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Unrequited love and dying for love

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Moerbeke
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I am not extensively read on Objectivism (yet), so please let me know if this issue is covered somewhere.* But I like to try and digest interesting corner cases.

In the essay "Isn't Everyone Selfish" in Virtue of Selfishness, Mr. Branden uses as his extreme example of an act which might appear selfless a man dying for the woman that he loves. (page 67-68 of the Signet edition) He quotes an example from Atlas Shrugged where Galt tells Dagny that if they are going to torture her, then he will commit suicide.

In the essay "The Conflicts of Men's Interests", also in Virtue of Selfishness, Miss Rand says that there is no conflict of interests even within the realm of romantic love. In this case, she says:

If two men are in love with the same woman, what she feels for either of them is not determined by what she feels for the other and is not taken away from him. If she chooses one of them, the "loser" could not have had what the "winner" has earned. (Signet page 63)

Miss Rand also says (just above the previous quote) that a rational man "does not regard any concrete, specific goal or value as irreplacable. He knows that only persons are irreplaceable--only those one loves."

This leads me to ask what happens to all the Hank Rearden's of the world. Let us assume that some man loved a woman who chooses another man as her highest value (as her lover). This woman still lives, and has the choice to be friends with the unrequited man or not, but I could see such a man unable to live without her love. This however does not feel right to me, so I am trying to mentally clear up this issue for myself.

*This post represents my first discussion of Objectivism since I have begun a serious study. Please let me know if I make etiquette mistakes (such as should Ayn Rand be referred to as Miss Rand?), or any other category of mistake. Also, I am strongly studying grammar alongside of philosophy, so I promise it will improve.

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This leads me to ask what happens to all the Hank Rearden's of the world. Let us assume that some man loved a woman who chooses another man as her highest value (as her lover). This woman still lives, and has the choice to be friends with the unrequited man or not, but I could see such a man unable to live without her love. This however does not feel right to me, so I am trying to mentally clear up this issue for myself.

I think you are missing a crucial point that was made in Atlas Shrugged. Remember what Dagny had told Francisco about her love for him after it was apparnant she loved Galt? It was that she still loves Francisco, only she loves Galt more and therefore chooses to be with him. Since love is based on what you value in the other person, how could what value someone else have affect your own value? I think what you've forgotten is that love can be felt more strongly or less depending on what value they are to you. She still loved Francisco and Rearden just as much as she always had, but now there was a new man in her life she loved more than she ever loved them. :)

Edited by Som Guy
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This leads me to ask what happens to all the Hank Rearden's of the world. Let us assume that some man loved a woman who chooses another man as her highest value (as her lover). This woman still lives, and has the choice to be friends with the unrequited man or not, but I could see such a man unable to live without her love. This however does not feel right to me, so I am trying to mentally clear up this issue for myself.

Hank Rearden's love for Dagny was an expression of his own self-esteem and his own values . . . his own personal heroism. Not being able to physically possess Dagny changes neither his love for her nor the source of his love.

If you recall, when Hank Rearden finally joined the strike and met John Galt, he sent Dagny a message saying, "I have met him, I don't blame you." The very heroism that made him love Dagny also made him recognize that Dagny loved Galt and that her love for him was a product of the best in Dagny. If she had denied loving John in favor of Francisco or Rearden she would have ceased being a woman any of them could love.

I could understand that someone might choose not to live any longer if their beloved husband/wife died. I can even understand someone simply choosing not to live any longer if they cannot be with the person they love. However, in doing so you would deny yourself everything that is good in life over a few moments' pain, in fact, you would deny yourself even the pleasure of knowing that your beloved exists and is alive.

Pain is an accident, it is a temporary thing, to be fought and overcome; accidents and disasters are not the rule of the world, they are the exception. Realizing this, even the heartbreaking pain of unrequited love can be overcome. There is just too much happiness possible to man to let one little thing destroy you.

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