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Great advice Betsy, that's all I needed to know. Something simple - I'm overwhelmed and that's just what I needed. I guess I needed some reasurance from someone else, that I was doing the right thing. Thank you very much, I have always been a firm believer in advice. But only from people that I respect. And from your posts, I greatly respect you and look forward to receiving any advice from you in the future!

Megan

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Great advice Betsy,

If I had a dime for every time I've heard - and said - that. Betsy is not only one of the most knowledgeable Objectivists on the Internet, she is without a doubt the most helpful. I owe her a significant debt regarding my own intellectual development. So, yes, thanks Betsy! For everything! And more!

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You may think that your arguing and debating is not about trying to change her; that you're only attacking her ideas, not her as a person. But what you intend and the way your message is received are likely very, very different.

We as men tend to be highly competitive with one another. It's one of the ways in which we bond: We jokingly insult each other, we wrestle and fight, we argue and debate -- about everything -- and it's not only not a big deal to us, we respect each other more afterward. It brings us closer together.

This behavior is often mystifying to women. They don't do it with each other, and they sure as hell don't want us to do it with them.

Whatever it is that's so important that you need to impress upon her, I guarantee it's not nearly as important in her eyes as how well you listen to and respect her words and opinion.

Ladies, do you agree?

I have to say, I do agree. Over the last several years, I've learned a lot about relationships and about myself in response to men, and everything you're saying is very interesting to me, Kevin.

The joking insults is one of the things that annoys me the most, and always has. It's definitely the mark of friendship and not of romance.

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Rationalism is very, very hard to change.  It is like a chronic disease that, with effort and attention, can be managed, but I don't know anyone who has it who has been "cured."

What would you consider "cured"? As a friend once pointed out to me, most people rationalize once in a while.

I appreciate what you say about weather a person is honestly trying to cope with the problem or refusting to give a damn about it. I have to say that most of the rationalists I've come in contact with are the latter. Then again, they're mostly my age, and I think a lot of the refusal is tied to self-esteem issues, ie; if they find out they're wrong about something, that would mean they're a bad person, so they'd rather stuff the worry down and continue on their current path. This is where I see the connection between rationalism and repression. Is this a common connection? I think I may have become confused by many people's definitions of rationalism over the years and have inadvertantly defined rationalism by non-essentials.

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What would you consider "cured"? As a friend once pointed out to me, most people rationalize once in a while.

I think there is confusion between rationalism and rationalizing. Rationalism is the psycho-epistemological practice of holding and using ideas not properly tied to sense perception and trying to deduce reality from abstract ideas. A rationalist might try to determine whether it is raining by deducing it from principles of meteorology. A normal person looks out the window.

RationalizATION, on the other hand, is the practice of morally justifying one's actions by giving an acceptable "reason" for the action which isn't the true reason why one acted. For instance, a person cheating on a test might rationalize that it is OK because the teacher is unfair when the real reason is he watched TV instead of studying.

Rationalism is a psycho-epistemological problem but usually not a moral problem, while rationalization is always a moral problem because it is a attempt to gain values by faking reality -- i.e., it is dishonest.

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Don't you think you should have made sure you were not mistaken [i.e., identified the context of the quote] before you accused me of quoting Rand out of context?  Don't you think you should be more careful making such accusations?  Isn't one aspect of justice making sure that one takes into account all the relevant evidence before passing judgments?

Don,

I don't have any big beef with you. My comment about taking the Ayn Rand quote out of context was not meant as an attack on your moral character--it's not like I denounced you as trying to rationalize your position or anything like that--but merely to point out that you might have made an error. Thus, I should have qualified it in some way. I made a mistake, and if I offended you, I apologize. I hope that you won't hold it against me.

That said--

You tell me: which sentence here means something other than what it plainly says simply because Rand was discussing this issue in order to help the author write his story?  Which point do you think would she not have agreed with had she been speaking of this issue in our present context?  In what specific way did I take her comments out of context, i.e., change their intended meaning?

I think that the context may be somewhat relevant to interpreting that qoute. But I do think that you are basically right that we can basically take it to mean what it plainly says. But let me ask you again: How does that contradict what I said (that "sex is so high a value that it should be accepted under less than ideal circumstances only if there is no reasonable hope of ever attaining it under ideal circumstances" which really shouldn't be much of a problem in our current context)? And anyway, while it is interesting to see which view Ayn Rand personally held, I'd much rather debate about the truth of the matter by looking at reality than simply pick apart Ayn Rand quotes.

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I don't have any big beef with you.  My comment about taking the Ayn Rand quote out of context was not meant as an attack on your moral character--it's not like I denounced you as trying to rationalize your position or anything like that--but merely to point out that you might have made an error.  Thus, I should have qualified it in some way.  I made a mistake, and if I offended you, I apologize.  I hope that you won't hold it against me.

No, I won't.

I think that the context may be somewhat relevant to interpreting that qoute.  But I do think that you are basically right that we can basically take it to mean what it plainly says.  But let [i]me[/i] ask [i]you[/i] again: How does that contradict what I said (that "sex is so high a value that it should be accepted under less than ideal circumstances only if there is no reasonable hope of ever attaining it under ideal circumstances" which really shouldn't be much of a problem in our current context)?

I didn't say it did. I said it contradicted your original unqualified point, that sex should be reserved for ideal conditions. It is consonant, however, with your qualified point. The quote aside, however, I am still of the view that there is nothing inherently wrong with satisfying one's sexual needs in less than ideal conditions in cases where the ideal conditions cannot be met now, but will probably be met at some time in the unspecified future.

And anyway, while it is interesting to see which view Ayn Rand personally held, I'd much rather debate about the truth of the matter by looking at reality than simply pick apart Ayn Rand quotes.

Me too. My point was only to defend myself against a serious accusation: that of taking Ayn Rand's words out of context. Given how high a value she and her work are to me, that is something I will not tolerate.

Thank you, however, for your apology. I truly appreciate it and look forward to our future discussions.

-Don

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;) (Apologies to the young woman - Rana(?) - to whom I sent the following. I apparently sent an email when I wanted to submit a post. )

Hello All,

This is an introduction of sorts. My name's Steven Brockerman.

I just discovered this forum. A sign of the cultural critical mass Objectivism is reaching I think.

Just wanted to respond to the notion that men, as *friends,* are typically competitive w/ each other, "joke" insult each other, etc.

Picture that sort of juvenile behavior between Rearden & Frisco.

I can't; nor can I picture it in my own friendships.

As for the main thread, there's a big difference between argument & persuasion. On particular issues, debate can be, well, sexy.

Nonetheless, if what you're looking for is an adult romantic relationship, the last thing you want to play is teacher to her student in something as fundamental as philosophy. I love the myth of Pygmalion; but it's a myth for a reason.

Picture Galt with Cheryl. Better to find a woman your equal than to try and make one your equal - an impossibility, which you'll see if you re-read that line a few times. It can never work.

Getting "wowed" by a woman is half the fun. ;o) And nothing wows like brains equal to your own in a romantic context (along with, of course, character & beauty).

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Just wanted to respond to the notion that men, as *friends,* are typically competitive w/ each other, "joke" insult each other, etc.

Picture that sort of juvenile behavior between Rearden & Frisco.

I can't; nor can I picture it in my own friendships.

I understand what you're saying, but as a counter-example: the person I most admire on this earth is my best friend. He and I also share the same sense of humor and this leads to jibes back and forth, but these are not exercises in attacking the other person, but in demonstrating how darn clever each of us is. The important thing is that these jibes are never directed at each other's virtues.

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A few thoughts, in no particular order:

1) There are differences between men and women which are not purely physical; remember that mind and body are integrated

2) Masculinity is much more than mere physical strength

3) A man's masculinity is what a woman worships. I assume that it's part of what attracts a woman to him initially, but not the only thing.

4) I think that arguing or debating is not a productive activity when first dating, but as a relationship grows there can be room for some argument--expecting to spend 50 years of marriage without a single argument is just absurd. On the other hand, expecting to "change" (i.e. choose how to focus someone else's mind) is equally absurd.

5) I think the nature of masculinity and feminity makes teaching asymmetrical. A woman would despise having to teach her man basic things. I can't conceive of an Objectivist woman finding a basically decent man and teaching him Objectivism. On the other hand, I think an Objectivist man can teach a great deal to an honest woman who's receptive to his ideas.

6) All too often (especially among younger people who were raised in an enviroment of Perfect Feminism in school, on TV, in the movies, etc.) any attempt to express Rand's theory of femininity (the desire to look up to a man) and masculinity (strength, confidence) is met with denunciations. Mr. Dror's response to Mr. Delaney falls into this category. I don't think Delaney said the things that Dror thought he said, and therefore the response was totally off-base.

7) If you find yourself reading this (or material by Delaney, from what I've seen) and angrily responding that this implies women are "less" than men, may I suggest you carefully introspect for rationalism (i.e. an ingrained approach based on deductions from definitions and "axioms"). To say that a woman looks up to her lover does not mean that she is "less" than he (whatever "less" means, it's not clear to me). Only if one falsely thinks about this as she looks up to a higher being, who looks down on her as a lower being, can one conclude this. Only if one gets past the rationalism can one grasp why this is *NOT* what we mean when we describe femininity.

8) For the record, I think the best word to describe how a man views his lover is "cherish".

9) For the record, I think the best point made by Delaney in the essay on his website is that romance is full-time, it is *not* compartmentalized. This is why the assertion that men are dominant in bed, but as soon as the lovers jump up and walk into the kitchen, they should keep it even-steven and she should take charge for a while.

10) Atlas Shrugged was presented in essentials; even so, it was well over 1000 pages. Galt and Ragnar weren't presented as joking around, or jibing eachother, but then they weren't shown using the bathroom either. How one gets from here to the conclusion that men don't bust eachother's chops is beyond me. Something I've noticed among different groups of men, ranging from construction workers to C-level executives, is that in the right context, they always rib eachother. And not only do women not do this among themselves, they don't do it with men either. They look at it and don't understand it. I've discussed this with my wife off and on over the years, and to this today she just says "men are silly," in regard to this aspect of our behavior.

11) I think the difference between friend and wife or husband is self-evident if you think about the definitions. A friend is someone with whom you share values. A wife is a man's sexual value, whom he cherishes. A husband is the man to whom a woman looks up and worships. A friend shares values with you. A wife *is* your value.

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Whoa!

I'm not sure why you feel the burden of proof should lie with others when it comes justifying their lifestyle. They are obviously doing the 'sleeping with friends' thing because they feel it brings them pleasure in some way.
Let's say, not a wife, but an attractive mistress. It would not be sex at its best and highest - not the perfect union of the spiritual and the physical - but it would not be terrifying or degrading or enslaving."

These are totally different contexts. The former describes casual sex. The latter a relationship rather more serious and committed than merely "casual" (much less open to friendS plural).

Sure, sex is a need. A need that one can physically fulfill alone. When someone chooses to sleep around casually rather than to masturbate, that is an indication of his values. Nothing in Objectivism defends or rationalizes this, and another poster in this forum properly identified this as an attempt to reverse cause and effect.

Finally, I question when people declare that the ideal is not possible here. Is this a bona fide conclusion induced by contact with reality, or this a MUP? :)

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All too often (especially among younger people who were raised in an enviroment of Perfect Feminism in school, on TV, in the movies, etc.) any attempt to express Rand's theory of femininity (the desire to look up to a man) and masculinity (strength, confidence) is met with denunciations.  Mr. Dror's response to Mr. Delaney falls into this category.  I don't think Delaney said the things that Dror thought he said, and therefore the response was totally off-base.

Up to that point I was agreeing with everything you wrote.

I do believe that it is a feminine trait to look up to men, and as I wrote I agree that debate is not, in itself, a romantic activity.

However, my criticism of Delaney is NOT off-base. Mr. Delaney tried to pass avoiding an argument as a MASCULINE thing to do. As you yourself said - avoiding an argument throughout a relationship is absurd.

I consider it not just absurd, but cowardly and dishonest.

I do agree, however, that at an early stage of the relationship it is better to stress the positive side of shared values rather than the disagreements. But if and when an argument comes up - you are a coward if you don't meet it. To be masculine you have to be sure enough of your views, and your ability to express them clearly and convincingly.

And if your partner will not be persuaded, she might not be the right partner after all.

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These are totally different contexts.  The former describes casual sex.  The latter a relationship rather more serious and committed than merely "casual" (much less open to friendS plural).

Sure, sex is a need.  A need that one can physically fulfill alone.  When someone chooses to sleep around casually rather than to masturbate, that is an indication of his values.  Nothing in Objectivism defends or rationalizes this, and another poster in this forum properly identified this as an attempt to reverse cause and effect.

Please attribute your quotes. The former was not from me nor does it represent my position, while the second was a quote from Rand which I posted in (partial) defense of my position.

As for your point: I agree that sleeping around casually is not proper, but it does not follow that any time one sleeps with a person who one does not love, one has attempted to reverse cause and effect, which is what you imply. My question is this: in what way is sleeping with someone who you respect and care about but do not love, when that is the best you can do at that time - how is that self-destructive? I've yet to hear a persuasive answer to that question.

Finally, I question when people declare that the ideal is not possible here.  Is this a bona fide conclusion induced by contact with reality, or this a MUP?  :)

I've not declared that. I've said merely that it isn't always achievable within a reasonable time frame, and that I do not accept the idea that we must wait until that time frame arrives before we seek lesser sexual enjoyment. How long must one wait? Until one is thirty? Forty? Sixty? And how in God's name would you justify that?

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I agree that sleeping around casually is not proper, but it does not follow that any time one sleeps with a person who one does not love, one has attempted to reverse cause and effect, which is what you imply.  My question is this: in what way is sleeping with someone who you respect and care about but do not love, when that is the best you can do at that time - how is that self-destructive?  I've yet to hear a persuasive answer to that question.

I see no problem with doing this, provided you are not in love with another person at the time, and that your partner (whom you know and respect) knows exactly how you feel, and seems capable of handling it properly.

If you're looking for what Ayn Rand had to say about it, I refer you to Atlas Shrugged. Dagny was not in love with Rearden when she slept with him. She admired him, was attracted to him - but didn't feel toward him the same emotion she felt with Galt, or even with Francisco, it seems to me.

There is even a passage that said Dagny was still looking for her ideal man, even while sleeping with Rearden.

So, I don't think there is a right age to wait for before having sex with someone you don't love. You should wait until you are a fully developed individual before sleeping with anyone, but when you are an adult and the context is right, and the conditions I mentioned in the first paragraph are fullfilled - just do it! :)

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Perhaps contextualizing the operative meaning of masculinity & femininity would help. If memory serves, the operative context is, metaphorically speaking, the bedroom.

My observations of women and men, in that context, is that a man pursues, which is at once also an admission of being "conquered." A woman submits, which is at once also an act of "conquest."

But what of masculinity & femininity *outside* the bedroom? Here the context is pschology, as Dr. Peikoff emphatically informed me at an Objectivist Conference in 1988.

Is there a feminine way of coming at things and a masculine way? Without making this a dichotomy, could one say, essentially, that men -- in the main -- emphasize theory, women, practice?

As support for this POV, recall that in UO Dr. P mentions that from his experience, men tend to be rationalists; women empiricists.

On the other hand, consider woman's role historically, which I recognize could have been formed by prohibitions and prejudices. For instance, women in Victorian England became "Angels of the hearth and home" -- keepers, if you will, of morality and educators of the young, e.g., "the hand that rocks the cradle rules the Empire." Men, in this historical scenario, are the ones going out and dealing with the world in "practice." This is, I think, more than simple male patronizing.

Thus, here women are the theorizers, men the practioners.

These observations are merely me thinking aloud, so feel free to shoot any and all of this down. I have always found the topic of identifying the fundamental nature of masculinity & femininity to be fascinating. And at 52 I will admit to still not having a firm, objective definition of either.

In the words of Jerry Seinfeld: "When it comes to women, men are certain of only one thing: We want women. How do we get women? Oh, well, that we don't know. That's why we wind up yelling at women from constructiuons sites or honking at them in our cars...There is one thing I do know, though. Men who do that have run out of ideas." :blink:

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Thanks for your post, Bearster. Much good food for thought.

I consider the issue of hero worship to be in many ways "the final frontier" for Objectivism. It's an area of Ayn Rand's thought with potentially epochal implications for the human race, yet one which has barely been explored, and is only barely understood by even some of the brightest Objectivist intellectuals.

I just wrote an article on this very topic for my website, and have added it to the "essays" section of the forums:

Hero-Worship: The Final Frontier

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I've noticed some other differences between male and female mode of operation. These are just general observations, and I don't know if it's a cultural or metaphysical thing, or even just my imagination.

* Men on average find it easier to concentrate on one thing. Women are more easily interrupted.

* Men on average find it harder to multi-task, women find it easier.

* Men on average are more competitive, women more cooperative.

* Men on average are more calculated, women more spontaneous.

Now, of course every individual can learn to multi-task, choose if to be competitive or not, or decide to act in a calculated way at any given time - however, these differences seem to be wide spread nontheless.

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[This is a piece I wrote for for my book-in-production's website. Thought it might be of interest.]

"For a woman qua woman, the essence of femininity is hero-worship — the desire to look up to man."

Ayn Rand, "About a Woman President"

Throughout history, philosophers have wrestled with a seemingly unsolvable dilemma known as the problem of universals — the question of what concepts are, and how they relate to reality. Ayn Rand answered this question: Her principle of measurement-omission provides the key that philosophers had sought for ages, yet failed to find. Her theory of concepts illuminates a long-dark issue at the center of philosophy, identifying the link between man's mind and his understanding of the universe.

There is another question which has befuddled not only the abstract thinkers, but psychologists and artists on down to the most common of common men. It's a question pondered by high school boys anticipating their first date, and grown men suffering through their third divorce; a question raised by Sigmund Freud (if only to admit that, like everyone else, he too was stumped) — a question whose lack of an answer has brought more pain and devastation to the lives of men and women than perhaps any other.

What does a woman want?

I believe that Ayn Rand's principle of feminine hero-worship is at least as profound an identification as her theory of concepts. For it not only answers this question, but it names the fundamental fact which underlies and gives rise to a romantic relationship between a man and a woman. If the achievement of happiness is the goal of human life, then certainly no issue is more worthy of thought and attention than this.

And yet, hero-worship is all but ignored by today's Objectivist intellectuals. Every other area of Ayn Rand's thought has been thoroughly dissected, examined and elaborated on — yet her concept of femininity (and the concept of masculinity which it implies) has barely been explored.

It's not that Objectivists don't talk about love and sex. They do, all the time. But their focus is always on issues of values and self-esteem — of love as a selfish act; of a person's romantic choice as a reflection of his soul and his sense of life. Reference to the nature of masculinity and femininity, if it comes up at all, is usually brief and in passing. Objectivist speakers and writers simply don't have much to say on the subject. When they do, it's usually not very helpful or insightful.

Observe the response given by a prominent Objectivist psychotherapist in an interview published on her website, in answer to the question: "What role do the differences between the sexes play in sex?"

Ask a gay or lesbian couple and you will get a different response from asking a "helplessly heterosexual" man or woman. This demonstrates that sexual attraction involves a complex set of factors such as your sexual history (maybe you had a close same-sex companion as a young child and you experimented and enjoyed your budding sexuality with this person), your experiences with the opposite sex in general (maybe the men you dated were always forceful), and other factors.

In the normal course of events, men get highly aroused by the sight, thought or image of their ideal woman. Women, likewise get aroused by the opposite sex. Both fantasize about giving themselves and this ideal partner pleasure. The biological and physical differences are obvious here, but as illustrated with gay couples, male/female attraction can be overridden by your values.

The differences in physique, i.e., male, female, are intriguing, an adventure. The masculinity of the man can be very sexy as can be the femininity of the woman. You don't have to be a size 6 woman to feel sexy and appealing to a man. A woman at our dance studio is easily a size 16, yet she sways her hips, smiles confidently, wears short skirts and heels and does one hot mambo with her male partners.

Such meaningless verbiage is highly out of character for Objectivists, and indicates just how poorly "the differences between the sexes" — and the foundational role of these differences in love and sex — are understood.

I used to think that this was in part because Ayn Rand herself had not written or said very much on the subject, beyond a handful of references made in essays and interviews. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that issues of love are not properly a part of philosophy, and thus not literally part of Objectivism, and thus not worthy of attention or elaboration by Objectivist intellectuals. Maybe the issue was so obvious that it didn't need elaboration — except to me, of course, along with every man I happened to know.

Since I've begun studying hero-worship and its role in romantic love, I've discovered another, likelier reason for the concept's relative obscurity:

It scares the hell out of people.

Many Objectivists, particularly men, become extremely uneasy when talking about hero-worship. I have witnessed some the brightest and most courageous minds suddenly appear to be walking on eggshells, sounding as if they're watching their every word, awkwardly qualifying and re-qualifying every statement, speaking as little as they can and saying virtually nothing. Such discussions are usually cast in the third person: they are talking about Ayn Rand's views and opinions, not their own. A few will acknowledge that this is one area where they outright disagree with Ayn Rand, and that they find her "About a Woman President" essay — the most elaborate explanation of her views on femininity — to be a bit of an embarrassment.

Part of my purpose in writing this book is to take the fear out of hero-worship, and to make it intelligible and accessible to members of both sexes, to intellectuals and lay people alike; to demonstrate that it is anything but a scary or sexist idea — that hero-worship is in fact the greatest validation of the synergy between, and the equality of, men and women that anyone has ever discovered.

I have said that, in a sense, romantic love could almost be considered the sixth branch of philosophy: technically the province of psychology, it is by far the most philosophical of all psychological topics. In another sense, though, romantic love is a separate science of its own — a science we're only now beginning to understand, one whose base was identified by the same woman responsible for solving philosophy's problem of universals.

Like Objectivism itself, if Ayn Rand's ideas about love and sex are to flourish on a cultural scale, they must first be understood and accepted by the intellectuals. While The Romantic Man is by no means an academic textbook or the definitive word on the psychology of romantic love, I hope that it can be an valuable contribution to the field of Objectivist-related thought, and an important first step in the right direction for our culture.

Copyright 2004 Kevin Delaney

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Eran: I agree with what you said in reply to my long message.

Don: Sorry for not attributing. I read pages of messages and wrote based on what I remembered. :blink:

Matt: The problem with this topic for me is that I don't know alot about it. From what I've heard and understand, I think there were some big problems with Rand's relationship to her husband. I don't know, and it's not very important to me the specifics of her relationship. I think the nature of masc. and fem. present insurmountable obstances to a woman teaching her husband lots of important things. She needs to feel comfortable that he "gets it".

Kevin: I agree with most of what you say, except I hope you're being somewhat tongue-in-cheek to say that romance could be a sixth branch of philosophy. It's extremely important. It scares the hell out of most people (though my experience is that women reject it as often and as virulently as men).

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