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WHY ARE YOU AN OBJECTIVIST, TWO?

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EdSalti
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I got some interesting answers to my orginal question, but I think I wasn't specific enough <_< .

I'm curious about what about you was different from your friends/colleagues/contemporaries that made you receptive to the logic and rightness of Ayn Rand's works and not them.

Example: I attribute my own receptiveness to being spoiled rotten by two doting recently-widowed grandmothers who had lots of time for their first grandchild. I learned as a toddler that I was king of the world and nothing was impossible for me. I learned that what I thought was important and that I could trust what I thought until I was proven wrong. By the time I reached 20 and discovered TF, I had already filed much of conventional Christian wisdom and morality in the trash. The part I had rejected was the mysticism and the altruism. Those are the parts that you keep to yourself because it upsets your mother if you talk bad about God and "doing good."

That's what I am curious about. We all talk about the "rightness" of Objectivism, but something had turned us away from parts of the standard ethic of our elders. An event? A personal trait? A person?

Why are you different?

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Because I have always known that there is difference between right and wrong, true or false, and that there is no middle ground. I've always asked myself--if not others--why things are and have not stopped till I could find the answers, all the while rejecting explanations others gave me that didn't agree with what I saw with my own eyes. I've always studied, and judged everybody and everything to the detriment of even my "likeability" for lack of a better word. I've always wanted to just know what really is, not what other tell me what is. These are the reasons I became an Objectivist, because I never could have been anything else without searching till I found it, like I did, or else simply just becoming bitter to the world. I made the right choice.

Edited by EC
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I agree with EC: the distinction between right and wrong was something that was important from the start. I didn't always know what the basis for that judgment was, but I think I always felt that it was there and my problem was just to figure out which was which and why. That point became more overt in high school, when the arbitrariness and foundationlessness of conservatism and libertarianism became obvious.

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I, too, have always held right and wrong and truth to be paramount. As a kid, I strove to be the best Christian possible (and I might add that I think I was. I followed God's Will without compromise). Once it became obvious that Christianity involved major fallacies and contradictions, my number one concern was discovering the truth of things; specifically, I worked my way backwards until I wanted to know the origin of the universe, in order to discover its meaning.

Objectivism provides philosophic truths that can be logically traced. It's exactly what I wanted.

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I'm not sure, but "taking ideas seriously" may be a partial explanation, or it may simply beg the question as to what other underlying difference caused that.

I would echo this idea. One thing I've found about myself over the years which seems to be different is that I think all the time. I mean all the time. Even my "relaxation" activities involve some sort of mental component. I used to think that this was how everyone was and have now come to see that most people, even the ones who do think a lot, still let themselves float at many points throughout the day. Most of my develpoment over my life has been in learning how to focus that thought and how to not let it turn any one thing into an obsession (except for my work, and philosophy of course!).

Most of us think that philosophy is easy, and wonder why others don't see that, but I think in reality it is very abstract, very conceptual and one has to have a fairly well disciplined (or at least very active) thought process to really be good at it.

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The standard ethic of my elders was Presbyterianism. The amount of hypocrites I saw in the church really turned me off to religion. However, I decided it wasn't the ideologies fault that their followers were so blackhearted. I thought that if I was going to have to adhere to such an ideology, I'd dive into it completely, no moderation or hypocrisy whatsoever.

Soon after becoming a fanatical Christian, I discovered that I felt massive amounts of guilt after doing things that made me feel good. I thought my selfish desires would fade with time, but they only grew stronger. This, combined with severe punishments from my parents for saying anything negative about Christianity, made me abandon Christianity.

Fast-foward 3 years. Learning about the founding fathers in AP US History filled me with admiration. Knowing little about any parties other than the big two, I wrote a piece describing why I thought a system akin to capitalism would be best. I didn't know what such a system was called at the time.

I desperately sought a philosophy that would make some damn sense after this. A friend gave me Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I thought this was an introduction to all of what philosophy had to offer. I became discouraged with philosophical pursuits, not blaming the system, but blaming myself for not being intelligent enough to understand it.

All these factors led to the slew of things I thought and felt when I read The Fountainhead for the first time. It was amazing.

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In 1987 I was posted to Germany to serve with the 4th Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group in Lahr, Schwartzwald (the black forest) Shortly after arriving I was given the opportunity to go on a border tour of the Iron Curtain (Czechoslovakian border). Although I didn't realize it, the things I saw that day would serve as an abject lesson in freedom for me.

I left, after being shown the machine gun nests and barbed wire fences (all conspicuously facing into the Communist country) with a renewed sense of what it meant to be free. This started me off down the road to try to perfect the ideal of freedom. At first it meant an increase in my devotion to my duty as a soldier. Work hard, make sure that I would be ready if the balloon went up and all of that.

In 1989 the wall collapsed (I have a small piece of it downstairs) and I saw more evidence of the evil that is collectivism, I watched on TV as Nicolae Ceau┼čescu was killed, watched the expressions on the faces of those poor bastards fleeing East Berlin and saw their wonder at all the luxury we had.

Freedom was still my ideal and I became interested in politics, took some university courses (which I thought were simple, simplistic and terribly, terribly skewed) and from the point of fiscal conservatism I was drawn into Libertarianism by JS Mills book "On Liberty" which I still think is a good book, though he does tend to bludgeon the reader to death with each and every point.

Once I'd given up on Political Science as a viable career (I really wasn't being taught anything, indoctrination is the word I began referring to one of my classes as "The Leftist Diatribes") on the recommendation of an acquaintance I read AS and was hooked on Objectivism. Here not only was a pure vision of what freedom entails but a rational explaination of the morality behind it.

The funny thing is the acquaintance who introduced me to AS doesn't get it. Politically he's half Libertarian and half Conservative, and philosophically he's a mush headed altruist. Oh well. It's his life.

I guess you could say that I'm chasing Objectivism because I saw the other side and didn't like it...

Cheers,

Zip

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The funny thing is the acquaintance who introduced me to AS doesn't get it. Politically he's half Libertarian and half Conservative, and philosophically he's a mush headed altruist.

lol I think that is the case with a lot of people I've heard on here... the people that introduced them to Atlas Shrugged or another aspect of Rand are not Objectivists at all. I remember someone telling me that Rush Limbaugh or another of those radio hosts occasionally reads an excerpt from Atlas Shrugged on his show; they seem to understand the economics and politics of it, but drop all the other parts (ethics, aesthetics, atheism, metaphysics, epistemology, etc.) Sad, but like you said:

Oh well. It's his life.
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I always believed in the power of the individual, particulary myself. I can remember a variety of different "businesses" I began as a young child. I can also remember working hard at nearly every activity I chose, whether sports, school, my "businesses", or whatever. Since I can remember, I have always had the notion that I can achieve what I want; that my life is in my own hands.

I became very interested in ideas, but that was later and, upon reflection, may have been a derivative of the above worldview.

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What parts of my personality enabled the integration of Oism into my philosophy? I have always been an environmentalist (don't worry, I'm not nuts, just listen) I love animals and nature, and when I love something I am driven to understand it. In my quest to understand nature, I learned about evolution, which led me directly into the Objectivist philosophy. One of the things that I always understood better than anyone I talk to about evolution is that Darwin didn't say 'the strongest survive' or 'the smartest survive.' Darwin said he who adapts survives, to make sense one must equivocate survival in the ecological world with success, because a Tiger cannot invent a skyscraper, thus elevating his own success, but he can eat a lot more than his competition, thus making him a successful tiger. In our human 'ecosystem' the person who adapts to a new world changing thing survives, the technology boom has revealed that in millions of ways. Those who poopoo'd technology and advancement literally were destroyed. Either bankrupted, or never got the chance to be successful. Evolution, or, the process of natural selection is a law of nature, and it permeates human society. I'd like to say I developed into Oism before I even read AS through evolution, but the truth is it was more like Ayn Rand enabled me to understand evolution, and reality, better.

What event specifically put the book in my hands? My best friend in Middle School (who did not read AR, and is now highly unsuccessful in his life) gave me The Wizard's First Rule on loan. I hated reading at the time and that book is thicker than the bible so I laughingly loaned it to my sister. She read it, loved it, inducted it, and found AR through research, and introduced me to Oism. My goal is to become a movie, video game, and novel writer so that I, like Goodkind, can help bring the philosophy to more people.

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Great answers!! Thanks, all. Zip, I have my own little piece of the wall tucked away with a copy of the Stars and Stripes announcing the fall. One day, I'll mount them together in a shadowbox. ES

I wish I had kept more stuff like that. Sometimes history passes us by as we struggle, head down living our lives. :P

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I was a libertarian for many years, and always just thought of O'ists as "one of the gang", but had never made any effort to read what was so distinctive about it. Then, one of my former libertarian friends became an Objectivist at some point, and after a long time of him questoning the basis of my libertarian ideas, it finally clicked. I still hadn't really read anything about Objectivism, at that point, but I kind of "discovered" Objectivism myself from the very basic questions he posed me. Only after that, did i read VOS, and after that I have been "hooked".

I have to mention, that in Finland, there really are very few really weird libertarians, so the ones calling themselves libertarian in Finland, will most likely have had to make some sort of philosophical thinking before becoming a libertarian. In the US, where the de facto difference between the small government republicans and libertarians is so small, it is possible for someone to become a libertarian with absolutely no philosophical thinking, and just as a result of "exposure".

In Finland however, there are no major political parties or movements even close to libertarian politics, and freedom is not a word often used in politics, so for someone to reach the conclusion that non-agression is a good principle in government and politics, means that that person most likely has had to make some philosophical thinking before reaching that assumption. There is also the fact that the term "classical liberal" is also in use in Finland, which encompasses most of the ones called "utilitarian libertarians" in the US, so most of the minarchistic libertarians in Finland are of the more rational side of the wide libertarian spectrum. Most of the people i knew were egoists, and even though philosophy wasn't a topic of discussion that often, most of them had to be semi-rational. Most had quite rational views on proper government foreign policy, multiculturalism, religion etc. and there are no "nazi white power libertarians" or "god-given rights libertarians" over here....

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One thing I've found about myself over the years which seems to be different is that I think all the time. I mean all the time. Even my "relaxation" activities involve some sort of mental component. I used to think that this was how everyone was and have now come to see that most people, even the ones who do think a lot, still let themselves float at many points throughout the day.
I always knew people didn't do this, though I think I've forgotten a little now (I try to hope for the best these days). When I was in middle school, I wanted to be popular. One of the key differences I noticed between popular kids and myself was with thinking; they didn't, I did. I would try to get myself to stop thinking, so that I would be closer to figuring out how to be popular! But, I failed. I just couldn't stop thinking. It wasn't until I was maybe 21 that I really decided there was no advantage in not thinking.
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I've been thinking (ha! ha!) about my answer above: i.e. "taking ideas seriously", and Kendall's formulation of "thinking all the time". Now, I'd break down "taking ideas seriously" as follows:

  • a belief that the world is knowable
  • an interest in knowing about the world
  • a confidence that human beings can think about it and figure it out
  • an assumption that one's thinking is about reality, not just "idle" thoughts

Edited by softwareNerd
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I would echo this idea. One thing I've found about myself over the years which seems to be different is that I think all the time. I mean all the time. Even my "relaxation" activities involve some sort of mental component. I used to think that this was how everyone was and have now come to see that most people, even the ones who do think a lot, still let themselves float at many points throughout the day. Most of my develpoment over my life has been in learning how to focus that thought and how to not let it turn any one thing into an obsession (except for my work, and philosophy of course!).

Most of us think that philosophy is easy, and wonder why others don't see that, but I think in reality it is very abstract, very conceptual and one has to have a fairly well disciplined (or at least very active) thought process to really be good at it.

By "float" do you mean that most people have moments when they are just empty headed, or do you mean that they let their thoughts drift away(like when daydreaming)?

I have found that I need to have my brain engaged at all times, and that the only challenge is to focus on the right things. When a task does not demand my full attention I always have other things on my mind(often 2-3 different, but related, things). This is why i'm always sort of daydreaming. Are you saying this is not how most people work?

If this is true I must say i'm genuinely surprised, although when thinking about it I suppose I should not be...

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In answer to the initial question, I also agree with EC, the distinction between right and wrong from a very early age, and another, consistent, ellement: my absolute resistance, intolerance of arbitrariety.

Speaking of grandmothers, I remember this situation (and was remembered of it many times by others): When I was about 4 years old my grannie took me for a walk. As usual she showed me different plants, and trees, she's always been very interested in the natural world. So in this particular walk she took a "clone" from a fern decorating a government building. I was abhored and decried that she was stealing. She sort of laughed and explained me how even though she was taking someone else's property, that was not stealing. It was my first direct confrontation with grey morality. I coulnd't (and still can't) understand how stealing a life, an hour, a car or a plant are not all just stealing. The difference of degree doesn't alter the nature of the act. i.e. a mass murderer is only more dangerous than a "normal" murderer, but not less moral.

I understand now that grey scales need arbitrary limits, and vice-versa: tyranny needs greyness.

Then I felt repeatedly in the booby trap of "compromising is the only realist (pragmatic) way to live)". I found by experience that this is not true, and I guess Ayn Rand provided me with explicit back up. Thus is how I consider myself an Objectivist.

My parents are both secular. My mother is Freudian and leans to undefined superstition. My father is essentially a left-wing materialist who went from scientist to businessman. What they used to tell me, and how they taught me to act, was disparate, completely contradictory. So when I began reading A.R. and later studying Objectivism I found relief in consistency. I have to grant that my parents practiced absolute lernfreiheit and let me and my brother consume any mind food we chose. They highly valued curiosity.

From the first time when I was 14 and saw a documentary about her I knew this is what "is all about". Her defence of individualism and opposition to deism and socialism seemed so natural to me I couln't believe she was the first one to properly outline a proper philosophic system. But I guess it was her passion, her love of skyscrapers and man's glory as i saw it and as I know I'll be able to achieve.

I've been thinking (ha! ha!) about my answer above: i.e. "taking ideas seriously", and Kendall's formulation of "thinking all the time". Now, I'd break down "taking ideas seriously" as follows:

  • a belief that the world is knowable
  • an interest in knowing about the world
  • a confidence that human beings can think about it and figure it out
  • an assumption that one's thinking is about reality, not just "idle" thoughts

but all of the above go without saying B)

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I've been thinking (ha! ha!) about my answer above: i.e. "taking ideas seriously", and Kendall's formulation of "thinking all the time". Now, I'd break down "taking ideas seriously" as follows:

  • a belief that the world is knowable
  • an interest in knowing about the world
  • a confidence that human beings can think about it and figure it out
  • an assumption that one's thinking is about reality, not just "idle" thoughts

What about people who just aren't interested or make no effort to understand anything? Would those count as "not taking ideas seriously"?

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For me, I think it was my passion for justice and freedom. I've always had a hard time accepting people's "gray area" arguments and I've never wanted the government, or anyone else, to take care of me. (Or take from me.)

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What about people who just aren't interested or make no effort to understand anything? Would those count as "not taking ideas seriously"?

I'd say they don't take life itself seriously, if they have no interest in trying to understand anything - the only alternative is to run at everything in a blind rage, or, possibly, to sit docile on the floor and let the winds take you.

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