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The Morality of Monogamy

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THE MORALITY OF MONOGAMY

<This is a (not fully edited) version of an article I wrote on this subject about 6 years ago.>

Background:

Psychological visibility is the experience of perceiving a psychological "mirror" in reality that reflects one’s most fundamental values. This experience has epistemological and psychological significance because man needs a direct perceptual experience of the connection between his mind and reality. One is able to focus on a relatively limited number of entities at one time. The contents of your mind are vast and you are able to consider only a few aspects of your own consciousness at once. Through another living being one can experience the reflection of many of his values, all at the same time.

One gets this experience on a limited level when looking at plant or lush landscape. A tree grows towards the sun and pushes its roots deep into the earth, in an effort to gain those minerals and chemicals that sustain its life. Man shares with a tree his struggle for survival. He perceives in the tree a miniature mirror of his values, and he experiences the actualization of those values as an emotional sum. He shares even more values with animals, which have the capacity of perception and locomotion. Animals also possess a rudimentary form of emotion, which is obvious to anyone who has ever owned a dog. The dog can often tell if one is happy or sad, excited or stagnant, and it responds in kind. One experiences pleasure when a pet displays recognition of his intentions.

Through another human being, one is able to directly experience almost all of his most treasured values. Your good friend not only possesses intelligence, but also knows those aspects of your personality that make you different from any other entity in the universe. One generally thinks of himself as a flow of thoughts and perceptions, but he think of others as a united whole, like “Dan,” “Kelly,” and “Chris.” When one lays his eyes on a close friend, he can feel as if all is right in the world, and that he shares life with another being who truly understands him. This is greatest experience and potential of psychological visibility.

The need for romantic love is a corollary of the need for psychological visibility. Romantic love is the most powerful psychological mirror because, ideally, a lover reflects all of the fundamental aspects of self. Like a close friend, she shares most of one’s philosophical ideals and appreciates the unique aspects of one's personality. Beyond that, she is able provide immediate perceptual realization of one’s body. She can provide physical as well as emotional pleasure.

Merely looking at one’s friend can cause a feeling of inner contentment. Making love to one’s romantic partner is the ultimate celebration of life. All perceptions are active at that moment. One can see his lovers face, hear her voice, smell her scent, and touch her body. It’s almost a perceptual overload. This is the most intense perceptual-emotional experience of psychological visibility possible. For most of us, it is the greatest form of happiness we ever feel.

The Morality of Monogamy:

Monogamy is a long-term romantic relationship in which both partners preserve romantic and sexual exclusivity. I hold that monogamous relationships are the ideal channel for romantic love over the long term.

Psychological visibility is of critical importance to romantic love relationships. Through a lover, one can experience the deepest form of self-love possible. In order to attain this highest level of happiness, it is necessary to directly perceive another being that reflects both the broadest and the most specific aspects of self simultaneously. The person must reflect one’s broader intellectual values like philosophical and political beliefs, and also the specific traits, personality quirks, and physical attributes that make one unique.

Self-love is a psychological prime mover. I don’t need a reason to love the fact that I am a man, have green eyes, like to play chess, and tell stupid jokes. I would not want to trade my life, my personality, or my body (or especially my girlfriend) with anyone else. Most individuals with a healthy self-esteem feel the same way. It is appropriate for one to highly value his own optional value judgments and individuality. The direct, perceptual experience of a being that psychologically mirrors many or all of these specific traits will generate an emotional reaction in proportion to the depth and scope of the reflection. A lover can provide such a mirror.

Through interaction, shared experiences, and physical contact, two lovers can build an immense private world with one another. Those who have been in a rational and mutually beneficial relationship for an extended period of time are able to read each other’s minds, anticipate each other’s choices, and generally display an acute understanding of each other’s distinguishing attributes. In a good romance, no one knows your various likes and dislikes as well as your partner.

Lovers become a part of each other as they share life experiences. This is not any kind of second-handedness, but a marvelous consequence of living and growing with another sentient, rational being. Often, one’s most treasured memories are of things he learned or experienced with a loved one.

The more one grows as an individual, the greater capacity he has to experience an even higher emotional sum in response to his values. There is more self to sum up, i.e., there are more aspects of self automatized in the subconscious. In a long-term romantic love relationship, memories and experiences of one’s lover become a substantial part of that sum. Your long time wife is not only a value because she is wonderful, but because she has been wonderful for years. If you both continue to grow individually and with one another, the shared private world embodied in your partner can become your highest perceivable value.

The problem with polygamy is that the value of psychological visibility is judged by its intensity, not its quantity. The private world between two long-term lovers can become massive, and it is automatized into each partner’s subconscious. It cannot be transferred to someone else at whim. The private world is intimately, physically connected to one particular person. The fact that exactly one perceivable entity represents a host of one’s values is what makes psychological visibility possible. An infinite number of casual romances will never add up to the degree of happiness that monogamous, long-term relationships can provide.

If one focuses his time and energy on one person, a private world is able to grow faster and deeper over a period of time. It would be impossible to develop the same kind of depth with even two people, much less three or more. It is simply more time-efficient to pursue one relationship at a time, and to pursue a long-term monogamous relationship when possible. There is no salary cap on the spiritual paycheck. The private world continues to grow as long as each partner grows as an individual.

Sexual exclusivity is also important because man attaches a symbolic value to the act of love making, creating a channel though which he experiences the emotional sum of psychological visibility. Just as we punish criminals proportional to the severity of their crimes, so we honor loved ones according to their ranking in our hierarchy of values. One does not French kiss complete strangers. He doles out physical affection proportionate to his degree of intimacy with each individual. One hugs his friends, kisses relatives, but usually goes no further than this except with a romantic interest. If a man begins to focus on one romantic relationship, he ought to be sexually exclusive with that partner, because in this way he connects the greatest possible emotional and intellectual pleasure to the greatest possible physical pleasure. He reserves sex as the highest celebration of his values, which will only be shared with the one who maximizes his feelings of happiness and self-esteem.

If two lovers preserve sexual exclusivity, then their sex life becomes an even more intimate part of their private world. It is something shared with one individual, and no other. One automatizes the symbolic value that he places on sex, which adds even more to the emotional sum he experiences with his lover.

During my adult life, there has never been a question in my mind about what kind of romance I want: One woman, one wife, one life-long friend to grow old and raise a family with. Most of us have dreamed about it since adolescence. It is time we recognized that monogamy is the ideal form of romantic love. Anything else is like a genius aspiring to be a janitor.

--Dan Edge

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Do you mean that literally or sarcastically? I assume the former, but the tone of your post is unclear.

Thanks,

--Dan Edge

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Do you mean that literally or sarcastically? I assume the former, but the tone of your post is unclear.

Sorry, I read the text and didn't have time for a full reply. I mean that litteraly, but not in a positive way. Morality, Ethics, are bout how man should live - the requirements for existence as a rational animal. I don't agree with many of the identifications you based your argument on, and on several of the arguments as well. What struck me most strongly, however, was the supposed need to see your values in other people.

Individual humans are self sufficient. Contact with others is not a requirement for existence as a rational individual. To derive morality from this "need", which is only really a "want", makes the whole derivation invalid - which is why I said "that makes sense". To my best understanding there is no moral imperative to be monogamous, but your argument shines a bright light on the thinking of those who do.

I'll do another post pointing out the particular points I disagree with in your reasoning when I have more time. And I apologize if my previous post seemed ironic.

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Hi Mrocktar,

Have you read The Psychology of Self-Esteem by Nathaniel Branden? If not, I highly recommend it. He presents the concept of psychological visibility, and why it is a need. I tried to sketch an outline of his theory in the "Background" section of my Monogamy article, but I didn't do it complete justice. My argument assumes a basic understanding of psychological visibility. I will try to respond to any questions you have, but to me, there is no question about the fact that psychological visibility is a need (particularly regarding the need for friendships and romantic love relationships).

Do you believe that one can live a full life without love or friends? What psychological needs to these relationships fulfill?

No sweat on your "ironic" post. I'm not thin-skinned. I didn't think you meant any offense; that's why I asked.

--Dan Edge

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Do you believe that one can live a full life without love or friends? What psychological needs to these relationships fulfill?

I challenge the premise of this question: the idea of living a "full" life assumes--incorrectly--that there is some set volume to be filled and each "sector" of your life can only fill up so much of it, so you have to have a variety of things in your life. It doesn't work that way.

You can always be happier than you are now, but the method you choose for achieving that greater happiness is up to you. You could invest more time in your work, or pursue friendships, or romance, or pick up a new hobby . . . whatever you like.

Now, I will admit that since other people can be of great value to you choosing to pursue friendships and romantic relationships can seem like a natural course, but it's not a need any more than procreation is. Children likewise can be of inestimable value, however I personally have no desire whatsoever for children of my own. I don't even really like children. Not to mention that I will happily ignore friends etc. in favor of a new book or movie or writing project. Shows you where my priorities are. I've always been a bit of a loner, even before I was old enough to have reasons for wanting to be alone.

As far as monogamy goes, I don't really have an opinion on it. From personal experience I know that *one* romantic relationship can be an exhausting labor of immense complexity all by itself, and I just don't have the kind of mind that can handle two such undertakings in the same sphere at the same time. It'd be like--if you'll pardon the metaphor, which may be inexact--trying to write two novels at once.

Edited by JMeganSnow

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I don’t need a reason to love the fact that I am a man, have green eyes, like to play chess, and tell stupid jokes. I would not want to trade my life, my personality, or my body (or especially my girlfriend) with anyone else.
What would it mean to trade telling stupid jokes with someone else? And what would it mean to trade your girlfriend with someone else?

If one focuses his time and energy on one person, a private world is able to grow faster and deeper over a period of time. It would be impossible to develop the same kind of depth with even two people, much less three or more. It is simply more time-efficient to pursue one relationship at a time.
So is it impossible for everyone? Or is it more time-efficient for most people? Or more time-efficient for everyone?

THE MORALITY OF MONOGAMY
I don't entirely agree with what you say here, but thank you for sharing it nonetheless.

It'd be like--if you'll pardon the metaphor, which may be inexact--trying to write two novels at once.
That's an interesting way to put it. I'll have to chew on that one!

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I challenge the premise of this question: the idea of living a "full" life assumes--incorrectly--that there is some set volume to be filled and each "sector" of your life can only fill up so much of it, so you have to have a variety of things in your life. It doesn't work that way.

You can always be happier than you are now, but the method you choose for achieving that greater happiness is up to you. You could invest more time in your work, or pursue friendships, or romance, or pick up a new hobby . . . whatever you like.

...

Hi Jennifer,

Thanks for the feedback.

I believe the standard I set for a "full life" is valid. There are different "sectors" of man's life that need to be fulfilled: one has psychological needs, nutritional needs, conceptual needs, and others. Many optional value judgments are available to man, but the range of acceptable options is limited by his nature. For instance, one should not spend all of his time focused on eating a healthy diet, and never engage in productive work to support his life. Productivity and a proper diet are both needs, and within a certain range the choice of how much time to focus on each is optional, but the acceptable range of options is limited. Both of these "sectors" of need must be fulfilled in order to live a happy life.

I contend that one needs psychological visibility, friendship, and romance, just as he needs proper nutrition. I do not believe that choosing to spend one's entire life completely alone is within the realm of the optional. Living that way would be like refusing to eat any foods with vitamin C. You may continue to survive, but your quality of life would be stunted.

I realize that my view is not the standard one, and that the onus of proof lies with me to demonstrate that long term romantic love is a (non-optional) need. Even my best friend disagrees with me on this <_< I've been working on it for a long time, and this essay represents one step towards the solution in my mind.

Thanks,

--Dan Edge

Edited to correct grammar.

Edited by dan_edge

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[1.]What would it mean to trade telling stupid jokes with someone else? And what would it mean to trade your girlfriend with someone else?

[2.]So is it impossible for everyone? Or is it more time-efficient for most people? Or more time-efficient for everyone?

1. What I mean is that, even though I think Brad Pitt is better looking than me, I would never want to change my appearance to look more like him. And even though Halle Berry is hotter than my lover, I would never want my Kelly to change her appearance to look like Mrs. Berry. I value my physical appearance, my optional value judgments, and the little eccentricities that make me unique. I value these things because they individuate me, they are part of my identity. I wrote an essay about this also: Self-Love as a Prime Mover. Check it out.

2. There may be situations in which it would not be more time-efficient for one to pursue monogamous romance, but I think that would be an unusual case. As a general rule, long-term monogamy is the way to go.

Thanks,

--Dan Edge

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I believe the standard I set for a "full life" is valid. There are different "sectors" of man's life that need to be fulfilled: one has psychological needs, nutritional needs, conceptual needs, and others.

I think this is a bit of a bait-and-switch, here . . . I was talking strictly about psychological needs (which, btw, includes conceptual needs if you think about it) and you've introduced physical needs, which would appear to invalidate my argument if a reader isn't strict about viewing the nature of my argument.

Happiness in general is a very definite psychological need but there's absolutely nothing in human psychology that means you must have: the spouse, the kid, the house, the job, the hobby, the friends . . . in order to be happy. (It is necessary to have some kind of productive work, but when I say 'the job' I'm talking more about traditional nine-to-five employment than just productive work.) I mean, you could go the other way and say that a woman devoted to her spouse and children is missing out because she doesn't have enough in the hobby sector. It doesn't follow.

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Hi Jennifer,

Your wrote: "Happiness in general is a very definite psychological need but there's absolutely nothing in human psychology that means you must have: the spouse, the kid, the house, the job, the hobby, the friends . . . in order to be happy."

I think there is something the the nature of human psychology that means you must have psychological visibility. There is an optional range of acceptable choices one can make to fulfill this need, but the need must be filled. Just as it is necessary to have some kind of productive work, it is necessary to engage is mutually beneficial relationships with others. How would one define the optional range of choices to attain these values?

Let's take productivity as an example, something we would both agree is a need. There is a optional range of choices here. One could choose to be a fiction writer, a salesman, a lawyer, etc., and any of these would be a moral choice. But would it be moral for a genius to aspire to be a janitor? Would that be within the realm of the morally optional for the genius? He could earn a living, and he could be the best damn janitor the world has ever seen. But this would not come close to reaching the genius's potential. He would not be flourishing to the extent possible to him. He's fulfilling his basic need of survival, but I would argue he is not living a full life, because he has limited himself unnecessarily and stunted the happiness potential of his life.

Psychological visibility is also a need. One can get it to a very limited degree from plants or pets, a greater degree from friends, and the highest degree from romantic relationships. There are many optional choices for how to fulfill this need, but the same principle applies. To live a full life, one must flourish to the extent possible to him. For example, one may choose to keep a very few, close friends, or spend a lot of time making new friends. He may have children, or not. He may spend almost all of his free time with his lover, or he may have many independent hobbies that his lover is not involved with. However, one needs some friends, and needs to devote some time to romance to live a full life. Given the range of options open to most men, I argue that choosing to forgo a long-term romance is like the genius choosing to be a janitor. The happiness potential is so much greater with a long-term romance, one would be limiting himself unnecessarily and stunt the happiness potential of his life if he chose never to pursue it.

Thanks,

--Dan Edge

Edited by dan_edge

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Jennifer,

Something I didn't think about asking:

Do you think that seeking out and keeping friendships is an optional value choice? For example, do you believe it would be ethical not to ever pursue friendships at all? I'm resting on the premise that friendship is a need, so we may have a disagreement further up the chain here.

Thanks,

-Dan

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Given the range of options open to most men, I argue that choosing to forgo a long-term romance is like the genius choosing to be a janitor. The happiness potential is so much greater with a long-term romance, one would be limiting himself unnecessarily and stunt the happiness potential of his life if he chose never to pursue it.

Dan, I agree with that statement right there, but I don't really know fully what psychological visibility is, so I can't comment on something that is a floating abstraction to me. I think that a monogamous romantic relationship is the most intimate and therefore highest form of relationship possible.

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Dan, I agree with that statement right there, but I don't really know fully what psychological visibility is, so I can't comment on something that is a floating abstraction to me. I think that a monogamous romantic relationship is the most intimate and therefore highest form of relationship possible.

How would you define intimacy in this case? Is it just about physical (or sexual) intimacy, or also about emotional/spiritual intimacy (like sharing very personal things with another person)? There might even be more subcategories of intimacy one can make, I don't know if these two are mutually exclusive.

It seems from your above statement that the measure of intimacy in a relationship is the primary standard you use to evaluate how good it is (well, obviously other things also apply). Do you think it is just one of these types of intimacy that is essential here, or all of them? Do you think any of the types of intimacy I described are more important in such a relationship, that would make a less intimate (in that respect) relationship less fulfilling, or are they all necessary in different ways?

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I agree with Dan.

Man needs the experience of self-awareness that results from perceiving his self as an objective existent. He achieves this, in it's most fulfilling form, through interaction with the consciousness of other people of similar values (lower form would be from pets for example).

To illustrate, when another professes to like me for reasons that do not bear any relation to my self-perceptions, or values, or standards, I do not feel gratified, because I do not feel visible. It is not unseeing support that I need (I have plenty of that), but consciousness, perception, and true understanding of myself. This is what I understand psychological visibility to mean.

I don't think that it is an optional value - but it lies higher in the hierarchy of values - meaning if you are struggling to survive (a more basic need - at the bottom of the pyramid of values if you will) your survival is going to be your primary concern and not so much your psychological needs.

Edited by ~Sophia~

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Given the range of options open to most men, I argue that choosing to forgo a long-term romance is like the genius choosing to be a janitor.

How does non-monogamy prevent one from pursuing long-term romances?

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Hi Dan, just got around to giving your article more attention.

Psychological visibility is the experience of perceiving a psychological "mirror" in reality that reflects one’s most fundamental values.

The emotional response to seeing your most fundamental values is love. Are you speaking of an emotional response or something else? Also, why that name? Are you talking about seeing your values in others or having your own values beeing seen by others? The first is love, I see no gain in coining a different term. The second is problematic, since it amounts to deriving self worth from the evaluation of others.

The term "psychological visibility" may be a staple of psychology (I'm a lay person in that department) but it sure needs a much better definition than the one you gave. Besides, given the sorry state of science these days (the humanities especially), being common terminology in the field says nothing about it being a valid concept in the first place.

Man certainly needs perceptual experienve of the connection between his mind and reality. And he has that direct perceptual experience every time he acts, there is no need for another person in this regard.

Through another human being, one is able to directly experience almost all of his most treasured values. Your good friend not only possesses intelligence, but also knows those aspects of your personality that make you different from any other entity in the universe. One generally thinks of himself as a flow of thoughts and perceptions, but he think of others as a united whole, like “Dan,” “Kelly,” and “Chris.” When one lays his eyes on a close friend, he can feel as if all is right in the world, and that he shares life with another being who truly understands him.

This is very true, but all it proves is that values are valuable. Having virtuous firends is certainly a huge value, but this does not mean that being alone one is incapable of seeing the connection between mind and reality, nor that one's own personal values (such as intelligence or integrity) are in any way diminished.

My introspection tells me that my friends are valuable to me because of what they add to my life. Life without them would be worse, but in no way impossible.

The need for romantic love is a corollary of the need for psychological visibility.

I question that "psychological visibility" is even a valid concept, I know it is not a need. Romantic love is also not a need. It is a value, but one can live a happy life without it.

Commenting on the "Morality of Monogamy" part before getting a better definition of what you mean with "psychological visibility" and actually establishing it as a need may be ineffective, but there are some points to bring up:

The person must reflect one’s broader intellectual values like philosophical and political beliefs, and also the specific traits, personality quirks, and physical attributes that make one unique.

While I agree that for a long term relationship it is essential that the underlying sense of life and basic philosophy must be shared (and true!), I disagree completely that the ideal partner is someone just like you. Myself, I'm attracted to women who are different (and better than me in some way), who challenge me to improve.

Self-love is a psychological prime mover.

Another term that needs a definition. And calling any emotion a "prime-mover" is questionable. Emotions are not primaries.

Lovers become a part of each other as they share life experiences.

The preceding paragraph is very true, this is not. A lifetime of happy memories does not make someone a part of you, though it should make them a big part of your life. And probably a lot of what you are is due to that history. You don't cease to be what you are, don't lose a part of your self, don't even lose those memories, if that person leaves.

In a long-term romantic love relationship, memories and experiences of one’s lover become a substantial part of that sum. Your long time wife is not only a value because she is wonderful, but because she has been wonderful for years. If you both continue to grow individually and with one another, the shared private world embodied in your partner can become your highest perceivable value.

If the wife who has been wonderful for years suddenly becomes completely irrational (say, converts to Islam and becomes a rabid environmentalist) - do you still love her? No. Because you can only love what is. That said, you are correct in that years of happiness and trust do greatly enlarge the value of the relationship - they are evidence that the loved person will not turn into such a monster.

The problem with polygamy is that the value of psychological visibility is judged by its intensity, not its quantity.

And now to the crux of the matter. Is psychological visibility even a valid concept? How does this means of valuation derived from the nature of psychological visibility (whatever it is)?

The private world between two long-term lovers can become massive, and it is automatized into each partner’s subconscious. It cannot be transferred to someone else at whim. The private world is intimately, physically connected to one particular person. The fact that exactly one perceivable entity represents a host of one’s values is what makes psychological visibility possible. An infinite number of casual romances will never add up to the degree of happiness that monogamous, long-term relationships can provide.

No one is saying that one can transfer anything from one relationship to another. Also, none of the people contesting that monogamy is "right" here have ever defended casual romance as a substitute. How does your argument prove that two long term, mutually acceptable, romantic relationships are incapable of being held?

If one focuses his time and energy on one person, a private world is able to grow faster and deeper over a period of time. It would be impossible to develop the same kind of depth with even two people, much less three or more. It is simply more time-efficient to pursue one relationship at a time, and to pursue a long-term monogamous relationship when possible. There is no salary cap on the spiritual paycheck. The private world continues to grow as long as each partner grows as an individual.

Yet we already allocate time to other things besides the relationship. What if a guy does not have to work more than 3 hours a day? Can he have two wives then since he has the time? Arguing about "scarce resources" will never lead to a principled argument for monogamy.

Sexual exclusivity is also important because man attaches a symbolic value to the act of love making (...) He reserves sex as the highest celebration of his values, which will only be shared with the one who maximizes his feelings of happiness and self-esteem.

Why not reserve your very image as a celebration of these values, in addition to sex? If we all wear burkhas even seeing you would be an incredibly intimate celebration, elevating the feelings of evidence and self esteem to unimagined heights! Seriously, though, this argument is basically "deprive yourself of something you want to make it valuable" and it is not reasonable.

During my adult life, there has never been a question in my mind about what kind of romance I want: One woman, one wife, one life-long friend to grow old and raise a family with. Most of us have dreamed about it since adolescence. It is time we recognized that monogamy is the ideal form of romantic love.

If that is what you want, I respect your choice and wish you well. Don't talk about "we" unless you have a principled argument that is valid for me.

Have you read The Psychology of Self-Esteem by Nathaniel Branden?

No, I have not. I may look into it, although I'm skeptical about his ideas.

Do you believe that one can live a full life without love or friends?What psychological needs to these relationships fulfill?

I know I can live without love or friends. I sure as hell don't want to, though.

Needs? None. Each individual man is capable of living a happy fulfilling life. Wants? Many. The ways people can be of value to one's life are innumerable.

No sweat on your "ironic" post. I'm not thin-skinned. I didn't think you meant any offense; that's why I asked.

That is good. I don't mean offense, I'm just very demanding when it comes to rationally supporting assertions about how everyone should live. Some people don't take it well, I'm glad to know you are not one of them.

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I don't think that it is an optional value - but it lies higher in the hierarchy of values - meaning if you are struggling to survive (a more basic need - at the bottom of the pyramid of values if you will) your survival is going to be your primary concern and not so much your psychological needs.

This is worth replying to, despite the ensuing double post. Food is not merely a value - if you don't eat you die. Thinking is not merely a value, if you don't think, you die. Is this true of "psychological visibility"? Is man not an independent, self sufficient being after all?

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This is worth replying to, despite the ensuing double post. Food is not merely a value - if you don't eat you die. Thinking is not merely a value, if you don't think, you die. Is this true of "psychological visibility"? Is man not an independent, self sufficient being after all?

Hi Mrocktor,

You have raised an argument I call the "survival as the standard of value" argument. Are values only those things necessary for survival on a basic level? The answer is: No, the proper standard of value is flourishing, not mere survival. Many people are able to survive 100 years in poor physical health, without a rational philosophy, and without self-esteem. Yet these things are present in a happy, flourishing man. They are needs if you want a high quality of life.

The Vitamin C example is the classic response to the "survival as the standard of value" argument. If you do not eat vitamin C, you will not die immediately, but it is still a need. Without it, you are more prone to disease, your physical growth can be stunted, and you will generally have a low quality of life. It is not a morally optional choice to avoid eating vitamin C in sufficient quantities. In this case, that which does not kill you makes you weaker, and closer to death.

The need for psychological visibility is in the same category as the need for vitamin C or self-esteem. The lack of it will not kill you immediately, but will hinder your quality of life.

--Dan Edge

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How does non-monogamy prevent one from pursuing long-term romances?

Hello,

Non-monogamy does not prevent one from pursuing long-term romances, but I believe that it limits the happiness potential of long-term romances. My argument for sexual exclusivity was presented in the essay. What did you think of it?

--Dan Edge

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Mrocktor,

Many, many of your questions are answered in Branden's book. I understand your skepticism about him, but this one book of his is truly extraordinary. Rand edited, if that means anything to you. In it he defines psychological visibility, deals with the "survival as the standard of value" argument, and outlines a general foundation for rational psychology. I would recommend that book to anyone.

My argument doesn't make sense unless you understand the concept of psychological visibility. I only provided a skeletal explanation of the concept, but the essay presupposes a basic understanding.

Most of your criticisms are based on either the "survival as the standard of value" argument (which I dealt with briefly in my last response to you), or what you see as a lack of justification for psychological visibility as a need. Since these two issues have been dealt with in such detail elsewhere (Branden's book), I refer you to the source.

--Dan Edge

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This is worth replying to, despite the ensuing double post. Food is not merely a value - if you don't eat you die. Thinking is not merely a value, if you don't think, you die. Is this true of "psychological visibility"? Is man not an independent, self sufficient being after all?

Needs have a hierarchy. You start with basic needs, meaning minimum requirements for pure physical survival. Psychological visibility is not a basic need, in that respect.

If you live all your life on a deserted island and never encounter another human being - you are living but you are not living life qua man to its fullest potential. You however may have a pet animal companion of some kind. That will give you some psychological visibility, abeit of lesser kind. Once basic needs are met.. man will seek to satisfy his higher needs - in some way, even on a deserted island.

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What did you think of it?

I think that my sense of self is based on my introspection, not extrospecting on some other person who is like me. Another person serves as an object of the values I value, but not as an object that mirrors me, obviously because I am heterosexual and desire women who look nothing like me(although I do have a fine ass). Beyond the physical, I value those things in my partner because they are a value, not because I possess them as well. I possess them in fact because they are a value. This ties into your other essay about loving the optional facts of your physical existence simply because you possess them. While I think it is proper to value the particular characteristics of your physical existence, I find it improper to regard them as a higher objective value in the way your other essay at least implies. (If this is not your stance then please elaborate as it seems that you are saying "blue eyes are better than green eyes because I have blue eyes" instead of "I value the fact that I have eyes, which happen to be blue, but I would value them just as much if they were green.")

I do not regard my gf as a part of me or as a reflection of me. She is her own person, with her own particular manifestations of value. She is an object to my eyes, but she is an end in herself and a subject for herself, I never lose sight of this fact: while she is MY girlfriend, she is not MINE, she is hers.

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What he said.

Also, I am by no means using "survival" as the standard of value nor am I denying that relationships are incredibly valuable. In fact, I am the one arguing that you should not limit yourself to one romantic relationship if you can have more than one.

Now, are romantic relationships required for man to flourish? No! You can be totally rational, immensely productive, commesurately self-confident and, as a result, incredibly happy - alone. Is it sane to avoid romance when it is available? No, it is incredibly valuable to have relationships. What it is not, is a requirement for survival, or flourishing. Reason, productiveness, integrity, self confidence, food - on the other hand - are.

Knowing someone that is so valuable that you would like to have a long term relationship is good. Knowing more than one such person is more good. If the people involved have enough mutual love, are emotionally independent enough, are rational enough to realize that loving one does not diminish the love for another to the point where multiple romantic relationships are feasible - they should do it.

I doubt that many people would fit that bill, long term. But then, very few fit the bill for simple marriage, long term.

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Now, are romantic relationships required for man to flourish? No! You can be totally rational, immensely productive, commesurately self-confident and, as a result, incredibly happy - alone.

Experiencing, at least at some point in a man's life, fully and directly what it means to be a man or a woman is a part of living a flourishing life qua man. One may have to be satisfied with less but less is not and should never be the standard. What is best for man is the standard.

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