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Are There Styles of Music Not Compatible With Objectivism?

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What does this mean? Musical styles and philosophies would not seem to be the sorts of things that can be compatible or incompatible any more than (to use the stock example) stones and thoughts about Vienna can be.

1. What is the definition of "compatibility" that applies here? Logical compatibility between statements and personal compatibility between people are easy to understand and easy to apply, but I don't think either notion would hold here.

2. What are the criteria of compatibility by which we could give a yes-or-no answer about a given philosophy and a given musical style?

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2 minutes ago, Reidy said:

What does this mean? Musical styles and philosophies would not seem to be the sorts of things that can be compatible or incompatible any more than (to use the stock example) stones and thoughts about Vienna can be.

1. What is the definition of "compatibility" that applies here? Logical compatibility between statements and personal compatibility between people are easy to understand and easy to apply, but I don't think either notion would hold here.

2. What are the criteria of compatibility by which we could give a yes-or-no answer about a given philosophy and a given musical style?

Well, for example, lots of rap and metal are very non-life affirming, very non-romantic, and overall very depressing in tone.  Similarly there is a lot of music that is heavily spiritual and/or related to psychotropic drug usage.  Obviously Ayn Rand would personally disapprove of these styles of music, but does the Objectivist view of art necessarily condemn music such as what I mentioned.

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2 hours ago, Peikoff's Mullet said:

If so, which ones and why?

Start with noise. Is there a distinguishable difference between noise and music? Where is the dividing line drawn, and by what criteria is this difference to be divided by along? ?

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1 hour ago, Reidy said:

These are examples. I'd hope to see generally-applicable definitions that we could carry from one instance to another.

 

I don't think your response is very helpful. It's perfectly reasonable for the OP to simply not have exact definitions of the terms he uses. In this situation, it is important to interpret his intent and meaning charitably.

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12 hours ago, Peikoff's Mullet said:

If so, which ones and why?

For a thing to be incompatible with Objectivism I would guess it would either have to be:

1)  explicitly or implicitly expressing ideas in contradiction with the tenets or ideas of Objectivism, or

2) actuality something which clashes with a person's ability to pursue life, i.e. it clashes with a person's exercise of the morality of Objectivism - self-interest.

 

What people have called "music" include all kinds of "sounds" that people listen to.  This includes noise.  Rand had a specific definition of art which generally excludes noise from the definition of music. So in a sense the "idea" as such, that noise is music is incompatible with the ideas of Objectivism.  Quite unrelated, insofar as noise may not be life-sustaining, or worse life-diminishing, listening to those types of noise are incompatible with executing the morality of Objectivism.

Just because something is not Art does not mean it does not have any value. Noises as such which are life-sustaining (in context of a particular individual), like the sounds of the ocean, or rustling leaves, IF it creates mental harmony, serves as a relaxation or reward to rejuvenate a person's motivation to pursue life, leads to flourishing etc. then it is completely compatible with the exercise of the morality of Objectivism and in fact would be an objective value to be pursued, whether or not it was called music.  This is independent of any analysis of the sounds not qualifying as Art or serving the specific purpose of Art.  Note, Objectivism defines Art to include Art which points to "the negative" as something important metaphysically which deserves attention, but also defines music less as cognitive and more directly causative of emotion.  So negative music might be Art in one sense but also might be harmful in another sense.  Such music would require analysis to determine how, and the extent to which it is "incompatible".  [The analysis of music would be more complex for pieces which combine directly emotive musicality with cognitive content of a song's lyrics (which may or may not conflict)... as a side note I am uncertain whether lyrics are technically "music" or whether they should be thought of as "narrative accompaniment" to the music... in the same way a poem on a painting of a scene would be a "narrative" for the visual art but not technically itself visual art.  In any case listening to a "song" which has lyrics means a person will be subjected to both the music and the lyrics and both need to be taken into account.]

 

So, some sounds called music are not, according to the Objectivist definition, "Art", and do not serve Objectivism's definition of the purpose of "Art", and the idea of it being Art is incompatible with Objectivism.  Some sounds, called music, are life-diminishing and as such an individual's actions to seek out and listen to it are incompatible with the individual's self-interest i.e. the morality of Objectivism.  Some sounds are neither Art nor of any value, and some are both.

 

Edited by StrictlyLogical
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11 hours ago, Peikoff's Mullet said:

Well, for example, lots of rap and metal are very non-life affirming, very non-romantic, and overall very depressing in tone.  Similarly there is a lot of music that is heavily spiritual and/or related to psychotropic drug usage.  Obviously Ayn Rand would personally disapprove of these styles of music, but does the Objectivist view of art necessarily condemn music such as what I mentioned.

There are others in the community better able to speak to Rand's theories of art and music. But with respect to "compatibility," my question in the main is this: if a person considers himself an Objectivist, and decides that some music isn't life-affirming or otherwise "compatible" with Objectivism, but personally enjoys any of the music described above -- what does he do? I think he continues to enjoy the music he likes.

This idea of "condemnation" sometimes comes up in Objectivist circles, but I've never found myself needing other people's approval on the morality of my choices or interests. I seem to remember that Ayn Rand didn't like the musical Hair. But I do. Okay. Should I pretend otherwise? If Rand were alive and judging me personally, should I throw away my soundtrack and lie to myself or others, the better to seek her blessing?

I don't believe so. (Could it be that in "becoming an Objectivist," a person might find his tastes in music changing? Perhaps, but I don't have reason to expect that this would necessarily happen quickly or in any precise fashion such that I could predict.)

If a person judged that listening to some "wicked music" (however that's evaluated) had some discernible negative effect on one's life, despite the pleasure taken in listening to it, well, that would have to be taken into account (in the same way I have to weigh the pleasure of eating a slice of cherry pie against the effect it has on my body). But I think that there may yet be a gap between recognizing that some piece of music is "related to psychotropic drug usage," say, and that it somehow... causes a person to go take drugs. Or that "depressing" music makes a person depressed. Or etc.

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Yes. I'm not going to go into "which styles" (because arguments over music annoy me beyond belief, especially when they get pretentious), but to suggest that "one aesthetic cannot be incompatible with ANY OTHER aesthetic" is to suggest that aesthetics is meaningless.

So yes, as long as we agree that music has some kind of meaning, on any level whatsoever, different types of music will by necessity have contradictory meanings. Ayn Rand said that music can express a sense of life (paraphrasing). So, yeah, if you believe that, then music that expresses a sense of life that contradicts the Oist sense of life...contradicts Objectivism.

And, by the way, listening to such music doesn't make you a heretic. Oism is not a religion. It allows (and in fact encourages) people to listen to diverse points of view, pay attention to diverse types of art, etc. But let's not act like all art has the same aesthetic value, and every artist is equally right about whatever they wish to say through their art. You can in fact be "wrong", as an artist. Just as there's such a thing as an "a-moral" point of view in Ethics, the suggestion that there's no right and wrong art is the "a-aesthetic" point of view.

 

P.S. I deliberately avoided using "incompatible with", because, like Reidy, I'm unclear about what that means too. Just read what I wrote, and decide whether it fits your idea of "incompatible" or not. It could go either way. Listening to all kinds of music doesn't make you un-Objectivist, but suggesting that no style of music could possibly contradict the Oist sense of life would count as a pretty fundamental disagreement with Objectivism.

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2 minutes ago, Nicky said:

...music that expresses a sense of life that contradicts the Oist sense of life...contradicts Objectivism.

[...]

...suggesting that no style of music could possibly contradict the Oist sense of life would count as a pretty fundamental disagreement with Objectivism.

Hmm. Is there an "Objectivist sense of life"?

Here's Rand on "sense of life":

Quote

 

A sense of life is a pre-conceptual equivalent of metaphysics, an emotional, subconsciously integrated appraisal of man and of existence. It sets the nature of a man’s emotional responses and the essence of his character.

Long before he is old enough to grasp such a concept as metaphysics, man makes choices, forms value-judgments, experiences emotions and acquires a certain implicit view of life. Every choice and value-judgment implies some estimate of himself and of the world around him—most particularly, of his capacity to deal with the world. He may draw conscious conclusions, which may be true or false; or he may remain mentally passive and merely react to events (i.e., merely feel). Whatever the case may be, his subconscious mechanism sums up his psychological activities, integrating his conclusions, reactions or evasions into an emotional sum that establishes a habitual pattern and becomes his automatic response to the world around him. What began as a series of single, discrete conclusions (or evasions) about his own particular problems, becomes a generalized feeling about existence, an implicit metaphysics with the compelling motivational power of a constant, basic emotion—an emotion which is part of all his other emotions and underlies all his experiences. This is a sense of life.

Being "pre-conceptual" and "subconsciously integrated" and what-not, what would it mean for there to be an "Objectivist sense of life"?

Does it follow from your recognition that some music could "contradict the Objectivist sense of life," that there's such a thing as "Objectivist music"? (In that it expresses the "Objectivist sense of life"?)

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Don asked:

Quote

Hmm. Is there an "Objectivist sense of life"?

I think the answer to that question depends on whether one can have values that are objective and consistent with mans natural requirements?

 

Quote

It is only those values which he regards or grows to regard as "important," those which represent his implicit view of reality, that remain in a man's subconscious and form his sense of life[...]The integrated sum of a man's basic values is his sense of life.[...]Philosophy does not replace a man's sense of life, which continues to function as the automatically integrated sum of his values. But philosophy sets the criteria of his emotional integrations according to a fully defined and consistent view of reality (if and to the <rm_30> extent that a philosophy is rational).[...]To the extent to which a man is mentally active, i.e., motivated by the desire to know, to understand, his mind works as the programmer of his emotional computer—and his sense of life develops into a bright counterpart of a rational philosophy. To the extent to which a man evades, the programming of his emotional computer is done by chance influences; by random impressions, associations, imitations, by undigested snatches of environmental bromides, by cultural osmosis: If evasion or lethargy is a man's predominant method of mental functioning, the result is a sense of life dominated by fear—a soul like a shapeless piece of clay stamped by footprints going in all directions. (In later years, such a man cries that he has lost his sense of identity; the fact is that he never acquired it.)

The Romantic Manifesto

The implicit can become explicit, contradict the explicit, or be consistent with the explicit. In any of those cases a sense of life is still present.

Edit:

Don said:

Quote

 if a person considers himself an Objectivist, and decides that some music isn't life-affirming or otherwise "compatible" with Objectivism, but personally enjoys any of the music described above -- what does he do? I think he continues to enjoy the music he likes.

That would depend on that persons commitment to living a rationally integrated life driven by explicit philosophical premises. One could indeed take a passive back seat to his value judgments (and therefore simply accept unjustified emotional responses)

Edited by Plasmatic
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2 hours ago, Nicky said:

Yes. I'm not going to go into "which styles" (because arguments over music annoy me beyond belief, especially when they get pretentious), but to suggest that "one aesthetic cannot be incompatible with ANY OTHER aesthetic" is to suggest that aesthetics is meaningless.

So yes, as long as we agree that music has some kind of meaning, on any level whatsoever, different types of music will by necessity have contradictory meanings. Ayn Rand said that music can express a sense of life (paraphrasing). So, yeah, if you believe that, then music that expresses a sense of life that contradicts the Oist sense of life...contradicts Objectivism.

And, by the way, listening to such music doesn't make you a heretic. Oism is not a religion. It allows (and in fact encourages) people to listen to diverse points of view, pay attention to diverse types of art, etc. But let's not act like all art has the same aesthetic value, and every artist is equally right about whatever they wish to say through their art. You can in fact be "wrong", as an artist. Just as there's such a thing as an "a-moral" point of view in Ethics, the suggestion that there's no right and wrong art is the "a-aesthetic" point of view.

 

P.S. I deliberately avoided using "incompatible with", because, like Reidy, I'm unclear about what that means too. Just read what I wrote, and decide whether it fits your idea of "incompatible" or not. It could go either way. Listening to all kinds of music doesn't make you un-Objectivist, but suggesting that no style of music could possibly contradict the Oist sense of life would count as a pretty fundamental disagreement with Objectivism.

Great response, thank you.  By "incompatible" I just meant that if one listens to music that contradicts the Objectivist sense of life, can it be genuinely enjoyed from an Objectivist perspective?

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16 hours ago, Peikoff's Mullet said:

If so, which ones and why?

No, there are not.

That is, at least until the day that music is shown to comply with Objectivism's criteria for music via Rand's proposal and prediction that someday, someone will discover and define an objective "conceptual vocabulary" of music, which she stressed is currently missing. Until that time, music preferences and choices are, in her own words, to be treated as a "subjective matter" because "no objectively valid criterion of esthetic judgment is possible in the field of music" until such a vocabulary is identified. She added: "No one, therefore, can claim the objective superiority of his choices over the choices of others. Where no objective proof is available, it's every man for himself -- and only himself."

Of course, if someone ever does discover that elusive objective "conceptual vocabulary," then there would be forms or styles of music which be either compatible or incompatible with Objectivism.

J

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Jonathan said:

Quote

No, there are not.

That is, at least until the day that music is shown to comply with Objectivism's criteria for music via Rand's proposal and prediction that someday, someone will discover and define an objective "conceptual vocabulary" of music, which she stressed is currently missing. Until that time, music preferences and choices are, in her own words, to be treated as a "subjective matter" because "no objectively valid criterion of esthetic judgment is possible in the field of music" until such a vocabulary is identified. She added: "No one, therefore, can claim the objective superiority of his choices over the choices of others. Where no objective proof is available, it's every man for himself -- and only himself."

Jonathan, this post has stimulated me to address my apathy towards the Oist texts on aesthetics ( I study/chew everything but that)..... I see all kinds of problems in the quote you provided. I seem to recall Diana Hsieh made a comment somewhere about David Kelly's views on the Oist aesthetics. Do you recommend a certain text on his criticisms? 

edit: The above statement of Ms Rands constitutes an admission that Music is not a philosophical topic.

Edited by Plasmatic
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16 hours ago, Peikoff's Mullet said:

Well, for example, lots of rap and metal are very non-life affirming, very non-romantic, and overall very depressing in tone. Similarly there is a lot of music that is heavily spiritual and/or related to psychotropic drug usage. Obviously Ayn Rand would personally disapprove of these styles of music, but does the Objectivist view of art necessarily condemn music such as what I mentioned.

The fact that you, personally, or any other individual, interprets certain rap or metal songs as being "non-life affirming," "non-romantic," or "overall very depressing in tone," doesn't mean that all or even most other people do, that Rand would have, or that the creators of the music intended their art to express what you, personally, experience.

I and many of my friends have often experienced certain metal songs as firing us up, and making us feel strong and powerful, where others have interpreted the same songs as being dark and down.

Defining our terms was suggested above. Let's begin with "romanticism," and what Objectivism takes it to mean.

The essence of romanticism, according to Rand, is that it is the art form that recognizes and expresses the principle that man possesses volition. It shows man as valuing, and as pursuing his values. It shows him as independent, as a proponent of liberty, or as defiant against injustice, etc. That's what Rand's art did.

Do rap and metal also do so? Yes.

Let's look at one of the most controversial rap songs ever, Ice-T/Body Count's Cop Killer: Does it show a fictional person pursuing values? Yes. Which values? Freedom from having brutal force initiated against him by representatives of the state. It shows defiance against having seen his friends and neighbors killed despite acting within their rights (including their rights as defined by Objectivism). It's the fictional story of a man who wants to go all Howard Roark on brutal cops.

Objectivism holds that drug use should be legal. When rappers or metal artists write songs about going vigilante (going Roark, as I put it), shouldn't Objectivists be in agreement with the legalization issue, and shouldn't the experience a positive aesthetic response to the artistic expression of retaliating against the initiation of force, especially when that force comes from the state? (Personally, I don't advocate either cop-killing or building-dynamiting in real life, but I can identify with the aesthetic expression and emotional impact when it's limited to a work of art such as a Randian novel, or rap or metal song.)

One technical point: The title of this thread is about music, but you quickly switched to talking about lyrics which accompany music. I just wanted to point out that they are two distinctly different media, despite being commonly combined. Having said that, however, both can be interpreted differently by different people. It depends on the listener or viewer's perspective, and which elements in a work of art he has taken the time to observe and consider carefully, and which elements he chooses to give more weight than others. I don't think that a person's subjective tastes, preferences and interpretations can be removed from the equation. The fact that one may try to be as objective as possible when experiencing a work of art doesn't guarantee that he'll succeed.

As for the final sentence in your post, what Rand would have liked or dislike is irrelevant to this thread's question, by her own statement that I quoted in my last post about music's not having an objective "conceptual vocabulary." When she said that "no one can claim the objective superiority of his choices," that statement applies to her just as it would to anyone else.

J

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7 minutes ago, Jonathan13 said:

The fact that you, personally, or any other individual, interprets certain rap or metal songs as being "non-life affirming," "non-romantic," or "overall very depressing in tone," doesn't mean that all or even most other people do, that Rand would have, or that the creators of the music intended their art to express what you, personally, experience.

I and many of my friends have often experienced certain metal songs as firing us up, and making us feel strong and powerful, where others have interpreted the same songs as being dark and down.

Defining our terms was suggested above. Let's begin with "romanticism," and what Objectivism takes it to mean.

The essence of romanticism, according to Rand, is that it is the art form that recognizes and expresses the principle that man possesses volition. It shows man as valuing, and as pursuing his values. It shows him as independent, as a proponent of liberty, or as defiant against injustice, etc. That's what Rand's art did.

Do rap and metal also do so? Yes.

Let's look at one of the most controversial rap songs ever, Ice-T/Body Count's Cop Killer: Does it show a fictional person pursuing values? Yes. Which values? Freedom from having brutal force initiated against him by representatives of the state. It shows defiance against having seen his friends and neighbors killed despite acting within their rights (including their rights as defined by Objectivism). It's the fictional story of a man who wants to go all Howard Roark on brutal cops.

Objectivism holds that drug use should be legal. When rappers or metal artists write songs about going vigilante (going Roark, as I put it), shouldn't Objectivists be in agreement with the legalization issue, and shouldn't the experience a positive aesthetic response to the artistic expression of retaliating against the initiation of force, especially when that force comes from the state? (Personally, I don't advocate either cop-killing or building-dynamiting in real life, but I can identify with the aesthetic expression and emotional impact when it's limited to a work of art such as a Randian novel, or rap or metal song.)

One technical point: The title of this thread is about music, but you quickly switched to talking about lyrics which accompany music. I just wanted to point out that they are two distinctly different media, despite being commonly combined. Having said that, however, both can be interpreted differently by different people. It depends on the listener or viewer's perspective, and which elements in a work of art he has taken the time to observe and consider carefully, and which elements he chooses to give more weight than others. I don't think that a person's subjective tastes, preferences and interpretations can be removed from the equation. The fact that one may try to be as objective as possible when experiencing a work of art doesn't guarantee that he'll succeed.

As for the final sentence in your post, what Rand would have liked or dislike is irrelevant to this thread's question, by her own statement that I quoted in my last post about music's not having an objective "conceptual vocabulary." When she said that "no one can claim the objective superiority of his choices," that statement applies to her just as it would to anyone else.

J

Do you hold that values are objective (contextually)?

Can music be a value or a disvalue or is music only ever a subjective matter which never can affect one's life?

EDIT:  The above is not the same issue as whether or not music qualifies as Art according to Objectivism.

Edited by StrictlyLogical
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17 hours ago, Peikoff's Mullet said:

Well, for example, lots of rap and metal are very non-life affirming, very non-romantic, and overall very depressing in tone.

One more comment on the "depressing in tone" idea.

Romanticism can be "depressing in tone." I find We The Living to be very, very depressing. Yet it shows people exercising volition -- choosing their values, and pursuing them. The novel is romantic by Rand's definition even though the hero doesn't succeed! She keeps choosing to try, to fight, to escape, and to live.

The same is true of many rap and metal songs.

J

Edited by Jonathan13
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14 minutes ago, Jonathan13 said:

One technical point: The title of this thread is about music, but you quickly switched to talking about lyrics which accompany music.

That is the first thing I thought of while reading the quotes you supplied. Emotional responses to lyrics could not be subject to the same claims without severe philosophical trouble.

 

Edited by Plasmatic
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Just now, StrictlyLogical said:

Do you hold that values are objective (contextually)?

Values can be objective. Not all people's values are.

 

Just now, StrictlyLogical said:

Can music be a value or a disvalue or is music only ever a subjective matter (which never can affect one's life)?

Music has been known throughout its existence to be at least a subjective value. It has not yet been shown to be an Objective value, as my quotes from Rand attest and affirm.

People, based on their own personal, subjective responses to music, find great value in it. They interpret it as reflecting their values.

J

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8 minutes ago, Jonathan13 said:

Values can be objective. Not all people's values are.

 

Music has been known throughout its existence to be at least a subjective value. It has not yet been shown to be an Objective value, as my quotes from Rand attest and affirm.

People, based on their own personal, subjective responses to music, find great value in it. They interpret it as reflecting their values.

J

Do you hold that happiness or well-being or flourishing as an Objective value?  Does it serve life by enabling one to better meet the challenges of survival in face of changing conditions, good and bad?

 

Edit:  Do you see any distinction between Rand's holding musical choices or preferences as subjective and a conclusion that music as such cannot be an Objective value contextually?

Edited by StrictlyLogical
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23 minutes ago, Plasmatic said:

Jonathan said:

Jonathan, this post has stimulated me to address my apathy towards the Oist texts on aesthetics ( I study/chew everything but that)..... I see all kinds of problems in the quote you provided. I seem to recall Diana Hsieh made a comment somewhere about David Kelly's views on the Oist aesthetics. Do you recommend a certain text on his criticisms? 

edit: The above statement of Ms Rands constitutes an admission that Music is not a philosophical topic.

I don't remember specifically the comments that you mention regarding Hsieh and Kelley. I only know that I've been critical of both of their views, and found them to be inexperienced and not very informed on the subject of the arts. Kelley is knowledgeable of Rand's Esthetics, but I didn't find him to be very educated in the actual arts themselves. My criticism of both would be that they have a very top-down view of aesthetics, and that view isn't supported from the reality below. Reality doesn't match up well with their rather haughty theorizing.

J

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4 hours ago, Plasmatic said:
6 hours ago, DonAthos said:

Hmm. Is there an "Objectivist sense of life"?

I think the answer to that question depends on whether one can have values that are objective and consistent with mans natural requirements?

But isn't that what the Objectivist Ethics is meant to address, conceptually? The quote of Rand's that I provided refers to a sense of life as being "pre-conceptual."

So what then? If a man takes adopts values which are "objective and consistent with man's natural requirements," does one then automatically have an "Objectivist sense of life"?

Do all Objectivists share the same sense of life?

And what of the question I'd asked Nicky -- if there is an "Objectivist sense of life," could we then recognize "Objectivist music"? (Being that music which expresses/is "compatible" with the same.)

4 hours ago, Plasmatic said:
6 hours ago, DonAthos said:

if a person considers himself an Objectivist, and decides that some music isn't life-affirming or otherwise "compatible" with Objectivism, but personally enjoys any of the music described above -- what does he do? I think he continues to enjoy the music he likes.

That would depend on that persons commitment to living a rationally integrated life driven by explicit philosophical premises. One could indeed take a passive back seat to his value judgments (and therefore simply accept unjustified emotional responses)

What part of what you've written contends with my statement that a person ought to listen to the music he enjoys? I think that's part and parcel to "living a rationally integrated life driven by explicit philosophical premises." What I refuse to do is pretend that I like music that I do not, or that I dislike music which I enjoy, or to apologize or feel guilty for any part of that.

I recognize that there is a mentality various places in the world, or at various times in history, that requires some ideological stamp of approval for the art one allows himself to enjoy, the books he is permitted to read, the musicians he is allowed to praise, etc. I find that mentality contemptible, and I trust that you do, as well.

If by being an Objectivist, one's "sense of life" and tastes in art change such that one enjoys new things, or different things, that's fine; but to the extent one is an Objectivist yet finds that his artistic interests do not match those of Ayn Rand's -- or those of anyone else -- then I do not see that there is any call to change or hedge or hide. If one wishes to examine the source of his emotional responses to some given piece of art, I'm sure that could be instructive and meaningful. But I don't see it as any requirement for enjoying art, per se; I don't think that all such "emotional responses" need to be consciously "justified" or defended or related to one's conscious philosophy, or when related, found "compatible."

If I hear music and I enjoy it, that's justification enough for me to listen to it.

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3 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Do you hold that happiness or well-being or flourishing as an Objective value?  Does it serve life by enabling one to better meet the challenges of survival in face of changing conditions, good and bad?

Yes.

 

3 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

 

Edit:  Do you see any distinction between Rand's holding musical choices or preferences as subjective and a conclusion that music as such cannot be an Objective value contextually?

What do you mean by an "objective value contextually"? 

We each have subjective tastes in a variety of things. I might prefer the flavor of garlic where you might prefer onion. Or sweet versus salty. Or blue versus red. Or Beyonce's beauty versus Angelina's. As is true with tastes in music, there is no "conceptual vocabulary" which will make such subjective preferences of mine superior to or more objective than yours, or vice versa. So, if we were to apply your question about music to other subjective tastes (flavors, colors, etc.), what would it mean to ask if they "cannot be an objective value contextually"?

Btw, Rand's position was not that musical tastes are, by nature, subjective. She did not hold the position that mankind will always be limited to judging them as subjective, nor that mankind will always be limited to being unable to declare which tastes in music are objectively superior. She was certain that someday someone would necessarily discover an objective "conceptual vocabulary."

I disagree, just as I would disagree if someone to assert that a "conceptual vocabulary" will inevitably be discovered for flavors, colors and beauty preferences, et.c, and that that discovery would allow for the idea of certain people declaring that their own preference for such are "objectively superior," and than others are therefore wrong to prefer what they do.

Besides, the role of philosophy is to identify the existing reality of the nature of such phenomena, not to make predictions or to root for what one wishes to one day be real.

Occam's razor dictates that we not abandon the simplest hypothesis with the fewest assumptions: That musical tastes have always been subjective, and always will be; that music is, by its nature, a subjective medium.

J

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Rand's notion of "sense of life" has been brought up here, so I thought it might be helpful to remind readers of her admonition on the subject, from Ayn Rand Answers:

“In the light of what I’ve said, it is of course impossible to name the sense of life of fiction characters. You might name the sense of life of your closest friend-though I doubt it. You may, after some years, know approximately the sense of life of the person you love, but nobody beyond that. You cannot judge the sense of life of another person; that would be psychologizing. Judge their philosophical convictions, not whether their feelings match their ideas. That’s not for you to judge; it’s of no relevance to you.”

J

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Objective values are contextual but not subjective.  Part of the context is the particular nature of the valuer, his abilities, his situation, his potential etc. Such that one thing may be more valuable, objectively in furtherance of his life,than a different thing which may be more valuable objectively in furtherance of another person's life given his context. Here objective does not mean universal or contextless while contextual does not mean subjective.

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