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What did Rand actually say about Homosexuality?

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Zoso
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Before we try and "fix" anything, shouldn't we allow the psychologists and the biologists to determine whether it actually is a mental illness or not? This is not even a proper question for philosophy.

I agee entirely. I'm saying that even if it is a mental illness, what is the point in treating it? If you can live a happy life being gay, why go through intensive therapy and emotional hardship to try to make yourself ungay?

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In general we hold people morally responsible for the actions they choose, but not necessarily for the feelings they have. The fact that you put "seemed" in scare quotes implies that you may be thinking that such a person is consciously fooling himself. If that were the case, if indeed a person chose to evade the relevant facts in order to rationalize away his behavior, then yes, that would be a breach of morality. But, I would ask you to consider that simply because people may do something that you do not like, that in itself does not indicate any evasion on their part. Especially when it comes to the context you first raised, which had to do with human sexuality. I do not think that the evidence is conclusive for homosexuality as either choice or as biological, and in my view it would be obscene and outright malevolent to expect a homsexual to refrain from acting in furtherance of his sexuality.

I see what you are saying and I agree. Perhaps Ayn Rand perceived it as a mental illness and this is the reason she made those statements calling

it "immoral"?

Until 1973 it was classified as a mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association.

If mental illness were really an illness in the same sense that physical illnesses are illnesses, the idea of deleting homosexuality or anything else from the categories of illness by having a vote would be as absurd as a group of physicians voting to delete cancer or measles from the concept of disease.

But mental illness isn't "an illness like any other illness." Unlike physical disease where there are physical facts to deal with, mental "illness" is entirely a question of values, of right and wrong, of appropriate versus inappropriate. At one time homosexuality seemed so weird and hard to understand it was necessary to invoke the concept of mental disease or mental illness to explain it.

After homosexuals made a big enough spectacle of themselves and showed their "strength in numbers" and successfully demanded at least a small measure of social acceptance, it was no longer necessary and no longer seemed appropriate to explain homosexuality as a disease

Keith

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Have you read this earlier post in which I provided relevant information about this?

Thanks for pointing that out. I think you and I generally have the same belief about this subject. Do you agree with the other posters statement that if homosexuality IS proven to be a form of mental illness it would not be neccesary to try and correct it?

Keith

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The quote you use is not correct, but only in that Miss Rand did not say "disgusting and immoral" together. She did, however, say those words individually in regard to homosexuality. The words were from a Ford Hall Forum question and answer in November 1971, and I presented the quote for discussion on HBL several years ago. Here are the actual words.

Question (as repeated by the Ford Hall Forum moderator):

  "This question says she read somewhere that you

    consider all forms of homosexuality immoral. If this is

    so, why?"

Ayn Rand's answer:

  "Because it involves psychological flaws, corruptions,

    errors, or unfortunate premises, but there is a

    psychological immorality at the root of homosexuality.

    Therefore I regard it as immoral. But I do not believe

    that the government has the right to prohibit it.  It

    is the privilege of any individual to use his sex life

    in whichever way he wants it. That's his legal right,

    provided he is not forcing it on anyone.  And therefore

    the idea that it's proper among consenting adults is

    the proper formulation legally. Morally it is immoral,

    and more than that, if you want my really sincere

    opinion, it is disgusting."

The first thing to keep in mind is that this is a judgment about psychology, not philosophy, and therefore is not a proper part of Objectivist philosophy. The second important point is that these remarks were made during a question and answer period, and we should never hold extemperaneous remarks to the same standard as written comments.

Harry Binswanger noted that  almost a decade later he asked Miss Rand about this issue, and he had her Ford Hall Forum remarks in mind. In essence, Dr. Binswanger indicated that then Miss Rand was not prepared to say that all homosexuality was immoral, because of psychological complexities in development. Whether she changed her mind about the issue since the Ford Hall Forum  Q & A, or whether she misspoke at that time, is not known. Unfortunately there is very little in written form on the subject.

Do you have any idea what "psychological immorality" Miss Rand is refering to here? The text does not provide an explaination.

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Do you have any idea what "psychological immorality" Miss Rand is refering to here? The text does not provide an explaination.

All I can do is speculate on Ayn Rand's intended meaning, which I am not inclined to do here. But, anyway, keep in mind that these remarks by Ayn Rand were made extemporaneously and should not be held to the same standard as are her written words.

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Today I changed the title from "Homosexuality" to a longer title to reflect much of the content: What were Ayn Rand's views as reflected in what she said? This title and some of the content of this topic distinguish it from other, similar threads in this never-ending debate.

To post on the general subject, do a search for the enormously long topic, "Homosexuality vs. Heterosexuality," in the Ethics Forum, at least today.

"Basic Questions" Moderator

Edited by BurgessLau
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  • 3 years later...
Homosexuality, from a strictly biological standpoint, could be considered anti-life in the sense that if everyone was homosexual, nobody would be here. Also, it may be disgusting from a health or hygenical point of view. Some, or even many, homosexuals engage in what can be objectively called inherently disgusting behavior. But I don't want this to get into a graphic debate.

PS : from the above you may get the idea that i thik that if she used the word immoral to describe homosexuality, she misapplied objectivism. I am not willing to say that. I havent studied the nature of homosexuality at all, and for all I know, it may be the end result of a process of evasion- which would make it immoral. Ayn Rand had a context when she was speaking, and I suspect that whomever quoted her may have dropped that context, so it would be helpful if you knew where you read the quote in question.

1- from a strictly biological standpoint, procreation does not need love. there are ways to have children which do not require sex. your assumption is incorrect in that you automatically assume that gay people will not mutual assist each other in the task of procreation. and your assumption is incorrect.

2- what are you referring to when you "objectively...inherently disgusting behavior"????

3- If you wiki "ayn rand and homosexuality" you will see where this quote comes from. also, in "the ayn rand lexicon: objectivism from a to z" you will see the same sentiments. further, as an apparent objectivist, you could take a look at nathaniel branden's comments on homosexuality, and what he views as rand's irrational arbitrary distaste for the gay lifestyle.

4- "I havent studied the nature of homosexuality at all, and for all I know, it may be the end result of a process of evasion". Unless you're gay, you have no idea what it is like to be gay. Don't presume.

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1- from a strictly biological standpoint, procreation does not need love. there are ways to have children which do not require sex. your assumption is incorrect in that you automatically assume that gay people will not mutual assist each other in the task of procreation. and your assumption is incorrect.

2- what are you referring to when you "objectively...inherently disgusting behavior"????

3- If you wiki "ayn rand and homosexuality" you will see where this quote comes from. also, in "the ayn rand lexicon: objectivism from a to z" you will see the same sentiments. further, as an apparent objectivist, you could take a look at nathaniel branden's comments on homosexuality, and what he views as rand's irrational arbitrary distaste for the gay lifestyle.

4- "I havent studied the nature of homosexuality at all, and for all I know, it may be the end result of a process of evasion". Unless you're gay, you have no idea what it is like to be gay. Don't presume.

Umm....did you notice that this post is almost four years old, and the guy hasn't posted here in a longgg time?

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Homosexuality, from a strictly biological standpoint, could be considered anti-life in the sense that if everyone was homosexual, nobody would be here.

And if that is the only argument, then I think Rand would reject it as an application of Kant's categorical imperative.

Also, it may be disgusting from a health or hygenical point of view. Some, or even many, homosexuals engage in what can be objectively called inherently disgusting behavior.

So then there are a priori truths, as well? I think Rand would also reject that. If that is not what you meant, please clarify.

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The first thing to keep in mind is that this is a judgment about psychology, not philosophy

Not true. She is saying that it is immoral (philosophy) and she gives as reasons the mind-set of the homosexual (psychology). This is entirely within the realm of philosophy.

The second important point is that these remarks were made during a question and answer period, and we should never hold extemperaneous remarks to the same standard as written comments.

That is only the case if the comments lack context or are unclear. Her statements are very clear. She says they are immoral multiple times, and uses the mind-set and premises of homosexuals as evidence of immorality. Which premises she is referring to - who knows...

Edited by brian0918
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The issue being: is sexual orientation chosen, and how, and to what degree?

I think that is a red herring (or is it a strawman?). Every rational being always makes a choice, regardless of whether something is genetic or not, and especially in the context of a lifestyle where you are continually and actively interacting with others. A gay person still has to choose to perform homosexual acts, just as a straight person has to choose to perform each and every one of their heterosexual acts.

That brings up another point. If it is genetic, and someone is "born gay" but chooses to be straight, are they contradicting their "true self"? If someone instead is "born straight" but chooses to be gay, is the same true? If someone is born either way, and chooses to be bisexual - what of them?

What determines your "true self" if not your personal will and choice? Your genes? Or some vague argument about hero worship coupled with assumptions about which sex is permitted (by whom?) to be a hero or a hero worshipper, based on some false connection with pistons and cylinders, or a convenient ignorance of the critical role of ovulation in reproduction, or an equally convenient ignorance of the will of the woman in intercourse? (you people know who you are! :huh: )

Note: despite what you might conclude from my wording here, I remain unconvinced that homosexuality is immoral. But I also believe that presenting it as a "choice / no choice" scenario is incorrect.

Edited by brian0918
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All I am saying is that in Ayn Rand's context, and not a single one of us can know what that was, she was probably striving to convey valid reasons for her feelings about the subject. I am sure it was NOT just a blank-out into a unjustified bigotry on her part. What I really question is the motives of those who NEED to know Ayn Rand's opinion on every detail of life. And then they cry out " she didn't like my type of music. she's intolerant" or " She doesn't like Thomas Wolfe. How could she hurt my feelings like that??" or "She wouldn't want a woman president. How can SHE say such a thing??" or " Why did she like Charlies Angels?? Gee, I thout it was unrealistic and sexist!" Do you see what all of these complainers have in common????

THEY WANT A RELIGION OUT OF HER. NOT PHILOSOPHY.

I get that feeling as well, but I am not willing to simply accept everything she says on trust - that's an appeal to authority.

If people are continually asking "What did Rand think about X?", then either Rand was not acting entirely rational in her most fundamental arguments, she was not clear enough in her statements, or people have not understood her at the most fundamental level. If reason really works properly, and Rand argued entirely within reason, it should be possible for another person to come along, read up on Rand's fundamental principles of philosophy and ethics, and reason their way to every one of her conclusions, without knowing those conclusions in advance.

Edited by brian0918
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If homosexuallity is a psychological problem and it certainly seems that it is- because nature certainly intended for people to be attracted to the opposite sex.

Nature has no "intent". Someone else had something like this in their sig: Evolution doesn't lead to what's right, just to what's left. Natural selection has no motive or plan. The "will to survive" - as is realized in an attraction to the opposite sex - is simply the result of the fact that if living things did not reproduce, they would not still be around. You can imagine organic entities near the beginning of life, which were entirely similar to other organic entities, except that they didn't have the "code" for reproduction. They formed, but didn't go anywhere. They died out rather quickly. You can also imagine reproducing organisms that had a "will to die", ie they had code in their DNA that was detrimental to their existence. They died out rather quickly as well, although they could have had some offspring which then mixed in with those who had less of a "will to die".

The point is that we are the end result of a long chain of entities that were, in the long run, statistically more likely to survive long enough to reproduce. And nothing more. Period. End of discussion. No more interpretation beyond this point. Seriously, just stop. :huh:

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Ha. I just realized the age of this thread. Oh well, arguments are still open to discussion, regardless of their age.

Yeah, but the people you are quoting either, no longer frequent the forum and/or in at least one case is no longer able to respond due to his untimely death.

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