Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Do you think any amount of status/prestige seeking is wrong?

Rate this topic


James Bond
 Share

Recommended Posts

I've found myself thinking a lot about status lately. I have a cousin who teaches at Harvard, and has offered to set me up an interview for admission. I don't have any real desire or need to go back to school..but this offer has me thinking. I'd love the prestige of being a Harvard educated professor..how much second handedness do you think is appropriate, if any?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'd love the prestige of being a Harvard educated professor..how much second handedness do you think is appropriate, if any?
None at all.

But, given your apparent goal, this is a bizarre question to ask. If you were planning on pulling the wool over some familial eyes or the eyes of future employers at Blatz Beer, this might be effective. At the level of being an academician, the only kind of place that I could imagine being impressed by the Harvard (or Yale or, eek, Princeton) sheepskin would be Upper Miles City College. Harvard is, in fact, distinctly good in some areas, and not in certain others. So it would depend on your area. We all know where places like Harvard and Yale stand in our areas. So how good are they, really, in your area?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

An achievement which metaphysically increases the prestige you deserve is something to seek. Seeking prestige _as an achievement_ requires the participation of others. Calling the latter desirable is a little contrived as pursuing such an achievement might lead you to do other things that are against your judgment.

I'd give myself a few weeks of thought to make sure I don't make any stupid choices.

Edited by Q.E.D.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've found myself thinking a lot about status lately. I have a cousin who teaches at Harvard, and has offered to set me up an interview for admission. I don't have any real desire or need to go back to school..but this offer has me thinking. I'd love the prestige of being a Harvard educated professor..how much second handedness do you think is appropriate, if any?

If, when you think forward to finishing your degree at Harvard, you anticipate being proud of what you've accomplished in graduating, it might be worth it. If you just want the label so that other people will think of you more highly, I don't think it'll bring you any sort of lasting happiness or pride. You should strive to center your self-esteem on your own opinion of yourself, it is by far the most stable and truest foundation possible.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

An achievement which metaphysically increases the prestige you deserve is something to seek. Seeking prestige _as an achievement_ requires the participation of others. Calling the latter desirable is a little contrived as pursuing such an achievement might lead you to do other things that are against your judgment.

I think it is awkward to resort to the word 'metaphysical' when you mean 'factual'. Especially since all of the facts being speculated about in the context of this discussion are man-made facts as opposed to metaphysical facts.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it is awkward to resort to the word 'metaphysical' when you mean 'factual'. Especially since all of the facts being speculated about in the context of this discussion are man-made facts as opposed to metaphysical facts.

Unless we all had little "prestige meters" that we wear on our sleeves.

j..

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm curious why you would let others decide something as monumentally important as getting a Harvard degree.
If you read his post, you will see that the issue is really the problem of second-handedness. The question was not about whether he should accomplish something, it was about whether hanging out with the famous is in and of itself a good thing.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Is it really an issue of second-handedness (well, yes, asking a question like this on a forum is.) But getting a Harvard degree certainly isn't. Pure and simple, a degree from Harvard (assuming it offers the courses one wants) will get a person more opportunities than a degree from Iowa State. Better opportunities and taking advantage of them can't possible be considered a bad thing. It means grasping at what life has to offer!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

But getting a Harvard degree certainly isn't. Pure and simple, a degree from Harvard (assuming it offers the courses one wants) will get a person more opportunities than a degree from Iowa State.
That is in part because of the "pull" of Harvard. You can evaluate an educational institution in terms of the quality of the education coming from the university, or in terms of the magical influence associated with the university's name. If he were seeking an undergraduate degree where potential employers are more interested with "prestige", then the factor of influence would be more considerable. However, if you look at the OP, you will notice the expression "being a Harvard educated professor", meaning "becoming an academician". The magic factor associated with Ivy League degrees is largely neutralized, in favor of area-specific reputations that actually pertain to the particular area. Given the purpose, influence is a lousy consideration.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for you thoughts, peoples.

Prestige as a tool is fine. Prestige as an end in itself is not.

I suppose it does come down to what the concept of "prestige" really is. If it means just eliciting emotions in others..then it's second handedness defined. If it denotes a designated respect, then it's another creature entirely.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I suppose it does come down to what the concept of "prestige" really is. If it means just eliciting emotions in others..then it's second handedness defined. If it denotes a designated respect, then it's another creature entirely.
"Prestige" properly refers to a high level of respect that you earn from your accomplishments or abilities. However, as with so many abstract concepts, it is often conflated with the emotions or non-causal correlates associated with prestige. Like "pride" in high school.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

You should attend Harvard for what you can learn there, and not for the favors it will get you from others. That places your life in a secondary position to the values of others. What did Howard Roark do when he was told that accepting a commission from the Manhattan Bank company would make him famous, on the condition that he compromise his values? He said of course...not.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You should attend Harvard for what you can learn there, and not for the favors it will get you from others. That places your life in a secondary position to the values of others. What did Howard Roark do when he was told that accepting a commission from the Manhattan Bank company would make him famous, on the condition that he compromise his values? He said of course...not.

I generally agree with this. In addition, the first question regarding "status", "prestige", or recognition, acknowledgement, etc., should be - "By whom?"

It must be individualized I believe.

Do I seek recognition by particular individuals whose opinions, work and values I respect, and admire? Damn right I do.

Or do I seek the cachet of general status in the view of a large number of unknown 'people', and 'society'? If so, I am veering towards second handedness.

The measurement is a personal one, only identified by each individual checking his or her premises constantly, and introspection.

Edited by whYNOT
Link to comment
Share on other sites

You should attend Harvard for what you can learn there, and not for the favors it will get you from others. That places your life in a secondary position to the values of others. What did Howard Roark do when he was told that accepting a commission from the Manhattan Bank company would make him famous, on the condition that he compromise his values? He said of course...not.

Yes, but Roark exists in a novel (one which I happen like a lot), which means that his course of events are orchestrated. In real life, Roark's unwillingness to work just for money so he could then finance his real products might have prevented him from ever getting his break. That'd be a bummer.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, but Roark exists in a novel (one which I happen like a lot), which means that his course of events are orchestrated. In real life, Roark's unwillingness to work just for money so he could then finance his real products might have prevented him from ever getting his break. That'd be a bummer.

I think you really missed the point of the novel. If Roark sold himself for money, he would attract the clients, commissions, and buildings that he never wanted all along. His "big break" would never give him success or happiness, just money making God-awful buildings.

Howard Roark had foresight and wanted to attract only people who were aligned with his vision.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

I've found myself thinking a lot about status lately. I have a cousin who teaches at Harvard, and has offered to set me up an interview for admission. I don't have any real desire or need to go back to school..but this offer has me thinking. I'd love the prestige of being a Harvard educated professor..how much second handedness do you think is appropriate, if any?

No second-handedness is appropriate. Now, as to the value of a Harvard education, I don't know. One thing I do know is that one of my biggest heroes, Stanley Kubrick, never attended college and he managed to attain status and prestige. But he wasn't seeking it. He just wanted to make the kind of movies that he loved to make and which he thought would enrich his viewers.

The question is: what would YOU think about you being a Harvard-educated professor? Prestige aside, what would you get it out it? How would it fulfill you? What is so great in and of itself about status and prestige that you would make it a criterion of your decision-making? What about doing that which raises your esteem in your own eyes? Is seeking prestige and status amongst others something you want to make part of a personal identity you will be proud of? If so, why?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Is it really an issue of second-handedness (well, yes, asking a question like this on a forum is.) But getting a Harvard degree certainly isn't. Pure and simple, a degree from Harvard (assuming it offers the courses one wants) will get a person more opportunities than a degree from Iowa State. Better opportunities and taking advantage of them can't possible be considered a bad thing. It means grasping at what life has to offer!

Getting better opportunities and seeking status and prestige as values in themselves are not the same thing.

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...