0610: "Sheeple"

This forum is for the individual discussion thread that goes with each new comic.

Moderators: Moderators General, Prelates, Magistrates

fr00t
Posts: 113
Joined: Wed Jul 15, 2009 11:06 am UTC

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby fr00t » Wed Jul 15, 2009 11:11 am UTC

I realize that xkcd takes an optimistic stance towards humanity, but unfortunately a large portion of the population are glassy-eyed idiots.

Flewellyn
Posts: 109
Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2007 8:41 pm UTC

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Flewellyn » Wed Jul 15, 2009 11:16 am UTC

Whenever Rand comes up, I'm reminded of what Dorothy Parker said about Atlas Shrugged: "This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force."

It's true, too.

User avatar
macronencer
Posts: 80
Joined: Fri Nov 03, 2006 9:57 am UTC

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby macronencer » Wed Jul 15, 2009 11:24 am UTC

Sigh. I knew this would happen when I read the alt text. I think RM miscalculated here because this hornets' nest about Rand is totally unnecessary! The comic would have been equally funny without that reference.
I think those are crocodile tears: you must be in de Nile.

User avatar
Monika
Welcoming Aarvark
Posts: 3673
Joined: Mon Aug 18, 2008 8:03 am UTC
Location: Germany, near Heidelberg
Contact:

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Monika » Wed Jul 15, 2009 11:27 am UTC

Can someone explain the connection between Ayn Rand and the people on the subway? I don't know much about Rand, except that her views are "Reality is real." and "Unlimited capitalism is teh greatest." Neither of which I can connect to the comic.
#xkcd-q on irc.foonetic.net - the LGBTIQQA support channel
Please donate to help these people

funknjam
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Jun 10, 2009 11:13 am UTC

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby funknjam » Wed Jul 15, 2009 11:37 am UTC

We are all at the center of our own universe.

My universe is just better than yours, that's all.

User avatar
atimholt
Posts: 72
Joined: Wed Jul 30, 2008 6:02 am UTC

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby atimholt » Wed Jul 15, 2009 11:40 am UTC

How ironic. I've been thinking of eventually writing a science fiction novel in which a major concept is that there is such a thing as absolute morality, to the point where a sufficiently advanced AI/scientist could formulate it in much the same way as Hari Seldon formulated psychohistory (look it up. Or read). Believe it or not, the purpose of the novel would not be to push this as a philosophy. I would make sure, as best I could, to not preach, and would, (now that I know) make sure not to mention it in contrast to Ayn Rand. But would such non-preachyness be possible? I thought if I give this 'absolute morality' sufficient (but not enormous) broadness, I can avoid a certain air of hypocrisy.
Or perhaps I would keep it as unpublic backstory to those things I do write. One of those character-motivations-not-presented-in-the-narrative things.
Or maybe playing it safe in this way is for sissies. Maybe if I cry loud enough that preaching is not my intent, as Tolkien insisted his works are non-allegorical, people will believe me. After all, I'm sure there are those who look deeply into the philosophical implications of Asimov's psychohistory, but I've never heard of them. Nobody accuses him of preaching whatever the heck psychohistory implies about the human mind.
I'm going to stop rambling now. It's 4:30 in the morning. Guess what I was doing :wink: . Granted, I'd probably still be up at 4:30 AM without my excuse. That's how my sleep cycle has been lately.
[/all da ramblin']
Totally random totally awesome SF quote:
Jorane Sutt put the tips of carefully-manicured fingers together and said, "It's something of a puzzle. In fact--and this is in the strictest confidence--it may be another one of Hari Seldon's crises."

Tenth Speed Writer
Posts: 151
Joined: Wed Oct 03, 2007 11:35 am UTC

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Tenth Speed Writer » Wed Jul 15, 2009 11:51 am UTC

Every single person to read this comic will immediately excuse their self from it.



ALSO: Rand-humpers amuse me, to an infinite degree. Anyone who genuinely believes that the good of humanity lies in selfishness needs to get their head examined. I'll grant, some of her books are rather respectable, but that said..

"I will never live for the sake of another man nor ask another man to live for mine",
in the context in which it is usually presented, sounds absolutely contrary to the very nature of a progressive, unified society. Mankind has more to gain in willingly acting for the good of the community whenever it is reasonable to do so (emphasis: reasonable) than in jumping to either end of the spectrum (philosophical communism v. objectivism).
Civil Engineering Major, University of Alabama.
"Yessir, I reckon 'em 'ere cent'rl s'port beams'll hol' up a'right..."

Mallet über alles!

User avatar
andrewclunn
Posts: 135
Joined: Mon Jun 29, 2009 7:33 pm UTC
Contact:

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby andrewclunn » Wed Jul 15, 2009 12:09 pm UTC

Tenth Speed Writer wrote:Anyone who genuinely believes that the good of humanity lies in selfishness needs to get their head examined.


I hereby submit:
Richard Dawkins http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3494530275568693212

Here he's getting dangerously close to showing that enlightened self-interest is the source of all morality, even though I know he hates Rand with a passion. (I love it when science leads people on the left and right to come to this same conclusion, and then spin it as though they are either disproving or justifying 'altruism.' In the end, reality > personal bias.)
Last edited by andrewclunn on Wed Jul 15, 2009 12:22 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.
I program in languages that would make your motherboard blush.

I also shave with a +2 Occam's razor.

Steroid
Posts: 549
Joined: Wed Mar 26, 2008 10:50 am UTC

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Steroid » Wed Jul 15, 2009 12:12 pm UTC

Image

Maybe this is more like real life, or maybe it's just his view.

In any case, as regards Rand, I don't know that she's right, but I doubt she's any more wrong than, say, communism or religion. And if I had my druthers, I'd much rather live in a Randian or Heinleinian utopia ("Man is an end in himself", "Thou art God.") than in a communistic or religious utopia ("All belong to the state", "You are a child of god.") One person > society, especially if that person is me.

User avatar
BioTube
Posts: 362
Joined: Sat Apr 11, 2009 2:11 am UTC

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby BioTube » Wed Jul 15, 2009 12:20 pm UTC

Rights require a certain degree of altruism; what else keeps the strong from preying on the weak? Division of labor and the resultant specialization reduce the number of men who are truly self-sufficient, yet enrich us all; because of this, we are forced to see the value of other men, concede what we could have by force and have the greater fruits of voluntary trade. To what degree this implies "selfish altruism", I'd say none.
Frédéric Bastiat wrote:Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.

Flewellyn
Posts: 109
Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2007 8:41 pm UTC

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Flewellyn » Wed Jul 15, 2009 12:28 pm UTC

andrewclunn wrote:I hereby submit:
Richard Dawkins http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3494530275568693212

Here he's getting dangerously close to showing that enlightened self-interest is the source of all morality, even though I know he hates Rand with a passion. (I love it when science leads people on the left and right to come to this same conclusion, and then spin it as though they are either disproving or justifying 'altruism.' In the end, reality > personal bias.)


Bit of a stretch to go from "cooperation and mutualism are highly adaptive" to "enlightened self-interest is the source of all morality". You have to make several assumptions along the way, including assuming that a necessary condition equals a sufficient condition, that cooperation and mutualism are always motivated only by self-interest, and that the conscious behavior of sapient, thinking beings is necessarily guided solely by evolutionary mechanisms.

The first is a simple fallacy, the second is highly debatable, and the third gets into "evolutionary psychology", a field which I've noticed has produced a great deal of pseudoscientific twaddle, but little actual science.

User avatar
andrewclunn
Posts: 135
Joined: Mon Jun 29, 2009 7:33 pm UTC
Contact:

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby andrewclunn » Wed Jul 15, 2009 12:41 pm UTC

Flewellyn wrote:... that cooperation and mutualism are always motivated only by self-interest...


Not 'always' but 'should,' or rather that any form that is not must either have unnoticed beneficial results, or it will be self-destructive by nature.
I program in languages that would make your motherboard blush.

I also shave with a +2 Occam's razor.

User avatar
dfjdejulio
Posts: 12
Joined: Wed Dec 19, 2007 8:36 pm UTC
Contact:

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby dfjdejulio » Wed Jul 15, 2009 12:52 pm UTC

Calls to mind the whole "WE ARE ALL INDIVIDUALS!", "I'm not!" exchange from "Life of Brian"...

Flewellyn
Posts: 109
Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2007 8:41 pm UTC

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Flewellyn » Wed Jul 15, 2009 12:55 pm UTC

andrewclunn wrote:Not 'always' but 'should,' or rather that any form that is not must either have unnoticed beneficial results, or it will be self-destructive by nature.


Should why? Are you arguing that self-interest is a deontological good, or are you arguing that it has positive consequences? Please, pick one and stick with it.

User avatar
andrewclunn
Posts: 135
Joined: Mon Jun 29, 2009 7:33 pm UTC
Contact:

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby andrewclunn » Wed Jul 15, 2009 1:01 pm UTC

Flewellyn wrote:
andrewclunn wrote:Not 'always' but 'should,' or rather that any form that is not must either have unnoticed beneficial results, or it will be self-destructive by nature.


Should why? Are you arguing that self-interest is a deontological good, or are you arguing that it has positive consequences? Please, pick one and stick with it.


I don't ascribe to deontology (not a fan of Kant) However, in the way I believe you are intending to state it, I am implying that the two are in fact one and the same.

EDIT - That is to say, that one cannot define an action as having positive results without there being an implicit morality that they are using to define that result as positive.
I program in languages that would make your motherboard blush.

I also shave with a +2 Occam's razor.

User avatar
brian0918
Posts: 40
Joined: Fri Oct 24, 2008 6:51 pm UTC

Re: Sheeple

Postby brian0918 » Wed Jul 15, 2009 1:07 pm UTC

Okita wrote:I find this comic amusing because I live in Boston and have been working in an office with an Ayn Rand conference going on next door for the past week.


I attended that conference last week. Good stuff, although I must confess I was out barhopping more than in the lobby debating topics till 4am. I was expecting a lot of robots but found normal people instead.

Spock really gave reason a bad image.

squig
Posts: 81
Joined: Mon Apr 06, 2009 12:32 pm UTC

Re: Sheeple

Postby squig » Wed Jul 15, 2009 1:09 pm UTC

Amarsir wrote:That's not what everyone on a train is thinking. Have you been to http://www.overheardinnewyork.com/ ? That's what everyone on the train is thinking.

(Warning: Reading that site can potentially lead to a TVTropes level of immersion.


Damn, I just wasted an hour...

Flewellyn
Posts: 109
Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2007 8:41 pm UTC

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Flewellyn » Wed Jul 15, 2009 1:13 pm UTC

andrewclunn wrote:I don't ascribe to deontology (not a fan of Kant) However, in the way I believe you are intending to state it, I am implying that the two are in fact one and the same.

EDIT - That is to say, that one cannot define an action as having positive results without there being an implicit morality that they are using to define that result as positive.


Alright, that's fine. But how do you get from "there's an implicit morality" to "that morality is necessarily acting in one's own self-interest"? How, in short, do you justify Rand?

User avatar
radtea
Posts: 137
Joined: Mon Mar 03, 2008 8:57 pm UTC
Contact:

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby radtea » Wed Jul 15, 2009 1:15 pm UTC

Someone wrote:
Are you arguing that self-interest is a deontological good, or are you arguing that it has positive consequences?


Innumeracy for the win!

The only reason there is a "conflict" between deontological and consequentialist approaches to morality is that philosophers are innumerate, particularly with regard to probability.

We value outcomes, but we choose actions.

The relationship between outcome and action is more-or-less tenuous. When the uncertainty in the outcome relative to the action is high, deontology makes sense. When the uncertainty in the outcome relative to the action is low, consequentialism makes sense.

What does not make sense is insisting that one approach or the other must apply in all cases, as if these two complimentary things were somehow in binary opposition.
Coming on Midsummer's Day to a Web Browser Near You: http://www.songsofalbion.com

User avatar
gistick
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue May 19, 2009 7:58 pm UTC
Location: Madison, WI
Contact:

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby gistick » Wed Jul 15, 2009 1:21 pm UTC

Who is Randall Munroe?
-tim Szczykutowicz
maker of "Electron Man" webcomic
www.quarkquark.com/electronman/

User avatar
andrewclunn
Posts: 135
Joined: Mon Jun 29, 2009 7:33 pm UTC
Contact:

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby andrewclunn » Wed Jul 15, 2009 1:23 pm UTC

Flewellyn wrote:how do you get from "there's an implicit morality" to "that morality is necessarily acting in one's own self-interest"? How, in short, do you justify Rand?


Because of natural selection. Moralities that insist on abstraction and oversimplifications of the world can work for a time, but cling to one of these moralities past it's expiration date and you're in for a world of hurt. Rand stated that reality and reason could be used as means of accessing what are valid and invalid moral statements. If I go to shopping center X because it has the lowest prices, that's good for me. If someone else goes to the same shopping center because their parents told them to do so, then they also benefit from the low prices. However, if a new shopping center with better deals opens, I will start shopping there for the better prices. This other person was acting on a simplified rule that worked, but because they had no concept of WHY it worked, they do not realize that it is time to abandon that tradition. Rand does not say that cooperation and helping others is always a bad thing. Quite the contrary. But she states that we must always recognize that the basis for moral cooperation is rational self-interest, or else we can be duped into martyrdom. Was that short and clear enough?
I program in languages that would make your motherboard blush.

I also shave with a +2 Occam's razor.

Flewellyn
Posts: 109
Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2007 8:41 pm UTC

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Flewellyn » Wed Jul 15, 2009 1:29 pm UTC

andrewclunn wrote:Because of natural selection. Moralities that insist on abstraction and oversimplifications of the world can work for a time, but cling to one of these moralities past it's expiration date and you're in for a world of hurt. Rand stated that reality and reason could be used as means of accessing what are valid and invalid moral statements. If I go to shopping center X because it has the lowest prices, that's good for me. If someone else goes to the same shopping center because their parents told them to do so, then they also benefit from the low prices. However, if a new shopping center with better deals opens, I will start shopping there for the better prices. This other person was acting on a simplified rule that worked, but because they had no concept of WHY it worked, they do not realize that it is time to abandon that tradition. Rand does not say that cooperation and helping others is always a bad thing. Quite the contrary. But she states that we must always recognize that the basis for moral cooperation is rational self-interest, or else we can be duped into martyrdom. Was that short and clear enough?


Alright, as far as it goes, but then why do objectivists argue that there is no such thing as altruism, or that the ONLY source of morality is self-interest?

Klvino
Posts: 16
Joined: Mon Mar 30, 2009 1:36 pm UTC

Re: Sheeple

Postby Klvino » Wed Jul 15, 2009 1:37 pm UTC

abstractpotato wrote:I often wonder in public places such as on a train or a waiting room where everyone is just staring silently whether we are all thinking similar things.

I think I might get some odd looks if I actually asked them what they were thinking, though.


It's often much easier to observe their body-language to get an idea of what they're thinking. Like the guy checking out the lady next to him, the guy already having a bad day and is grumpy, the young kid trying to act tough, or the completely oblivious person lacking enough self-awareness to know they're ass is in someone's face.

Everyone is cuckoo for cocoa puffs, it all depends on how you like to eat them.
I have traveled from 1977 to be a member of the unofficial board Council of Elders. Phear M3

Flewellyn
Posts: 109
Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2007 8:41 pm UTC

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Flewellyn » Wed Jul 15, 2009 1:39 pm UTC

radtea wrote:Innumeracy for the win!

The only reason there is a "conflict" between deontological and consequentialist approaches to morality is that philosophers are innumerate, particularly with regard to probability.

We value outcomes, but we choose actions.

The relationship between outcome and action is more-or-less tenuous. When the uncertainty in the outcome relative to the action is high, deontology makes sense. When the uncertainty in the outcome relative to the action is low, consequentialism makes sense.

What does not make sense is insisting that one approach or the other must apply in all cases, as if these two complimentary things were somehow in binary opposition.


Well, now, hold on a darn minute. I didn't say that I thought one approach or the other must apply in all cases.

I said that I thought it was best to stick to one at a time, and not try to use both at the same time. This could otherwise lead to sloppy thinking: if you assert an action is good because it leads to positive consequences AND because it's good in and of itself, and the consequences are later demonstrated to be either negative, or a mixed bag, you can fall back on "well, it's still good in and of itself!" I've seen this happen before, where someone made a reasonable consequentialist argument, while still maintaining that they were defending a deontological good, and when the consequentialist argument failed, they just sat on the deontological one. It's assuming the consequent.

The point about probability is an interesting one, and I'd like to hear more about it.

kelvinc
Posts: 35
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 11:24 pm UTC

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby kelvinc » Wed Jul 15, 2009 1:47 pm UTC

Obviously this train needs a blushing journal-writer, preferably in a black hat.

A lot of people think I'm the Rand-reading type, but I've always been averse to anything that resembles more a brick than a book for reading material (unless it has funky pictures).

As for sheeple, I don't really get all that existential or "above it all" when I ride the train. Usually there's at least one pleasant-appearanced female for me to admire from afar, and I have to use a lot of mental energy to make sure I'm not ogling too obviously.

User avatar
andrewclunn
Posts: 135
Joined: Mon Jun 29, 2009 7:33 pm UTC
Contact:

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby andrewclunn » Wed Jul 15, 2009 1:48 pm UTC

Flewellyn wrote:
andrewclunn wrote:Because of natural selection. Moralities that insist on abstraction and oversimplifications of the world can work for a time, but cling to one of these moralities past it's expiration date and you're in for a world of hurt. Rand stated that reality and reason could be used as means of accessing what are valid and invalid moral statements. If I go to shopping center X because it has the lowest prices, that's good for me. If someone else goes to the same shopping center because their parents told them to do so, then they also benefit from the low prices. However, if a new shopping center with better deals opens, I will start shopping there for the better prices. This other person was acting on a simplified rule that worked, but because they had no concept of WHY it worked, they do not realize that it is time to abandon that tradition. Rand does not say that cooperation and helping others is always a bad thing. Quite the contrary. But she states that we must always recognize that the basis for moral cooperation is rational self-interest, or else we can be duped into martyrdom. Was that short and clear enough?


Alright, as far as it goes, but then why do objectivists argue that there is no such thing as altruism, or that the ONLY source of morality is self-interest?


Enlightened Self-interest leads (quite rationally) to honesty, a desire to learn, concern with long-term consequences, and integrity (Similar to, but different from honesty.)

If one is consciously self-interested one is concerned with the truth, both in terms of how the world works and in regard to the words people speak. One requires a valid standard by which to judge reality, so curiosity about the world naturally follows. There's also something to be said for honesty being in one's self-interest, but I assume that we've all heard of the boy who cried wolf. To say that honesty is the best policy might indeed be a heuristic, as there are in fact certain cases where it pays to lie, but these are by far the exception, not the rule, and if one is concerned with the long term consequences of their actions, then even more so. And when one is consciously aware that they are indeed living for their own happiness, there is no need to misrepresent their motives. To an Objectivist, telling you spouse that you love them because they have a strong work ethic, keep their promises and are upfront and honest when they disagree with you is NOT a cold deconstruction of one's feelings, but a fiercely personal compliment, making clear one's admiration for another. We are in fact, much more wary of individuals who will state that they feel something and can give no reason as to why. Objectivists of course have integrity, because when accused of selfishness, or secretly simply being motivated by it, we state that we make no attempt to hide that it is our motivation. All of Objectivist morality does come from enlightened self-interest, but it is necessary to remember that Objectivist morality is very different from the religiously inspired Humanism that is todays' defacto accepted morality.
I program in languages that would make your motherboard blush.

I also shave with a +2 Occam's razor.

User avatar
MegaChirops
Posts: 11
Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2009 9:35 pm UTC
Location: 4.3 miles from where I wish I was. Most of the time.
Contact:

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby MegaChirops » Wed Jul 15, 2009 2:05 pm UTC

I'd never heard of Timecube before. Looked at it.
Ick. Someone's a bit off... "wisest human"???

As for the comic, I like it.
I've always been surprised when I find someone much like me, but it's starting to happen more frequently as I begin college.
Maybe I'm not so unique...?
Caveat emptor.

I have a reason. It is... just not valid...

DSDM
Posts: 112
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2007 5:14 am UTC

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby DSDM » Wed Jul 15, 2009 2:08 pm UTC

noname wrote:

Alt-text: Hey, what are the odds -- five Ayn Rand fans on the same train! Must be going to a convention.



Not as good as the odds of five pretentious assholes being on the same train.

User avatar
athelas
A Sophisticated Plagiarism Engine
Posts: 584
Joined: Sat Oct 21, 2006 2:37 am UTC

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby athelas » Wed Jul 15, 2009 2:15 pm UTC

...or the odds of a group of people thinking "Haha, he made fun of that OTHER school of thought. We are so much better than them!" Tribalism knows no bounds.

User avatar
BlueNight
Posts: 270
Joined: Sat Aug 18, 2007 3:59 am UTC
Location: Albuquerque
Contact:

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby BlueNight » Wed Jul 15, 2009 2:17 pm UTC

fr00t wrote:I realize that xkcd takes an optimistic stance towards humanity, but unfortunately a large portion of the population are glassy-eyed idiots.


But a surprisingly smaller portion than you might think. You simply encounter most people outside their sphere of mastery.

I, for example, write batch files very well, can use every feature of Irfanview, and can resize monochrome image files for best printing results. This is not a skill widely called for, and yet as a large document copyist (blueprints and such), I can turn your badly-formatted wrongly-scaled .pdf into a top-notch plot, or I can scan five hundred 24"x36" pages, sort them by which document they belong to, and archive them into 80 unique multipage .pdfs, and document them in an Excel spreadsheet formatted to be imported into your database program, all in only two days.

Yet ask me to repair a car, and I literally would not know where to start.
---------
BlueNight

Flewellyn
Posts: 109
Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2007 8:41 pm UTC

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Flewellyn » Wed Jul 15, 2009 2:24 pm UTC

andrewclunn wrote:Enlightened Self-interest leads (quite rationally) to honesty, a desire to learn, concern with long-term consequences, and integrity (Similar to, but different from honesty.)

If one is consciously self-interested one is concerned with the truth, both in terms of how the world works and in regard to the words people speak. One requires a valid standard by which to judge reality, so curiosity about the world naturally follows. There's also something to be said for honesty being in one's self-interest, but I assume that we've all heard of the boy who cried wolf. To say that honesty is the best policy might indeed be a heuristic, as there are in fact certain cases where it pays to lie, but these are by far the exception, not the rule, and if one is concerned with the long term consequences of their actions, then even more so. And when one is consciously aware that they are indeed living for their own happiness, there is no need to misrepresent their motives. To an Objectivist, telling you spouse that you love them because they have a strong work ethic, keep their promises and are upfront and honest when they disagree with you is NOT a cold deconstruction of one's feelings, but a fiercely personal compliment, making clear one's admiration for another. We are in fact, much more wary of individuals who will state that they feel something and can give no reason as to why. Objectivists of course have integrity, because when accused of selfishness, or secretly simply being motivated by it, we state that we make no attempt to hide that it is our motivation. All of Objectivist morality does come from enlightened self-interest, but it is necessary to remember that Objectivist morality is very different from the religiously inspired Humanism that is todays' defacto accepted morality.


See, here's the problem I have: you're describing a form of rationalism, which is alright, but HOW does self-interest lead to this rationalism?

What do you use as the metric for whether self-interest is enlightened, or blindly malevolent?

User avatar
BlueNight
Posts: 270
Joined: Sat Aug 18, 2007 3:59 am UTC
Location: Albuquerque
Contact:

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby BlueNight » Wed Jul 15, 2009 2:30 pm UTC

Flewellyn wrote:But how do you get from "there's an implicit morality" to "that morality is necessarily acting in one's own self-interest"? How, in short, do you justify Rand?


In my opinion, when people hear that Ayn Rand thinks of selfishness as the highest good, they're thinking of the short-term, petty selfishness that the word "selfishness" ordinarily connotes.

However, the selfishness she lauds is more along the lines of the two little children dividing a piece of cake. One child carefully and methodically does his very best to make absolutely certain the two pieces are as precisely even as he can possibly make them... because he knows the other child will then pick the piece he perceives as biggest. Thus, selfishness enhances the common good.

An altruist would cut the cake unevenly on purpose, and then feel self-satisfaction at having ceded a larger portion to another unselfishly... quite unaware that his self-satisfaction is his larger piece of pie, his own reward. As long as he doesn't grumble, both benefit. And yet this is more selfish, because then he can hold it over the one who received the larger piece as a moral debt to be repaid at a later time, when at that time it will benefit him instead of the other.
---------
BlueNight

User avatar
Sprocket
Seymour
Posts: 5951
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 6:04 pm UTC
Location: impaled on Beck's boney hips.
Contact:

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Sprocket » Wed Jul 15, 2009 2:32 pm UTC

This kind of thing is exactly my main problem with Geeks. Regular people think they're better than everyone else, smarter than everyone else, more aware than everyone else, but Geeks, whom SHOULD know better, do the exact same thing to a far more irritating degree.
"She’s a free spirit, a wind-rider, she’s at one with nature, and walks with the kodama eidolons”
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Zohar wrote: Down with the hipster binary! It's a SPECTRUM!

Milna
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Jul 15, 2009 2:33 pm UTC

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Milna » Wed Jul 15, 2009 2:35 pm UTC

I was going to sign up just to make a comment on this post, but now its got so philosophical I don't think I'll bother

User avatar
athelas
A Sophisticated Plagiarism Engine
Posts: 584
Joined: Sat Oct 21, 2006 2:37 am UTC

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby athelas » Wed Jul 15, 2009 2:36 pm UTC

What I've come to realize is that Randall has a certain agenda, or bias. He wants to become known as the "cool nerd," particularly among the SWPL set. As a result, he frequently puts down aspects of nerdiness that do not correspond with the polite, politically-correct sensibilities of that group. (See, for example, this comic, which is factually incorrect but sounds much more soothing than mere truth could ever be).

This is nothing terribly ominous - trying to ingratiate yourself to a demographic is something that many authors and politicians do. But it does mean that we cannot expect Randall to ever say anything politically incorrect, for example by acknowledging that if you're a nerd, people are stupider than you probably realize (because you pick your friends based on how well you relate, and are therefore biased by being around mostly bright people all day).

Again, Randal's agenda is nothing sinister, but realizing that he has one is a little odd, kind of like growing up and realizing that Aslan is
Spoiler:
Jesus.

peterchen
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Mar 14, 2008 7:16 am UTC

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby peterchen » Wed Jul 15, 2009 2:42 pm UTC

Monika wrote:Can someone explain the connection between Ayn Rand and the people on the subway? I don't know much about Rand, except that her views are "Reality is real." and "Unlimited capitalism is teh greatest." Neither of which I can connect to the comic.


Central to her reality is that mankind is divided into a few Last Rands Standing, many Government and Union Leeches, and a few billions of Sheeple.

peterchen
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Mar 14, 2008 7:16 am UTC

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby peterchen » Wed Jul 15, 2009 2:46 pm UTC

athelas wrote:What I've come to realize is that Randall has a certain agenda, or bias. He wants to become known as the "cool nerd," particularly among the SWPL set. As a result, he frequently puts down aspects of nerdiness that do not correspond with the polite, politically-correct sensibilities of that group. [...]


Or maybe Randall is a Person with his own Opinion?

User avatar
brian0918
Posts: 40
Joined: Fri Oct 24, 2008 6:51 pm UTC

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby brian0918 » Wed Jul 15, 2009 2:50 pm UTC

andrewclunn wrote:Enlightened Self-interest leads (quite rationally) to honesty, a desire to learn, concern with long-term consequences, and integrity (Similar to, but different from honesty.)

If one is consciously self-interested one is concerned with the truth, both in terms of how the world works and in regard to the words people speak. One requires a valid standard by which to judge reality, so curiosity about the world naturally follows. There's also something to be said for honesty being in one's self-interest, but I assume that we've all heard of the boy who cried wolf. To say that honesty is the best policy might indeed be a heuristic, as there are in fact certain cases where it pays to lie, but these are by far the exception, not the rule, and if one is concerned with the long term consequences of their actions, then even more so. And when one is consciously aware that they are indeed living for their own happiness, there is no need to misrepresent their motives. To an Objectivist, telling you spouse that you love them because they have a strong work ethic, keep their promises and are upfront and honest when they disagree with you is NOT a cold deconstruction of one's feelings, but a fiercely personal compliment, making clear one's admiration for another. We are in fact, much more wary of individuals who will state that they feel something and can give no reason as to why. Objectivists of course have integrity, because when accused of selfishness, or secretly simply being motivated by it, we state that we make no attempt to hide that it is our motivation. All of Objectivist morality does come from enlightened self-interest, but it is necessary to remember that Objectivist morality is very different from the religiously inspired Humanism that is todays' defacto accepted morality.


I'm sorry but have you read any of Rand's non-fiction? You're arguing for morality from appeals to truth, honesty, and other virtues, and from a practical standpoint (don't want to become a martyr!). This is similar to those who argue for capitalism because "it works" rather than because it upholds individual rights. None of this constitutes an actual grounding for rational self-interest - which is in the nature of a man and the requirements for his survival. Yours is an appeal to emotion, and the only result of this discussion (provided your opponents dissect your responses thoroughly enough) is to present and destroy a straw man version of Objectivism.
Last edited by brian0918 on Wed Jul 15, 2009 3:02 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
3amFriday
Posts: 3
Joined: Sun Jun 17, 2007 1:08 am UTC
Contact:

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby 3amFriday » Wed Jul 15, 2009 2:54 pm UTC

Interesting so many Boston T riders responded to this comic. Maybe we look more lifeless than users of other transit systems?

What I think when I ride the T: "All these people are going to work (and they don't look happy about it). I'm not! Wooo!"

chrth
Posts: 140
Joined: Tue Mar 17, 2009 4:54 pm UTC

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby chrth » Wed Jul 15, 2009 3:11 pm UTC

I think the comic is simply saying that too many people forget this:

Image


Return to “Individual XKCD Comic Threads”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 35 guests