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Ayn Rand reading minds

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“I want,” the behaviorist says in effect, “to deal with entities I can weigh and measure just as the physicist does. If consciousness exists, my dream of making psychology a branch of physics is destroyed. Consciousness upsets my program, my goal, my ideal. Therefore,consciousness is unreal.” In this statement, a desire is being used to wipe out a fact of reality. The primacy of consciousness is being used—to deny consciousness!



“Most men spend their lives in futile rebellion against things they cannot change, in passive resignation to things they can, and—never attempting to learn the difference—in chronic guilt and self-doubt on both counts.”

-Philosophy: Who needs it


“Tell me what a man finds sexually attractive and I will tell you his entire philosophy of life. Show me the woman he sleeps with and I will tell you his valuation of himself.”



“The other kind of half is the man whom people call practical, the man who despises principles, abstractions, art, philosophy and his own mind. He regards the acquisition of material objects as the only goal of existence—and he laughs at the need to consider their purpose or their source. He expects them to give him pleasure—and he wonders why the more he gets, the less he feels. He is the man who spends his time chasing women.”

-Atlas Shrugged



There are a lot of statements of this type throughout Rand's work. I find myself slowly working through the essential branches of the philosophy and agreeing but when I read statements like these I'm wondering how Rand knows this? Everything else can be worked out through some extrospection and introspection but you can't read other peoples minds so you don't actually know what they feel/think, so then how do you come to the above conclusions?



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In all sorts of contexts, we make assumptions (with various degrees of confidence) about people's motivations. We do this with employers, employees, salesmen, parents, children, other participants in a stock-market. We can't read any of those minds. Yet, such assumptions aren't automatically arbitrary either, are they?

Edited by softwareNerd
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You can't read their minds, but if they hold the rules of math and proclaim they're computing a certain calculation you can predict their conclusion.

Similarly if they truthfully proclaim to hold or show himself to act according to certain values.

To claim that someone who holds true to pacifist ideas will condemn self defense isn't mentalism but the acceptance what both of those mean.


I can't say I'd put my bets on her sexuality based analytical prowess though, but then again I know of no attempt by her to exercise it.

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I think extrospection will prove out the examples too, at least as suitable illustrations for the points they are serving.  These are not principles, they are not intended to encompass the soul of every man who fits a category.  People are usually mixtures of motivations and ideas, but you will find themes and threads running through even the most mixed-up examples.


The comment about sexual attraction is more than an illustration of course, but in this case you have to look at the two parts separately.  Knowing what a man finds sexually attractive requires much more than just knowing who he finds attractive, you have to know why he finds that person attractive--is he a Rearden making a mistake, or a Jim Taggart?  The second part is a little easier since you don't have to get to a whole philosophy, but even there you may need to go deeper than appearances in a specific instance.  How does the man see his choice?


According to stories told by Leonard Peikoff, if I remember right, Rand herself said that you can't always judge someone's romantic choice.  The chosen person may offer values which are not immediately apparent to an observer outside the relationship.

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A person's ideas give context to their choices, which determine their words and actions.  If you know one then you can predict the other.


Think of a simple equation; 2+2=4.  Now, if I remove any single variable from this, you can infer what it should be from the rest:





The same applies to people.  For instance, if someone leaps from the top of a skyscraper, you automatically know that either they a: believe they can fly or b: want to die.  Only one of the two would explain it.  Now, if you had access to other information about this person, you could further infer which one it was; insanity or suicide.

Likewise, if you know the exact relation between ideas and actions and you know someone's actions, you can automatically infer what they're thinking.


It's not telepathy; it's logic.  =]

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