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DiscoveryJoy last won the day on December 12 2017

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  1. Hi there! Didn't know there is such a thread about this topic here! Even if it's some years old. Just my thoughts on it after going through these posts: I gather that this thread has been revolving around the question, whether physical attraction by the opposite sex and desires that follow from it are necessarily based on the assessment of a person's character or not. And whether one must be a victim of some "mind-body-dichotomy", if one is already attracted "only by the looks". I think it depends on what you mean by "based on". But I also think there's no such thing as "being attracted due to a mind-body-dichotomy". It only goes the other way round: People just may rationalize their behavior with that mind-body-dichotomy after the fact - for lack of an explanation . But they aren't subconsciously physically attracted to the other sex because of it. If you're really seeking a clear-cut character with high standards attached to it, highly appreciate that, and also find such a person, then you might find that person also physically attractive as a direct outgrowth of that. Perhaps even without the body playing a significant role in it. I think there's no real question arising in this case. So what's the other case? Well, if you're simply not seeking that, or only to a lesser degree, or to almost no degree, then there's always this: What you definitely care about is always at the very least the experience of a volitional living being that is conscious. Perceptually and conceptually conscious of things in this world, conscious of every-day perceivable relationships among them, conscious of itself and of you. And one that in one way or another wishes to live and enjoy its life in a sense you can tolerate. That's the basic content you hold, without which closure or sex isn't desirable to any human being. And I don't see how such a content would be possible without at least some character in that other person. You don't want to sleep with a robot, or an animal, or a depressive person. So what you want is never animalistic. Ever. And you don't view the other person as a so-called "sex-object" (whatever the hell that is). Ever. There simply is no such thing. Not in a relationship, not in promiscuity, perhaps not even with a slut, if you don't have to pretend as if she only was another person. Now how does physical attraction come into play in only these most basic demands to a person? Well, besides the content, there's also the form in which you need to experience any content, the content being the basic person, in this case. And that's where genetics come into play. But I would regard all this talk about biology and evolution as only partly right, partly wrong, and in any case utterly incomplete in its application to the context: Yes, we have certain things hardwired into us. But those are not values. They're just physical dispositions/propensities/abilities. But they facilitate certain forms in which we can experience the above mentioned content. If you are "programmed" (although I hate that term) towards certain physical features in the opposite sex, all sort of stuff can happen when you encounter them. Stuff that allows you to experience a higher degree of awareness/presence/enjoyment of - and ultimately a desire for contact to - the person that has these features. In short: You experience the person in a certain form. But you only experience those things if you think that there actually is at least a basic person: A conceptually conscious living being that somehow wants to live and enjoy its life. You had to willfully grasp a whole set of facts in your life, to even arrive at that simple concept. So it's not automatic. What's automatic is only the consequent desire given your previous conceptualization of - and satisfaction with - the basic person. That's why you now have no choice but to desire, given your choices. So if you encounter wavy long blonde hair, nice skin, or a skinny body type for a women, then you might feel aroused and desire closure or sex with her right away, because your genetic disposition is such, that when you also view her as the basic person I described (as you pretty much have to view her in most cases) and think you can be satisfied with that character-wise, you automatically experience her effect on your own body in a form that boosts the awareness/presence/enjoyment of her in you. All the while, experiencing those effects qua effect of a person. And only wanting them as such: The wavy long blond hair which you find so enjoyable is deeply absorbed and sucked in by you qua wavy long blonde hair of an actual woman that is alive and wishes to enjoy life. There isn't "just the hair", but only the hair as an aspect of that conscious living being, so ultimately, as an aspect of her consciousness. Both of her perceptual, but then also of her conceptual consciousness based on that. Her hair - just like any other part of her body - is an aspect of her consciousness of anything! You find her really beautiful and desire her sexually. But only in this light. Not in any rationalized view of a some "only-the-body-sex-object" that drops the entire context and meaning of the form. So yes, even in physical attraction "based on looks only", an assessment of some character is first at play. It only looks like it isn't, because the low character-standards at play can almost automatically be taken for granted in the person. But since the enjoyment of such low standards cannot give you enough emotionally without a strong form of experiencing them, such a strong form is necessary. You need to "look for looks". So for that reason, your genes come into play and automatically facilitate the physical attraction in your own biologically specific way. Which is also close to evolution, because you are allowing your genes to function largely unaltered by your own overriding choices. So what you call "the basis" here, is pretty much a game of semantics. You're trying to achieve your goal by "looking for looks", sure. So call that your "basis"? But the reason why you're only "looking for looks" is because you believe that the character you want will most probably already be there, so it isn't necessary to seek it directly. But you still need to find the right looks to make the enjoyment of the character really worthwhile. The right form. There's also no percentage assignment possible here ("how much percent looks, how much percent character is this based on?"), since it's all one. All you can define as a true basis is a certain absolute degree of character, if you like. And that is it. Your basis. Your choice. But I think you can also say this (with regards to a man seeking a woman): The lower or lesser your standards/demands to a person's character, the less effort it takes to find her attractive, but the more you can and need to rely on her looks and your genetic programming in order to exhaust - or even get started with - what is emotionally possible with those standards. For what more can your genes possibly do than what you have asked them to do? Just their thing. And how else would you get to the next level, if there are limits about how much there is to think about? Only through your genes. The higher your standards, the more effort it takes to find her attractive, but the less your genetic programming can and needs to help you to exhaust what is emotionally possible with those standards. For how would your genes even know about such unexpected decisions of yours? And how else would you get to the next level, if there are limits about how much can be automated? So in any case, you cannot truly psychologically base physical attraction "on looks only". But they can become the dominant element of the form in which the attraction to a character of lower standards takes place. And since there is no true "attraction based on looks only", there is also no "attraction based on a mind-body-dichotomy" that it would require. You just invent the "mind-body-dichotomy" in order to rationalize what is going on. And it comes at the price of destroying your self-view. By reducing yourself either to a joyless zombie or an animal void of any meaningful content. Just consciously accepting your actual character standard instead - even if a low one - is better than that.
  2. I never understood how sex can be a topic for philosophy to make such statements on in the first place. This is a highly concrete and specialized issue that depends on an individual's concrete values, psychology and physical constitution. Who is to make statements about what your own concrete and objective values are? What values to look for in another person? How abstract they are to be? And in order to fulfill which actual needs of interaction with them and to what extend? And knowing that Objectivism enters into this topic, I typically detect certain ideas surrounding and relating to it, that I find rather strange: A ) Limitation of the need of "physical attraction" to a purely physical pleasure. No such thing in my opinion. Every physical feature you identify is an aspect of a conscious living being that perceives itself and this world through exactly those physical features of its body, and hence in that very form. And you know this, and only knowing this gives meaning to that attraction. Simple introspection tells you that. You like a particular form in which he or she exists as a perceptually conscious being (with certain implications even for some of its conceptual values). What you like is a form that physically best facilitates your contact to the reality of another human beings' existence. Of his or her existence as a conscious living entity. You cannot like "just his or her body", without demanding and knowing that it is the body of a conscious living being that you are liking. And you cannot like "just the aspect of his or her being alive and conscious" without it being so in a particular form that appeals to you. You are seeking some specific conceptual knowledge here, and you want it to manifest itself in a specific perceptual form. That's to a degree of 100% a mental, as well as of 100% a physical need, you cannot separate the two. Individuals may vary, but how one would exclude that this alone might form to certain individuals an indispensable prerequisite, possibly even a highly important value in and of itself, is incomprehensible to me. Just think of how you prefer watering certain plants only, and like to have certain animals as pets only. Now, how much more exciting is the case of a particular form of a human being?! It already starts with only wanting a particular sex to begin with. Not to talk about all the other physical features, of which there are numerous. B ) Sex as valid only in romantic love celebrating achievement. Well, what about things like "puppy love" among human beings? Love driven by infatuation? I can conceive of it as being an immense pleasure and source of mental energy. Certainly enough so, to be valuable. Something to want to keep living on for in order to enjoy. I find the idea of suppressing it repulsive, if not disgusting. Unless you can conceive of something more fulfilling. And assuming of course, the person in question is not harmful. I think I heard or red Ayn Rand say in some documentary that her sisters were into puppy love, while she was the only hero worshiper. And that she never really understood how that could be enough for them. Whether she outright condemned it, I don't know. But I'd rather doubt that she approved of it, given her demands for "appropriate sex". C ) The frequent emphasis that your enjoyment needs to be about your achievement. I find this mind boggling. There can be a million things I could value without having achieved them. Many of them come naturally (like beautiful landscapes I see in nature). Others were built by other people (like the sight of impressive Skylines). I certainly would like to keep them in reality, whether achieved by me or not. In some cases, I might even not want to know in detail how they came about (You certainly wanna eat the steak, but that doesn't mean you wanna meat the cow ). Identifying the fact that me or other people had to - or didn't have to - achieve those things to put them into this world is not what makes my enjoyment of them possible or impossible. My enjoyment stems from my need to survive, which requires having certain experiences that make it worthwhile. Knowing that "I build this" can be a pleasurable add-on, though. Achievement is also not the psychological root of the motivation. In order for me to say "oh, there's something I want to achieve", I must first say "oh, there's something I want to enjoy". All this tells me that values (realized or not) are considered values independent of their achievement, but rather due to the valuing, the prospect of their enjoyment. But achievement is very often necessary to realize them - whether on my own or on other people's part. Since other people cannot be my slaves and shouldn't, I recognize the need to engage in a certain amount of my own achievement. While recognizing also, that I benefit from the achievements of all the other people as well. Together, we're all better off, plus the free riding. The rest is done by mother nature. And due to all those achievements, the amount of daily achievement necessary to maintain a desired degree of enjoyment becomes less and less. Nevertheless, you must always maintain some level of achievement, to keep your brain active so you can figure out how to best enjoy. Or to prepare yourself in case some new idea happens to come about some time on what next to realize. Psychologically, this means that achievement is a means to the end of enjoyment. But it needn't be focused on explicitly. It's simply an implicit part whenever it is required. I would rather separate the means from the end this way, while still recognizing they're both necessary.
  3. Okay, fair enough, I wasn't using the term "proof" in that strict of a sense, but merely indicating that something is somehow "demonstrated" or "made to surface" by my argument.
  4. Here's another one: It is said that any society is guided by and needs philosophers. How is this possible, if on the other hand a people is said to be "at fault" when a Dictator gets into power?
  5. I see. Fits to what I discovered in my reply to softwareNerd.
  6. I see. Seems to have more to do with the gender roles Ayn Rand expects in romantic love due to physical differences in strength among the sexes, and therefore perhaps some esthetic disharmony that Rand would ascribe to a woman being on top of all the men around her.
  7. What's the difference? If you've proven that free will is an axiom, you have proven it's metaphysically given existence.
  8. From my understanding there is very little required to prove free will: Determinism is a self-contradiction! If you had no free will, how would you even know you have no free will? Does that knowledge flow to you automatically? Yes? So it's not actually true that there's no free will, it's just those damn genes or whatever "forcing" you to think that?
  9. Another one: It is said that you shouldn't be guided by your emotions but that emotions are what you should live for. Seems to me like a contradiction by itself. To aim at something (an emotion) is to be guided by that goal, or is it not? Even if it is the prospect of a future emotion grasped only cognitively now, you are still using that emotion as a guiding argument, therefore "being guided by your emotion". Put another way: It is said that acting rationally is fundamentally different to acting on your desires. But if after the end of all thinking and extrapolating all the effects of your possible choices to your lifespan, isn't it necessarily a "feeling" that tells you whether you still desire something or not? Starting already with the feeling that you "like to live at all" or not? Why isn't it more proper to say that acting rationally means acting on the broadest perspective on your desires? Or that you shouldn't be guided by your inconsiderate emotions, but very well by you your considerate ones?
  10. Okay, let's start with the first. It is my understanding that Rand considered men and woman equal in intellectual capability. And that all humans are capable of moral perfection. But then a horror-strickenly uttered sentence I heard from Rand herself in one of Donahue's shows rings in my ear. It was about the idea of a female US president and went something like: "A woman as a head of command of the armed forces?! Are you kidding me?" How does this fit together? If a woman really was to be considered incapable of pulling the trigger if necessary, wouldn't this mean she is also incapable of moral perfection?
  11. Hi, I would like to use this thread to resolve certain statements by Objectivists in certain contexts that seem to contradict each other and try to resolve those contradictions.
  12. Not sure about what the recent posts have to do with the thread's topic, but I, too, hope that at least some top students of Objectivism are among the posters here. For professional assistance, I think it is still a good idea to tune into the Yaron Brook Show and ask questions, or to post your questions to peikoff.com
  13. Not sure about what your thoughts are on my recent replies, since many of my questions remained unanswered. But I am meanwhile reflecting about the following proposal: The fact that a lower values suffers by itself does not make it right to give up a higher value for it. The degree of the suffering is irrelevant. It is therefore wrong to engage in empathy on the sensual level by inflicting slight doses of physical pain to yourself only in order to be in touch with the degree of the suffering, in order to be able to include it in a calculus of the kind: "How much value for me minus how much pain for him?". It is even wrong to engage in empathy on the cognitive level with that goal. Because the whole calculus is wrong. It is wrong because it places someone else's suffering on the same level as if it were your own. It is wrong because it says that "Your suffering is my suffering, so I have to consider it equally alongside with my higher values, in order to make a decision". It is wrong because that kind of calculus must always lead to giving up the higher value, since it is always overridden by the pain grasped: If you pretend like the one whose feed are burning all the time is you, then you cannot allow yourself to enjoy any value at the same time, ever. A value-based approach only asks the question: "Which of the two values is actually higher, independent of whether it is suffering or not?" The higher value must be given precedence in any case. If necessary, one just needs to be brave enough to ignore someone else's pain now in order to implement the proper decision, and learn how to deal with the pain later. Deal with it later, not in the sense of constantly seeking empathic experiences, but only in the sense of learning how to move on and not wanting any more when and if the topic comes up. You can let me know what you think about that if you like. The only question remaining to me is what to say if someone considers a certain "regular awareness of certain people's emotional wellbeing", such an awareness by itself, kind of a value. Not necessary because one values those people more than or as much as one's higher values, but because of some idea that one generally needs to be "conscious of what's going on out there in close people" on principle, perhaps as an expression of one's own character etc., and the idea that one needs to bear that awareness on the back of one's mind all the time as permanently as mentally possible. As a psychological precondition to allowing yourself to enjoy your higher values. So if the situation is so bad that sticking to this principle makes the enjoyment of your higher values impossible, but you still stick to that principle "for the sake of the principle", having to forgo your higher values, what would that mean? Would that be a valid principle to have in the first place? Or would such a principle invalidate the idea that what you call "your higher values" really are your higher values, because you are placing that principle above those "alleged higher values"? Or would you say "No, the principle is just a principle, it can backfire in certain highly improbable cases, but the value is still a value and sticking to the principle does not invalidate what you think is your value hierarchy, even if it might seem so. You cannot compare principles against values!"?
  14. Just "not at the moment"? Or possibly "not even at all"? Assuming that it is true that you don't need to feel them now, is it then even necessary to feel them ever? As your answer is that you can create a perceptual basis by reasoning and conceptual thought, it seems like you want to construct a perceptual concrete in the mind from some memorized concretes, so that the result resembles the would-be real experience? Some "ultra-light" dose of that same intensity that somehow lets you stay in touch with how it would feel like, but not so strong as to overwhelm your ability to loose sight of your other values? What if you did that and then later accidentally experienced it in reality, totally taken by surprise that a particular physical pain is actually much much worse in practice than you had imagined in theory? Would this demonstrate an inability of reason to extrapolate an emotion from the related emotions? Or what else would or could that demonstrate? Affective empathy matters, but only to a certain extend then? All levels on the pain scale can be extrapolated from experiences of level 1 pain alone, so we need to experience no more pain than that? Notions of "unimaginable pain" are all bogus? Assuming that cognitive empathy is sufficient, it still leaves the following unanswered. I'm still wondering what you think about the following, if I replace all occurances of "empathy" with "cognitive empathy":
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