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Musical - "Ayn Rand in Love"

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A musical titled "Ayn Rand in Love" is coming to Chicago. From the description in the article, it sounds unsympathetic to Rand:

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"A lot of people today feel the way Ayn does­­that if you want more, you should work harder and your hard work will be rewarded," said director Shanna Brown. "In today's political climate, that's not always true. This musical is full of characters who have learned to play the game to get what they want, and make compromises along the way for their own selfish gains. Although Ayn touts that self­reliance is all you need, by the end we see that a world of selfishness and self­reliance is a sad one.  ..."

 

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Now, if you want further elaboration or are going to say: "compromise is necessary", consider this:
Capitalism is the only political system where compromise (on principles) is unnecessary. It is the only political system consistent with man's self esteem, i.e., man's nature. Whenever you see a "necessary" compromise, the action you need to pursue is the political establishment of capitalism...

Also, consider this Rand quote:

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If you want to fight for capitalism, there is only one type of argument that you should adopt, the only one that can ever win in a moral issue: the argument from self-esteem. This means: the argument from man's right to exist -- from man's inalienable individual right to his own life.

i.e., it is the only political system consistent with man's right to exist as man: without compromises and with self-esteem.

Edited by human_murda

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19 minutes ago, Claire1964 said:

The lamentable is that corruption does succeed. In reality, Keating would be a success.

Wasn't Keating a "success" by many measures in The Fountainhead? Yet I don't believe we should want to emulate him.

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5 minutes ago, Claire1964 said:

Good question.  But just look at the Clintons. Forty years of corruption, and they are on top.  AIG, the company that ruined thousands in 08 is still doing well.

If you could snap your fingers and change lives with Bill or Hillary, would you make the wish?

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1 hour ago, Claire1964 said:

The lamentable is that corruption does succeed. In reality, Keating would be a success.

I think the play is suggesting that Rand's philosophy would promote this as a good thing, not that "some people succeed that way". Which, clearly, is not an accurate portrayal of Rand's beliefs. She'd say it's really bad for one's happiness, and the play seems to agree. It's a musical comedy but seems to be aimed at poking fun at how there are more values than purely money or a purely material goal - and picks a terrible symbol of that. "Trump in Love", or "Paris Hilton in Love" would make more sense.

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Rand would certainly not promote that.   But I have always disagreed with her assertion that bad tactics must fail. I've seen the opposite too often.  But poking fun at values infuriates me.

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7 hours ago, Eiuol said:

I think the play is suggesting that Rand's philosophy would promote this as a good thing, not that "some people succeed that way". Which, clearly, is not an accurate portrayal of Rand's beliefs. She'd say it's really bad for one's happiness, and the play seems to agree. It's a musical comedy but seems to be aimed at poking fun at how there are more values than purely money or a purely material goal - and picks a terrible symbol of that. "Trump in Love", or "Paris Hilton in Love" would make more sense.

It's too imprecise to say "it's really bad for one's happiness". Non-achievement of happiness can be said to be what is wrong with every moral failure (since happiness is the goal of everything), but it's too vague.

The issue specific to the problem raised here is self-esteem.

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All instances of compromise are a matter of self-esteem.

Self-esteem is the central issue in all cases where 'ends' appear to contradict the 'means'..

End does not justify the means: neither with regard to yourself (not making compromises to achieve "happiness" or money) nor with regard to others (not using force on others. This is the way self-esteem enters the realm of politics). They're both fundamentally the same issue. Morally, rights are an issue of self-esteem. Nobody who fundamentally believes in making compromises for themselves to become rich (or for any other ends) has any business in advocating capitalism (or happiness). You can't do good by using force (i.e., you can't make someone happy at the cost of their self-esteem).

This is the meaning of "man is an end in himself". Both socially (as capitalism) and personally. The ends and means are, respectively, happiness and self-esteem (socially, non-initiation of force).

Happiness cannot contradict self-esteem. Nobody "wins" in attempting such a contradiction. Man is an end in himself.

Edited by human_murda

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On 7/23/2016 at 4:53 PM, Claire1964 said:

 But those traits do win at times, unfortunately.

 

"Win" - at what?

At finance, politics and other very specific areas, perhaps; perhaps not. Certainly not at life.

 

"Success" and "failure" depend on your goals, and not all goals are equally valid. If I wanted to jump out a tenth-story window and fly like Peter Pan, would that be a good goal to pursue?

 

On 7/25/2016 at 5:08 AM, human_murda said:

All instances of compromise are a matter of self-esteem.

Self-esteem is the central issue in all cases where 'ends' appear to contradict the 'means'.

 

On the Sacrificing of an End to its Means...

 

Firstly, I don't believe that "compromise" should be used as its synonym, because there are times when it is right to look for a compromise (on certain concrete, particular issues). To use that term in exclusive reference to its negative side would rob it of its primary meaning (like the way most people use the word "selfishness").

 

Secondly, while the heart of your argument is sound (and this issue is all about Final Causation; the selection and pursuit of goals), is self-esteem truly the root of all such errors?

It is clearly involved with many of them. In my own experience, though, I can recall many such mistakes I've made which didn't seem related to any lack of self-confidence (in fact, for me, they've usually stemmed from an excess of irrational self-confidence).

 

This leads me to believe that the relationship between goal-orientedness and self-confidence is more complex than that.

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1 hour ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

Firstly, I don't believe that "compromise" should be used as its synonym, because there are times when it is right to look for a compromise (on certain concrete, particular issues). To use that term in exclusive reference to its negative side would rob it of its primary meaning (like the way most people use the word "selfishness").

True. When I said compromise, I meant making compromises in your life (like the summary of the musical suggested: they were certainly not talking about Call of Duty when they said "play the game"). However, I think the question of which meaning I'm referring to (concrete or abstract) should be evident from the context. I also disagree that the way most people use the word "selfishness" does not convey its "primary meaning" (although I used to have a different opinion about this).

 

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It is clearly involved with many of them. In my own experience, though, I can recall many such mistakes I've made which didn't seem related to any lack of self-confidence (in fact, for me, they've usually stemmed from an excess of irrational self-confidence).

Self-esteem is not a question of making mistakes. It's a question of irrationality (AR: "Self-esteem is reliance on one’s power to think."). You cannot have authentic self-confidence while being irrational.

You're confusing self-esteem with self-confidence. Self-confidence doesn't "cause" anything. It is the result: estimate of your own abilities (and should not be built on irrationality). It was, apparently, an irrational estimate of your own ability that made your pursuit a failure. It was "reality" that failed you (much like the Peter Pan example).

Self-esteem is the estimate of your worth: here is where "compromise" comes in and it is, psychologically, the root of all rationality or irrationality, depending on what standard you use to estimate it (self or other, i.e., self-interest or self-sacrifice; life or death) [AR: "No value is higher than self-esteem, but you’ve invested it in counterfeit securities—and now your morality has caught you in a trap where you are forced to protect your self-esteem by fighting for the creed of self-destruction."].

 

Quote

Secondly, while the heart of your argument is sound (and this issue is all about Final Causation; the selection and pursuit of goals), is self-esteem truly the root of all such errors?

Yes

The so-called "play the game" success may give someone a boost in their self-confidence (depending on their psychology). The thing that is destroyed, as also the central issue of this thread, is self-esteem.

Edited by human_murda

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10 hours ago, human_murda said:

However, I think the question of which meaning I'm referring to (concrete or abstract) should be evident from the context.

It was. The reference to "Doesn't Life Require Compromise?", in particular, made your meaning perfectly clear.

 

I know how difficult it is to convey this idea without resorting to "compromise". This morning I spent several hours struggling to remove that word from my own objection to it. :worry:

"The sacrifice of an end to its means" is clearer and more precise.

 

10 hours ago, human_murda said:

I also disagree that the way most people use the word "selfishness" does not convey its "primary meaning" (although I used to have a different opinion about this).

Huh?

 

"Selfishness" means concern for one's own interests and welfare. That is its "primary meaning"; the one we put into dictionaries. When someone applies it to an action like committing suicide out of spite (meaning that concern for your own life can prompt you to waste it), something in their cognition has gone horribly wrong.

 

So... Am I correct in reading that statement as a defense of (let's call it "vernacular selfishness")? If so, please elaborate; I sense the presence of an undiscovered line of reasoning.

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12 hours ago, human_murda said:

Self-esteem is not a question of making mistakes. ...

...

... It was, apparently, an irrational estimate of your own ability that made your pursuit a failure. It was "reality" that failed you (much like the Peter Pan example).

I'm sorry for the clumsiness of the latter half of that post. Let me try again, from scratch:

 

Suppose someone robs somebody else at gunpoint, in order to buy a fancy new car. Why?

Let's say they want the car for the sheer joy of driving it, so (within their own minds) that robbery would lead to their experience of cruising down the road with the sun on their face and the wind in their hair, which would lead to the final goal of happiness. Yet, in reality, their act of robbery would probably lead to a lengthy prison sentence and any number of less-than-pleasant experiences.

Now suppose they realized this at some point; they became aware of the consequences of their actions but felt that the new car, itself, would outweigh their incarceration (even if it was absolutely certain to happen); that the car, itself, was the goal. Why?

If they were to consciously analyze it, they would see that it sprang from very old emotional investments; that the desire to drive the car (as instrumental to their happiness) had been fossilized into the desire to possess the car (as an out-of-context absolute). At that point, the rational thing to do would be to accept the invalidity of their goal and try to move on. 

 

The alternative would be to act against their long-term goals and actual interests, whether out of ignorance (by failing to analyze their own emotions) or immorality (by failing to suppress an irrational whim). That is the sort of "mistake" I mean.

 

When you boil it all down, it's just like "inviting a man to an art gallery at the admission price of his eyes"; the sacrifice of an end-in-itself to one possible way to achieve it.

 

Now, there certainly are times when this consists of a "compromise" (indeed, while there are good compromises, this seems to be the root of all bad compromises). There are also many times (perhaps the majority) when it is rooted in a lack of self-esteem.

I also think there are times when it stems from laziness (such as failing to properly introspect), overconfidence (such as thinking: "I'll find a way to make it work!") and plain ignorance (such as not knowing how to properly introspect). So it seems to be a more fundamental issue, in its own right, than anything like altruism (although, at its core, it is an issue of rationality). In fact, I suspect it may be the error which leads people to suffer and suffer some more, for altruism, rather than stop to question it.

 

I'm getting ahead of myself, though. Have I accurately described the *thing* you're talking about?

 

---   P.S:

I've been toying with the idea of a system for rigorous reasoning (like formal logic) about values. Interestingly, the closest things I've found haven't come from any philosophers; they've been specialized frameworks for AI programming (such as the Belief-Desire-Intention model).

 

Score one for Rand's comparison of the intellectual state of the sciences to that of the humanities.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
PostScript

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6 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

Huh?

 

"Selfishness" means concern for one's own interests and welfare. That is its "primary meaning"; the one we put into dictionaries. When someone applies it to an action like committing suicide out of spite (meaning that concern for your own life can prompt you to waste it), something in their cognition has gone horribly wrong.

 

So... Am I correct in reading that statement as a defense of (let's call it "vernacular selfishness")? If so, please elaborate; I sense the presence of an undiscovered line of reasoning.

Being 'Selfish' essentially means 'concerned with oneself'. This is the essential definition which Objectivism shares with the way most people use it. You need to consider its relation to other concepts to further analyze it:

 

First consider the relationship between metaphysics and morality: In a Universe where God exists (and revelations and miracles exist), those who rally against God are immoral.

 

Now, consider the premise that the Universe is incomprehensible (what Ayn Rand would call Malevolent Universe premise'). In such a Universe, no personal morality or philosophy is possible. For anybody who believes in it, the only reality that can be salvaged is their psycho-epistemology (which they believe to be the author of the plot of their lives). For them, everything is 'my emotions' vs 'your emotions'. "Real world" means the irrationlity of other people. According to them, reality is incomprehensible, but you're free to manipulate the emotions ("the only reality") of other people. For them, emotional manipulation is their only weapon of survival in an incomprehensible Universe. If they manipulate their employer, they get a job. People are rich or poor according to chance/fate. Either way, they are not the authors of their lives. Thus the rich should share their lucky fortunes with others...

 

A special form of selfishness arises from this. They believe the malevolent universe premise but protect emotions only for themselves. They also self-righteously defend their hateful actions (because 'such is life'). These "selfish" people believe that they trampled over other people's emotions and lives to get where they are (I don't doubt it) and that anyone who refuses to do the same don't know how life works. If you're not willing to manipulate, you're not worthy of existence (of living in the "real world"). These are the manipulators or "wolves". The drama of their lives consists of their contempt for sheep who won't make it (anyone with an ounce of self-esteem will be sheep in this world view). These are also the fashionable nonconformists.

 

An altruist's world view presents this as the only alternatives for living on Earth: sheep or wolf; victim or predator; sacrificial victim or moral cannibal. Anyone with some self-esteem will choose to be the victim and expect rewards in some other Universe (afterlife, respect from posterity). [AR: "No value is higher than self-esteem, but you’ve invested it in counterfeit securities—and now your morality has caught you in a trap where you are forced to protect your self-esteem by fighting for the creed of self-destruction."]

 

Malevolent Universe premise must be "preserved" to justify the morality of altruism. Philosophers of altruism must destroy man's reason...

 

This false dichotomy between wolf and sheep is the reason why anyone who hurts another's emotions is considered selfish. This is the reason why committing suicide out of spite is considered selfish (despite how stupid that sounds)...

 

Both Objectivism and people who have never heard of Objectivism use the same essential meaning of selfishness: 'concerned with oneself'. They refer to the same aspect of reality (and therefore, the same concept). Where they differ in is its logical relation to other concepts (based on their metaphysical premises).

 

Rational selfishness means selfishness that is consistent with its own world-view (comprehensible Universe). Rational means ‘consistent with reality’.

 

P.S.:- This is also the reason why discussions involving imaginary scenarios (life boat situations) where egoism is not possible gives rise to altruistic solutions to the problem. Egoism is not possible in an incomprehensible/malevolent Universe (I don't want to discuss more about this. Precise discussion needs more rigorous concepts and logic).

Edited by human_murda
P.S.

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4 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

I'm getting ahead of myself, though. Have I accurately described the *thing* you're talking about?

I would say self-esteem enters much earlier than this.

 

Quote

Let's say they want the car for the sheer joy of driving it, so (within their own minds) that robbery would lead to their experience of cruising down the road with the sun on their face and the wind in their hair, which would lead to the final goal of happiness. Yet, in reality, their act of robbery would probably lead to a lengthy prison sentence and any number of less-than-pleasant experiences.

How did he conclude that the highest "sheer joy" he can find involved driving a stolen car? He believes that life itself (his own life primarily) has nothing else to offer him. His standard is death. It is a problem of self-esteem (it is a compromise between life and death: he has chosen life [as in, to exist] but has never dared to live it). He seems to face no moral struggle in stealing someone else's car initially. The standard he has accepted is altruism (and hence, he finds no value in his own life).

Self-esteem is too deep. It exists in every human (i.e., self-initiated) action, from combing your hair to eating your food.

 

Quote

I've been toying with the idea of a system for rigorous reasoning (like formal logic) about values. Interestingly, the closest things I've found haven't come from any philosophers; they've been specialized frameworks for AI programming (such as the Belief-Desire-Intention model).

 

Score one for Rand's comparison of the intellectual state of the sciences to that of the humanities.

It's too bad that humanities has been reduced to social and cultural "studies", instead of man's nature and what it requires.

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On 7/27/2016 at 2:10 AM, human_murda said:

This false dichotomy between wolf and sheep is the reason why anyone who hurts another's emotions is considered selfish. This is the reason why committing suicide out of spite is considered selfish (despite how stupid that sounds)...

 

Both Objectivism and people who have never heard of Objectivism use the same essential meaning of selfishness: 'concerned with oneself'. ... Where they differ in is its logical relation to other concepts (based on their metaphysical premises).

 

I'll come back to your second post, momentarily.

 

Remember the Starnes brother in Atlas Shrugged, who killed himself in some poor woman's bedroom on the night of her wedding, in order to hurt her? If someone applied the concept of "selfishness" to it (meaning that "concern for oneself" can include literally valuing someone else's pain over your self) then whatever they mean by "yourself" is something completely incompatible with the primary meaning of that!

 

I guess the precise error involved might boil down to some kind of grey area, but calling such an obvious abuse even 'technically correct' seems like a bit of a stretch.

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On 7/27/2016 at 2:19 AM, human_murda said:

How did he conclude that the highest "sheer joy" he can find involved driving a stolen car?

 

I did not say he considered it the highest possible form of joy; I phrased it as the "final goal of happiness" to indicate that happiness is the final goal, which needs no further justification. It was just to punctuate a long and otherwise-monotonous explanation.

I sincerely doubt he would've consciously concluded any such thing; every step of the process I described would have to happen subconsciously and reflexively. That is the point.

If you were wondering by what steps a person could accidentally arrive at such a terrible goal then I would refer you to said long and dry explanation.

 

On 7/27/2016 at 2:19 AM, human_murda said:

He seems to face no moral struggle in stealing someone else's car initially. 1 The standard he has accepted is altruism (and hence, he finds no value in his own life). 2

 

1a:  Maybe he had. I never specified anything about It, either way.

1b:  Should he have? No, being able to rob someone without any moral reservations is not healthy - but is that really the most important aspect of it?

2a:  While altruism does cause people to give up on life, it doesn't happen overnight. It's a gradual, messy process, over the course of years or decades, with lots of detours along the way. So there are plenty of altruists who do still care about their lives, because they're beginning down that road. You'll find them in any college campus. So your "hence" does not belong there.

2b:  What leads you to conclude that he's specifically an altruist? I did not mention any abstract code of ethics.

 

3:  If he was an altruist then he would have felt guilty about robbing someone. If he felt no guilt then he was behaving amorally; not altruistically.

On 7/27/2016 at 2:19 AM, human_murda said:

Self-esteem is too deep. It exists in every human (i.e., self-initiated) action, from combing your hair to eating your food.

No.

 

Emotion follows from thought. Self-esteem is something you feel about yourself, and it follows from the way you think about yourself. And thinking is a choice.

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