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I think I'm a Keating!

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I've tackled Atlas Shrugged, The Virtue of Selfishness, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, and Philosophy: Who Needs it?, and now, acting as AS's opposing fictional bookstop, I'm conquering The Fountainhead. Conquering, however, is an inappropriately brazen term. I'm only reading intermittently, but enjoying it thoroughly.

I find myself constantly comparing myself to the characters in the story, as I did in AS. I realize that each prominent character represents a philosophical analogue, and I am always curious to see how I stack up in comparison. Though while I was hoping to find myself similar to Roark, much to my dismay, I see myself more clearly as Peter Keating. What's worse, I'm seeing (only, at most, 50 pages within the text) the disgusting outcome of his character. Could someone, without providing any plot spoilers, please remove the fictional dressing upon Keating, and explain his philosophical faults? Other than that he derives his own personal value upon the opinions of others. Or is that it? I place a high value upon myself, but I can't help but notice that I also derive a certain value from the opinions of others. Whatever my philosophical fault may be, I know that it is rectifiable, and I only need a bit of knowledge. So what, in essence, is a Keating?

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A Keating is someone who derives his or her values from others. A Keating reads the books everyone is reading, holds the same opinion as the majority around him, and acts so that people will like him/her, etc. But take a deep breath and relax. Rand's Keating is an absraction.

There's nothing wrong in wanting people to like you, as long as you are yourself. It's perfectly normal to want approval. (You'd rather have disapproval?) You can do all those things and still remain honest.

As for being aware of the opinion of others and acting accordingly - that can be okay, too. Years ago, I remembere seeing everyone on the bus/subway reading Harry Potter. It's not a book I'd have picked up myself. However, I became curious and bought a copy simply because I saw everyone reading it. Am I ever glad I did!!!

So - relax. Learn what you can from Rand's characters, but remember they aren't people. They are abstractions. Be the best you can be and stop trying to be a fictional Rand character.

Edited by claire

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So - relax. Learn what you can from Rand's characters, but remember they aren't people. They are abstractions. Be the best you can be and stop trying to be a fictional Rand character.

Yes!! I exalt thee!

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I've tackled Atlas Shrugged, The Virtue of Selfishness, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, and Philosophy: Who Needs it?, and now, acting as AS's opposing fictional bookstop, I'm conquering The Fountainhead. Conquering, however, is an inappropriately brazen term. I'm only reading intermittently, but enjoying it thoroughly.

I find myself constantly comparing myself to the characters in the story, as I did in AS. I realize that each prominent character represents a philosophical analogue, and I am always curious to see how I stack up in comparison. Though while I was hoping to find myself similar to Roark, much to my dismay, I see myself more clearly as Peter Keating. What's worse, I'm seeing (only, at most, 50 pages within the text) the disgusting outcome of his character. Could someone, without providing any plot spoilers, please remove the fictional dressing upon Keating, and explain his philosophical faults? Other than that he derives his own personal value upon the opinions of others. Or is that it? I place a high value upon myself, but I can't help but notice that I also derive a certain value from the opinions of others. Whatever my philosophical fault may be, I know that it is rectifiable, and I only need a bit of knowledge. So what, in essence, is a Keating?

In what way are you like this character?

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Keating's problem is that he takes credit for things that Roark did for him. He starts to live a lie, presenting to the world that he's a brilliant architect who succeeds due to his talent, but in reality his success comes from the work of others or shady deals.

He thinks doing this will bring him fame and fortune - and it does - but it also slowly eats away at his self-esteem which in the end is far too high a price. Sure, it didn't help that he was always the sort of person who wanted attention more than achievement or wanted to be popular or wanted others to think highly of him at all costs... but those are relatively minor flaws, his fatal flaw was taking credit when it wasn't due.

Unless you are perpetuating some similar type of fraud then really you are nothing like Keating. Almost everyone has a degree of vanity and self-deception.

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In what way are you like this character?

As I've prefaced above, I am by no means well into the story. But from what I have read thus far, I seem to echo Keating's comparing his skills to those of his working counterparts and superiors. Tyco has added that Keating takes credit for Roark's work, which I have read an instance of already. In that quality, I am unlike Keating. I see no desire to take credit from another's work. It would feel like both stealing and lying; indeed, it would be intellectually (unless the person gave permission).

I think claire made a great point. There is no harm in pursuing the qualities of the characters from Rand's works, but there is no sense in expecting to become Galt, or, in this case, Roark. That is as senseless as expecting 100% yield in a chemical reaction.

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I would finish the book before you pronounce yourself to be Peter Keating.

Though I will comment that if "The Fountainhead" is your first exposer to Objectivism its rather likely that you may relate to Keating.

Simply because of the degree to which he is as confused and ambiguous about his goals as the reader. Theres also the fact that Roark's confidence and distantness can make him seem kind of alien to a Ayn Rand virgin.

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I seem to echo Keating's comparing his skills to those of his working counterparts and superiors.

I haven't read The Fountainhead yet. I plan to sometime. But this comment of yours kind of stuck out to me.

I oftentimes find myself doing the same thing. How does it make you feel when you compare yourself to someone whose skills are superior to you? Does it make you feel inferior or like you are worth less than someone if their skills are better than yours?

This is a problem that I've had before, and sometimes still do. I personally believe that it comes from trying to judge yourself against people from an unbiased, outside-of-yourself point of view. I don't know what Oism would "officially" say about this, but my advice is to take a more self-centered approach to how you look at other people. Don't make an unbiased comparison from outside your perspective. Simply look at them from your perspective. If they are better than you, look at them from your own eyes. If you don't compare yourself to them, you should be able to look up to them and see that their superior skills can be valuable to you. Or you should at least be able to admire them. (Granted their attitude allows you to see them in a positive light.)

Another good thing to remember is that all values must be good for someone, for some purpose. There is no "He is better than me." It has to be "He is good, to whom and for what?" If the "to whom" is "to you", then you should be able to look at people of superior skill without it effecting your self esteem.

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Having good people like you for your virtues is a value. The relationship between Keating and another person isn't that of two rational people who share value and friendship - and thus tend to have relevant viewpoints and perhaps advice to share - but between a shell of a person who lives through, and by, others and likely (and ironically) another such specimen.

As for comparing your work to that of another: professionally, if you have value to trade, it's valuable. A software developer doesn't need to be Bill Gates. An author doesn't need to be Ayn Rand. Striving to become better while being inspired and perhaps taught by others is a good thing, but net value is net value.

As a person you are more than your rank-wise professional standing. A sense of life is like a fingerprint: there's one for every person. That's why a woman may not necessarily fall in love with "the guy who seemingly has everything you have but is a more accomplished *insert your line of work*". You're not a closed laundry list of brown hair, fit body, nice attitude and 1 to 10 points for where you stand among your peers in your profession, with the "winner" to be determined by the latter.

Edited by L-C

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