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Romantic Love and Promiscuity

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Anuj
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I'm uncouth, socially awkward. I'm really confused most times about how to put or say things and social niceties. My intentions are to remain Honest without trying to hurt others. I guess that is where my mistake lies.. in thinking "not wanting to hurt others". Thank you for pointing it out. I will just be direct henceforth.

Honesty and directness are both good. So is not wanting to hurt others, generally speaking. Even as you disagree with me, I disagree with you, and I also want to convey my reasons for that disagreement in an honest and direct manner, without hurting your feelings (or conveying anything other than the respect upon which this very conversation must be predicated, if it is to be mutually beneficial). I think that the best course is to try to stick to the topic -- to the ideas being discussed.

Speaking of which...

 

My reasoning is based on the following definitions of the term 'Integrity'

  • Integrity is the recognition of the fact that you cannot fake your consciousness, just as honesty is the recognition of the fact that you cannot fake existence—that man is an indivisible entity, an integrated unit of two attributes: of matter and consciousness, and that he may permit no breach between body and mind, between action and thought, between his life and his convictions.
  • Integrity is loyalty to one’s convictions and values
  • The virtue involved in helping those one loves is not “selflessness” or “sacrifice,” but integrity.
I've Bolded the one which forms the basis of deadlock when one values something. Unless the evaluation is bound to change.

Okay. Let's take "integrity" to be that which you've bolded -- "loyalty to one's convictions and values."

I still don't know what you mean by "the basis of deadlock," or how it applies here. I don't know what this "deadlock" is or how it is meant to function. Concrete examples beyond the present scenario might help me understand, if you can provide one or two (real life or hypothetical).

In taking Dagny and her actions, was she "disloyal" to her "convictions and values"? If so, how? By feeling love for Galt? Remember, though, that feeling is not a matter of choice. If we may yet choose what we value (which then results in one's feelings), what specifically did Dagny choose to value where she was wrong to do so?

If you think that she was "disloyal," and should have done otherwise, what choice would you point to as the mistake she made? What did she do that was disloyal to her convictions or her values?

 

I've given you my reasons above at beginning of this post. Are you contradicting yourself from your first post where you quoted "Can one feel "romantic love" for more than one person simultaneously? Is it possible for one's feelings for one person to fade, or for one's feelings for another person to grow?"  ?

Contradicting myself how? In both quoted portions, I'm asking you questions -- and not rhetorically, either; questions I'd much prefer to see directly answered.

If you're making the claim that loving one woman makes a person insensible to the attractions of another woman, or otherwise makes attraction to another human being impossible, then I think you're going to have to do a lot of work to establish the case. In the first place, it would disagree with everything I believe I've experienced to be true in my life, or observed in the lives of others. In the second, I don't yet see your justification for such a belief.

But perhaps when you've expanded upon this idea of "deadlock" I'll understand your position better.

 

She should, unless she wants to stop or change how much she values Galt. 

I understand that you believe "she should," but why?

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I think that the best course is to try to stick to the topic -- to the ideas being discussed.

 

Agreed.

 

I still don't know what you mean by "the basis of deadlock," or how it applies here. I don't know what this "deadlock" is or how it is meant to function. Concrete examples beyond the present scenario might help me understand, if you can provide one or two (real life or hypothetical).

 

By deadlock, I meant 'Romantic partner' as a value and (on the concept of maintain ones integrity) loyalty meaning: never to negate or lower his/her value. Integrity entails that you stick to your values.

 

What I mean is Dagny should have stuck(on basis of loyalty) to Rearden (Whom she Valued). Dagny was in a romantic and sexual relationship with Rearden. Then she went on to like Galt. Can she still remain in romantic and sexual relationship with Rearden ? No. Her feeling, emotion and attraction will change. Her evaluation of Rearden will change. All that would go to Galt. Rearden may or perhaps still mean something to Dagny but he would not hold same position or same value to Dagny. No! Unless, she wants to practice bigamy. Can she be romantically and sexually be involved with both. Yes ! if she wants to practice bigamy. If not, She cannot value Galt and Rearden the same, If to Dagny, Rearden amounted to 10 (a value), after Galt's invasion, he would probably amount to 4, or perhaps 7 or even 9. But not 10. Simply because she cannot look at him the same way she used to.  

 

 

In taking Dagny and her actions, was she "disloyal" to her "convictions and values"? If so, how? By feeling love for Galt? 

 

Yes. she was disloyal to Rearden (whom she valued), by feeling Romantic Love for Galt. 

 

Remember, though, that feeling is not a matter of choice. If we may yet choose what we value (which then results in one's feelings), what specifically did Dagny choose to value where she was wrong to do so?

 

Promiscuity ? Disloyalty ? You should tell me, if there was something right in her act. Something right, in the act of Jumping from one human to another for no apparent reason, except primarily based on feelings. We are not supposed to act based on Feelings and emotions, but based on Reasons and Values.

 

Contradicting myself how? In both quoted portions, I'm asking you questions -- and not rhetorically, either; questions I'd much prefer to see directly answered.

 

Okay. 

 

If you're making the claim that loving one woman makes a person insensible to the attractions of another woman, or otherwise makes attraction to another human being impossible, then I think you're going to have to do a lot of work to establish the case. In the first place, it would disagree with everything I believe I've experienced to be true in my life, or observed in the lives of others. In the second, I don't yet see your justification for such a belief.

 

What normally does not happens, does not mean than it would never happen. Yes! I am claiming that is if you truly love someone, your emotional mechanism will not generate a response of Romantic Love for someone else. If it generates, it simply means that you did not love, or value the person, as much as you thought you did. Besides even if you get such emotions or attraction, first thing you should do, is not to act on it, but rather to sit down and think about what is the cause of that emotion. Rand has quoted 

 

 "If he (man) is guided by his emotions and uses his mind only to rationalize or justify them somehow—then he is acting immorally, he is condemning himself to misery, failure, defeat, and he will achieve nothing but destruction—his own and that of others."
 

 

But perhaps when you've expanded upon this idea of "deadlock" I'll understand your position better.

 

By deadlock, I meant 'Romantic partner' as a value and (on the concept of maintain ones integrity) loyalty meaning: never to negate or lower his/her value. 

 

I understand that you believe "she should," but why?

 

Why ? Because to maintain her integrity in tact. To stay loyal with him. 

Edited by Anuj
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When you say that Dagny should have "stuck to Rearden," you don't mean that she should have continued in a relationship with him while in love with another man, do you?

That sounds like it would be a horrible outcome for all three of Galt, Dagny and Rearden. I can't imagine that Rearden (who I presume is meant to benefit by it) would prefer this.

 

I understand. I didn't mean that. But I'm questioning the act of jumping from Rearden to Galt and I'm further inferring that she would do the same if there was someone better than Galt. In fact in real world, if we go by this logic, it is not knowable, how many times she would jump to find the better man. Making all her relationships transient. I'm also questioning her integrity; thereby her loyalty to values, when she chooses to negate or reduce Rearden's value (say from 10 to 4) and when she will do the same to Galt and then to some one else and so on. What she is clinging to is unknowable(the best man). I just can not fathom, how many doors she would be knocking before finally finding John Galt. The number is unknowable.

 

My point as per the logic used above: It is irrational to jump(emotionally, romantically, sexually) from Rearden to Galt, just because Galt is better. I don't think there are other Valid Reason for her ? I'm answering questions on emotions and Romantic Love below..

 

This is all true. But she couldn't help but like Galt -- are we agreed on that point?

 

Agreed, because such is her nature - Value system.

 

Fair enough. Let's leave "bigamy" for a separate discussion, if possible, and assume that Dagny had to make a clear choice between them.

 

Agreed.

 

But we had previously agreed that emotion (including love and "romantic love") is not something that a person chooses. Not directly. Are we still agreed about that?

 

It is wrong to develop Romantic Love with another person in the first place. Romantic Love is an emotion which requires some time to develop. Its depends if you are open and looking for it, depends on what you value, it depends on who the other person is and what his value are. It takes time to know anyone's values. I totally object to the very first dramatic and irrational romantic act between Dominique and Roark. Unlike how it is portrayed in Fountain Head, Romantic love, before it develops gives you enough time to check your premises. How rational it is before he/she begins to indulge in it. And if its irrational its better to choose not to. Also, if you are in a relationship, it is rational to end your first, before developing another one. So, to answer the question. No, not if its irrational. Yes if its rational. 

 

I don't mean to quibble, but we're not yet agreed that Dagny's actions amount to "promiscuity" or "disloyalty."

 

Promiscuity if she going to search for John Galt in real world. Disloyalty because she allowed herself to develop Romantic Love for Galt, be it by her nature or not when she was already in another Romantic relationship with Rearden. And Irrationality by clinging to unknowable, searching for the perfect man. Agreed Galt was the perfect man in the Novel and none better than him, But in the real world, "Who is John Galt?"

 

 

As to whether there's "something right" in taking action to be with the person you love most? I'd say so. I mean, any specific act will have to be evaluated in its full context, but given a woman who loves and desires to be with a man, all else being equal, I'd say that it is moral for her to take action to be with him.

So I think it's unfair to say that Dagny acted as she did "for no apparent reason"; she loved John Galt.

While it's true that we should not act on whim, and that "feelings are not tools of cognition," this does not mean that feelings don't exist or aren't important. 

 

I've detailed and described my stand against merely acting irrational using ones emotions and feelings. 

 

Well, I simply disagree with this assertion. Maybe we can find some way of trying to argue it out, but I can't think of the means currently, except to say that I don't see how my love for one person should act as a cap on the love I should feel for any other person, or that they should otherwise deserve in justice.

I don't think this agrees with my personal experiences, either.

 

When you are in such a relationship, when you are satisfied with the one you have, you will not think of falling in love with someone else. you would not show or expect anything from the opposite sex. I can only speak from my personal experience. I can't say for certain but perhaps integrity as well as honesty has some part to play in it. At the moment, in order to prove my point I can only rely on two things 1.virtue of integrity, which requires you to stick to your values   2.consequences of acting irrational and emotionally. 

 

 

But what do you do if you think about the cause of the emotion, and to your best judgement it is completely reasonable? What if the action you determine is likely to make you happiest requires you to leave your current romantic partner and take up with a new one?

 

There is no reason to be against if its completely reasonable and makes you the happiest. Give that there are drastic drawbacks with the current partner, I would prefer, first to end the current relationship, and then act upon the new one. Something which Dagny failed to do. 

 

If Dagny thought about the love she felt for Galt, what conclusions do you think she should have come to? That she was wrong to feel that way? That Galt did not deserve to be loved? Or that her emotion somehow proved that she had never actually loved Hank Rearden? That she could feel love for Galt, but not ever act on it morally (out of loyalty to Rearden)?

 

1. I don't understand why Ayn Rand choose to portray it like that. I've the same questions for Dominique (FH) and Kira (WTL). It would have been interesting to get her response. Anyway back to question, Ideal situation - Dagny should not have thought or felt it in the first place. 2. Yes ! She was wrong, her premise; quest for the ideal perfect man is irrational. 3. Galt, he is deserving of all the love that is available in the world.  4. It was clear that she loved Hank. 5. I agree with you. It would only amount to sacrifice. Hence Immoral.

 

But at what cost? What does this idea of "loyalty" serve her, if it prevents her from doing that which would make her happier/happiest?

It is hard for me to read this as other than a call for Dagny to sacrifice herself, making nobody happy (Galt included). The first loyalty Dagny must have is to herself.

 

I'm questioning her loyalty to develop that thought in the first place. With all that I've written above I'm now questioning her loyalty to rationality also.

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I understand. I didn't mean that. But I'm questioning the act of jumping from Rearden to Galt and I'm further inferring that she would do the same if there was someone better than Galt.

 

But it's one way or the other, isn't it? Once Dagny is in love with Galt (while in a relationship with Rearden), she has that choice to make.

When you say that you understand, that you didn't mean "that," I presume that you mean that you don't expect Dagny to stay in a relationship with Rearden while in love with Galt. You understand that would be a bad outcome for everyone involved. If so, that's good -- we're agreed. But that's why she commits the very act that you question -- "jumping from Rearden to Galt." Once we allow that Dagny loves Galt in a way that she does not love Rearden, that's the choice available to her. Stay with Rearden or go with Galt.

 

In fact in real world, if we go by this logic, it is not knowable, how many times she would jump to find the better man. Making all her relationships transient. I'm also questioning her integrity; thereby her loyalty to values, when she chooses to negate or reduce Rearden's value (say from 10 to 4) and when she will do the same to Galt and then to some one else and so on. What she is clinging to is unknowable(the best man). I just can not fathom, how many doors she would be knocking before finally finding John Galt. The number is unknowable.

 

I think I look at this somewhat differently than you do. I don't think that Dagny is searching for "the best man," or is looking for something "better" while in her relationship with Rearden. I think rather that she is reacting to what she finds. It's not necessarily that she needed to find John Galt; I think that there's a possible version of this story -- or a different story, at least -- where Dagny never meets Galt and is happy with Hank Rearden. (Or maybe she meets Galt later on in her life, which could alter the scenario substantially.)

But it happened that she did meet Galt, at the time and in the circumstances that she did, and when that happened she was forced to react as honestly as she could to what she found, both externally and internally.

 

It is wrong to develop Romantic Love with another person in the first place. Romantic Love is an emotion which requires some time to develop. Its depends if you are open and looking for it, depends on what you value, it depends on who the other person is and what his value are. It takes time to know anyone's values.

 

It's a separate (albeit related) conversation, but it's my understanding that Rand believed in "love at first sight." Insofar as I understand it, I do, too -- or at least, I have my own thoughts on the subject.

That notwithstanding, I agree with you that an abiding love takes time to develop -- and yes, certainly, getting to know another person is a process, neither quick, nor easy, nor typically straightforward.

But my understanding is that Rand also had a vision of fiction writing where she would try to cut to the quick of such situations. If it takes time to develop a romantic relationship, with ultimately inconsequential mistakes and tedium and backsliding along the way, Rand would elide those parts to instead present what she considers to be the essence. She does not aim to present such a romance "realistically" but "romantically."

In any case, I can't agree that "t is wrong to develop Romantic Love with another person in the first place"; I just don't think that such matters are open to our choice, though I understand we don't fully agree on that point.

 

I totally object to the very first dramatic and irrational romantic act between Dominique and Roark.

 

I'm critical of that scene myself, but that is a very separate conversation, and almost certainly more contentious than the present one.

 

There is no reason to be against if its completely reasonable and makes you the happiest. Give that there are drastic drawbacks with the current partner, I would prefer, first to end the current relationship, and then act upon the new one. Something which Dagny failed to do.

 

I agree that a person should end such a romantic relationship before beginning a new one, all else being equal.

***

With that, I think I've expressed myself as fully as I can; I'd only be repeating myself to try to say more. If I see an opportunity to contribute something further, I will, or if you have any specific question to ask me for clarification, please ask and I'll do my best to answer.  But in the meanwhile I'd like to thank you, Anuj, for taking the time to consider my thoughts and offer your own. I've enjoyed it, and will look forward to discussing matters with you in the future.

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As with all things in Atlas Shrugged, Rand was dramatizing romantic relationships in order to stress the self-centered root of a complicated aspect of humanity.

In the "real world," there are no scales of 1-10 for comparing love interests, and pro-and-con lists don't usually prove to be very helpful, either. Some things may be "deal breakers," like distance or children or a violent temper. But in the end, the judgement is made based on the feeling that is produced by your subconscious evaluation of a person in total. Rand's characters follow this same process, but in the novel we don't see the sometimes-confusing and complicated decision process. Instead, we see that Dagny prefers Galt, and so Galt is who she chooses -- clearly, the "selfish" point Rand was trying to stress in her dramatization.

As for "real life," there are many levels of attraction, all of which change with time as people also change. I may be attracted to certain strong personality traits and certain physical features. Five or ten years later, I may still be attracted to some of those things, but maybe one or two have changed into something I wouldn't have been attracted to five years prior -- but, maybe I find some of those other traits even more attractive. Further still, maybe some new traits I have grown to find more attractive still -- or maybe more unattractive. And, familiarity with a person over time can also a value to some, while others need change.

The point is, you wouldn't necessarily write about all of this in a romantic-style novel, but the principle is the same: You're constantly evaluating your life, including your romantic interests, and choosing people who are the best for you.

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As with all things in Atlas Shrugged, Rand was dramatizing romantic relationships in order to stress the self-centered root of a complicated aspect of humanity.

 

Self-centered is a virtue, but which standing alone need not necessarily be moral. It is only moral when based on rationality. A rationality based on standard of Life. 

 

But in the end, the judgement is made based on the feeling that is produced by your subconscious evaluation of a person in total. 

 

I honestly don't know how the subconscious evaluates. But you are saying to make the judgement based on the feeling produced by subconscious. But isn't it rational that before making a judgment based on that feeling, one should check his/her premise. Check the root cause of that feeling, especially when in a romantic relationship with a morally virtuous partner ?

 

 

Rand's characters follow this same process, but in the novel we don't see the sometimes-confusing and complicated decision process.

  

 

I would say that apart from the looters and the James Taggart types that we so often find exactly as described in the book, there is one character who is heroic and at the same time more original that anything else in the book; Hank Rearden. His struggle with his family, his struggle with the world, his initial guilt with Dagny is more 'real-world-like' than anything else. It is in his character that we get to see "sometimes-confusing and complicated decision process" of somebody who is and further wants to be even more rational.

 

Instead, we see that Dagny prefers Galt, and so Galt is who she chooses -- clearly, the "selfish" point Rand was trying to stress in her dramatization.

 

I understand that we cannot have too many characters as detailed as Rearden's or Dagny's. But unlike Fountain Head which stresses on Individualism and Selfishness, Atlas Shrugged is more about the Men of mind, the virtue of Rationality and the Value of Reason. But yeah, perhaps she was stressing on 'selfishness' in the case of Dagny's preference to Galt. Either that or she likes the dramatic flare when it comes to Romatic love. "Art is a selective re-creation of reality according to an artist’s metaphysical value-judgments."

 

As for "real life," there are many levels of attraction, all of which change with time as people also change. I may be attracted to certain strong personality traits and certain physical features. Five or ten years later, I may still be attracted to some of those things, but maybe one or two have changed into something I wouldn't have been attracted to five years prior -- but, maybe I find some of those other traits even more attractive. Further still, maybe some new traits I have grown to find more attractive still -- or maybe more unattractive.

 

I would want to uphold the concept that attraction and or romantic love, should be emotional response generated when we see the highest of our values in person of another. Perhaps you are saying the same thing when you say what (at any time) you may like to be attracted to ?

Edited by Anuj
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Yes, everything needs to be checked with your rational faculty to make sure you are doing what's best for yourself, including following your emotions. But, how is an emotion "rationally" explained? And, if a person meets all of your reasons for why you should be in love with them, but you simply don't feel an attraction, should you pursue that relationship anyway? What makes an emotion "rational" or not?

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Emotions are consequences. They are outputs of ones value system. So the only way to judge an emotion is to judge ones own value system. The root cause of ones emotions.

"Man is born with an emotional mechanism, just as he is born with a cognitive mechanism; but, at birth, both are “tabula rasa.” It is man’s cognitive faculty, his mind, that determines the content of both. Man’s emotional mechanism is like an electronic computer, which his mind has to program—and the programming consists of the values his mind chooses."

How can you pursue something for which you don't have any emotion ? I would lack the motivation to doing anything for which I feel nothing.

It is values that are rational or irrational. Emotions are consequences/response of ones rational or irrational values.

Its 2015 now in India, so Happy New year :)

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  • 1 year later...
On 12/27/2014 at 1:11 AM, Anuj said:

Depending on how much I've learnt about Objectivism, I've have agreed to all aspects of it. But there is one concept or perhaps the acts relating to that concept which I find quite difficult to absorb.

 
I hold and agree that "Romantic love, in the full sense of the term, is an emotion possible only to the man (or woman) of un-breached self-esteem: it is his response to his own highest values in the person of another". But How is it moral or immoral, based on the standard of life, to stop loving one man just because you have found another who is better than your previous ? Couple of instances to cite here. 
 
  1. Dagny was in a Romantic relationship with Henry Rearden, but only until she met John Galt. If Integrity is loyalty to ones values. Where is integrity in that act ? Dagny was involved with John prior consent from Henry. 
  2. Ayn Rand was married to Frank O' Connor. But she got involved with Nathaniel Branden, nonetheless after Frank's consent. Nathaniel had the consent of his wife. 

I always had this question in mind too. One does not keep changing partners and it is not so easy to fall out in love with a person who is very good already but just because one sees someone better. If you can stop loving a person that easily as women in AR books , I doubt whether you had ever loved them at all

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