Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Introduction and Advice.

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

I would like to say hello to everyone on this forum. I am a 32 year old attorney from New York and I am relatively new to Objectivism and Ayn Rand's philosophy. I have read all of her fiction and The Virtue of Selfishness within the past year and my eyes and mind have been opened. Many of the principles that I tried to live by prior to discovering Objectivism were suddenly clarified for me. From as far back as I can remember, I was always questioning the accepted rules and trying to understand things in my own way. My newly discovered belief in this philosophy has pointed me in the right direction and helped me to understand that my happiness is the ultimate goal and not something I need to feel guilty about.

In addition, I would like some advice as someone new to Objectivism. I always find myself in discussion with so called "liberals" and "conservatives" and I find that people are never open to discussion on things they feel passionate about. My question is what is the best way of approaching an argument/discussion on a topic with somebody who is not willing to accept facts and have a rational discourse.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In addition, I would like some advice as someone new to Objectivism. I always find myself in discussion with so called "liberals" and "conservatives" and I find that people are never open to discussion on things they feel passionate about. My question is what is the best way of approaching an argument/discussion on a topic with somebody who is not willing to accept facts and have a rational discourse.

This problem is not solvable and is the ultimate root of war and other conflicts. The best you can hope for is to find some area of expertise the irrational person has where they are rational, and try to expand it.

edit: For example, this was the method used on Hank Rearden to get him to apply the standards he applied in his work to his personal life.

Edited by Grames
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh hey, +1 point for you. Lots of experience has shown that it seems to be relatively much less common for anybody to come to accept Objectivism after they've reached 30. Always nice to hear some positive bucking of the trend like this, it's encouraging.

As for debate with people on something they are unwilling to question at all no matter how much reason and evidence you have, I'd say don't bother. It's probably just wasting time that could be better spent on other things. If they aren't open to reconsider something, you may as well be trying to debate with a brick wall. It's useless and you don't stand to gain anything by trying to treat them like they still are a perfectly reasonable opponent on this issue who just wants to come to the right answers for their benefit just like you. So unless you've really got something riding on this, you may as well move on. If the person is somebody you associate with a lot - friend or relative maybe for example - perhaps as you get close to them over time you can build up some trust and reputation with them that will make them eventually a little more willing to consider what you've got to say, but if not, just try to avoid that subject with them, take the good and don't get caught up in the bad. If you really can't avoid the bad part, you'll just have to assess if the benefits gained from this association outweigh the detriments enough to continue dealing with them how much, if at all. If it's something like a politician though, in that case you aren't close anyway, so you may just have to try and hope showing them their political career may be on the line and hope either they respond to the threat or else that you can get rid of them and replace them with somebody better ASAP.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My question is what is the best way of approaching an argument/discussion on a topic with somebody who is not willing to accept facts and have a rational discourse.

Stop talking and walk away.

If they are unwilling to accept facts and have a rational discourse, you have no ability to force them to do otherwise - nor do you have the right.

Exert effort with people who *are* willing to have a rational discourse and who, upon presented with facts that challenge their premises, will evaluate them honestly.

You've read Howard Roark - recall how he considered Toohey?

"I don't."

Oh - and welcome to the forum! <_<

Edited by Greebo
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for all of the advice! It would be hard to walk away from these discussions as the "people" I was referring to are actually my parents. They both identify as being "conservatives" and claim that they are proponents of individualism, but in reality, they are not. I guess the best thing I could do it avoid these types of discussions with them as it always seems to end with them being frustrated and arguing from emotion. I find discussion with the "liberals" I know even more of a dead end, but I will leave it at that. Thanks you for the advice/suggestions.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for all of the advice! It would be hard to walk away from these discussions as the "people" I was referring to are actually my parents.
The best thing you can get from such discussions is insight into what aspects you are unable to explain clearly enough and fundamentally enough. Parents are special though. I think Rand's advice about not trying to convert one's parent's is spot on for many parent-child relationships, even where the child is 40.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The best thing you can get from such discussions is insight into what aspects you are unable to explain clearly enough and fundamentally enough. Parents are special though. I think Rand's advice about not trying to convert one's parent's is spot on for many parent-child relationships, even where the child is 40.

It isn't so much that I would like to convert my parents. It is more that I would love to be able to have a rational discussion. Whenever we discuss a topic where we are not in agreement, they become emotional and enraged and the conversation hits a wall usually leaving everyone in a bad place.

I guess I could follow advice from "The Virtue of Selfishness" and just calmly say "I don't agree" and leave it at that. That way I will stay true to myself while not causing strain on my relationship with my parents.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The best you can hope for is to find some area of expertise the irrational person has where they are rational, and try to expand it.

I like this suggestion. Another example of it exists in the realm of agriculture. There are a lot of crunchy environmentalists who think human societies require a massive amount of regulation, but at the same time think that people should eat only "organic" or "natural" foods. You could approach them by explaining that a lot of regulation actually prohibits some farmers from operating "sustainably". No on-site slaughterhouses, for instance. Under laissez-faire they could operate their farm however they like.

-The terms inside of scare quotes because I've never been able to pin down exactly what these crunch environmentalists mean. But if you are a little familiar with that culture you should understand what I mean.

Edited by FeatherFall
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It isn't so much that I would like to convert my parents. It is more that I would love to be able to have a rational discussion. Whenever we discuss a topic where we are not in agreement, they become emotional and enraged and the conversation hits a wall usually leaving everyone in a bad place.

"Mom, Dad, we don't agree on this topic, and every time we discuss it, we get upset. I don't want that, and frankly, we don't HAVE to agree on it, so I'm not going to discuss it again. What do you want for Christmas?"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Are you lured into arguments with your parents because they sometimes seem open to the exchange? It may or may not be possible to convince them, but if it is, they will need to know that they are getting something better in the exchange. If giving up a belief would feel like a sacrifice they will resist. Notice assumptions and fears that your parents aren't expressing verbally; the root of the emotion. A man defends his beliefs because he is afraid of the chaos and immorality of a world without them.

Speaking to each of them separately may also be more productive.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...