The Politically Incorrect Show - 07/07/1999
Music - Die Fledermaus
Good afternoon, Kaya Oraaa & welcome to the Politically Incorrect Show on the free speech network, Radio Pacific, for Wednesday July 7, proudly sponsored by Tuariki Tobacco Ltd, the show that says bugger the politicians & bureaucrats & all the other bossyboot busybodies who try to run our lives with our money; that stands tall for free enterprise, achievement, profit, & excellence, against the state-worshippers in our midst; that stands above all for the most sacred thing in the universe, the liberty of the human individual.
Music up, music down!
Yesterday most of you who called told me you wouldn't vote for a political party that had the word "Christian" in its name. In the wider discussion that flowed, one of you, knowing me to be an atheist, made the astute observation that I seemed to expend a lot of breath talking in "absolutes," and wondered how an atheist could do that - i.e., if there's no God to dispense commandments from on high, how can I or anyone talk with any assurance of "right" & "wrong"? If there's no God, surely everything is just a matter of opinion, & we cannot pronounce judgement on anything? Or as Dostoevsky put it, "If God is dead, everything is permitted." (A VERY politically correct point of view!) Now I was asked this question just a few seconds before a live news cross, so I promised to answer it today. I should say at once that a full answer to a question like this cannot be given in a few sentences on talkback radio. I should say also that the view I am giving here is not original to me - it is part of the philosophy called Objectivism, founded by Ayn Rand, to whose works I'll refer you later in the programme.
Objectivism says you cannot get morality from God, since there's no such entity. Objectivism says you equally cannot get morality from personal whims, since, according to Objectivism, morality requires knowledge, & whims do not give you knowledge. Objectivism says you must first ask, why does the issue of morality even come up? It comes up, says Objectivism, because we are not plants, animals, or robots; we are unprogrammed, thinking, choosing, fallible beings - our tool of survival is our mind, which constantly faces alternatives among which it must choose, with the possibility of error every step of the way. Other species are programmed to act in the interests of their survival; man is not. He must discover by his own effort - which he must choose to make - not just the specific actions he needs to take but the general principles he must abstract from those actions for future reference. Those general principles are what we call "morality" - as Ayn Rand put it, "a code of values to guide man's choices & actions." It is reality itself, in other words, that presents man with the need for morality - in the form of the fundamental alternative of life or death - and the means by which to construct it - his rational mind.
Man of course does not have to choose life; he can choose death, in which case morality is irrelevant to him. But if he wants to live, he needs - & by his nature as a thinking being is capable of formulating - a reality-based moral code.
And reality is "absolute." It is what it is, & wishing will not make it something else. If we conclude from our experience of reality that "Human beings should not eat poison if they want to live," that moral imperative is absolute - reality makes it so. But note, God didn't tell us, our whims didn't tell us - we concluded it for ourselves after reflecting on reality. This is as true of the most simple type of example such as the one I just gave as it is of the more complex moral concepts such as "rights."
So in place of a fantasy - God - as the source of morality, Objectivism puts something real - reality itself. In place of God's (or anybody's) whims as the standard of morality, Objectivism puts life - man's life & its requirements. That, incidentally, is why the Objectivist morality is different from all the others - why, as Ayn Rand said, "The purpose of morality is to teach you, not to suffer & die, but to enjoy yourself & live."
But that's another story!
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