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My Letter to Dr. Peikoff

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Please comment and answer this. Everyday the pleasure I feel contracts... I'm 19.

Dr. Peikoff,

There exists an anti-concept which I have long ago internalized but cannot name. Everyday I find that if I am not constantly challenging myself to the brink of my potential, I sabotage my productivity. Ironically, the only thing that seems to temporarily alleviate the psychological horror of not living up to my ideal is evasion of some kind in the form of self sabotage. Since I was a child I have always wanted to do great things and as I find I cannot reason with myself or eliminate the aftertaste of the view of the Naturalists which is that life is pointless, I am in conflict everyday with myself. At times I stumble upon a new idea from you or Ayn Rand, and do temporarily believe it to be a psychological cure. It usually brings me to be more productive for that day. Having to rely on constant motivational nuggets of Objectivist wisdom does not seem like an effective way for me to live - I eventually forget and stumble upon old principles as if they are new and spin circles. I would like to know how you incorporate your benevolent world view in general including what system of checks and balances you use to keep you productive and happy everyday. It appears as though my whims drive my life and I would appreciate any advice on how to realize the hierarchy of reason and emotion in one's life and solve the aforementioned problem.

Clayton

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Why do you want to do great things? Do you wish to appear great to others? Do you feel greatness should be everyone's purpose in life, and if so, why?

What does this greatness consist of (money, power, fame, a moral life, other)?

I believe it is very important to find an answer to all these questions. You may have to look back, and establish how you decided to be great. Were you influenced by the right philosophical principles, or some wrong ones? If they are the wrong ones, I believe Dr. Peikoff would say that you have to rebuild your hierarchy of values, this time with the Objectivist morality of rational, virtuous self interest in mind.

Here's an Ayn Rand quote about greatness:

What is greatness? I will answer: it is the capacity to live by the three fundamental values of John Galt: reason, purpose, self-esteem.-- Ayn Rand

Is that what you used to mean by greatness, when you first decided to become great? If not, you might have to give up your dream (of greatness, as you thought of it as a child), and instead focus on what those three components of greatness are, and try to achieve them. (obviously, by understanding them first, from books and through a lot of thinking and living, not just this forum or my half assed advice)

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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Quotes and "high-level" concepts you've read have served you as a presentation to these ideas. If you agree with the fundamental tenets, then go and get systematic instruction either through the Objectivist Academic Centre or privately.

As you progress, your contradictions will unearth and you can choose to deal with them when they do.

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There exists an anti-concept which I have long ago internalized but cannot name. Everyday I find that if I am not constantly challenging myself to the brink of my potential, I sabotage my productivity. Ironically, the only thing that seems to temporarily alleviate the psychological horror of not living up to my ideal is evasion of some kind in the form of self sabotage.

Well, look...you are only 19 years old, for goodness sake. You do realize that Howard Roark was "the ripe old age of 22" before he went off and tried to even be an architect on his own -- and only after more training from Cameron -- right? Doing something great means to live by your own standards of reason and purpose, but you might not have yet figured out what that means at your age. I mean, what did you expect to achieve by your age -- traveling to Mars, Conquering the Earth, Solving the meaning to Life the Universe and Everything, understanding a philosophy? Perhaps that "anti-concept" is a false expectation of what you believe you should have achieved by now. Under the proper guidance, I guess it is possible to be a great self-achiever by the age of 19, but it is not very reasonable to expect to have done that much at your age in our culture which morally stifles achievement. So, you have to fight that first, and Objectivism can help along those lines.

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Quotes and "high-level" concepts you've read have served you as a presentation to these ideas. If you agree with the fundamental tenets, then go and get systematic instruction either through the Objectivist Academic Centre or privately.

As you progress, your contradictions will unearth and you can choose to deal with them when they do.

I'm curious about where someone would go if they were after private instruction.

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  • 3 months later...
Well, look...you are only 19 years old, for goodness sake. You do realize that Howard Roark was "the ripe old age of 22" before he went off and tried to even be an architect on his own -- and only after more training from Cameron -- right? Doing something great means to live by your own standards of reason and purpose, but you might not have yet figured out what that means at your age. I mean, what did you expect to achieve by your age -- traveling to Mars, Conquering the Earth, Solving the meaning to Life the Universe and Everything, understanding a philosophy? Perhaps that "anti-concept" is a false expectation of what you believe you should have achieved by now. Under the proper guidance, I guess it is possible to be a great self-achiever by the age of 19, but it is not very reasonable to expect to have done that much at your age in our culture which morally stifles achievement. So, you have to fight that first, and Objectivism can help along those lines.

Thanks! :D

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