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Objectivism and Psychology

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So, I've read Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, Anthem and many of Rand's essays. I'm not exactly a stranger to Objectivism at this point. But there are a few things that surprise me that I'm seeing. It is very possible that I'm just misunderstanding though, so I have come here with my questions.

I find that I agree with most of her ethics, her epistomology, her metaphysics and her economics. My main issue is with her psychology.

1. She appears to show a preference as to what sort of roles men and women should play in society. She is even quoted as saying (not verbatim) that women shouldn't be president, because it is not in the best interest of a woman's mental health to be in command of a military. She puts men and women on two completely different playing fields when it comes to sex: that a man must search for someone who fulfills him, and proving himself, while the woman is given the opportunity to choose who fulfills her, and give in to his desires (the romantic surrender she called it, I think). This is meant to be a mutual physical and intellectual connection between the man and the woman, but the grounds for which they both start seem strangely unequal. Why can't it be the other way around? Why is it that the man must pursue the woman and not she pursue him? Why is she given the treasure to surrender unto the male? Why doesn't he have such choice? She almost assumes that men want sex all the time, and women govern the bedroom in a healthy relationship.

2. There is a complete and utter lack of children in her writing. She never allows them any appearance in her books, nor does she make even the slightest mention of them in her essays. This concerns me, if Objectivism is to be a philosophy on which we should truly live our entire lives by. How would an Objectivist look upon the task of child-raising? And furthermore, what would be an Objectivist opinion on how best to EDUCATE children? Public education? Private? Homeschool? I am at a loss as how to address this.

If anyone could shed some light on either of these issues, I would appreciate it greatly.

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I can try to help!

1. Rand had a lot of issues with the Feminist movement in general because she did not believe there was a NECESSITY to level the playing field for men and women. Where is the philosophical necessity that calls for such a level? Clearly she did not believe in the blanket statement that no women should ever lead people, there can obviously be exceptions. As for sex, there is a lot of information on the Rand Lexicon on what sex is and why people should approach sex objectively rather than based on some whimsical emotional desire.

2. Objectivism is a philosophy based on reason and the fact that nothing should be taken on faith. Think about a child trying to grasp Objectivism's epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, economics, and politics. There is a dire need to understand WHY Objectivist ethics are what they are and it would be incredibly hard for a child to grasp that without the correct understanding of concept formation. Rand did mention children in Atlas Shrugged several times when she discussed the pasts of Dagny, Francisco, Eddie, and Jim. As for raising children, well I am only 18 so I can't tell you how to raise a child Objectively but I would guess it would HAVE to start with identifying concept formation.

Hope I helped somewhat, if not completely.

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Thank you, Maken! I'm only 17 myself, so I can't exactly say I know much about raising a child either. I'm not looking for parenting advice, though. I'm more curious about what her views on how to treat and educate children were. She does discuss the pasts of her characters in Atlas Shrugged, but they seem so overly romanticized and self-taught as to be somewhat unrealistic. It's almost like they were just born with her philosophy instilled in them. Is this her view? Or would an Objectivist argue that there is a certain way you must educate children so that they grow up to be intelligent, intellectual and productive individuals?

Also, thanks for clarifying her views on the Feminist movement. I can definitely understand her ideas there on that from her philosophical perspective. I still get the feeling from her books, though, that men and women have specific roles in society. She certainly viewed them as absolute equals in the business world, but at home she seemed to enjoy making Dangy a maid and a cook, rather than giving her some other sort of menial task to earn her keep. She even writes about Dagny enjoying being a cook and a maid for John Galt, in a very subservient, albeit loving way. Correct me if I'm wrong about this, it's just my perception. I haven't read the Rand Lexicon, either, so I'm curious: how can you approach sex from a completely objective standpoint and still derive some sort of emotional value from it?

Thanks again for your input. And thank you in advance to anyone else who would like to contribute.

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I don't know anything about psychology, and little of Rand's views on it, so I can't really answer the first question (I haven't bothered to read her article about a woman president, just because it sounds like a ridiculous assertion and I haven't cared much about the issue.)(Although I think the reason why the man should be dominant in a sexual relationship is something on the lines of the fact that the man literally has to become aroused in order for sex to even occur in the first place.) But incidentally it must be clarified that there is no “Objectivist psychology” and so Rand's views on psychology aren't a part of her philosophical system. Rather, psychology is a specialized science that studies man's behavior and mental faculties, so Objectivism might have certain implications for a psychologist in terms of the science being rationally approachable, and the nature of man being of certain make-up, leading to certain consequences, etc. But you can find her former associate Nathaniel Branden's writings in some of her non-fiction, notably The Virtue of Selfishness, that discusses various psychological issues, in addition to a number of books he's written. Edit: There is also Dr. Hurd http://www.drhurd.com/

But on your second question, actually Rand portrays children in Atlas Shrugged, particularly in the section where Dagny visits Galt's Gulch for the first time, if I recall correctly. There is a whole little section on raising children. Also Rand and another philosopher Peikoff gives their views on education in The Voice of Reason and also in Return of the Primitive. There's other lectures by other Objectivist philosophers about education and childcare and so forth out there (try the Ayn Rand Bookstore. They have sections on education and parenting.) I think Peikoff has an upcoming book that talks about proper education as well.

Sex vis-a-vis emotions: In brief, there is no clash between reason and emotions in a rational person, so one derives enjoyment out of life-affirming values, including work/career, recreation, music tastes, sex, etc. You derive pleasure out of engaging in behaviors which are objectively good for you, and you need reason to know what is objectively good for you.

Edited by 2046
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Rand definitely believed that Objectivism is more or less a nod to reality. We have to understand reality in order to know how to make choice and we MUST make choices in order to live. Because of the fundamental nature of the universe and the way reality works, the proper philosophical code to uphold is self-evident and must be evaded or neglected to get away from it.

We must later conceptualize it and understand it by an act of volition when we are capable of understanding abstract concepts and this comes through making the CHOICE to recognize it.

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Thank you, Maken! I'm only 17 myself, so I can't exactly say I know much about raising a child either. I'm not looking for parenting advice, though. I'm more curious about what her views on how to treat and educate children were. She does discuss the pasts of her characters in Atlas Shrugged, but they seem so overly romanticized and self-taught as to be somewhat unrealistic. It's almost like they were just born with her philosophy instilled in them. Is this her view? Or would an Objectivist argue that there is a certain way you must educate children so that they grow up to be intelligent, intellectual and productive individuals?

This was definitely not her view of how individuals come to live by a certain philosophy. She thought of philosophy as something which is consciously accepted or rejected by each person, and of character as something that is built by the individual through repeated action. We are all born into a world where mysticism and altruism run rampant, and we get so many mixed messages as children, it is very hard not to accept some incorrect subconscious premises. What is important for the individual is to consciously identify the major aspects of one's own character and subconscious inclinations, and to deal with the reality of those in order to improve oneself. As far as child-rearing goes, raising a child in a rational environment where he is encouraged to take his own well-being seriously is immensely helpful for that child. It is, of course, possible for a child coming from almost any sort of environment to eventually end up as a rational and productive individual, but the parent can certainly make this a lot easier (or harder) on the child. Rand did not discuss parenting very much, but I've found that it is a topic which is fairly widely discussed among Objectivists.

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  • 2 months later...

          [Mod note: Merged with an earlier topic.  - sN ]

 

Guys,

I am keen on knowing Ayn Rand's views on The science of Psychology. I got a few glimpses while reading Journals of Ayn Rand (Page 667 onwards), but want to know if there is a more detailed source anywhere (even if not written by AR).

My purpose is to eventually be able to detect/diagnose a person's following aspects: Source of Motivation, Sense of Life, Philosophy, Values, Virtues, Mental problems (Conflicts, Confusions, etc), etc.

I want to be able to do this as one of my goals is to be a "Problem Solver for Individuals" (I can elaborate more if needed).

Thanks!

Edited by softwareNerd
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From what I've heard, Nathaniel Branden's book The Psychology of Self-esteem was either endorsed by Ayn Rand or written with her help so I think you should look there. I'm not entirely sure about Ayn Rand's relation to that book, but at least It's one of the best psychology books I've read and to my knowledge accords with Objectivism.

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  • 1 year later...

I've also been looking for this kind of information.

James Valliant's The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics has some new insights taken from Rand's as-yet unpublished journals. There's not a lot, but there are a few.

I would also recommend Harry Binswanger's course on Psycho-Epistemology. His Emotions course is probably good, too, but I haven't heard it yet.

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My purpose is to eventually be able to detect/diagnose a person's following aspects: Source of Motivation, Sense of Life, Philosophy, Values, Virtues, Mental problems (Conflicts, Confusions, etc), etc.

Well, if you would like books on Rands views of those:

Philosophy -

Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand by Leonard Peikoff

Virtues and Values -

Ayn Rands Normative Ethics: The Virtuous Egoist by Tara Smith

Loving Life: The Morality of Self-Interest and the Facts that Support It, by Craig Biddle

Viable Values by Tara Smith

Psychology:

See the psychological works written by Nathaniel Branden on self-esteem. He is an expert and pioneer in the self-esteem movement.

See

Dr. Ellen Kenner http://www.drkenner.com/

Dr. Edwin Locke http://www.edwinlocke.com/

Romantic love:

The Selfish Path to Romance: How to Love with Passion and Reason, by Drs. Ellen Kenner and Edwin Locke

Edited by intellectualammo
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