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Have you had to cut people out of your life?

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Lazariun
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I can't say that I've found it necessary to cut anyone out of my life, but my life has never exactly been filled with people, anyway. I don't *pursue* friendships on the same basis any more, and I'm more careful about delineating the *type* of relationship I have with someone. This is a great help because you respond differently to the statements of, say, friends vs. coworkers. I try to be friendly with everyone that I must deal with because this smooths things tremendously, but I make it clear whether or not we're actually "friends".

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I've cut my grandparents out of my life, completely, because I have found their strong belief in God and general irrationality to be completely evil.

Wait... seriously? I've distanced myself from old friends, but I've always given them the benefit of at least objecting when they did/said something that was oppossed to my values, so anyone that isn't friends with me anymore knows why. I've told my enviornmentalist sister she is wasting her life using her engineering degree to work making computer models of "sustainable" 3rd world communities, and thats distanced us a lot.

However, the idea of cuting off members of my immediate family because of their beliefs is shocking to me. I hope your grandparents were on the level of Ellsworth Toohey otherwise that sounds like a big mistake. Just thinking of my own family, I know my parents made a lot of mistakes raising me. I also know they only wanted what was best for me growing up and did the best they could based on what they knew.

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Wait... seriously? I've distanced myself from old friends,

However, the idea of cuting off members of my immediate family because of their beliefs is shocking to me.

It wasn't a mistake. There is more to it then I stated here, and it was the right decision. And one I don't even slightly regret.

To pretend to "care" about one's family regardless of their flaws is intrincism and left over from religion. I can't do that because I take ideas seriously and can't stand people that are irrational.

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To pretend to "care" about one's family regardless of their flaws is intrincism and left over from religion.

I agree it's fundamentally intrinsicism, I am not sure it's necessarily religious in nature.

One of the things we have rightly beat up the "new atheists" for is some of the wierdass things they come up with to justify morality. Sam Harris is the worst of the three I've read, simply assuming that morality consists of reducing suffering. Hitchens seems to have been too much on the attack to actually come up with any sort of positive message. But Dawkins is a bit more interesting--he at least looks around at what we *are* to try to figure out where morality comes from, and then comes up with a wrong answer. (So if I were giving them an exam, Dawkins, unlike Harris and Hitchens, would get a score that although still failing would be higher than 0%. And this one ain't graded on a curve!) Altruisim exists, according to him, because it is evolutionarily advantageous for us to help our near relatives--who have many of the same genes, including the one that supposedly makes us altruistic. And its being evolutionarily advantageous somehow justifies it as a code we should live by. It may be the case, in fact, that the behavior is completely *non* genetically caused, but that just brings the meme model into the picture, and it is a selection based model as well. (Note that he doesn't use the word "altruism" properly.)

Clearly he is in fact trying to backwards-justify altruism--misunderstood, but I think he may have noticed something that is actually true.

I think he may instead have found, in evolution, the reason why we tend to value our relatives far more than they deserve to be. Think about it: why do we as people tend to value our close relatives so much that oftentimes Momma cannot see that her "baby" is actually a brutal raping thug who *deserves* the death penalty? I think it may be something that was evolutionarily advantageous, and that only now, when a certain subspecies of apes have evolved a rational faculty, has it become possible--although still unlikely--for this tendency to be overridden.

We are seeing it here. Upon someone expressing shock that someone could cut off their own immediate family, EC has assured us that the close relatives in question are thoroughly beyond the pale, due to issues he doesn't wish to air. But I will be surprised if someone still does not disapprove, because, after all, they are family.

He's right, though, it's intrinsicist to value them "just because".

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Ultimately, as rational beings, we should choose our friends based on thier value to us. Same applies to family. Although we do not choose our families, we can choose to continue to associate with them past a certain point, or not, based on how they fit in to our hierarchy of values.

I choose to maintain close ties with my family. My parents are ambivilent towards religion, although they did attend church when I was a child, they never tried to force me into a particular belief system, leaving such up to me as I got old enough to think for myself, and have always been supportive of me in whatever I have chosen to do. As to uncles, aunts and cousins, they are pleasant people and lead productive lives. A couple are quite religious, but do not try to push thier faith on others, so it is a minor point, easily outwieghed by other factors.

The only family member I have cut off is a cousin, who lives in another state, who is basically a crack whore, and beyond redemption. I leave her to the fate she has chosen for herself.

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I can't do that because I take ideas seriously and can't stand people that are irrational.

Given the fact that I'm pretty sure one can't claim that the charateristic "rationality" is digital, what level of rationality qualifies as "irrational?"

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Given the fact that I'm pretty sure one can't claim that the charateristic "rationality" is digital, what level of rationality qualifies as "irrational?"

Irrational in their politics, ideas, morals, and most importantly how one arrives at knowledge. I agree their is a spectrum or "irrationality", and most people's irrationality I can tolerate to a degree, but when I disagree and/or disapprove of a persons statement nearly one hundred percent of the time, then it's time to cut them from my life.

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To pretend to "care" about one's family regardless of their flaws is intrincism and left over from religion. I can't do that because I take ideas seriously and can't stand people that are irrational.

I disagree with the idea that automatically placing more value on your close family is somehow "religious intinsicsm". My family has watched me grow up, has shared many of my experiences, sheltered and protected me before I was able to do so for myself (my dad even saved me from drowning in the ocean once as a kid), and helped finance my education. This means that family serves as both an enormous potential value and as the source of many of my current values. As such, family deserves more consideration and more energy to understand and change their bad ideas than any random stranger. To do otherwise and dismiss members of my family just because they believe irrational things which I don't feel like attempting to correct would be a violation of Justice.

In addition, there is no significant cost to me.. its not as if debating with my sister is going to turn me into an enviornmentalist. As long as she doesn't turn into an eco-terrorist I see no reason to even consider cutting her off.

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  • 1 month later...

Because of my interest in Objectivism, my immediate family doesn't want me. To them, the fact that I was drawn to Ayn Rand's books in the first place is just another piece of evidence that I'm a complete selfish cow (hence my choice of "real life" name to the left heehee.)

it's a shame, really, but what can one do? Since they (mum, dad, sister & brother) are all in Australia and I've not seen them since 1981, there isn't much chance of changing minds via email.

I'm happy with my wonderful husband with whom I agree on all the important values in life. He wasn't raised atheist, but came to it after attempts by the Catholic school system to indoctrinate him.

And now I'm pleased to meet everyone here.

grouphuggsilly.gif

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Irrational in their politics, ideas, morals, and most importantly how one arrives at knowledge. I agree their is a spectrum or "irrationality", and most people's irrationality I can tolerate to a degree, but when I disagree and/or disapprove of a persons statement nearly one hundred percent of the time, then it's time to cut them from my life.

I think the key principle here is the trader principle. Proper social interaction with other people is based on the exchange of values, be they material or spiritual. Even significantly irrational people can provide real values in trade, if it is possible to 'bracket' their irrationality and thus delimit the relationship. Close relatives, in particular, can offer unique spiritual values because of the degree of intimacy provided by their long baseline of common experience. That means it can be worth putting more effort into preserving a delimited relationship with an irrational relative than with an equivalently irrational person pulled in off the street. Note that this kind of delimited relationship imposes restrictions on you as well. If you object to your (hypothetical) brother trying to convert you to Christianity, you can't very well turn around and insist that it's OK for you to try to convert him to Objectivism. Either those kinds of discussions are in-bounds for your relationship or they aren't, and it cuts both ways.

That said, there are limits. Some people are not willing to have their irrationality bracketed -- they insist on imposing it on you even in the face of your stated desire to the contrary, and they refuse to 'agree to disagree' and move on to areas where you can share values productively. In such cases you are generally better off to reduce or eliminate contact to whatever extent is possible.

Completely cutting oneself off from one's parents is not a step to be taken lightly. I say that as someone with a couple of non-Objectivist friends who have done essentially that, for reasons I consider justified. Even in those cases I've seen what it cost them.

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I have a friend who is a socialist and we really got into it several days ago. We're all good now, but for a second I thought it could go down that road where we just weren't compatible because of our philosophic ideas.

You're compatible? If you are an Objectivist, you are advocating ideas that demand personal responsibility in every area of your life. The Socialist, if they are a true socialist, demands the exact opposite.

I'm curious. In what areas do you find compatibility?

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You're compatible? If you are an Objectivist, you are advocating ideas that demand personal responsibility in every area of your life. The Socialist, if they are a true socialist, demands the exact opposite.

I'm curious. In what areas do you find compatibility?

Well, I was mostly using a figure of speech. Misleading for sure. Apologies.

Something I forgot to mention was that another one of our good friends, who happens to be an Objectivist, got into it 3 years ago on the same subject. They are no longer friends because of that night when they got into a huge argument. For a second I thought the same thing was happening where he would not associate with me because of my personal convictions. We get along great otherwise, but on economic systems we are opposites.

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We get along great otherwise, but on economic systems we are opposites.
A disagreement on explicit politics or explicit philosophy does not imply (on its own) that one cannot be very friendly. On the other hand, even a close agreement on those things does not imply that one will like the other person. It is almost certain that there will be many non-Objectivists you will like, and that you will like them more than many advocate Objectivism.
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A disagreement on explicit politics or explicit philosophy does not imply (on its own) that one cannot be very friendly. On the other hand, even a close agreement on those things does not imply that one will like the other person. It is almost certain that there will be many non-Objectivists you will like, and that you will like them more than many advocate Objectivism.

I personally don't base my friendships on political or philosophic ideals, but this person had a history of it, and I thought he'd shed me from his life just as he did to another friend. Pretty crazy stuff, and hard to really explain on a forum.

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  • 1 month later...
I'm wondering if anyone here has had to cut friends or family members out of their lives as they came to integrate Objectivist ethics?

I ask, because I find myself at a position now where close friends I'd once tolerated now become repugnant to me because of their morals. My roommate is one of these. He is the son of a tow-trucker, who steals the contents of towed cars, or so he tells me. He finds nothing wrong with this, but in fact he idolizes thieves and pirates for their apparent cunning and willingness to buck authority. His only rule seems to be: "If it happens to me or someone I know, it is bad. If it happens to someone I don't know, I don't care, or I admire the skill of the thief." While he's never stolen from me, this sort of attitude makes me mistrustful and honestly void of respect for him.

A few of my friends, while not blatant idolaters of thieves, fail to recognize how pirating software and games is morally wrong. The argument I've often heard is: "Why is <i>copying</i> wrong? It's not really stealing." Even when I explain the impact this has on the producers of those products, they just don't seem to get it. It seems like just because it is easy, they believe it makes it basically morally neutral. This sort of view likewise makes me think very little of people I once considered highly.

People close to me accuse me of being self-righteous or morally superior, but I see that only as an admittance of their own guilt and fear of judgment. It isn't cutting these people out of my life that seems hard, but that the cultural viewpoint seems to be that of the Cult of Moral Grayness. To be just and unrelenting in one's morals is to be inflexible, rigid and intolerant in the view of the masses. So how does one live practically and work among people who have this viewpoint?

Really, I have the answer to my own questions. I know what I have to do. I just want to know if anyone else has shared this experience.

I have had a similar experience.

My "best friend" of several years has become morally repulsive to me, now that I have determined what my values actually are. I used to basically believe in the present "liberal" ideology, as most of my friends and educators, including her, do. For me it has been kind of strangely not painful, although I expected that growing apart from her would be horrendous. I have realized that it is necessary. I can't waste time on a relationship that is draining and frustrating.

Also, many educators and friends over the years that I had held to be smart and independent thinkers, I have realized are not so.

On the other hand, I have come to appreciate the few objective (in the lowercase sense of the word) teachers I have had, and a the one or two friends I did have who actually have values, integrity, and a sense of self.

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My "best friend" of several years has become morally repulsive to me, now that I have determined what my values actually are...Also, many educators and friends over the years that I had held to be smart and independent thinkers, I have realized are not so.

I'm actually going through a similar situation right now.

The funny thing is, there's only a few views that I cannot even stand to hold a conversation about (when it comes to people holding those views), which is why many of my friends that were not so close to me I'm still friends with and still discussions with, even though some are Socialists, Anarchists, or Marxists (if I can tell they're open-minded, of course). But two of my best friends don't even fall into any philosophy I've ever heard of. Rather, they seem to be the perfect embodiment of how Rand said "the man who says 'who am I to know?' actually says 'who am I to live?'"

Because of this refusal on their part to think out views, either because they "feel" what they think is true, and they don't need a reason to explain what they believe (as one does), or because it simply "doesn't matter at all anyway" (as the other holds is the nature of the world).

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I'm wondering if anyone here has had to cut friends or family members out of their lives as they came to integrate Objectivist ethics?

I ask, because I find myself at a position now where close friends I'd once tolerated now become repugnant to me because of their morals.

Instead of talking about myself, I'll talk about the principles that are relevant here.

First, I think you should be careful in judging people. Judge not their actions alone - but the actions in light of their ideas and morality. Are they doing something they fully understand to be evil? Or are they not clear on a subject (like downloading music), and therefore choose badly, though according to the best they understand?

It's not an easy task at all. I bet if I did not understand the full idea behind the Objectivist ethics, I would not have been motivated enough to stop downloading illegal music. It is only after I understood how it works against me and against my best interest that I stopped. OK, so one principle here is - judge people, but judge carefully based on their ideas, not just their actions.

Secondly - give yourself time to make the correct judgement. It can take a lot of time before you understand enough about a person's ideas to judge their actions correctly. You do not need to hold the friendship off until you discover those things.

Third - Focus on the pleasure you get out of friendships. Judging your friends correctly should never be a moral obligation, rather a selfish need. A moral friend is a friend you respect (or even admire) and you know you can rely on (not to steal from you, lie to you and on the positive side to truly value you). This is what makes moral judgement a selfish need.

Fourth - A man is a lot more than just his moral character. A person has his own specific interests, way of thinking, temperament, sense of humor, taste in art, people, etc'. You should take these things under account when looking for friends.

#5 - Express yourself. Express your ideas, and opinions of people - good or bad. Self-expression is the best way to find like-minded people. If you shut your mouth you get yourself stuck in bad relationships.

#6 - Use your emotions to guide you in search for friends. Your emotions are the summary of how someone matches who you are. These emotions come from huge amount of information stored in your subconscious - more vast than your conscious mind can evaluate in such a short amount of time as that required to decide which friend to spend time with. So listen to your emotions, and then back them up with a process of rational analysis of what your emotions suggest (and if it is correct or not).

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__________________________________

And to add something I forgot... I think your roomate is obnoxious, and immoral. He thrives at damaging others - not just in his actions, but also self-esteem-wise (I'm referring to the whole pirate-idolizing as his answer to stealing people's stuff). What skill does he exhibit exactly when he steals people's stuff that are not there to defend themselves? Nothing but the skill of cowardice. In this case, unlike D/L-ing illegal music, it's very clear cut that you are taking away something a person worked hard for and earned. It is also a lot more tangible and real than stealing music because he can know first hand how it feels to have a radio taken away from you. He can understand the crappy feeling seeing your stuff were stolen. Unlike music - this is something he knows first hand, and still he does not mind stealing even though he knows what it will cause someone else. In my book, this is unforgiven (unless if and until he changes).

I'd tell him everything I've told you above and also tell him off to someone (like the police or his boss) if it didn't take too much effort.

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  • 4 weeks later...

All the family members in my generation. My parents were very honest but I seem to be the only one that believed in their values, my baby boomer relatives were out to get as much for themselves by cheating, lying and stealing whenever possible. I heard so often "everyone else does it" that it made me sick. One of them asked me if I had ever done something wrong, when I answered "yes", this person took it as justification to do anything he wanted.

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