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Why do some 'outgrow' Objectivism with age?

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I have talked to people who claim that--from experience--Objectivism does not work in reality, that it is 'good in theory, but bad in practice.' Why do some outgrow Objectivism with age?
Here are my three main guesses:

1. They may not have understood Objectivism very well to begin with, and they probably found conflicts between their idea of its principles and what they actually thought was right. There may have been a legitimate conflict, but assuming the person is honest, there was more likely a misunderstanding. When the decision comes down to an established value and a sketchy new value that may destroy the old, most people will stick with the old.

2. They are just lazy people. When it comes down to it, they don't actually care to hold firm beliefs about much of anything. That is, they don't care about their lives all that much, as long as they are alive. So, Objectivism presented a "harder" life for them.

3. For one reason or another, they actually regard individualism, or something else that is essential to Objectivism, as bad. As such, they have "wised up" with age, since they might have once thought individualism was good, but now "with age" they do not (age is incidental). But, I couldn't say why someone who understood or understands individualism would later think it is not the way to go.

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The term 'to outgrow' usually means to become too big for something, which, in this context implies that Objectivism is an immature philosophy that is incompatible with the requirements of living. Thus, the people who are 'too big' for Objectivism, have actually abdicated their reliance on their rational faculty, and the basic axioms of existence. They haven't grow up (grown out of), but have actually grown down.

3. For one reason or another, they actually regard individualism, or something else that is essential to Objectivism, as bad.

I very much agree, yet another reason may be that some people may equate individualism with being alone all the time.

:)

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They are just lazy people. When it comes down to it, they don't actually care to hold firm beliefs about much of anything. That is, they don't care about their lives all that much, as long as they are alive. So, Objectivism presented a "harder" life for them.

This would be my number one answer.

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The term 'to outgrow' usually means to become too big for something, which, in this context implies that Objectivism is an immature philosophy that is incompatible with the requirements of living. Thus, the people who are 'too big' for Objectivism, have actually abdicated their reliance on their rational faculty, and the basic axioms of existence. They haven't grow up (grown out of), but have actually grown down.

I think it was Gary Hull who said "They didn't grow up, they gave up." I thought that was a succinct and effective way of putting it.

Anyway, as with anything, you learn about the effectiveness of ideas by putting them in practice. There is nothing quite like the school of hard knocks.

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I think some find, after intense rational analysis of Objectivism, that the answers they thought Objectivism would provide and which some Objectivists purport it provides are in fact beyond the reach of Objectivism.

I mean this in the sense that they think or believe that certain questions or situations are moral and have a right and a wrong answer, when in fact the question or situation is amoral and hence in a sense beyond the reach of Objectivism, other than the discovery that the question is in fact amoral.

Imagine a person who has believed that Blue is right and Red is wrong during his or her entire lifetime and hopes that Objectivism can prove this belief. At first and to some degree they are misled by Objectivists who believe that Objectivism does prove that this is true, but in the end they find that through strict application of logic to the fundamentals of Objectivism they are in fact not lead to the conclusion that Blue is right and Red is wrong.

In some cases the person will hold on to the false belief that the amoral question is in fact a moral question, and disappointed in Objectivism incorrectly, will conclude that Objectivism is not correct, and will "grow out of it".

Others will hold on to the false belief that the amoral question is a moral question and assert an incorrect line of reasoning (indulging in irrational fabrication) to "prove" to themselves that Objectivism does prove that Blue is right and Red is wrong. These people don't grow out of Objectivism they "sin" against rationality and Objectivism while purporting to uphold them. These people don't grow at all... they just settle on a distorted kind of Objectivism colored by unsupported irrational belief.

A final group will recognize the difference between the moral and amoral and the actual reach of Objectivism by the strict application of rational thought. This final group will recognize the other two groups as being irrational and keep to themselves.

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Imagine a person who has believed that Blue is right and Red is wrong during his or her entire lifetime and hopes that Objectivism can prove this belief.

What? I do believe this still. Crip luv. Slob killa. :)

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I have talked to people who claim that--from experience--Objectivism does not work in reality, that it is 'good in theory, but bad in practice.' Why do some outgrow Objectivism with age?

I suspect it is for a variety of reasons. But I think the main issue is that these types don't ever fully commit themselves to reason in all facets of life. They may, for instance, still want to believe that a God exists. They will say "you're too young, you haven't seen enough; there are things which cannot be explained with reason." Or, most likely, it will just be a subconscious conflict within them that, left unresolved, will just take the easy way out, i.e. faith over reason.

A second issue (and maybe even a derivative of the first) is the creed of altruist ethics. A great many, having grown up being taught a morality rooted in Judeo-Christian tradition and the Old Testament, are psychologically never able to completely disregard the momentum of 2500 years of thought and stand in opposition to it.

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People often start calling themselves Objectivists before they truly understand the philosophy, the fundamentals, and what separates the fundamentals from incidentals. What they outgrow is blind imitation. For example: I and some other people I know, upon reading the Fountainhead, started imitating what we thought Roark would do in situations, because we thought Roark would do it. (It turns out he wouldn't, but that's not the main point.) This kind of imitation is a child's epistemology, and leads to actions (usually in social situations) that are uncalled for and out of context.

A related issue is taking philosophical things Rand said in nonfiction (or through characters) out of context and applying them simply because they were true/good in the context she said them in, while forgetting that the current context makes them irrelevant.

The truth of the matter is, to be a real Objectivist, you have to outgrow this kind of imitation and context-dropping. They're both examples of intrinsicism. But when people say they "grew out of" Objectivism, they're often thinking that Objectivism MEANS acting in those ways.

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Why do some outgrow Objectivism with age?
I can only speak for myself, but I have not outgrown Objectivism. What does seem to fade with age is a good deal of idealism and energy. The reality of the situation for me is that the US has moved farther from Objectivist principles during my lifetime and continues on in the wrong direction. I see no reason that that is going to change. It is easy to get demoralized when you see what you believe to be the right way forward, and virtually the whole of the planet is heading in the other direction.
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I know just a couple years ago I had a much different idea of what Objectivism was. I'd say the past year or so, I've had a pretty good handle on it for someone of my age and inexperience with philosophy in general.

As for myself, I do not consider myself to be in agreement with the totality of Objectivism, and I realize to call oneself an Objectivist or anything you should be in agreement with everything Rand said. My main disagreement is with the role of the sexes, and I know many others who love Rand's philosophy, but cannot justify her view on sex and gender.

So, I cannot say I'll ever fall out with Objectivism totally because I don't agree with it on every single point ( Though it is damn close ).

I personally think Objectivism is a very radical philosophy when put into perspective of the society we live in, which while not totally dominated by altruism, is certainly no Objectivist paradise. Many who may agree with Rand as rebellious youths ( And who subsequently probably don't understand Objectivism ) will come to conform with mainstream society and let go of their odd principles, right as they may be.

My International Politics professor himself claimed that he used to be an Objectivist when he saw me reading " The Voice of Reason " and man, that guy is a total Keating. I look at him and don't know whether to weep or burst into uproarious laughter. I am 19 and I am almost sure my intellectual prowess far surpasses his own at the age of 50 something.

Basically, a lot of people who let go of Objectivism do it because they are weak, immature and/or lazy. Others may come to disagree with it on a philosophic level, rather than just a social level, and perhaps you should engage with them. However, no one who gives up their principles for social lubricant is ever going to come back to the right side of things.

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I think there are two reasons.

One reason is a failure to understand the philosophy. Some people read a lot about Objectivism, but don't read enough to know how the whole philosophy fits together. So they call themselves Objectivists while filling in the gaps in their understanding with parts of other philosophies. Later they find that it doesn't fit together after all. (I bet this sort of misunderstanding was a lot more common before OPAR made it possible to see the whole philosophy laid out hierarchically in a single book.)

The other reason some people give up Objectivism is that being an Objectivist can be pretty lonely, and some people cannot stand that. I am pretty lonely -- but I have been a lonely type of person ever since childhood, long before I discovered Objectivism, so I know that Objectivism is not the cause. I also know that giving up Objectivism would not help.

I don't think laziness is a factor. Objectivism doesn't require you to do anything except live through the honest use of your mind. In particular, Objectivism does not require its adherents to be activists.

I also am not sure that being demoralized is a factor. Sure, the country is going lemming-like off the cliff, and probably dragging us along with it. But how will giving up Objectivism help that?

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I don't think laziness is a factor. Objectivism doesn't require you to do anything except live through the honest use of your mind.

But intellectual laziness is by far the worst kind of laziness and is the root cause of physical laziness.

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But intellectual laziness is by far the worst kind of laziness and is the root cause of physical laziness.

To understand Objectivism and agree with it to even the slightest degree, one absolutely must take ideas seriously. I find that as people grow older, especially once they are staring down 40, they begin to take ideas less seriously and rely on their "experience of what works" or "this is how it is". Ideas become less important and people seem to run with whatever makes them feel OK about themselves, or perhaps what allows them not to think too much as they live their "busy lives" (nevermind the question of how you are supposed to choose between various options and values if you have no consistent criteria by which to judge them!). This is, I think, part of it. Other people, as they get older, "dig in" to whatever ideas come to feel easiest to believe in, and their world shrinks so that they can justify the way they look at things to themselves.

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I can give you a good reason for why it could change eventually: the activities of the ARI
While that cant hurt, I dont think it will be enough. I am thinking that what is needed is more in terms of a personality that can bring Objectivism into the mainstream like an MLK, or a Thomas Jefferson, or a Thomas Aquinas. The trouble is, the space between Aristotle and his rebirth through Aquinas was more than a thousand years. Eventually, someone will pick up the torch that Ayn Rand lit. Hopefully, it wont be next millenium.
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As for myself, I do not consider myself to be in agreement with the totality of Objectivism, and I realize to call oneself an Objectivist or anything you should be in agreement with everything Rand said. My main disagreement is with the role of the sexes, and I know many others who love Rand's philosophy, but cannot justify her view on sex and gender.

There is a crucial error here. Objectivism is a philosophy. To call yourself an Objectivist, you should understand and agree with all the principles of that philosophy. You need not agree with every application of those principles to concrete cases, and you need not agree with all of Rand's non-philosophical beliefs. Rand's views on gender psychology and sexual relations are not part of philosophy and thus not part of Objectivism, and there are numerous Objectivists who do not accept them. Once, when Leonard Peikoff asked Rand what philosophy had to say on the topic of sex, Rand's reply in toto was "It says that sex is good." That's it.

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While that cant hurt, I dont think it will be enough.

Well, it isn't alone now is it? It is accompanied by Rand's books, Piekoff's books, Tara Smith's books, various other books by Objectivists, and other Objectivists efforts. And more will be added (eg my cousin's upcoming TOR project, his books, my books (and maybe essays too one day), and much more). It all adds up.

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There is a crucial error here. Objectivism is a philosophy. To call yourself an Objectivist, you should understand and agree with all the principles of that philosophy. You need not agree with every application of those principles to concrete cases, and you need not agree with all of Rand's non-philosophical beliefs. Rand's views on gender psychology and sexual relations are not part of philosophy and thus not part of Objectivism, and there are numerous Objectivists who do not accept them. Once, when Leonard Peikoff asked Rand what philosophy had to say on the topic of sex, Rand's reply in toto was "It says that sex is good." That's it.

Could you explain why Rand considered homosexuality immoral then?

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I am really curious to know what the situations were!

The first was me. Soon after reading the Fountainhead for the first time, I went to a friend's house, and his mother offered me some food to eat, and I refused unless she let me pay her. This actually hearkened back to the Atlantis "nothing is free" thing, but the Fountainhead really fueled it.

A female friend came back from a Europe backpacking trip, during which she read the Fountainhead (her first Rand novel) for the first time. She told her boyfriend upon arriving home that she didn't miss him, and she didn't think he should miss her either.

I told a friend that she was a vampire, living off my soul.

I almost completely alienated myself from friendships at the Christian college I went to. I assumed that they were second-handers, "out to destroy the good for being the good".

Hearing the word "altruism" rendered me practially incapable of rational consideration of a person's ideas. It set off an alarm that was so powerful, that actually listening to what the person had to say became impossible.

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I told a friend that she was a vampire, living off my soul.

Lol. well if she was, then there is noting wrong with saying it (if the context called for it).

I don't think any of your examples are wrong. I think you would be justified in all those situations. Naturally, contexts and specifics always come into play, but at face value, I don't think any of these things are automatically non-Objectivist. Tactless - perhaps. But not non-Objectivist.

Edited by KevinDW78
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She wasn't. And the context FAR from called for it. Same with the other situations. Thinking that everyone who happens to believe in irrational ideas is therefore out to get me for being "the good" isn't rational, it's paranoid. And it kept me from forming ANY kind of congenial relationships with people, and resulted in being incredibly alone when there was no need to be. Let alone the fact that far from everyone at the college was a devoted Christian.

But the last issue is the kicker. The reaction "altruism. evil. don't think about it." Isn't rational, it's a short-circuit. It prevents rational thought. It prevented me from being able to think critically about subjects that even involved the word (regardless of the rest of the content of those subjects).

I basically cut myself off from intellectual stimulation and human interaction. I actually think I would've been much better off if I'd known about places like this. Coming here, I've seen people a lot more comfortable with talking to people who weren't Objectivist, a lot more relaxed in general, a lot more willing to form (at least limited) friendships with non-Objectivists because they focus primarily on positive value, and not the negation of negatives.

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