Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

People with Concrete Value

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

I have noticed that, while I greatly value virtues like rationality, honesty, and self discipline, in practice I sometimes tend to associate with people because they provide me with more concrete sorts of value.

 

For example, there are people in my major, computer science, who I enjoy talking to primarily because they share my struggles. It's nice to know that other people had trouble with figuring out how a MouseActionListener object works in Java. I don't know these people outside the context of school, so I don't know what virtues they have apart from the minimum of rationality that any computer science major taking 300 level classes has to have demonstrated already, but they still provide me with value and psychological visibility.

 

Or, again, at my job there is a college freshman who looks up to me and asks me for advice once in a while because I have been in college much longer than he has. He doesn't have any idea what my philosophical beliefs and values are, and indeed my beliefs and values are very different from his Christian beliefs and values, but I am valuable to him nonetheless because of the concrete fact that I know more about how college works than he does.

 

I think this is an important qualification to the Objectivist doctrine that we should make friends with people because they share our philosophical beliefs and values. There are also, in addition, more superficial relationships that are genuinely valuable, and these are based on concrete, non-philosophical values that certain other people provide.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Your college experience is one of the best times of your life; you'll meet people with similar interests of a similar age, and the no one expects you to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. The casual acquaintances you meet may not necessarily result in life-long friendships, although all of this social-networking media makes that entirely possible. Basically, people have value, and some have more value than others. Certainly people with whom you share a common interest may enable you to work out ideas, whereas alone in your solitude, you may have limited your scope. As for people with religious beliefs, as long as they don't hold their irrational fundamentals as a primary over reason, I have found they are normally pragmatic. They are either interested in positive results, or they are restricted by their impossible moral code. Just be aware of the sycophants, the Peter Keatings. If you have chance, share your interest in Objectivism with a friend; you never know how it might affect his/her life.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think this is an important qualification to the Objectivist doctrine that we should make friends with people because they share our philosophical beliefs and values. There are also, in addition, more superficial relationships that are genuinely valuable, and these are based on concrete, non-philosophical values that certain other people provide.

Are you sure there's a conflict here? Does Objectivism say we should only make friends with people who share philosophical beliefs? Does Objectivism say we shouldn't value some people more or less than others?

Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think there's a conflict, it's just a qualification.

Rand herself would correspond with people who held very different philosophic beliefs, such as the religious. Objectivism would say to do what's best for yourself, in your own estimation, as rational as you can be. If there are people of specific or limited value with whom you choose to hang around, what in Objectivism would need a qualification to "allow" you to do it?

In other words, why do you think a qualification is necessary?

Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think there's a conflict, it's just a qualification.

I think the question was more specifically about which doctrine you mean.

There are also, in addition, more superficial relationships that are genuinely valuable, and these are based on concrete, non-philosophical values that certain other people provide.

Such as?

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
Link to post
Share on other sites

OK; when talking about interacting with people for exclusively concrete purposes, prostitution comes to mind. Would that fall under this?

If so then I see nothing irrational or self-negating about things like that. It may be a stretch to call it actual friendship (et cetera), but otherwise that can clearly be moral.

If you mean something more along the lines of actually enjoying the company of people with bad philosophies, I would ask yourself whether their explicit beliefs are what they actually live by on a daily basis.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
Link to post
Share on other sites

Rand herself would correspond with people who held very different philosophic beliefs, such as the religious. Objectivism would say to do what's best for yourself, in your own estimation, as rational as you can be. If there are people of specific or limited value with whom you choose to hang around, what in Objectivism would need a qualification to "allow" you to do it?

In other words, why do you think a qualification is necessary?

I'm not making any kind of revision here. It's just a special case of an Objectivist doctrine that is helpful for concretizing a rational view of friendship.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the question was more specifically about which doctrine you mean.

Such as?

I tried to give examples in the OP. I enjoy talking with other people in my major about how difficult the work is, and another person at my job sees me as a source of advice about college. These aren't philosophical values, but they are values in a more concrete, everyday sense. Is that clearer?

Link to post
Share on other sites

OK; when talking about interacting with people for exclusively concrete purposes, prostitution comes to mind. Would that fall under this?

If so then I see nothing irrational or self-negating about things like that. It may be a stretch to call it actual friendship (et cetera), but otherwise that can clearly be moral.

If you mean something more along the lines of actually enjoying the company of people with bad philosophies, I would ask yourself whether their explicit beliefs are what they actually live by on a daily basis.

Prostitution isn't really what I had in mind here. I don't get the impression that the people I'm talking about live by bad philosophies on a day to day basis.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm friends with a philosophy PhD student who holds opposite views to me on many philosophical questions. We talk and discuss different ideas. I don't see why he can't be my friend even though his views are so different from mine. We share an interest in ideas and philosophy. We also talk about girls, lifting weights, life in general. Extract value from people where you can. Sharing a common explicit philosophy is not the only reason to be friends with someone, and it's a poor reason in itself. Just avoid friendships with people who are clearly irrational and nutty.

 

Most of my friends have no idea about my interest in philosophy, and I don't talk to them about it. Philosophy is for me.

Edited by Peter Morris
Link to post
Share on other sites

Prostitution isn't really what I had in mind here. I don't get the impression that the people I'm talking about live by bad philosophies on a day to day basis.

Then do they really believe in those bad philosophies that they may advocate?

I know many people who will preach the worst sort of garbage, if you ask them explicitly about philosophy, but actually live by something completely different. By the same token, although I know that Objectivism is true and good, there are times when I find myself acting on a different philosophy entirely; one that I would never consciously endorse.

Actions speak louder than words.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
Link to post
Share on other sites

Then do they really believe in those bad philosophies that they may advocate?

I know many people who will preach the worst sort of garbage, if you ask them explicitly about philosophy, but actually live by something completely different. By the same token, although I know that Objectivism is true and good, there are times when I find myself acting on a different philosophy entirely; one that I would never consciously endorse.

Actions speak louder than words.

Indeed.

Link to post
Share on other sites

It's definitely true that concrete values form a basis for making friends.
 
Even sharing an experience that lasts a few seconds may break the ice between two people. Imagine that you are walking silently toward a parking lot, a few feet behind a stranger. Suddenly, a hawk swoops down to the grass and rises holding a rodent in its beak. You look at each other with "Did you see that!!!!" expressions, and the ice is broken. If you try, you can probably imagine the other person acting in some odd way where you end up thinking "that guy is odd"; and, the ice is not broken. It is not just the experience, but the empathy -- each person seeing and understanding the emotion of the other -- that breaks the ice. 
 
Better than understanding, is if you can relate to the emotion personally, as in "I felt that too". And, better than a fleeting incident, is something that is more significant. Your examples of discovering how some Java listener works is example of this type. Here too, there are surely some students in the same class who aren't interested in talking about it, or aren't at your level of enthusiasm. The basis of friendliness comes from more than just the shared experience... also from the empathy toward the other person's reaction to the experience.

However, you could imagine a context where someone in a completely different subject is explaining something to you... an experience you have not shared concretely... and it still clicks with you. Say a literature student is explaining how he'd figured out that Steinbeck writes in the tradition of Wordsworth. Even without knowing anything of the subject, you might relate to the process he's describing: which is analogous to something you figured out in your own subject.

Mostly, we like or dislike other people based on how they come at life, not because of their explicit philosophy. A Christian will not necessarily like another Christian more than some non-Christian, if he does not know the other person's religion. I'm acquainted with many Objectivists who would not want me as a friend, and vice versa. Two people can agree about a philosophy, but still have different personalities and attitudes ("sense of life", to use a phrase Rand used).

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...