Racism is one of the most mis-understood concepts I hear in U.S. politics. I often see the term used as a tool to discredit the “other side”. The fact that this tactic works most of the time is clear evidence that racism has become so obtuse of a term that even professional politicians struggle with its meaning. My intent in writing about it here is to:
Reduce actual racism by understanding what it is and why it is irrational
Reduce “fake” racism by understanding what it is and why it is irrational
First, let’s define what I mean by racism:
Racism is the belief that an individual’s choices and actions are somehow pre-determined by their ancestral lineage. (Remembering from the Lexicon)
Racism is collectivism. Where a collectivist believes that individual men may be judged by what group they belong to, a racist contributes to collectivism by identifying how the group is assigned. Consider how a racist vs an individualist make moral judgments:
Observe that collectivism and racism are both irrational because morality does not exist without choice. No healthy person is born without the ability to choose right/wrong. Only an individualist point of view can systematically recognizes that you are sovereign and responsible for the choices you make and the resulting consequences.
Earn is a term that I hear frequently but seldom hear it used properly.
Earning means to acquire and deserve by your own effort. Earning applies to many things – including judgment from others and material value. Some examples:
I earn my wife’s affection by investing effort into the correct things that I know will grow our relationship
I earn my salary by trading my time and ability for dollars with my employer
I earn ridicule when I try to make a point but my effort was not spent researching the correct subject matter (the effort was not productive)
Earn can be reduced as follows:
Easy enough, right?
Now, what is it that allows me to deserve what I earn? This is where mistakes are usually made. Most folks adopt either an individualists or a collectivists point of view. Review individualism vs collectivism here.
An individualist believes they deserve what they acquire when (1) they themselves choose to put forth the effort and (2) they themselves put forth the actual effort. By contrast, a collectivist believes they deserve what they acquire when they belong to a group entitled to what was acquired.
Understanding the individualist perspective of earning is critical to answering some of the most important moral questions:
Do I earn my salary (individualism) or do I deserve it (collectivism)?
Do I earn credit for only my own ideas (individualism) or do I deserve credit for the ideas of others (collectivism)?
Do I make choices to earn love from others (individualism) or do I deserve to be loved unconditionally (collectivism)?
Think about these for yourself. I encourage my audience to honestly re-consider where you may have accepted a collectivist viewpoint.
The purpose of thinking is to obtain knowledge of reality and drive actions most appropriate for your survival and happiness. Thinking is important because it connects the answers to questions most crucial for human survival: “what is real”, “how do you know” and “what should you do” . Moreover, human beings are unique because our minds are capable reasoning. Human beings possess free will and may leverage any process we choose on our quest for knowledge. However reason is the only process that results in a mental grasp of the facts of reality.
The guide below illustrates how to apply reason step-by-step. This process is what most people call “thinking”:
Reality is what it is – this is where you start
You perceive reality with your senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell, etc.)
Definitions exist at your conceptual level, concepts are formed when your mind retains specific aspects of what you perceived through your senses
Thinking identifies essential relationships between concepts; logic is used here to identify and resolve contradictions when they are discovered
Knowledge drives judgments; once you know something then you can judge whether it is good or bad
Judgment influences decisions, which ultimately motivate you to action
What kind of creature is man? If you are reading this, the answer drives everything that is important to you.
For example consider the activity of learning. The Oxford dictionary defines learning as “the acquisition of knowledge or skills through study, experience, or being taught”. While the definition certainly captures key points about what learning is, it does not identify why learning is important to human beings or provide guidance on how to human beings learn correctly. Understanding what it means to be “man”, provides the missing groundwork required to answer these why and how questions correctly.
I predict that software engineers in the ML/AI space will eventually bring Ayn Rand’s epistemology to the mainstream.
Technology has sustained a high standard of living through the industrial revolution and information age however existentialism, pragmatism, and logical analysis are not schools of thought that can solve the problems associated with thinking machines.
This is the first time in human history where a short-term incentive is available to anyone who can understand a theory of concepts that holds up in the real world. Machine learning and artificial intelligence tie a huge profit potential with understanding, implementing, and scaling such a theory of concepts.
Ayn Rand is the only significant thinker of the late 20th and early 21st centuries to offers a concrete epistemological solution.
Devotees of Sartre, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Ayer, Moore, Frege, Russell, James, Quine, and Peirce (whether they know they are or not) will turn into blue collar workers over time as a post-information age comes to be.
After some careful thought I came up with a definition of faith this past weekend:
“Faith is when a human being begins with arbitrary belief over sensory evidence as a basis for concept-formation and integration.”
I have been looking all over the Internet for a proper definition of faith in the context of learning and knowledge. Surprisingly my normal go-to sources have been unsatisfactory. Many definitions included elements of religion, submission, or were otherwise unable to capture the essence of faith. Here is a sample of some other definitions that I found:
“The submission of intellect and will to God.” (Reddit)
“Strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof.” (Oxford)
“A strong belief in a supernatural power or powers that control human destiny.” (WordsAPI)
“Faith is the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not.” Hebrews 11:1 (St. Paul)
“Faith is confidence or trust in a particular system of religious belief.” (Wikipedia)
Understanding Faith By Reduction
Clearly faith is a concept that has multiple meanings depending on the perspective of the individual defining it. In an attempt to add clarity, I created the reduction below for the concept “faith”.
A reduction is a thought activity that breaks a concept down into its component parts – over and over – for each sub component.
The purpose of reduction is to understand what a concept means by identifying and defining its component parts.
This effectively takes an abstract (or even loosely-defined) concept like faith, and shows how it is relates to more concrete concepts such as: evidence, voluntary, and entity.
To add some Objectivist jargon: reduction analyzes a concept from the top-down while integration develops a concept from the bottom-up.