The Rational Egoist

Welcome to my blog. My name is Steve Giardina. I consider myself to be a student of the philosophy of Objectivism, and these are my many thoughts. Feel free to leave comments, as well as your opinions.

"In the name of the best within you, do not sacrifice this world to those who are its worst. In the name of the values that keep you alive, do not let your vision of man be distorted by the ugly, the cowardly, the mindless in those who have never achieved his title. Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it's yours. But to win it requires your total dedication and a total break with the world of your past, with the doctrine that man is a sacrificial animal who exists for the pleasure of others. Fight for the value of your person. Fight for the virtue of your pride. Fight for the essence of that which is man: for his sovereign rational mind. Fight with the radiant certainty and the absolute rectitude of knowing that yours is the Morality of Life." Ayn Rand


The Music of Sousa [About Me] — Steve Giardina @ 3:11 pm

I love the music of John Philip Sousa. His marches are filled with an optomistic and upbeat, distinctly American sense of life that is not matched anywhere else. From Stars and Stripes Forever to The Washington Post and Semper Fidelis, all of his marches are filled with the idea that man is great, and his deserved posture is not the humble kneeling of man to God, but an upright and proud posture.

I first discovered the music of Sousa after reading a review of Sousa’s music in The Intellectual Activist. Sometime after, I picked up Sousa Marches: Stirring Marches of the USA Services This CD contains 12 of Sousa’s most famous marches, along with 11 famous military marches that were inspired by Sousa’s unique style. Tracks include The Stars and Stripes Forever, The Washington Post, The Invincible Eagle, Semper Fidelis, Anchors Aweigh, The Army Air Corps (Wild Blue Yonder), and many more.

For anyone who is strongly patriotic and greatly admires the fundamental principles of America, as I do, I highly recommend the music of John Philip Sousa. Unlike the majority of music that is out there today, the music of Sousa embodies everything that is great about the United States of America in the best marches that I have ever heard in my life.

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My Classes So Far [About Me] — Steve Giardina @ 4:20 pm

I have now attended the first lectures in each of my five classes that I am taking this semester at Drew. So far, I am moderately pleased.

I thoroughly enjoy the teaching of Professor Lee the most, who is the professor of the history of ancient and medieval philosophy course that I am currently taking. His best attributes in teaching are that he welcomes the challenging of the philosophies we are being taught, he presents the philosophies in an objective, unbiased manner, and he is a very friendly and amicable professor.

I was very surprised by my professor of comparative political systems. His first lecture centered on the process of concept formation and how political science uses an exact method to integrate a number of practical systems into theoretical abstractions. I was very surprised by the intelligence this professor possesses and was even more suprised to discover a firm epistemological base in his thinking.

My political ideologies professor was a big dissapointment however. His communication was chaotic and unclear, his organization of ideas was quite lacking, and his intelligence and objectivity seemed non-existent. Seems like I will not be attending too many of his lectures.

Overall however, at this point in time, I am more satisfied with my education here at Drew than I was in my first year, especially the first semester. I was extremely dissapointed with the lackluster quality of education I received from my first 4 classes here: my freshman seminar on city governments, introduction to statistics, introduction to sociology, and introduction to philosophy. But now it appears as though the education is improving.

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Back at College [About Me] — Steve Giardina @ 4:08 pm

I am back at college! After spending roughly 3 and a half months at home away from my centralized education of philosophy and political science, I am back at Drew University eagerly awaiting the beginning of my second year of education here. This year I will be taking a total of 7 courses: Philosophy of Language, History of Ancient and Medieval Philosophy, Introduction to Logic, Comparative Political Systems, Political Ideologies; and two courses with the Objectivist Academic Center: Introduction to Philosophy and Introduction to Writing.

In addition to these courses I hope to be a part of at least three extracurricular activities including the Drew University Philosophical Society, the Drew Wind Ensemble, and the Drew Chess Club.

As you can see, I will be quite busy this semester. I am unsure at this point how demanding my schedule will be. I hope to continue to post regularly as I have throughout the summer. However, if at any point the work really starts to pile on, I may be unable to continue with posts for a while.

On a positive note however, now that I am back at Drew, I will have A LOT of topics to dissect and examine as I learn them in the course of my education here. Time permitting, this should result in more posts than previously in the summer. As I said before, the key factor will be the amount of time I have to write.

Keep checking back here regularly, feel free to leave your opinions, comments, questions, etc.; and feel free to put some money in my tip jar!

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Rational Egoism [About Me] — Steve Giardina @ 2:08 pm

Since I refer to this blog as The Rational Egoist, I thought I’d take some time to explain what a rational egoist is.

Reason is the faculty that identifies and integrates what man perceives through sense data. First, one’s sense organs receive sense data, which is then integrated by the process of concept-formation. While the process of perceiving reality through sense data is automatic, the process of concept-formation is not, but rather it is volitional. This means that one has the ability to choose to integrate one’s sense data to the best of their ability or to choose to evade the integration of one’s sense data to the best of their ability. If the choice is made to integrate one’s sense data to the best of one’s ability, a specific method is required for achieving that integration, which is: logic. Logic is the art of non-contradictory identification. Through the use of logic, one can properly integrate their sense data into concepts and thus achieve knowledge of the facts of reality.

According to Objectivism, based on the nature of a human being, reason is the only means of knowledge. This means, that reason is a value to human beings. According to Ayn Rand, a value is that which one acts to gain and/or keep. Translated into action, a virtue is the action by which one gains and keeps a value. In the words of Ayn Rand,

The virtue of Rationality means the recognition and acceptance of reason as one’s only source of knowledge, one’s only judge of values and one’s only guide to action. It means one’s total commitment to a state of full, conscious awareness, to the maintenance of a full mental focus in all issues, in all choices, in all of one’s waking hours. It means a commitment to the fullest perception of reality within one’s power and to the constant, active expansion of one’s perception, i.e., of one’s knowledge. It means a commitment to the reality of one’s own existence, i.e., to the principle that all of one’s goals, values and actions take place in reality and, therefore, that one must never place any value or consideration whatsoever above one’s perception of reality. It means a commitment to the principle that all of one’s convictions, values, goals, desires and actions must be based on, derived from, chosen and validated by a process of thought—as precise and scrupulous a process of thought, directed by as ruthlessly strict an application of logic, as one’s fullest capacity permits. It means one’s acceptance of the responsibility of forming one’s own judgments and of living by the work of one’s own mind (which is the virtue of Independence). It means that one must never sacrifice one’s convictions to the opinions or wishes of others (which is the virtue of Integrity)—that one must never attempt to fake reality in any manner (which is the virtue of Honesty)—that one must never seek or grant the unearned and undeserved, neither in matter nor in spirit (which is the virtue of Justice). It means that one must never desire effects without causes, and that one must never enact a cause without assuming full responsibility for its effects-that one must never act like a zombie, i.e., without knowing one’s own purposes and motives-that one must never make any decisions, form any convictions or seek any values out of context, i.e., apart from or against the total, integrated sum of one’s knowledge—and, above all, that one must never seek to get away with contradictions. It means the rejection of any form of mysticism, i.e., any claim to some nonsensory, nonrational, nondefinable, supernatural source.

The concept of egoism denotes a philosophy that says that every man should be the moral beneficiary of his own actions by acting in his own self-interest. However, what exactly is in one’s self-interest and how one is to judge what is in one’s self-interest? Philosophers have given different criteria for determining exactly what is in one’s own self-interest, which has resulted in two different “forms” of egoism that advocate different criteria of self-interest: those philosophies that advocate whim (subjective feelings) and those philosophies which advocate reason. According to the egoistic philosophies that advocate whim as the criterion of self-interest, an action is in one’s own self-interest if one feels it to be so; whereas, according to the egoistic philosophies that advocate reason as the criterion of self-interest, an action is moral (in one’s own self-interest) if it is objectively demonstrated by reason to be moral.

While both the whim-oriented and reason-oriented egoistic philosophies claim to advocate the proper criterion for what is in the self-interest of the individual, there is only one proper criterion, and that is reason: the identification and integration of reality. In order to determine what is in one’s own self-interest, one must properly identify the facts of reality and then take the correct course of action according to the method of logic. Only a philosophy that strictly adheres to this principle can properly allow an individual to act in his own self-interest. This philosophy is rational egoism, as advocated by Objectivism.

Thus, I refer to myself as The Rational Egoist because I recognize that reason is the only means to knowledge for a human being, egoism is the only proper ethical philosophy, and the strictest use of reason is required to correctly follow egoism.

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The Star Trek Universe [About Me] — Steve Giardina @ 1:34 pm

I am a major fan of many of the Star Trek series, especially Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager. What I really enjoy about these series is how they illustrate the efficacy of man’s mind. In the Star Trek Universe, the human race has developed the means to travel vast distances in space, where their primary mission is to “seek out new life” and to “boldy go where no man has gone before.” During their adventures, they meet and interact with thousands of different civilizations and encounter a number of problems which, in every episode, work to solve. The key to the majority of these episodes is the intelligence and reason used to come up with solutions to some very complicated problems which almost always have a very scientific nature.

Also, the Star Trek Universe displays an extremely optomistic future, where reason and intelligence reign supreme, and which the quality of life for human beings, as well as many other species, is quite high.

There are some negatives about the series though, but I do not think they make too much of an impact. One such negative is what’s called The Prime Directive which states that no starship captain may interfere with another culture. However, I find it promising that most of the starship captains of these series violated that stupid directive constantly, especially Captain Janeway of the Star Trek: Voyager series. Another negative about the series is the sometimes evident logic vs. emotion dichotomy which can be seen in the species, the Vulcans. The Vulcans repress their emotions because they believe in logic above all. This false dichotomy has been present in almost all of the series at some point, but it was present the most in the original Star Trek series, (which I do not really like), in which the character of Spock embodied this false dichotomy.

Also, most of the Star Trek movies have left much to be desired. I specifically do not enjoy most of the movies with the original crew in it. My favorite Star Trek movie by far is Star Trek: First Contact, in which the Borg (which I will comment on shortly) attempt to assimilate Earth by traveling back in time.

These negatives however are not usually present all that often.

As to the Borg, I believe that they are one of the best enemies in fiction that I have ever seen. The Borg are a collection of thousands of different species which have been assimilated into one collective consciousness. The Borg advocate the “perfection” of the unified whole, the collective, the group, and they continue to assimilate more and more species in the attempt to reach that perfect unified whole. The Borg believe in the elimination of the individual into a collective, and they are brutally ruthless in doing so. They assimilate hundreds of entire worlds and become stronger and stronger. They are extremely powerful, as in a two-parter episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, where one Borg cube (a ship) destroyed about 40 Federation ships (the Federation is a large group of peaceful worlds that combine their exploration and defense capabilities, and at the heart of the Federation is the human race). The Borg originated in the Star Trek: Next Generation series and have had a lot of encounters with Star Trek captains ever since.

The main reason why I think the Borg represent such a good enemy is because they represent the three major evil philosophies in mankind’s history: mysticism, collectivism, and altruism.

For all these reasons and many more, I love the Star Trek Universe (despite the few occasinal flaws). You can find repeats of Star Trek: The Next Generation on TNN, and you can find repeats of Star Trek: Voyager in syndication (it is on UPN Saturday night at 7 around here).

The Star Trek Universe illustrates the efficacy of man’s mind, the supremacy of reason and science, and the potential of man’s greatness. A great story indeed.

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Great Music - Great Art [About Me] — Steve Giardina @ 2:49 pm

I’d like to recommend to all of you some amazing music that I have recently come across. As some of you may know, my primary interest in music lies with classical music, and the work of John Williams, the composer. I have recently acquired 6 CDs which I believe to be quite good: Classical Thunder Vol. I, II, and III, John Williams Greatest Hits 1969-1999, Summon the Heroes: John Williams, and 25 Thunderous Classics. Tracks include Wagner: Ride of the Valkyries, Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition: The Great Gate at Kiev, Copland: Fanfare for the Common Man, Bizet: Carmen Suite No. 1: Les toreadors, the conclusion to Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, Saint-Saens: Samson et Dalila: Air et Danse bacchanale, Tchaikovsky: Marche Slave, Star Wars Main Title, E.T. Flying Theme, Olympic Fanfare and Theme, Empire of the Sun: Cadillac of the Skies, Saving Private Ryan: Hymn to the Fallen, Superman Theme, Summon the Heroes, and so many more.

I started listening to these CDs last night, which is when I got them, and I have been hooked ever since. John Williams is an absolutely amazing composer. I can not describe with words the experience which is listening to his music. The vast majority of his music paints a world of amazing heroism, happiness, and exalted joy. Even in movies that are absolutely terrible (such as Jurassic Park), his music leaves me with the feeling of the world being an amazing place, with human possibility for greatness as limitless.

Art is a re-creation of reality, it is the result of what an artist believes to be metaphysically important. A piece of art is the concretization of a view of existence. Since existence is so very vast, and the medium through which it is being expressed is so small (a piece of art), choosing what one contains in that art is a pain-staking process of determining what is the most important to man’s existence. Important does not necessarily mean good or bad, but rather, what is metaphysically important to man’s life. Art that displays only the evil demonstrates that the evil is what is important in man’s existence, that it is the normal, and rarely overcome. Art that displays the good and the evil recognizes that both exist in man’s life, but not that they both have to exist in equal amounts and that the good can triumph over the evil. Art that displays only the good in man’s life says that life is a wonderful and joyous experience and it is the good which is metaphysically important, rather than man being doomed to evil or man having to constantly struggle to beat a powerful evil.

Art provides an amazing function for man’s consciousness, in that it allows him to guide his subconscious and everyday decisions by the perceptual concrete of a work of art. If one tried to philosophically examine every single action of one’s life, one would not be able to function properly. One would not be able to sit down and examine every subconscious action to philosophical clarity. Art however, allows a human being’s consciousness to retain a perceptual concrete of what the proper course of action is, what is important in man’s existence, what is the good, what is the evil, etc. Art, therefore, serves as an amazing tool of man’s consciousness, and consequently, an excellent tool of survival. The purpose of art therefore, when one holds human life to be the standard of value, is to integrate an entire philosophy into a whole, an image, such as that of Howard Roark. Art does this not in order to “explain” but rather to concretize an entire view of life into a perceptual concrete for the purpose of man’s life.

A piece of art work which displays only the evil, or the tragic, is saying that that is what is important to man’s existence; which is what the majority of a man’s existence is comprised. A piece of art work which displays only the evil, or the tragic, does not give one a perceptual concrete from which to guide one’s actions, but rather an image of horror to flee from, which translates into the good not being an actual good, but rather the escape from evil, which is the norm in human existence.

A piece of art work which displays the good overcoming the evil, or the good alone, is saying that the good is what is important to man’s existence; that the normal condition of human life is the good. Such art provides that crtical tool for man’s consciousness in guiding his action and living his life successfully: the perceptual concrete of what the good is comprised. In terms of music, the world of John Williams provides this beautifully.

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The Rational Egoist [About Me] — Steve Giardina @ 1:41 pm

Welcome to the new blog of the Rational Egoist! My name is Steve Giardina and I am a student of Objectivism. The purpose of this blog will be to demonstrate many of my thoughts on numerous topics such as current events, philosophy and political science in general, and especially Objectivism.

Now for a brief description of myself:

I am currently a sophomore at Drew University where I am a double major in Philosophy and Political Science.
I read numerous books about philosophy and political science, write frequently, listen to heroic and epic music which depicts man’s greatness as it can and ought to be, play chess, play the trumpet occasionally, and anything else with the purpose of mental and/or physical growth.
My favorite philosopher is Ayn Rand, with secondary philosophers that I like being Aristotle, Locke, and Aquinas. My favorite composer is John Williams. My favorite activity is living life.
I am an individual. I enjoy to think critically about everything (as one should). I live for myself, not for anyone else. My existence is the sole justification for my living, not sacrificing my life to others. I do not blindly accept the standards of others (conformists); nor do I blindy reject the standards of others (non-conformists). I am an individual because my standards for living are based on my own objectively defined standards.
Reality is knowable, certainty is possible, human beings are not innately evil/depraved, and the entire universe is open to human possibility.

I leave my introduction with this quote:

“In the name of the best within you, do not sacrifice this world to those who are its worst. In the name of the values that keep you alive, do not let your vision of man be distorted by the ugly, the cowardly, the mindless in those who have never achieved his title. Do not lose your knowledge that man’s proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it’s yours.” Ayn Rand

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