Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Is Dr House an objectivist?

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

Hello, everyone,

It strucks me that Hugh Laurie as the main character in the popular tv series Dr House has much of an objectivist personality at several regards. I got to be a fan of this series, indeed, and each time I watch it I think of Dr House as a personage who shares much in common with characters such as John Galt and Hank Rearden.

Sound preposterous?

I am curious to see what your opinion is about it.

Edited by RichardP
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It strucks me that Hugh Laurie as the main character in the popular tv series Dr House has much of an objectivist personality at several regards. I got to be a fan of this series, indeed, and each time I watch it I think of Dr House as a personage who shares much in common with characters such as John Galt and Hank Rearden.

I'm a fan of the series (particularly the first season, which was spectacular), and I have a lot of personality traits in common with House, but he's not an Objectivist. He's seriously emotionally damaged, and suffers from a nasty mind-body split in the form of the reason vs. emotion dichotomy. It's very refreshing to see a TV character explicitly espouse the virtue of rationality, but the character is undercut by the package-dealing of rationality with callousness and emotional immaturity.

Gena Gorlin wrote an article "Mr. Jekyll and Dr. House: The Reason-Emotion Split as Manifested in House, M.D." for the Objective Standard, although the full article isn't available for free.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

House is a Straw Vulcan: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/StrawVulcan

He may be likable to us, and is probably meant to be a generally likable and fun Straw Vulcan, but at the end of the show the writer intends the viewer to say, "Well it all works well for House because he knows everything, but in the real world we have to make due with trusting our intuition/emotions over being constantly logical."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

House uses people and discards them at need. That's contrary to Objectivism, since he obviously doens't mind collecting sacrifices.

If any one character in that series is close to Objectivism, it's Dr. Lisa Cuddy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

All comments so far are true, IMO. However, the current series finale suggests an even more Objectivist-like House to come! That is, his efforts to change for the better have shown to pay off. We'll see what they do with that in the coming season, though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank to all you for your interest in the subject I brought upon. I find your opinions pretty interesting.

Ben Archer, you raised a point I was thinking about, when you said “I always like Dr House, but of course they had to bring him down with a drug addiction and a misanthropic personality.”

…and a cane, just in case it wouldn’t be enough. :rolleyes:

As a matter of fact, this drug addiction and the cane have been added on purpose, doubtless. How Dr House could enjoy such popularity as a flawless man?

But what I find pretty interesting about this last point is that these flaws overcome a popular dislike for gifted, talented, superior, personages, even in leftist France where Dr House is ranked, not only as the top rated tv series, but as the most successful tv program far beyond anything else. In true life in a country such as France, a Dr House would be kicked off anywhere he would go for a job - as for anything else. But as a fictional character, he literally mesmerizes the masses… On this basis, let me hazard the guess that in this country, Hank Rearden the tortured mind would enjoy more popularity and sympathy than John Galt.

Now beyond the peculiarities of the character Dr House, if you take a careful look at the series you’ll notice that the scenario and dialogues never spare anything to the leftist discourse. As examples, I have a vivid recollection of an episode in which a patient is a tree-hugger activist who is unambiguously taken as a gentle naïve all along, which is rather uncommon in a time when ecology is a touchy matter. In another episode, Dr House resolves to give preference to performance and competence over his fancy for a pretty female doctor, and he fires her, contrary to everyone's expectation. I took this couple of examples among many others.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It seems every character that's supposed to be rational in every show, has some serious psychological/social issues, and is overall a "damaged" person. It's pretty telling about how these writers themselves see the world, in my opinion. In House, the choices are presented as House or Wilson. Either you're consistantly rational, but psychologically damaged (House), or you are a pushover with no self-esteem, whos main goal in life is to please/appease everyone without any firm personal values of his own (Wilson). In other words, either you are consistant and face reality->pain, suffering and loneliness, or you hold no firm convictions, base your behavior on other peoples values - > happiness.

Another show with a "rational" character, is 'Bones', where dr. Brennan is portrayed as the über-rational icequeen vs. the man of faith, agent Booth. Again, dr. Brennan has some serious psychological issues(even though not to the degree as House), and she is completely void of any personal values. I'd say dr. Brennan is a much more likeable character than House, as she doesn't seem to be the evader that House is, but otherwise she is just another example of a "rational" character, who is akward socially, can't relate to people, and feels that values, morals and principles are for the dumb, and she is above those petty "human" concerns.

As a side remark, I can't bare to watch House, as I get so tired of the doctors constantly making life-changing decisions in their lives based on what type of patient they happen to have that week. It's like they flip-flop from week to week, and make important decisions based on rationalizations about their patients. I have nothing against shows that combine personal drama with some specific professional endeavor, but the way House does it, is beyond ridiculous.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Another show with a "rational" character, is 'Bones', where dr. Brennan is portrayed as the über-rational icequeen vs. the man of faith, agent Booth. Again, dr. Brennan has some serious psychological issues(even though not to the degree as House), and she is completely void of any personal values. I'd say dr. Brennan is a much more likeable character than House, as she doesn't seem to be the evader that House is, but otherwise she is just another example of a "rational" character, who is akward socially, can't relate to people, and feels that values, morals and principles are for the dumb, and she is above those petty "human" concerns.

Just as an aside, Dr. Brennan values her work and getting the bad guy, as well as human life, tremendously. She has relatively few issue beyond her social awkwardness, and she's gotten better on that front.

As for House, he isn't Objectivist, but he is tremendously enjoyable to watch.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just as an aside, Dr. Brennan values her work and getting the bad guy, as well as human life, tremendously. She has relatively few issue beyond her social awkwardness, and she's gotten better on that front.

True, but she has that annoying "I'm above petty 'human' concerns"-vibe that so many rational characters in various movies/shows tend to have. I mean, stuff like "Love is just a chemical reaction", and the way she is able to analyze every social situation/culture without feeling like she is part of any of them. The stuff like "A lot of people behave....." and "Throughout history, a lot of cultures have valued....." etc.

Still, I like her as a character, and I love when she points out the irrationalities in what Booth says. I can't remember the exact quote, but when Booth was once again talking about his gut telling him something, Bones said something like: "You mean your digestive system actually speaks to you".

However, House has a few nice one-liners as well. My favourite: to a patient: "If you don't think your life is worth more than someone else's, sign your donor card and kill yourself"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

True, but she has that annoying "I'm above petty 'human' concerns"-vibe that so many rational characters in various movies/shows tend to have. I mean, stuff like "Love is just a chemical reaction", and the way she is able to analyze every social situation/culture without feeling like she is part of any of them. The stuff like "A lot of people behave....." and "Throughout history, a lot of cultures have valued....." etc.

Still, I like her as a character, and I love when she points out the irrationalities in what Booth says. I can't remember the exact quote, but when Booth was once again talking about his gut telling him something, Bones said something like: "You mean your digestive system actually speaks to you".

However, House has a few nice one-liners as well. My favourite: to a patient: "If you don't think your life is worth more than someone else's, sign your donor card and kill yourself"

Yes, you guys have neatly summed it up, not just House, but that stereotype of the "rational" character we get from screenwriters.

They play on that old cliche of 'if you can think, you can't feel'. Mind/body dichotomy, and all that. It would be great to see it done differently, to portray a fully integrated rational character.

As it is, in all these characters, it's fascinating that actually they are LOGICAL, but not rational.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, you guys have neatly summed it up, not just House, but that stereotype of the "rational" character we get from screenwriters.

They play on that old cliche of 'if you can think, you can't feel'. Mind/body dichotomy, and all that. It would be great to see it done differently, to portray a fully integrated rational character.

Like John Galt? :dough: still looking forward to the movie...

As it is, in all these characters, it's fascinating that actually they are LOGICAL, but not rational.

I think they are both. Can you explain why you think House and Bones are not rational?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Like John Galt? :) still looking forward to the movie...

I think they are both. Can you explain why you think House and Bones are not rational?

Good question. It merits a separate thread, which I'll start.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think they are both. Can you explain why you think House and Bones are not rational?

All I really need to do is quote my earlier post:

HOUSE:

*House is a Drug addict. Irrational Hedonism.

*House suffers from a complete and absolute Emotion/Reason dichotomy, being able to use applied reason and logic -at times- in his work, but his life is a morass of emotionality and chaos that he cannot approach rationally.

*He is a Pragmatist: House lacks a moral structure and he is incapable of grasping moral principle (but he seems to be able to understand scientific principle-- again, the dichotomy)- he is a frequent exponent of "The ends justify the means"-- he deceives, he breaks into patients' houses without their consent... In short, the man could not be more of an Un-Objectivist mess if you tried.

BRENNAN:

*While not nearly as dysfunctional as House, Brennan also suffers the Emotion/Reason dichotomy, as she is incapable of functioning within a normal social context. Her interactions are stilted and most of the time she misses the point. Because of her history I don't think she has any impeding dysfunction such as Alzheimer's, so we're reasonably safe in saying that Dr. Brennan's inability to function socially comes from her inability to incorporate her logical reasoning with her emotional responses--- creating an irrational context since the only rational functioning a human can have is to be a fully-integrated being. Brennan ignores her emotional side, which causes it to conflict with her logical side.

Brennan is significantly less of a mess than House, but she still suffers from the Straw Vulcan trope.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

HOUSE:

*House is a Drug addict. Irrational Hedonism.

*House suffers from a complete and absolute Emotion/Reason dichotomy, being able to use applied reason and logic -at times- in his work, but his life is a morass of emotionality and chaos that he cannot approach rationally.

*He is a Pragmatist: House lacks a moral structure and he is incapable of grasping moral principle (but he seems to be able to understand scientific principle-- again, the dichotomy)- he is a frequent exponent of "The ends justify the means"-- he deceives, he breaks into patients' houses without their consent... In short, the man could not be more of an Un-Objectivist mess if you tried.

*He's not an irrational hedonist, he is in pain, thus takes pain drugs in order to rationally function. That's the opposite.

*His life isn't a morass of emotionality and chaos, he's just surrounded by emotional morons. So he keeps to himself because he's specifically *not* an emotional moron / whim-worshiper.

*His ends do justify his means. Breaking into someone's house to save their life in the sorts of medical emergencies he faces is perfectly justifiable in Objectivism, where the standard of value is *life*

your analysis is full of fail.

The fact that his standard of value is LIFE, in such a ruthlessly rational way, such that he can actually cope with the reality of medical emergencies that threaten life, and in the face of the emotional idiocy and whim worship he is surrounded with, I think demonstrates that he is in fact extremely close to objectivist philosophy (at least relative to most of everything else out there).

granted, the later seasons destroy his character and the show.

Edited by TeaPartier
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good god... the idiocy that gets into these forums...

Feeling so strongly as to be rude and insulting over someones off handed opinion of a fictional TV character is one example, I guess.

And to propose that Dr. House breaking into patients houses is a demonstration of holding "life" as the standard of value in the Objectivist sense shows a complete lack of understanding of Rands ethical theory.

j..

Edited by JayR
Link to comment
Share on other sites

*He's not an irrational hedonist, he is in pain, thus takes pain drugs in order to rationally function. That's the opposite.

Sorry. He refuses to admit that he has an addiction . Remember "I do not have a pain management problem, I have a pain problem?" And then, when he FINALLY he concedes that he has an addiction, he ends up saying that it is not a problem because it does not interfere with his work or life. I fail to see the rational in this.

*His life isn't a morass of emotionality and chaos.

"The title diagnostician of the show would be as smart a physician as Dr. Kildare and as sharp a sleuth as Gil Grissom of CSI, it was important to us that he be damaged, both emotionally and physically." =- Shore quote on House's creation.

*His ends do justify his means. Breaking into someone's house to save their life in the sorts of medical emergencies he faces is perfectly justifiable in Objectivism, where the standard of value is *life*

For the record, you seriously expect me to respect someone who uses "full of fail?" in a response after being a rude little twerp? I am obviously dealing with a mental midget here. Not surprisingly, a Tea Partier.

What brand of Bleach have you been consuming? That House violated the property rights of an individual is inexcusable because he is bound by his position as a doctor not to betray the trust of his patient. Do yourself a favor and read "The Ethics of Emergencies" and Tara Smith's "Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics." While the patients' conditions may have been a medical emergency, it was not ametaphysical emergency. If you knew anything worth your salt you would know there is a marked difference, and that a personal emergency does not equate to a metaphysical emergency. In fact, Smith goes to a great deal of length to point out that should you do something that injures someone else or their property in the course of securing an end to your personal emergency, that it is the Objectivist-responsible thing to do to take the correct measures to atone and pay back for the infringements you have caused directly or legally. So, in order for House to be consistent, he should have spent either an allotted time in prison or paid a fine for breaking and entering, which of course he di---- no, wait, he didn't. Someone has failed here, but it isn't me.

Maybe if you spent more time reading and less time watching trashy TV shows, you wouldn't have needed me to point these things out to you.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry. He refuses to admit that he has an addiction . Remember "I do not have a pain management problem, I have a pain problem?" And then, when he FINALLY he concedes that he has an addiction, he ends up saying that it is not a problem because it does not interfere with his work or life. I fail to see the rational in this.

"The title diagnostician of the show would be as smart a physician as Dr. Kildare and as sharp a sleuth as Gil Grissom of CSI, it was important to us that he be damaged, both emotionally and physically." =- Shore quote on House's creation.

For the record, you seriously expect me to respect someone who uses "full of fail?" in a response after being a rude little twerp? I am obviously dealing with a mental midget here. Not surprisingly, a Tea Partier.

What brand of Bleach have you been consuming? That House violated the property rights of an individual is inexcusable because he is bound by his position as a doctor not to betray the trust of his patient. Do yourself a favor and read "The Ethics of Emergencies" and Tara Smith's "Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics." While the patients' conditions may have been a medical emergency, it was not ametaphysical emergency. If you knew anything worth your salt you would know there is a marked difference, and that a personal emergency does not equate to a metaphysical emergency. In fact, Smith goes to a great deal of length to point out that should you do something that injures someone else or their property in the course of securing an end to your personal emergency, that it is the Objectivist-responsible thing to do to take the correct measures to atone and pay back for the infringements you have caused directly or legally. So, in order for House to be consistent, he should have spent either an allotted time in prison or paid a fine for breaking and entering, which of course he di---- no, wait, he didn't. Someone has failed here, but it isn't me.

Maybe if you spent more time reading and less time watching trashy TV shows, you wouldn't have needed me to point these things out to you.

awful response. suffice to say I wouldn't want you in charge of my doctor.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On the contrary, TeaPartier, feel free to hang around and express yourself, as is your right under the first amendment. Expect derision from those who feel they are intellectually superior, but don't allow that to discourage you. kainscalia does not run this board.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Since we've hit the point of verbally abusing each other over psychological conjecture about the state of mind of a fictional character I hope no one will mind if I toss this into the mix:

http://movies.yahoo.com/feature/buzz-log-d...-diagnosis.html

Yes, it is true.

Psychiatrists in France have diagnosed Darth Vader with borderline personality disorder.

And I suspect that the Care Bears have anxious attachment issues.

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...