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Life Delights in Life

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Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics 1169b29-1170a3 (Joe Sachs, translator)

"If being happy consists in living and being-at-work, and the being-at-work of a good person is serious and pleasant in itself, as was said at the beginning, and if what is one’s own also belongs among things that are pleasant, and we are better able to contemplate those around us than ourselves, and their actions better than our own, and the actions of serious people who are their friends are pleasant to those who are good (since they have both the attributes of things that are pleasant by nature), then a blessed person will have need of friends of this sort, if indeed he chooses to contemplate actions that are decent and his own, and the actions of a good person who is a friend are of that kind."


Leibniz, from Prefaces he wrote for collections of medieval state documents. (From Loemker 1956.)

1693 - "To love or cherish is to find pleasure in the happiness of another, or what amounts to the same thing, to accept the happiness of another as one’s own. Thus the knotty question of how there can be a disinterested love which is free from hope and fear, and from every consideration of utility, is solved, and in a way that is also of great importance in theology. For happiness of those whose happiness pleases us is obviously built into our own, since things which please us are desired for their own sake. Thus the contemplation of beautiful things is itself pleasant, and a painting of Raphael affects him who understands it, even if it offers no material gains, so that he keeps it in his sight and takes delight in it, in a kind of image of love. But when the beautiful object is at the same time itself capable of happiness, this affection passes over to true love. The divine love moreover . . . ."

1700 - "It seems desirable, however, to reply to one objection which has been made to me, on an issue upon which I touched . . . before it was openly discussed, and which recently excited much argument in France, until it was suppressed by authority of the king and the supreme pontiff. This is the controversy about whether love which is disinterested, and seeks the well-being of the beloved, nevertheless depends upon the impulsion towards one’s own well-being. Somewhat the same question, namely, had occurred to me when I prefaced [1693] . . . . For how can love be bestowed upon others? Who seeks the well-being of the beloved for its own sake, since we will nothing except for the sake of our own good?

"I should answer that whatever is pleasant is sought for itself, as opposed, that is, to what is useful to the good ends of producing the well-being of another. I observed that such is the object of true love, since to love or to cherish is to be delighted by the happiness of the beloved and his perfections. I understood the following objection to have been made against this—that it is more perfect so to submit to God that you are moved by his will alone and not by your own delight. But we must recognize that this conflicts with the nature of things, for the impulse to action arises from a striving toward perfection, the sense of which is pleasure, and there is no action or will on any other basis. . . . Nor can anyone renounce (except merely verbally) being impelled by his own good, without renouncing his own nature. And so it is to be feared that the negation of self which certain false mystics teach, and the suspension of action and thought by which they assume that we find supreme union with God [are incorrect] . . . ."


Blake America a Prophecy (1793)

“Life delights in life.”


Hölderlin Hyperion (1794)

“Where is the being that knew her as mine did? In what mirror did the rays of this light converge as they did in me? Was she not joyfully frightened by her own gloriousness when she first became aware of it in my joy?”

“. . . when the dear being, more faithfully than a mirror, betrayed to me every change in my cheek . . . .”


Rand We the Living (1936)

“Her face was a mirror for the beauty of his” (58).

“He looked into her flaming eyes with eyes that were like mirrors which could reflect a flame no longer” (445).


Rand The Foutainhead(1943)

The steel frame of Howard Roark’s house for Austen Heller has been erected. On site the workers notice that Roark’s hands “reach out and run slowly down the beams and joints.” Workers say “‘That guy’s in love with the thing. He can’t keep his hands off’.” Absorbed in work at the site, Roark’s “own person vanished,” but “there were moments when something rose within him, not a thought nor a feeling, but a wave of some physical violence, and then he wanted to stop, to lean back, to feel the reality of his person heightened by the frame of steel that rose dimly about the bright, outstanding existence of his body at its center” (138). 

Proceed from the literary foreplay at the Heller house to Dominique’s visits to Roark’s room and bed. “In his room, there was no necessity to . . . erase herself out of being. Here she was free to resist, to see her resistance welcomed by an adversary too strong to fear a contest, strong enough to need it; she found a will granting her the recognition of her own entity . . . . / . . . . It was an act of tension, as the great things on earth are things in tension. It was tense as electricity, the force fed on resistance . . .” (301).

On their last time, before they are separated for years, Roark says “‘I love you, Dominique. As selfishly as the fact that I exist. . . . I’ve given you . . . my ego and my naked need. This is the only way you can wish to be loved. This is the only way I can want you to love me’” (400; see also Wynand and Dominique, 539). 

Roark and Dominique are definite entities, definite selves, exposed to each other. Their tensed sexual occasions heighten awareness of their selves, awareness of each to own-self and to other-self. (Cf. Sartre’s Being and Nothingness 1943, 505–14 in the translation by Hazel Barnes.)

In her marriage to Keating, Dominique is a non-entity. (No tension, strength, resistance, or ecstasy in bed.) Keating is a non-entity in most of his existence. Most all of his desires and candidate desires and most all of his opinions receive their value to him by their potential for impressing others. Dominique is a mirror to him, and she makes herself not more than a mirror (452–55). She says to Keating: “‘You wanted a mirror. People want nothing but mirrors around them. To reflect them while they’re reflecting too. You know, like the senseless infinity you get from two mirrors facing each other across a narrow passage. . . . Reflections of reflections . . . . No beginning and no end. No center and no purpose’” (455).

—Wynand and Dominique—

“She sat at her dressing-table. He came in and stood leaning against the wall beside her. He looked at her hands, at her naked shoulders, but she felt as if he did not see her; he was looking at something greater than the beauty of her body, greater than his love for her; he was looking at himself—and this, she knew, was the one incomparable tribute (GW IX 537–38).

—Roark the morning after first time with Dominique—

“In some unstated way, last night had been what building was to him; in some quality of reaction within him, in what it gave to his consciousness of existence” (ET II 231–32). 


Rand Atlas Shrugged (1957)

“. . . her pride in herself and that it should be she whom he had chosen as his mirror, that it should be her body which was now giving him the sum of his existence, as his body was giving her the sum of hers” (957).

“She saw the reflection of her smile in his. / . . . / But the sum included the knowledge of all that had had to be earned, before the person of another being could come to embody the value of one’s existence” (1159).



Nathaniel Branden “Self-Esteem and Romantic Love”

In The Objectivist1967 December, 1968 Jan. and Feb.

Likewise in The Psychology of Self-Esteem (1969, Chap. XI)


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  • 1 year later...

Spinoza Ethics III – “On the Origin and Nature of the Affects”

“Love is nothing but Joy with the accompanying idea of an external cause.” (P13 Corr.)

“He who imagines what he loves to be affected with Joy . . . will also be affected with Joy.” (P21)

“If we imagine someone to affect with Joy a thing we love, we shall be affected with Love toward him.” (P 22)

“If we imagine a thing like us, toward which we have had no affect, to be affected with some affect, we are thereby affected with a like affect.” (P27)

“I shall call Joy accompanied by the idea of an internal cause, Self-Esteem.” (P 30 Schol.)

Edited by Boydstun
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