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About a Woman President

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Ayn Rand identified a woman's essential characteristics the same way she identified those of man, by careful observation of reality. For example, she wrote that "The Objectivist ethics proudly advocates and upholds rational selfishness -- which means: the values required for man's survival qua man" (The Virtue of Selfishness, p. 34). Now some collectivist could attack her by saying that she provides no support for such a statement. Where, the adversary might argue, is her explicit support for such a claim? Where are the quantifiers, the stastistical data, the case studies? In the absence of such support, must we reject Ayn Rand's view of man's nature? I think not.

But Objectivism does provide an explicit support of this claim - Peikoff does so in OPAR, wherein he builds the philosophy from the ground up, explicitly, and I do not recall any discussion of masculinity or femininity therein.

Further, to demand explanation is the essence of reason. There are precious few things to which you can point to say "see, it's self-evident." Human behavior is not one of them. That most women behave a certain way does not say anything about the nature of femininity.

Obviously your experiences lead you to conclusions different from Ayn Rand's and mine. It doesn't hurt my feelings that you disagree with Ayn Rand on this matter. On the other hand, I have no intention of overthrowing my own conclusions just because you can't see things my way.

If your experiences and mine have lead us to different, contradictory conclusions, it follows that there is something wrong with one or both of our interpretations of these experiences, since the world is what it is and doesn't vary from observer to observer. I'm not asking you to overthrow your conclusions, I'm asking you to convince me of their validity.

Finally, the topic of the 'closed' nature of Objectivism is one for a different thread, but Rand did not want her name used to promote her philosophy, out of concern that her writings would be taken as the dogmatic, definitive statement of the philosophy.

-Q

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Kevin wrote: I might as well say that, in my experience, God has shown Himself to be true and omnipotent, and if your observation is different, then that's just too bad for you.
Ayn Rand's essay "An Answer To Readers (About A Woman President)" is no more subjective than any of her other work in moral philosophy. Her insights are derived from real world experience and may be confirmed by reference to reality. Definitions are built on essentials. While not all men act rationally, rationality is a key component of man qua man. Similarly, while not all women are hero-worshippers, femininity and hero worship are key components of woman qua woman.

A critic of Objectivism may respond to Ayn Rand's ethics of rational egoism by claiming that the values required for man's survival qua man must be altruistic. What is the counter-argument? Statistics? Would anyone care to submit such data?

To compare her views with those of a religionist is insulting. There is nothing mystical or irrational about Ayn Rand's moral philosophy, including her views on women. Her philosophy is derived from the nature of reality.

Further, to demand explanation is the essence of reason. There are precious few things to which you can point to say "see, it's self-evident." Human behavior is not one of them. That most women behave a certain way does not say anything about the nature of femininity.

And that is precisely my point. It is not necessary to provide physical evidence to establish truths about the nature of women, any more than such evidence is required to form conclusions about the nature of man.

Edited by Daedalus

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To compare her views with those of a religionist is insulting.

I don't think he's comparing her views to a religionist. Rather, I think he's comparing your ability to present an argument to be that of an "argument from authority", an observation made by several people on this board already. Other users have commented in public and in private to mods that you present less of your own argument and reasoning and more of Ayn Rand quotes and threats of "if you don't agree with me you are against Objectivism."

Are you at all capable of providing your own argument, in your own words, without arguing from authority all the time?

Edited by RationalCop

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I don't think he's comparing her views to a religionist. Rather, I think he's comparing your ability to present an argument to be that of an "argument from authority"

1. I never said that Ayn Rand's position was correct because Ayn Rand said it. It is correct because it is consistent with reality, and I have offered reasons in support of its truth.

"if you don't agree with me you are against Objectivism."
2. Who said that? Objectivism, by definition, is the philosophy of Ayn Rand. If one opposes Objectivism in part, it does not follow that one opposes it in whole.

Are you at all capable of providing your own argument, in your own words, without arguing from authority all the time?

3. See point 1. above.

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I suggest that this line of discussion is past dead. No real evidence regarding the nature of females has been provided to support the "irrational president" claim -- simply asserting that it is perceptually self-evident is not evidence, it is arbitrary assertion. The question of what counstitutes a philosophical question versus a scientific one -- referring in particular to the discussion in ITOE -- has been completely ignored. It is not a principle of Objectivist philosophy that "Junior" is a proper cat's name, even though it is alleged that she had such a cat -- Objectivism is the philosophy of Ayn Rand, not the collected sentences of Ayn Rand. Since we cannot get past this fundamental point, I don't see any value whatsoever in pursuing this word game.

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Good idea. I'm closing this thread for a few days, to give this topic a break.

I apologize in that I just started reading this thread and only thoroughly got through the first four pages. If this point has already been made, or someone has already addressed the issue, please point me to the correct post.

It seems to me that masculinity and femininity are qualities that generally belong to men and women (respectively) but not exclusively (but almost exclusively). Surely - in purely a physical sense - there are women who are bigger and stronger than some men and men who are smaller and weaker than some women. Might it be the case that masculinity/femininity might - depending on the chemical make-up (increased testosterone, decreased estrogen, etc), be a quality of the neuromechanics of the mind/body and not exclusively (but rarely) the physiology of the gender?

Edited by NewYorkRoark

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@NewYorkRoark: You're right about masculinity and femininity and that they're qualities that apply (in general) to men and women respectively. That's the definitions of those words.

The most recent argument in this thread is whether or not the essence of femininity (and, therefore, any rational woman) is hero-worship. Ayn Rand stated quite clearly in her 'About a Woman President' essay that she thought it was, but many (including myself) feel that her arguments are less than valid.

I, for one, feel that I could be President (or even absolute monarch) without losing my femininity. I do not hero-worship my boyfriend, and never have- yet our relationship is fulfilling for me. Likewise, he does not heroine-worship me. It is mutual respect and admiration between two people who are equal intellectually and morally, and love stems from that. However, the fact that he is masculine while I am feminine has very little effect on our relationship outside of the purely physical.

It is true that many (note: not all) women prefer to be in a relationship where she is more submissive and he is more domineering, where the woman 'surrenders' herself. This, however, IMO, is a preference, not a characteristic of all rational women.

I have read this entire (15 pages!) thread, and did not understand the arguments put forth to support Rand's views. In addition, I do not understand Ayn Rand's arguments to support her own views. Perhaps someone could review them for me, specifically starting with the reasoning behind the statement "For a woman qua woman, the essence of femininity is hero-worship - the desire to look up to man"? This seems to be the basis for all her arguments which follow, and if you accept it as true then the rest of what she says makes sense, but I do not see the truth in it. I would be very grateful for a synopsis of the rational arguments behind this statement.

P.S. Arguments using the supposed lack of rational basis behind man's need for rational self-interest do not make sense. There is a rational basis- certainly much more of one than there is behind the statement I am asking about. Please do not use that argument. Also, I would not like to just be referred back to Miss Rand's works, since I do not agree with her reasoning.

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On 6/21/2006 at 1:18 PM, miseleigh said:

I have read this entire (15 pages!) thread

Not to be picky here, but per my set-up, I'm only seeing 12 pages at this time. It's going to take some time to sift thru such a volume of information in such a short period of time as is being presented at this current moment. To reference a current aphorism I was taught growing up—please be patient, God isn't finished with me yet.

On 4/11/2004 at 4:03 AM, MinorityOfOne said:

I'll try to access my other post at some point, because I think it'd be worth quoting it: I also discuss why recognition of this distinction is necessary, lest you come to believe that Objectivism consists of literally every word Rand ever wrote.

Elocution on this matter is going to require the consideration of the recently reintroduced evidence, previously omitted from an earlier episode, precipitated by an overload of the crow.

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