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My Thoughts on the Objectivist Aesthetics

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KyaryPamyu
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Although Rand never mentions how she reached her theory of art, it's reasonable to assume that she did it by induction from established and important works of literature, painting etc. Virtually all art up until the late 19th century has been representational. Rand's contribution is a theory of representational art, so it can be argued that it has little application to alternative frameworks such as non-representational and conceptual art. Whether this is a limitation or not comes down to your personal preferences. If you like non-objective art and want to integrate it with representational theories of art, Rand's aesthetics will at best give you some hints for your project.

What is art for?

People love to occasionally take a break from the real world and live inside an idealized world. Granted, there are alternative ways to experience a different world: daydreaming, video games, intoxication and even sex come to mind. Art is unique because it's ready-made; no productive participation is required of the consumer.

Rand stresses in many places that any justification for art other than enjoyment chips away at the very soul of the artistic enterprise:

Quote

"the reason why in reading a story or looking at a painting we feel it is an end in itself is that we don’t want to experience that pleasure for any other purpose but the pleasure itself." [FW 58] "The simple truth is that I approach literature as a child does: I write—and read—for the sake of the story." [RM 162]

Why does art portray a total philosophy, and not just a few individual philosophic principles?

Let's say a novelist writes a novel about a hairdresser for celebrities. If his hero is fictional, the novelist will construct his life according to what he thinks human beings go through in virtue of being human beings: despair, triumph, futility etc. If, on the other hand, his subject is a real historical person, he'll make it seem as if the events of his life are perfect examples of the despair, triumph or futility of life. This is akin to how religionists take everything to be a proof of god—fortune or misfortune, the existence of the world or the non-existence of the world etc.—it doesn't matter what you throw at them, they'll find a way to convert it into evidence for their beliefs.

In art, every action, political rant, brushstroke etc. is in some way consistent with the artist's basic assumptions. By contrast, the real world contains some degree of randomness, e.g. Peikoff's example of fumbling while trying to elegantly open a champagne bottle during a date [OPAR 425]. (whether randomness exists outside of human actions is a much-debated philosophical topic).

Some O'ists find it puzzling that a four-line stanza or a statue can hold a total, entire, complete philosophy. This is because they look at the object and not at 'where it comes from', i.e. the source of the selections that construct the work. Such a concatenation is supposed to evoke a distinctive kind of world to your consciousness:

Quote

"Metaphysics. . . involves such a vast sum of knowledge and such a long chain of concepts that no man could hold it all in the focus of his immediate conscious awareness. Yet he needs that sum and that awareness to guide him—he needs the power to summon them into full, conscious focus." [RM 19]

"a novel (like a statue or a symphony) does not require or tolerate an explanatory preface; it is a self-contained universe, aloof from commentary, beckoning the reader to enter, perceive, respond." [L. Peikoff, preface to Atlas Shrugged)

A person can hardly enter another world by means of a statue if he looks at it the same way he looks at a G.I. Joe action figure. Most of the philosophical sciences look outward to the external world; aesthetics is uniquely tasked with studying man's inner world in correlation to outward objects of the senses, such as a canvas. Is music a microcosm? Despite being built out of invisible air vibrations, you'd be hard pressed to find a quicker way to tune out of your bus ride and slip straight into another world, than by putting a pair of headphones on.

Is architecture art?

I'm inclined to think that Rand simply commented on the traditional list of fine arts, rather than reconstructing such things from the ground up. In my opinion, architecture doesn't fit in with her definition of art. If buildings can be art, lunch boxes can be as well. Both are non-representational; both can be either enjoyed for their visual style and significance, or used to enclose people or sandwiches.

Quote

"Art is a selective re-creation of reality according to an artist’s metaphysical value-judgments." [RM 45]

"Architecture. . . does not re-create reality, but creates a structure for man’s habitation or use, expressing man’s values." [RM 46 {'architecture' is non-existent in the Ayn Rand lexicon}]

Why is aesthetics even a part of philosophy?

Art has existed for much longer than philosophy, so it certainly wasn't invented by philosophers.

When we describe man, characteristics such as having two eyes and a nose won't suffice—too many other animals have eyes and noses. By contrast, the moment you mention 'reason = primary means of survival' you've instantly narrowed the search down to a single entry: man. Likewise, if you want to build a universe in miniature, you have to ignore contingencies and go straight to the essential, important characteristics of earthly existence, i.e. metaphysical features. This is what gives your mini-world an instantly recognizable character, what we refer to when speaking of the world of Rembrandt or Monet.

Quote

"Cognitive abstractions are formed by the criterion of: what is essential?. . . Normative abstractions are formed by the criterion of: what is good? Esthetic abstractions are formed by the criterion of: what is important?" [RM 36]

Theory is hard and makes people's brains hurt. By contrast, everybody understands what they encounter in the world of the five senses. Philosophy can be downright unintelligible without the superheroes, pop idols and ancient myths that seep into popular culture and act as statements of what human life is all about.

The philosopher, priest and artist deal with the same topics, but in different forms. The philosopher describes the world in a conceptual form, the priest allegedly connects you to the immanent essence of that world, and the artist builds a world for contemplation.

Aesthetics is an objective science

Creating art is a skill. Natural talent and inclination is crucial, but producing tight artworks requires technical know-how. This technical toolkit removes restrictions to expressive freedom, rather than constraining it with asinine rules:

Quote

"Classicism . . . was a school that had devised a set of arbitrary, concretely detailed rules purporting to represent the final and absolute criteria of esthetic value. In literature, these rules consisted of specific edicts. . . which prescribed every formal aspect of a play (such as the unity of time, place and action) down to the number of acts and the number of verses permitted to a character in every act. . . and can serve as an example of what happens when concrete-bound mentalities, seeking to by-pass the responsibility of thought, attempt to transform abstract principles into concrete prescriptions and to replace creation with imitation." [RM 104]

Does aesthetics study beauty?

It can be argued that non-beautiful art has little appeal for those who seek art specifically for enjoying themselves. Rand makes no mention of aesthetics as a theory of beauty, but she does discuss a closely related subject: taste. Understanding precisely how taste works can help us identify why combinations that come across as 'tacky', 'sophisticated', 'chaotic' etc. can also come across as beautiful to some people and not to others.

The subconscious mind integrates everything we believe about the world. Thanks to this, we naturally feel the overall context underlying our everyday existence, with no further need to translate this feeling into words. Rand calls this phenomenon a sense of life. In my experience, this sense only comes to the forefront of my conscious attention in moments when something makes me feel that life is amazing, or when I feel that life is offensively not how it ought to be. Those strong reactions are an instance of my sense of life being converted into full-fledged emotions. Artists are so attuned to their sense of life that, during creation, most of their selections are almost forced upon them by their subconscious 'computer', as if possesed by a muse. This kind of inspiration works the other way as well: Rand notes how an essentialized fictional character (concretization of ethics) is just like an essentialized world (concretization of metaphysics): it can summon selections to your conscious mind, as if divinely inspired;

Quote

"Many readers of The Fountainhead have told me that the character of Howard Roark helped them to make a decision when they faced a moral dilemma. They asked themselves: “What would Roark do in this situation?”—and, faster than their mind could identify the proper application of all the complex principles involved, the image of Roark gave them the answer. They sensed, almost instantly, what he would or would not do—and this helped them to isolate and to identify the reasons, the moral principles that would have guided him. Such is the psycho-epistemological function of a personified (concretized) human ideal." [RM ch. 1]

Your sense of life, to be useful, needs to be rekindled constantly, the same way a fire needs a constant stream of logs to remain active. Otherwise it subdues into nothingness, and you're no longer able to make effortless and 'inspired decisions' the same way the artist does while creating. Put differently, you have to work much harder, because the conscious and subconscious are practicing social distancing rather than being a whole. Your brain is famished, and art is what it craves:

Quote

"If art is, as Ayn Rand said, a crucial nourishment of life, then you are engaged in self-imposed malnutrition. If it's a banquet, you are starving when there are countless courses" (L. Peikoff, "Poems I Like and Why, p. 1 - referring to O'ists who only know Rand's novels, classics, mystery, adventure and TV).

Sex and art

Quote

"Sense of life is predominant in two realms: sex and art. In sex, sense of life wouldn’t be as clear to you, since it’s harder to identify your own sexual reactions. So the best and perhaps only way to identify sense of life is by observing your reactions to art. (This is not a shortcut; it’s pretty difficult.)" [PO12 76]

Implicit in good (human) sex are two interrelated feelings:

1. That having sex is a special, out-of-the-ordinary activity. Some couples even use stories and role-plays to enhance the feeling that something special is going on. (By 'special', many people understand 'illicit', e.g. a nurse breaking the code to do naughty stuff with a patient. I'll leave other possible examples to your imagination.)

2. If sex it that special, then it's not something open to every Joe or Jane, right? Sex is a response to a person that you feel has a unique ability to navigate life. Both men and women look for strong partners; even if the masculine sex usually takes the lead in a sexual relationship, underlying the woman's sexual attitude must lie a strenght on par with the man's. The more flustered, excited and adoring your partner is, the bigger and greater you feel. Sex doesn't provide self esteem, it merely allows you to enjoy its perks. Branden notes [BPO 58] that no rational person will be motivated to keep himself pristine and admirable if his effort is not rewarded somehow. (It's even harder if you're being punished for it by government goons).

Sex is philosophical, just like art, in this manner: no sense of life is involved when you hear somebody say that water is a solid rather a liquid; you just find it goofy. But hearing from somebody that living is a meaningless, futile and mindless ritual?? I'll have to stop you there, buster. Pleasurable sex only happens when you feel that you're wholly entitled to that pleasure—as a human being and as this particular individual. If you genuinely feel like you're a useless blob of determined matter, there's no adoration to 'deserve' and sex is a farce.

Quote

"Sex, in Ayn Rand’s identification, is. . . a celebration of one’s power to gain values and of the world in which one gains them" [OPAR 344]

--------------

BPO 58 - Nathaniel Branden's taped lectures on the "Basic Principles of Objectivism" Lecture 16 (1958)

FW 58 - Ayn Rand's 1958 fiction-writing recorded course

PO12 76 - Leonard Peikoff, "Philosophy of Objectivism" Lecture 12 (1976)

RM - Ayn Rand, The Romantic Manifesto

Edited by KyaryPamyu
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What is the proof that there is such a thing as a sense of life in Rand's meaning given to that phrase? Persuasion that there is such a thing seems dependent on pointing to examples of it. I don't think that pointing to one's reactions to things are very persuasive that one has a sense of life in Rand's meaning of the term (cf.). I find the idea plausible only by considering my artistic creations, which is to say, the poetry I create. I don't think that one's responsiveness to a type of writing—say Rand's literature or Victor Hugo's—shows you that you have a sense of life and what it is. It shows at best that you can participate in the sort of sense of life the author exhibited of themselves. One should not be persuaded that one even has such a thing as a sense of life, in Rand's meaning of it, let alone what one's particular sense of life is, unless one has oneself created some art instances over some time and seen or begun to see how one is unable to get out of one's own creative skin and what that skin is.

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KyaryPamvu,

Rand expressed the view that the form of a building can be a work of art, and if it is, its theme is integral with the building’s purpose and its site (Fountainhead PK I 18, X 127, HR I 544–45, III 568, IX 633). Such a work takes function and site as constituents of its esthetic theme, which theme is the uniting principle of its specific form. The ornamentation of the building is integral with the function and theme of the structure. Ornamentation in the building that is a work of art rides on the method of construction; it is an emphasis of the building’s physical structural principles. Ornamentation must not choke the building’s sense, must not destroy its esthetic integrity, she remarked (PK XI 141, XII 171, XV 205).

The ornamentation inside the Stoddard Temple of the Human Spirit, designed by Roark, consists of the graded projections of its gray limestone walls and its vast windows. The temple is “open to the earth around it, to the trees, the river, the sun—and to the skyline of the city in the distance” (ET XI 356). Before that skyline, stands one ornament, true to the idea of this temple: one statue of a naked human body. There is another temple, one in real life, that is a work of art and is (partly) a capture in form of the theme, in Christian context, of its name: Thorncrown.

Roark’s buildings are characterized by Rand as analogous in their integrity and beauty to that of a living thing and the idea-plan of that living thing. Peter Reidy has written about this. As well, she characterized Roark’s buildings as analogous to a soul with integrity and as statements in form, statements of the life of men in their minds (PK I 18, X 129, XI 140, XV 205, ET X 327, HR II 558).

As you know, in Rand’s take, as with some earlier theories of art, the importance to man of a work as art “is not in what he learns from it, but in that he experiences it” (Rand 1963, 41). An art work as such, “an art work, as distinguished from a utilitarian object, serves no practical purpose other than that of contemplation” (37). I should point out, however, that a vase, a chair, or a building can be an artwork alongside its utilitarian function, and any expression of that function in the art is not the same as the function itself.

As you've likely noticed, the way in which Rand assimilated music (absolute music particularly) into her definition of art took some doing, and that is somewhat analogous to what she said about esthetics of architecture in The Fountainhead. In classic modern thought, analogies between music and architecture have often been made.

Rand's requirement that drawing and painting be figurative, and that artistic literature have a story and plot seem a contrived foisting of correct metaphysics in which there are no attributes or actions without objects or entities bearing them onto definition of art. The visual figure, such as a human body, or a story in a fiction might well be preferred by some of us because we have that corresponding sort of metaphysics, although such a 'because' stands in need of argument. Be that as it may, it is cheap to just avoid more and deep thinking about what is art by simply defining competitor conceptions of it out of contention at the outset, and for such a handy superficial reason at that. In the case of literature, in her dismissal of mood scenes as literary art because they have no plot, she ends up implicitly (without acknowledging it and perhaps not realizing it) kicking out such a poem as "Silent Noon" as an instance of literary art.

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KyaryPamvu,

I should not have said that Rand took the form of a building to be a possible work of art, only that it was a possible artistic work. I myself think it to be a possible work of art for the reasons stated in the earlier post. 

 

Rand was not alone in finding metaphysical, cognitive, and evaluative linkages in art. Her final characterization of their assembly was under her concept of a metaphysical value-judgment.

Rand’s explications of sense of life and metaphysical value-judgments are in terms of metaphysics that bears on human life and the role and character of values in it. She said that a sense of life sums up one’s view of man’s relationship to existence. That suggests that when she said this subconsciously integrated appraisal that is sense of life includes appraisal of the nature of reality, she was confining the metaphysical appraisal to implications for moral, human life. That would include some notion of the intelligibility or lack thereof in existence in general and in living existence in particular.

Rand had used the phrase sense of life once in Fountainhead, twice in Atlas, and evidently routinely in conversation before beginning to write about the meaning of the phrase in 1965. The phrase and concept “tragic sense of life” was title of Unamuno’s book of 1913 (Spanish; translated into English 1921)

In Atlas Rand once used the phrase sense of life tied to a sense of beauty and to the love of human existence. During Dagny’s tour of Atlantis, she visits the composer Richard Halley, who plays some of his piano pieces for her.

  • She was thinking of the years when the works he had just played for her were being written, here, in his small cottage on the ledge of the valley, when all the prodigal magnificence of sound was being shaped by him as a flowing monument to a concept which equates the sense of life with the sense of beauty—while she had walked through the streets of New York in a hopeless quest for some form of enjoyment, with the screeches of a modern symphony running after her, as if spit by the infected throat of a loud-speaker coughing its malicious hatred of existence. (AS 781)

In this passage, beauty and a sense of life saturated with it are aligned with life and the love of it. This is a use of the phrase sense of life consistent with Rand’s later definition of it.

Rand’s theory of esthetics is too restrictive in two ways. Firstly, the cognitive and emotional function of art is, I say, a family of end-in-itself integrations, among which Rand’s function is an important one, but only one. In “The Psycho-Epistemology of Art,” Rand wrote that art fulfills a need for end-in-itself concretization of metaphysical value-judgments. That is consonant with her idea, stated earlier in “The Goal of My Writing,” that the function of art is to supply moments of sensing as complete the life-long struggle for achievement of values. In the later essay “Psycho-Epistemology of Art,” Rand was not broadening her view of what is “the” function of art; she was only articulating more of the means by which it fulfills that function. In Rand’s view, there are other enjoyments in art besides fulfillment of that function, but no other function.

About psycho-epistemology: Rand and her circle had been using the term to refer to an individual’s characteristic method of awareness. Is the time scope of his outlook brief or long? Is his concern only with what is physically present? Does he recoil into his emotions in the face of his physical life and need for action? How far does he integrate his perceptions into conceptions? Is his thinking a means of perceiving reality or justifying escape from reality? Chris Sciabarra reports that Barbara Branden was the one who originated the concept (and, I presume, the word) psycho-epistemology. In her lecture series Principles of Efficient Thinking, Ms. Branden defined psycho-epistemology as “the study of the mental operations that characterize a man’s method of dealing with reality”. Nathaniel Branden further specified the compass of psycho-epistemology in an essay with that title in 1964.

Art performs the psycho-epistemological function, in Rand’s view, of converting metaphysical abstractions “into the equivalent of concretes, into specific entities open to man’s direct perception.” She held art to be a need of human consciousness. This stands in need of anthropological corroboration and crucial testing.

Secondly too restrictive, importance as Rand’s criterion of esthetic abstraction is a salient criterion in such abstraction, but the broader criteria of significance and meaningfulness also sort the esthetic from the purely cognitive and normative types of abstraction. Importance is the concept Rand took to be key in formation of a sense of life. She then restricted importance to a fundamental view of human nature. A sense of life becomes an emotional summation reflecting answers on basic questions of human nature read as applying to oneself. Such questions would be whether the universe is knowable, whether man has the power of choice, and whether man can achieve his goals.

The fundamental importance-questions whose emotional answers are vested in a sense of life were the same as Rand had listed the previous year in spelling out what are metaphysical value-judgments. Those questions had been:

  • Is the universe intelligible to man, or unintelligible and unknowable? Can man find happiness on earth, or is he doomed to frustration and despair? Does man have the power of choice, the power to choose his goals and to achieve them, the power to direct the course of his life—or is he the helpless plaything of forces beyond his control, which determine his fate? Is man, by nature, to be valued as good, or to be despised as evil?

That last question would seem at first blush to be a normative question, rather than a metaphysical one. I suggest, however, that it is a question for (i) the metaphysics of life and value in general, to which, as metaphysical fact, man is no alien and (ii) for the metaphysics of mind joining (i) (see also Peikoff OPAR, 189–93).

Rand’s writings in the 1960’s and 70’s on esthetics were something of a hodgepodge. One should keep in perspective her esthetics as part of her philosophy. They are a part of it, but not an essential of it; for the essentials of Rand’s philosophy had already been set out within Galt’s Speech in Atlas Shrugged, and esthetics was not dealt with therein.

Edited by Boydstun
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On 12/2/2022 at 6:59 AM, KyaryPamyu said:

1. That having sex is a special, out-of-the-ordinary activity.

I'm not even sure what you're getting at. All the quote really said is that sex has a lot to do with sense of life but it can be difficult to identify in that context. The section about sex seems out of left field, or not commenting on sense of life with regard to sex (eg what might role-play say about sense of life?)

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2 hours ago, Eiuol said:

what might role-play say about sense of life?

The section starts with some necessary prep for understanding Rand's theory that sex is "a celebration of one’s power to gain values and of the world in which one gains them." [OPAR p. 344]

For some people, illicit situations - such as breaking the nurse-patient code of conduct - are examples of being able to do things that ordinary people can't, in lieu of who one is; think along the lines of the rockstar stereotype, who can allegedly bypass the normal courtship process which binds to ordinary mortals (since women stick to his windows like Playdoh) and sleep with women as casually as brushing his teeth.

These examples signify greatness to some people, but not to everybody. This is why Francisco D'Anconia says "Tell me what a man finds sexually attractive and I will tell you his entire philosophy of life."

In addition to Branden's lecture (BPO 58), an interesting discussion of sex can be found in Peikoff's course Objectivism through Induction.

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56 minutes ago, KyaryPamyu said:

For some people, illicit situations - such as breaking the nurse-patient code of conduct - are examples of being able to do things that ordinary people can't, in lieu of who one is; think along the lines of the rockstar stereotype, who can allegedly bypass the normal courtship process which binds to ordinary mortals (since women stick to his windows like Playdoh) and sleep with women as casually as brushing his teeth.

I still don't get your point. It sounds really besides the point to talk about "illicit situations", what counts is what you find sexually attractive. What are you talking about with what ordinary people can or can't do? You seem to be saying that some people find certain relations sexually attractive because they are perversely doing something against who they are. But Rand is saying people find these situations attractive exactly because of who they are, because of their sense of life, not that some people find things attractive because they are attempting to bypass who they are. Indeed people can attempt to bypass who they are, but what they find attractive cannot be bypassed, it's inherent whenever they feel sexual attraction. Somebody can deny their attractions, sure, but they still have the attraction because of their sense of life and who they are.

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1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

You seem to be saying that some people find certain relations sexually attractive because they are perversely doing something against who they are.

By 'going against who they are', do you mean that they get their kink from pretending to be someone else - a hospital patient and a nurse? Then you missed my point. Fantasy is obviously a good-natured form of playing. It's the content of the game that's being analysed here, vis-a-vis sense of life. 

Role playing is versatile, For example, some people engage in role playing simply because it dissolves some of the familiarity that seeps into a relationship over time, a sort of return to the early days of dating where everything feels like treading new grounds, embarking on an adventure. And in other situations, it can be a philosophical kink.

Implicit in sex is that pleasure is open to those who deserve it. Pleasure is open (benevolent-universe premise) to those who deserve it (sef-esteem). Having sex consummates this fact.

The nurse-patient code of conduct is there for the sake of everybody else in that hospital (what they do somewhere else, in private, is up to them). Somebody who believes that the world stops him from getting what he wants (with the many necessary laws of conduct) might also conclude that a great (efficaceous) person is one that can plough through those limitations and get away with it. In other words, there's a dichotomy between the good (properness) and efficacy (one's sense of power, of being able to get what one wants). For such a person it's 'good to be bad', as it were. He thinks that by breaking the rules (perverting the good) he's an exceptional individual that can bypass the world's attempts to cripple his freedom and enjoyment. Such an individual is not going against who he is.

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12 hours ago, KyaryPamyu said:

Implicit in sex is that pleasure is open to those who deserve it. Pleasure is open (benevolent-universe premise) to those who deserve it (sef-esteem). Having sex consummates this fact.

Not that I entirely disagree, but you don't have much of an argument here because it isn't based on sense of life. You're talking about sense of life, then bring in a whole context about what sex is, what makes a good, and why it matters. The question wasn't what is good or bad sex, it was the relationship between sex and sense of life.

Picking an example about socially constructed agreements seems to focus on inessential issues (who cares about breaking social rules). You didn't mention what the person finds sexually attractive, rather you mentioned that the view on one's situation leads to some kind of sense of life. Besides, liberation from social mores indicates independence, and independence is partially about one's sense of power to get what they want. If you're only talking about fantasy, what I'm saying still applies. Tell me more about attraction.

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9 hours ago, Eiuol said:

The question wasn't what is good or bad sex, it was the relationship between sex and sense of life.

The relationship in question is how sense of life affects your artistic and sexual preferences. By preference I mean: the kind of partner and 'techniques' that make sex good or underwhelming to you. 

Why is it good or underwhelming? Because it gives you a sense of power, or fails to do so. And why does this particular person, this specific technique etc. make you feel like that? Because... (the reasons you give will tie in to certain beliefs - the same beliefs that make you like certain heroes, situations and attitudes in art). Pray do tell how it is irrelevant to:

9 hours ago, Eiuol said:

bring in a whole context about what sex is, what makes a good, and why it matters. 

-----

9 hours ago, Eiuol said:

You didn't mention what the person finds sexually attractive, rather you mentioned that the view on one's situation leads to some kind of sense of life.

No sense of life arises from viewing a situation as risky or not. Rather, the sense of life that you already have (formed over a long period of time via automatic emotional generalization) is active when you judge that, in the same way only privileged people ride in limos, only 'privileged' individuals get to have that kind of sex.

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On 12/4/2022 at 12:47 AM, KyaryPamyu said:

. . .

The nurse-patient code of conduct is there for the sake of everybody else in that hospital (what they do somewhere else, in private, is up to them). Somebody who believes that the world stops him from getting what he wants (with the many necessary laws of conduct) might also conclude that a great (efficaceous) person is one that can plough through those limitations and get away with it. In other words, there's a dichotomy between the good (properness) and efficacy (one's sense of power, of being able to get what one wants). For such a person it's 'good to be bad', as it were. He thinks that by breaking the rules (perverting the good) he's an exceptional individual that can bypass the world's attempts to cripple his freedom and enjoyment. Such an individual is not going against who he is.

That kind of analysis seems awfully speculative to me. It is plausible that if Dagny likes Hank to command her in sex and likes to comply and likes him to bind her, and as seems likely, is even more excited if restraints incorporate some Rearden metal, she is not going against who she is. But that is plausible already, just because we know from real persons that submissive in bed does not entail submissive in life. I'd say we don't need to figure out why she is turned on by her submissiveness in sex and do not need to find some sort of justifying explanation of how her sexual slant squares with her independent self-directing productive life. Or why it is necessary to burden understanding of either with Rand's notion "sense of life." True, Rand and N. Branden would try for the squaring and try to buckle on that particular burden. But that was a mistaken mental excursion, ambition, and responsibility.

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46 minutes ago, Boydstun said:

we know from real persons that submissive in bed does not entail submissive in life.

I think there's a natural dynamic of leader-follower in sex, following from the anatomical aspect. Usually the male is the 'boss', but polarity can be present in many other ways, even a female dominatrix. Either way, I personally don't see a philosophical significance to submissiveness, penetration or even special clothing.

Other animals don't care whether they get to business in a hotel room or in a hole in the ground. Where sense of life enters, in my view, is when people (consciously or unconsciously) add to the experience in various ways, according to what makes them feel like they're truly living the million-dollar life.

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21 hours ago, KyaryPamyu said:

Pray do tell how it is irrelevant to:

It isn't irrelevant, you're just expanding the topic beyond what you started with. As far as its relationship to aesthetics, sexual response is like responding to art. But you have a lot more ground to cover when you want to defend a philosophical theory on sex. 

 

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