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Boydstun

Developmental Psychopathology

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Sounds excellent.  One of my (many) problems with Rand is her depiction of heroic people who are "unaware" of other people.  Roark is a prime example.  I also believe she suffered from some of this.  To a great extent, I equate empathy with awareness and awareness with focus.

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I get the idea, Claire, but I don't see how Rand's heroes are portrayed as "unaware" of other people. They just aren't universally interested in all people, and are neutral to a lot of people. This is unrelated to ability to empathize or being a "cold" person. With regards to "theory of mind", all Rand's heroes are pretty good at thinking about what other people think about and why. 

Baron-Cohen has some neat ideas, but I find his own theories of empathy aren't too great. He developed an EQ test, but all it measures is self-perception of empathy skill, as opposed to actual demonstrations of empathy skill. That tower shooter was simply failing to think well due to drug abuse. It doesn't have to be that his empathy was damaged so to speak. If you fail to reason, you could empathize in a twisted way, but still be highly empathetic. Putting a dead body back in bed is like empathizing with corpses:

" Lavergne says the 25-year-old former Marine and Eagle Scout was incredibly methodical as he went about killing his mother the night before the tower shootings, placing her body in bed as if she were sleeping. Then he went back home and stabbed his wife. "

Edited by Eiuol

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Naw.  Roark is definitely unaware of and indifferent to people.  So, by the way, is Rearden.  His unwillingness to even think about his marriage for 10 years is self-defeating, as is his unwillingness to think about the regulators of his business.

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Rearden was guilt-tripped for 10 years. He didn't want to upset his family. He was a doormat and let guilt take over. That's anything but "indifferent". He did think of the regulators a lot, but then later, asked himself what -right- they had to regulate him. I'd say Rearden was always empathetic, he just didn't -think- about his emotions or their causes. It's not like he let go of empathy. Rearden learned how to be empathetic without destroying his self-esteem.

Roark isn't really unempathetic. Got any examples? Roark was pretty damn empathetic to Steven Mallory. Roark was an extremely introverted person, so he was selective about time he spent with other people. Doesn't mean he was unaware. Even more, his attitude of indifference was more like "it's your life to lead, not mine!" That's different than indifference like "I got mine, who cares about you losers".

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15 hours ago, Claire1964 said:

Sounds excellent.  One of my (many) problems with Rand is her depiction of heroic people who are "unaware" of other people.  Roark is a prime example.  I also believe she suffered from some of this.  To a great extent, I equate empathy with awareness and awareness with focus.

12 hours ago, Claire1964 said:

Naw.  Roark is definitely unaware of and indifferent to people.  So, by the way, is Rearden.  His unwillingness to even think about his marriage for 10 years is self-defeating, as is his unwillingness to think about the regulators of his business.

agreed.

Galt is somewhat of a counter-example, though. He spent the novel going around convincing people to go on strike with him, and presented the entire radio address, diagnosing the philosophical problems in the culture and attempting to persuade people to his point of view.

However, I think what Galt, Dagny, Rearden, and Francisco all did to Eddie Willers was pretty horrible. He was a good guy who added a lot of value to each of their lives; they used him, and then they all abandoned him when they fled to the gulch. It's a pretty unbelievable oversight for what are supposed to be admirable heroes...

Edited by epistemologue

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Epist, how are you defining empathy? I'm thinking of it just as ability to grasp how other people are feeling, along the lines of what Baron-Cohen is referring to, the author of the linked book. You seem to think of it as being very pro-social and extroverted about ideas. In that case, yes, Rand's heroes aren't empathetic. That's not what I'm talking about. They're hardly unaware of people, and are pretty good at being aware actually. There are varying degrees to care about others or seek to engage/talk to others, but it's not callousness to be less pro-social and introverted.

Leaving behind Eddie was probably bad, regardless of Eddie's final moral evaluation at the end of the book, but I'd say it's arguable that the four of them were on their way to save Eddie. It wouldn't be unlike Dagny to go out and save him like she did Galt.

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