible to man - and by this standard, it is. You cannot achieve it so long as you live, but the value of your life and of your person is gauged by how closely you succeed in approaching that ideal zero which is death.

"If you start, however, as a passionless blank, as a vegetable seeking to be eaten, with no values to reject and no wishes to renounce, you will not win the crown of sacrifice. It is not a scrafice to renounce the unwanted. It is not a sacrifice to give your life for others, if death is your personal desire. To achieve the virtue of sacrifice, you must want to live, you must love it, you must burn with passion for this earth and for all the splendor it can give you - you must feel the twist of every knife as it slashes away from your reach and drains your love out of your body. It is not mere death that the morality of sacrifice holds out to you as an ideal, but death by slow torture.

"Do not remind me that it pertains only to life on earth. I am concerned with no other. Neither are you.

"If you wish to save the last of your dignity, do not call your best actions a "sacrifice": that term brands you as immoral. If a mother buys food for her hungry child rather than a hat for herself, it is not a sacrifice: she values the child more than the hat; but it is a sacrifice to the kind of mother whose higher value is the hat, who would prefer her child to starve and feeds him only from a sense of duty. If a man dies fighting for his own freedom, it is not a sacrifice: he is not willing to live as a slave; but it is a sacrifice to the kind of man who's willing. If a man refuses to sell his convictions, it is not a sacrifice, unless he is the sort of man who has no convictions.

"Sacrifice could be proper only for those who have nothing to sacrifice - no values, no standards, no judgement - those whose desires are irrational whims, blindly conceived and lightly surrendered. For a man of moral stature, whose desires are born of rational values, sacrifice is the surrender of the right to the wrong, of the good to the evil.

"The creed of sacrifice is a morality for the immoral - a morality that declares its own bankruptcy by confessing that it can't impart to men any personal stake in virtues or values, and that their souls are sewers of depravity, which they must be taught to sacrifice. By its own confession, it is impotent to teach men to be good and can only subject them to constant punishment."


In reading this over I can see where some ideas suggest further clarification. Here is a quote from "The Ethics of Emergencies," VOS, 49; pb 45:

"Concern for the welfare of those one loves is a rational part of one's selfish interest. If a man who is passionately in love with his wife spends a fortune to cure her of a dangerous illness, it would be absurd to claim that he does it as a "sacrifice" for her sake, not his own, and that it makes no difference to him, personally and selfishly, whether she lives or dies.

"" Any action that a man undertakes for the benefit of those he loves is not a sacrifice if, in the hierarchy of his values, in the total context of the choices open to him, it achieves that which is of greatest personal (and rational) importance to him. In the above example, his wife's survival is of greater value to the husband than anything else that his money could buy, it is of greatest importance to his own happiness and, therefore, his action is not a sacrifice.

"But suppose he let her die in order to spend money on saving the lives of ten other women, none of whom meant anything to him - as the ethics of altruism would require. That would be a sacrifice. Here the difference between Objectivism and altruism can be seen most clearly: if sacrifice is the moral principle of action, then that husband should sacrifice his wife for the sake of ten other women. What distinguishes the wife from the ten other? Nothing but her value to the husband who has to make the choice - nothing but the fact that his happiness requires her survival.

The Objectivist ethics would tell him: your highest moral purpose is the achievement of your own happiness, your money is yours, use it to save your wife, that is your moral right and your rational, moral choice."


This last is from "The Soul of a Collectivist" in "For the New Intellectual", 84; pb 73:

"It stands to reason that where there's sacrifice, there's someone collecting sacrificial offerings. Where there's a service, there's someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice, speaks of slaves and masters. And intends to be the master."

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Thu Oct 06, 2011 9:22 am
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Post Re: Heinlein vs Rand
LeonArtO3D wrote:
BillMullins wrote:
LeonArtO3D wrote:
From all my readings of his works, I do not recall a single act of self sacrifice by any of his heroes.


I take it that you have not read "The Green Hills of Earth", where Rhysling sacrifices himself, or "The Long Watch," or _Time for the Stars_ (Uncle Steve), or _Citizen of the Galaxy_ (Baslim), or any of dozens of other works by Heinlein.

Seriously, are you trolling to stir up a thread?


No, not intentionally anyway. Of all the stories you mention, I do not recall how they went nor in some cases reading them at all. Looks like I have some reading and study to do, but you are sure these are cases of self-sacrifice, by definition?

LilLeaguer, you are 100% correct. That is the definition of sacrifice, giving up a higher value for a lower value, or a non-value, otherwise it is not a sacrifice.

I do hope we don't have any RAH aficionados who use words as if they had no definition established. I had understood we all used British/English here, not merely sounds.


From http://www.bing.com/Dictionary/search?q=define+sacrifice&FORM=DTPDIA: Sacrifice: transitive verb give up somebody or something valued: to give up somebody or something important or valued in exchange for somebody or something else that is considered more important or valuable

Your definition (which appears to be from Rand) of "sacrifice" is running counter to my expectations and at least some dictionaries.

I don't claim to know Objectivism. Based only on what you have presented, it looks like a Hegelian antithesis to Altruism, though I'm not aware of Altruism as anything more than a straw man philosophy. My own straw man version of Objectivism is that it is a tautological justification for selfishness. ("Only a chump believes that sacrifice is good. If somebody makes a 'sacrifice,' they really do it because they value the other thing more. That is, people actually do what they value anyway, so a rational person sets his values to line up with what he wants. Then, Bob's your uncle, you have a moral imperative to do what you want to do!")

To refer to RAH, in SiaSL, Jubal lectures Ben on the "meaning" of The Caryatid Carrying a Stone. Heinlein does not use the word "sacrifice," but he does give three human examples of heroism:
  • A father working while dying of cancer.
  • An orphan girl raising her younger children.
  • A switchboard operator dying at her post in a fire.

The operator, at least, appears to be making a Randian sacrifice as well as a dictionary one. Jubal doesn't say, but she may have children and a family of her own, which would be her rational value, but she instead elects to follow her duty to strangers.

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Fri Oct 07, 2011 1:18 pm
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Post Re: Heinlein vs Rand
I suggest you think again. That goes for Bing too.

"that is considered more important or valuable"

Considered by whom and for what? I suppose that Mumbo Jumbo's witchdoctor would have you believe that 'definition' while you are slaughtering your 9 year old daughter on his alters, but I hardly think it appropriate to use the standards of value of a mystic when formulating objective standards of value. If you compare that whole list of usages, the contradiction stands out glaringly obvious. Since contradictions can not exist in reality, it is left as an exercise for the student, to resolve it with vigor. Check your premises.

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Sat Oct 08, 2011 5:25 am
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