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Family vs. Public

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This is a first time post so please bear with me.

I know that Ayn Rand stated that there was no such entity as "the public", only a collection of individuals. I agree with this stand point. My question is would the concept of "the family" also be only a collection of individuals. I am new to objectivism and have been trying to determine what I value in life. The idea of family emerged but I felt it was to broad a concept so I tried to refine my definition. Obviously there is a genetic connection among a family and if it were not for your parents you would not exist. But other than a starting point for an individuals life it seems to me that family has the ability to take on a positive or negative context based on the relationships that the individual experiences. Blind loyalty to someone who has a negative impact on your life seems irrational to me. Due to the fact that family has the ability to be negative, much like Ms. Rand's idea of "the public" and "the public interest", that potentially the idea of family, while valid from a genetic standpoint, is invalid or does not exist from the standpoint of merely being a grouping of people. The once again we need to determine who we value based upon the actions of the individuals and not on a random association of people.

Please let me know what you think.

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It's a good question. It all boils down to who and what is knowable,

and conceivable, I think. One cannot hold in one's mind an amorphous

quantity of people - "the public". So it would not be rational or moral

to try.

Only as individuals, over time, can you assess each person you meet.

If one could start with an image of concentric circles, at first and for

a long period, with you and your parents at the center - I believe it helps.

Your parents are your first value, nurturing, training and preparing you

for an independent life. You know them intimately, and usually trust their

judgment, though that will normally and healthfully be slowly replaced by your own.

Not without some resistance, though!

After some gradual maturation, their position gets usurped at your center, by career,

your love for someone, your own family...etc.

All the while, other individuals are 'emerging' on your perimeter - becoming

known, and volitionally drawn in closer by you, or not.

According to your rationally selfish values.

Everything and everyone should be placed in one's value structure,

and I definitely believe that under normal circumstances,

one's parents would have a permanent place - in gratitude, affection, and love.

Hope it helps.

Welcome on board!

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This is a first time post so please bear with me.

I know that Ayn Rand stated that there was no such entity as "the public", only a collection of individuals. I agree with this stand point. My question is would the concept of "the family" also be only a collection of individuals. I am new to objectivism and have been trying to determine what I value in life. The idea of family emerged but I felt it was to broad a concept so I tried to refine my definition. Obviously there is a genetic connection among a family and if it were not for your parents you would not exist. But other than a starting point for an individuals life it seems to me that family has the ability to take on a positive or negative context based on the relationships that the individual experiences. Blind loyalty to someone who has a negative impact on your life seems irrational to me. Due to the fact that family has the ability to be negative, much like Ms. Rand's idea of "the public" and "the public interest", that potentially the idea of family, while valid from a genetic standpoint, is invalid or does not exist from the standpoint of merely being a grouping of people. The once again we need to determine who we value based upon the actions of the individuals and not on a random association of people.

Please let me know what you think.

People (as in "We the People," i.e. the citizens of a country, a.k.a. The Public) and Family are valid concepts - they are each a kind of Group. They don't have a physical existence - metaphysically, only the individuals which comprise them exist. Epistemologically, the concepts are essential for talking about a group of individuals holding the relationships defined - they fulfill one of the primary purposes of concept formation: unit economy, the ability to denote a wide range of existents via a single concept, making thought and communication simpler and more concise.

Note that genetics are not essential to Family. Adopted children, for example (and of which I am one), are in fact as much members of their adoptive families as biological children.

You are correct that family is not necessarily a value (this is true in my case). The concepts themselves do not include or imply any evaluation, positive or negative.

Now, all that terse explanation aside, welcome to Objectivism! I hope you gain as much from it as I have, and that's a lot! :)

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  • 3 weeks later...

Due to the fact that family has the ability to be negative, much like Ms. Rand's idea of "the public" and "the public interest", that potentially the idea of family, while valid from a genetic standpoint, is invalid or does not exist from the standpoint of merely being a grouping of people.

Ayn Rand wasn't objecting to the use of "the public" as a concept referring to something, she was objecting to using it as if the group concept were interchangeable with the concept of the individual members of the group, so that concepts that only properly apply to individuals (such as "interests" or "thoughts") were being applied, inappropriately, to the group concept. The public as such has no interests, needs, thoughts, or whatever. The individual people who *comprise* the public, do. This is an important distinction because any action will not have a universal effect on all the individual members of the public, so to speak of the public as if it were a single unit enjoying a single consequence is just flat-out incorrect.

Anyway, family totally is a valid concept, and it's not based on genetic relationship (as some would wish) but on trust, interdependence, etc. It's also a necessary concept because it describes a closer relationship that is different in kind from, say, friendship or a business partnership or whatever. Nor is a family a "random" association of people--it is a selective association of people. Adult family members create, choose, and maintain the relationship. Granted, minor children don't choose their family association the way adults do, but their inclusion is by the choice of the adults involved so they're not random family members even though you may not know their personality and character in advance.

Now, back to the idea of valuing family. Family associations exist to pursue specific goals, such as raising progeny, establishing a stable lifestyle, preserving and passing on capital, etc. If you're talking about family in the context that you value having children, bringing them up well, having a spouse, building a little "family corporation" that all contributes to, maintains, and enjoys major capital investments like a house, vehicles, maybe a business, whatever, then yes, it is perfectly rational to value family. If you're talking about some kind of slavish devotion to people who happen to be legally or genetically related to you, then no, that's an invalid value.

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