Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum


  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by rameshkaimal

  1. In her answer to the question: how does one lead a rational life in an irrational society? Ayn Rand advocates that one must know clearly one's own moral evaluation of every person, issue and event with which one deals, and act accordingly. So the individuals in both groups, by contributing to O2 without seriously thinking about OO & O2, are failing to know clearly their own moral evaluation of an organization they are dealing with. If one has not seriously thought about OO & O2, how can one morally evaluate them or even know clearly one's own moral evaluation of them? Hence the proper course of action for O1 is to try to convince the individuals to seriously think about OO & O2 so that they can morally evaluate OO & O2 with a clear knowledge of what they are doing and why. If, after becoming convinced, they seriously think about OO & O2, and choose to willfully continue their support of O2, O1 should decline their contribution because accepting it would not be morally consistent with their own belief that OO & O2 are dishonest. But if they are not convinced they should seriously think about OO & O2, and continue their support of O2, O1 should decline their contribution because their action of dealing with O2 without judging it (and its ideas) would not be morally consistent with what Ayn Rand advocates.
  2. Given below is a hypothetical scenario involving 2 organizations, O1 & O2, and a group of individuals. O1 believes in promoting Objectivism as a closed system whereas O2 believes in promoting Objectivism as an open system, or Open Objectivism (OO). O1 also believes: 1. OO is dishonest because it evades the fact that Objectivism is the name Ayn Rand gave to the philosophy she created during her lifetime. 2. O2 is dishonest because its purpose is to use Ayn Rand's name and the name of her philosophy, to spread ideas she never believed in, and therefore, did not include in her philosophy. Now suppose there are individuals who want to contribute money to both O1 & O2. These individuals can be categorized as: 1. those who have not seriously thought about OO & O2. 2. those who think they don't have to seriously think about OO & O2. In other words, since both groups have not, unlike O1, morally judged OO & O2 as dishonest, they find nothing morally wrong with their wanting to also contribute to O2. Given the above context, if both groups start contributing to O2, what is the proper course of action O1 should take? 1. should O1 decline contributions from all of them since they are implicitly sanctioning OO & O2, which O1 believes are dishonest? 2. should O1 accept contributions from all of them since they are, unwittingly not willfully, sanctioning OO & O2? If so, is such an action morally consistent with its belief that OO & O2 are dishonest? 3. should O1, before accepting contributions from them, try to convince them to seriously think about OO & O2 and stop contributing to O2? 4. should O1, if it chooses 3, and fails to convince some of them, accept or decline contributions from those who are not convinced and continue to support O2? If it accepts, is such an action morally consistent with its belief that OO & O2 are dishonest? 5. should O1, if it chooses 3, only accept contributions from those individuals who are convinced by it to seriously think about OO & O2 and stop contributing to O2?
  3. In my post, I had said 2 instances of the ultimate constituents were moving towards each other in submicroscopic space. This means eventually, at some point in time, say t2, the distance between them would become zero. Not before. But since their motion towards each other reduces the distance between them, then at some point in time, say t1 (before that distance reduces to zero at t2 point in time), the distance would have become so small that nothing could occupy it. Hence my question was: couldn't one say that at the t1 point in time when the distance became so small that nothing could occupy it, the space between them at that point in time, namely t1, contains literally nothing? The above is not the same as 2 billiard balls moving towards each other in macroscopic space. In such a context, there would be air between the balls before they hit each other. And even if it was possible to have 2 billiard balls hit each other in a room with no air at all, there could be other things that exist in the room between the billiard balls, e.g. weakly interacting particles. Whereas, in the case of the 2 instances of the ultimate constituents, there's nothing smaller than it which can occupy the space between them at the t1 point in time.
  4. Here's a discussion Ayn Rand had about the ultimate constituents of entities. It's from Appendix - Philosophy of Science, Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, Expanded 2nd Edition: -- Discussion begins here -- Properties of the Ultimate Constituents Prof. E: Could you argue, on metaphysical grounds, that all observed properties of an entity are ultimately explicable in terms of, or reducible back to, properties of their primary constituents? Ayn Rand: We'd have to be omniscient to know. The question in my mind would be: how can we [as philosophers] make conclusions about the ultimate constituents of the universe? For instance, we couldn't say: everything is material, if by "material" we mean that of which the physical objects on the perceptual level are made - "material" in the normal, perceptual meaning of the word. If this is what we mean by "material," then we do not have the knowledge to say that ultimately everything is sub-subatomic particles which in certain aggregates are matter. Because suppose scientists discovered that there are two different kinds of primary ingredients - or three, or more? We would be in the same position as the pre-Socratics who were trying to claim that everything was air, water, earth, and fire because that's all they knew. Prof. E: You see the question is whether the concept of "potentiality" might not be irreducible. That is, whether the ultimate constituents of the universe, if and when we ever reach them, would have to be definable solely in terms of their mode of action. Ayn Rand: No, in fact the opposite will be true. The only thing of which we can be sure, philosophically, is that the ultimate stuff, if it's ever found - one element or ten of them - will have identity. It will be what it is. You could not say that it is pure action: the concept wouldn't apply. If you come down to the ultimate particles of the universe and say they are pure action, they don't have any identity, they don't have anything except the capacity for action - the term "action" would not apply. By "action" we mean the action of an entity. Prof. E: But suppose one were to raise the question epistemologically, rather than metaphysically. Granted that the ultimate constituents are something, are entities and have an identity, still is it possible for us in theory ever to know any more about them than the kind of action they take? Prof. B: They'd have to have size, for one thing, and shape. Ayn Rand: If they are particles. What if they are solid flows of energy, but each is indivisible, and it moves, but it's one entity, moving from left to right and vice versa? Prof. B: That depends on what "energy" means, because whatever the nature of energy is, that's the nature it would have. Ayn Rand: Exactly. Prof. E: No, I was switching this to epistemology. Ayn Rand: But the confusion there would arise in applying concepts based on the macroscopic level of observation to the submicroscopic, subatomic level. If you use macroscopic terms which do not apply on that level, the misapplication will destroy all your perceptual level and your whole conceptual structure. Prof. B: So you are saying that the ultimate constituents need not be particles, like solid balls, but whatever they are, one is not to refer to them as being actions without entities. Ayn Rand: Exactly. And I was also objecting to your saying they will have to have extension, for instance, or shape. We can't claim that. Prof. F: But suppose we agree that whatever they are, they will have identity - they will be what they are and so on. But mustn't we also say something else: that we cannot define this identity solely in terms of their relationship to other objects? For instance, suppose that one of the ultimate properties of an entity is charge. Suppose you couldn't find any way of defining "charge" except in relationship to other entities. Now wouldn't that be grounds, metaphysically, for saying therefore charge is not an ultimate property of matter? Ayn Rand: I am not sure I even understand the logic. Why? Prof. E: Presumably he would argue that a property which is defined in terms of a relationship between two entities presupposes and is a consequence of the attributes of that entity which give rise to that relationship. And therefore, if charge is definable only in terms of an entity's relation to others - its effects on them - then charge couldn't be a primary, it would have to be a derivative from something else in the entity that gives rise to that kind of effect. Prof. F: Thank you. That's exactly what I meant. Prof. E: But then we are in bad shape here, because to grasp what the ultimate entities are, you have to strip off their actions, their potentialities for action, and their relations to other entities - then by what means would you ever get to know what they are? Ayn Rand: Not only that, you are obviously making advance conditions for what that primary has to be. You are being Hegelian or Rationalistic in that sense. You cannot say philosophically what conditions you will ascribe to that which is not known. We cannot know by what means we will grasp something not known today. A hundred years ago you couldn't have conceived of the cloud chamber, the first instrument by which scientists could observe atoms simply by observing their effects on something. You couldn't have made the rule that unless you can touch, see, smell, and measure a given entity with a ruler, it cannot exist. That would have been crude materialism of some kind. You couldn't, a hundred years ago, have prescribed the means by which you would discover twentieth-century knowledge. And yet in making any kind of conclusions about the ultimate stuff of the universe, you are necessarily committing that error. You are prescribing conditions of what something not known to you now has to be. The important thing here is this. You cannot say that you would define an atom by means of its charge, or that you would look further, or what you would do, because you have no way of knowing in what form you will become aware of that primary stuff. It might be through ten different instruments, and the interaction of one upon another, which would only tell you how you became aware of it. You wouldn't yet have defined it, metaphysically. All you could say is, "It is a something, which I discovered by the following method." The only thing that concerns philosophy is that we can say: whatever it is, it will have to be what it is, and no contradictions claimed about it will be valid - as for instance, the current theories about a particle that goes from one place to another without crossing the places in between. Now you see that is metaphysically impossible, and you don't have to be a scientist to know that. A philosopher can tell you without ever entering a laboratory that that is not possible. But for a philosopher to attempt to define what kind of particle it has to be, or how we will determine its properties, that is unwarranted and Rationalistic. That is the province of science, not philosophy. You see it isn't the job of philosophy to tell us what exists, it's only to tell us what has to be true of everything that exists [identity] and what are the rules by which you can claim knowledge. And in regard to the constituent elements of the universe, all we can say is that they would have to have identity. That we can prove. Any other conclusions we cannot draw philosophically. -- Discussion ends here -- In the above, Miss Rand states that: 1. The ultimate constituents may not be particles with size & shape just like entities in the macroscopic level. They could be solid moving flows of energy. 2. At the subatomic level, a particle cannot go from one place to another without crossing the places in between. That is metaphysically impossible. So if 2 instances of the ultimate constituents are moving towards each other in submicroscopic space, then at some point in time, they will be so close to each other that the space between them would be too small for anything to occupy it. Neither another instance of the ultimate constituent nor anything smaller than an ultimate constituent, since there could be nothing smaller. In that case, wouldn't the (relational) space between the 2 moving instances of the ultimate constituent, at that point in time, contain literally nothing? Or would it be no different from having nothing in a pocket at the macroscopic level?
  5. The axiomatic proposition, existence exists, in the Objectivist metaphysics and the discovery, in science, of the existence of a physical world are not synonymous. Here is Ayn Rand's full discussion of why they are not. It's from Appendix - Axiomatic Concepts, Introduction To Objectivist Epistemology, Expanded 2nd Edition: -- The discussion begins here -- The Physical World Prof. K: Some philosophers treat our knowledge that existence exists as equivalent to our knowledge that there is a physical world. They hold that to know that existence exists, and is what it is independently of our perceiving it, is to know that it is different in kind from consciousness - to know that things exist which possess characteristics which no consciousness could possess - for example, spatial extension or weight. Then they claim that the propositions "existence exists" and "there is a physical world" are, if not synonymous, two perspectives on the same fact, such that if the first is an axiom, then so is the second. Is any variant of this position consistent with the Objectivist view of axioms and axiomatic concepts? Ayn Rand: The answer is: no, emphatically. Not consistent in any way whatever. Now let me elaborate. When you say "existence exists," you are not saying that the physical world exists, because the literal meaning of the term "physical world" involves a very sophisticated piece of scientific knowledge at which logically and chronologically you would have to arrive much later. As to the chronological aspect, the construct that you describe here is totally impossible psychologically. You say that to grasp that something exists is to know that things exist which possess characteristics which no consciousness could possibly possess, such as extension and weight. You are talking about an enormously sophisticated level of knowledge. And you are assuming that first a man grasps that he's conscious, à la Descartes, and then he decides, "But there are certain things which have properties which consciousness doesn't have." Nothing could be further from the truth. The simplest way to begin an answer is to point out that animals, who do perceive reality or existence, have absolutely no concept of their own consciousness. The enormous distinction between man and animals here is self-consciousness. An animal does not have the capacity to isolate critically the fact that there is something and he is conscious of it. How does that apply to man? In this crucial sense: neither does an infant. Why is it metaphysically important? Because there is no such thing as a consciousness per se, apart from that of which it is conscious. And therefore no entity could conceivably be conscious first of the fact that he is conscious and then grasp, "Oh, I'm conscious of something." You see, this is a complete inversion of the meaning of the concepts. You can become aware of the fact that you are conscious only after the fact of performing an act of consciousness. Only after you have become conscious of something - and in fact long after - and you identify the fact that it is some function in your mind that is performing this process of awareness. Only at a relatively advanced age - after, say, months or perhaps a full year - can an infant grasp the fact that if he closes his eyes he doesn't see, if he opens them he sees. And that if he closes off his ears, then he doesn't hear. That's the beginning of his grasp of the fact that something operates inside of him that permits the process of awareness. But that is an enormously sophisticated step of self-consciousness. You cannot begin by saying, "I'm conscious" and then ask, "Of what?" It's a contradiction - in effect, a process of concept-stealing. As to such characteristics as extension and weight, how would you grasp those ahead of grasping the existence of an outside world? Because the implication of your question is that you grasp that it is a physical world by means of observing that it has certain properties which your consciousness does not possess. But you could not have any concept of those properties ahead of grasping a physical world, nor could you say, "My consciousness doesn't possess weight or extension," ahead of grasping that there is something outside which does possess them. But now what's the difference between saying "existence exists" and "the physical world exists"? "Existence exists" does not specify what exists. It is a formula which would cover the first sensation of an infant or the most complex knowledge of a scientist. It applies equally to both. It is only the fact of recognizing: there is something. This comes before you grasp that you are performing an act of consciousness. It's only the recognition that something exists. By the time you say that it's a world, and it's a physical world, you need to know much more. Because you can't say "physical world" before you have grasped, self-consciously, the process of awareness and have said, "Well, there are such existents as mental events, like thinking or memories or emotions, which are not physical; they are existents, but of a different kind: they are certain states or processes of my consciousness, my faculty of grasping the existence of that outside world." And the next step is: "What is that outside world made of?" The concept "matter," which we all take for granted, is an enormously complex scientific concept. And I think it was probably one of the greatest achievements of thinkers ever to arrive at the concept "matter," and to recognize that that is what the physical world outside is composed of, and that's what we mean by the term "physical." Now observe that a savage doesn't have a concept of "matter." He believes that reality is like his own consciousness, only it is in the power of supernatural creatures or gods or demons who manipulate it. What permits this kind of mysticism? Precisely the absence of the concept "physical world" or "matter." Now those concepts, in historical development and in the development of an individual consciousness, come very late - by which I mean they are concepts that require a long development before one can grasp them. And yet a savage grasps that existence exists. He doesn't grasp all the implications of it. Nor does he grasp the Law of Identity. But that something exists, with which he deals, even he grasps that. To the extent to which he is able to hunt or to support his life or pray to his gods, he is admitting implicitly the existence of something. So you see the axiom "existence exists" embraces all those stages of knowledge, implicit or explicit. Whereas the concept "the physical world exists" is a very sophisticated scientific statement. -- The discussion ends here -- Given the above, it would be wrong for any philosopher, including an Objectivist one, to say "on philosophical grounds" that there can never be a perfect vacuum where nothing physical exists. Why? Because philosophy has nothing to say about anything in the physical world (including a "hole" in it with no matter) except this: whatever the physical world contains, they exist. In other words, if such a "hole" were to exist, it would not contradict, in any way, the (first) axiom of existence of the Objectivist metaphysics.
  6. Thank you, DonAthos, for pointing out that recognizing the fundamental fact about human consciousness, i.e., that there will always be objective differences in the minds of individuals (including differences in their sexual orientations, sexual standards and sexual preferences), does not invariably mean one is being subjective. Regarding homosexuality, there was very little which was known in the 1960s about sexual orientation, particularly homosexual orientation. So at that time, homosexuality was considered as "unnatural" (and therefore, "immoral"), i.e., as going against one's own heterosexuality, given the gender one is born into, and the romantic-sexual attraction towards the opposite gender one is supposed to feel, given one's sexual development. The same thing is happening now with regard to transsexuality. It's the Branden Syndrome, reprise. I would say there's very little which is known today about gender orientation. So until the field of clinical psychology discovers why some men and women do not naturally feel like "men" and "women", i.e., do not psycho-sexually identify with the gender they are born into (are they born that way, or is gender orientation formed in early childhood just like sexual orientation and sense-of-life are, or are there other unknown factors which are operative in that context?), I would hesitate to view transsexuals as "acting-on-whim" by "rebelling" against a "fundamental" fact about themselves, i.e., their own gender.
  7. In Post #37, in paragraph #3, I had stated the following: "It's disastrous to prescribe normative generalizations in sex because such universals ignore the specific contexts of individual couples. It's what leads to intrinsicism in sex. In this respect, sex is not like philosophy. In philosophy, a generalization such as reason is Man's basic means of survival can be induced from reality by first observing how actual men (and women) use reason to survive and then omitting the individual measurements (or contexts) altogether." I have been thinking some more about the fundamental difference between philosophy and sex and wanted to write about it here. Philosophy is defined as the study of the fundamental nature of reality, of Man, and of Man’s relationship to reality. So it’s the only science in human knowledge that deals with the broadest abstractions possible. In contrast, psychology (regardless of how closely it is related to philosophy), is a special science, and special sciences, unlike philosophy, study only specific aspects of reality, or of Man. As examples, physics studies matter, which is a specific aspect of the universe, economics studies production and trade, which is a specific aspect of society (or Man in a social context), psychology studies consciousness, which is a specific aspect of Man, and sexual psychology studies sex in relation to consciousness, which are again, specific aspects of Man. But consciousness as such is an attribute of the individual, and individuals are not interchangeable in reality. This means there will always be real differences between the minds of individuals. Differences not necessarily due to errors of knowledge or evasions of reality. But differences in content and/or method. Furthermore, since sex is one of the most selfish acts a person can perform (selfless sex is a contradiction in terms), being selfish in sex invariably means being an individual with specific standards and preferences which will influence what one does in sex and how one does it. Given the above, one cannot approach sexual psychology the way one approaches philosophy and attempt to discover fundamental truths in it which apply to all men and/or women. As an example, in philosophy, the fundamental truth that reason is Man's basic means of survival is valid for both savages as well as civilized humans. In fact, if savages were not using reason at all, they would not have lived long enough to leave behind progeny whose descendants eventually became civilized enough to discover the role of reason in human life. In contrast, in sexual psychology, a generalization (or truth) that sex makes possible psycho-sexual visibility would apply only in a certain context, i.e., where one knows one's values and experiences sex as an expression of those values. So such a truth would not apply to a savage who sees sex as a means to satisfy a physical need. Given his intellectual development, what he gets from sex is right for his context. Likewise, the same truth would not apply to a teenager who sees casual sex as a way to gain sexual experience. Given his sexual development, what he gets from sex is right for his context. To see why an attempt to discover fundamental truths in sex is not such a good idea, consider how such an approach was used by Branden to present the dominant-submissive view (See Post #47): In his article, Branden focuses on penetrative sex as a primary aspect of sexual intercourse and forms a heterosexual metaphysics (so to speak) made up of the following fundamentals: 1. it's the man who penetrates and the woman who is penetrated. 2. it's the man who has a greater measure of control over his own sexual pleasure and over the sexual pleasure of the woman. 3. it's the man who has an active and dominant role. The problem with fundamentals # 1 & 2 of such a metaphysics is that it clashes with an empirical fact which was discovered much later, namely, most women are unable to get an orgasm through penetration alone. This means in such a context, though the man can still be said to have a greater measure of control over his own sexual pleasure it would be rather difficult to see him as having a greater measure of control over the sexual pleasure of the woman. The problem with fundamental # 3 of such a metaphysics is that it clashes with an essential aspect of sex, namely, the sexual standards and preferences of its participants. This means even if the empirical fact mentioned above did not exist, i.e., most women were able to get an orgasm through penetration alone, if a given man chose not to see himself as a dominant partner but as a partner-in-sex, it is his choice, based on his own sexual standards and preferences, which would (and should) take precedence over any fundamental of such a metaphysics. Meanwhile, there's a view that since evolution has naturally selected the male orgasm (but not the female orgasm) as it is associated with procreation and the eventual survival of the human species, one should accept such selection as a metaphysical given and see the man as sexually "superior" to the woman. This is a fallacious view because it fails to recognize that Man is the highest living organism in the evolutionary chain, given that he has free will and a rational faculty. In other words, Man, unlike the higher animals, does not adapt himself to nature. Instead he reshapes nature in the image of his own values. So if evolution has not naturally selected the female orgasm, a couple can overcome nature by working together to achieve mutual sexual pleasure, i.e., by choosing to rationally pursue their own happiness in sex.
  8. From what I can recall, neither Ayn Rand nor Nathaniel Branden have specified orgasms as part of the basis for their view. But in the quote I gave in Post #47 from Branden's article: Self-Esteem & Romantic Love (not sure if it's Part II or III) in the February 1969 issue of The Objectivist, Branden says the following: "Sexually, his is the more active and dominant role; he has the greater measure of control over his own pleasure and that of his partner; it is he who penetrates and the woman who is penetrated (with everything this entails, physically and psychologically)." From the above, Branden is implying that it's the act of the man penetrating the woman, which makes it possible for the man to have the greater measure of control over his own sexual pleasure, and over the woman's sexual pleasure. Since an orgasm is a basic pleasurable sensation that a man and a woman usually get during sex, even though Branden is not explicitly saying that the man, by penetrating the woman, is making possible his own orgasm and the woman's orgasm too, thereby causing the sexual pleasure of both (which is what I first said in Post #1 in paragraph #7), it's somewhat implicit in what he chooses to mention in the above quote, namely: it's the man who has the more active and dominant role since he has the greater measure of control over his own sexual pleasure and over the sexual pleasure of the woman by virtue of being the one who penetrates the woman.
  9. The basic problem with the dominant-submissive view is that it is not a generalization which can be properly induced from reality, i.e., by integrating all relevant particulars which one knows, including the context of real women who cannot achieve orgasms through penetration alone. At the time that this view was presented by Nathaniel Branden in the February 1969 issue of The Objectivist in the article Self-Esteem & Romantic Love: 1. The topic of sex was not as openly discussed in the culture, particularly by women, as it is today. 2. No anonymous surveys were being taken among women enabling them to freely disclose their experience with sex: did they enjoy it, and if not, why? 3. Not many professionals in clinical psychology were encouraging their female patients to be uninhibited about sex: did they enjoy it, and if not, why? 4. And given 3, there was little to no exposure in the media for research, if any, carried out in clinical psychology on how women generally felt about sex. Given all of the above, it was not well-known at that time that most women had a problem achieving an orgasm through penetration alone. Instead, it was naturally assumed that penetrative sex usually led to the man giving himself and the woman an orgasm. But now that we know most women do have a problem, it becomes difficult to base this view on an inductive process, which requires considering all possible cases (and not just the unusual ones), known to the inducer, before forming a generalization. In other words, if Branden had known in 1969 that most women had a problem, I doubt this view would have been written as-is in The Objectivist.
  10. The quote given below is the original thesis of the dominant-submissive view by Nathaniel Branden first published in 1968 in The Objectivist in the article Self-Esteem & Romantic Love (Part 2) when he was still associated with Ayn Rand. When I first created this topic (and wrote its first post) I could not include the quote given below simply because I could not find it in the Objectivism Research CD-ROM which I own (the article was removed from The Objectivist after Ayn Rand terminated her association with Nathaniel Branden). But yesterday, I came across the below quote in the essay The Female Hero: A Randian-Feminist Synthesis. So since what I have presented in paragraph 7 of Post # 1 was based on what little I could remember from Branden's article which I had read 25 years ago, this quote now replaces that paragraph in my post as it's an accurate elaboration of the dominant-submissive view. "The difference in the male and female sexual roles proceeds from differences in man's and woman's respective anatomy and physiology. Physically, man is the bigger and stronger of the two sexes; his system produces and uses more energy; and he tends (for physiological reasons) to be physically more active. Sexually, his is the more active and dominant role; he has the greater measure of control over his own pleasure and that of his partner; it is he who penetrates and the woman who is penetrated (with everything this entails, physically and psychologically). ... [M]an experiences the essence of his masculinity in the act of romantic dominance; woman experiences the essence of her femininity in the act of romantic surrender."
  11. OK, I get what you are saying. So for example, regarding the purpose of sex, if one says sex makes possible psycho-sexual visibility, that would be a valid inductive principle in sex (which one can relate to the wider principle of psychological visibility). Regarding the sentence it's not possible to induce masculinity and femininity from essential psycho-sexual differences between men and women, I should have added "if any" after the word differences. That's what I meant.
  12. I'm not sure I follow this. Can you provide an example in sex, of a principle, one can induce from a wide range of particulars in sex by omitting their contexts, and then apply to a given context? The way I see it, one can apply reason (a rational philosophy like Objectivism) to a specific field such as sex. But that would be deduction not induction. For example, one could say that those who seek pleasure by inflicting pain during sex are equating or inverting pleasure and pain. Hence it is not based on reason (it contradicts the Law of Identity) since it evades reality. Here we are (deductively) applying a principle of philosophy (the Law of Identity) to a narrow concrete in sex, namely, a sexual practice. But I can't think of a principle of sex which is induced from particulars in sex (with specific contexts), which can then be (deductively) applied to a specific context in sex. In the quoted sentence, the word "implications" was a bad choice of word. The word I should have used is "ramifications" (unwelcome consequences). I agree that the partners-in-sex view cannot be reconciled with the view that the man is sexually superior to the woman, which is part of Miss Rand's view of masculinity and femininity. So once you remove the sexual superiority part from masculinity and femininity, any attempt to salvage it (which is what I was trying to do in Post # 16) would lead to equating masculine/feminine visibility with heterosexual visibility. As examples: If a man says I feel more like a man because I'm doing things to a woman only a man can do qua man, what is becoming visible to him is his own heterosexuality (not his masculinity). He's able to do things to a woman only a man can do qua man simply because he's with a woman who will only want a man to do those things. If a woman says I feel more like a woman because I'm doing things to a man only a woman can do qua woman, what is becoming visible to her is her own heterosexuality (not her femininity). She's able to do things to a man only a woman can do qua woman simply because she's with a man who will only want a woman to do those things. So besides the sexual part, there's the psychological part, which is that the man is psychologically stronger than the woman. I would see this as an optional value when it comes to making romantic choices. As examples: A woman could say: I'm drawn to Man A because I prefer a man who's psychologically stronger than me, i.e., I want him to be strong enough for both of us. Or a man could say: I'm drawn to Woman B because I prefer a woman who values my psychological strength over hers, i.e., wants me to be strong enough for both of us. To sum up, I agree that it's not possible to induce masculinity and femininity from essential psycho-sexual differences between men and women. My point was that in a context where the woman can only achieve orgasm through clitoral stimulation, the man and the woman have to decide together who's going to provide that stimulation. So if the man's dominant in such a context, i.e., he's leading or initiating, it will not contribute to her sexual pleasure. Instead of leading or initiating, what he should be doing is working with her.
  13. 1. The partners-in-sex view is based on a specific context, namely, the context of those couples where the woman is unable to have an orgasm from penetration alone. So this view makes sense in that context. If the context is different, as for example, where the man stimulates the clitoris with the lower pelvic region above the base of his penis, then the man is, by penetration and such stimulation (which, as per Post # 3, is not something most men can do), making possible not only his own orgasm but the woman's too. So there's nothing wrong with a couple in such a (somewhat unique) context, preferring the dominant-submissive view. This does not mean their preference is arbitrary or subjective. On the contrary, it, also, makes sense, given their context. In other words, it's disastrous to prescribe normative generalizations in sex (one size fits all) because such universals ignore the specific contexts of individual couples (please see Post # 30 about how the G-Spot differs among women). It's what leads to intrinsicism in sex. In this respect, sex is not like philosophy. In philosophy, a generalization such as reason is Man's basic means of survival can be induced from reality by first observing how actual men (and women) use reason to survive and then omitting the individual measurements (or contexts) altogether. 2. Masculinity and femininity, according to Ayn Rand, refer to psychological and sexual differences between men and women that are operative in a romantic-sexual context. In particular, she considered the man to be romantically and sexually superior to the woman. (For more information, please refer to Ayn Rand Answers: The Best of Her Q & A. Incidentally, it also contains a question where Miss Rand keeps the context when answering a question about the morality of an open relationship consisting of one man and two women). But, in a context where the woman is unable to achieve orgasm through penetration alone and the man and woman are working together to achieve mutual sexual pleasure, it becomes rather difficult (in that specific context) to see the man as sexually superior to the woman. In other words, the partners-in-sex view has radical implications for Miss Rand's view of masculinity and femininity. Hence the original post contained my initial thoughts on how to properly integrate these concepts with the partners-in-sex view where such a view is applicable. For the record, I see masculinity and femininity as psycho-sexual aspects one chooses to integrate into one's personal identity. I don't see them as aspects which must be an integral part of one's I or self, regardless of one's context. 3. Regarding the contention in multiple posts on this topic that the word dominant in the dominant-submissive view means leading or initiating, it's unclear how the leading or initiating will cause the woman to achieve sexual pleasure in a context where she is unable to have an orgasm from penetration alone. If the man is leading or initiating because he initially becomes aroused (his penis becomes and remains erect), his erection is necessary for him to achieve orgasm through vaginal penetration but it is not sufficient in a context where the woman can only achieve orgasm through clitoral stimulation. Clitoral stimulation can be provided either by the woman or by the man (if she's comfortable with it). So, in this context, they have to mutually decide the best course of action for ensuring her sexual pleasure.
  14. During sex, even if a man and a woman view each other not as dominant-submissive but as partners, they are doing different things to make it mutually pleasurable. And those things are different because they have different genders (if those things were the same, they would have to be of the same gender; but then we would no longer be discussing gender roles in sex, i.e., how a man and a woman ought to be during sex given what is.) As examples, a man gets sexual pleasure by penetrating the woman or from fellatio given by the woman. Whereas a woman gets sexual pleasure by stimulating her clitoris or having her clitoris stimulated by the man (if she's comfortable with it), or from cunnilingus given by the man. In other words, A is A. There are certain things in sex a man can do which a woman cannot. Likewise, there are certain things in sex a woman can do which a man cannot. So there's nothing wrong with a man getting a heightened sense of awareness of himself as a man when he's doing things in sex with a woman which only a man can do qua man. Just as there's nothing wrong with a woman getting a heightened sense of awareness of herself as a woman when she's doing things in sex with a man which only a woman can do qua woman. But if one does not want to view oneself that way during sex, that's fine too. To each his own.
  15. According to the collectivist view, masculinity and femininity refer to specific gender roles to which men and women must conform. Such a view is, obviously, sheer nonsense. But if one takes an individualist approach towards these concepts, just as a sense of life creates the style of one's soul (this is from Ayn Rand's The Romantic Manifesto), masculinity/femininity is about the style of one's gender. So when a man falls in love with a woman, what he's drawn to, is the total package, i.e., a styled soul in a styled woman.
  16. The purpose of the 7th paragraph (partially quoted above) was two-fold: 1. To contrast the dominant-submissive view with the partners-in-sex view. 2. To present the premises underlying the dominant-submissive view.
  17. The following is from Chapter 19, Technique, Afterplay and Feedback in The Selfish Path To Romance: How To Love With Passion And Reason by Dr. Edwin A. Locke & Dr. Ellen Kenner: "For many women, sex feels like a chore when they don't achieve orgasm. Why is this pattern so common? One key is the fact that since most women cannot have vaginal orgasms, they seldom experience orgasms from traditional intercourse alone." "For women, physical stimulation comes mainly from the clitoris." "The penis rarely makes the needed contact with the clitoris during regular intercourse to bring a woman to orgasm. Many women feel self-doubt, guilt, frustration, and annoyance, wondering why their partners don't pay attention to their needs and why they themselves are too embarrassed to explain what helps them achieve orgasm. Sometimes they may not know. When sex feels like a duty, resentment escalates and the result is a sexually frustrating partnership." "In his book The Great Sex Secret, veteran sex educator Kim Marshall notes that women often lack sexual satisfaction because neither partner understands the essential role of clitoral stimulation in achieving orgasm. Marshall advises: "The key to long-term sexual happiness is having a strong love relationship and finding an effective, mutually satisfactory way to bring both the man and the woman to orgasm while they are together."1 This does not mean partners have to have orgasms simultaneously or that they can't have occasional lovemaking sessions in which one or the other does not climax. But it does mean that they both need to know how to bring the woman to climax when she wants it. (Stimulating the man to help him climax is more obvious and better understood.)" If it is true that: 1. For women, physical stimulation comes mainly from the clitoris; 2. The penis rarely makes the needed contact with the clitoris during regular intercourse to bring a woman to orgasm; 3. Given 1 and 2, most women seldom experience orgasms from traditional intercourse alone; then, as Marshall says, the proper role for a man and a woman, during sex, is as partners working together to make it a mutually pleasurable experience. Such a view is radically different from the view that during sex since: 1. it's the man who penetrates and the woman who is penetrated; 2. it's the man, who, by repeatedly stimulating the woman's vagina with his penis, makes possible his own orgasm and hers too; 3. Given 1 and 2, it's the man who causes the sexual pleasure of both; it's the man who has a dominant role and the woman who has a submissive (receptive) role. Now how does Marshall's view of the man and woman as partners-in-sex relate to masculinity and femininity? I would say masculinity refers to those aspects (mental content & physical action) of a male human that enable him to view himself as a man and femininity refers to similar aspects of a female human that enable her to view herself as a woman. So, in a romantic-sexual context, it's (also) the masculinity of a man that a woman is drawn to, and it's (also) the femininity of a woman that a man is drawn to, thereby enabling both to achieve psycho-sexual visibility of their respective gender identity.
  18. In the dialogue, right after Galt answers 'Yes' to Dagny's question 'Was he afraid?', Miss Rand writes that it took Dagny a moment to realize Galt was admitting he knew what the sight of his person would have meant to Dagny. So, given that sentence, isn't Galt afraid of what Dagny's seeing him before the time was right do to her, rather than him? Interestingly, Dagny does see Galt before the time was right (by following him into the valley when Quentin Daniels quits and joins him) but goes back to the outer world to save her railroad (though by that time she has already fallen in love with Galt.) And since her decision to remain outside the valley enables the looters to watch her since they know she's not one of them, they are able to trace Galt's whereabouts when, because of her love for him, she goes to his garret to see him. So, her seeing Galt before the time was right, does lead to a chain of consequences that eventually endangers Galt's life.
  19. I think Galt is admitting his fear of what seeing him would do to Dagny. If Galt lets Dagny see him (and know, as a consequence, who he is and what he's doing to the world) it would lead to a conflict in her between fighting against him to save her railroad (which he's destroying) and falling for him since he's the man she has been longing to meet all her life. Since Galt loves her, he would not want her to have such a conflict. And if there's no mark of fear on Galt's face when Dagny eventually sees him in the valley, it's because he does not let fear as such (including the fear of being seen by her) affect his sense of life so much that it shows in his face. To elaborate, this is what he tells Dagny (in the climax) when she comes to see him in his garret unaware she's being followed by Mr. Thompson's men: "Never think of pain or danger or enemies a moment longer than is necessary to fight them."
  20. Marc, Here's the information you requested: Chapter: Chapter II, The Utopia Of Greed, Part 3, A IS A Page: 723 Edition: Signet 1957 (Authorized reprint of hardcover edition published by Random House, Inc.) Regards, Ramesh
  21. The following is a dialogue between Galt and Dagny in Atlas Shrugged: “'I've seen you many times since,' he said, quietly, steadily, but a little more slowly than usual, as if he could control everything except his need to speak. 'Where have you seen me?' 'Many places.' 'But you made certain to remain unseen?' She knew that his was a face she could not have failed to notice. 'Yes.' 'Why? Were you afraid?' 'Yes.' He said it simply, and it took her a moment to realize that he was admitting he knew what the sight of his person would have meant to her. 'Did you know who I was, when you saw me for the first time?' 'Oh yes. My worst enemy but one.'” Why does Galt say he was afraid? And if he was afraid, why does Dagny think when she first sees him that his face bore no mark of fear (or pain or guilt)?
  22. Sometime around June this year, a billboard mysteriously appeared on the Interstate 95 (I-95) highway, near the St. Mary's Exit in Georgia, just before one passes Georgia into Florida. The billboard contained the question "Who is John Galt?" and nothing else. For a while, nobody knew who had put up the billboard. Then its creator came forward. The billboard was placed on I-95 South near the Georgia / Florida border by Craig Root who's a successful small business owner. He's the founder of Vista Outdoor Advertising, an advertising firm located in St. Marys, Georgia, which places and operates billboards. Says Mr. Root: "I’ve received only positive comments. Of course, only those of us who know the book and Ayn Rand would get the reference but it’s been great to rekindle the notion in our current atmosphere. I’ve also convinced some people to read the book just based on the sign. If 50 people read the book because of the billboard, that will meet my primary objective." Meanwhile, The US Report has done an exclusive on the billboard, which can be read here. A photograph of the billboard can be viewed on Flickr by clicking here.
  23. Such a question indicates a skeptical approach towards knowledge and truth. It's a skeptic who holds the premise that since Man is capable of error, there's always the possibility that he could be wrong in his perception and judgment in any given case. It's arbitrary to speculate the possibility of being wrong in a given case if one has no hard evidence that proves there has been an error. If there's evidence, then the error's no longer just a possibility. It's a fact and the rational approach is to rectify the error and move on with one's life. But if there's no evidence, then allowing the arbitrary into one's consciousness does only one thing: it invalidates it, by making it unsure of anything. Be it the pursuit of knowledge (of reality) or of values for living in it.
  24. whYNOT, Check out "The Silence of Ayn Rand’s Critics" by Casey on SOLO. There's nothing in Neil Parille's series of articles, which objectively refutes what Casey has written. In fact, the following quotes from it about PARC (Valiant's Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics) are quite revealing of the moral character of the Brandens: "Among its revelations, PARC proves absolutely that Rand was not the irrationally jealous 'woman scorned' the Brandens depicted when she broke with the Brandens. Rand was not holding the Brandens’ business relationship hostage to a sexual relationship with Nathaniel Branden. The reverse is true. The Brandens were using the possibility of a sexual relationship between Nathaniel Branden and Rand to insure a business relationship with Rand, as Ayn Rand’s own contemporaneous journal entries conclusively prove. In the notes it is clear that Rand is frustrated by years of being led on by a manipulating bastard to whom she shows more fidelity to truth and toleration than any of Rand’s critics are now willing to show to her. Most ironically of all, Rand herself is the ultimate skeptic as to the Brandens’ bad intentions. She is the one who has to be shown the monstrous truth of a years-long romantic deception before she finally, agonizingly, reaches a personal and professional breaking point." "On the other hand, the reliable evidence, from so many varied sources, has always clashed with the Brandens’ unique claims that she was cold, quick to dismiss friends, living a life of lies, helpless in the face of practical reality, insensitive to personal context, ungracious to benefactors, and humorless, to name a few of their condemnations. The testimony of virtually everyone else who knew her suggests that Ayn Rand was warm, loyal, honest, practical, sensitive, gracious and grateful to a fault, witty and appreciative of humor, and practiced remarkable integrity and devotion to those she loved. Even the Brandens’ own individual recollections contradict their broad negative pronouncements. The evidence from her journals in PARC confirms the observations of the non-Branden sources in spades." "In terms of moral character and integrity, Rand stood head and shoulders above other celebrated intellectuals, who are not run down personally in conversations about their ideas, whether they be Picasso, Hemingway, Bertrand Russell, or even Karl Marx. It is no doubt antipathy for Rand’s ideas that has led many of her critics to latch on to the Brandens’ portraits with such avid interest, but it is also a fact that Rand claimed to live by her principles. The mendacity of the Brandens has therefore done more than harm Rand the person -- it attacks the most basic claim of her philosophy by suggesting that Objectivism is no more practicable than any other clever subjectivist philosophy. Therefore, the revelation that the Brandens lied about such things reveals a malice not just toward Rand but toward Objectivism itself."
  25. aequalsa, Firstly, it's true that Objectivism is "a philosophy for living on earth", as Ayn Rand informally called it, and that focusing on what she did in her own life gives one a better idea of what it means to live by her philosophy, particularly since she was the kind of individual who had the integrity (emphasis added) to practice what she preached. But when we focus on her life, it should primarily be those aspects of it that are governed by philosophy. And not every aspect of Man's life is governed by philosophy. For example, Ayn Rand liked "tiddlywink" music and didn't care for "rock-n-roll". And there's nothing in Objectivism that prescribes the kind of music one should be listening to. So if one likes "rock-n-roll", one wouldn't take her musical tastes as a guide for choosing what songs one will listen to. Similarly, there's nothing in Objectivism that prescribes monogamy in a marriage as a moral good and polygamy or polyandry as moral evils. And there's nothing in cognitive psychology either (the only rational school in the field I can think of) that has objectively validated monogamy in a marriage as proper and polygamy or polyandry as improper. The only things philosophy can say about a marriage is that its participants should be: 1. rationally selfish (they should not be sacrificing for one another), 2. honest with each other (to quote Galt, they should not be faking reality in any manner whatsoever.) Just as the only thing Objectivism can say about sex is that it's good for Man. It cannot prescribe the sexual standards every individual implicitly holds on the basis of which they choose the kind of person they find attractive and sleep with, and the manner in which they make love to them. Secondly, when it comes to judging a person's actions, one does so: 1. When there's a real context in one's own life that requires one to judge their action. For example, if one gets swindled by a grocer who sells rotten fruit and refuses to take it back, one will judge him to be a "jerk" and take one's business elsewhere. 2. if one knows all the facts required to objectively judge their action. For example, if one judges Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Iran's President) as evil, one does so because one knows he's doing things that could ultimately destroy one's life. But there's nothing about Ayn Rand's affair with Nathaniel Branden that leads to an actual context in one's life, which requires one to judge her action. Likewise, notwithstanding the garbage the Brandens have written in their memoirs and James Valiant's proper response to it, not a lot is known about: 1. the kind of relationship Ayn Rand had with her husband and the kind of man he was (Was it just based on a sense-of-life compatibility? If so, was he someone who could accept that fact and let his wife have an affair with a man who seemed to be her intellectual equal?), 2. the terms and conditions of their marriage (Did both of them believe in monogamy and expect it from the other?) 3. the exact state of the marriage at the time of the affair (Was she still happy in it or was she thinking of leaving him?) So any attempt to evaluate Ayn Rand's behavior towards her husband at the time of the affair would result in (I hate to say this) an out-of-context and ill-informed judgment based on one's own personal standards of what is proper or improper in a marriage. For the record, I believe in monogamy in a marriage and I would not love and be married to one woman, and at the same time, love and have an affair with another, even if my wife consented to it. But I hold my belief to be a personal standard, and not as something which the science of philosophy can validate, or which the science of psychology has already validated. Cheers, Ramesh
  • Create New...