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Explain this Rand quote on Sexual/Romantic choice

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In a rare move I went to the forum's main page just a moment ago and I saw this quote of Rand's:

Tell me what a man finds sexually attractive and I will tell you his entire philosophy of life.

Does anyone have any idea how she was able to do that? Because I have no idea and it is something I have been curious about for a long time.

Note: Sorry if this is in the wrong forum. I didn't know where to put it.

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Does anyone have any idea how she was able to do that? Because I have no idea and it is something I have been curious about for a long time.

I think you will definately have an idea of it, if you take a look at what Francisco says all about it in Atlas Shrugged somewhere around page 455 on my O'ism CD_ROM, but it starts at the bottom of page 489 in my paper AS - regardless it's in Part 2 Chapter Four "The Sanction of the Victim". Also it's an excerpt in For the New Intellectual the chapter titled "The Meaning of Sex", second paragraph in.

Edited by intellectualammo
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I think you will definately have an idea of it, if you take a look at what Francisco says all about it in Atlas Shrugged somewhere around page 455 on my O'ism CD_ROM, but it starts at the bottom of page 489 in my paper AS - regardless it's in Part 2 Chapter Four "The Sanction of the Victim".

That is were you are wrong - I have read that he says and I cannot see how anyone can do that.

Also it's an excerpt in For the New Intellectual the chapter titled "The Meaning of Sex", second paragraph in.

Sadly, I do not own have access to it and won't be able to for quite some time.

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That quote should be read as a statement about the relationship of sexual values to other values, not as a boast about some special psychological technique. Analogously, when Archimedes said "Give me a fulcrum, and I shall move the world!', he was describing an aspect about physics, rather than making an actual engineering suggestion.

So, what Rand is saying in that quote is that the common notion, where people think of morals and values as being separate from sexual attractiveness, is false. She's pointing out that sexual values are a type of value. The sentences just before the quoted one is:

Love is blind, they say; sex is impervious to reason and mocks the power of all philosophers. But, in fact, a man's sexual choice is the result and the sum of his fundamental convictions.
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This is my own interpretation of it based on what I know. What you seek in your sexual mate is the sum of your values is the statement in question.

What do you look for in a member of the opposite gender?

For me it is rationality, a sense of one's own identity, willingness to discuss any subject, an observant and critical mind, loyalty, honesty, having goals and values one works towards, willing to try different activities whether it's going for a hike or learning to play chess...

When I look at that list I see things I value, period. Honesty I value. I value sharp minds that pick up detail in the environment. Being open to discussing any aspect of reality, especially oneself.

If someone sleeps with a girl because she looks good, he values appearances. If someone sleeps with another because they are rich, they value money. If someone sleeps with whoever is willing they likely value sex for sex's sake, or just want to get off and don't care for masturbation.

Edited by Raum
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Hello, I myself had the same question when I read that. :P

But still I don't feel it has been answered here.

Like, are you saying that if a man is attracted to a bimbo he values good looks?

Is that what that comment means?

How is that bad? Beauty is important right? It's a value, it can be marketed, its hard to earn etc..

I don't think that is what she meant. Does anyone else have an idea?

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Edited by suvine
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The man who despises himself tries to gain self-esteem from sexual adventures—which can’t be done, because sex is not the cause, but an effect and an expression of a man’s sense of his own value . . .

The men who think that wealth comes from material resources and has no intellectual root or meaning, are the men who think—for the same reason—that sex is a physical capacity which functions independently of one’s mind, choice or code of values. They think that your body creates a desire and makes a choice for you just about in some such way as if iron ore transformed itself into railroad rails of its own volition. Love is blind, they say; sex is impervious to reason and mocks the power of all philosophers. But, in fact, a man’s sexual choice is the result and the sum of his fundamental convictions. Tell me what a man finds sexually attractive and I will tell you his entire philosophy of life. Show me the woman he sleeps with and I will tell you his valuation of himself. No matter what corruption he’s taught about the virtue of selflessness, sex is the most profoundly selfish of all acts, an act which he cannot perform for any motive but his own enjoyment—just try to think of performing it in a spirit of selfless charity!—an act which is not possible in self-abasement, only in self-exaltation, only in the confidence of being desired and being worthy of desire. It is an act that forces him to stand naked in spirit, as well as in body, and to accept his real ego as his standard of value. He will always be attracted to the woman who reflects his deepest vision of himself, the woman whose surrender permits him to experience—or to fake—a sense of self-esteem . . . . Love is our response to our highest values—and can be nothing else.

“The Meaning of Sex,” For the New Intellectual, pg. 99, taken from the Lexicon

Bold emphasis mine...so that you can see the quote with the rest of the paragraph. Perhaps this helps? There are also other entries under love, sex and values in the Lexicon that my help you understand.

Edited by K-Mac
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... if a man is attracted to a bimbo he values good looks?

Is that what that comment means?

How is that bad? Beauty is important right? It's a value...

It's not bad to be attracted to beauty. (Aside: "Bimbo" connotes a woman who is beautiful and stupid. Not sure if you simply meant "beautiful woman" or if you are speaking of men who prefer their women stupid! I couldn't tell from the picture you posted :P )

If you check the Atlas Shrugged reference, you'll see a little more concretization in the sentences that follow the quoted one. (I don't have access to the CD right now.)

One way to think about this would be to consider what type of person you are attracted to: not just the general traits that many would look for, but the things that you give more importance to. The question is: why do you give more importance to those aspects? Is comes down to who you are: your own character and values. So, the values you seek in a romantic relationship are a product of your own character and values.

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Presumably, all of this applies equally to women's romantic choices. In that context, what conclusion follows from applying Francisco's principle to Rand's only two known romantic involvements (with her husband, Frank O'Connor and, adulterously, with Nathaniel Branden)? This is not meant as a cheap shot at Ms. Rand. Rather, it is offered as evidence that the issue of one's romantic and sexual choices is far more complicated than the speech rand gave to D'Anconia indicates and that one cannot in fact infer someone's entire philosophy of life from looking at their sexual partners.

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Maybe this will help illustrate the point. It's a crude, quick passage from an idea I had:

"At first I thought it was a frown, one that never left her expression entirely. But it isn't that. She looks at everything with her full attention, until she has looked long enough. She's always thinking, always evaluating what she sees. I see her now, as I have for twenty years, and I think, 'Wow! look at the brains on that babe!'"

Criticism is welcome.

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Rather, it is offered as evidence that the issue of one's romantic and sexual choices is far more complicated than the speech rand gave to D'Anconia indicates and that one cannot in fact infer someone's entire philosophy of life from looking at their sexual partners.

You have to look at their selections through *their* eyes and observe the entire trend of their relationship(s). Keep in mind, also, that this is more about sense-of-life than about explicit, consciously-identified philosophy.

The most essential thing you learn is: what gives this person a sense of self-esteem? Do they want to be able to relax and "let it all hang out" with someone who has no standards? Are they looking for someone they have to *earn* and *live up to*? Would they prefer to get their sex through fraud or deceit rather than honestly?

Learn where someone finds their sense of self-esteem and you learn their fundamental values. Learn what someone considers valuable on a fundamental level and you know their approach to life.

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You have to look at their selections through *their* eyes and observe the entire trend of their relationship(s). Keep in mind, also, that this is more about sense-of-life than about explicit, consciously-identified philosophy.

To the extent that it is possible to look at another's choices through their own eyes, I'd agree. My point is that doing so isn't a straightforward exercise and one simply can't infer things as easily as is implied in the original quotation.

With respect to sense-of-life, I think it has more effect on many choices than is often acknowledged. Two people can be equally rational, choose identical careers, find their choices perfectly satisfying, and yet each have very different personalities and senses-of-life. Even if they understand, explicitly, their own consciously-identified philosophies, they will not be able to make choices radically at odds with their underlying sense-of-life and remain happy with it, except perhaps in very limited circumstances. That's why one can't choose a career based entirely on abstractions: there must be something of you in it. All of this applies to romantic life too.

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To the extent that it is possible to look at another's choices through their own eyes, I'd agree. My point is that doing so isn't a straightforward exercise and one simply can't infer things as easily as is implied in the original quotation.
It is easy to take that quote literally, but that's not how it is meant. It is meant as a statement about the underlying relationship rather than about an outsiders actual ability to know what those values are and to be able to figure out the connections in a particular case.
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Indeed. You'd have to follow someone through an entire lifetime's worth of relationships and interactions with the opposite sex to be able to state definitively what a *particular* person finds sexually attractive, especially if they're one of those people who don't really know in any sort of consciously defined terms.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Tell me what a man finds sexually attractive and I will tell you his entire philosophy of life.

Every choice we make presents the world with a glimpse of what we value. If you choose a submissive partner, you do not value strength. You prefer someone who will submit their will to yours. You need control, but needing control is also a sign of weakness. If you choose a dominant partner, you do not value weakness. You prefer someone who you can give your will over to. You can't handle control, you can't make your own choices.

If however you pick a rational partner with self-esteem, you value reason and pride.

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Breschau, it's a lot more complicated than that.

In S&M and bondage terms, the submissive partner is actually the one with the power. Why? Because the dominant partner's job is to *please* the submissive partner. The dominant partner does all the work.

This submissive/dominant paradigm is common in relationships simply because many relationships work better if one person is more active and the other is more passive. Sometimes the partners swap roles depending on circumstances and personal inclination. I enjoy male partners who are more active/dominant, because I like having someone else do the legwork and present me with options. I also like men who are manly enough to keep up with me, being highly intelligent and assertive as I am. From what I understand, many women share this trait. Some men seem to enjoy being dominant, some apparently don't--from personal experience I can say that many definitely don't know *how* to be dominant properly.

The term for someone who cannot function without a partner and who gives in to all their decisions is not submissive, it's dependent. Don't confuse philosophy for psychology. They are not the same thing, and your philosophical convictions will not make you an expert on how humans function psychologically. For that, you need to go out and watch people.

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The term for someone who cannot function without a partner and who gives in to all their decisions is not submissive, it's dependent. Don't confuse philosophy for psychology. They are not the same thing, and your philosophical convictions will not make you an expert on how humans function psychologically. For that, you need to go out and watch people.

Last I checked, the OP was inquiring on a philosophy forum, about a philosophical quote. I answered in kind. I am not part of the BDSM scene, and I was not using the terms as such. I did not claim to be an expert on anything. I simply tried to answer the OP's question.

Don't assume anything about me. I find it rude that you have.

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You're the one assuming that anyone who desires a dominant or submissive partner must be irrational, o pot. If you "find it rude" maybe you should refrain from doing it yourself. Personally I find a *general* assumption a lot more offensive than a specific one. If someone has a specific misconception, that's perfectly normal because they may not know *me* that well. If they have a general misconception, that's a more serious problem.

BDSM is the extreme case that can cast some light on the functioning of various sexual interrelationships in the the lives of people who are not in any way extreme. Dominance, submission, activity, passivity, insisting on having your own way, letting your partner have their way . . . all of these are part of the give and take of any healthy relationship simply because if you disagree with your partner on anything, you can't (usually) both get what you want.

It is downright destructive to even imply that a desire for a partner who usually lets you get your way (because, say, he truly doesn't mind going to see a romantic comedy three nights in a row even though he'd probably prefer to see Jackie Chan) is somehow irrational without any context whatsoever.

Context is king.

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Last I checked, the OP was inquiring on a philosophy forum, about a philosophical quote.

P.S. This statement here is possibly indicative of extreme rationalism, namely a disconnect between abstractions and reality. Applying an abstraction (such as the principle that one's subconsciously held philosophical principles affect one's sexual and romantic choices) to real life is an immensely difficult problem that covers a lot more than just philosophy, as I indicated. It takes a flying leap into psychology.

There's no need to be an expert on psychology to express an opinion, but it IS necessary to acknowledge that it is not strictly a philosophical problem that can be *deduced* from a few basic principles. Heck, almost all of Objectivism is arrived-at inductively: you can't deduce that people have volition from the fact that they must be conscious, for instance.

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