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Everything posted by KyaryPamyu

  1. 'Existence', in this context, is a collective noun, referring to the sum of all existents. It's more common to simply refer to this axiom as 'existence'. A thing does not have existence, the same way a tree has branches. A thing exists. Existence subsumes every object or quality or event that exists, but is not itself a quality. A is A actually means 'a thing is itself', not 'a thing has identity' - Galt’s Speech (For the New Intellectual), 125 "Ayn Rand offers a new formulation of this axiom: existence is identity. She does not say that "existence has identity" - which might suggest that identity is a feature separable from existence (as a coat of paint is separable from the house that has it) [...] When men have several perspectives on a single fact, when they consider it from different aspects or in different contexts, it is often essential to form concepts that identify the various perspectives" [the concept of identity is formed by direct observation] Leonard Peikoff - OPAR, p. 6-7 You are trying to use axiomatic concepts as predicates. "Things that exist but have no identity" is an invalid concept.
  2. Hey SpookyKitty, I have not read the paper, but if my understanding of Rand's theory is correct, axiomatic concepts are not arrived at by the process of concept formation, but by direct perception and experience. They are identifications: "...of a primary fact of reality, which cannot be analyzed, i.e., reduced to other facts or broken into component parts. [...] It is the fundamentally given and directly perceived or experienced, which requires no proof or explanation, but on which all proofs and explanations rest." (Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, 55) "The units of the concepts “existence” and “identity” are every entity, attribute, action, event or phenomenon (including consciousness) that exists, has ever existed or will ever exist. The units of the concept “consciousness” are every state or process of awareness that one experiences, has ever experienced or will ever experience (as well as similar units, a similar faculty, which one infers in other living entities)." (Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, 56)
  3. Visual stimulation precedes physical stimulation, if you're talking about sexual arousal. It depends on who touches you! Sexual arousal is an automatic psychological response to a stimulus, but not all visual stimuli produce the same sensations. The presence or absence of attractiveness cues greatly influences the effect of the stimuli. In other words, 'sexy-time' starts in the head, when your brain figures out, based on the visual information provided by your eyes, that you have a Class-A Sex Bomb in front of you. What does this have to do with valuing? Something called taste, preference. It's no secret that physical attractiveness is a key factor in choosing a mate. It does. Just to be clear, I am not tying the sexual response to scarcity, as some of you thought. I'm adressing the broader question of what can be properly classified as human psychology, which studies a lot of different things. If you really want to know what the field of human psychology has to say about scarcity, read on wikipedia about the Scarcity Heuristic. Heh. She's not at all my type, no matter how exotic. I prefer the ol' fashioned hot mamacita. I have a slight doubt that this thread made more than a slight departure from the original topic. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the power of women.
  4. That's alright. I should have made this clearer, but the point is only to figure out whether: men have any innate, universal visual preferences - such as health, clear skin, hip-to-waist ratio, facial symetry - that transcend even cultural standards of beauty if visual preferences can be changed by subsequent knowledge, conceptual thinking, culture, connotation (e.g. by knowing about the characters of the two women). If I read correctly, Nicky agrees that a picture of MEG can cause automatic pleasure responses and that a preference for the japanese singer can be manipulated via visual cues such as makeup, clothing, the quality of the photos - he does not, however, endorse the field of Psychology. SoftwareNerd, when you talk about changing your preference, which type are you refering to? Romantic preference, or visual preference? If you showed a picture of MEG to the second woman's husband, and the husband was madly in love with his wife, I think he would still be able to say that the pop singer is visualy superior, even though he romanticaly prefers what he already has. In regard to whether visual preferences can be changed by subsequent knowledge, connotation and extra-visual elements: I doubt it, because of that dreaded "volition-destroying" monster which is Human Psychology.
  5. Sexual arousal is part of human psychology, which studies much more than the 'thought-content' of your mind. This is the meaning I was using. Automatic sensations? Careful, lest somebody here calls you a Kantian, then proceeds to lecure you on there being no innate 'instincts' and that all pleasure responses are created by your internalized, chosen value judgements, since man is a conceptual being, and a conceptual being does not automatically know that hot young women are more desirable than older, less fertile ones. It's important to ask a very objective woman, since pictures like these tend to get on their nerves... Precisely. A handful of stylists and professional photographers go a long way to influence our automatic... whoops - our conceptual, personaly chosen value responses which we have subconsciously habituated. I know they have a knack for tickling mine. I might have confused some of you with my nickname. The girl in my avatar and in the comparision photo is a japanese singer that goes by the stage name MEG. She also has great music. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and Fashion Monster are, of course, awesome. In terms of looks, the first one. For me it's also very important that a woman shares some common interests of mine but hey. To each his own. Exactly, Eiuol. I rarely see people use that term to refer to specific thoughts, like Nicky claimed. Saying that this would imply a collective consciousness is like saying that, since people have bodies that are very much alike - eyes, legs, arms, physiological reflexes etc. - the only way to make sense of this is by assuming the existence of a collective human body. Agreed. I was responding to this particular point because a great deal of objectivists tend to be skeptical about the human mind having a nature and innate capacities, such as the one to recognize scarcity, sexual and genetic fitness, beauty and so on. They find this claim to be a fierce attack on free will, because, according to them, this would 'plant' thoughts into their minds without their volition, alla determinism.
  6. This is the blank slate/tabula rasa vs human nature debate. I'm not arguing against free will. I totaly agree that you can develop your mind in a way that makes you immune to marketing tactics. Especially if you go to marketing school. But is absolutely everything a matter of your choice? Let's say a man sees the picture below and makes a snap judgement that he greatly prefers the first woman. How much time would it take him to change his psychology in order to prefer the second woman? Let's imagine that he also finds out that the first woman is irrational, dull, her character is terrible, she doesn't have many hobbies. The second one is incredibly intelligent, rational, nurturing, her character is flawless and she has the same tastes in art as the man does. Important note: the character traits I suggested are made up for the sake of the experiment. They're not a real assesment of the women in the pictures.
  7. In brief, it's part of human psychology to value things that are scarce. I think a lot of people wouldn't care that much about making the most of their lives if they knew that it went on indefinitely. None of their time would ever be 'wasted' on anything, since they have an infinite supply of time at their disposal. This is not to say this would make them suicidal, since the struggle for survival is not the definition of happiness. Here we are confusing the metaphysical with the psychological. Metaphysicaly, when we fulfill our needs, we are maintaining or improving our capacity to survive and reproduce. But psychologicaly, we are not after either of these, but after pleasure, which is the physiological incentive to pursue those needs in the first place. If we didn't have emotional feedback mechanisms, there would be no reason to survive since emotions are our means of enjoying life. Regarding whether the struggle for survival is necessary for happiness, and whether happiness is defined by the struggle to survive: it's true that every human need has some effect on either survival or reproduction, but not all of them require 'struggle' in order to get fulfilled. Solving the survival problem is the basic precondition of happiness - namely, the security of food, shelter, clothes and financial stability. Many people, especially those in first world countries, are well past this stage. People like that are freed to pursue less urgent needs that are nontheless essential to happiness. Is acquiring friendship, romantic love, making or consuming art, ordering pizza, working on your earth-shattering philosophical system a struggle? Those things might pose different levels of challenge, but it's a pleasurable and fulfilling kind of challenge. The only people to whom survival is a struggle is those who actually need to toil day and night for their basic survival needs. Those people cannot be said to be happy, because their other needs go unfulfilled. Now, about longevity: who wouldn't want that? But people don't want to lenghten their life unconditionaly, they want to do it because it's like extending their stay in Disneyland. Agreed.
  8. Ayn Rand declared 'Life' to be the standard of value, but I highly doubt her account was survivalist. A key idea in Galt's speech is that a moral man is primarily motivated by the desire to gain values, not by the desire to avoid of suffering, i.e. his ultimate goal is pleasure derived from things that enhance his life, rather than from momentary pleasures that will kill him in the long run. Imagine a fictional world where all things that preserved us - food, sleep, exercise and so on - gave us pain rather than pleasure. Would that be a life worth preserving? I believe Ayn Rand would not hesistate to say that what makes life worth living is happiness, not survival at any price. If the pain-body mechanism was skewed like that, life would cease to be a value. Galt's talk about commiting suicide over losing Dagny strongly suggests that Rand did not regard all life as worth preserving, only a life where happiness is possible. Here's where I agree with Rand: human beings have a vast array or needs, physical and psychological. Some of them are unique to us (art, philosophy, variety, challenge) and some are common in the animal world (food, sunlight). But here's where I disagree: her trying to box-in every human need into either the 'preservation of body' or 'preservation of consciousness' category. My objection springs from a point of view that is not popular with objectivists, namely that human beings, like all animals, are genetically programmed to feel pleasure from things that enhance both survival and reproduction. Sex, romantic love and child rearing are utterly useless for your survival, but produce intense pleasure and spiritual fulfillment within people. Why? Because that's the nature of your body. Does this view contradict Rand? This view denies that all human needs are tied to survival. However, it does not contradict the essence of what Rand is saying, namely that man's moral purpose is happiness. Rand went to great lenghts to point out that life is the standard of value, not happiness, because only a course of life-preserving values will actualy lead to happiness. But the point remains that happiness and pleasure are the stars of the game, and that the entire reason why we pursue life at all, is because life is very fun to live. If happiness requires struggle, then that struggle becomes eclipsed by how amazing happiness is. In other words, if we replace 'Life' as the standard, with 'Happy life' as the standard, we get closer to what Rand herself meant, but her view that reproduction is merely 'a characteristic' of living organisms, and that every single human need serves a survival role, only confuses this part of her ethics.
  9. I forgot to mention than an emotion can be triggered by a purely musical event. For example, a dominant seventh chord is a combination of sounds that, when played togheter, create a sense of tension in humans. If you resolve the tension to a tonic chord, you feel a sense of relief. This is because your brain wants complex frequency ratios to be resolved to simple ones. This does not mimic any event. It is the event that is happening right before you, and you respond to it.
  10. I played it a few years back with my university orchestra. If I recall correctly, Saint-Saens avoided publishing it during his lifetime in order to maintain his reputation of being a serious composer. He had a lot of fun with it though. I completely agree with you, but mimesis and connotation are just one aspect of music. Before you have any type of music, you need the building blocks. Some musical scales simply don't sound good, while others do. This has to do with the ratios of frequencies you are using. The overtones and frequency ratios also determine which intervals or chords sound consonant, or dissonant, or happy (major triad) or sad (minor triad). For music to sound good it must also contain a tonal gravitational center. A melody has to follow certain rules. A purely musical piece focuses on melody, phrase, form, harmony and rhytm. Musical mimesis is the manipulation of those elements to suggest animals, behaviours, human character, water riples and so on. Sound design suggests emotions or events in a non-stylized way, i.e. without regard to melody and form, only with conveying emotions (such as fear, suspense or conflict). All music is more or less a combination of those three cathegories. Some genres, like symphonies, tilt strongly to the pure music side. Program music - pieces that are based on stories or poems - tilts to the mimesis side. Certain parts of movie sountracks tilt a lot to the sound design side. But all pure music necessarily has mimetic elements, and program music usualy incorporates all cathegories. A Brahms symphony is an example of pure music (he was very much influenced by the 'pure music' trend in the philosophy of his time) Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet is a great example of all three elements combined. It moves effortlessly through character themes (melodies), suggestions of sunrise (mimesis), and moments such as that famous dissonant chord at the beggining that could scare anybody (sound design). Perhaps the perfect example of pure music is found in art music, which adds another layer: abstract construction and form. There's no way to fully appreciate a concerto or symphony without learning about the sonata form, because the entire musical content is dictated by abstract rules: when to modulate, how many themes to put where, when to develop them and so on. Opera takes it a step further by combining many other arts such as stories, texts, dance, acting, and crafts such as dress design.
  11. Culture is constantly growing and diversifying. Two musical genres (cultural infrastructures) might blend togheter in order to create a third genre, with the first two genres remaining in circulation. People might blend elements from the culture of an invading tribe into their own culture. Well, can you think of something that you can teach somebody without using verbal or sign language? And what would stop the meme from spreading on the island, as opposed to a kindergarden playground? Animals have culture and distinct forms of language. As far as humans go, two thirds of all human communication is non-verbal. This type of communication evolved before language. Lastly, language itself is a cultural unit, not the thing that makes the creation and/or spreading of every single cultural unit possible, although some depend on it (e.g. stories and myths). Why can he work with concepts, while a cat cannot? Unless you propose that the ability to form concepts comes from somewhere outside of your nervous system, the answer is that man's brain is structured in such a way as to give him this ability - unlike the cat's brain. Concepts are a small part of the story. People create languages with an interesting talent for distinguishing 'verbs', 'adjectives', 'nouns'. Without even knowing those terms, or what they mean. I might be wrong, but you seem to suggest that all cognition is based on language, and for some reason, even music apreciation. But humans think without language - they translate their thinking into verbal language, sign language, visual mental images, painted pictures and so on. If you destroy the parts of the brain that deal with language, you can't create language. If you do the same with the music-processing parts, you can speak but you will experience Beethoven just like a cat does: as gibberish, random sounds.
  12. Not really. He takes the theory from scientific literature, which is thoroughly cited in the 'Notes' section at the end of the book. To say he makes it up to prove a thought experiment is absurd and a skewing of what he actually writes. The human brain, like the brain of all animals, has a specific identity. Blank slate or tabula rasa proponents seriously think that the nature of the brain is restricted to emotions, language, concepts, memory, connotation, sexual arousal and the subconscious. The brain has far more adaptations than that. If the brain has identity, this doesn't discredit volition. The author makes a thought experient in which a population of kids is raised in total social isolation, but the kids can somehow raise themselves (yes, it's impossible, but so is Ayn Rand's indestructible robot thought experiment. That's why it's an experiment). The thing is, those kids would create a language and culture. But by culture he is not referring to 21st century New York, or German Romanticism or even late Paleolithic era culture. What he means is: basic customs, traditions, mythology. It wouldn't happen in one generation. It would start very modestly as a gradual process spanning many generations; but it would happen nontheless. I believe Richard Dawkins illustrated this is a video I saw way back where he teaches a game to a little girl during kindergarden recess. He predicts that the game will soon spread to the entire group of kids and sure enough, it does (games like that are what he calls cultural memes).
  13. By 'innate', the author is refering to the music processing modules within the human brain. What he means in the part you quoted is that, while musical universals are innate in the brain, they take many different forms within culture, and the particular tastes and preferences in music that you have are partly influenced by your culture and peer group (the half and half part). Pop, rock, classical and jazz sound very different from eachoter, but they are merely various ways of using musical universals such as repetition, rhytmic and melodic patterns, melodies made of sequences of proximate pitches and many more. If you violate those musical universals the brain does not recognize what it hears as music, or, if some musical universals are present, it sounds like a very alien and bizzare form of it. Contrary to modernists, you cannot 'condition' your brain to like Schonberg. The reason people prefer Mozart is not a matter of conditioning, but pertaining to the identity of the human brain. If I remember correctly the author does cover language in depth, including mentalese, so check those parts out. Edit: I just remembered the perfect piece to illustrate mimesis in music: Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf!
  14. This entire chapter of How Music Really Works covers those questions and many more. This is probably the most mindblowing songwriting textbook ever attempted. The chapter on lyrics is unique in all of music literature. You can read the first six chapters online.
  15. of Rand's virtues? You don't need opportunities to be virtuous, you are virtuous in order to create your opportunities. Objectivist morality is a guide to pursuing your long term self-interest. It will maximize the amount of success you can extort from your particular life situation by teaching you to work for the betterment of your life and to avoid mistakes that might hinder you. Many people don't have a rosy life situation, but if they're ambitious they can rise to great heights. It does take a long amount of time and work, but if you really want to be happy then it's all worth it. Objectivist ethics boils down to one virtue, rationality, all the others are applications to various areas of our lives. Randian heroes such as Howard Roark or Hank Rearden do not know anything about ethics or Objectivism but they implicitly practice it because of their two ruling qualities: they're self-interested, and they know that happiness cannot be pursued in any manner - only by making decisions that will actually pay off in the long term, i.e. being rational. Your emotions largely come from premises held in your mind - from the way you interpret the events around you, what your motivations and philosophical positions are etc. If you're really interested search the online Ayn Rand Lexicon for "sense-of-life", "benevolent universe premise", "malevolent universe premise" and "Byronic view of existence".
  16. Since lucid dreams are an unusual occurence (for people who don't have them often), they tend to stick in your memory. But if you want to remember your lucid dreams very vividly, you have to practice your ability to recall dreams in general. For this reason, many people who learn lucid dreaming start a dream journal in which they document their dreams upon awakening. When I started my journal I really struggled with remembering dreams, they would dissapear from my mind almost immediately after awakening. I remember having to lay still in the position I woke up in and forcing myself to replay the dream in my mind. I only did the dream journal thing for a few weeks, about 8 years ago, but since then my dream recall is pretty decent. I can effortlessly recall most of my dreams upon awakening, and if the dreams are really interesting or scary, they stick in my mind long after that. As I type this it's almost midnight and posting this made me remember the gist of what I dreamed of this morning. I definitely remember my first proper lucid dream ('proper' means I didn't wake up upon realizing that I was dreaming). One sunny morning I woke up from a dream and rolled lazily to the side of the bed to check my mobile phone. It seemed like an overkill to pinch myself but I did it anyway. That's when I realized I had a 'faux awakening' - I was actually still dreaming. After that I got up and started exploring my appartment. Everything was incredibly realistic - I felt the texture of the rug under my feet, the furniture was placed exactly as it was in real life etc. It never became a big interest of mine, but I'm sure there are resources on the web that can turn anyone into a lucid dreaming master.
  17. I have lucid dreams once in a while. The trick I use is to pinch one of my index fingers whenever something weird happens in real life. Sometimes I carry this habit to the dream world, and it makes me realize that I'm dreaming, because if you pinch yourself in a dream you don't feel physical pain. The tricky part is to remain conscious of your 'discovery'. Sometimes I don't really care that I'm dreaming and just go back to an unconscious dreaming state. Since you can control what you do in a lucid dream, many lucid dreamers learn this skill in order to experience flying around like Superman, or dream-sex, but I never really had any specific things I wanted to do in my dreams. Another challenge is to not wake up once you realize that you're dreaming. There are many techniques for this, such as rubbing your hands togheter, which makes the dream more vivid and anchors you to the dream state. With practice you can make most or all of your dreams lucid, but this is definitely a niche interest.
  18. True, there are many situations where it's proper to receive assistance, but as I mentioned at the beginning of my post, I am not adressing the possible exceptions. I wrote this to make it clear to myself what the Objectivist ideal looks like and what to strive for. That particular line is the existential half of the virtue of independence, which I've judged to fit very well near the virtue of productiveness (which opens the statement). As for my rendering of Pride, I see exactly where the awkwardness stems from, but the original post can no longer be edited. Nevertheless, the rendering is accurate.
  19. The following is a "cheat sheet" for the seven objectivist virtues that I have created with consultation from Tara Smith's Normative Ethics book. It assumes a general knowledge of Objectivism, so it focuses exclusively on the "how" of morality - no meta-ethics, detailed explanations, possible exceptions or applications to politics. __________________ OVERVIEW OF THE SEVEN VIRTUES Rationality: In all of our waking hours, life requires of us that we gain new knowledge, choose values, make important decisions and discover how to act. If we are to lead good and happy lives, those decisions and actions must be in harmony with reality, i.e. must first be validated by a process of logic. The start of morality itself is a commitment to flip the switch, a metaphor for going into full mental focus and maintaining it throughout the day. "Mental focus" refers to a readiness to grasp reality (through logic) whenever you consider it to be necessary, not a permanent process of thought. You must never act without knowing exactly what you're doing (or on whim), because all human actions have consequences in reality. Honesty: Never pretend that things are other than they are, either to yourself or to others. Deception is sometimes permitted in dangerous situations. White lies are an especially potent form of poison. Independence: Sustain yourself through your own production, and make your way in the world through your own judgement. Before taking directions and advice from others, make up your own mind wheter to accept them or not (primary orientation to reality). Justice: Judge the people in your life objectively, on grounds of their character and what they mean to your happiness. Give people what they deserve: praise, admiration, respect for people who inspire you or make you happy, and respond to evil people by not sanctioning their evil practices, steering cleer of them, or condemnation. Forgiveness can sometimes be appropriate, but mercy (undeserved leniancy) never is. Integrity: Loyalty, in the face of pressure, to rational principles (whether moral of any other kind). Do not betray your actual convictions in action - thus faking your consciousness - due to fear of other people's opinions, or because you're not in the mood, or because the required action will feel uncomfortable. To gain confidence and courage you need vision, which means: when needed, remind yourself of the full context. Productiveness: Choose production (a productive career) as your central, most important activity, around which everything else gravitates. Commit to the constant improvement of your work methods, and adapt your work when unexpected circumstances occur. There is no limit to how secure, comfortable and enjoyable to make your life, therefore there is no limit to how productive you should be. Pride: refers to a forward-driving ambition to always act rationaly, to the best of your particular ability and circumstances. This will make you earn a positive self-appraisal of yourself - of being capable of achieving values and worthy of values - which will, in turn, give you more motivation to pursue your happiness. Anything less will give you fair reasons to doubt your worth, which in turn weakens your fire for pursuing happiness. The basic vice: the act of unfocusing your mind, the suspension of your consciousness. The refusal to see and the refusal to know. ___________________ "FRANCISCO D'ANCONIA'S CREDO" - THE SEVEN OBJECTIVIST VIRTUES STATED IN A SINGLE PARAGRAPH (Note: this is my own creation, not a quotation from Atlas Shrugged) Spend your time in greedy pursuit of material wealth through a career you love, one that makes full use of your mind. Commit to the constant improvement of your work methods, and adapt your work when unexpected circumstances occur. Support yourself only with money you earn yourself. Flip the focus-switch on, so that in any issue, you're ready to understand, decide and act with your brain, not with your heart. Name things as they really are, to yourself or to others, avoiding even white lies. Never betray your rational convictions in action (moral or of any nature) - by believing something but acting against it; if you become afraid, or you're not in the mood, or the right action is uncomfortable to do, summon the full context to your mind and muster the confidence and courage to stick to your true convictions. Make your way in the world exclusively through your own judgement, and whatever advices others give, make up your own mind about them (reality is the final arbitrer). Pay people that you admire, or inspire you, or mean alot to you personally, with praise, rewards, love, friendship. Respond to vile or dangerous people with condemnation, steering clear of them, and refusal to sanction their evil. Gradualy become worthy of praise and esteem in your own eyes, by fashioning yourself into a man capable of achieving values and worthy of values, by means of pushing yourself to always act in your rational self-interest, to the best of your particular circumstances and ability - even when you don't feel like it. --- [Important note: Objectivism doesn't specifically prescribe that you become a millionaire. It states that you should greedily "squeeze" anything you can rightfully earn from life - the biggest enjoyment and paycheck from the job you love (whether industrialist or school teacher), the best that your money allows you to buy, the best lover that your character can attract. This is different from organizing your life around earning wealth through a job that turns your days into a living hell (see Roark's discussion with the deen at the beggining of The Fountainhead.]
  20. Update: I think that the whole "CPL" thing is a misunderstanding of Ayn Rand's ethics. I believe that what she really meant was this: Living beings can only stay alive through the consumption of survival values. The maintainance and enjoyment of man's life depends on values such as food, shelter, clothing, art and so on. Since man must first produce survival values before he consumes or uses them, saying that "productive work is a man's central purpose" is the same as saying "the sustainance of his life is man's central purpose". People cannot exclusively consume - some of them (idealy everybody) must produce. The alternative to production (and trade) as your central purpose/activity is looting as your central purpose. You can choose to be completely self-sufficient by producing everything you consume (amish-style); or, you can choose the division-of-labor route by picking something you love to produce (such as music), specializing in producing it, then trading it for the rest of the values that your life and enjoyment depends on: pies, appartments, books, movies, raising your kids, vacations and so on. As far as integration goes, Rand means it in two ways, depending on whether she refers to production of value per-se, or to a specific line of work. 1. If it's about production itself, then it's the central value within the Objectivist value-triad - Reason, Purpose, and Self-Esteem - the one that integrates the rest. Reason is the precondition of production (but useless without it), and pride is the result. 2. If she's talking specificaly about a productive purpose (a job, or a career - which can be a progression of jobs), then 'integration' is meant in a different way. A career establishes the relative importance, meaning and hierarchy of your other values, and makes it very easy for you to make decisions in life. A career takes most of your time (university studies, building your skill, working, planning, holding conferences, competition in the market). When doing time management, everything else is of lower relative importance (not intrinsicaly, just planning-wise). For example, you might have to drop a value from your hierarchy if it competes, time-wise, with your career. The money you earn gives you earned acces the rest of your needs: appartment, books, food, drink, vacations, trips. So in a way, your career is the integrator of all your material needs. You might inevitably find yourself spending your time and money on movies, books, friends, clothes, courses and trips that complement your career, e.g. a conductor might spend his pocket money on rare musical scores. Some values can detract from your career, so you might have to remove them altogheter (World of Warcraft, dangerous sports if pianist) Some values can be ends in themselves: you can enjoy painting or stamp-collecting for the pleasure they give you, but they will be secondary to your main purpose. Celebrations and parties usually imply that you're celebrating something. If it's not a birth, marriage or succesful harvest, people usualy celebrate work achievements. To engage in recreation, you must also rest from something. Art and sex are entirely different animals. Though art is an end in itself, it can be a nice source of fuel. Sex, on the other hand, is an expression of your self-esteem and of your admiration for somebody else's virtues; it's not tied to work, but to your character. A note about self-esteem: productive work alone will not give you self esteem. It's entirely possible to use work as "an escape" from reality - you might be a rationality-machine in your career, but simply irrational in your choices of lovers, dealings with people, choice of diet and so on. Self esteem is the certainty that you are capable of living (thinking) in general - that you're worthy of living. The only way to gain self-esteem is by a commitment to unbreached rationality (the virtue of pride), which leads to the formation of a moral (efficaceous) character, which leads to its emotional expression: self esteem. PRODUCTIVE PURPOSE A productive purpose can be broad. For example, a musician can perform, compose, teach and write books about his art, all of it as part of his "umbrella of expertise". A writer (such as Rand) can write novels, plays, movie/TV scenarios, non-fiction, can lecture on writing etc. Your passion doesn't need to be your "top-most value, ever". For a musician, sex, chocolate, travel and hobbies can obviously be just as valuable and indispensable. A career is a unique kind of pleasure, because every achievement/day spent on it adds up to a sum. A career that fills your life with joy is infinitely preferable to one you hate. Most industrialists don't "love" copper, metal, shower faucets or medicine, what they find exhilarating is running the business itself - like a real life Minecraft game. I've never encountered any writings where Rand referrs to a "central purpose in life" - only to productive work as a rational man's central purpose - i.e. his most crucial activity (without which consumption and survival are not possible), or to a productive purpose (career). She never implied that a productive purpose is some sort of abstract ideal, such as "I want to portray the ideal man". What she realy said (in an article called "The Goal Of My Writing") was that the projection of an ideal man was her ultimate literary goal. This is entirely different from a productive purpose, which, for Rand, was writing. ____________ Read more on career and purpose here: http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/career.html http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/purpose.html http://aynrandlexicon.com/ayn-rand-ideas/the-objectivist-ethics.html
  21. Tara Smith discusses this in her book, Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics: The Virtuous Egoist. Here are two exerpts; check the book out for an excellent resource on Objectivist ethics.
  22. In the introduction of "For the New Intellectual", Ayn Rand stated that Galt's Speech is the shortest summary of Objectivism. She was right, it's a summary in the sense of covering all of the essentials of Objectivism. But she leaves out many technicalities that you don't really need to study unless you're hardcore about learning all of its elements. For example: a). In the intro of FTNI she states that Galt's speech barely touches on epistemology, and that she intends to write a treatise on it. She did, and the treatise was called "Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology". While Galt briefly covers how reason and logic work, ITOE explores epistemology through her theory of concept-formation (children-friendly lessons on measurement-ommision, abstraction from abstractions etc.) You don't need this unless you're a philosopher, a philosophy student or really interested in Objectivism. b). The theory of aeshtetics. You can get a few clues about her aesthetic views from the way she describes the works of art in her novels (e.g. the piece of modern music Dagny hears on the street vs. the music of Richard Halley), but incorporating an explicitly stated aesthetic theory into an actual work of art (novel) would be redundant. In the Romantic Manifesto she covers aesthetics in depth. Again, this is a specialized subject that's not absolutely essential, even though it's important. Obviously, if you're an artist or art lover, it's absolutely crucial. There are many non-essentials that she covered implicitly (i.e. concretized and dramatized) in her novels, but were only made explicit later in her non-fiction works. In OPAR, Peikoff covers absolutely all the intricacies and technicalities, and he orders them hierarchically. He even includes things from his telephone conversations with Rand that she never got to write or publish. In a nutshell: Galt's speech is all of the essentials of Objectivism. OPAR is a comprehensive and scholarly study of ALL of its elements - essentials and technicalities alike - from all of her written works and private philosophical conversations. The structure of Galt's Speech was dictated by the context of the novel (which is why it took Rand 2 years to figure out how to structure it so that it's perfectly integrated to the novel), OPAR is a systematic and logically ordered study.
  23. softwareNerd, Very thoughtful questions. I very much doubt that a Chinese worker could consider his repetitious routine to be his CPL. Productive work, for Ayn Rand, involves constant thinking about new ways to improve your field of work. So, mechanical work can't truly be a worthy purpose. If circumstances force people into that kind of labor, I guess the only workaround for them would be to support their real passion with the money they earn, and eventually build a better life for themselves. That, if they aren't already completely disillusioned with life on earth. I wonder: if in the future, all manual work of this type will be taken over by machinery, how would that translate to jobs? It's possible that Yaron Brook covered this in his books, but I am not acquianted with either of his works. Regarding holding the same CPL for your entire lifetime, Ayn Rand's had the following to say about motherhood: it's a proper central purpose, if it's approached as a career that requires the full use of your mind (in order to discover ways of doing it as well as possible), and as long as the woman knows that at some point she'll be forced to undertake a new purpose. Obviously, when all of her kids will grow, her 'career' will obviously become outdated. My take is that, if you switch your career and start achieving things within the new career, you should be equally fulfulled, if you tie your achievements to your new career/purpose. But I have to say this, while it's possible to switch, I think it's very uncommon. True mastery in any field can take a whole lifetime. You either love your field or not. If you look at the lives of great musicians such as Mozart, Beethoven or The Beatles, you'll see that many of them very quickly reached the plateau of what was possible in their genres. But instead of ditching music altogheter, they started to explore new possibilities within their chosen field. Mozart started incorporating counterpoint into his music, a musical technique that originated with the Baroque Period but was forgotten after the Classical period took over. This made his own music very unique. He then made very daring innovations to opera music, and this achievement is what really turned him into a staple of classical music programmes. Beethoven single-handledy made the transition from the Classical to the Early Romantic era through his innovations. The Beatles' recording career lasted for about 10 years (not counting their previous musical activity), yet they covered just about any genre that was popular at the time: Elvis-type rock&roll, 19th century music hall, blues, psychedelic rock, baroque pop, indian music, the first heavy metal song in history (Helter Skelter), ballads, avant-garde and many more. Many artists reached their real creative maturity and peak tens of years into their careers. For them, their earlier works were like the pages of a photo-book that documented their creative lives. So I don't really believe in the concept of a 'plateau'; if there's nothing else to do in your current endeavor, plenty of related possibilities should be open to you. For example, Hank Rearden of Atlas Shrugged started as a laborer in various mines while he made his way into owning his own mills. Then he created Rearden Metal, which took 10 years. The he began researching how his new alloy could be applied to various industries: airplanes, train diesels and so on. But if your career doesn't provide lots of possibilities and variety, then it's entirely normal to get bored and change your field. Had those artists lived 100+ years, I have no idea if they would've eventually ditched their main love for another. But for the current life expectancy, I think one passion is enough, especally since some careers (arts and technology are the perfect example) couldn't exhaust their possibilities even if you lived forever.
  24. softwareNerd, Since I am in the process of decoding this myself, all I can say is that, within the context of the novel, all of Dagny's work and productiveness is devoted to her central purpose, which is Taggart Transcontinental. For Francisco, it's D'Anconia Copper, for Hank Rearden it's his mines. I was listening to a Peikoff course yesterday where he casually mentioned that for Francisco, Dagny was the expression of his love for D'Anconia Copper, so this seems to be a prevailing Objectivist theme. As to which way sex is tied to your one purpose, I am still in the process of figuring it out. Some historical geniuses were passionate enough to be polymaths, but they were/are few and far inbetween. A lot of people prefer choosing just one purpose and growing it as much as they can.
  25. Nicky, This is an incorrect understanding of her definition. Rand makes the distinction between value and ultimate value: "An ultimate value is that final goal or end to which all lesser goals are the means—and it sets the standard by which all lesser goals are evaluated. An organism’s life is its standard of value [...] It is only an ultimate goal, an end in itself, that makes the existence of values possible." (The Objectivist Ethics) All values are merely the means of achieving and enjoying your ultimate value. You enjoy it by means of the resulting emotions; happiness is definitely an emotional state: "Existentially, the activity of pursuing rational goals is the activity of maintaining one’s life; psychologically, its result, reward and concomitant is an emotional state of happiness. [...] And when one experiences the kind of pure happiness that is an end in itself—the kind that makes one think: “This is worth living for”—what one is greeting and affirming in emotional terms is the metaphysical fact that life is an end in itself." (The Objectivist Ethics) In other words, when you enjoy sex or ice-cream, the actual thing you're enjoying is your life. Laughlin states that the CPL is your most important value (source of happiness) but not the only one. Your reformulation is that happiness (the tent) is itself the CPL, and the poles are the means to that, whatever those might be. But the term happiness is too over-arching and doesn't tell you which specific forms of happiness (values) are right for you. To quote Eiuol from this tread: "CPL isn't a tent - it's the blueprint to make a tent. CPL isn't a pole of the tent at all. As Rand says, CPL serves a function to establish one's value hierarchy. Then you can assemble the tent because you'll know which things to build it with and their level of importance. If a CPL integrates all concerns of a man's life, then it's not going to be an incomplete collection of values - it won't leave out leisure or relationships. Furthermore, it'd be a way to know if you achieved your values." Ayn Rand described her CPL as fiction writing, but writing books wasn't all there was to it. To her, writing fiction was her means of creating the world she liked. Here's an exerpt from her journals, where she explains how creating Objectivism was secondary, and integrated to her actual CPL. "I seem to be both a theoretical philosopher and a fiction writer. but it is the last that interests me most; the first is only the means to the last; the absolutely necesarry means, but only the means; the fiction story is the end. Without an understanding and statement of the right philosophical principle, I cannot create the right story; but the discovery of the principle interests me only as the discovery of the proper knowledge to be used for my life purpose; and my life purpose is the creation of the kind of world (people and events) that I like-that is, represents human perfection Philosophical knowledge is necessary in order to define human perfection. But I do not care to stop at the definition. I want to use it, to apply it-in my work (in my personal life too-but the core, center and purpose of my personal life, of my whole life, is my work)." Ayn Rand spent most of her time writing, not because she wanted to make money, but because it was her favorite form of enjoyment, her form of "liquor". While she recognized the importance of love and leisure, those cannot exist without work. Here's a quote from Atlas Shrugged regarding work and sex: "There was some unbreakable link between her love for her work and the desire of her body; as if one gave her the right to the other, the right and the meaning; as if one were the completion of the other – and the desire would never be satisfied, except by a being of equal greatness." Without a CPL, any achievement would feel utterly meaningless, because you wouldn't know by what standard those achievements were worth pursuing or not worth pursuing. And 'life' and 'happiness' don't cut it as a central purpose. You need a specific form of happiness that is unique to you.
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