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Are There Styles of Music Not Compatible With Objectivism?

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7 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

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.

It sounds to me as if you've invented a new term for what "subjective" has always meant. It's as if you don't like the word "subjective," and don't want to accept that your subjective responses are subjective, so you're just calling it something else.

I would only ask if you're sure that you've contemplated the consequences of such semantic tactics. Are you sure that you want to establish a philosophical lexicon in which anyone can claim that their subjective ideas are actually "objective but contextual"?

Anyway, contrary to your statement, preferences in flavors, colors, facial beauty and music, etc., do not have "more value objectively" in furthering one's life. My preferring to look at and admire Beyonce's beauty over Angelina's has no consequence as to furthering my life. My or your preference for the one flavor over another, despite their both having the same calorie count and nutritional value, has no bearing on our survival. Such subjective pleasure experiences are neutral: they have no value other than providing us with personal pleasure as individuals. Pleasure responses are not objective values. They are not reliable indicators of furtherance of life, and in fact are quite often damaging toward life.

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And how do we know that the new guy is in error, versus that his critics are? By whose interpretation and aesthetic response do we judge? We can all declare that we're guided by Objectivism, and there

Given the complexity of the human mind, the meet-between of theory and concrete with regard to music will be hard to generalize across many people. A personal example: Radiohead. I developed an i

I thought StrictlyLogical wrote something interesting earlier in the thread with regard to "noise." We can agree that not every sound is "music," and thus there are bound to be certain sounds or

That is a straw man.  Of course not all differences of preference constitutes an example of objective value being contextual.  You think all objective value is universal? Independent of the individual?  Is objective morality also universal? Independent of the identity of the individual?

If you must be reminded of objective values being contextual look up Objective theory of values in the lexicon.

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Sometimes I fear that discussions like these get a little bit lost in the abstract. How about a concrete scenario for everyone to consider? (This will be detail-lite, which might not serve everyone's interest, but I like to try to keep things simple for as long as possible.)

Suppose a guy who grows up enjoying heavy metal music. In his late-teens or early-20s, he discovers Ayn Rand/Objectivism and finds himself convinced that this philosophy is correct. He sets about reassessing various features of his life as he integrates this new philosophy.

One day he signs into an Objectivist message board and greets the community, introducing himself as a "big fan of heavy metal." Suppose someone else responds and (rightly or wrongly) says, "Heavy metal? That's not life-affirming; it's not compatible with Objectivism, and you have a lousy sense of life!"

How do we assess this situation, and how ought our hero respond (externally and/or internally)?

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4 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

That is a straw man.  Of course not all differences of preference constitutes an example of objective value being contextual.  You think all objective value is universal? Independent of the individual?  Is objective morality also universal? Independent of the identity of the individual?

Yes, all objective value is universal: it is not influenced by personal feelings, prejudices or interpretations; it is true of and for all men.

Are you suggesting that you think that objective morality is not universal?!!! In other words, someone's initiating force against others can be "objective but contextual"? Are you saying that the Objectivist code of morality doesn't apply to mankind universally, that it not does not identify the nature of man qua man, and therefore only applies to those who personally adopt it, and therefore Objectivists don't have the right to impose the non-initiation of force principle on anyone else?

Anything which is not "independent on the identity of the individual" is what "subjective" means, and has always meant.

Further, the Objectivist notion of objectivity is that it is the process of volitionally adhering to reality by following logic and reason using a clearly identified objective standard. Judgments of music, flavors, color, and beauty, etc., do not follow that process. They are subjective.

In discussing musical responses, Rand explained that they must currently be considered subjective because a listener "cannot tell clearly, neither to himself nor to others – and, therefore, cannot prove – which aspects of his experience are inherent in the music and which are contributed by his own consciousness."

She continued that "He experiences it as an indivisible whole, he feels as if the magnificent exaltation were there in the music—and he is helplessly bewildered when he discovers that some men do experience it and some do not."

That's a good test for what is subjective, and not just for music, but for our responses to all phenomena. Can you distinguish between the object and which aspect have been contributed by your own consciousness? If not, it's subjective.

Beyonce is much more beautiful to me than Angelina. How can others not see that? Pizza Hut is much more delicious than Domino's. I'm bewildered that others don't agree! Rachmaninoff doesn't come anywhere near to blowing me away emotionally that Debussy does! How can you not feel it? Those are subjective judgments. They are not inherent in the value of the object, and are not true of all men, but include contributions from individual consciousnesses. To paraphrase the quote from Rand above: One cannot tell clearly, neither to himself not to others -- and, therefore cannot prove -- which aspects of those experiences are inherent in the object and which are contributed by his own consciousness. That inability to separate object from subject is what "subjective" means. 

J

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There are two different ways of judging art. You can judge it by its sense of life, or it's technique.

Something with a poor sense of life but executed superlatively can still be judged as "good art" esthetically. Rand gives examples of Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy as artists with a malevolent sense of life, and in the case of Tolstoy's art she personally disliked and found boring, but yet in both cases they have to be judged as great art. Likewise something executed poorly, even with a good sense of life, can be judged as "bad art" esthetically. That's not necessarily to say it's "incompatible with Objectivism", so much as just making the point that it's bad art, as an objective judgment.

Peikoff has a great lecture called "The Survival Value of Great Art", answering this question: 

   "Can artworks that are based on false or mixed premises satisfy a rational man's need for art? If so, how? More specifically why should one enter the dark world of Dostoyevsky or the deterministic world of Tolstoy? What benefit can there be from experiencing such art when the philosophy they concretize blatantly contradicts one's own?"

His answer is that there is definitely tremendous value to art (even when based on incompatible philosophical premises) - "what you get from soul-nourishing, life-enhancing great art", and that those missing out are "spiritually starved, whether they know it or not, because art is a crucial need of man". His point is along the lines that the distinctive value of great art is in the essentializing perspective of a great artist, and how it lets you view the world and your life in that essentialized manner.

As far as incompatible sense of life goes - absolutely yes. Rand identifies the "Objectivist" school of art as the "Romantic" (in her book, The Romantic Manifesto) - this she describes as the distinctively *volitional* school of art. In order to have art that represents man's *volition*, you need two basic metaphysical premises - that the world is an intelligible place open to man's understanding and affected by man's actions, and that man himself is capable of understanding and making volitional choices - i.e. benevolent universe premise and benevolent people premise.

The Romantic school combines both of these, whereas other schools tend to drop one or the other. For example she describes the poets such as Lord Byron or Shakespeare who create deep, rich characters, but those characters are trapped in a world where they are unable to achieve their values and drive the plot by their chocies - or, as in popular action novels, there's a world with a rich plot driven by the characters' choices, but the characters themselves are shallow and uninspiring. In either case, there are metaphysical premises behind the artist's sense of life contradictory to the nature of volition and the Objectivist philosophy and sense of life.

Just to reiterate, art based on philosophical premises incompatible with those of Objectivism can still be *good* art, and can still be a tremendous value and serve a crucial needed of man.

Specifically you ask regarding music - what styles of music are based on philosophical premises incompatible with Objectivism? First of all, within a given style you can express good or bad philosophical premises, depending on the content of the work. That being said, a particular syle does have a particular sense of life which can "slant" or "color" the content being displayed, and the philosophical premises of that style can be compatible or incompatible with Objectivism. Think for example of a picture of a bright sunny day which is then put through a sepia filter:

10252012figure_g.gif

Or with music, you can change the speed, the instruments, the tonality, etc.

As for a style with an incompatible sense of life with Objectivism, take for example vocal trance. The breathy, elongated tones of the woman singing expresses a futility or helplessness, like things are happening and you have no influence over them. This is a prototypical example of a malevolent universe premise style opposed to the romantic Objectivist style.

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9 minutes ago, DonAthos said:

Sometimes I fear that discussions like these get a little bit lost in the abstract. How about a concrete scenario for everyone to consider? (This will be detail-lite, which might not serve everyone's interest, but I like to try to keep things simple for as long as possible.)

Suppose a guy who grows up enjoying heavy metal music. In his late-teens or early-20s, he discovers Ayn Rand/Objectivism and finds himself convinced that this philosophy is correct. He sets about reassessing various features of his life as he integrates this new philosophy.

One day he signs into an Objectivist message board and greets the community, introducing himself as a "big fan of heavy metal." Suppose someone else responds and (rightly or wrongly) says, "Heavy metal? That's not life-affirming; it's not compatible with Objectivism, and you have a lousy sense of life!"

How do we assess this situation, and how ought our hero respond (externally and/or internally)?

And how do we know that the new guy is in error, versus that his critics are? By whose interpretation and aesthetic response do we judge? We can all declare that we're guided by Objectivism, and therefore that each of our differing tastes and interpretations are the properly integrate ones, and anyone who disagrees is wrong. Then, unless someone can actually provide some proof (which Rand admits is not possible without the missing "conceptual vocabulary") it's basically just an irrational shouting match in which one side is just posing as being better and more integrated Objectivists.

As Tyler is suggesting, I think people should like what they like. Instead of asking if it meets Objectivism's criteria or approval, why not start with the assumption that, being an admirer of Objectivism, you probably like it for some reason that is consistent with Objectivism, perhaps even without fully recognizing it yet. So instead of heading down the path to a guilt trip and self-repression, why not ask a different set of questions, such as, why does this resonate with me? Others tend to see it as bad and icky and depressing, but is that the way that I see it? Does it make me feel powerful? Inspired? Rebelious? What virtuous thing about it am I responding to?

J

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14 minutes ago, DonAthos said:

Sometimes I fear that discussions like these get a little bit lost in the abstract. How about a concrete scenario for everyone to consider? (This will be detail-lite, which might not serve everyone's interest, but I like to try to keep things simple for as long as possible.)

Suppose a guy who grows up enjoying heavy metal music. In his late-teens or early-20s, he discovers Ayn Rand/Objectivism and finds himself convinced that this philosophy is correct. He sets about reassessing various features of his life as he integrates this new philosophy.

One day he signs into an Objectivist message board and greets the community, introducing himself as a "big fan of heavy metal." Suppose someone else responds and (rightly or wrongly) says, "Heavy metal? That's not life-affirming; it's not compatible with Objectivism, and you have a lousy sense of life!"

How do we assess this situation, and how ought our hero respond (externally and/or internally)?

Given the complexity of the human mind, the meet-between of theory and concrete with regard to music will be hard to generalize across many people.

A personal example: Radiohead. I developed an interest during a period where my internal outlook was grim, and legitimately "loved" listening, in the "twisted" way that I could love anything at the time. As my life outlook changed, the association to that grim period and the grim music style kept me from listening, but over time I enjoyed them again for the "good" reasons: the music is interesting and complex and has all the elements of music that I enjoy otherwise, except that it is malevolent (although, over time their age has softened that). Furthermore, now I like the mental throwback to that former period in my life! So, they are still one of my favorite bands -- my chosen philosophy is Objectivism, but I love a "malevolent" band.

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43 minutes ago, epistemologue said:

There are two different ways of judging art. You can judge it by its sense of life, or it's technique.

Does one need any knowledge of technique in order to judge technique? Or are all such judgements equally objective and valid?

Rand made judgments of various visual artists' technical abilities. I'm a seasoned, professional visual artist, with expertise in color theory and complex perspective methods. Are her judgments of visual art as objective and valid as mine? When I disagree with her appraisals of an artist's abilities, and of his having an unmatched rank among artists, and I can point to objectively measurable reasons for my disagreement, are our judgments still just as equally objective and valid?

 

Quote

Something with a poor sense of life but executed superlatively can still be judged as "good art" esthetically. Rand gives examples of Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy as artists with a malevolent sense of life, and in the case of Tolstoy's art she personally disliked and found boring, but yet in both cases they have to be judged as great art. Likewise something executed poorly, even with a good sense of life, can be judged as "bad art" esthetically. That's not necessarily to say it's "incompatible with Objectivism", so much as just making the point that it's bad art, as an objective judgment.

But she also said that we can't know others' senses of life, and that claiming to know them was an act of pyschologizing.

 

Quote

Peikoff has a great lecture called "The Survival Value of Great Art", answering this question: 

   "Can artworks that are based on false or mixed premises satisfy a rational man's need for art? If so, how? More specifically why should one enter the dark world of Dostoyevsky or the deterministic world of Tolstoy? What benefit can there be from experiencing such art when the philosophy they concretize blatantly contradicts one's own?"

Artworks "based on a false or mixed premise" according to whose interpretation? How do we know that the viewer is competent to make such pronouncements? Before trusting that he has correctly identified an artwork's meaning, wouldn't we have to establish a rational test of his aesthetic competence as an arts consumer?

What happens when you or I disagree with his interpretation, and we have the aesthetic experience to see what he does not?

 

Quote

His answer is that there is definitely tremendous value to art (even when based on incompatible philosophical premises) - "what you get from soul-nourishing, life-enhancing great art", and that those missing out are "spiritually starved, whether they know it or not, because art is a crucial need of man". His point is along the lines that the distinctive value of great art is in the essentializing perspective of a great artist, and how it lets you view the world and your life in that essentialized manner.

As far as incompatible sense of life goes - absolutely yes. Rand identifies the "Objectivist" school of art as the "Romantic" (in her book, The Romantic Manifesto) - this she describes as the distinctively *volitional* school of art. In order to have art that represents man's *volition*, you need two basic metaphysical premises - that the world is an intelligible place open to man's understanding and affected by man's actions, and that man himself is capable of understanding and making volitional choices - i.e. benevolent universe premise and benevolent people premise.

Intelligible to whom? To me but not to you? To you but not to me? To one person in the whole world? To a certain percentage of people? To everyone? How would you propose that we objectively measure whether or not artworks are intelligible, versus that some people are aesthetically inept and incapable of identifying what is intelligible to others?

Quote

The Romantic school combines both of these, whereas other schools tend to drop one or the other. For example she describes the poets such as Lord Byron or Shakespeare who create deep, rich characters, but those characters are trapped in a world where they are unable to achieve their values and drive the plot by their chocies - or, as in popular action novels, there's a world with a rich plot driven by the characters' choices, but the characters themselves are shallow and uninspiring. In either case, there are metaphysical premises behind the artist's sense of life contradictory to the nature of volition and the Objectivist philosophy and sense of life.

Would you put We The Living in that same category with Byron and Shakespeare?

 

Quote

Just to reiterate, art based on philosophical premises incompatible with those of Objectivism can still be *good* art, and can still be a tremendous value and serve a crucial needed of man.

Specifically you ask regarding music - what styles of music are based on philosophical premises incompatible with Objectivism? First of all, within a given style you can express good or bad philosophical premises, depending on the content of the work. That being said, a particular syle does have a particular sense of life which can "slant" or "color" the content being displayed, and the philosophical premises of that style can be compatible or incompatible with Objectivism. Think for example of a picture of a bright sunny day which is then put through a sepia filter:

10252012figure_g.gif

Or with music, you can change the speed, the instruments, the tonality, etc.

As for a style with an incompatible sense of life with Objectivism, take for example vocal trance. The breathy, elongated tones of the woman singing expresses a futility or helplessness, like things are happening and you have no influence over them. This is a prototypical example of a malevolent universe premise style opposed to the romantic Objectivist style.

The above is false. The examples given will not have the same effect on all viewers, and will not be interpreted by everyone as you interpret them.

J

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Could it be appropriate to say that music can be objectively judged from a technical aspect, but can only be subjectively judged in terms of its emotive capacity?  Objectivism labels the modern art school as "bad" art.  What is it that separates music from other art forms in this respect?

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3 minutes ago, Peikoff's Mullet said:

Could it be appropriate to say that music can be objectively judged from a technical aspect, but can only be subjectively judged in terms of its emotive capacity?  Objectivism can label the modern art school as "bad" art.  What is it that separates music from other art forms in this respect?

I think that any work of art, not just music, can be judged objectively for technical merit, but only if we have some means outside of the artwork of determining what the artist technical intentions were.

And that's true of anything, not just art. A guy throws a ball and hits a garbage can across the alley. Was it an expert toss? We can't answer until we know what he was aiming at. Was he going for the can? If so, it was a good toss. Was he instead trying to hit the cat ten feet away from the can? Then not such a good toss.

Was the artist trying to accurately portray the light, shadows and perspective of a given scene, or was he intentionally trying to distort those elements for the purpose of effect? Again, we can't answer objectively until we know what he was aiming for.

J

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2 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

If you must be reminded of objective values being contextual look up Objective theory of values in the lexicon.

Context matters, yes. That's all "contextual" is supposed to mean, as distinguished from "ignore individual circumstances", but what is in the end right in that circumstance will be right for anybody in that circumstance (see my recent thread "Rational Recurrence" if you want to discuss it more).

I think Jonathan's main point is that your favorite color, or preferred flavors, or certain aesthetic reactions are really subjective and do not arise from any recognized conceptual process. I couldn't tell you why my favorite color is green. It just is. Aesthetic reactions would be something like an emotion. We could of course talk about how to respond to our emotions, but the emotion itself has no "conceptual vocabulary" - it couldn't, it's not conceptual in the first place. Rand seems to suspect that at least some of a conceptual vocabulary is possible to be able to evaluate aesthetics. She didn't prove that it can, though, nor did she claim that she did. I think Jonathan is saying he doesn't think there ever could be. Personally, I suspect that at least objective aesthetic evaluations are possible someday with a good enough aesthetic theory, but not all types of aesthetic reactions.

Back the the OP more concretely. Imagine this:

Listen to this song, Disintegration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Prpk5KKfBA. It is obviously anti-life. It sounds depressing in its tempo and minor keys, and its lyrics are nihilistic. This is totally anti-man. Since aesthetic evaluations come from one's sense of life, which is in turn affected by one's explicit views on reality, if you enjoy this song, you are implicitly anti-life. Look into why you like such nihilistic music, because this suggests your psycho-epistemology is warped. Check your premises.

This is wrong for several reasons.

How do you know it's anti-life?
How do you know that I get the same feeling as you from it?
Even if some feelings are shared, how do you know I like this song because of the anti-life parts?
How do you know how my thinking must be working?

When it comes to styles of music, you can appreciate many kinds for many reasons. It helps to be aware of how your emotions crop up, and listening to music of all kinds can help with introspection exactly because emotions go with it. For instance, most people would recognize a song like the one above (which is actually one of my favorite songs ever) as sad or depressing.

Even if it is depressing, and it might make you less upbeat, it doesn't mean you are worshiping or enjoying being depressed. Personally, I like a lot of stereotypically dark music, and recognize it as dark, most of my value in it is how it seems to enhance my ability to introspect. 

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2 hours ago, Peikoff's Mullet said:

Could it be appropriate to say that music can be objectively judged from a technical aspect, but can only be subjectively judged in terms of its emotive capacity?  Objectivism labels the modern art school as "bad" art.  What is it that separates music from other art forms in this respect?

But, what if we observe that many people have a similar response to a certain song or painting? There's an objective observation. But, what kinds of people are they? More objectivity. Even with yourself, there are certain objective conclusions you can draw about your own emotional reactions. Other conclusions are not so clear.

Music is so emotional, and it might be useful to say that your reaction is "subjective." But, we know that all of reality is objective, so what you're really terming "subjective" is simply the unknown reasons behind the emotional responses of your mind.

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Louis said:

Quote

I think Jonathan's main point is that your favorite color, or preferred flavors, or certain aesthetic reactions are really subjective and do not arise from any recognized conceptual process. I couldn't tell you why my favorite color is green. It just is. Aesthetic reactions would be something like an emotion. We could of course talk about how to respond to our emotions, but the emotion itself has no "conceptual vocabulary" - it couldn't, it's not conceptual in the first place. Rand seems to suspect that at least some of a conceptual vocabulary is possible to be able to evaluate aesthetics.

The only thing I have found her say we have no conceptual vocabulary for is music.

Quote

Until a conceptual vocabulary is discovered and defined, no objectively valid criterion of esthetic judgment is possible in the field of music. (There are certain technical criteria, dealing mainly with the complexity of harmonic structures, but there are no criteria for identifying the content, i.e., the emotional meaning of a given piece of music and thus demonstrating the esthetic objectivity of a given response.)

RM

 

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7 hours ago, DonAthos said:

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."

I don't see the problem. There are ethical implicit concepts in the preconceptual stage like any other. Likewise, I supplied quotes explaining how a sense of life can be integrated with a fully conscious and explicit philosophy. 

 

7 hours ago, DonAthos said:

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"?

 I think it rather is a case of a sense of life that is consistent with having objective values.

 

7 hours ago, DonAthos said:

Do all Objectivists share the same sense of life?

No, clearly not all Objectivist are at the same level of integration.

7 hours ago, DonAthos said:

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.)

At this point I have to table my views on what Ms. Rand claimed about music in particular and Aesthetics in general. I have studying to do and it doesn't look promising....

7 hours ago, DonAthos said:

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 will only say now that any emotion which is known to be unjustified by rational evaluations must be resisted. An example is an irrational fear of some harmless cause. That is part of emotional responsibility. Reasserting the facts that make that automatized response an irrational one. That process will eventually brings emotional harmony with factual evaluations. I don't mean pretending that you don't have such and such emotion but rationally evaluating its cause every time it shows up.

 

7 hours ago, DonAthos said:

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.

Of course. What I am saying has nothing to do with conformity to arbitrary "ideology" and if you think the choice is emotional whim or conformity to ideology, I challenge you to check that premise.

 

7 hours ago, DonAthos said:

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.

Not advocating repression, or hiding ones emotions either.

 

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19 hours ago, DonAthos said:

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

Here's Rand on "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"?

When you're asking "what would it mean", the implicit suggestion there is that you don't think it means anything. Just because something is pre-conceptual and subcosciously integrated doesn't mean that it's meaningless. I'll let you figure out what it means, but it definitely means something.

10 hours ago, Jonathan13 said:

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

Right...I'm not judging anyone's sense of life, just pointing out that it exists. And that not everyone's sense of life is the same...they can conflict.

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6 hours ago, Plasmatic said:

I don't see the problem. There are ethical implicit concepts in the preconceptual stage like any other. Likewise, I supplied quotes explaining how a sense of life can be integrated with a fully conscious and explicit philosophy.

I think the problem I'm having is, when I consider "ethics," I think of it as pertaining to that which man chooses. And "choice" I relate to conscious decision making. Perhaps my issue lies there? Because it seems to me that an ethics which discusses things which are outside of an individual's conscious choice (whether it bodes fair or foul) does not help one to live a better life. And if we're not talking about making choices to live a better life, then I don't see the point.

I recognize that there are several places I can be wrong here, and "sense of life" isn't something I've discussed much or given much thought to, so I'm approaching this subject very tentatively. But when I consider my "subconscious," or what Rand describes in the quote I'd provided for "sense of life," it strikes me as an area where I do not have direct, conscious control. I have a choice in what I decide to do -- the actions I take, in response to my "automatic response to the world" -- but that first, subconscious, automatic impression... that seems to take place on a lower level than I am able to consciously direct (being "automatic"). And thus, if I have no "choice" in the matter -- no choice in my sense of life, such as I understand it (notwithstanding Rand's explanation of volition as "focus"; I'm unqualified to speak to that, and only mean to speak to my experience of the world) -- then I guess I don't see the point in relating it to ethics.

I don't see how it serves a person, either introspectively (because if he judges himself to have a poor sense of life, what then? every potential prescriptive action, it seems to me, is already covered by ethics generally) or, if Rand is right in that we are mostly unqualified to judge the sense of life of others, in another fashion. If it's the case that by acting rationally insofar as one has a choice, one's sense of life will automatically, subconsciously adjust to reflect this, improving asymptotically towards whatever the ideal sense of life might be, then that's fine and dandy. But I still don't understand what good that information would do me in the interim. What more can I do than live my life and make such choices for myself as best I can?

With respect to music, I respond to the music I do. That's factual information about me, and having it is useful. But if I were to judge myself to have the "wrong responses" (though how I come to such a conclusion is another conversation altogether), I don't know what I would be able to do better or differently (I may investigate the origin of my responses, as you've suggested, to the best of my ability, insofar as conducting such an investigation in and of itself serves my interests, but I do not take it that this will necessarily change my responses -- consider JASKN's anecdote, for instance); on the basis of my consciously held philosophy, I'm already living as best I can. So the decision I believe I get to make is: this music that I enjoy listening to -- do I listen to it?

And maybe you have a good reason why I should not, but at present, my answer remains: yes. Because I believe that when one chooses to listen to music, the best thing to do, all else being equal, is to listen to the music one enjoys.

6 hours ago, Plasmatic said:

No, clearly not all Objectivist are at the same level of integration.

So would you say, then, that the more a person understands Objectivism, the better his sense of life is bound to be?

2 hours ago, Nicky said:

When you're asking "what would it mean", the implicit suggestion there is that you don't think it means anything.

No... you'd introduced "Objectivist sense of life" into the discussion, and I was trying to suss out what that would mean, in reality (maybe there are other sources who discuss a specifically "Objectivist sense of life," but I'm unaware of them off-hand). Since you were the one who spoke of it, I thought asking you to further describe what you'd meant might be a step in the right direction, and I also asked whether one of the implications I'd see in such a thing (relating directly to the thread) -- the existence of recognizably "Objectivist music" -- would follow.

But if you don't want to discuss what you meant, or answer the question I'd asked, that's fine.

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4 hours ago, Nicky said:

I'm sorry, so your answer is that this music doesn't exist, but it will magically appear some day? Or is your answer that this music does in fact exist, we just can't prove which music it is, just yet?

My answer is that there is no way to objectively determine if any work of music is "compatible with Objectivism" or not, and that there will not be a way unless and until someone discovers and objectively identifies the missing "conceptual vocabulary" that Rand mentioned as being required for making objective judgments of music.

J

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When discussing music and Objectivism, it should be kept in mind that during the 40's, 50's and 60's, when Rand was writing, the dominate school of cognitive science and psychology was Behaviorism.  Behaviorism's position is that Man's mind is fundamentally "conditioned" by the culture in which he lives.  And it followed, in the arts, that there is no reason why he could not be "conditioned" to appreciate abstract (non-representational art) and/or atonal music - such as the 12-tone music of Schoenberg, or the more serial compositions of Boulez, Stockhausen, Berio, etc.

Behind much of atonal/serial music was a pseudo justification of trying to construct an "objective" language - one not conditioned on history and culture.  The same reasoning was behind the International Style in Architecture , Abstract Expressionism in painting and other forms of art.  There was a deliberate attempt by artists to remove all history and culture from their work, and create "pure" art.  The above composers deliberately got rid of all melody, counterpoint, harmony, keys, modes, progressions, etc. 

Rand was, of course, adamantly against the notion that Man's mind had no identity, and that it is merely "conditioned".

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On 4/12/2016 at 11:00 AM, DonAthos said:

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

Here's Rand on "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"?)

If you read just beyond this quote in the actual chapter of the book, 

"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."

So it's not purely this "subconscious" thing that happens without any connection to your conscious activity.

She describes how your subconscious sense of life does follow from your philosophical premises - held implicitly or explicitly.

"A sense of life represents a man's early value integrations, which remain in a fluid, plastic, easily amendable state, while he gathers knowledge to reach full *conceptual* control and thus to *drive* his inner mechanism. A full conceptual control means a consciously directed process of cognitive integration, which means: a conscious *philosophy* of life."

So yes, there ought to be a distinctively Objectivist sense of life which follows from the Objectivist philosophy.

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11 minutes ago, epistemologue said:

So yes, there ought to be a distinctively Objectivist sense of life which follows from the Objectivist philosophy.

All right.

Given this: "It is the viewer’s or reader’s sense of life that responds to a work of art by a complex, yet automatic reaction of acceptance and approval, or rejection and condemnation."

Would you say that we should expect Objectivists to share the same general interests in/responses to art (in terms of "acceptance and approval, or rejection and condemnation")? We should like the same sorts of movies, music, and so forth, with increasing agreement insofar as we have integrated the philosophy? Or would that not follow?

And -- since I'd really like an answer at some point -- if there is a "distinctively Objectivist sense of life," would that suggest a "distinctively Objectivist music"? More broadly, is there Objectivist art?

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21 hours ago, Plasmatic said:

The only thing I have found her say we have no conceptual vocabulary for is music.

You're right. As I recall though, I don't think she gave an example of a conceptual vocabulary for any form of art. For literature, she was able to say the most, but did not articulate aesthetic judgment entirely. Mainly technical ways of evaluating. Or at least, it seemed incomplete.

Regarding the sense of life stuff, that should be in a new thread.

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5 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Regarding the sense of life stuff, that should be in a new thread.

I heartily disagree.

Beyond the fact that some people believe that tangents are "fine" and ought be followed in a discussion, sense of life bears directly on this conversation; it isn't being discussed for its own sake, but due to how it impacts the specific arguments being raised in this thread. For instance, Nicky's argument that "music that expresses a sense of life that contradicts the Oist sense of life...contradicts Objectivism." It then becomes central to this conversation to assess the claim that there is an "Objectivist sense of life," and how that bears on this question of "compatibility."

There are also Ayn Rand's thoughts on the matter, which directly link music to sense of life, such as:

Quote

Psycho-epistemologically, the pattern of the response to music seems to be as follows: one perceives the music, one grasps the suggestion of a certain emotional state and, with one’s sense of life serving as the criterion, one appraises this state as enjoyable or painful, desirable or undesirable, significant or negligible, according to whether it corresponds to or contradicts one’s fundamental feeling about life.

And:

Quote

Music conveys the same categories of emotions to listeners who hold widely divergent views of life. As a rule, men agree on whether a given piece of music is gay or sad or violent or solemn. But even though, in a generalized way, they experience the same emotions in response to the same music, there are radical differences in how they appraise this experience—i.e., how they feel about these feelings.

Thus, if Objectivists are expected to share a sense of life (insofar as they understand or have integrated the philosophy), then it would seem that we could expect Objectivists to respond to music, or appraise it ("enjoyable or painful, desirable or undesirable, significant or negligible") in the same rough fashion, and accordingly share in the same general likes and dislikes.

Yet... I think that if we were to compare notes, we would find that this isn't the case? (Unless everyone out there is listening to "tiddlywink music," and I'm just unawares.) Which appears to me to cast this idea that there is an "Objectivist sense of life" into some measure of doubt, at least.

Besides, if we want to answer the topic of the thread directly, I think it's pretty well answered with the quote Jonathan provided:

Quote

No one, therefore, can claim the objective superiority of his choices [in music] over the choices of others. Where no objective proof is available, it’s every man for himself—and only for himself.

That seems fairly definitive.

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22 hours ago, Jonathan13 said:

My answer is that there is no way to objectively determine if any work of music is "compatible with Objectivism" or not, and that there will not be a way unless and until someone discovers and objectively identifies the missing "conceptual vocabulary" that Rand mentioned as being required for making objective judgments of music.

J

I fully agree with that statement. But it doesn't answer OP's question. His question isn't how to find this kind of music, he's just asking if it exists or not. Does it?

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14 hours ago, DonAthos said:

All right.

Given this: "It is the viewer’s or reader’s sense of life that responds to a work of art by a complex, yet automatic reaction of acceptance and approval, or rejection and condemnation."

Would you say that we should expect Objectivists to share the same general interests in/responses to art (in terms of "acceptance and approval, or rejection and condemnation")? We should like the same sorts of movies, music, and so forth, with increasing agreement insofar as we have integrated the philosophy? Or would that not follow?

And -- since I'd really like an answer at some point -- if there is a "distinctively Objectivist sense of life," would that suggest a "distinctively Objectivist music"? More broadly, is there Objectivist art?

Yes, exactly!

As for "Objectivist art" - Rand was describing exactly this in The Romantic Manifesto - it's the Romantic school of art.

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