I wasn't going to write this post because I feared being torn down for bragging. I thought about this fear and realized that it is an irrational fear, and one that I think has to do with my childhood and my peers tearing me down and teasing me about bragging every time I presented them with useful information.
The main motivation for me to post this is because of Stef's call in show this weekend. I didn't realize that even after 920 that he would still have such a problem getting people motivated to help spread the word. I understand as much as anyone how frightening it is to approach this subject with other people. I realize how safe it feels just talking on this board and keeping your dark anarchist secret to yourself. But, you and I know that eventually you will have to let the truth out. I am taking it a few steps at a time, because I don't think I am emotionally ready to handle the possibility of almost everyone in my life rejecting me and in turn me having to reject them. I post this to help other listeners take the step of personalizing this philosophy, and to show one of many methods that are possible when approaching friends and family on this subject.
Here is the first step I have taken to opening up this conversation to people in my life. I have e-mailed my best friend and ultimately ended up buying a copy of UPB. We are going to discuss it when I fly back for Christmas, and I'll update you about the outcome. Also, I wrote this to him before 920, so after re-reading this e-mail there are things I should have said a little differently.
From me, to him:
I mentioned a couple e-mails ago that I am no longer an Objectivist. I am sure you are curious, but am also sure you were afraid to ask why, because of what has happened in the past when you and I discuss philosophical ideas. We disagree on the fundamental area of ethics, due to your thought that ethics are subjective and society based (moral relativism) and my thought that ethics are objective and can be applied to every individual universally. I admit that I originally went about discussing these ideas in the wrong way. Instead of questioning and being genuinely curious about your criticisms of my newfound ideas, I just asserted my ideas and shut down. I can see now why you responded so emotionally to our discussions. I think this was due to me not having sufficient philosophical knowledge to properly debate ideas. I was also so swept up in the ideas I was reading, that I became what I now refer to as a randroid (Objectivist n00b, with the spit and fire of Ayn Rand).
Objectivism didn't quite hit the nail on the head when it came to a rational proof of ethics. I still think it is one of the most important philosophies ever developed, but am not about to go around as a card carrying member of it any longer. Over the past year my girlfriend and I have been examining problems with the logical construction of Objectivist ethics and have finally figured out the fatal flaws of the Objectivist system of ethics. I won't go into detail here about that right now. That's a topic for later discussion.
At one time I remember you were interested in philosophy. Knowing what you know about mathematic proofs, philosophy and the scientific method, I wondered if you would be interested, or have the time, to read a philosophical proof that I found that convinced me that there are universal rational and secular ethics. I can get this book to you in regular book format, PDF or audiobook, whatever you prefer. It's a shorter read than most philosophical books, but still requires quite a bit of focus.
I think I've reached a level where you and I can discuss ideas without offending each other, even if ultimately you and I draw separate conclusions about ethics. I think we'd relate even better now since I am more interested than ever in a critical look at all ideas (as long as they are based in observable reality).
I'd like to present something to you to pique your interest a bit more in this subject. Below is a link to a video by the philosopher that developed the ethical proof I am talking about. If you have 22 minutes some night to watch it, please do. It's kind of hard to watch because it touches on the subject of the current war, so be forewarned. The subject here very much relates to the rational proof he has constructed.
Take your time considering these ideas. When/if you are ready to read the proof for ethics, let me know and I'll get you a copy.
Yes, I'm an idealist and will probably never see what I think is right come fully into existence in my lifetime. However, I do think that the ideas I have come across are so important and need to be considered by rational, analytical, active minded people, like you.
You are right, I was very curious when you said you were no longer an Objectivist and I chose not to ask about it for the reasons you list. I appreciate you giving me a second chance at discussing philosophy. I want you to know that although I have not always seen eye to eye with you on philosophical and political issues, I do very much respect the amount of thought, research and logical reasoning you put into forming your ideas.
I am interested in reading the book you mention on the proof of universal rational and secular ethics. If you could send me the pdf, that would be great. Honestly, I have lost most of my former general interest in philosophy. I suspect this is due to the fact that my job is to daily spend hours carefully analyzing technical mathematical proofs. Unfortunately, this means thinking critically about non-math things isn’t as fun for me as it used to be. That being said, I will do my best to read through the book that you send me.
After he sent that reply I promptly purchased a copy of UPB and sent it to him.
In other good news, a libertarian friend of mine quickly converted to anarchist when I presented him with these ideas. He was already on the verge so it was pretty easy (he's a bit of survivalist and very anti-government due to his bad experience in the military). Now the challenge will be to see if he applies it to his personal relationships.