Objectivism Is The Everyman's Philosophy
In the universe, what you see is what you get,
figuring it out for yourself is the way to happiness,
and each person's independence is respected by all
Rand's Philosophy in Her Own Words
- "Metaphysics: Objective Reality" "Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed/Wishing won’t make it so." "The universe exists independent of consciousness"
- "Epistemology: Reason" "You can’t eat your cake and have it, too." "Thinking is man’s only basic virtue"
- "Ethics: Self-interest" "Man is an end in himself." "Man must act for his own rational self-interest" "The purpose of morality is to teach you[...] to enjoy yourself and live"
- "Politics: Capitalism" "Give me liberty or give me death." "If life on earth is [a man's] purpose, he has a right to live as a rational being"
Objectivism Online Chat
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Hi board users, some of you may have noticed that last week I activated a board feature called "Forthcoming calendar events" which you can see at the bottom of the main forum page, in the board statistics area. The way it works is that if there is an event coming up, you can enter it in the board calendar (the link for which is at the top of the page on the right side), and that event will be announced in the "Forthcoming calendar events" area some specified number of days in advance. For instance, OCON 2003 begins in seven days--I entered it as an event on the calendar, and now you can see that event in the "Forthcoming calendar events" area on the main forum page (and click on it for more information). I thought that this would be a good idea to use in conjunction with the "Speakers and Events" forum. Events could be announced through the calendar as well as in that forum, and then further discussion of the events could take place in the forum. It would help remind people of what events are coming up and when, so they can plan to attend if possible (and if they want to). So what do you guys think? Normally, I'm not a fan of opinion polls. But I figured that if no one is going to use it, then I can save space on the main forum page and remove it. It probably won't get a lot of use for a while, since the board doesn't have too many active users yet, but I think in time, as the board grows and more people get involved, it could be a useful feature. So let me know what you think!
Many of you already know me from the conference and/or the OAC. Just thought I'd announce my presence to this forum. And I simply must congratulate David on his websites. Fancy stuff! For those who do not know me, I will be going into my second year at the OAC, and I run the St. John's College Objectivist Club in Annapolis, Maryland. --Daniel Schwartz
Let me clarify some of my remarks made in the Homosexuality thread... (this is not the essay I'm working on) Objectivism teaches us to live life qua man, which implies surviving (staying alive) and living out one's nature. It is my oppinion that "one's nature" has 2 components: the common nature of all humans, and the particular nature which arises from one's own context (I am male, I have ~this~ life experience, I have ~this~ education, etc) As far as the common nature goes, I'd say it is pretty limited, and can be formulated as: "animal with the capability for reason". (it is in our nature to be capable of reason, but not to choose it/use it automatically). Concerning these common traits, I'd like to first examine sexuality. Objectivism holds that proper sexuality is the result of self-esteem, a celebration of the value of the 2 partners. It also states that there's no separation between a proper sexual relationship and a proper romantic one. We are also told that whatever your state is, you can change your mind to fit this pattern. What we're not told is that effort is required, and that this effort depends on one's particular nature. I think we should also consider the posiblity that the effort required by this change might be grater than the gains. I think that it is common human nature to have sexual apetite much in the same way one has digestive appetite. It is a matter of neurotransmitters and hormones levels. The quite common morning erection in men is proof enough of that. Human have sexual apetite even in the absence of a proper mate, or even any mate at all. But, man is integrated: This bodly urge is matched by the psychological desire for sex. (an erection might be automatic, but the desire to "do something about it" is felt consciously). Masturbation can only satisty the bodly need, but not the matching mental one. The proper value for the satisfaction of sexual desires is sex with another person. At this point I'd like to state that my view is that there can be a sexual relationship without any romantic involvment, and that it is proper for a man to engage in such a relationship, depending on the level of his invididual sexual desires. This does NOT mean that I support some kind of mind-body split. It means that I think that romantic relationships imply sex, but sex does not imply romance. The need for sexual pleasure and behaviour and the need for romance and visibility are 2 different needs, with 2 very different values and coresponding virtues. Saying that one should only have sex with his romantic partner is saying that one should only eat the best restaurant food available. (the value obtained from sustainance is different from the value obtained from a sophisticated dish that might have no nutricious value). It is great when all of one's sexual needs are satisfied in a romantic relationship, but I'm not sure that that's possible for all humans (variety is pleasurable in itself, for some). Also, non-romantic sex si a self-esteem minus ONLY is one holds ethical views which condemn it. Ancient greece is a proper example of non-romantic sex which even gave a self-esteem plus. If my philosophy tells me that satisfying my natural needs for sexual behaviour is virtuous, then I will grain esteem by acting our my values. Another issue, marginally related to sexuality, which i'd like to discuss is "gender roles". Ayn Rand, particularly, was a big supporter of traditional gender roles. This is not so much as a result of cultural indoctrination but perhaps more of her individual preference for BDSM and "power exchange" practices. We are all familliar with her (in)famous rape scenes and the way she describes sex between her characters. Unfortunatelly, she doesn't provide, and CAN'T provide, a reasonable justification for idealizing man total physical domination and brutal sex acts. The woman is supposed to be a rational producer in her professional life, a proper moralist and judge of character, a good capitalist and romantic artist, but when it comes to her romatic relationship, she is supposed to "worship" her man, and expect to be "valued". She is allowed to "just feel", the poor thing, while a "real man" has to take charge and dominate the couple. A big blunder is also Ayn Rand's essay in which she states that no real woman would ever want to be president. That's so ludicrous that I'm not even going to go into it. She also describes relationships are requiring unauthenticity and denial. (the scene in which Rearden is depressed, but he forced himself into hiding it from Dagny). There is no clear distinction made between wanting to reach a mental place, and acknoleding that you're not there yet, and not faking it, especially in front of your most intimate relationship. I'd like to stress, again, that this is achievable, but that each person's effort to achieve it is dependent on his/her own context, and that this might not be desirable for a vast majority of the population. (namely, those who aren't into domination, DBSM or power exchange). Let us focus next on Contextuality, Effort and Specialization. The point that I'm trying to make is that what Ayn Rand identified as being "ideal" might not be "ideal for you", since your nature has an individual component. Let us stick to the area of sexuality. If for example, due to some early childhood experince, Joe has a strong sexual prefference for dominiring women. According to Ayn Rand, it is immoral for Joe to desire to be dominated by women, therefore he ought to abstain from sex, and attend therapy to address this issue. In this context, I'd like to say that, the objectivist romantic ideal is not Joe's ideal. Why should he deny himself sexually, and spend much money in therapy trying to fix something that might not even be fixable, instead of finding a proper woman for his needs? Therefore, Joe should live life "qua Joe", because living "qua man" tell us only so much before we have to face individual "quirks". The same reasoning can be applied to homosexuality, or any other activity between consenting adults. Even IF it is "fixable", why fix it? In some cases, the advantages would overweight the costs, but it some it wouldn't. As far as identifying and exploring one's individual nature, one's personality, Objectivism does a poor job. We're not taught to explore and accept outselves as a "work in progress". Instead, we are taught to abstain from "evil" at all costs. (yes, I do consider that some evil is universal, like socialism, and some evil is personal, like denying one's identity in the name of another person's ideal). We are not all John Galts. He has his own personality, and a very unrealistic one. Ayn Rand reduced John Galt to the common nature of all men, adding sparcely some individuality according to her own preferences. While some of his characteristics are admirable, that doesn't mean that they will also work for all of us. Perhaps living so many years as a unskilled worked during the day, and as a scientist in your own lab at night, while keeping an eye on Dagny for years, might work for him, it sound pretty shallow to me, and certainly not living "qua man". Don't take me wrong... survival (as staying alive) and economic prosperity have priority, because they form the base of life, but as far as one's psyche is concerned, we should introspect more, and think of sollution and ideals that work for us, and that are reasonable. And I don't mean introspection like thinking about how to imitate John Galt, but on sincerly examining one's self, for the sake of knowledge, not in the name of the obsession for change. Our primary obligation is to reality, not to Ayn Rand, as right as she is on some topics. Returning to pleasure, the initial target of this post, I think that all pleasure is part of the individual context. Each person has its own individual view of what's pleasurable and what's painful, physically and mentally. Of course there's a lot in common for most people, but that doesn't mean we must generalize. Objectivism holds that one ought to enjoy one's own rational decisions, and one's pride and virtues and so forth. That is all good and fine, but does it cover all of man's sensorial and sensual experiences? I think not. A platinum dress will provide pleasure and excitement for Ayn Rand's characters in "Penthouse Legend", but will certainly scare most people. Are most people sick and in need of therapy because they don't enjoy a particular "sense-of-life" (sense-of-sexuality, in this case)? Some pleasure can be orthogonal in relation to survival and some pleasure can be anti-survival. Deciding if to abstain from it it's a matter of context. A gains-loses analysis. Not to annoy you, I'll keep my comments on the nature of evil, for another post/essay. I am sincerly and openly waiting your replies.
I'm sure most of you are already aware of this event. I was just wondering if anyone here will be attending. It would be good to meet some of you in person.