Saturday, February 21, 2009

Objectivism's Benefit for Me #2

In my last post I indicated that my new world view contained no more unknowables. So, it probably should have occurred to me that since I no longer had to deal with a partially unknowable universe, I no longer needed the mental process of believing things to be true on faith, I could now enjoy the comfort of knowing something to be true or false based on at least some evidence.

But this did not occur to me. As I continued to study Objectivism I learned that I had adopted from the culture around me certain conceptual confusions. Two of these stood as barriers to my clear understanding of this knowable world: the difference between knowing vs believing and faith vs confidence.

For now, I'll just focus on knowing vs believing even though a precise understanding of faith vs confidence is also involved.

To know something to be true in a knowable reality, there must be at least some evidence for it in that reality. For example, I see the table, touch the table, put my glass on the table. The table exists. I don't believe the table exists. I know it does. To know something then requires evidence. Believing on faith does not require evidence.

Yet despite this clear identification, I still hear people using the terms interchangeably as if they meant the same thing. For example, 'I know the planets revolve around the sun', 'I believe the planets revolve around the sun.' But this shouldn't be so. Words have meanings. Objectivism holds that reality is very precise. This means then that our knowledge of reality, to be true, that is, correspond to reality, must therefore also be precise. So if I'm dealing with a precisely knowable reality, it makes no sense to adopt a method of thinking that includes believing on faith. To do so would be to ignore reality. Ignoring reality for any organism is suicidal.

So I have spent the better part of recent years identifying then purging beliefs from my world view. I now try to deal only with knowledge that can be placed in file folders labeled 'possible', 'probable' or 'certain' all of which require evidence.

Objectivism benefit #2 then is a mental process of reason devoted to knowing reality. Let me add that it's been my experience that the more one uses one's mind to understand reality, the better at it one becomes and that provides its own comfort zone known as self confidence. Thoughts on that in the next post.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Some Benefits of Objectivism for Me

I have decided to occasionally post on how the philosophy of Objectivism by Ayn Rand has improved my life and provided a certain peace of mind. This is not meant to be an in-depth analysis of philosophic principles, but only a brief mention of how some of them have helped me personally.

Perhaps the biggest thing it did was give me a complete, wholly integrated view of existence and my place in it as a human being. Everyone needs an overall view of reality. For most people, including me, this was provided by religion. But for me, religion left too many things that didn't make sense.

One of these was the idea of the unknowable, that which cannot be known. Now I had been raised Catholic and attended a catholic school. Some of the teachings were that god, heaven, hell and things in between were unknowable to us in this world. These and other teachings had to be accepted on faith. We would learn or understand them only when we left this world.

Objectivism taught me that while there is much in the universe that is unknown, there is nothing that is unknowable. The idea that all of existence is knowable and man's mind is capable of understanding any part of it, appealed to me. It made sense. It offered me a world view that was a sensible whole, a frame of reference against which I could clearly see my relationship to it.

Religion offered a world view that had too many unknowables. It was a frame of reference against which I could not clearly know my place in it. How can a person identify relationships between himself and things that are unknowable, i.e. can't be identified? Obviously one can't. To me its like a house with holes in it, but holes that cannot be patched, but which one can understand the why of this only when one steps out of the house and no longer needs it. This I rejected after I learned of Objectivism.

For me, there is a peace of mind that comes with knowing my place in reality rather than having to believe in one on faith. In fact this will be the subject of my next post: the difference between knowing something to be true and believing something on faith and why the former is much more satisfying.

So, benefit #1: no more unknowables.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Updating the Update

I know I just did a blogroll update on the 31st of Jan but no sooner than I posted it I learned of a new site called 'simply capitalism' which I recommend.

I'm also adding another science site 'Climate Audit' hosted by Steve McIntyre. Mr. McIntyre gained fame when he and Ross McKitrick exposed the nonsense that was the 'hockey stick' that the IPCC used to show unprecedented warming. This site is for those who like the nitty gritty of climate science.

Update Feb 11th 09:
I'm have trbl keeping up with new blogs. I just learned that the Ayn Rand Center now has its own blog "Voices for Reason" and it should have postings from an Objectivist perspective every day.