Thursday, September 11, 2008

What are the Four Rs?

The Four Rs are Reality, Reason, Rational Self-Interest, and Romanticism. Each represents corresponding branches of philosophy: Metaphysics, Epistemology, Ethics/Politics, and Aesthetics. In this blog I will from time to time examine various topics by applying the principles of these four domains.

Reality (Metaphysics)

The primacy of existence (of reality) is the axiom that existence exists, i.e., that the universe exists independent of consciousness (of any consciousness), that things are what they are, that they possess a specific nature, an identity. The epistemological corollary is the axiom that consciousness is the faculty of perceiving that which exists—and that man gains knowledge of reality by looking outward.1

Reason (Epistemology)

Reason is man’s only means of grasping reality and of acquiring knowledge.2

Reason integrates man’s perceptions by means of forming abstractions or conceptions, thus raising man’s knowledge from the perceptual level, which he shares with animals, to the conceptual level, which he alone can reach. The method which reason employs in this process is logic—and logic is the art of non-contradictory identification.3

Rational Self-Interest (Ethics)

Do you ask what moral obligation I owe to my fellow men? None—except the obligation I owe to myself, to material objects and to all of existence: rationality. I deal with men as my nature and theirs demands: by means of reason. I seek or desire nothing from them except such relations as they care to enter of their own voluntary choice. It is only with their mind that I can deal and only for my own self-interest, when they see that my interest coincides with theirs. When they don’t, I enter no relationship; I let dissenters go their way and I do not swerve from mine. I win by means of nothing but logic and I surrender to nothing but logic. I do not surrender my reason or deal with men who surrender theirs. I have nothing to gain from fools or cowards; I have no benefits to seek from human vices: from stupidity, dishonesty or fear. The only value men can offer me is the work of their mind. When I disagree with a rational man, I let reality be our final arbiter; if I am right, he will learn; if I am wrong, I will; one of us will win, but both will profit.4

Romanticism (Aesthetics)

Romantic art is the fuel and the spark plug of a man’s soul; its task is to set a soul on fire and never let it go out.5

Romanticism is the conceptual school of art. It deals, not with the random trivia of the day, but with the timeless, fundamental, universal problems and values of human existence. It does not record or photograph; it creates and projects. It is concerned—in the words of Aristotle—not with things as they are, but with things as they might be and ought to be.6

I have no credentials in philosophy. I'm merely a sincere student, for the purpose of living my life:

Philosophy is a necessity for a rational being: philosophy is the foundation of science, the organizer of man’s mind, the integrator of his knowledge, the programmer of his subconscious, the selector of his values.7

I speak for no one but myself, and I will gladly hear both commendation and condemnation from civilized readers.

1Rand, Ayn. The Metaphysical Versus the Man-Made. Philosophy : Who Needs It. Ayn Rand and Leonard Peikoff. New York: Signet, 1984.

2Rand, Ayn. The Left: Old and New. Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution. Ayn Rand and Peter Schwartz. New York: Plume, 1999.

3Rand, Ayn. Faith and Force: The Destroyers of the Modern World. Philosophy : Who Needs It. Ayn Rand and Leonard Peikoff. New York: Signet, 1984.

4Rand, Ayn. Atlas Shrugged. New York: Dutton Juvenile, 2005.

5Rand, Ayn. Art and Moral Treason. The Romantic Manifesto. Ayn Rand. New York: Signet, 1971.

6Rand, Ayn. Introduction to The Fountainhead. The Objectivist Newsletter, 1962-1966. By Ayn Rand. New York: Second Renaissance Books, 1994.

7Rand, Ayn. From the Horse’s Mouth. Philosophy : Who Needs It?. Ayn Rand and Leonard Peikoff. New York: Signet, 1984.

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