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Did Ayn Rand live by her own philosophy?

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And if people make the choice to smoke, especially at a time when not much info was available, they are immorale?  Are adultery and smoking equally immoral.  By the way, just to let you know, adultery is adultery whether or not the spouses agrees.  No, I'm not having religious visions (be careful about making statements about someone you don't know; you might get embarrassed) but I do have a dictionary.  It's a perfectly moral little dictionary.

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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.

Basically yes.  I decided to reply exclusively to the glaringly obvious fallacies.

I suppose, if one were to take this handful of accusations (Rand was contradictory, immoral, hypocritical and a homophobic homosexual) and reduce them to a single commonality, it would be this:

The underlying, implicit premise is that Ayn Rand was no mere mortal, and should be judged accordingly.  That's my take on it.  All I would respond with, at this point, has already been said by Devil's Advocate.

 

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.

Wrong in either two or three ways; call it 2 1/2.

 

1.  Your statement implies that morality is caused by public sentiment and this is wrong.  Adultery, even without any consent whatsoever, is considered acceptable at this very moment in certain third-world countries.

Morality is not subject to a public vote and it does not change over the years.

2.  Ayn Rand's profound philosophical achievements, in my own opinion, more than outweigh any hypothetical* promiscuity.

I have a friend who has only recently gotten off of heroine and stopped destroying himself; I couldn't even begin to list off his vices and various sins.  But I still admire him for his mind, even if he hasn't learned (yet!) to use it properly.

 

3.  The half-flaw and the reason for the "hypothetical" conditioner to "promiscuity".  In order for this alleged affair to actually be objectively evil, on Ayn Rand's part, you would have to show me that this actually did happen within the requisite timeframe, during which she was married, and also that her husband didn't know and/or wouldn't have agreed to it (although, if you could prove his ignorance I would concede his nonconsent)

 

If her boytoy was married but Rand was not during this whole fling then it's meaningless to me; all it shows is that she wanted him more than she wanted to have that friend (you don't have a hands-off obligation towards any other adults, so long as you're single).  It would show that he did something particularly despicable and I would agree, but unless she cheated on her own husband, it wouldn't bother me in the slightest.

 

 

 

IF she truly cheated on her husband, in the ways described, then Ayn Rand did not live up to her own philosophy.  IF so then she sinned and you're correct.  So what?

The truth or falsehood of the theory of evolution has nothing whatsoever to do with the sex life of Darwin. . .

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold

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IF she truly cheated on her husband, in the ways described, then Ayn Rand did not live up to her own philosophy.  IF so then she sinned and you're correct. 

 

I wouldn't know.  I'm  an atheist so I'm not up on what is a sin or isn't.  I'll take your word that it is so.  Personally, I have not thought of her as a sinner.

 

 

 

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Adultery is typically seen as immoral because conventional marriage vows include pledges of monogamy. So, when most people have affairs they are deceitfully breaking an agreement fundamental to their particular relationships. Such a pledge was not reportedly present in the Rand/Branden affair, therefore it can not used to level moral condemnation. So I ask once more for you to please explain by what standard you judge this issue.

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And if people make the choice to smoke, especially at a time when not much info was available, they are immorale?  Are adultery and smoking equally immoral.  By the way, just to let you know, adultery is adultery whether or not the spouses agrees.  No, I'm not having religious visions (be careful about making statements about someone you don't know; you might get embarrassed) but I do have a dictionary.  It's a perfectly moral little dictionary.

The term adultery comes from the Old Testament (that's the "dictionary" where it was first defined). So you should be more understanding if someone assumed that's where you're getting the notion that it's immoral from.

Also, you're yet to correct them. If not due to God's sixth commandment, then why do you consider adultery immoral?

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Are you saying that only god-fearing people use the word adultery?  I never said I considered adultery immoral.  Nor do I consider smoking immoral.  What would make you think I do.  I'm not the one who called Ran a sinner. 

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I think that typically when people use the phrase "having an affair" (the term you first used) or the word "adultery," they mean by them that someone has cheated on her spouse whom they have a monogamous relationship with. If people have a non-monogamous relationship and there is no cheating or lying about the fact, and it's all in the open, then it is typically not called "having an affair" or "adultery." 

 

You had said:

 

"How about the morality of having an affair with her best friend's husband?"

 

The implication of your question is that her "best friend" didn't know or approve of her sleeping with Branden, and that Rand did something untoward and unethical to Barbara Branden. So, now if you say that you don't consider it immoral, then I'm curious why you used the term "having an affair" and why you asked the question the way you did.

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Are we arguing over words?  We're talking of married people not married to each other engaging in sexual  activity.  Well, first, the word affair, which is a perfectly good word (you don't like it for some reason?) is a lot easier to use than the long, cumbersome phrase. That's why we have concepts.  Are you under the impression Frank and Barara gave their so-called concept cheerfully, or might they have been verbally coerst with words?  UJnethical?  I'll let that one pass.  Cruel?  definitely, as you can read from various accounts, Barbara herself, and Frank's own niece, who has posted on OL how Frank shared his pain with his sibling.  Is there any reason the niece, who had no idea Ayn was her aunt, should lie?

 

I'm not sure what you're asking.  By the way, there is a grammatical difference between adultery and affair, although the two words are frequently used interchangeablyv.  Adultery means affair without  partner's knowledge.  Affair means a tryst with the partner's knowledge.  Technically, affair would be a more acurate word in this case. Although that's really splitting hairs.  I mean, what's this thing that only religious people use the word.  Not true.

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Claire, I, for one, was not trying to start a semantic argument. I was trying to understand your point, which I still don't understand. If you want to help me understand you, straightforward answers to the following questions will do.

 

Do you believe that affairs (married people not married to each other engaging in sexual activity) are necessarily immoral? If so, for what reasons?

 

If not, do you believe that only some affairs are immoral? If so, could you explain what principles we can use to judge between affairs and provide an example? If you want to give a real-life example, a link to your source would be kind.

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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.

Your response to Featherfall indicates you think that one or both actions are immoral. If smoking is a moral choice, and adultery is less moral, then adultery is immoral; "less moral" means immoral to some degree. If you mean to say neither is immoral, okay, but why did you yes to Featherfall when he used the phrase "less moral"? If you meant to suggest one has greater moral consequences, that doesn't make sense. Generally, how one treats relationships have more impact than how one treats smoking. So, I don't know what you are trying to say. That's why posters are reacting as though you think adultery is immoral - your response to Featherfall indicates you do.

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Lord.  Okay. Smoking is something we can foolishly become addicted to. Not smart, but probably millions of people have gone there.  It's not anti-life or crap like that.  It's a stupid act that can be hard to kick. You're hurting yourself. 

 

Affairs involve feelings and expectations.  It also involves promises and a contract. Moral/immoral?  Yes, contextual.  I can easily see someone so unhappy in a marriage that an affair becomes more important than someone else's feeling, expectations, promises and contracts.  Do you think Rand was that unhappy?

 

On the othe hand, there are always cheating lice who pretend the lovey their spouse while screwing everything in sight.  Immoral.  Pretty much, if you want to debate the morality of lice.

 

BTW, I think this started with the immorality of cigarettes.  Do you think they are? Should the consequences be up to the smoker.  Let's please keep second-hand smoke out of this.

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 Are you under the impression Frank and Barara gave their so-called concept cheerfully, or might they have been verbally coerst with words?  UJnethical?  I'll let that one pass.  Cruel?  definitely ...

 

They definitely gave their consent. If they did so without wanting to do so, then I'd say it was them who were being unethical to themselves by doing something contrary to their desires. In any case, you are suggestion that non-monogamous relationships are immoral (and then also trying to say you aren't making a moral claim about them, though it's obvious that you are). So, if a couple did willingly and "cheerfully" consent to non-monogamy, then would you still consider it immoral in any way?

 

You've been asked several times what your standard for moral value is, and I haven't seen you explain that yet. That would clarify possibly your stance, and the principles you are basing ethical judgments on.

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What about the damage it did to Frank? It had to have been an insult to him for Rand to even ask for consent. I.E. "I find this person sexually attractive and mentally compatible, would you consent to a sexual relationship between us." If their relationship was great, then I don't see why Rand would even think of possibly engaging in another sexual relationship. To do so is to attack the essence of her and Frank's relationship: the connection of the mind and the body. It had to have made Frank feel insecure about his ability to satisfy Rand's sexual needs and insecure in their mental connection.

 

It is immoral to hurt someone that is supposed to be one of your highest values in such a fundamental way. It was not in her long-term, rational self interest as this is something that must have drastically altered their relationship in a negative way, whether Frank would admit it to her or not.

Edited by thenelli01

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Lord.  Okay. Smoking is something we can foolishly become addicted to. Not smart, but probably millions of people have gone there.  It's not anti-life or crap like that.  It's a stupid act that can be hard to kick. You're hurting yourself. 

 

 

Uhh.. you understand that hurting yourself is what Rand meant by anti-life, right?  Anti-life doesn't mean you're killing yourself instantly, it means that whatever you're doing is working against your own life... aka hurting yourself... like smoking.

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BTW, I think this started with the immorality of cigarettes.  Do you think they are? Should the consequences be up to the smoker.  Let's please keep second-hand smoke out of this.

To the degree it is self-harm, yes. I am going off the premise we agree on morality being contextual. A "stupid act" is immoral if the person is aware that the act is stupid. Generally, adultery is immoral if taken as the usual meaning of non-consent or complete unawareness of outside relationships. If Rand did her multi-person romantic relationship in a bad way, then sure, that's immoral, but it's just odd to call it adultery, but part of the word adultery is confusing because some people view multi-person romantic relationships as generally immoral, so adultery tends to go with negative connotation.

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Okay.  I agree.  Except with cigarettes, so many people get hooked young and stupid, like me.  It is physically addictive.  Can people stop.  Sure.  My thinking, which is admittedly not the smartest in this context, is that if I live a few more years due to quiting, is it worth it keep craving a cigarette.  I don't think I'm being biased when I say I won't place it in the real of the immoral.  Stupid, yes.  Lack of self-discipline, yes.  I still can't see immoral.  On the other hand, I would put a drug user in the moral realm.  Could be I just won't admit to the truth of cigarettes.  I like them, damn it.

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What about the damage it did to Frank? It had to have been an insult to him for Rand to even ask for consent. I.E. "I find this person sexually attractive and mentally compatible, would you consent to a sexual relationship between us." If their relationship was great, then I don't see why Rand would even think of possibly engaging in another sexual relationship. To do so is to attack the essence of her and Frank's relationship: the connection of the mind and the body. It had to have made Frank feel insecure about his ability to satisfy Rand's sexual needs and insecure in their mental connection.

 

You'd have to be naive to think that once you are in a relationship with someone, or married to someone, that your partner is so enamored with you for life that they never feel sexually attracted to another person, ever. And you'd have to have low self-esteem and let jealousy cloud your thinking to believe that just because they are attracted to someone else, then they are no longer capable of being attracted to you, or that it's some competition, as though there is only so much sexual attraction to go around and it can be used up eventually. 

 

Maybe Frank did struggle with those emotions, but I'd say that that was his problem to work through.

 

I have a fantastic relationship with a girl I absolutely love, and she absolutely loves me, and we are non-monogamous -- both of us play with other people from time to time -- and it does not diminish our feelings and attraction for each other one bit. 

 

But go ahead, and keep demanding that your partner just stay quiet about being turned on by other people, and pretend it doesn't happen, and you pretend that you aren't attracted to other people. And continue to demand that your partner never enjoy someone else in anyway, because you certainly want them to sequester themselves from other people and stay with you out of contractual duty; you don't want them to to stay with you because they actually WANT to stay with you more than anyone else, do you?

 

Edit: I'm sorry for being snarky. I could have put that a little more straightforward and less annoying. I don't mean it as an attack on you in any way. I'm only hoping to emphasize what love really is: The choosing of someone freely because you freely want to in the face of other options. When people get afraid that they will lose someone they love if that person spends time or plays sexually with another person, I can understand that emotion and fear. But the response of trying to ban that activity is not love -- it's the fear of real love; the fear of letting someone make a free choice.

Edited by secondhander

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You'd have to be naive to think that once you are in a relationship with someone, or married to someone, that your partner is so enamored with you for life that they never feel sexually attracted to another person, ever. And you'd have to have low self-esteem and let jealousy cloud your thinking to believe that just because they are attracted to someone else, then they are no longer capable of being attracted to you, or that it's some competition, as though there is only so much sexual attraction to go around and it can be used up eventually. 

 

Maybe Frank did struggle with those emotions, but I'd say that that was his problem to work through.

 

I have a fantastic relationship with a girl I absolutely love, and she absolutely loves me, and we are non-monogamous -- both of us play with other people from time to time -- and it does not diminish our feelings and attraction for each other one bit. 

 

But go ahead, and keep demanding that your partner just stay quiet about being turned on by other people, and pretend it doesn't happen, and you pretend that you aren't attracted to other people. And continue to demand that your partner never enjoy someone else in anyway, because you certainly want them to sequester themselves from other people and stay with you out of contractual duty; you don't want them to to stay with you because they actually WANT to stay with you more than anyone else, do you?

 

I didn't say that people aren't sexually attracted to other people. And I don't think people should stay with their spouse due to a contractual "duty".

 

If you value someone enough to marry them, consider them your next highest value (below yourself), and want to stay in a relationship with them (as Rand did Frank), how would it be in your long-term self interest to damage the relationship and hurt your highest value for short-term sexual gratification?

 

I don't like to analyze other peoples' relationships as I don't know all the details, but we can take a generalized, less detailed example of the Rand situation.

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If you value someone enough to marry them, consider them your next highest value (below yourself), and want to stay in a relationship with them (as Rand did Frank), how would it be in your long-term self interest to damage the relationship and hurt your highest value for short-term sexual gratification?

 

I mentioned my relationship simply to argue that the presupposition that you are always "damaging" your partner if you have sex with other people is not true, or doesn't have to be true.

 

It seems though that you believe that Ayn did in fact do damage to Frank. But presumably she and he talked about it and agreed to it, and he could have asked for it to end, or left the relationship, if he had wanted to. So again, I would say that if he was doing something, or agreed to something, that goes against his own self-interest, then it would be he who is at fault, not Rand, since it was open and not hidden, and talked about and agreed to.

 

Ideally, if a person knows that they believe in non-monogamy, then they will potential partners that before they get into a relationship, and they will only seek out partners who share the desire for a non-monogamous relationship.

 

But let's say that a person comes to realize that she believes in and wants a non-monogamous relationship after she is already married and in a monogamous one. (I'm not saying this is the case for Rand. I have no idea when they came to that decision.) Then what options are open to that person? Well, she could just stick with monogamy, because that's what she agreed to and she doesn't want to hurt the person she values the most. But, that doesn't erase the feelings she has. She has to face a decision on what is in her own best self-interest, weighing the happiness that non-monogamy brings with the loss of her partner against the happiness her partner brings with the loss of non-monogamy. But she has to face that decision even if she told her spouse, and he adamantly refused. Likewise, he would have to make a decision, and they would have to talk about it. 

 

Not telling him anything may protect his feelings on one hand, but at the cost of hiding emotions and not being honest with your partner. That might hurt everyone more, in the long run. 

 

The main point with regard to Rand's relationship is that they did have that conversation, they did agree to non-monogamy; I am not sure that Frank was hurt by it or was against it. Maybe he had another playmate as well, maybe not. I haven't read much about his specific feelings about the issue.

 

But you are assuming that she gave him some sort of ultimatum, and he begrudgingly stayed with her and was forced to let her have a relationship with Branden. If that's the case, then I have to assume that either he realized it was in HIS own self-interest to agree to that, and that overall he was pursuing his rational values, or I have to assume that he failed to pursue his own self-interest in the matter, and he "sacrificed" for Rand. Ultimately though, if they agreed to it, and it was in the open and not cheating, then I don't see how you could hold Rand at fault for anything at all.

Edited by secondhander

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If you value someone enough to marry them, consider them your next highest value (below yourself), and want to stay in a relationship with them (as Rand did Frank), how would it be in your long-term self interest to damage the relationship and hurt your highest value for short-term sexual gratification?

It wouldn't be in your long-term self interest to damage a relationship for short-term sexual gratification.

Ayn Rand did not do this or anything at all comparable to this. Nathaniel Branden was not some man she met and happened to find attractive. Branden was a man who she found to be an intellectual equal; someone who understood Objectivism and was as intelligent as she was. She was in love with Frank O'Connor, but the fact is that he was not her intellectual equal.

Rand and Branden had a mutual and strong attraction to and affection for each other. Whether they were in love like she was with Frank is not something that is easy to say, but they had strong feelings. They did not begin a sexual relationship until they received explicit consent from both Frank O'Connor and Barbara Branden. I think it is important to, if we discuss this, to discuss it accurately. Ayn Rand did not decide to have a relationship with Nathaniel Branden on a whim; she decided to do so only after realizing that he shared her highest values and (unlike her husband) was her intellectual equal. At one point, Branden was her intellectual heir (a role ultimately filled by Leonard Peikoff). The sexual relationship between the two was based on a very strong friendship.

Now, of course, it can be debated whether it was right for her to have that relationship while being married. I think I would agree with secondhander that it is absolutely possible to have an extramarital relationship with your spouse's consent without harming your relationship with your spouse. I also think it requires both of them to be in a certain state of mind where they won't be jealous about this happening, and I think it is a bad idea if they are not. Whether Rand, O'Connor and the Brandens were all in this state of mind is something that would be difficult to determine, but if they were, the decision to have the affair was moral if they determined, using the best knowledge available to them at the time, that it would have more benefits than drawbacks. The outcome of it does not change the fact that it was a moral decision based on the knowledge available at the time.

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Secondhander (and the rest of us, for that matter), let's be careful not to argue points about Rand's life for which there is little evidence. We will not know if she made the right choice on this particular matter. If you want to bring up one aspect of it or another to illustrate a point, then I guess that's ok, but you risk others confusing your point for her biography. You of all people should know that an open relationship is a difficult thing to pull off; people involved in one need to master their own jealousy. It takes a lot of courage and conviction to do that. Your last post makes it sound like you think that's an easy thing to do.

Edited by FeatherFall

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Feather. I am not sure why I am being told this. I made a point to say, "I'm not saying this is the case for Rand." In fact, part of my reply was driven by frustration that thenelli01 was making statements about how Rand must have hurt Frank, when I'm not sure we can know that. 

 

The only biographical fact I said for sure about their relationship is that they agreed to non-monogamy, and I don't think that's contested. 

 

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I will wait with bated breath to read the ultimate thread on the 'true' basis of morally acceptible sexual desire, especially when espoused by those who consider themselves individualists.

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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?

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.

 By the way, just to let you know, adultery is adultery whether or not the spouses agrees.

 

In these three statements you reveal the following from your own thoughts:

-smoking and adultery are immoral; adultery being the lower form of depravity

-morality is subjective and malleable; bending to the breeze of any public opinion poll

-adultery has no relation to consent, for you; you find it intrinsically wrong to have sex with anyone beyond your own marriage

 

Person A is married to person B and B gives them permission to sleep with C.  If A actually does so, how is that immoral?  Who, on the entire planet, does that action hurt?  Whose life/happiness is made worse in any way whatsoever?

This is the basis of Rand's morality, and therefore (assuming she had permission beforehand) she lived up to her own philosophy spectacularly.

 

I wouldn't know.  I'm  an atheist so I'm not up on what is a sin or isn't.  I'll take your word that it is so.  Personally, I have not thought of her as a sinner.

 

I chose the word "sin" for convenience.  I'm well aware of its religious overtones.

I had assumed that its referent "immorality" would go without saying.

So I have said that IF Ayn Rand cheated on her husband in the specified, nonconsentual manner, THEN she sinned.

 

Are you saying that only god-fearing people use the word adultery?  I never said I considered adultery immoral.  Nor do I consider smoking immoral.  What would make you think I do.  I'm not the one who called Ran a sinner. 

 

Every single one of these statements is false.

 

Lord.  Okay. Smoking is something we can foolishly become addicted to. Not smart, but probably millions of people have gone there.  It's not anti-life or crap like that.  It's a stupid act that can be hard to kick. You're hurting yourself. 

Smoking increases your immediate pleasure while shortening your lifespan.  Whether this helps or harms someone's pursuit of happiness is a decision which they alone can make; it is a question of costs and benefits.

 

Addiction is a very flexible concept and smokers who continue to smoke do so because they lack the desire to quit.

Someone who actually wants to quit will find a way to do so.  PERIOD.

Someone who has no desire to quit smoking, but feigns such and uses addiction to disguise their motives, is immoral- for different reasons entirely.

 

Otherwise I see nothing immoral whatsoever with smoking.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold

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