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Friends and Friendships: Are they important?

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I've been thinking lately on Rand and Aristotle's thoughts on what the complete life is and must contain. Aristotle argues that friendship (and at least on some reading we might say "love" too) is a necessary condition for a complete life. No matter how virtuous a man might be, if he went through life without any friends his life was not complete. And I was just wondering if Rand would agree with this. Im not sure if she ever explicitly stated her views on it in any of the literature. Anyhow - it seems to me that even if Howard Roark went through his whole life without friends or a love partner, he still would have regarded his life as complete because of his work. I'm also inclined to think that Rand would agree with this, though I might be wrong. Im inclined to think that she would say that friendship and love, while they might enhance life, are not necessary conditions for the complete life.

So I'm curious on what other people's thoughts are on this - not just on Rand's position, but your thoughts on what is contained in the complete life. I myself would not consider a man's life complete, no matter his achievements, if he did not have friends. OF COURSE - I recognize that the friends have to be of a certain character, i.e. uphold the right values and excercise the right virtues. Certainly we would not fault a man for not making friends in a world full of moochers and second-handers.

AC

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It seems to me that it would depend on one's value judgements. Roark's life would have been complete, because architecture was his highest value. If a person does not value love or friendship, then why would he even notice their absence in his life?

As a side note: I have yet to come across a person who does not place at least SOME value to love and friendship.

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Affirming one’s values in others is very important, though I would not say essential to a happy life. I think any society that manages not to destroy itself immediately has enough good people to find friends. One may have to look long and hard, but chances are you will find people who share them even in the most irrational society. Personally, I can’t imagine living a happy and fulfilling life without knowing anyone who shares my values, at least on a casual/infrequent basis.

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One has to be careful not to put the cart before the horse. One can't have friends if one destroys one's life, but one can live one's life if one does not have friends.

I think one must set and keep a rational standard for who and what one will accept as a friend. One is far better off alone than with bad people for friends. The irony is that with a proper standard that some might question is "too" high, the result is no lack of friends!

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  • 3 weeks later...

I have wondered many times about this too. Many parts of the books of Ayn Rand, though they sound amazing...in some ways, don't appear possible. For example: Howard Roark. Could there ever, or has there ver been a person like Howard Roark? I know i have never met, heard or seen one, and to think that someone like him could exist seems rather surreal. What I mean by Howrd Roark, I mean a person who's highest value is their work and therefore they are able to disregard the rest of human existance. Because that's just how he is. Somehow, everything and everyone else becomes "irrelevant", unless they offer him reason or purpose. I find that I am this way in many aspects, but it seems impossible to have a person of all the characteristics of Howard Roark. I too, when intent upon a task, forget that anybody else around me exists. If i have a group assignment, ordinarily if not automatically I take charge and do it all. Yes it does become a burden, and I suppose also manipulation because I give the rest of the group a grade they never deserved, yet...the way my conscience works is like one I imagine Roark might've had. I know what I have to do, I know I can do it and how to do it, so I do. Even if I lack knowledge in a specific thing, I force myself to figure it out, learn it, or still do my best without giving up my effort. Yes, this is very selfish i know, when it is supposed to be a "group assignment", but the books only convinced me that I don't have to compromise my mind or idea to satisfy their purpose, I must fulfill my own. I don't care about having to carry the weight of the rest of the team, in order to accomplish what is "my" task. I don't beleive in "our" task, so i'm called ignorant and unreasonable. I mean, if they wish to express an idea or their own effort, then they would do the same, and try to take charge. This has happened before and from those moments is that I have formulated my close friendships. I've come to see it as: "If you want your ideas known, make them known, but I will not allow you from impeding mine". These friendships, like those of the book, consist of mutual agreement. I respect the values, ideas, and decisions of all people. Whether I agree with them or not becomes irrelevant, unless it affects me and my convictions. So, about the complete life: When regarding relationships, what makes it complete? I don't know. I wonder if it is possible to really be like Roark who seems to have gotten through all of his education without acknowledging a single person except maybe Keating, even though he didn't have to. Is it possible? Is it healthy? Is it reasonable? I don't know. Because I myself am frustrated by that part of me that "needs" people. Needs the conversations, interactions and contact. That "needs" and thirsts to find rational minds and other thinkers or analysts such as I. I can't say for a certainty that it is, but I know it has always felt, or perhaps it was imposed upon me that, we "need" other people to live...to survive. We need someone to love, and love us. Need someone to understand and be understood by. Need someone to serve as a mutual companion who will never ask you to sacrifice any part of yourself for their sake, though you know that if the moment came, you probably would(save their life, risk yourself). So i know i haven't offered you any answer. I too wish to know desperately because it affects me in my everyday life now. In personal relationships for example, i have sort of forbidden myself to like anyone who does not live by the same basic principles as I do. Someone with morals and powerful convictions. Someone, not to sound dull but, Like Dagny or Dominique. I get annoyed by my attraction to that which may appear "attractive". A movie star or a model completely contradicts what i trully want. At times I wonder if I really don't like anyone at all, out of the 4000 at my high school, or if I simply have not allowed myself to see them. The latter seems unreasonable because I honestly beleive I will encounter the person I wish to attain, in a way like was described in the books. It is a silent and secret acknowledgement on both parts, that is known...but not admitted. Yet there is also the issue in my mind of human nature that :If there was only 2 people in the world, or opposite sexes, at one point or another they would come together. Why is that? Is that even right? How would that fall into this whole scheme of equal values and all that. I really wish someone would say something to this. Anything I've said.

p.s.: I know it may appear in many of my posts, that I sort of plea a response. If this is so, it is only because I don't think my views have ever been heard in my entire life. The mind of the child has always been disregarded, or at least in the setting of my past and current time.

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Aristotle argues that friendship (and at least on some reading we might say "love" too) is a necessary condition for a complete life.

You need to keep in mind that Aristotle had a very broad conception of friendship. In his view, the guy you buy your gas from could be your "friend" even if you don't know him from Adam. It has been a while, but my recollection is that he had three different categories of friendship, of which the second is what we would think of today as a "friend" and the third of what we would equate with spouse or life partner.

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That all depends on the individual in question and if they value friendship or not. I think the reason many philosophers have said that friendship is a necessary is because a lot of people find that it is and they could not come across a counter-example, but they don't completely simplify it to the main point: It's necessary if you value it to the point where your life feels incomplete without it.

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That all depends on the individual in question and if they value friendship or not. I think the reason many philosophers have said that friendship is a necessary is because a lot of people find that it is and they could not come across a counter-example, but they don't completely simplify it to the main point: It's necessary if you value it to the point where your life feels incomplete without it.

That's exactly what I was trying to say earlier, but you explained it much better than I did.

I also added that I have yet to come across a person who doesn't value friendship.

In reference to talk about Howard Roark: I don't think it was Rand's intention that we believe a person like him would actually exist in reality. He (as are all of her characters) is a romanticized picture of man; Roark & Galt specifically are portrayals of the moral ideal.

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What do you mean by "complete"?

Happy? Worth living? Living up to its full potential for happiness?

The first and second do not depend on finding friends or even a love - if one has some great purpose (like a burning passion for one's career).

I would think that to fulfill your full potential, you need people you can share your values and achievements with.

Roark may seem to get along without friends, but what about Hank Rearden, Dagny, Francisco? Before Galt's Gulch they did not live up to their full potential.

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It seems to me that it would depend on one's value judgements. Roark's life would have been complete, because architecture was his highest value. If a person does not value love or friendship, then why would he even notice their absence in his life?

As a side note: I have yet to come across a person who does not place at least SOME value to love and friendship.

No.

Howrd Roark's highest value was Howard Roark. <_<

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Kesq - yes, it is true that Aristotle had a broad understanding of friendship in light of the three types - utility, pleasure, and vitrue friendships. The frist two are somewhat superficial as he thought - but yes, he did say that they were legitimate friendships. However, he does take the position that the virtuous person's life is not complete without VIRTUE friendships. At the end of chapter 9 of Book IX he says, "If a person is to be happy, he must have friends" - and here he is referring, I think, to the virtuous man and virtue friendships.

AC

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And I was just wondering if Rand would agree with this.  Im not sure if she ever explicitly stated her views on it in any of the literature. 

In the Q & A of the first tape of Leonard Peikoff's Objective Communication lectures, Ayn Rand talks a little bit about her relationship with her husband, Frank O'Connor. She talks about the fact that, without Frank, she could not have written Atlas Shrugged. She says he gave her the benevolent universe premise that allowed her to write such a novel--one that required so much focus and so much hard work, as well as a constant sense of the happiness available to man. (These are not her words, I am paraphrasing the ideas from memory.) It is a very moving speech, and suggests to me that she thought she could not have achieved what she did in her career without Frank in her life.

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It is a very moving speech, and suggests to me that she thought she could not have achieved what she did in her career without Frank in her life.

I heard her answer, when someone asked her (I believe it was at a Ford Hall Forum Q+A) what in her life, of all the things she had done, she was proudest of, and she said "That I married Frank O'Connor." :yarr:

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Kesq - yes, it is true that Aristotle had a broad understanding of friendship in light of the three types - utility, pleasure, and vitrue friendships.  The frist two are somewhat superficial as he thought - but yes, he did say that they were legitimate friendships.  However, he does take the position that the virtuous person's life is not complete without VIRTUE friendships.  At the end of chapter 9 of Book IX he says, "If a person is to be happy, he must have friends" - and here he is referring, I think, to the virtuous man and virtue friendships.

AC

This is jogging my memory. Thanks. I happen to agree with him, too. One can get by just fine without friends in the virtue category, but one can get by much better with them.

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Think about the people you can get along with. Why can you get along with them? What qualities do they possess?

Out of those you can get along with, who is likable? What qualities make them likable? Do they have a similar "sense of life"? Do they practice some rare virtue? Do they care about the sorts of things that you do?

If you're the "hard loner" type, is there anyone you can think of who stands out against the unconscious, lifeless masses? Anyone you take notice of, perhaps in subconscious approval? If so, what qualities does that person possess?

What is the function of the best among others in your life?

Once you've identified that function or set of functions, you will know why they make your life more complete.

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  • 3 months later...

[Mod's note: Merged with an earlier thread. sN]

Before I ask questions, let me quote what Rand wrote in her journals about Howard Roark from the book The Fountainhead: "...[H]e can no longer be hurt. The world has no painful surprise for him...Indifference and an infinite, calm contempt is all he feels for the world and for other men who are not like him...Being thoroughly a 'reason unto himself,' he does not long for other of his kind [!], for companionship and understanding."

Howard Roark does not long for others of his kind? I do. I admire people and I want to be admired - it is my version of a trade. But, however, I will not achieve what others view as greatness in order to be admired.

Another quote (of howard roark): "...[T]here is no danger of suffering. He does not suffer, because he does not believe in suffering. Defeat or disappointment are merely a part of the battle [!]. Nothing can really touch him. He is concerned only with what he does. Not how he feels...The world becomes merely a place to act in. But not to feel in."

When one is alive in this world, you must choose. If one makes a wrong choice, you suffer, or in other words, you live with the consequences, and thus, one prospers from one’s mistakes. If one did not suffer from mistakes, there would be no learning from anything. I think suffering is something very valuable to the survival and happiness of our species. You have to KNOW or FEEL your suffering from wrong decisions to know that they were indeed wrong.

Another quote (of Howard Roark): "...He does not consider his work as concerned with the benefit and convenience of others. They are merely a convenience for his work. He does not build for people; people live in his buildings. He does not expect or wish admiration: he merely expects a humble bow to his superior spirit[!] and its creation..."

If I were at the age of being able to get a job, I would have to be concerned with the benefit and convenience of others. First of all, I want to see humanity prosper, I want to see my friends prosper, and I want to be able to prosper from their achievements as well as my own….I can’t build a space station in order to merely express my genius and creation…the thing that defines one’s work, I think, is of what value it has. A space station would help others solve other mysteries of planets, the universe, and whatever else I cannot think of…but I would want the knowledge of their discoveries as well. I do not view it as altruism; I view it as a trade. For it to be altruism, I would have to want to build this space station for others with no benefit for myself. In this case, I would have all the benefit...and part of my benefit is seeing the people I value benefit.

Another quote: "He is in conflict with the world in every possible way...And his chief difference from the rest of the world is that he was born without the ability to consider others. As a matter of form and necessity on the way, as one meets fellow travelers - yes. As a matter of basic, primary consideration - no."

I consider the ‘others’ of whom I value.

Another: "...[N]ot greatly interested in the subject [sex]. Can never lose himself in love. Even his great and only love - Dominique Wynand - is not an all-absorbing, selfless passion. It is merely the pride of a possessor."

"If he could not have her, it would not break him or affect him very deeply. He might suffer - in his own indifferent way[!]..."

"Were it necessary, he [Roark] could rape her [Dominique] and feel perfectly justified."

Roark isn’t greatly interested in the subject of sex? Personally, I am greatly interested. It is something beautiful that expresses the love of another human being…if I could not have it, it would affect me very deeply. I would not be indifferent. I just want it the right way, not meaningless.

Now I want to ask those of you who are knowledgeable on Objectivism to tell me if this is what the views of Objectivism are. If it is, I don’t know if I can be a part of this aspect of it…I was very surprised to even find these quotes. I truly hope they are out of context, false, or that I am at least wrong in this regard!…because Roark was a character that I admired, and based on these quotes, I can’t admire him anymore. Sorry if I’m letting any Objectivists down, but I still believe in the rest of the philosophy, from what I know of it.

Counting on everyone's intellectual honesty,

Brian

Edited by softwareNerd
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Happiness is all about excluding others from your work. Just switch them off and do what you do, the way you want to do it, not the way others would like it. Then your work becomes an expression of yourself, and an image of your soul. Have it any other way and the "you" becomes just a tiny voice in your mind screaming "I want out! I want to be noticed!" And what "I" it speaks of is not known.

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Before I ask questions, let me quote what Rand wrote in her journals about Howard Roark from the book The Fountainhead:  "...[H]e can no longer be hurt.  The world has no painful surprise for him...Indifference and an infinite, calm contempt is all he feels for the world and for other men who are not like him...Being thoroughly a 'reason unto himself,' he does not long for other of his kind [!], for companionship and understanding."

Howard Roark does not long for others of his kind?  I do.  I admire people and I want to be admired - it is my version of a trade.  But, however, I will not achieve what others view as greatness in order to be admired.

The best way I can think of to put this, and it applies to your other questions as well, is that Roark's values are self-contained. Note that he does not eschew friendships altogether. In fact he carries on several friendships: with Austen Heller, Mike the Electrician, Steven Mallory and Gail Wynand. He enjoys these kind of friendships because they are like himself (possessed of a "self-sufficient ego" in Roark's words,) but he doesn't seek out people like himself; he doesn't make finding them his purpose. He is his own purpose. Such a purpose doesn't involve others in any way whatever.

Another quote (of howard roark): "...[T]here is no danger of suffering.  He does not suffer, because he does not believe in suffering.  Defeat or disappointment are merely a part of the battle [!].  Nothing can really touch him.  He is concerned only with what he does.  Not how he feels...The world becomes merely a place to act in.  But not to feel in."

When one is alive in this world, you must choose. If one makes a wrong choice, you suffer, or in other words, you live with the consequences, and thus, one prospers from one’s mistakes.  If one did not suffer from mistakes, there would be no learning from anything.  I think suffering is something very valuable to the survival and happiness of our species.  You have to KNOW or FEEL your suffering from wrong decisions to know that they were indeed wrong.

Pain is a reality. Rand never denies that. But for Roark, all pain is merely superficial. It was "suffering that went down only to a certain point." The reason for this is how Roark regards pain vs. pleasure. Both are real, but only pleasure has significance in itself. Pain, as you point out, is a means to an end, not an end in itself. If one regards pain as significant in itself, then there's no limit to the depth of suffering one may feel. But if the pain is merely part of the battle to achieve one's values, then it becomes a superficial obstacle to conquered, part of the price of achievement.

Another quote (of Howard Roark):  "...He does not consider his work as concerned with the benefit and convenience of others.  They are merely a convenience for his work.  He does not build for people; people live in his buildings.  He does not expect or wish admiration:  he merely expects a humble bow to his superior spirit[!]and its creation..."

If I were at the age of being able to get a job, I would have to be concerned with the benefit and convenience of others.  First of all, I want to see humanity prosper, I want to see my friends prosper, and I want to be able to prosper from their achievements as well as my own….I can’t build a space station in order to merely express my genius and creation…the thing that defines one’s work, I think, is of what value it has.  A space station would help others solve other mysteries of planets, the universe, and whatever else I cannot think of…but I would want the knowledge of their discoveries as well.  I do not view it as altruism; I view it as a trade.  For it to be altruism, I would have to want to build this space station for others with no benefit for myself.  In this case, I would have all the benefit...and part of my benefit is seeing the people I value benefit.

Again, this is a question of what is primary. The benefit of others, even of his friends, is not of primary value to Roark. His primary value is his own life, and it is to that end that his productive effort is focused. The benefit of others, whether of clients or of friends, is incidental, merely a means to an end. Yes, you're correct: it's a trade. But the trade is not the end, it's the means.

Another quote:  "He is in conflict with the world in every possible way...And his chief difference from the rest of the world is that he was born without the ability to consider others.  As a matter of form and necessity on the way, as one meets fellow travelers - yes.  As a matter of basic, primary consideration - no."

I consider the ‘others’ of whom I value.

This reinforces what I've been saying above. It's not a question of not considering others. It's not considering others as primary. That they or their values are not, in themselves, apart from one's own values, the goal of one's actions.

Another:  "...[N]ot greatly interested in the subject [sex].  Can never lose himself in love.  Even his great and only love - Dominique Wynand - is not an all-absorbing, selfless passion.  It is merely the pride of a possessor."

"If he could not have her, it would not break him or affect him very deeply.  He might suffer - in his own indifferent way[!]..."

"Were it necessary, he [Roark] could rape her [Dominique] and feel perfectly justified."

Roark isn’t greatly interested in the subject of sex?  Personally, I am greatly interested.  It is something beautiful that expresses the love of another human being…if I could not have it, it would affect me very deeply. I would not be indifferent.  I just want it the right way, not meaningless.

For the reasons you state, that sex is a expression of love for another person, it is not primary for Roark for the same reason that his friendships are not primary. Before you can say, "I love you," one must first be able to pronounce the "I". I'm honestly not quite sure what to make of the "rape" comment, except that it depends largely on Dominique's psychology: she wanted the pleasure of having Roark, but couldn't allow it to herself unless it was forced on her. "Rape" was the only way she could have sex. How this relates to Roark's motivation, I'm not sure.

Now I want to ask those of you who are knowledgeable on Objectivism to tell me if this is what the views of Objectivism are.  If it is, I don’t know if I can be a part of this aspect of it…I was very surprised to even find these quotes.  I truly hope they are out of context, false, or that I am at least wrong in this regard!…because Roark was a character that I admired, and based on these quotes, I can’t admire him anymore.  Sorry if I’m letting any Objectivists down, but I still believe in the rest of the philosophy, from what I know of it.

Counting on everyone's intellectual honesty,

Brian

Ask yourself why you you admired Roark and whether any of the abouve, properly understood, really prevents you from admiring him still. What Roark embodies is the essence of egoism: that one's highest value is one's own life, and that one needs no external, "higher" values to justify one's existence. If that is what you cannot accept, I would suggest taking a look at the underlying causes of that view. While the ethics of egoism is one of the most distictive aspects of Objectivism, it is not an irreducible fundamental. As Rand put it, "I am not primarily an advocate of egoism, but of reason."

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Now I want to ask those of you who are knowledgeable on Objectivism to tell me if this is what the views of Objectivism are.  If it is, I don’t know if I can be a part of this aspect of it…I was very surprised to even find these quotes.  I truly hope they are out of context, false, or that I am at least wrong in this regard!…because Roark was a character that I admired, and based on these quotes, I can’t admire him anymore.  Sorry if I’m letting any Objectivists down, but I still believe in the rest of the philosophy, from what I know of it.

You have to distinguish between Rand's notes on characterization, and her philosophical statements. Furthermore, you have to keep in mind the theme of The Fountainhead: independence. Because Rand was stressing Roark's independence, she could not give him traits that in other men would be perfectly okay, such as an interest in how his friends thought of him.

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Source said: “Happiness is all about excluding others from your work. Just switch them off and do what you do, the way you want to do it, not the way others would like it. Then your work becomes an expression of yourself, and an image of your soul. Have it any other way and the "you" becomes just a tiny voice in your mind screaming "I want out! I want to be noticed!" And what "I" it speaks of is not known."

That is true. I do accomplish the things that I want to accomplish, and I specifically noted that I would have it no other way. I only switch off the people that do not deserve to be recognized. And they have no influence on me. Let me make it clear that no one has any influence on my actions, that I can decide things for myself. But, with this given, I still expect attention from those that understand me. Didn’t Dagny Taggart long for someone that was holding the two rails at the end of the horizon? Didn’t she WANT to find Galt, when she did not know who he was, because he was the genius that created the motor? Didn’t she want someone that understands her to lean against? I say it is moral to want these things, and that they don’t contradict individualism. I’m sure you agree, but I am merely making clear what I think.

Evangelical Capitalist said: “The best way I can think of to put this, and it applies to your other questions as well, is that Roark's values are self-contained. Note that he does not eschew friendships altogether. In fact he carries on several friendships: with Austen Heller, Mike the Electrician, Steven Mallory and Gail Wynand. He enjoys these kind of friendships because they are like himself (possessed of a "self-sufficient ego" in Roark's words,) but he doesn't seek out people like himself; he doesn't make finding them his purpose. He is his own purpose. Such a purpose doesn't involve others in any way whatever.”

If Roark did not long for others of his kind he would not be a friend with those people. It is true that he did not seek out these people. If he wanted to seek out people, it would show a lack of self-confidence. But, however, Rand said that he does not long for others of his kind, for companionship, or understanding. The fact that he is his own purpose is why he can develop friendships with those that feel the same way. If it is immoral to long for others of our kind, then what are we all doing here on this forum? If we’re not supposed to long for others, why do any of us have any relationships? These relationships exist only because we make it clear that we are our own purpose, that are values are self-contained. Let me tell you this: That I want to develop friendships with Objectivists here on this forum, or anyone that is like-minded to myself. But that does not mean that I could not carry on without them -- and I think that was what Rand was trying to say; that we do not need others in this regard. But, then again, I am not familiar with the subject of psychology. I do not know how I would feel without all the relationships that I currently have; wouldn’t I be pretty lonely if I was stranded on a desert island?

Evangelical Capitalist said: “Pain is a reality. Rand never denies that. But for Roark, all pain is merely superficial. It was "suffering that went down only to a certain point." The reason for this is how Roark regards pain vs. pleasure. Both are real, but only pleasure has significance in itself. Pain, as you point out, is a means to an end, not an end in itself. If one regards pain as significant in itself, then there's no limit to the depth of suffering one may feel. But if the pain is merely part of the battle to achieve one's values, then it becomes a superficial obstacle to conquered, part of the price of achievement.”

True. I believe it is true that one should not have to bear more pain than they are supposed to – that one is not supposed to dwell in sorrow. But then why did Rand explicitly say that Roark does not suffer whatsoever because he does not believe in suffering? I would imagine she meant that Roark does not believe suffering to be of any value…that it is not a virtue of some sorts (I hope I am saying this right.) But if Roark did make mistakes and didn’t learn from them, if he was immoral, (and this applies to every person), then that person is expected to suffer. You can’t disregard the suffering in this context.

Evangelical Capitalist said: “Again, this is a question of what is primary. The benefit of others, even of his friends, is not of primary value to Roark. His primary value is his own life, and it is to that end that his productive effort is focused. The benefit of others, whether of clients or of friends, is incidental, merely a means to an end. Yes, you're correct: it's a trade. But the trade is not the end, it's the means.”

Since Roark represented what Rand thought of as ideal, and so did John Galt, then let me talk about Galt for a moment. Do you remember the part in A.S. where John Galt said he would end his life if the looters used him in order to reach Dagny? What is primary to Galt here: the life of himself, or the well being of Dagny Taggart?

Evangelical Capitalist said: “This reinforces what I've been saying above. It's not a question of not considering others. It's not considering others as primary. That they or their values are not, in themselves, apart from one's own values, the goal of one's actions.”

Look to what I said above. Isn’t Galt considering Dagny as primary? Isn’t it true that if Galt ended his life he would not have any more goals? (I know that we were talking about Roark, but I am more interested in what is morally correct; not discussing the exact way Roark acted. I don’t want to discuss people’s characters; I want to discuss what is right.) Of course Dagny is not a value apart from Galt’s own values, because he values her, but it is a question of what is primary.

-Okay, I understand what is meant by Dominique’s psychology when Roark raped her. But to digress, I did have a quote above that said: “"If he could not have her, it would not break him or affect him very deeply. He might suffer - in his own indifferent way[!]..."”

(If he couldn't be affected deeply because he couldn't not have her, then why would he resort to the rape of her?)

How many people here would feel deeply if one of your loved ones were to die? Now, don’t get me wrong, but I am not really interested in showing people here that they would be affected very deeply if someone close to them has died, or has suffered from a traumatic experience. I am interested in finding out if it is okay to be affected deeply if one could not have another – in any sense. Yet, Rand said that Roark would not be affected much were he to lose Dominique. Or is this just irrelevant because that is a situation in a certain context? If it were, then it would not be ideal.

DPW said: “You have to distinguish between Rand's notes on characterization, and her philosophical statements. Furthermore, you have to keep in mind the theme of The Fountainhead: independence. Because Rand was stressing Roark's independence, she could not give him traits that in other men would be perfectly okay, such as an interest in how his friends thought of him.”

Since Rand presented her moral characters as the ideal, I would imagine them to embody what she held philosophically. I understand that Rand was stressing his independence, but I do not believe that a truly independent person would be able to live without others, at least not happily. If one were able to live without others, then one would be perfectly fine on a desert island. Actually, they would be better off, since every immoral person on earth would be an inconvenience.

On a different note (not necessarily addressed to DPW): is it wrong to have an interest in what your friends think of you? If a conflict were to arise between someone I value and myself I would want it figured out and settled. One must understand that there is a COMPLETE difference in seeking attention from friends, lovers, etc., because of a lack of self-esteem versus having relationships with those that embody what one holds philosophically. Or versus, to be more exact, a relationship between two confident, independent, and moral people. One is ideal and the other isn’t: but they both care what their friends think of him, right? Now, if a friend of mine did think of me as evil and gave preposterous reasons, then I probably would not be a friend with that person anymore. But for my friends that I value, I care what they think of me…because I want to improve. And I would accept constructive criticism from them. If someone I valued expressed great concern for my actions and didn’t think my actions wise I would not say, “Screw you, I am independent.”

--Brian

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First, please learn to use the quote feature. It'll make reading these replies a lot easier for the rest of us.

If Roark did not long for others of his kind he would not be a friend with those people.

I don't see how this follows. "Longing for" others is not the same as valuing others. The latter does not imply the former.

It is true that he did not seek out these people.  If he wanted to seek out people, it would show a lack of self-confidence.  But, however, Rand said that he does not long for others of his kind, for companionship, or understanding.  The fact that he is his own purpose is why he can develop friendships with those that feel the same way.
Correct.

If it is immoral to long for others of our kind, then what are we all doing here on this forum? If we’re not supposed to long for others, why do any of us have any relationships? These relationships exist only because we make it clear that we are our own purpose, that are values are self-contained.  Let me tell you this:  That I want to develop friendships with Objectivists here on this forum, or anyone that is like-minded to myself.

I'm here in aid of my study of Objectivism. I value those who post on this board because they share my values. That is primary. Whatever relationship exists is based on that.

But that does not mean that I could not carry on without them -- and I think that was what Rand was trying to say; that we do not need others in this regard.  But, then again, I am not familiar with the subject of psychology.  I do not know how I would feel without all the relationships that I currently have; wouldn’t I be pretty lonely if I was stranded on a desert island?
Would you want just anyone there on the island with you or someone whom you value as a friend or loved one? Would social contact, for the sake of social contact, with a lying thief be of any value to you on a desert island? I think not.

I believe it is true that one should not have to bear more pain than they are supposed to – that one is not supposed to dwell in sorrow.  But then why did Rand explicitly say that Roark does not suffer whatsoever because he does not believe in suffering?  I would imagine she meant that Roark does not believe suffering to be of any value…that it is not a virtue of some sorts (I hope I am saying this right.)  But if Roark did make mistakes and didn’t learn from them, if he was immoral, (and this applies to every person), then that person is expected to suffer.  You can’t disregard the suffering in this context.

My interpretation was that by "suffering" Rand meant the sort of limitless, pointless pain experienced when pain is given equal footing with pleasure. This is what Roark doesn't believe in, and therefore doesn't experience, for the reasons I explained above.

Since Roark represented what Rand thought of as ideal, and so did John Galt, then let me talk about Galt for a moment.  Do you remember the part in A.S. where John Galt said he would end his life if the looters used him in order to reach Dagny?  What is primary to Galt here: the life of himself, or the well being of Dagny Taggart?
Actually, it was the other way around: that the looters would use Dagny to reach Galt, that they would torture her to make him give in to whatever they demand of him. In such a case, there would in fact be no values left for him, regardless of whether Dagny lives or dies. If he cannot act on his own judgement, on his own choice, the concept of value becomes irrelevant. "Where no alternative exists, no values are possible." ("The Objectivist Ethics," VOS) The only thing left to Galt in that case would be the ability, at least, to spare Dagny's life.

Look to what I said above.  Isn’t Galt considering Dagny as primary?  Isn’t it true that if Galt ended his life he would not have any more goals?  (I know that we were talking about Roark, but I am more interested in what is morally correct; not discussing the exact way Roark acted.  I don’t want to discuss people’s characters; I want to discuss what is right.)  Of course Dagny is not a value apart from Galt’s own values, because he values her, but it is a question of what is primary.

See my answer above.

-Okay, I understand what is meant by Dominique’s psychology when Roark raped her.  But to digress, I did have a quote above that said: “"If he could not have her, it would not break him or affect him very deeply.  He might suffer - in his own indifferent way[!]..."”

(If he couldn't be affected deeply because he couldn't not have her, then why would he resort to the rape of her?)

As I said before, I don't really understand Roark's motivation in relationship to Dominique, whether in the "rape scene" or anywhere else. (It's the one thing that puzzles me even more than Dominique's thinking in the first place.) So, I'm probably not the best person to try to answer this question.

How many people here would feel deeply if one of your loved ones were to die?  Now, don’t get me wrong, but I am not really interested in showing people here that they would be affected very deeply if someone close to them has died, or has suffered from a traumatic experience.  I am interested in finding out if it is okay to be affected deeply if one could not have another – in any sense.  Yet, Rand said that Roark would not be affected much were he to lose Dominique.  Or is this just irrelevant because that is a situation in a certain context?  If it were, then it would not be ideal.
Again, the relationship between Roark and Dominique never made much sense to me. In a general sense, I doubt very much that Rand meant to suggest that the loss of a valued friend or loved-one should be met with indifference. I believe Rand once said in an interview that if her husband died she would commit suicide. (She didn't, but she died only three years later.) Why she said this about Roark, I do not know.

On a different note (not necessarily addressed to DPW): is it wrong to have an interest in what your friends think of you?  If a conflict were to arise between someone I value and myself I would want it figured out and settled.  One must understand that there is a COMPLETE difference in seeking attention from friends, lovers, etc., because of a lack of self-esteem versus having relationships with those that embody what one holds philosophically.  Or versus, to be more exact, a relationship between two confident, independent, and moral people.  One is ideal and the other isn’t: but they both care what their friends think of him, right?  Now, if a friend of mine did think of me as evil and gave preposterous reasons, then I probably would not be a friend with that person anymore.  But for my friends that I value, I care what they think of me…because I want to improve.  And I would accept constructive criticism from them.  If someone I valued expressed great concern for my actions and didn’t think my actions wise I would not say, “Screw you, I am independent.”

If by "have an interest in what your friends think of you" you mean that one is willing to change to suit their opinions, then it is absolutely immoral. That's the essence of Peter Keating: be everything to everybody at the price of abandoning one's self. If your friendship is based on mutually shared, rational values, then you won't have to worry about being independent. Your friends will respect you precisely for that reason, among others.

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