Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
NewEdit617

How can we encourage purpose and productiveness in friends?

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

From an early age I knew exactly what I wanted my life's purpose to be, in terms of career and creative personal projects. As an adult I know very few people with this same level of dedication and passion for their lives. I've had friends who are above-average in their academics or in their job, or who explore various hobbies, but they do not pursue those interests with much pride or intensity. They say they "do not know what they want out of life" and are "trying to find their calling." This is incomprehensible to me, as I've never felt it (and never want to)!

I have several questions relating to this:

1. What is at the root of a person not knowing what he/she wants out of life? Is it a moral breach?

2. How can we foster and encourage purpose in a friend's life?

3. Is it possible to truly be friends with people who don't share a Roark-like pursuit of their purpose? I can enjoy basic activities and conversations with those friends, such as going shopping or engaging in recreational sports, but ultimately I feel invisible and not understood at my core. My productiveness and purpose is the very essence of my being-- my main identity-- and that is what I most want my friends to see in me (and I in them). But as of now this makes for very few friends.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Can you be more particular what you mean by friend? Are you speaking of any person that falls under friend? Close friends only? The closeness to a person has a lot to do with how you are able to encourage friends.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I could have started a similar topic, but with the positions switched! I have never felt a strong dedication to any single purpose, and have instead been interested in a seemingly endless list of possible purposes, or "mini-purposes" -- do 'em until they're boring has been my moto. I've never understood people who knew the single main activity they wanted to do with their life since an early age.

However, I think it's odd to suggest that either kind of person is immoral. Either side could be moral, or could not. It depends if there is evasion involved, or what the context of their life has been like and likely will be in the near future, and countless other variables. Simply not deciding on a major life purpose is not itself immoral.

I think the main reason for this difference in people is just personality. Some people like doing new things more than others, people find satisfaction doing different kinds of activities, and people learn at different rates. In short: people are different.

Edited by JASKN

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hm... I'm thinking it is a moral issue due to the following:

"What's the most depraved type of human being?"

"The man without a purpose."

Or:

"Productive work is the central purpose of a rational man’s life, the central value that integrates and determines the hierarchy of all his other values. Reason is the source, the precondition of his productive work—pride is the result."

Or:

Other examples from the lexicon: http://aynrandlexico...on/purpose.html

And for the moment I guess I'm referring to close friends rather than shopping or sports buddies, because it is close friends by whom I wish to be fully understood and that I wish to fully understand. But from a larger perspective I'm also referring to acquaintances and strangers-- in other words, broadening the potential pool of people with whom I could form deep friendships due to a shared passion for our lives.

Edited by NewEdit617

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

for the past few years, I've been trying to help people who have been depressed, or mentally ill from abuse and all sorts of mental/personality disorders. And I think it's because it about how it's nearly impossible to completely fail in this country.

From the pov of survival, one must be diligent in order to survive. To eat and protect one self. But in a country with so much welfare, it's nearly impossible to fail. If you fail in business, there are bail outs. If you fail in life, there are government programs and unemployment insurance. If you have no food, there are food stamps etc. If you need a doctor, hospitals can't turn you away and there are free clinics.

But what happens in a world without failure? The answer is essentially stagnation. Leads to boredom, disillusionment, indifference. Why achieve if you know you cannot fail? if you cannot starve? And within welfare, if you achieve anything, it'll be taken from you and given to the ones who are less fortunate than you?

Personally, I've been very successful in my youth. I've achieved everything I ever wanted before I was 25. traveling the world, earning national and international honors, worked on super computer projects and other goals. But when I started to work as an employee, my best work was squashed. My best ideas were trivialized and my hard work has out casted me because I made others look bad to management, who don't really care to evaluate correctly. If my prize of achievement is denied to me, why should I achieve?

Any psychologist will tell you that this is the road to major depression and people working in poverty, will agree. To road to self esteem, the road to freedom is at the tipping point now.

In my neck of the woods (ny), people are being caught for armed robbery of pharmacies for legal psychotropics like oxycodone. because they feel it, they feel that something is terribly wrong, but unlike me, they don't understand why other than the fact that paying bills is almost a pointless endeavor, gradually slipping into serfdom (hayek). The occupy wallstreet folks definitely feel it, though they may not understand it.

What does objectivism say about pulling someone out of this mess? Objectivism is almost 2 generations behind and needs to apply the principles to today's world. What's the point of choosing the ultimate value of life, if one thinks that life isn't worth living anymore?

After poking around, I was saddened to discover that albert ellis and branden had a bad debate once. But I still think that REBT and objectivism has a great potential to learn from each other. As objectivism states that our emotions flow from our rational thinking, our values. REBT says that we cannot change reality, but we can always change our beliefs or interpretations about that reality that can lead to different consequences. (I think that ellis' 'must-erbation' and rand's 'food vs poison' are at odds.)

So, the question becomes - how can we motivate someone to choose life? How can the teachings of objectivism inspire someone to live life fully through reason, purpose and self-esteem?

The answer is objectivist aesthetics. The romantic realism. To have objectivist art inspire what the world can be, what the world should be based in reality. One of my favorite examples is star trek. We all have those communicators, it's called cell phones. And currently, there is an x-prize available for the first functional non-invasive handheld medical diagnostic device - the medical tricorder.

Another example I love is the venus project. To engineer a world that is quite possible, bring innovation to our lives and radically changing it for the better.

But also to meet the challenge of life, not to diminish from it. To see the world degrade into a welfare state, and yet take courage and meet the challenge of one's own life. The keep moving forwards by setting goals, going day by day, small steps if necessary. To say to oneself "for better or worse, it's my life, and I'll die the knowledge that I lived it my way" and to believe it !

Most people I meet haven't really made a choice between life or death. They just flow along with everyone else. But so long as that choice is up in the air, I feel as though I can help. To show them the possibilities for their own life. One of the great things I love about teaching financial stuff is that it bring brightness to their lives. What they thought was a drudgery, now gives them hope for the future. To set goals, meet goals and continue from there. Opening up opportunities that were not possible before, or even dreamed of before.

Some just need some encouragement, but essentially, they must make the choice of life or death. Even therapists cannot help them make that choice because it relies on their own will to live. Others are just too far gone and will need to be left alone. And then there are the parasites that will make you dance for them, because they are only looking for attention.

Personally, I wished that there was much more star trek stuff. The things that could be, a hope for the future instead of the crap vampire stuff or the bag of dystopia movies that keeps coming out.

One thing that does gives me hope is that the current paradigm is dying. But it will lead to a major collapse of financial markets. I feel the dark ages coming on because there isn't a lick of innovation in any of the super bowl commercials (and these are supposed to be the cream of the top). But since life is faster, and with instant information, the dark ages will be much shorter, and the it'll give rise to a new american renaissance. It would be such a dream to live during the golden ages and I hope that I can survive long enough to be a part of that.

"You see Maximus, there was a dream that was Rome. you can only whisper it. Anything more than a whisper, it would vanish. It's so fragile, and I fear it may not survive the winter" - Aurelius, gladiator

Hope, we do need hope and I believe that objectivism's aesthetics will provide it. To aspire to the opportunities and possibilities. Where are the objectivist arts ? Without something to aspire to, we are only left with the darkness that will fill our minds.

anyways, that's my take on it

Edited by durentu

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In terms of close friendships, the purpose of those is usually to have someone whose values are integrated and similar enough to yours that their well-being necessarily helps yours. In an even more morally-related sense, you see something virtuous in the other person which brings out the good in you as well. These type of friends you can help in a variety of ways by taking advantage of that strong similarity. You could begin a project of your own, and invite your friend to participate. Perhaps you're a filmmaker, and you appreciate the ideas of your friend, so you ask your friend to co-write a screenplay. You can also help by pointing out the good traits you see in them. On some level though, you have to just let your friend make it on their own. Be a part of their life, talk about some great new values that you've achieved. While that can be encouraging for anyone, when a good friend is achieving things, it's that much easier to see possibilities explicitly. This is all presuming that you have reason to judge the person as a close friend.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

durentu,

A spirited and thought-provoking first post.

I enjoyed it.

You may be new to Objectivism (I'm guessing) but you seem to have captured its purpose,

and realized its necessity.

Welcome.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd like to clarify that the part of the venus project I love is the architecture and engineering aspects of it. When I first came across the venus project, I didn't understand politics at that time.

Edited by durentu

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh boy, where to start with this? Hmm.

It is not yet completely impossible to screw up so badly that one can get themselves killed. The life on government hand outs isn’t really fantastic anyway. If you want to be living better off than just scraping by, you have to give up being a bump on a log. Surviving as a bump on a log off of the products of theft and having minimum basic essentials met isn’t a recipe for feeling good about yourself and your life anyway though. You’ve noticed this.

Nobody is trapped in being a bump on a log though just because it may be possible for a while. At any time one gets dissatisfied with this all, one can get up and start making effort to do something to try to improve their life. The mere fact that one can get government hand outs doesn’t mean one has to give up aspiring for anything more. So, just because this kind of stuff exists doesn’t mean one must get depressed. Conditions are non-ideal, but not to the point you can’t do anything about it. Depression involves feeling stuck in a bad condition, so if there is an obvious way to change your situation for the better, it won’t cause depression. You don’t need to get success in changing your living conditions right away, just start trying rather than accepting as inevitable passively absorbing nutrients that come to you like you are a plant instead of a person.

As long as one is trying, who though would seriously go about their life thinking, “Damn! I haven’t starved to death yet! I’ve still got more opportunity available for becoming self-supporting!”? We shouldn’t have government enforced charity, but I expect that even in a capitalist system people wouldn’t just let their friends die while they were trying to find a new job. Getting financial assistance while in a jam isn’t some atrocity the government invented. The problem isn’t having help while between jobs, it is that the government is instituting this by force.

As for robbing pharmacies for psychotropics . . . I have never before heard of this - especially not on any large scale - being done because one has a confirmed case of depression and can’t get the meds. People rob pharmacies for psychotropics to either personally take doses that are WAY above what is prescribed for treating depression for kicks or else to sell it to others to do the same.

Ahaha! You think the OWS people have something AGAINST being given things to ensure no matter what they do or don’t do they can’t get negative consequences? (I don’t mean this derisively, I genuinely find it hilarious.) Seriously, that’s exactly the opposite of their motivation.

Oh yeah, Brandon has some things he has written way back which were good and which Rand endorsed, but particularly after he and Rand parted ways, his views are not necessarily reflective of Objectivism. This is especially true since psychology is a specialized science and thus goes beyond the field of philosophy. I remember reading stuff on Ellis as part of a psychology class myself and thought there was some good in his stuff. It may not be flawless, but it at least has some good pieces one can use. I’m pretty sure I recall coming across this “musterbation” term not long ago while reading some things on psychology and fallacies on Wikipedia. If I recall correctly, there wasn’t a conflict with the food versus poison thing because the term in question referred to what would be typically referred to as “duties” in Objectivism. These “musts” or “duties” are things which one thinks they have to do without anything tying this command/obligation to anything in reality. They are groundless assertions one believes they are bound to.

As for motivating people to pursue life, generally, I personally have a hypothesis. (Objectivism doesn’t contain anything about how people seem to typically choose life rather than there being some sort of 50% suicide rate among toddlers. All Objectivism has to say is that we have this choice to make and that we have to keep making, keep choosing and pursuing life constantly or else the other option of death may soon follow. There is nothing that can really be said for why somebody “should” choose life because all the determinations of what should or should not be done according to Objectivism follow from having made the choice to live. Unless one has already made the choice to live, there is nothing by which to judge shoulds and should nots. ) My thought is that way back before we have the capacity for suicide (babies can hardly move themselves after all) that we start having experiences on the sensory level like pain and comfort, things that taste good, things that smell bad and so based upon these we learn there are some things in life that we like (generally, things that are good for us, since who gives a baby drugs?) and things that we don’t (generally, stuff that is bad for us.) So, we want more of what we like and less of what we don’t and by the time we have the ability to do things for ourselves we’ve got it in our heads that we want to pursue these things we like and avoid the ones we don’t. It doesn’t occur to us at this point as a matter of choosing life over death of course though. After all, really little kids may not even know of death yet. But, as we get older and capable of pursuing more we get more and more experiences we find we like such as things built on top of things we already liked. (For example, one may help make cookies and find they like going through this process to get cookies that they actually made for themselves. Woohoo, go them, they made some tasty awesomeness.) The more we go on as we grow up, the more we find to like in life. So, due to having this period where we have to experience life in the beginning, choosing death not really being an option, life gets a shot to present the case in its favor before one starts making the life or death choice. It becomes sort of like a court case with the question of if one would rather pursue life or not. In the pro-side (the prosecution sort of), a case has been presented with a lot of things in its favor. One would then have to change somebody’s mind to death later by breaking down the case presented in favor of life (this is the defense basically, the defense not having to prove anything necessarily, just wreck the credibility of the prosecution’s case.) This means either removing good things and/or adding in lots of new bad (unliked) stuff until there is more bad than good. So, if somebody is at a point where they are doubting if they want to keep choosing life, they already have had things that made them want it in the first place, they just need counter the holes the “defense” has tried to poke in their case for living. Just try to correct some mistaken negative views (since that is just about always involved when people are feeling really pessimistic about their outlook on life) and work on fixing up what damage has been done to their values to restore things to the point when they found life worth living. You don’t need to make a whole new case for living, they’ve already got one that was persuasive, you just need to neutralize the attacks on that existing case for life. Basically, if you can just take care of some of what is ailing them, they don’t then become undecided on life or death with you needing to persuade them to pick life, you just remove some crap and it will default back to the choice to live. They don’t need to be told why to pick life at this point so much as having what’s ailing them addressed.

Now as to getting people to pursue their life with certain guidelines (ie, in the most effective way), that’s a whole other ball of wax. Most people seem to believe you can just wing it however aside from a few obviously fatal things and don’t realize how they may be undercutting themselves. They snub any sort of systematic effort at examining life as for incompetent fools. Even if you can get past that opposition to examining life at all, then when you get into Objectivism in particular you hit upon frequently things which oppose existing notions they have which they have heavily invested in. They may get scared or angry and try to push it away. They’d kill it if they could, but you can’t kill ideas. This is the part where I think art may be the most helpful in changing minds. If they see that these things aren’t suggesting some nightmarish world where they wouldn’t stand a chance, they may calm down, lower their shields, and let some information in for actual consideration.

As for the arts depicting rational values and lives and such, those are growing in numbers. ;) There are some really good visual artists inspired by Objectivism that are well known around these parts. The fiction writing with Oist inspiration has been gaining more contributions in recent times, The Sword of Truth series being particularly successful. For music I know there are lots of people in Objectivist circles that create music as either a hobby or a career aspiration they are just getting started on, though I do know among older existing musical works that Rush has credits in at least one of their works’ notes to an inspiration from some of Rand’s works. Stuff is there if one looks and there is getting to be more and more in time.

Edited by bluecherry

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

<p>

As for motivating people to pursue life, generally, I personally have a hypothesis. (Objectivism doesn’t contain anything about how people seem to typically choose life rather than there being some sort of 50% suicide rate among toddlers. All Objectivism has to say is that we have this choice to make and that we have to keep making, keep choosing and pursuing life constantly or else the other option of death may soon follow. There is nothing that can really be said for why somebody “should” choose life because all the determinations of what should or should not be done according to Objectivism follow from having made the choice to live. Unless one has already made the choice to live, there is nothing by which to judge shoulds and should nots. )

This is interesting in that it reminded me of somehting I have been wondering about that I read on wiki.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Objectivism_(Ayn_Rand)

He argues that to make her argument sound, one needs to explain why someone could not rationally prefer dying and having no values. Thus, her attempt to defend the morality of selfishness is, in his view, essentially an instance of begging the question.
I was thinking what would be the correct answer to this criticism.Of course I think it is obsurd that anybody that is psychologically healthy would prefer dying and having no values. But I think that would not be a proper answer in philosophy. Perhaps some one has a concise answer for me.EDIT: Or perhaps what you are saying is the correct answer to this? Edited by Superman123

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm pretty certain that she answered that in 'Philosophy Who Needs It.".... "Life is a process of self-sustaining, self-generating action."

Morality is something that applies only to living things possessing volition. If someone chooses to become an inanimate object, no philosophy is relevant to them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hm... I'm thinking it is a moral issue due to the following:

"What's the most depraved type of human being?"

"The man without a purpose."

A central productive purpose is not automatically discovered and doesn't necessarily stay with someone for the duration of their lives. So, while it may be a moral issue, it is also a complex issue. Rand subsumes a whole lot of context in that little quote.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

<p>

This is interesting in that it reminded me of somehting I have been wondering about that I read on wiki.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Objectivism_(Ayn_Rand)I was thinking what would be the correct answer to this criticism.Of course I think it is obsurd that anybody that is psychologically healthy would prefer dying and having no values. But I think that would not be a proper answer in philosophy. Perhaps some one has a concise answer for me.EDIT: Or perhaps what you are saying is the correct answer to this?

I think the answer to this fact of why people typically do choose life is something outside the realm of ethics (meaning, it isn't a matter to be answered in shoulds and should nots, those don't apply because they only come into play after somebody chooses to live), but that doesn't mean it is unanswerable. We'd just have to look for the explanation of why it does happen in other fields. Observation is what will probably be needed. Specialized sciences to the rescue. If I'm right in my hypothesis, it would be kind of hard to figure out how to test though, especially without doing some really evil stuff to babies to create control subjects.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One thing I like to do to encourage friends in perusing their dreams is buy them small gifts (or large depending on how close) that they cannot actually use until they have fulfilled their dream. Example: One has a dream of owning a small "weekender" type of sailing boat, so, for her birthday, I got her a small keychain that on submersion in water, inflates a small buoy and lights up internally. Very neat! But completely useless until she has her boat. Perhaps a bit mean? The point is, I'm encouraging her dream, and at the same time telling her I think she can definitely achieve it someday soon.

As for people who drift though life like it's a lazy river? Don't be friends with them?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×