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Who Are The True Objectivists?

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"Deserve" is an evaluation. It means that the title "Objectivist" is something good about the person who holds it, that it is an achievement or a value he has earned. It isn't."

You've been an O'ist, or student of O'ism, for 40+ years, and you're not proud of it?  That's what it sounds like you are saying.  Perhaps I misinterpret your remarks.

Yes, you have misunderstood. What you left out from her quote was the sentence which followed:

"It isn't. It is a description. It simply means someone who advocates the philosophy of Ayn Rand."

The distinction is made between a person who accepts the ideas of Objectivism, and a person who actualizes those ideas in his daily life. For instance, intellectually accepting the correctness of certain moral ideas is not the same as acting morally. There are some "Objectivists" who claim to accept the philosophy and use it as a form of pseudo-self-esteem to elevate themselves above lesser folk.

I think Objectivists are superior people, in moral terms.

I know many non-Objectivists whose actions are more moral than some who call themselves Objectivists. You judge a person morally on how they act, not just on the conscious ideas they hold.

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The distinction is made between a person who accepts the ideas of Objectivism, and a person who actualizes those ideas in his daily life.

I should add, considering the context to which I replied, there is certainly a sense of intellectual pride to be had in the acceptance of ideas. When you make a mental connection between the rightness of an idea in Objectivism and its relationship to some application or instance thereof, that very act can be seen as an intellectual accomplishment of your own, one which acknowledges both Objectivism and your understanding of it.

But, the sort of moral pride which was spoken of lies mainly in how you apply the ideas to your life. Pride in action is a reflection not just of your acceptance of an idea, but, even more personally, of your proper application of it. Objectivism is, afterall, a philosophy of life, and though we can admire the brilliance of its ideas, I think we mainly take pride in how well we live our life.

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Objectivism is, afterall, a philosophy of life, and though we can admire the brilliance of its ideas, I think we mainly take pride in how well we live our life.

Given this, why do you and Betsy say that we should use the term "Objectivist" only descriptively to denote someone who advocates the philosophy of Ayn Rand? I'm not necessarily disagreeing with you, just asking for your reasons...but I would be inclined to say that someone who advocates the philosophy but doesn't practice what he preaches is not, in fact, an Objectivist. I'm inclined at this point to use the term to denote someone who not only advocates, but understands and lives Ayn Rand's philosophy--and keeping the full context in mind, that would in fact be a positive evaluation of that person, not merely a description of them.

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Those who see it as a description couldn't care less about putting that label on themselves and others.  Their real concern is whether they and others are in sync with reality and whether they are on track to achieve their values.  That's where a person's real worth comes from.

Why would Rand be protective of the description then if using that description inaccurately doesn't matter? Objectivism describes her philosophy. I think that she would not want it watered down by a myriad of folks who claim to be passing on the philosophy, or who claim to be living that philosophy (and identifying themselves as Objectivists) when in fact they are not accurately doing so.

I'll use the example of being a christian. Above I describe what I have learned is required to be described accurately as a christian. However, from one denomination to the next, different interpretations have caused the concept of being a christian to be muddled or confused. Baptists, Lutherans, Catholics, Methodists, etc. etc. Each has a particular distinction which makes them think they are "real" christians, but their religion as whole suffers credibility in some eyes because of the devisiveness caused by this splintering. It would make sense to me (yes, I'm speculating) that perhaps Rand wanted to spare her philosophy from that splintering. ARI Objectivists, Randites, SOLO Objectivists, as potential examples.

VES

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Another potentially enlightening way of putting the question - grounding the abstraction in commonly recognized and understood concretes - could be:

At what point in the novel Atlas Shrugged do you think Henry Rearden (or another of the main characters) becomes - or deserves the title of - an Objectivist?

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Another potentially enlightening way of putting the question - grounding the abstraction in commonly recognized and understood concretes - could be:

At what point in the novel Atlas Shrugged do you think Henry Rearden (or another of the main characters) becomes - or deserves the title of - an Objectivist?

I would say, at the same point when they are ready to enter Galt's Gulch.

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Why would Rand be protective of the description then if using that description inaccurately doesn't matter?  Objectivism describes her philosophy.  I think that she would not want it watered down by a myriad of folks who claim to be passing on the philosophy, or who claim to be living that philosophy (and identifying themselves as Objectivists) when in fact they are not accurately doing so.

I agree. I am very concerned with the proper use of Objectivism descriptively.

I often challenge libertarians and others who disagree with Ayn Rand's philosophy to some degree, yet who claim to be Objectivists. Why do they do that? Very few do so out of ignorance or misunderstanding of what Objectivism is. Most are seeking an undeserved status from the label.

Observe that it is David Kelley's followers and other wannabes who are so obsessed with being labeled "Objectivists." Those who live rationally earn their self-esteem from their choices and actions. The don't need and don't seek the sanctions and labels bestowed by others as a measure of their personal worth.

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"Deserve" is an evaluation. It means that the title "Objectivist" is something good about the person who holds it, that it is an achievement or a value he has earned. It isn't."

You've been an O'ist, or student of O'ism, for 40+ years, and you're not proud of it? 

Not particularly.

I'll tell you what I am proud of: 42+years of good choices I have made and good actions I have taken, and everything I have accomplished and earned that way -- guided by Objectivism.

There is a big difference between my approach to Objectivism and the approach of those who seek the title of "Objectivist" as an honor or an acknowledgement of virtue. I see Objectivism as a means and they see Objectivism as their end.

I want to use Objectivism to lead a good and successful life. They want to be an Objectivist and regard that as the goal. They think that when they are Objectivists, they will have it made -- and they are wrong.

You never "have it made" and you can never stop.

Life and happiness require constant, continuing rational thought and action for as long as one lives. Objectivism is an indispensable means to that end, but the end is one's own life.

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Given this, why do you and Betsy say that we should use the term "Objectivist" only descriptively to denote someone who advocates the philosophy of Ayn Rand?

I did not say that the term Objectivist should only be used in the descriptive sense to denote someone who intellectually accepts the philosophy of Ayn Rand. I did, however, focus on the purely descriptive sense in order to differentiate that use from one who, in fact, does internalize the philosophy and live his life, in action, in accordance with Objectivist principles. The main reason I chose to focus on this distinction is because, over the years, I have seen some who mainly use Objectivism as a weapon to attack others, not as a tool to guide their life.

Objectivism is a philosophy based on reason and logic, a philosophy dedicated to truth and justice, and I think it obscene for some to use such a philosophy as a means to elevate themselves above others. The notion that 'I am better than you because I agree with Objectivism' does not seem to me as being a very Objectivist notion.

I'm inclined at this point to use the term to denote someone who not only advocates, but understands and lives Ayn Rand's philosophy--and keeping the full context in mind, that would in fact be a positive evaluation of that person, not merely a description of them.

I would agree that that would be the most complete and most meaningful use of the term Objectivist, and I also agree that as you state it it would connote a most positive evaluation. But, there exist many contexts where such detailed personal knowledge is not known to you, and the purely descriptive sense of intellectual agreement is the only fact which you have to judge.

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I think my distinction requires definition. I don't study Objectivism to become an Objectivist for purposes of title or merit. I study Objectivism to understand the philosophy and incorporate it into my life, should that I get to the point where I fully understand what it means, and how I can apply it's principles to my living. Once I reach that point, I would feel comfortable with identifying myself as an Objectivist. Not to imply it's an end, but to acknowledge that I indeed adhere to what those principles are, and actively, continually uses that philosophy as a basis for living life. Thus, I look at it as follows:

An Objectivist is a person who understands and incorporates the priniciples of Objectivism into their life. Nothing more, nothing less.

That title can thus be used as a reference point for others. Not for accolades, but for understanding.

Thus, for conversation sake, I can say either;

1) I understand and incorporate the principles of Objectivism in my life;

or

2) I'm an Objectivist.

VES

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Once I reach that point, I would feel comfortable with identifying myself as an Objectivist.  [...]

That title can thus be used as a reference point for others.  Not for accolades, but for understanding.

In other words, as a description and not as a merit badge.

I don't have a problem with that.

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To answer the question of the title, I guess I'm starting to realie that that person is not me. I have loved and devoted myself to the philosophy of objectivism ever since i found it and accidentally stumbled upon it's pages to find Eddie Willers looking at the black emptiness of the broken tree and feelintg vetrayal. That was me in that moments, and now i'm only left with a sense of doubt. I see that i cannot answer to the post that I started, titled, "Who is John Galt?" It's the same thing I have faced my entire life in the precense of my father. He wishes to rule all and manipulate all, he is nearly every evil thing that is mentioned in the Ayn Rand novels, and some other despicable things that i can't stand, but must accept. W hy can not be an objectivist? Because I am a child of God, and within my being, I cannot turn against that and do not wish to try. I don't want to fight about this. I hav found that my life is based on principles that contradict each other because I am an objectivist in every aspect, except for the fact that I am christian. I have lived my life following the rules of, "honor thy father and mother, at any cost", it has cost me much pain and instability, but I have to accept iot. I can dimly sense the flaws in that system. I can feel that it is wrong to confine myself to the slavery, but that's how it is. I could live my life by objectivist standards as I wish to, but I would only end up on the street, disowned by my family, and rejected by society. I can't answer to your arguments because I fear you may be right and i don't want to have to make the choice between my faith, and my purpose in living. This may be wrong. I'm hoping I won't have to leave this site, but I know it just won't feel the same anymore. This is the ambivalence in sitting down to read Ayn Rand. The message is wondrous, but I can't accept it. I feel myself fighting my own destroyer who is trying to lead me to Galt's Gulch, but I can't. I can't be an objectivist by what i have seen here, and that really saddens me. You guys have been great. Actually, one of the most intelligent group of people I've ever been able to communicate with. All my life...I searched for reason, and objectivism offered it to me. Why must I have to deny it?

I have to go...

I'll try to post again in June.

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I don't think it's accurate to call me an Objectivist since I still disagree with several of its points.  I'm pro-life, for one.  There are others, as well.

Seconded. Terms such as 'Objectivist' remain relative for reasons we all all.

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Okay, so what are the requirements? I'm trying to figure out if it's an appropriate title for me. I know I said I'm a Deist, but that's mostly b/c I want to join the Masons and you have to believe in God. I do not believe in any kind of God, but only because I have no evidence to see that he exists. If someone could provide me with evidence, I could call myself a Deist.

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Okay, so what are the requirements?  I'm trying to figure out if it's an appropriate title for me.  I know I said I'm a Deist, but that's mostly b/c I want to join the Masons and you have to believe in God.  I do not believe in any kind of God, but only because I have no evidence to see that he exists.  If someone could provide me with evidence, I could call myself a Deist.

I don't understand. You say you do not believe in the existence of a god -- but you are going to tell the Masons that you do?

Would you be telling them the truth or a lie?

If the latter, would you be exercising the virtue of honesty?

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Okay, so what are the requirements?  I'm trying to figure out if it's an appropriate title for me.  I know I said I'm a Deist, but that's mostly b/c I want to join the Masons and you have to believe in God.  I do not believe in any kind of God, but only because I have no evidence to see that he exists.  If someone could provide me with evidence, I could call myself a Deist.

This has been discuseed before here.

Also, as we've been trying to point out to you in other threads, the concept of God is arbitrary. As such, the concept is neither true nor false as no evidence has been presented for a god. If you wish to fake reality by pretending to be a Deist in order to join the Freemasons, I seriously doubt you could call yourself an Objectivist. At the very least, you have simply not integrated your values.

I would ask you, which is more important to you: your integrity or joining the Masons.

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Okay, so what are the requirements?  I'm trying to figure out if it's an appropriate title for me.  I know I said I'm a Deist, but that's mostly b/c I want to join the Masons and you have to believe in God.  I do not believe in any kind of God, but only because I have no evidence to see that he exists.  If someone could provide me with evidence, I could call myself a Deist.

Zoso, The word "God" is an evasion. The proper term "god" is a common noun. There is, in imagination, Zeus, Thor, Jehovah, etc.----gods. To arbitrarily change a small "g" to a capital "G" is an act of the primacy of consciousness orientation to reality. Its purpose is to enable each believer to pretend that what is in his own mind is "out there". "God" is the capacity of wishing in a man's mind when he regards it as a causal entity in reality and calls it "God". Thus, there are as many "Gods" as there are believers in "God".

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I have not yet read ITOE, but it's on my list. I do not currently have reason to state that I know conclusively that there is no God. So, if I can't call myself an Objectivist because of that, then I guess I'm not.

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I don't understand. You say you do not believe in the existence of a god -- but you are going to tell the Masons that you do?

Would you be telling them the truth or a lie?

If the latter, would you be exercising the virtue of honesty?

Meh...I was mostly hoping to just dodge the issue altogether, but I realize that they probably wouldn't let me do that. I still maintain that, even though I do not currenly believe that there is a God, I am open to the possibility, if someone presents me with evidence. I don't think that will ever happen, but I won't rule it out. So, does that disqualify me from calling myself an Objectivist, even though I do not believe in God?

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Meh...I was mostly hoping to just dodge the issue altogether, but I realize that they probably wouldn't let me do that.  I still maintain that, even though I do not currenly believe that there is a God, I am open to the possibility, if someone presents me with evidence.  I don't think that will ever happen, but I won't rule it out.  So, does that disqualify me from calling myself an Objectivist, even though I do not believe in God?

Zoso, it's a given that any rational person would change an opinion when presented with evidence to the contrary. The fact that you focus so much on making it clear that you might believe in god one day makes me wonder. To avoid psychologizing you, I would just encourage you to check your premises when it comes to god and just realize the concept is arbitrary, neither true nor false.

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The concept is arbitrary as Objectivists typically define it.  I'm not certain that people who actually believe in God define it in the same way.

Zoso, you have evaded asking yourself, "What, to me, does the word "God" refer to in reality?" When you come up with "nothing" you can go to the Masons and say, "I believe in God, that is, nothing, and I believe that without nothing we wouldn't be here." :blink:

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