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NewEdit617 last won the day on October 31 2012

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  1. Super explanation. Thank you.
  2. I was in a discussion recently about what I called "lies of omission." My assertion was that if a husband tells a wife he is "going out with friends" (but fails to mention they'll be going to a strip club), or if a teenager tells his parents he is "going camping with friends" (but fails to mention they'll be drinking), then they are engaging in lies of omission. They are withholding information that would be relevant and of concern to the other party. My friend tried to defend the lies of omission. She said the other party (the wife or the parents) "didn't ask," and therefore the husband or son was not lying. She further suggested that my examples were no different than if someone asked me if I have a cat, and me just saying "yes" rather than further specifying its breed, color, gender, etc. To her, a teenager failing to tell his parents he was going to get drunk while camping is no different than me giving only a simple response to a question about my cat. I know something is wrong here but can't figure out the exact nature of her error. Any insights?
  3. Jonathan, yes, and that is what I was trying to convey in my comment-- with the distinction that I believe we can create, in reality, the kind of fictional world we imagine. ?
  4. This isn't exactly what you asked, but I think the most important thing is to instill a good sense of life. Choose a setting and context that shows life as an exciting adventure, not as a dreary jail sentence. Write about building and creating new things, not about grandma dying in the nursing home. (Seriously, there are a ton of modern children's books about divorce, mom dying of cancer, friend getting stung by bee and dying, etc.) If the story will involve a battle between good and evil, make the good and evil characters clearcut. Do not give the evil character redeeming qualities that would evoke sympathy for him. Also show the ineptitude of evil by having the evil character's actions result in his own demise. Make the hero a real hero with no flaws. Make him/her win in the end, demonstrating that virtue is rewarded. One way of doing this is by using examples that show philosophical principles, rather than naming the principles directly. Present a dramatized version of some conflict that a child in real life might encounter, and show the hero doing the right thing in that stylized situation. Another suggestion I have is to show the role of emotion in life-- the joy of living. I love Galt and Roark, but many young Objectivists become robotic because they mis-apply the more serious personality to their own lives. I myself made this error, and alienated myself from any potential friends (who I automatically assumed were "inferior"). The reason I mention this is your comment: "One of the first scenes in the book involves her watching the stars come out and the narration mentions how she has no desire to wish upon them like the other children." That scene could turn out well, but I urge you not to make too large an issue of a superior hero self-isolating from all of the irrational hooligans. Kira, Roark, etc. give off that vibe and they are happy-- but too many real-life new Objectivists try to apply that same self-isolation and end up unhappy as a result of their distance. This is a wonderful project and I'd love to read your drafts and/or final story.
  5. DonAthos, beautifully written. I'd also like to add, to the original poster: Having access to a school and books, having a language already established in our lifetimes, etc., are facts of reality that we can choose to use-- or not. Consider your question differently. Your question is really asking the same thing as: How much of your success came from you, given that the world contains the necessary water and oxygen? How much of your success came from you, given that your physical body is composed of bone and muscle that can move? How much of your success came from you, given that a tree existed, thereby providing a source of wood from which to build your house? Even though many of us have received value from other people, that does not diminish our accomplishments. Recognizing that metaphysical and human factors have contributed to our success is just acknowledging reality.
  6. Haha. Nevertheless, I like what both of you wrote. Nicky, it's interesting about the physical activity... I actually over-exercise, too. :-( Running for fun turned into racing 5Ks, which turned into racing half-marathons, etc. But it is so nice to read insights that are consistent with Objectivism. Too many (all?) self-help books and therapists I've encountered suggest unconditional self-love, being content with yourself despite doing nothing of which to be proud, and demanding relationships from others because simply existing supposedly makes you worthy of love. Unfortunately, the opposite approach of building self-esteem through accomplishments isn't working either, because the accomplishments never feel "good enough." Anyway, thanks for writing. :-)
  7. Thanks, I like this. No, it's not about proving something to my friends or doing activities for the sake of impressing them. It's more along the lines of Dagny's thought, "my wish to be worthy of you..." My friends should like me for a reason. I would not want to be liked unconditionally. But despite activities and accomplishments beyond what others would expect of me, *I* still feel unworthy of enjoying a break from productivity.
  8. Could anyone offer advice or insights about how to justify and allow oneself time for leisure? I am overtaxing myself, not only with my career but also with several outside interests that I've turned into small businesses. Many times I feel compelled to stay up until 2:00 AM being productive-- updating my business website, making new crafts, seeking out new places to advertise, etc. When I'm eating dinner, I'm simultaneously reading or cutting out labels for the craft business, etc. I don't allow myself down time. The problem is I no longer feel able to relax, and feel GUILTY about doing anything just "for fun." Hobbies that I used to simply enjoy, I now only see as potential business opportunities, and feel like I should pursue them to make money. So begins another business venture, on top of the ones that I'm already sacrificing health for in order to pursue. Obviously this pattern is harmful because of the toll that overwork takes on our health. But what is the error? If "productive achievement is [man's] noblest activity," how can we excuse a moment of relaxation? How does one feel worthy of the day without being constantly maximally productive? Appeals to "moderation" don't seem right; if productiveness is a virtue, shouldn't it be pursued all the time? How can we feel pride and self-esteem if we spend so much as 30 minutes a day watching a TV show we like, or looking at a YouTube music video, or even talking with friends? Shouldn't our friends admire us for our accomplishments, and hence we need more and more achievements to prove our worthiness? Something is wrong here but I can't figure out what! Any insights from Rand or self-help psychology would be appreciated. :-)
  9. Yes, I think your analysis is sound. Many people have a religious view of humanity-- we are important to God; we matter because God has a purpose for us. When people realize that God is a myth, they risk believing that humans are insignificant and that our existence is nothing special. Notice that in your example of the utilitarian, he/she is still attempting to have meaning and purpose (in that case, helping other people, forming a certain type of society, etc.). Living organisms cannot escape the fact of requiring values in order to survive. A follow-up question would be how to respond to a depressed existential nihilist. Is their problem more a sense of life issue, or is there some direct argument that can be used to show that lack of a theistic "purpose" does not imply that existence is a sick joke?
  10. Hm... I'm thinking it is a moral issue due to the following: "What's the most depraved type of human being?" "The man without a purpose." Or: "Productive work is the central purpose of a rational man’s life, the central value that integrates and determines the hierarchy of all his other values. Reason is the source, the precondition of his productive work—pride is the result." Or: Other examples from the lexicon: http://aynrandlexico...on/purpose.html And for the moment I guess I'm referring to close friends rather than shopping or sports buddies, because it is close friends by whom I wish to be fully understood and that I wish to fully understand. But from a larger perspective I'm also referring to acquaintances and strangers-- in other words, broadening the potential pool of people with whom I could form deep friendships due to a shared passion for our lives.
  11. From an early age I knew exactly what I wanted my life's purpose to be, in terms of career and creative personal projects. As an adult I know very few people with this same level of dedication and passion for their lives. I've had friends who are above-average in their academics or in their job, or who explore various hobbies, but they do not pursue those interests with much pride or intensity. They say they "do not know what they want out of life" and are "trying to find their calling." This is incomprehensible to me, as I've never felt it (and never want to)! I have several questions relating to this: 1. What is at the root of a person not knowing what he/she wants out of life? Is it a moral breach? 2. How can we foster and encourage purpose in a friend's life? 3. Is it possible to truly be friends with people who don't share a Roark-like pursuit of their purpose? I can enjoy basic activities and conversations with those friends, such as going shopping or engaging in recreational sports, but ultimately I feel invisible and not understood at my core. My productiveness and purpose is the very essence of my being-- my main identity-- and that is what I most want my friends to see in me (and I in them). But as of now this makes for very few friends.
  12. Thanks for all the input. Your comments have given me some more direction. I haven't read "The Logical Leap" yet, but went back to OPAR 5.4 as recommended and have found some additional insights. I think the biggest thing I failed to recognize in the discussion was context. Inability to be omniscient does not mean inability to know what we do know.
  13. In a recent discussion, a friend of mine asserted that it is impossible to be 100% certain that the sun will rise tomorrow. We believe it will, but there is a "0.00000001% chance" (or whatever) that the sun might not rise. I asserted that in order to function in the world we needed to have certainty and absolutes. He acknowledged this but said we still could not "prove" that the sun will rise in the same way we could form a deductive proof. We think the sun will rise because it always has, but there's a chance it might not. I didn't have a good answer for this. The only idea I came up with on the spot is that even if the sun rising has some element of metaphysical uncertainty, we have to treat the phenomenon as a psychological certainty. But this borders too close to pragmatism for my tastes. Any better responses?
  14. I love it! This was a marvelously refreshing thing to read today.
  15. I think graduate school does generally lead to an unhealthy psychological state. This is due to the current manifestation of how grad schools operate, though, rather than to anything inherently damaging about learning in a structured environment. (I'm saying this as a former graduate student and current college instructor who became psychologically unhealthy during grad school.) Reasons: 1. Research can be an unhealthy lifestyle Due to the nature of research, particularly in scientific experiments that last all day and night, your eating and sleeping schedules are disrupted. Grad students may work 60+ hour weeks, stay up until 2:00 AM, and attempt to subsist on coffee and energy drinks. All of this is tremendous stress for the body, which makes coping with normal stressors much more difficult. 2. Most graduate mentors discourage external interests Even though I am a very efficient and resourceful person, my first graduate mentor would not permit me to pursue external passions such as orchestra. (I was studying cell biology.) If I wanted the funding she had access to, I would have had to "sell my soul." Many grad students give up their other passions. After 2 years for Masters, 4 years for PhD, and 6-10 including post-doc, their sense of life dies. 3. Much of the research focuses on rehashing minutiae There is little innovation (at least in science research). Research projects focus on one function of one protein product of one gene in one species of Siberian tree frog... or something. An integrative, systems approach is scoffed at by tenured professors, who are generally dinosaurs resentful of energy and innovative ideas. Furthermore, most projects just involve confirming the work of others who knowingly engaged in poorly designed experiments. Experiments are intentionally designed to have to be repeated with better controls or larger sample sizes-- this maintains the status quo and ensures continued funding via research grants. You become depressed because you know your work is meaningless or insignificant. 4. You or your mentor "begs" for funding via governmental grants Research that does not meet government dogma, particularly in health or environmental fields, does not get funded. You may be knowingly working against what you know to be true. This is psychologically damaging. 5. The peer review process discourages innovation See also #3. In order to get published your "peers" in the field must approve your work. If your work is worse than theirs, they don't want to publish it because they look down on you. If your work is better than theirs, they don't want to publish it because they resent you. It is not unusual for members of peer review committees to decline a paper, only to perform a mysteriously similar experiment themselves and get it published under their name. This system encourages suspicion, fear, resentment, etc.-- all psychologically unhealthy patterns. 6. There can be destructive competition Among graduate students at the same school, there is often "competition" (in the bad sense of the word, not in the Hank and Dagny sense). Grad students sabotage other students' projects-- literally contaminating experiments that have taken months to perform. Under this system you become unable to trust people who are supposedly collaborating and loving the learning process. This is just a quick list of my ideas. I firmly believe grad school is damaging. The best people either drop out or develop psychological dysfunctions that they will have to deal with years later. The worst people let themselves be "broken" by the system and become the kind of professors who perpetuate the aforementioned problems for future generations of students.
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