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Did Ayn Rand live by her own philosophy?

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Is it true that Objectivism maintains that survival is the metaphysical basis of morality? If smoking was not in the interest of her survival, and Ayn Rand smoked, was her smoking immoral (according to the morality of Objectivism)? If not, how do you reconcile survival as the metaphysical basis for morality with Ayn Rand's smoking?

If she was (according to the morality of Objectivism) immoral by smoking, then did she live up to her own philosophy?

That would, of course, not negate Objectivism, but I suspect I could be misunderstanding something about Objectivism.

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The standard response here is that Objectivist morality is based on man's survival "qua man" -- that is, not just survival, but survival that includes the many conditions necessary for a man to be happy.

Author Tara Smith provides a nice explanation of "flourishing" versus just surviving in her book Viable Values.

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The case for smoking being unhealthy was made well after Rand started. She’s known to have been critical of the health claims as the evidence was coming in. One could argue that she should have quit sooner, but as a critique of her integrity this one falls flat. Should she have made a public announcement to the effect that she’d been wrong? I think so, but that’s another matter.

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I also heard she was largely unhappy in the last 25 year of her life. One would give pause to a philosophy, to where even its creator and greatest proponent, can't consistently practice it or reach happiness.

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I also heard she was largely unhappy in the last 25 year of her life. One would give pause to a philosophy, to where even its creator and greatest proponent, can't consistently practice it or reach happiness.

Before one would give pause, one should make clear all the details concerning said unhappiness. If such details are not clear, pause is not warranted. This is, of course, if the claim of unhappiness is even true, which also must be substantiated.

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I also heard she was largely unhappy in the last 25 year of her life. One would give pause to a philosophy, to where even its creator and greatest proponent, can't consistently practice it or reach happiness.

I hear she was particularly sad after her husband died, about 3 years before she did. Maybe Objectivism ain't all it's cracked up to be!

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One would give pause to a philosophy, to where even its creator and greatest proponent, can't consistently practice it or reach happiness.

I'm not sure who this "one" is - someone who relies on appeals to authority for philosophical guidance?

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I'm not sure who this "one" is - someone who relies on appeals to authority for philosophical guidance?

I rely upon my own independent thought + scientific education for guidance.

And what this shows is a failure of Objectivism to "lead by example". After all, if your ideas work, why could'nt your main proponent practice them consistently? Thats why it gives most folks pause.

It would have had much more of a powerful effect on humanity than all of her books and movies combined ( and multiplied times 100).

People want to see a philosophy or religious system in action, by a real person. Not an abstraction. Not a set of complex intellectual theories.

The funny thing is Christians do, (and have for hundreds of years) understood this principle and its another reason why Christianity is successful. Objectvist's don't. Which is part of the reason why Objectivism is not successful.

It's not "appeal to authority" it's simple common sense. It's saying "I'll believe it when I see it".

NOTE: I am not Christian nor do I endorse Christianity.

Edited by MarcT

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why could'nt your main proponent practice them consistently?

Show it.

It's not "appeal to authority" it's simple common sense. It's saying "I'll believe it when I see it".

It is one thing to give the veneer of consistent happiness and self-esteem, and yet another to actually experience it. There are plenty of people who appear outwardly happy as a result of blind faith, but who are self-destructing internally. I would rather say, "I'll believe it when I understand why it is true."

Edited by brian0918

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It is one thing to give the veneer of consistent happiness and self-esteem, and yet another to actually experience it. There are plenty of people who appear outwardly happy as a result of blind faith, but who are self-destructing internally. I would rather say, "I'll believe it when I understand why it is true."

If Rand was actually feeling "happiness" and "self-esteem" consistently, it wouldn't be a veneer would it? Your missing the point.

Edited by MarcT

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Zeitgeist much?

My grandmother(born a couple decades after Rand)had cigarettes prescribed by her doctor. It was a different world. Aristotle advocated slavery. Probably why he's had no effect on the world, right?

The funny thing is Christians do, (and have for hundreds of years) understood this principle and its another reason why Christianity is successful. Objectvist's don't. Which is part of the reason why Objectivism is not successful.

Perhaps your not familiar with Christianity. The whole point is that humans are fallen through original sin, and can NOT (as in are not capable of) live perfectly and consistently according to its tenets, as the founder allegedly did. Of course, we could allege the same thing about Rand with the same likelihood of it being true.

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To be morally perfect, according to the Objectivst morality, doesn't mean to be some kind of god-like, super-rational being, only that you strive to consistently apply rationality in all aspects of life. This is very much attainable to all men but it, while it will give you the best shot, it won't guarantee you happiness.

Edited by oso

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During the Q&A period following lecture 2 in Dr. Peikoff's lecture series, "The Philosophy of Objectivism," he was asked about cigarette smoking and cancer, is it philosophically anti-life and immoral to smoke?

Again, from my notes:

Statistics are not forms of proof, of establishing causality, of identifying the nature of the entity which acts as the causal agent. To show that an effect is inherent (death and cigarette smoking), you have to show that entity X acts upon entity Y which acts upon entity Z which causes death. A correlation is not necessarily causal. In a particular case, if a doctor gives you reasons based upon evidence, facts about you, that they are harming you, act accordingly. (Dr. Peikoff rejects the compliment that he has "kicked the habit.") Smoking is not philosophically bad.

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"If smoking was not in the interest of her survival, and Ayn Rand smoked, was her smoking immoral (according to the morality of Objectivism)? If not, how do you reconcile survival as the metaphysical basis for morality with Ayn Rand's smoking?"

First of all, survival does not merely mean physical survival. To live man needs more than the daily bread. Man also has various psychological (survival) needs. He has, for instance, the need for (rational) pleasure. In the absence of convincing proof that smoking is dangerous, one could maybe argue that smoking was like drinking coffee. And there's nothing wrong with enjoying a cup of coffee or ten.

Ayn Rand did not think the science that suggested it was bad for you was any good. (She correctly rejected a bunch of statistical correlations as non-science.) By the early 1970s she was, however, convinced of the dangers of smoking. Her doctor told her to quit, so she did. She went cold turkey.

Ayn Rand, therefore, not only lived up to her own philosophy; she also exercised unbreached rationality, which is why she was, morally speaking, perfect.

Edited by knast

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I also heard she was largely unhappy in the last 25 year of her life. One would give pause to a philosophy, to where even its creator and greatest proponent, can't consistently practice it or reach happiness.

Name a single alternative philosophy that has ever been consistently practiced in all of human history.  I dare you.

 

 

People want to see a philosophy or religious system in action, by a real person. Not an abstraction. Not a set of complex intellectual theories.

The funny thing is Christians do, (and have for hundreds of years) understood this principle and its another reason why Christianity is successful. Objectvist's don't. Which is part of the reason why Objectivism is not successful.

Would you like to see such ideas being actually practiced, in reality, on Earth?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Word_of_Wisdom

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold

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Name a single alternative philosophy that has ever been consistently practiced in all of human history.

You revived this old thread to address Marc. T., but you failed to point out that he's simply pulling an assertion out of his hat... not much different from saying he thinks Rand was lesbian, so how come she said negative things about homosexuals.

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You're worried about her cigarette smoking?  How about the morality of having an affair with her best friend's husband?

Do you object to using her smoking as an example because you think polyamorous relationships are less moral than smoking?

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Since you asked, yes.  The dangers of smoking weren't as well known in the 40s, 50s, and 60s.  I don't think there's been a recent time when adultery was acceptable.  Correct me if I am wrong.

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You're worried about her cigarette smoking?  How about the morality of having an affair with her best friend's husband?  How does that relate to morality?

 

First off, she didn't have an affair. Her relationship with Branden was consensual and known by all parties involved. 

 

Second, by what standard of morality do you judge sexual relationships? Sounds like you are using some sort of religious moral standard, possibly subconsciously, in your judgments. 

Edited by secondhander

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If adultery is a spouse having sex with someone who isn't his or her spouse then I'd say no, that's not necessarily immoral. As long as all parties consent I see no reason to judge it as immoral simply because the people engaging in the "affair" aren't married to each other. I'd also like to know by what standard you're judging this issue.

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