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lepetitcadien

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  1. Thank you very much for your replies -- I appreciate it! And I think I have a better understanding now of my initial experience with an Objectivist. One of you asked, "Are you familiar with Rand's philosophic principles." I have done some research into her principles, and I agree with her on the primacy of logic and materialism; I don't agree with laissez-faire capitalism, as I support capitalism with government oversight, else I fear corporations might run amok. I primarily disagree with Rand on the nature of absolute truth. I don't think we can really know if there is an absolute truth; in fact, I don't think we can ever really know anything for certain. In short, I'm a skeptic, fearful that the data we receive through our senses may be unknowingly flawed, and thus, how can we ever know anything for certain? I do believe, however, that on a practical level we must act as though we do know for certain (else we'd never accomplish anything). The whole "virtue of selfishness" thing sends up red flags with me. Every time I've heard an Objectivist receive a question about this, they seem to say "Oh, Rand didn't really mean 'selfishness,' she meant 'enlightened self interest'" -- which if true makes me think Rand didn't do herself any favors by titling her book "The Virtue of Selfishness," because the title only fosters misunderstanding.
  2. I am not an Objectivist, but I was first introduced to Objectivism in college many years ago because my roommate was an Objectivist. Some of the things he told me about Objectivism appalled me at the time and have influenced my view of Objectivism ever since. I am now wondering, however, if perhaps this is not unfair -- that is, perhaps my roommate simply did not understand Objectivism very well, and thus did it a disservice in his presentation of it to me. I give you some more salient examples of what I remember about him and his interpretation of Objectivism: My roommate once became very upset with me for listening to Carl Orff's classical work "Carmina Burana" because the poems on which Orff based this work were written by Monks. Hence, my roommate claimed, the work was contaminated by religion. It did no good for me to explain to my roommate that the monks in question were not very religious monks, and that most of their poems were about sex, gambling, and drinking. My roommate was fascinated with the painter Vermeer, the only painter he ever discussed. I later learned about Rand's own fascination with Vermeer. Similarly, my roommate was fascinated with Rachmaninoff, the only classical composer to whom I ever heard him listen. I later learned about Rand's own fascination with Rachmaninoff. My roommate insisted that opinions do not exist; that only facts exist. I pointed to a painting in our room, and asked "Suppose I think this is a well executed painting, and you, the Objectivist, do not? Would that not prove that opinions exist, since we both had our own distinct and contrary opinion of the painting?" No, he replied, for if we did engage in such a disagreement about the painting in question, and if he as an Objectivist viewed the painting as poorly executed, then it would be a matter of fact that the painting was poorly executed; whereas my contrary view would not only be wrong, it would not even count as an "opinion," because, again, opinion does not exist. If I had to boil down my query here, it would be: Was my roommate reasonable in his emulation of Rand and in his rejection of anything he viewed as tainted even remotely by religion, and was he reasonable to assert that opinions do not exist? Or had he merely gone overboard in his admiration of Rand and/or gone astray in his understanding of Objectivism? And, ultimately, did he misrepresent Objectivism to me in these (admittedly few) examples of his behavior?
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