Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Relationships

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

Many years back, when I came to the conclusion that I was in control of my happiness, I asked myself, with this in mind: "Why do I need human relationships?" If happiness is internal (i.e. one can choose to be happy), then why would I need relationships?

Realizing that I lacked valuable relationships of any kind, and understanding that I cherished the intimate but rare conversations I've had with others, I couldn't come to understand why I enjoyed having deep, philosophical conversations.

I still have found no answer (nor do I accept something like "humans are social-animals"). So I pretended as if I had never had a meaningful conversation/relationship with someone else and asked myself what the world would be like.

I discovered that it would be annoying and at times, possibly unbearable. Then I asked why I would allow myself to be annoyed by the fact that there was no one to connect with--and that's where I really got stumped. Why is it that sharing experiences with someone you value is beneficial, and at times, cumbersomely relieving? Why do you enjoy it? Is it b/c people directly/indirectly effect your life and so if you share the same values then you know they will be effecting you positively?

I'd like to know.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Many years back, when I came to the conclusion that I was in control of my happiness, I asked myself, with this in mind:  "Why do I need human relationships?"  If happiness is internal (i.e. one can choose to be happy), then why would I need relationships?

[bold added for emphasis]

I counted six questions in your post. Which one is the essential one? Knowing that will make answering a lot easier.

In the meantime, perhaps I can address one point above. One cannot choose happiness. One can choose values which, if they are objective, if one picks the right course of action, and if one actually achieves those values, will lead to happiness.

Happiness is not a light switch we can turn on and off. It is a state of mind that changes slowly, not with a particular event (unless, by definition, the event is traumatic), but with a long series of events -- of successes or failures which may be due in part to conditions beyond one's control.

Your first statement, that you are "in control" of your happiness, is right, assuming you recognize that some factors may be beyond your control and that sometimes people make mistakes in the pursuit of happiness. Even if one turns out to be somewhat unhappy -- due to factors beyond one's control -- one can still say, "I nevertheless feel great satisfaction in knowing that I made myself the best person I can be morally and that I did everything I could do." Satisfaction is a worthy second prize if happiness is impossible in some situations. This is a point Ayn Rand made to Mary Ann Sures (as the latter notes in her little book, Facets of Ayn Rand).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Many years back, when I came to the conclusion that I was in control of my happiness, I asked myself, with this in mind:  "Why do I need human relationships?" ...

Realizing that I lacked valuable relationships of any kind, and understanding that I cherished the intimate but rare conversations I've had with others, I couldn't come to understand why I enjoyed having deep, philosophical conversations.

I still have found no answer (nor do I accept something like "humans are social-animals").....

I'd like to know.

One of the standard official Objectivist positions on the reasons for having friends and romantic partners is found in the article "Self Esteem and Romantic Love" by Nathaniel Branden in the December 1967 issue of the Objectivist (p369.) He claims that the principle psychological reason (which he discovered) for having such relationships is what he calls the "Muttnick principle": one can only see one's self as a "complete entity" by seeing the reaction of another person to one's self. He calls the other person your "mirror."

Miss Rand apparently agreed with this, since it is mentioned twice in Atlas and several times in her personal diary entries as quoted in the recent book "The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics." Edith Packer also agrees with this.

Nonetheless, this principle is complete wrong and is a good example of the pyscho-epistemological error known as Rationalism.

I suggest you read Branden's article for starters, then PM me, if you wish, for my further thoughts on the proper reasons for having friends and romantic partners; they exist, but they are not Branden's.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Care to provide a direct quote explaining "the principle" and another on how Miss Rand agreed with it? And if she did agree with "the principle" (as explained by direct quotes), care to provide a reasoned argument as to how it consists of Rationalism? Are we to take your word on the things you claim above?

Assertions such as these, particularly made with regard to Ayn Rand, considering the context of this forum, are not welcome. It's not respectful to come into a board of Ayn Rand admirers, claim she engages in Rationalism, present no clear explanation backed up with quotes as to how, and then exit the thread by proposing to substantiate your claim in private.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In the meantime, perhaps I can address one point above. One cannot choose happiness. One can choose values which, if they are objective, if one picks the right course of action, and if one actually achieves those values, will lead to happiness.

Agreed. Possibly what I was getting at with happiness being internal is that, if (for lack of a better example) someone calls me a jackass, I can choose to take their comment and internalize it and probably become pissed off, or I can say to myself, "He just called me a jackass. Does he have a right to judge me? And if so, why did he come to the conclusion I am a jackass?"

In the above sense I am choosing a way to deal with the situation as opposed to simply letting my emotions take over...I guess that wouldn't be choosing happiness; it would just be a better way to go about the situation :ninja:.

And yes, there were many questions in my original post. I was hoping someone would be able to read all of them and come up with a general answer or at least something that touched on the matter(s). If I could come up with the essential one it would probably answer much of the question itself :P , but I'm not sure I can.

one can only see one's self as a "complete entity" by seeing the reaction of another person to one's self. He calls the other person your "mirror."

I thought of something that was like that, but I didn't like the idea of since it relies so heavily on the judgement of someone else. But it is interesting, I will have to read more about it.

I suggest you read Branden's article for starters
Where can I find these?

(Edited to fix quotation tags - softwareNerd)

Edited by softwareNerd
Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Muttnick principle": one can only see one's self as a "complete entity" by seeing the reaction of another person to one's self. He calls the other person your "mirror." 

Miss Rand apparently agreed with this, since it is mentioned twice in Atlas

How astonishing- I put "Muttnick" into the search engine on my Objectivism Research CD-Rom for _Atlas Shrugged_, and I didn't get any hits. :ninja:

Nxixcxk, I recommend that you look up the topic "loneliness" in _The Ayn Rand Lexicon_. I remember she has some interesting comments on that topic that relate to your question, but I don't remember specifically where they originated.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Realizing that I lacked valuable relationships of any kind, and understanding that I cherished the intimate but rare conversations I've had with others, I couldn't come to understand why I enjoyed having deep, philosophical conversations.

This is not meant to be a full answer to your questions but rather some trivial observations:

If you value knowledge and clarity then having philosophical conversations can be valuable because you gain knowledge and clarity. Having to express your ideas to another person who doesn't share your context of knowledge can be quite a challenge during which you yourself become more aware of the connections among your various ideas. Or you discover that one of your ideas is false or inaccurate. Or the other person might point you to things that you previously didn't value. Or you care about your ideas a lot and feel good about spreading good ideas. Or you enjoy another person's rationality when he accepts one of your ideas he previously didn't accept because you made a good case for them. Or you might both be interested in a philosophical question you both don't know the answer to and during conversation develop a theory based on the different knowledge and different experiences of two different persons.

There are many different possibilities for why you enjoy deep philosophical conversations - or conversations in general...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Care to provide a direct quote explaining "the principle"
Please read posts more carefully before responding. What part of the citation above didn't you understand?

"and another on how Miss Rand agreed with it?"

Let's see:

-Brandens's article was published in HER magazine

-Dagny the mentions of the principle on page 888 of the 35th Aniversary Edition of Atlas in a most positive manner. This is never presented as error, like some of those made by Rearden, that is later corrected. I leave it to you as an excercise on your way to becoming less of a "fan" and more of a "student" to find the other mention in Atlas. Did you know it was there before firing off you missive?

-She acknowledges it's application to her on p252-253 of Valliant's book. I leave it to you as an excercise on your way to becoming less of a "fan" and more of a "student" to find the other mentions Valliant's book. Did you know it was there before firing off you missive?

Therefore, ALL the evidence available points to her accepting this principle.

And if she did agree with "the principle" (as explained by direct quotes), care to provide a reasoned argument as to how it consists of Rationalism?  Are we to take your word on the things you claim above?
I'm only going to discuss this with those who, at the very least, care enough about the subject to read Branden's article.

Assertions such as these, particularly made with regard to Ayn Rand, considering the context of this forum, are not welcome.

Well, who anointed you King of the Forum? If you don't like my post, report it.

It's not respectful to come into a board of Ayn Rand admirers, claim she engages in Rationalism, present no clear explanation backed up with quotes as to how, and then exit the thread by proposing to substantiate your claim in private.

You need to check your premises, their connection to your emotional responses, and DO YOUR HOMEWORK before you spout off emotional puffery like this. What makes you think I'm NOT and admirer of Ayn Rand? (For over 20 years, I've been an Objectivist who knows that Miss Rand has performed the finest thinking ever done....) DID YOU EVEN READ Branden's article before firing off your missive?

Do you think that Ayn Rand has never made a mistake and that every word of hers should be taken as Gospel and not considered before acceptance?

One of the reasons I've been reluctant to post on this on this forum is that there is too much unchecked Rationalism here and too many posters who haven't done their homework before posting.

I posted in answer to N's question "what are the reasons for having friends....." because the answer is not obvious from the literature, because Branden's article is wrong, and because this is an important issue. One needs to know exactly, precisely, what one is getting out of friendships and romantic partners.

My if-then response to N was to ensure that he first read the "official" background on this subject and because I didn't want to deal with the shoot-off-at-the-mouth-before-doing homework bunch, like you.

If serous students of this issue post here, I'll post here, but I'm not going to waste time with those who haven't bothered to do their homework.....

Edited by flyboy2160
Link to comment
Share on other sites

First point: I suggest you take your own advice as far as your first point; I said "Care to provide a direct quote explaining "the principle."" You seem to think that a citation is a direct quote and that it explains the principle, don't you?

Second point: I don't have Branden's article, if you do, why don't you provide a direct quote, instead of leaving us to take your word for it and its explanation?

Third point: I checked on page 888 of my 35th anniversary edition of AS, and it's a conversation between Cherryl and Dagny. This is the last conversation before Cherryl kills herself. I find no mention of "the principle" or what you claim Branden says is the principle: "..one can only see one's self as a "complete entity" by seeing the reaction of another person to one's self. He calls the other person your "mirror.""

Fourth point: I am an administrator of this forum. For the second time, I ask, please provide direct quotes i.) that explain "the principle" and ii.) that show Miss Rand used "the principle" in her own writing. We shall judge for ourselves whether she was rationalizing, as you claim, or not.

Fifth point: If you didn't want to "...deal with the shoot-off-at-the-mouth-before-doing homework bunch, like you," why didn't you private message him? Am I mistaken in questioning your sincerity in this? It seems as though you wanted to get in a smug remark publicly and not have to explain yourself.

Sixth point: You've been reading Ayn Rand for 20 years, however your behavior in calling me names, acting emotionally, and using ad hominems does not reflect this. Please act civil. One more post w/out the direct quotes I'm asking for and I will not have you post on this thread any longer.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If serous students of this issue post here, I'll post here, but I'm not going to waste time with those who haven't bothered to do their homework.....

I think you spelt Muttnik wrong, which could be why he had trouble finding it when searching. Not that failing to recognise a fairly obscure principle from a fairly obscure paper, which generates less than 30 hits on google, constitutes 'not bothering to do homework'. Edited by Hal
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Atlas citation I gave above is in the underground train station scene between Dagny and Galt. The paragraph begins "Then she was conscious...." In the edition I have this paragraph begins on page 887 and continues onto p888. In the Centennial Edition Trade Paperback, the paragraph begins on p956 and continues into p957.

And sorry, yes, it's Muttnik.

Branden, not me, is the one who elevates this principle's importance by claiming it is the primary psychological reason for having friends and romantic partners.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

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

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

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

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

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

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...