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How do you know it's a factor at all? Maybe it's a side-effect, which has nothing to do with causal chain in regards to romantic attraction.

A demonstrably consistent correlation (assuming correct methodology of the study: big enough random sample size, controlling of other variables ect) often suggest some causal relationship. What correlation does not do is prove causation. For that further analysis is required.

If some study found something which does not make sense then they went wrong somewhere in their methodology.

Edited by ~Sophia~
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Let's restart on some point I just had.

Correct me if I'm wrong, Sophia. Your point is on maximizing the pleasure in your life by (sometimes) staying with a value that requires less effort, because alternative would mean more effort and some loss of pleasure, right?

Now, how about this take:

Happiness isn't the standard by which you choose actions.

Your life is the standard by which you judge which action to take.

So, wouldn't it be wrong to base your action on happiness versus what you think would be a good life for you?

EDIT: spelling

Edited by Olex
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When it comes to human psychology especially behavioral - researchers observe trends and try to explain them. To almost any statement made you could probably find a person who would deviate from that which does not mean that we should ignore that information.

Hold on now, I don't think we should ignore it either. I was saying that we should not take the 'trend' as the cause.

Consider statement: women tend to be attracted to competent men. Would I be able to find a woman who is enamored with an incompetent man? Sure. Would I be able to find a woman who is not attracted to a man who is very competent? Again, of course. Should I then dismiss this finding or even conclude that competency is not a factor when it comes to romantic attraction?

See, there is a difference between "women tend to be attracted to competent men" and "women are attracted to competent men because they are competent".

The second does not follow the first. Statistics can suggest a connection, but not show causal relationship.

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Let's restart on some point I just had.

Correct me if I'm wrong, Sophia. Your point is on maximizing the pleasure in your life by (sometimes) staying with a value that requires less effort, because alternative would mean more effort and some loss of pleasure, right?

Now, how about this take:

Happiness isn't the standard by which you choose actions.

Your life is the standard by which you judge which action to take.

So, wouldn't it be wrong to base your action on happiness versus what you think would be a good life for you?

I don't understand what you mean by "good life" here. I never heard "good life" described as the standard of morality in Objectivism. I heard life described as the standard. Can you give an example here or explain it some more?

My take on choosing actions is that you choose your values according to your ultimate value, and the method of getting them by the standard of morality. So if my purpose is happiness, I will choose those values that can make me happy. And the method of obtaining those values will be determined by the standard of morality which is my life (existence as a human being, both mental and physical).

Furthermore, happiness is not the same as pleasure.

Are you saying something different than this?

Edited by ifatart
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Correct me if I'm wrong, Sophia. Your point is on maximizing the pleasure in your life by (sometimes) staying with a value that requires less effort, because alternative would mean more effort and some loss of pleasure, right?

No that has not been my point at all. Having pleasure as a standard would be hedonism. Instead, what I said was rooted in a fact that my resources are finite and thus I have to choose which values to pursue (which I think I can afford in terms of my resources of time and energy) in my context. For example, considering the time/effort/energy that the task of being a parent requires I judge certain values for me currently as "unaffordable". I may choose something which is similar but not as costly.

So, wouldn't it be wrong to base your action on happiness versus what you think would be a good life for you?

First as explained above a straw man but I have an additional comment. How do you know if what you have chosen for you is in fact good if not by your life satisfaction? Happiness - and I don't mean that momentary feeling of euphoria but a long term enjoyment of life - is an indication that you are right on track with your choices. Your goal is not just life - keeping yourself alive but a happy life. The key is to find out what happy means in terms of conditions for you and reach it.

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Hold on now, I don't think we should ignore it either. I was saying that we should not take the 'trend' as the cause.

See, there is a difference between "women tend to be attracted to competent men" and "women are attracted to competent men because they are competent".

The second does not follow the first. Statistics can suggest a connection, but not show causal relationship.

I don't disagree. However, you could say that: one of the factors usually positively influencing attraction is competency. That is not a statement of a cause.

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I don't understand what you mean by "good life" here. I never heard "good life" described as the standard of morality in Objectivism. I heard life described as the standard. Can you give an example here or explain it some more?

It is implicit throughout Objectivism, but consider the best example though is Galt's threat to kill himself to prevent Dagny from being tortured. If life, as the mere mechanical perpetuation of existence, were his highest value, he (or anyone who adopts this) would be more than willing to give up everything else they value, including things which are conducive to a 'good' life (an aristotlean eudaemonic life) in order to secure that mechanical perpetuation of existence.

If life were truly your highest value, you would be doing absolutely everything possible to mechanically perpetuate it (studying every waking hour to cure diseases you would like get, for example) and spend absolutely no time on those things would make life good and enjoyable to you, like your art.

Life is a primary value and is obviously required to live a 'good' life, but where the good life is threatened or no reasonable expectation can be had for it (perpetual torture, immense pain from disease, or slavery, for instance) perpetuating one's mechanical existence might not be a very good idea.

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I have undergone some serious changes myself in my core values, but never has it occurred because of some action.

Even if I continued to act in a way that was against the new good value that I saw, whatever followed the wrong action only showed me that I was wrong. The change always happened because of better understanding of the issue. My mind is not as dumb as to "see" how my body behaves and then from that somehow change my core values. "Hmm... I'm doing well on diet, this means being lean is a value to me". err... what?

I think this is the important statement to look at here "Even if I continued to act in a way that was against the new good value that I saw, whatever followed the wrong action only showed me that I was wrong." So if you continued in an action which was wrong, and found the results to be just as bad as you would have anticipated, why did you perform an action which was against your core value in the first place?

That is what we are talking about here, because the vast majority of our actions are reflexive ones governed by integrated values, new or updated integrated values do not always instantly alter all of our reflexive behavior. In some cases you must conscioussly choose to act in that new manner in accordance with your new value.

Consider any dominately reflexive behavior, like riding dancing or riding a motorcycle. Obviously as you learn the task, you consciously repeat it over and over again and the more you do it the less conscious awareness is required to perform the task. Now imagine you learned some new aspect, for example as a motorcyclist it is absolutely criticial to dynamically alter the front to rear braking ratios while you are actually braking. Many motorcyclists have learned incorrectly to either use only the front, or only the rear brake. Once that behavior is reflexive it is difficult to change and requires conscious directed effort. In an emergency situation once simply does not have the time to analyze all recent value updates and integrate the appropriately one fully, and then automatically change all the necessary nueral connections which relate to that reflexive behavior. A good rider intentionally forces themselves in practice situations to repeatedly do the appropriate thing, until that indeed becomes reflexive. The same is going to be true of most automated reflexive behavior.

I think it was wrong for me to suggest that actual core values can be altered by habitualizing new behavior, one must already want to change that core behavior, but in many cases conscious reprogramming of reflexive behavior is required to get ones actions in line with one's values.

And to tie this to the topic of the thread - It is not rational to find higher value in someone just because you've been a long time together. Higher psychological visibility, higher intimacy, mutual fun memories - can increase the value of the relationship. But not the action of choosing to stay with that person or the time invested. It is always something that time allows that causes increase of value, but never the time itself.

I have explicitly stated a few times in this and the other thread of the same title that time spent together per se should NEVER be automatically considered something of value, and I think in context it's clear that where it's been focused on it was only in relation to the potential quality of relationship that could now develop between two people because of all the time spent together, or the potential relationship that had developed. The discussion of 'sunk costs' is not relevant in this context, since we are talking about the quality of relationship that can arise in time, not just the amount of time spent together.

I said in post 70

It is important not to confuse mere time spent (sunk costs) with real values and bonds that develop from specific proper actions during that time. While it is true we value 'time spent' irrationally in many areas, we are not talking about the mere mechanical presence of one person in the general vicinity of another, but specific actions, intimate interactions, quality in depth discussions, learning experiences, situations which are intellectually, physically, emotionally stimulating and challenging in a positive way, etc. It appears I can not be explicit enough about the difference between these things, the tendancy seems to be to charachterize my position (and seemingly Sophia's) as though we think that just because we hung out with someone for many years we might want to stay with them

In post 71 of the other thread I wrote

I did not mean to imply that exclusity makes a relationship better automatically, actually I think I have repeatedly said it makes the potential relationship much better. It's up to the individuals to pursue and exploit that potential and actually develop and cultivate the extremely rewarding relationship which choosing to dedicates one's self primarily too will develop. Sitting around and watching TV every night certainly will not cultivate a positive and rewarding relationship, no matter how many decades one spends doing it.

and

If people can change together in a manner that promulgates a rewarding and fulfilling relationship, then it stands that the best kind of relationship an individual can have is the kind cultivated to the greatest degree with the best possible match over the longest possible time with the best types of interactions

So with that I hope we can drop the idea of time spent together is an automatic source of value, I don't think anyone is actually suggesting that.

Do you know how some people have the idea that if they paid for a movie, and it turns out to be bad, then they would maximize their enjoyment by staying and watching it anyway?

This is the most popular example of 'sunk costs' but I think it fails in this analogy for a few reasons. For starters, you have to pick a movie to watch (unless you don't actually want to be in any relationships) also your movie, if it is a decent one, gets better with time - you should think of it more like compounded interest then merely time spent. If it's a good movie and I have good value, the longer I watch it the more I will like it. And Of course, a movie is a static and unresponsive thing, so we should not look at relationships with people in that manner anyway. We are talking about the real value that has been acquired and developed through spending alot of quality time with a person, and comparing that against the potential value we might have with a stranger we know little about in the context of a finite life span with finite free time.

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Matus, your post #108 is pretty confused regarding Objectivist ethics, in my opinion. I suggest you re-read the article "The Objectivist Ethics".

As for the next post (#109), it looks like it contains some interesting questions, but gosh, it is long.

For now I'll just answer the first paragraph:

I think this is the important statement to look at here "Even if I continued to act in a way that was against the new good value that I saw, whatever followed the wrong action only showed me that I was wrong." So if you continued in an action which was wrong, and found the results to be just as bad as you would have anticipated, why did you perform an action which was against your core value in the first place?

I acted against the new good value that I saw because it was still colliding with some old views, views that I begun to realize were incorrect. So changing the way I acted and pursuing the new value involve a process of learning the truth and becoming convinced of it.

Think of the process Dagny (from AS) went through when learning that the people she saw around her had no desire to live. Until she learned enough about people and became convinced (which took time), her emotional reactions to events and her actions (the things she acted to gain/keep) did not change.

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Matus1976:

Life is a primary value and is obviously required to live a 'good' life, but where the good life is threatened or no reasonable expectation can be had for it (perpetual torture, immense pain from disease, or slavery, for instance) perpetuating one's mechanical existence might not be a very good idea.

Matus, your post #108 is pretty confused regarding Objectivist ethics, in my opinion. I suggest you re-read the article "The Objectivist Ethics".

His post shows correct understanding of Oist ethics. It is not life but life qua man. Ethics come in after a decision that your life is worth keeping. Conditions of your life (the "good" in his post) obviously play a role in that analysis. If you decide that due to some terrible conditions (the opposite of good) you do not wish to continue living - you do not need ethics.

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It is implicit throughout Objectivism, but consider the best example though is Galt's threat to kill himself to prevent Dagny from being tortured. If life, as the mere mechanical perpetuation of existence, were his highest value, he (or anyone who adopts this) would be more than willing to give up everything else they value, including things which are conducive to a 'good' life (an aristotlean eudaemonic life) in order to secure that mechanical perpetuation of existence.

If life were truly your highest value, you would be doing absolutely everything possible to mechanically perpetuate it (studying every waking hour to cure diseases you would like get, for example) and spend absolutely no time on those things would make life good and enjoyable to you, like your art.

Life is a primary value and is obviously required to live a 'good' life, but where the good life is threatened or no reasonable expectation can be had for it (perpetual torture, immense pain from disease, or slavery, for instance) perpetuating one's mechanical existence might not be a very good idea.

To be clearer, the idea you explain here (that morality does not serve the maintenance of mechanical (or biological meaning of) life) is correct. However, the meaning you ascribe to the word "life" as used in Objectivism is wrong.

"Life" in Objectivism does not mean "mechanical life" (or the biological meaning of the word, as in active metabolism and so on). "Man's life" in Objectivism means the full existence of a human, both physical and mental, which is why it is the ultimate value, and yet does not mean the preservation of his "mechanical" life.

Ayn Rand, The Objectivist ethics, VoS:

The Objectivist ethics hold man's life as the standard of value - and his own life as the ethical purpose of every individual man

You cannot describe anything as good before you have a standard for judging good and bad, which is why you cannot make "the good life" the standard of the good - it is circular.

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To continue my last post and provide the last essential element:

Pleasure, for man, is not a luxury, but a profound psychological need.

Pleasure (in the widest sense of the term) is a metaphysical concomitant of life, the reward and consequence of successful action - just as pain is the insignia of failure, destruction, death.

Through the state of enjoyment, man experiences the value of life, the sense that life is worth living, worth struggling to maintain.

So it is not that the 'good life' is the standard of value, or the purpose of living. It is life (qua man, or more specifically qua Matius or qua Ifat) that are the ultimate value. It is enjoyment which allows us to experience this value, and without enjoyment we would not be able to experience the value of life. If a person can no longer experience his life as a value, to fulfill or enjoy that value (but only to obtain/maintain it) then life can only be a value to him in the sense that life is a value for a plant.

Its life [talking about a plant] is the standard of value directing its actions.

But since a man cannot turn into a plant (unless by brain damage), as long as his emotional mechanism exists, his emotions are his means of experiencing the value of life. If enjoyment is no longer possible - then experiencing the value of life is no longer possible, and any action to maintain his own existence can only be automatic, like a plant or a robot following some guidelines, but not experienced and fulfilled.

This is why for us 'the good life' as you put it, is the only possible life. I believe what you mean is not "good" but "enjoyable". Life without enjoyment are life without experiencing its value - and not possible for a human.

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Matus, your post #108 is pretty confused regarding Objectivist ethics, in my opinion. I suggest you re-read the article "The Objectivist Ethics".

However, the meaning you ascribe to the word "life" as used in Objectivism is wrong

Ifat, I think you see disagreement where there really is none. I am speaking from an Aristotlean perspective, where the "good life" was in reference to Eudaemonia, or "total human wel being" or "human flourishing" Wikipedia has a good summation of it

Eudaimonia is constituted, according to Aristotle, not by honor, or wealth, or power, but by rational activity in accordance with virtue over a complete life. Such activity manifests the virtues of character, including, honesty, pride, friendliness, and wittiness; the intellectual virtues, such as rationality in judgment; and non-sacrificial (i.e. mutually beneficial) friendships and scientific knowledge (knowledge of things that are fundamental and/or unchanging is the best)

This is very obviously extremely similiar to Rand's conception, which you point out, that

"Man's life" in Objectivism means the full existence of a human, both physical and mental, which is why it is the ultimate value, and yet does not mean the preservation of his "mechanical" life.

Rand's life qua man is in essence Aristotlean Eudaemonism, so while I am using Aristotlean terminology, it seems we are talking about the same thing. It's not just life we are talking about, but a particular kind of life. I think it deserved disctinction because you wrote

QUOTE (Ifat @ Apr 20 2008, 03:38 AM) *

I don't understand what you mean by "good life" here. I never heard "good life" described as the standard of morality in Objectivism. I heard life described as the standard. Can you give an example here or explain it some more?

If you meant by Life, life qua man, than the point is moot. If you merely meant the mechanical perpetuation of existence, then it certainly requires clarification. Now we know that is clearly not what you meant and we were talking about the same thing. Simply saying "life" however is the ethical standard in objectivism is, I think, not sufficient, and where that statment is being made it should be clearly qualified as life qua man, because the interpretation of Life is vague enough that many people (even many students of Rand I have conversed with) too easily assoicate 'life' with just mechanical existence, and not a goal orientated purposeful virtuous life in accordance with one's fundamental values and the requirements of a flourishing existence.

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As for the next post (#109), it looks like it contains some interesting questions, but gosh, it is long.

The most important part in distinguishing my view from that of the value in mere time 'sunk costs' perception then is this one line -

If people can change together in a manner that promulgates a rewarding and fulfilling relationship, then it stands that the best kind of relationship an individual can have is the kind cultivated to the greatest degree with the best possible match over the longest possible time with the best types of interactions
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To continue my last post and provide the last essential element:

So it is not that the 'good life' is the standard of value, or the purpose of living. It is life (qua man, or more specifically qua Matius or qua Ifat) that are the ultimate value.

This of course begs examination, is life qua [personX] automatically the 'good life' or are some lives qua [personX] actually not good lives? Merely saying that the life you lead is the good life according to that which you value obfuscates any judgements on what you value and whether what you value is good to value or not.

This is why for us 'the good life' as you put it, is the only possible life. I believe what you mean is not "good" but "enjoyable". Life without enjoyment are life without experiencing its value - and not possible for a human.

No, I do not feel enjoyment is a sufficient word, I can enjoy playing video games all day or memorizing every episode of survivor, which may even be the proper life qua Matus, depending on my values, but is that a 'good' life? Enjoyment is too similiar to that which is merely pleasurable, and drug induced euphorias can be pleasurable. A life in which mechanical existence is perpetuated only to achieve various moments of pleasure is very hedonistic and epicurean, it is not eudaemonic or objectivist.

Good in this context of the 'good life' is not a moral assessment of right and wrong (and so is not an example of circular logic) but is instead a qualitative assessment. I might have a glass of tea and call it 'good' but that does not mean if I dislike it is evil and in fact poses a threat to my life. Good can be used in the context of 'right and wrong' and also in the context of a quality assessment.

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This of course begs examination, is life qua [personX] automatically the 'good life' or are some lives qua [personX] actually not good lives? Merely saying that the life you lead is the good life according to that which you value obfuscates any judgements on what you value and whether what you value is good to value or not.

Living according to one's nature guarantees to bring happiness, and any attempt to act against or not with accordance to your own nature will destroy your happiness.

Happiness (throughout one's life) is the moral purpose of man according to Objectivism, and the only way to achieve it is by acting by your own nature; which means by using the standard of life by your own nature as the gauge for good or bad (for you).

a "standard" is an abstract principle that serves as a measurement or gauge to guide a man's choices in the achievement of a concrete, specific purpose. "That which is required for the survival of man qua man" is an abstract principle that applies to every individual man.

So this answers your question whether or not

"life qua [personX] automatically the 'good life' or are some lives qua [personX] actually not good lives? "

And again, it is circular to use 'the good life' as the standard of what is good/bad.

Happiness (throughout one's life), and not 'the good life', are the moral purpose according to Objectivism. Happiness does not imply an evaluation of good/bad - it is a state of mind (and an emotion). 'Good life' however, are an evaluation, and therefore circular.

Now, I don't understand your statement there; "Merely saying that the life you lead is the good life according to that which you value obfuscates any judgements on what you value and whether what you value is good to value or not."

But it sounds like you're saying that it is not possible to reverse the standard and purpose (it is not possible to put your own happiness as the standard and by that to achieve the purpose of life according to your nature), with which I would agree.

But really now, I don't like going off topic and this is getting real off-topic. So I suggest you take it someplace else :)

FYI: I'm not interested in a further discussion about this topic, for now.

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That is what we are talking about here, because the vast majority of our actions are reflexive ones governed by integrated values, new or updated integrated values do not always instantly alter all of our reflexive behavior. In some cases you must consciously choose to act in that new manner in accordance with your new value.

The majority of our actions are not reflexive.

Consider any dominately reflexive behavior, like riding dancing or riding a motorcycle.

Nice example, and nice description. But you were describing an automated behavior.

I think it was wrong for me to suggest that actual core values can be altered by habitualizing new behavior,

Good, glad to see we agree on this.

one must already want to change that core behavior, but in many cases conscious reprogramming of reflexive behavior is required to get ones actions in line with one's values.

I doubt Dan is going to reprogram his subconscious by avoiding intimacy with other women.

Other than that (which is the point I was making) I don't see what you are arguing here.

I have explicitly stated a few times in this and the other thread of the same title that time spent together per se should NEVER be automatically considered something of value, and I think in context it's clear that where it's been focused on it was only in relation to the potential quality of relationship that could now develop between two people because of all the time spent together, or the potential relationship that had developed.

OK, noted.

So with that I hope we can drop the idea of time spent together is an automatic source of value, I don't think anyone is actually suggesting that.

We sure can.

OK, at this point, I don't see the point of the discussion, or how it relates the the first points I was making regarding Dan's article.

If there is something else you want to discuss which is related to my first post in this thread - go ahead. Otherwise, I am not interested in going over side-topics.

One last note: I still have half of Sophia's first reply to my post here to reply to, but going to do it some time later, times are getting busy for me.

Good day and god's speed!

Ifat

Edited by ifatart
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Living according to one's nature guarantees to bring happiness, and any attempt to act against or not with accordance to your own nature will destroy your happiness.

Thanks, I can quote and paraphrase Rand too, but can you bind that into some concretes? Because you are treading into the naturalistic fallacy here, just because something is 'natural' does not necessarily mean it is good or right. An observation as to the nature of something is not the same things as a declaration about how it ought to behave. I am a human, which has an associated nature to it, I am also male, which has an associated nature to it as well, but that does not mean that everything in the nature of maleness is something I automatically *ought* to do, I am also a sentient rational being, and these have associated natures to them. Humans are 'naturally' xenophobic and altruisitic, living for hundreds of thousands of years in small groups where recipricol altruism was absolutely criticial to survival. In large groups of modern populations with specialization this attitude is a detrimental hindrence. Human males are naturally aggresive, teritorial, possessive, desire passive demure women, and as many of them as possible, none of which are conducive to a pyschological healthy and fulfilling life as an individual sentient rational male human. Clearly some things that are of the nature of man are not necessarily healthy or ethical.

Concurrently, things which lie beyond the 'nature' of being human are also conducive to a good and healthy life, is dance and art within your nature? Motorcycling is not within mine, nor is discussing ideas on a forum, these are the results of values we have chosen and integrated through time and when they are good values they are conducive to a fulfilling eudaemonic life.

Rand uses her indestructible robot analogy to again emphasize that life is the central standard of value, yet this emphasis is again on the mechanical perpetuation of existence, and not the promulgation of a particular kind of life, an aristotlean eudaemonic life. To emphasize that she made her robot not only indestructible but also unchanging.

Happiness (throughout one's life) is the moral purpose of man according to Objectivism, and the only way to achieve it is by acting by your own nature; which means by using the standard of life by your own nature as the gauge for good or bad (for you).

Interesting qualifier, so does happiness come from acting according to our nature as rational sentient humans, or does it mean acting in accord with my nature, as an individual rational sentient human? What you are ultimately alluding to as that some aspect of ones 'nature' actually comes from one's chosen values, other wise we would all be inclined to the same exact behavior to achieve happiness, which is more of an platonic idealism of 'human' than it is a rational individualistic ethic. But why would it be considered an aspect of one's nature if it is chosen? So either every one's nature is different and one must choose to behave in accordance with that ‘nature’ (which is materialistic determinism and again a manifestation of the naturalistic fallacy) - or acting in accordance with one's nature does not sufficiently sum up what is necessarily for a *fulfilling* life, for an individual.

So this answers your question whether or not

"life qua [personX] automatically the 'good life' or are some lives qua [personX] actually not good lives? "

No it does not. Clearly some people's 'natures' are different from others, if some people's 'natures' are chosen they might very well choose poor ones. This of course is absurd, we do not choose our nature, but acting in accordance with that nature would demand everyone behave in the same manner. What you are leaving out with life qua man is our chosen virtues and our values.

And again, it is circular to use 'the good life' as the standard of what is good/bad.

I am not using the good life as a standard of what is good and bad, I am using it as a standard by which to judge what one ought to do. Life is the standard to judge what is good or bad, a glass of poison or a glass of milk. The good life is the standard by which you judge what to do with that life you have acted to keep by choosing the milk over the poison - watch TV all day or live a rational virtuous fulfilling goal orientated emotionally and intellectually stimulating life. It is not in our nature to automatically seek the most fulfilling type of life for an individual, it is in our nature to sustain our existence in order to procreate. Would you prefer to be the 10th wife of a really wealthy man who mostly ignores you but who can guarantee medical treatment for you and a high standard of living, or the first wife of a modest incomed man, but with whom you share all your deepest values with and expect to live an extremely passionate and rewarding life with? One holds your life as the standard of your value, the other holds a particular kind of life as the standard, yet neither are acting in opposition to your nature and only one will likely lead to a much more fulfilling life.

But your point is right, and that is what I am trying to identify. What is the standard by which we judge the 'good life' I have an easily formed conception of it, and can say the good life to illustrate the idea, but it is a good life explicitly because it abides by this standard yet, what is that standard? Rand explicitly alludes to the concretes of it, but does not identify the standard by which it is judged, that standard is not *life*, or even *Life qua Man*, because it is not necessarily a component of sustaining existing or a component of what is 'natural' to a sentient rational human. Life qua man is generic, and will not necessarily lead to fulfillment and flourishing for a particular individualistic life. Yet asserting that Life qua Man refers to a personalized standard of flourishing asserts every individual has a ‘nature’ which is deterministic or is entirely subjective. What I seek is to identify that objective standard of value which manifests as the ‘good life’ which is unique to each individual yet is also most conducive to a flourishing eudaemonic life.

So concretize how life qua man (or life qua ifat) as the ethical standard of value manifests itself as your desire to be an artist. As a volitional being, you have chosen to be an artist, it is not ‘in your nature’ yet life qua ifat as only the standard of value does not include your art, unless it is in your nature to be an artist! if so then it is obviously deterministic and the naturalistic fallacy. If it is not part of your nature then life qua ifat is not a sufficient standard of value by which flourishing qua ifat is achieved. What is that standard?

To relate it to the topic at hand, what should govern ones attitudes about their long term relationships; life, life qua man? Life qua personX, flourishing qua man, flourishing qua personX? These are all very different. Objectivist ethics does not does not say one ought to be with 1 romantic partner instead of 100, neither contradict the life qua man, yet only one of these is much more conducive to a flourishing existence.

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The majority of our actions are not reflexive. ... Nice example, and nice description. But you were describing an automated behavior.

All of our actions and behaviors exist on a continuum between automatic / reflexive and long patient deliberation.

Where actions are the latter, such as Dagny changing her mind about her productiveness in the world, it is extremely easy to integrate new values, and no conscious programming is required. Where they are the former, in many cases one must consciously choose to alter their behavior in order to act in accordance with their new values. A mix of the two would exist on the continuum between automatic reflexive behavior and long patient deliberation.

I doubt Dan is going to reprogram his subconscious by avoiding intimacy with other women.

Other than that (which is the point I was making) I don't see what you are arguing here.

Obviously that where one's wondering attention is due to reflexive emotional summations they may be different from one's conscious chosen values, in which case it is appropriate to ignore or 'suppress' those reactions.

Where one's wondering attention comes from recognizing higher values in another person, in might be appropriate to pursue that, given the qualifications all ready discussed about how in accurate short assessments may be and how much value one has built up with one's partner in the context of a finite life span and a non-omniscient rational entity.

I am surprised you attacked time spent together so strongly in the first place, Rand wrote that time is our spiritual currency

[that currency] is a part of one's life that one invests in everything one values. The years, months, days or hours of thought, of interest, of action devoted to a value are the currency with which one pays for the enjoyment one receives from them...the distinguishing characteristics of any psychological process, including that of evaluation, are its content and its intensity (Concepts of Consciousness.)

In other words, how much time we devote to something, and the intensity and quality of that time, are a reflection of the value we place on them. This is quite different from 'sunk costs'

OK, at this point, I don't see the point of the discussion, or how it relates the the first points I was making regarding Dan's article.

Hmm, well we are talking about whether one's behavior is always automatically in accordance with ones values, you suggest that it always is and that Dan was repressing a recognition of a higher value, I said it is not always in direct accordance and sometimes conscious redirection of behavior is appropriate, and also sometimes our emotional reactions are influenced by things other than our chosen values. You also suggested that we should not place any value on something just because it took alot of time, suggesting valuing a relationship for that was just a 'sunk cost' and should be treated as such, instead of recognizing time spent together in a quality relationship doing quality things as a source of value and also that we must make judgment calls as finite non-omniscient beings on where to devote our most scarce resource; time. And of course the overall question is what kind of relationship ought one pursue and how best to pursue it to create the greatest possible life for the longest possible time, which led to the distinction between a eudemonic flourishing life and a life of existence qua man.

So If you don't want to discuss further just say that, but I hardly consider these 'off topic' as every one directly relates to the topic at hand and how we might go about developing the most fulfilling kind of relationship.

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Matus, I already said I do not intend to discuss off-topic issues here. This does not mean the topic of ethics is irrelevant. It is, so are many other topics, such as the axiom of existence. But you don't see me starting a full length topic about it here. It is better to discuss the issue of ethics in a thread with the appropriate title and then provide a link here.

I hate threads that go on and on about off-topic stuff, and I've seen enough of these on Objectivism Online. I am not going to contribute to what I dislike seeing myself.

I suggest you re-post what you said in a separate thread with the right topic (some already exist).

In your last post you made some assumptions about what I said and claim which were unsupported. Example:

"I am surprised you attacked time spent together so strongly in the first place"

"Hmm, well we are talking about whether one's behavior is always automatically in accordance with ones values, you suggest that it always is" ( :confused: )

"You also suggested that we should not place any value on something just because it took alot of time, suggesting valuing a relationship for that was just a 'sunk cost' and should be treated as such, instead of recognizing time spent together in a quality relationship doing quality things as a source of value" This actually goes against what I said so far.

Seeing how you misrepresent my view, I ask that you quote me when saying "you suggest X, you say X, you claim X" etc. Otherwise, I'm not going to answer you.

As for the rest, the things that do discuss something I actually did say - I'll reply to those in a few days (too busy these days).

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This thread appears to have wandered into strange territory, but I wanted to comment on Dan's article now that I've had some time to think about it. Specifically, I'd like to add correlating evidence from my own experience.

The reason why it's best to avoid seeking really intimate friends outside the relationship you have decided you *want* to make permanent is that your primary relationship is always going to take a LOT of work. I was actually struck by something said in a recent episode of House, where one of the assistants mentioned to the husband of the ill lady that he "still loves his wife as much as he did on the day they were married." The husband looked startled and said: "You should love her more."

That right there is the recipe for a successful long-term relationship. I've noticed a lot of relationships that trend the other direction: there's a lot of initial attraction and mutual discovery. Then the couple has sex and one or both partners figure that they've reached the mountain peak and all they have to do is sit there. There's an increasing amount of going-along-to-get-along, a decrease in communication, and within a year or so they're bored with each other if not downright disgusted. Failing to become bored and disgusted with your spouse is supposed to be some kind of attainment!

So where do intimate friends come in, here? An intimate friend is someone you consistently share deep personal thoughts and feelings with--which always involves emotional involvement. A platonic (i.e. emotionally detached) intimate friendship is a contradiction in terms. If you want to keep developing the relationship you have with your spouse, then you have to share these personal thoughts and feelings *with your spouse*. The only thing you will accomplish by going outside your relationship with this is the exhaustion of the emotional energy you *could* be using to build up your relationship.

Like any other type of energy you expend, you have only limited emotional resources to draw on. How long is your spouse going to want to keep investing their emotional energy when they only get *you* when you're emotionally drained?

You can probably have a continuously rewarding relationship with your spouse without investing 100%, but it's like any kind of investment: the more you invest (provided that you've figured out a good method for investing), the more you get back. Start investing elsewhere, and you will automatically start finding those other investments equally attractive for the returns you gain there. If you don't want your romantic life to look like the career of someone who dabbles in a dozen different pursuits without ever seriously engaging in one, this is a decision you have to make.

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The reason why it's best to avoid seeking really intimate friends outside the relationship you have decided you *want* to make permanent is that your primary relationship is always going to take a LOT of work.

Of course, this then becomes an argument for avoiding intimate friends of either sex, not just the opposite sex. And couldn't it be extended to recommending the termination of all your existing intimate friendships upon marriage? I mean, does it make a difference if you met a friend before or after you married? What's more, it could even become an argument against having children ... after all, a good parent is one who will have a very good, intimate bond with his kids, isn't it? And bet on it, that bonding will take enormous amounts of time away from "working" on your "primary" relationship!

With all due respect, folks, the more of the arguments I hear for this idea, the more absurd it becomes. While I am an ardent advocate of monogamy, what we seem to be getting into here, by taking Jennie's above argument to its logical conclusion, is what one might call monophily--and we're even becoming bedfellows of the Vo....................never mind, that's a cheap shot. :confused:

I think the error in your line of reasoning, Jennie, is that you way overrate the amount of time taken by the "work" on your marriage. And perhaps the others in your camp are under that premise too. I know that don't have the experience that many of you do in this area, and I know that quotes from pop songs are not usually the best sources of wisdom, but "gimme a chance to miss you" is a pretty good summary of why devoting all your spare time to your spouse is not an indispensable necessity and can sometimes be even counter-productive. There is a lot to be said for marriages where the partners see each other primarily as assets, not as liabilities--as sources of opportunities, not as sinks of work.

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And couldn't it be extended to recommending the termination of all your existing intimate friendships upon marriage?

Actually... while I haven't (and wouldn't) terminate any friendships, the fact is that they simply aren't the same. There's no way I could have the time to spend with even my best friends on the level I did before I was married. They all understand, too: it's just a part of life.

What's more, it could even become an argument against having children

Um, yes, actually. That is precisely the primary reason we're not having kids. We'd have less time to spend together and neither of us could tolerate that.

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Um, yes, actually. That is precisely the primary reason we're not having kids.

Aaaww jeez, that's what you get for jokingly bringing up an absurd consequence of somebody's position ... they agree with the absurdity! I mean, this thread is about principles, not just personal preferences, isn't it? It's one thing for a couple to choose not to have kids for whatever personal reason, but quite another to say, as a general principle, that "One shouldn't have kids if one wants a happy marriage." And Dan, as far as I can tell (still haven't read his long post :confused:), is saying, "One shouldn't have intimate friends of the opposite sex if one wants a happy marriage," and since he is not ascribing it to any of his peculiar individual circumstances but rather to general facts about man's nature, the implication is that he means it as a general principle for all men.

So if this thread IS about principles, then Jennie's logic could become an argument for not having children for fear of woes with your marriage as a general principle for all couples. But the evidence of my senses is that there are many happy families with children, and indeed that often they are happier than they might be without children. In fact, as quaint as it might sound, it was pretty much the norm when I grew up--in Communist Hungary, no less--that my neighborhood friends and schoolmates would have happy, two-parent, non-divorced, non-remarried families. "I don't have a daddy" was pretty much in the same category with deafness or blindness or sitting in a wheelchair, both in terms of frequency and of it not being considered the normal state of affairs for man. (Ironically, it took the collapse of Communism for the leftist ideologies of feminism and "the Sexual Revolution" to reach Hungary and destroy many marriages.)

We'd have less time to spend together and neither of us could tolerate that.

I guess here's a good occasion to note that what I wrote about not worrying too much about the "working hours" of your marriage also applies to your children. Too often, parents seem to think that having a child is an almost superhuman responsibility, something that requires their undivided attention 24/7, and an unrelenting devotion of every single drop of their energies and financial resources to the nourishment and pampering of a being that would be incapable of surviving on anything less. The result? Kids spoiled beyond imagination, sapped and unhappy parents, and rich divorce lawyers.

Parents who think this way would do well to recall that chapter of economic history that their Marxist teachers put so much emphasis on in school: early 19th century England, where men and women worked 12 hours a day or more in factories and sent their children to work at the kind of age today's parents first send their children to school. And before the Industrial Revolution started, they had the same kinds of lives on farms, of course, but the Marxists don't talk much about that. The children in those times got from their parents a tiny sliver of a fraction of what an average child in an average family gets today, yet they still managed to survive and grow up somehow. I am not saying that I envy them, but they are evidence that raising children does not require the kind of backbreaking labor that many make it out to be, especially in a wealthy modern society like America.

And an important point is that I don't envy the overspoiled children either. Teaching your kid to expect his every whim and desire attended to unconditionally is not exactly a way of preparing him for life in a reality where A is A and wishing won't make things happen. The best thing you can do for your children and yourself is to provide them with what they need to grow up and learn to conceptualize and discover the world, and to encourage them to be independent as soon as they can, as much as they can--and then leave your kids to their own and get on with creating wealth! It's the only thing that can advance the life of both you and your kids.

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