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Nathaniel Branden

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I think this is a very important point, and there is not anything in Objectivist that says it is moral to repress one's emotions. Repression is not immoral, in that emotions are not tools of cognition anyhow, but one's emotions makes one's values immediately and automatically experienced. One of the best things about Objectivism is that it taught me that emotions come from one's value premises, and that it is possible to check one's value premises to be more geared towards man's life as the standard. This also led me not to want to check my emotional reactions continuously as I did when I was a Catholic (in other words, it was Catholicism for me that led to repression, not Objectivism). So, by far, I would say that Objectivism most certainly does not teach one to be repressed as a general psychological principle. By far, coming across Objectivism led me to accept that there was no mind / body dichotomy, and no reason / emotion dichotomy. It doesn't mean that one can go by one's emotions for one's values, only that your emotions are the experience of your value system.

Psychological problems that might arise set aside, I don't think it is a good idea to repress; and if one is repressed due to psychological problems, I highly recommend getting that fixed so that one can better enjoy one's life.

Extremely well put and seconded. Now, here's the good news:

Often, it's Objectivism that fixes the problem.

I don't know about you, but I get the feeling that it's as if Objectivism was custom designed for me.

Repression can come from anywhere:

One's relgious; read philosophical, teachings can be the source, either correctly or incorrectly intepreted

The manner in which one was taught in the home to deal with such matters: "C'mon: Suck it up and move on"

Behaviorally: the strain appears to go away when the feelings are repressed so that increases the likelihood that the nex time this happens, one will repress. This repeats until repression becomes the norm in one's life.

Edited by JMeganSnow
fixed broken quote tag
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BEAUTIFULLY put, aristotlejones. From one who has spent even longer than you on that voyage. If I may put my view simplistically: I think because I feel ; and I've learned to feel more because I think.

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In his essay "Objectivism and Libertarianism", Branden says:

About ten years ago, I came across a saying from the Talmud that impressed me profoundly. I have not been able to stop thinking about it. I have often wondered what might have happened if I'd had the chance to discuss the idea with Ayn -- if there would have been any way to break through. Who knows what might have been different in the years that followed?

The line that so impressed me was: "A hero is one who knows how to make a friend out of an enemy."

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In his essay "Objectivism and Libertarianism", Branden says:

I don't think Branden is helping anyone become more objective by endorsing the idea contained in the line from the Talmud that impresses him so much.

On the contrary, it's his own credibility as an intellectual that every rational person questions when they see him endorsing such ideas.

Ayn Rand once said: "Don't bother to examine a folly - ask yourselves only what it accomplishes."

So imagine what would happen if an objective President of the United States of America starts practicing the idea from the Talmud that impresses Branden so much, and tries to make a friend out of America's enemies in the Middle East such as Iran who are hell-bent on destroying it.

As a result, we in America, will have another 9/11 or something even worse than that since Iran is now doing everything in its power to go nuclear!

Just to put things into context, it was Ellsworth Toohey who said, ". . .But there's always a purpose in nonsense. Don't bother to examine a folly--ask yourself only what it accomplishes. Every system of ethics that preached sacrifice grew into a world power and ruled millions of men. . ." [page 666]

It's Toohey's explanation of the power of Pragmatism, specifically in regards to corrupting the souls of men. It's not the greatest statement to use in proving your point because pointing to the results that may arise from a particular course of action or employment of an idea does not give rise to an understanding of whether the action or idea is moral necessarily. It's only by reference to principles that one can understand whether an idea or action is moral or immoral. Specifically in this case, one would need to point out why justice is a necessity and why Branden's quote/article shirks adherence to justice as a virtue.

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You can "make a friend of an enemy" in a number of ways, two of which I see as perfectly moral:

1. You can convince them of your point of view.

2. You can choose to focus on shared positive values rather than differences.

3. You can ignore their vices completely, and act like "everything's okay".

I think that 1 and 2 are moral. While 2 and 3 may superficially appear similar, they are not the same. The difference between 2 and 3 would be context--how bad the vices are compared to the value you gain from dealing with the person. Neither self-interest nor justice is served by pointing out every little thing you think a person does wrong, every time they do it, because that crosses the line into altruism--trying to "fix" them.

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The quote "Don't bother to examine a folly - ask yourselves only what it accomplishes." was taken from Ayn Rand's essay: "Extremism: The Art of Smearing" (Chapter 17) in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.

I searched The Objectivism CD-ROM for this quote and discovered that Miss Rand had used it in 2 other essays, namely, The Comprachicos in The Objectivist (November 1970) & Apollo And Dionysus in The Objectivist (December 1969.) In the former article, she even asks the reader to apply Toohey's advice from The Fountainhead!

So though the quote is originally from The Fountainhead and spoken by its arch villain Ellsworth Toohey, given the purpose of my post, I have used it in the same way Miss Rand had used it in her 3 essays.

The purpose of my post was to prove how irrational the idea endorsed by Branden is, since its practice leads to the horrible consequences I have mentioned.

I don't think pointing out the consequences of practicing certain ideas indicates a pragmatic approach. On the contrary, it shows a reality-oriented approach. In fact, it is an approach which Miss Rand consistently used in her own essays to convince her readers.

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If, as a rational person, one objectively judges someone to be one's enemy, one is under no moral obligation to deal with him in any manner whatsoever.

An enemy is not someone who has a point of view different from one's own or with whom one can share positive values notwithstanding the differences between oneself and the other person.

On the contrary, an enemy is someone who rejects reason and practices ideas that are a threat to one's own life and values, which is why one judges him as an enemy to begin with.

So one can neither reason with him to consider one's own point of view nor deal with him on the basis of shared positive values, notwithstanding the differences.

Friendship, like everything else in life, is a value, which has to be earned and an enemy, unlike a stranger, is someone who does not deserve one's friendship. If he deserved to be one's friend in the first place, by what objective moral standard is one then judging him to be one's enemy?

Edited by rameshkaimal
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Of course, even if I judge someone to be a friendly acquaintance, I am not morally obligated to deal with him.

An enemy is not someone who has a point of view different from one's own or with whom one can share positive values notwithstanding the differences between oneself and the other person.

Then you are rejecting my post by definition, and not by identification of some error. Would you give your definition of "enemy"?

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On the subject of mind-emotion dichotomy, my personal belief is that few people have the power of mind and vast rationality of an Ayn Rand to quickly and seamlessly integrate and consolidate the two.

Look at her brilliant rebuttal of Pascal's " The heart has its reasons which the head does not know".

Rand's response: " The head has its reasons which the heart must learn to know ".

And even she, it seems with the advantage of hindsight, made some errors in this regard.

I , for one,spent years fully absorbing into my own psyche such concepts as "Man is a being of self made soul ". The breathtaking simplicity and clarity of such thought resounds with self evident truth.

BUT, as most of us know by now, Objectivism isn't for wimps. It is not an easy grab-bag of instant 'salvation'. It requires mental and emotional maturity. It needs constant introspection and self-analysis, balanced with observation of the outer world. It demands, above all, an individuated, independent, mind. And it takes time. Then can follow that stage [ which I think is the ultimate that man or woman can aspire to] of mind,emotion,body integration. {The real human spirit,perhaps?}

The years I spent on this journey would have been drastically shortened, if I had discovered Dr Branden's works on self esteem earlier than I did.

Notwithstanding that rather strange and unexplained comment he made quoting the Talmud,posted by Ramesh, the man's thinking stands for itself. I understand too well why he was concerned about alienation and repression.

So, yes, Melchior, N.B.'s books are invaluable.

I have a view on Objectivism I'd like to share - just excuse my slight pomposity!

Ayn Rand showed me the rock to stand on to see the World ; Nathaniel Branden helped me to build the rock within my Self.


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