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Usage Of 'compromised' Words

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Gabriel
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There are certain words, such as 'morality', 'moral/immoral', 'evil', etc. that have a powerful unconscious negative/discomfort 'load', due to their miss-use and tarnishing by different religious groups or otherwise sadistic weirdos. These words have become extremly caricaturized in contemporany society.

For example, if I listen to a speech of dr. Peikoff and he frequently uses these words that create psychological discomfort for the audience, some of his message gets lost, and some people might even end up disliking him (or rather disliking his presence, not his ideas).

These words have a powerul emotional conotation of disconform and are usually associated with bad memories of being chastized or something simillar, therefore the audience is, psychologically, on the defensive even if the topic does not apply to them.

I think that this is the number 1 cause of why Objectivism has been compared and misidentified as a cult or pseudo-religion, because of its extensive use of 'discomfort words', something lacking in a vast majority of the other ethics theories, even the more 'aggresive' ones.

From my experience, the most powerful change that Objectivists could make in their private and public lifes is to keep the message but speak in the language of the audience, that is, to use words with positive emotional conotations, which are more likely to support the message than disrupt it.

I am aware that Ayn Rand was very precise of her choice in words, the most memorable example for me being her defence of 'selfishness' at the begining of 'The Virtue of Selfishness', but I personally think this is one point she is wrong on.

An interesting experiment would be to take an ARI Op-Ed and 'translate' it into a more friendly language, which would be less likely to be mistaken as over-demonizing some people and over-evaluating the value of others, simply on an emotional level, due to the verbiage.

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An interesting experiment would be to take an ARI Op-Ed and 'translate' it into a more friendly language, which would be less likely to be mistaken as over-demonizing some people and over-evaluating the value of others, simply on an emotional level, due to the verbiage.

I'd like to invite you to do so, then. It would be interesting to see you paraphrase an Op-Ed to remove the offensive words, but still convey the same ideas as precisely and unambiguously. I assume you'd like to get rid of hostile words like moral, immoral, good, evil, capitalist, profit, fact, true, reality, ought, is.

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I'm my opinion, if Objectivists have to use a more friendly language to prove truth of their ideas, that's pathetic. It all goes back to the root of language and how for primitive thinkers, language is not a tool that communicates a specific message, but a bunch of sounds with their own mystic/intristic meaning. As though the sounds that make up the word capitalism are evil in themselves, apart from any meaning or definition.

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There are certain words, such as 'morality', 'moral/immoral', 'evil', etc. ...

For example, if I listen to a speech of dr. Peikoff and he frequently uses these words that create psychological discomfort for the audience..

An interesting experiment would be to take an ARI Op-Ed and 'translate' it into a more friendly language, which would be less likely to be mistaken as over-demonizing some people and over-evaluating the value of others, simply on an emotional level, due to the verbiage.

When I add all this up it seems that what you are really objecting to is having ideas and people judged. If that is the case, you are confusing Objectivism with Christianity.

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There are certain words, such as 'morality', 'moral/immoral', 'evil', etc. that have a powerful unconscious negative/discomfort 'load', due to their miss-use and tarnishing by different religious groups or otherwise sadistic weirdos. These words have become extremly caricaturized in contemporany society.

So? A proud, uncompromising moral stand for rational values has a powerful conscious positive/comfort 'load' for ME. If someone else feels otherwise, that's HIS problem. He probably wasn't Good Objectivist Material anyway.

For example, if I listen to a speech of dr. Peikoff and he frequently uses these words that create psychological discomfort for the audience, some of his message gets lost, and some people might even end up disliking him (or rather disliking his presence, not his ideas).

I think those people really don't like his ideas either.

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Sometimes, when I use the word morality around certain people, I have to explain to them that I do not mean morality in the mystical sense, but in the sense of ethics, with human life as the basis.

If you use words differently than how other people usually define them, you owe them a new definition, and an explanation why your definition is true, and the common one is wrong. But avoiding these crucial words because of their connotation, is nothing less than to surrender morality itself to the mystics.

If you run from your home whenever a neighbour threatens you, you are a coward. If you run from a concept whenever someone else uses it wrong, you are an even worse kind of a coward. You surrender not just your home, but your mind.

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It's a matter of form AND content, not form VS content.

You're fighting a double battle: one, a battle for concepts, and another battle so that people accept those concepts in YOUR language.

As far as I understand, if a person starts evaluating the world through an objectivist perspective, a re-evaluation of language is a natural result, therefore there should be more ephasis on the message and less on the package.

For instance, there are very few objectivist comedians, because Ayn Rand said that one must be serious when discussing philosophical or political issues. This even though humor has been one of the most powerful weapons against ignorance.

The list can continue, but the commitment to a single form of presentation is keeping objectivism back. Just my opinion.

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Objectivism exists only a relatively few years, and only a few thousand subscribe to it. Even if there isn't any Objectivist comedian yet, it doesn't mean anything.

Where did Ayn Rand say that humor is wrong? As far as I can recall she said it is a destructive force, to be used only against evil, and not for its own sake.

Ayn Rand's main "content" is a new code of morality. Can she "package" it without using the word morality? Or good and evil? I don't think she could have or should have.

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For instance, there are very few objectivist comedians,..

Why don't you be our first. Your approach to Objectivism...and Objectivists is so incredibly superficial, it appears to be a natural choice for you.

...because Ayn Rand said that one must be serious when discussing philosophical or political issues.

This is a total non-sequitur. Ayn Rand had no problem with comedy or comedians per se - and being serious about philosophical issues doesn't not preclude humor. In fact she used it herself.

I can't help noticing that you have yet to raise one substantive issue about Objectivism since you've joined this Forum. Your purported concern with the supposed manner in which Objectivism is presented I suspect masks some deeper questions you have about the philosophy. Maybe you'd make a little more headway if you raised them, rather than dancing around the issues with trivial comments about surface issues.

Fred Weiss

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In a discussion on another board, I explained to some folks that I'm selfish. One person's conclusion was that selfish people have no right to express an opinion on social issues, such as the illegality of drugs. I then went on to show every day examples of how everyone is selfish in their daily lives, eating, providing a roof over their head, seeking values that they enjoy and enrich their life, etc. I pointed out that according to his own belief, he had no right to present an opinion on the matter under discussion.

While I am of the opinion that people should use vocabulary that most accurately describes what they are saying (as has been a tertiary issue in another thread), I'm not for changing semantics for the purpose of popular appeal or "comfort". As a bad example, this makes me think of something like "The New Young Grunge Kid's Bible: Modern King James Adventure Version". :)

VES

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There are certain words, such as 'morality', 'moral/immoral', 'evil', etc. that have a powerful unconscious negative/discomfort 'load', due to their miss-use and tarnishing by different religious groups or otherwise sadistic weirdos. These words have become extremly caricaturized in contemporany society.

For example, if I listen to a speech of dr. Peikoff and he frequently uses these words that create psychological discomfort for the audience, some of his message gets lost, and some people might even end up disliking him (or rather disliking his presence, not his ideas).

Maybe you should get hold of a dictionary so that you can know what the words actually mean and not get dis-illussioned by whatever tarnishing you seem to find in their usage.

Or perhaps you are suggesting that Dr. Peikoff start distributing dictionaries for those who attend his lectures?!!

I just wouldn't have responded to Atlas Shrugged in the way I did, if Ayn Rand hadn't explicitly made clear and labelled say Hank as moral and Taggart as immoral!! What you want is for us not to judge them, but one ought to and should!!

Dinesh.

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Why don't you be our first. Your approach to Objectivism...and Objectivists is so incredibly superficial, it appears to be a natural choice for you.

On this board alone, I think both Fred and Dave Odden have sufficient comedic skills to make an excellent stand-up act at any comedy venue. (I keep saying this to them, but they just keep plodding along in their own respective careers. Nobody listens to me. :P )

But, regardless, Gabriel's premise is factually incorrect. It has been estimated that there are, at most, 500 full-time comedians in the United States. The United States population, as of last year, was estimated at approximately 290,000,000 people. Therefore, in the general population, there exists 1 comedian per 580,000 people.

I am personally aware of 2 Objectivists who have worked as professional comedians, Robin Fields and Bobby Sandler. Consequently, just to be on a par with the general population, that would mean there would have to be about 1,160,000 Objectivists in the United States. I submit that there is nowhere near that number of actual Objectivists in the United States, so the ratio of Objectivist comedians exceeds the ratio for the general population.

So, if anything, Gabriel must conclude Objectivism has more than its fair share of comedians. Which, makes perfect sense. How could an Objectivist survive participating on internet forums, with all of the inanity heaped against Objectivism, if we did not have a sense of humor. :D:D:D

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Objectivism has more than its fair share of comedians.

That is because humor is a high conceptual art requiring an active rational mind to appreciate. For evidence, see my theoretical analysis of humor at http://www.speicher.com/humor.htm and the remarks I made about humor on the Prodos radio show at http://www.prodos.com/transcript/betsyspeicher1.html.

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"Ralston Holcolm had no visible neck...." is just one example of how Miss Rand used humor in her books. I still laugh when I read the descriptions of her nefarious characters. Many of Roark's remarks are a delight to read. His answer to Toohey, for instance, when Toohey asked Roark to tell him what he really thought of him: "But I don't think of you." was his answer. I laughed myself silly. I still giggle to myself when I think of it. Another example is from an encounter Roark has when he attends Kiki's tea party. After telling a potential client that he doesn't play badminton, Keating advises him that he has made a mistake. Peter would have said that he loves badminton, that it is the game of kings. He would have then made sure that he knew how to play like a pro by the time he played with the client. "Be whatever someone wants you to be, that's the secret of client relationships." was the essence of his message. Roark answers simply, "I didn't think of it." Perfect. I've never understood how anyone could say that Miss Rand had no sense of humor. Her books are full of humor.

Gabriel's complaint seems to be that words have meaning. He needs to look up the meaning of nominalism and realize that Objectivists do not subscribe to the nominalist view of definition.

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On this board alone, I think both Fred and Dave Odden have sufficient comedic skills to make an excellent stand-up act at any comedy venue. (I keep saying this to them, but they just keep plodding along in their own respective careers. Nobody listens to me.
The one I'd like to unleash on "Gabriel" is Charles Novins. But I think we'd have to get him a "special dispensation" from the O-O moderators or he'd be kicked off the board in 3 days. :-)
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I don't think that you should say something in another way just so that someone would feel more comfortable hearing it. There is a clear definition of all the words you mentioned in the essays by Ayn Rand and I see no reason why one should choose some other words. After all, objectivism doesn't seek followers. It is people seeking answers.

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My favorite part is the fact that he's worried that the use of "morally charged" words will make people uncomfortable even if the judgments are not directed at them! So if Dr. Peikoff says, "Communism is evil," some people might not like him and therefore stop listening to him, and therefore he should refrain from making such statements? Sorry, but any people who are scared away from Objectivism on such a flimsy basis only deserve one thought: Good riddance!

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