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Is Objectivism against drugs?

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goldmonkee
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Nearly all of the objectivist characters in _The Fountainhead_ and _Atlas Shrugged_ smoke cigarettes. I assume that the health hazards they pose weren't known at the time they were written? Otherwise it seems to contradict a lot of 'their' statements about life.

What do you guys think about using drugs to stimulate thought and action? I started smoking marijuana several months ago, but I've been beating myself up over it. On the one hand, it stimulates thought and action (increases my interest in things I normally don't enjoy, like doing the dishes and etc.), but it is an escape from reality. Quotes or articles from notable objectivists would be appreciated as well.

I've rationalized it to myself by saying that drugs are inanimate objects, which aren't inherently 'good' or 'bad'; it's dependent upon how you use them. But maybe I'm using that as an excuse because I like the high ;)

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I've rationalized it to myself by saying that drugs are inanimate objects, which aren't inherently 'good' or 'bad'; it's dependent upon how you use them.  But maybe I'm using that as an excuse because I like the high  ;)

No quotes come to mind off-hand, but I have some thoughts on the matter.

My main concern about that particular drug would be it's quality. Many years ago when I used it, we would sometimes get "laced weed", with stuff like PCP in it, and there was a big scare about Paraquat. Do you grow your own or know the source ?

You're also running the risk of becoming fodder in the "war on drugs".

Another thought I have about recreational drugs in general, and also the use of mood-altering drugs without rational therapy, is the risk of it encouraging complacency and lowering the objective quality of your life. In the same way that taking pain killers to cover the symptoms of physical problems, without good medical oversight, can lead to bigger problems, drugs that provide "joy", or that dull the experience of sorrow, without good psychological oversight, can distract your awareness from situtations in your life that could and ought to be improved.

If you value the high enough to take the risks and costs, however, I see nothing inherently wrong with it.

I very strongly recommend you take a much less tolerant attitude toward rationalization. It's good that you ask us if we think you're rationalizing, but rationalization is often difficult to detect in ourselves, let alone in others. If you really think you're rationalizing, I'd recommend seeing a psychiatrist - a couple explicitly Objectivist ones I'd recommend are Dr. Michael Hurd and Dr. Ellen Kenner. At least one of these offer services by phone and even by email.

Lastly, I'm convinced that the dangers of cigarette smoking are wildly exaggerated. They are there, and you should take some precautions if you smoke, but the anti-smoking frenzy today is rife with non-scientific, anti-industrial and collectivist propaganda.

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Lastly, I'm convinced that the dangers of cigarette smoking are wildly exaggerated. They are there, and you should take some precautions if you smoke, but the anti-smoking frenzy today is rife with non-scientific, anti-industrial and collectivist propaganda.

But I have heard that each cigarette you smoke reduces 8 minutes of your life and that non-smokers live longer than the ones who smoke?

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smokers stink! ;), thats reason enough to not do it. It increases the chance of lung cancer but so does smoking weed.

As to the MJ, take month off from smoking it and see how much more motivated you are and clearheaded. That should be enough to tell you that its not good for your brain. Yes you may think of interesting things while high but do you remember much of it the next day. Probably not. So whats the point. Other drugs like LSD, Coke, Heroin, Ecstacy are similar but can be much more destructive or physically bad for you. Alchohol is one of the worst drugs though and its legal, go figure. I'm for legalizing all drugs because I think the war on drugs is more destructive than the rugs themselves. There is a certain segement of the population that will use drugs legal or not. Why create another problem to fix this one. Well I'm rambling and I've had no COFFEE so I must have my fix. :) :)

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My main concern about that particular drug would be it's quality. Many years ago when I used it, we would sometimes get "laced weed", with stuff like PCP in it, and there was a big scare about Paraquat. Do you grow your own or know the source ?

You're also running the risk of becoming fodder in the "war on drugs".

I buy it directly from the grower; he delivers it to my house, and I never leave my property with it on me.

Another thought I have about recreational drugs in general, and also the use of mood-altering drugs without rational therapy, is the risk of it encouraging complacency and lowering the objective quality of your life. In the same way that taking pain killers to cover the symptoms of physical problems, without good medical oversight, can lead to bigger problems, drugs that provide "joy", or that dull the experience of sorrow, without good psychological oversight, can distract your awareness from situtations in your life that could and ought to be improved.
I have noticed myself saying "f*** it" about things that bother me more often, instead of doing something about it.

I very strongly recommend you take a much less tolerant attitude toward rationalization. It's good that you ask us if we think you're rationalizing, but rationalization is often difficult to detect in ourselves, let alone in others. If you really think you're rationalizing, I'd recommend seeing a psychiatrist - a couple explicitly Objectivist ones I'd recommend are Dr. Michael Hurd and Dr. Ellen Kenner. At least one of these offer services by phone and even by email.

You lost me here. What's wrong with rationalizing?

Lastly, I'm convinced that the dangers of cigarette smoking are wildly exaggerated. They are there, and you should take some precautions if you smoke, but the anti-smoking frenzy today is rife with non-scientific, anti-industrial and collectivist propaganda.
I agree, but I found it ironic that John Galt (the heroic being or what have you) would do something destructive to his life. I'm probably making a bigger deal out of it than it is though :)

s to the MJ, take month off from smoking it and see how much more motivated you are and clearheaded.

Will do.

..I've had no COFFEE so I must have my fix.

;)

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Nearly all of the objectivist characters in _The Fountainhead_ and _Atlas Shrugged_ smoke cigarettes.  I assume that the health hazards they pose weren't known at the time they were written?  Otherwise it seems to contradict a lot of 'their' statements about life.

I have thought about this myself, and I agree with you that the dangers of smoking simply were not understood (by the general public) at the time.

What do you guys think about using drugs to stimulate thought and action?  I started smoking marijuana several months ago, but I've been beating myself up over it.  On the one hand, it stimulates thought and action (increases my interest in things I normally don't enjoy, like doing the dishes and etc.), but it is an escape from reality.  Quotes or articles from notable objectivists would be appreciated as well.

From The Objectivist Ethics in The Virtue of Selfishness:

The three cardinal values of the Objectivist ethics—the three values which, together, are the means to and the realization of one's ultimate value, one's own life—are: Reason, Purpose, Self-Esteem, with their three corresponding virtues: Rationality, Productiveness, Pride.

...

The virtue of Rationality means the recognition and acceptance of reason as one's only source of knowledge, one's only judge of values and one's only guide to action. It means one's total commitment to a state of full, conscious awareness, to the maintenance of a full mental focus in all issues, in all choices, in all of one's waking hours. It means a commitment to the fullest perception of reality within one's power and to the constant, active expansion of one's perception, i.e., of one's knowledge. It means a commitment to the reality of one's own existence, i.e., to the principle that all of one's goals, values and actions take place in reality and, therefore, that one must never place any value or consideration whatsoever above one's perception of reality.

Obviously when stoned, you are not in a state of full conscious awareness, and by making the choice to get stoned you are placing something above your commitment to the perception of reality. And this is not just a temporary condition; chronic pot smokers are in a permanent "haze" even when they are not stoned. You said that smoking pot "stimulates thought and action,” but then gave the example of doing the dishes. How much "thought" is involved in washing dishes? Does it really stimulate thought or just dumb everything down, where you find even the most mundane of tasks enjoyable?

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You lost me here.  What's wrong with rationalizing

It is a species of evasion. It is the act of lying to yourself, pretending that their is a reason for a specific choice or action when in reality there is not. Its like pretend reason.

This is slightly different although very related to the problem of rationalism, about which there are lengthy disccusions elsewhere on this forum.

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I created a similiar thread about 2 months ago and you can find it Here.

From posting that untill now I have only smoked marijuana twice and those times have been during the weekend after I completed my chores and goals for the weekend. So I looked at it as a 'wind down' and I gave myself enough time to clear the 'haze' so I'm clear headed for the work week.

What I've discovered now about drugs is that they are a hindarance and they really do do what Bryan says they do...dumb things down and allow you to evade painfull situations because they dull your senses and you become complacent. I've gotten more things done this month (while quitting weed) than I have in 6 months. I have my entire 5 year plan mapped out and I have applied for the college that I want to go to plus I got a new job making twice as much as I was making and my relationship is better than it has ever been. All that was accomplished by quitting weed for the most part.

Now, on the downside, I am having to re-learn how to deal with stress and I've found myself over the past month coming into times where I'm a bit overwhelmed and feel helpless at times, but I personally think that I've felt like that in the past but the marijuana covered it up.

As for the cig issue w/Objectivism I feel that Ayn Rand lived in a time where cigs were not looked upon as bad because there wasn't enough scientific knowledge about them so she went on the stylized portion of them and smoked them herself and all her characters in her fiction did as well.

I personally have seen how drugs hinder ones ability to understand reality and I've made a pact with myself not to do them to the extent I have in the past (including painkillers which I need...i'm trying to be less reliant on them).

So good luck to you!

~Michael

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Lastly, I'm convinced that the dangers of cigarette smoking are wildly exaggerated. They are there, and you should take some precautions if you smoke, but the anti-smoking frenzy today is rife with non-scientific, anti-industrial and collectivist propaganda.

I agree with the last bit, but that does not mean that cigarette smoking is fairly harmless. And what "precautions" do you recommend? If you have some brilliant idea for reducing the risks from smoking there could be a lot of $$ in it for you.

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Here is a good example of how recreational MJ use can effect a family. Two guys of the same age grow up in the 70's as hippie types smoking weed. They both have 1 boy each. One quits doing drugs and the other does not. 30 years later the non-drug user owns a successful business, a house, a boat, has plenty of money for retirement, and lives debt-free. The drug user still rents a house, has a struggling business, can't take vacations, has huge credit card debts, etc, etc. The son of the non-drug user who is also a non-drug user ( except caffiene ) has 2 houses, nice cars, wife, kids, retirement accounts, no debt, etc. The son of the drug user who is also a drug user lives in a tiny apartment, no car, huge credit card debt, no wife, no kids, no plans. This is no coincidence.

Ps. the drug users have college degrees and the non-drug users have HS with some college which makes it even more of a contrast.

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I have another example of how recreational marijuana use can effect a family. Two boys of the same family with the same hair color, same height, same build, same intelligence etc. both decide to start smoking marijuana. One of them decides to stop. The other continues to smoke however.

The non-smoker stayed in school and went to college and is now the president of the United States. The smoker dropped out of school made bad friends and became a violent terrorist in Pakistan.

The lesson? Smoking marijuana not only ruins your life but it also turns you into a terrorist.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Nearly all of the objectivist characters in _The Fountainhead_ and _Atlas Shrugged_ smoke cigarettes.  I assume that the health hazards they pose weren't known at the time they were written?  Otherwise it seems to contradict a lot of 'their' statements about life.

What do you guys think about using drugs to stimulate thought and action?  I started smoking marijuana several months ago, but I've been beating myself up over it.  On the one hand, it stimulates thought and action (increases my interest in things I normally don't enjoy, like doing the dishes and etc.), but it is an escape from reality.  Quotes or articles from notable objectivists would be appreciated as well.

I've rationalized it to myself by saying that drugs are inanimate objects, which aren't inherently 'good' or 'bad'; it's dependent upon how you use them.  But maybe I'm using that as an excuse because I like the high  :confused:

My understanding was that Rand's objection to drugs was on the grounds that they impair you conciousness. I've never smoked, so I don't know for sure, but I don't think cigarettes are quite as bad in this area as drugs. I think the problem is when people use drugs to escape from reality. But I don't think ciggarettes quite fit that idea.

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Drugs are bad, M'kay?

I knew some people who smoked pot. They would smoke, and then talk a bunch of bull, and think they were making all sorts of deep, philosophical, and creative comments. But really it was all just stupid stuff that the drugs made seem better.

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I work in a place where my co-workers smoke pot all day long. They are in their mid-thirties, and despite their old looks, you'd swear they were fifteen.

Thanks for the link to the fifteenth trillion pro-marajuana propaganda site ex-banana-eater, but it still remains a fact that pot alters the brain. It is a self-imposed cloud.

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I work in a place where my co-workers smoke pot all day long. They are in their mid-thirties, and despite their old looks, you'd swear they were fifteen.

Thanks for the link to the fifteenth trillion pro-marajuana propaganda site ex-banana-eater, but it still remains a fact that pot alters the brain. It is a self-imposed cloud.

What I linked to was an article with explicit scientific evidence stating something contrary to an opinion of a post here. You are not proving anything to me by saying that marijuana has an effect on the brain, I am well aware of that.

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Marijuana does not kill brain cells.

http://www.norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=3475#12

You're right. I had read before (maybe propaganda) that marijuana had a similar effect (as far as damage) as alcoholn to the brain.

Nontheless, it still causes sensory and thought impairment. This is obviosly important. The short term memory loss noted in your link, as well as the inability to think clearly are blatant reasons to avoid drugs. Why would a person who values his mind impair it?

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  • 3 weeks later...

I think the important part is not losing perspective.

I like to drink Alcohol. I'm a college student, leave me alone :D

I'm not wild about it, I'll have a single beer with my dinner, and on rare occasions (like, three times a year at the most) when I feel like letting loose, a bunch of friends and I will go out and get hammered. (yes, even in military academies we manage to live like normal college students every know and then)

I just understand that my family has a history of Alcoholism, so I go way out of my way to limit myself. I don't drink to get happy, I am already happy long before I start drinking.

and as an Objectivist, I have no problems with people doing other drugs. Their bodies, their destruction. If they want my opinion on doing drugs I'll tell them; life is too good to waste too much of it in a haze. If you think you need that kind of escape to get satisfaction in life, then perhaps you should be looking for something more constructive. If you are happy and feel like you are achieving to the best of your ability, with drugs only being a minor side experience, then hey, just be careful that they do not end up dominating your life.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just like any mind altering substance there is use and abuse. Determining the difference is not an easy thing to do. It is my understanding that almost all mammals will seek out substances which will alter their brain chemistry (rotting fruit is a favorite for elephants and monkeys for a alcohol buzz). So that would make drug use/abuse a typical biological thing to do among us hominids. To enact laws to protect us from ourselves creates more problems than the drug useage.

Though not a substance, TV and religion come to mind as being the most abused form for altering brain chemistry. But thats just a personal opinion...

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The fact is drugs are good. So is sex. "Just say no" to life and pleasure is evil.  :blink:

Drugs can't be good or evil. They merely exist. Pleasure is good if your values are intact. If pleasure ever harms you, there is something wrong with your values. Using drugs is evil if you use them to sacrifice your values, good if you use them to uphold your values.

Does using drugs conflict any of your values? Support them? You have to answer that before you can say whether drug use is good or bad.

I doubt many can claim exemption from vices, but none can objectively defend them as good.

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