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Survival and Pleasure #2

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Gabriel
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I'm starting a new thread, so it's easier to follow.

I, accidentaly, made several points in one post:

1. Pleasure is subjective, meaning that the interpretation of something as being pleasurable depends on one's individuality. I also do not think there is such a thing as "objective pleasure". Any "objective sensation" as such. Sensations in themselves do not have to conform to reality. They ARE reality. Sensations are NOT man-made, because they are automatic responses, just like emotions. They are part of man, but they not the result of his conscious focusing.

What exists is OPTIMAL sensation, or an OPTIMAL emotions, but getting there is a different story. Ayn Rand makes a good job of identifying what this optimal is, in some circumstances, but getting there is spotty, at least.

I am also told that one can change his emotional evaluations by focusing his mind. I wish things were so easy! I think that this is the most eloquent proof of Ayn Rand's severly poor grasp of psychology and her unwillingless to integrate this centry's breakthroughs in this field.

It is true that conscious examination of emotions are reality can have SOME effects on your emotional functioning, but saying that emotions can be changed by simply re-examining your stance is like claiming that you can order your intestine to stop working if you think about it.

Emotional change is achievable, mainly thru different forms of therapy. Most therapies ARE reason-based, and the therapist's role is to challenge the patient's irrationalities.

Another point I'd like to make is that focusing one's mind is completly USELESS in some cases, since focusing requires a target, and if your mind employes defense mechanisms such as denial or repression, the object of your irrationality or problems is hidden from consciousness. You simply don't consider it. It takes an independent mind, that of the threrapist, to go where your mind won't lead you to.

"Check your premisses"... fine and dandy, but WHICH premisses? Do I have the certainty that they are accesible to my consciousness? No. In the case of repression, you can go on for YEARs and completly miss the point.

2. Sexuality is yet another example of Objectivism's poor grasp of human nature (both the common and the individual).

My initial point, which was not contested, is that ROMANCE and SEX are two different needs. Things are complicated by the fact that romance implies sex, while sex does not imply romance.

Actually, I have not seen ANY rational argument to support the idea that sexual behaviour is restricted to romantic contexts. What I have seen, and agreed with, is that sexuality is not bound by Ayn Rand's narrow view of romance, and that even if there's some overlapping between sex and romance, they are 2 completly separate issues.

Sex is NOT the body, and Romance is NOT the mind. Both are needs of the ENTIRE MAN. The sexual need has a mental component, and romance has a psysical component, but they are different needs.

If you see a gorgeous woman on the street, you are not aroused by her towering intellect and her commitment to reason. You just want to have her, sexually. You desire her in a sexual manner. There are mental implications, but they are not romance. I do not wish to have a romantic relationship with her. I wish for us to enjoy sex together.

Corespondingly, if I meet an intelligent and rational woman, and I fall in love with her, then I'll desire a romantic relationship with her. This relationship will imply sex, but that doesn't mean that I won't feel attracted to other women, or that I expect her to fullfill all of my sexual desires.

Again, focusing my mind will not prevent me from feeling attracted to that big-boobed collectivist, or fall in love with her. Does that mean that I should pursue these distructive impulses? NO. Does that mean I should fake it, and lie to myself, claiming that my mind can change feelings? NO.

To sum it up, I claim that your mind has total control on your actions, NOT on your automated fuctions (digestion, heartbeat, emotions). Also, sometimes acting out emotions that do not match your conscious conclusion can be beneficial to relieve the tension of unsatisfied emotions. (consistetly deying yourself and your current status can only get you into a mental hospital, not closer to your ideal).

People are different, including you, and you should work with that. This is NOT subjectivism. Reality is ONE, but there are many ways in which you can reach a harmonious agreement between reality and your own goals. Ayn Rand's sollution, namely total denial and repression (as seen in Roarke, Dagny, and every other major character), might not work for your.

Her sollution worked for her, and gave her certain results. She had a view of man's mind, and she meant it. Were her results best? I'd say that she could have done a much better job.

3. Regarding gender roles... man and women differ in 2 areas: the structure of their genitalia, and some hormonal levels.

Now, if you can explaim to me why hormones or penises should stand in the way of a woman who wants to become president, you're welcomed to try.

Also, I can't see why it's ok for women "just to feel" (which also implies that feeling is somewhat dirty) while for men it's not.

Man's larger body might be an argument in 200BC, but today it stands little chance, ESPECIALLY in a civilization of individual rights.

4. Regarding mind-focusing, I think we'll all agree that it's not omnipotent.

There are boundaties to what you can, and cannot do, with your mind to yourself.

Also, focusing implies effort, and consumption of resources. Noone can think/focus at all time. Noone ever did. Therefore, the quest is to find the equlibirium between focusing and unfocusing, and critically selecting which issues require attention.

(Focusing on your job might be more beneficial that trying to repress-away your attraction to that hot nihilist goth girl).

I think it all boils down to what man is, and how he can change himself. Unfortunatelly, I'm sad to say that I'd take Freud's, or Adler's, or Ellis' theory over Ayn Rand's any day. Her view is severly incomplete and does not match the reality of man.

Man is a being of "volitional consciousness", therefore he is an animal CAPABLE of reason. He is also an animal capable of a bunch of other things, which all take part in his mental and psysical life.

Man, using his mental tools, is in a continous feedback with reality. He is a blend of reason and irational, a blend of focus and unfocus, an equilibirium between what reality and society imposses, and his own personal wished as experiences.

Is man man-made, meaning that is man only the result of his creative reasoning? No.

Does reason take a part in shaping one's self? Yes, a big one.

Is there such a thing as an optimal approach to life? Yes.

Is it individual, depending on where each of us starts? Yes.

Did Ayn Rand offer us a valid, universal sollution to life? Partially.

Is the use of emotional models, such as John Galt, useful? No.

Why? Because I think that this particular model lies outside of the posibilities of men.

Generally, I largely agree with Objectivism. What I disagree with is its view on art and its view of man (but not in a way to change my views on Epistemology, or Ethics).

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Regarding your first point, if you regard emotions as metaphysically given (like sensations or the actions of one's intestines) rather than man-made, then you are assigning to them a primacy which they do not actually have (which makes me question your understanding of emotions). You seem to grant this slightly when you state, "Emotional change is achievable." Of course it's achievable, and of course it also takes some effort (which no one is denying). That does not change the fact that although emotions are automatized, they are a function of one's conscious, (hopefully) rational value-judgments.

Regarding your second point ("My initial point, which was not contested, is that ROMANCE and SEX are two different needs. Things are complicated by the fact that romance implies sex, while sex does not imply romance"), this is just false. I addressed this somewhat in the other thread, see my response there.

I agree to a large extent with your third point (although I probably would not agree with some of the implications you might try to draw out of it).

Your fourth point is all over the place, and just allow me to say: huh? :) You think that Freud, Adler, or Ellis had a more "realistic" view of human psychology than did Rand? Have you ever READ any of those psychologists' works? They're so fallacious as to be absurd. (I mean, I didn't think anyone took Freud seriously anymore...and for good reason.)

Also, you seem to imply that since man is only CAPABLE of reason, but is also capable of irrationality, that one should find some compromise between the two. That is, for one thing, the misuse of the mean, but it also ignores the fact that not only is man capable of reason, but that it is also an objective requirement of his life (a fact of which you seem to have no grasp).

Finally, is John Galt an unattainable, and therefore useless, model? The answer is: neither. (Ayn Rand was a romantic realist, not a fantasist.) If you don't believe that one can be (essentially, not exactly) like John Galt, then you are confessing that you don't believe men can be truly happy, and that life on earth is necessarily tainted somehow. This is a remnant of the doctrine of original sin. In fact, man CAN achieve moral perfection, and if you don't like it, it's probably because you are trying to rationalize your own imperfections rather than fixing them.

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I regard emotions as being under partial conscious control, meaning that there's a limit to what we can do.

Much of the mind's functionality is automated, just like a stomach, therefore simply focusing on it won't make us change. Focus alone is not the answer to all mental problems.

Regarding psychologists, YES, I do think that the Freudian, neo-Freudian, Existentialist and Behaviourist schools of thought all made valuable additions to our understand of man's mind, which is clearly proven by the factual record of cured patients.

On the other hand, I'm very skeptical about the idea that Ayn Rand's view of the mind can truly be helpful, or true for that matter. I personally would like to see a complete reexamination of the Objectivism view of psychology (if there is one, anyway).

Regarding Freud, I think that although he sometimes expresses himself in a manner somewhat alien to Objectivist thinkers, he does share many ideas with Ayn Rand, and that his work is a real breakthrough. (for instance, he agrees on Metaphysics and Epistemology, namely that the universe is absolute and that reason is the key to understanding it... this is at *least* implied in his writtings).

Perhaps you are not comfortable with the Oedipian Complex, but as someone who saw it gone wrong (observing group therapy), I can testity it is real, and that this life-view can do great damage to the adult. It is an emotional issue. It is part of the infant psychology.

The same goes for the death instinct. It might not fit your view of "value pursuitment" vs. "disvalue avoidance", but, again, it works. It makes people better. It cured patients.

Using reason, focusing, implies a cost. I do not think that we posses the energy needed to focus on everything. Therefore, I claim that we must decide to focus/reason on important issues, related to survival and prosperity, and accept the innevitability of automated functiong in other areas ("automated" doesn't mandatorly mean irrational).

Regarding John Galt:

1. Yes, Ayn Rand considered herself to be a realist. In this case, I don't think she was.

2. Moral perfection is not the same with emotional perfection. Galt lacked any emotions except those 2 or 3 sanctioned by Objectivism.

3. Happiness is meaningless without the experience of unhappiness. You need a way to compare it. A being without fear, guilt or regret, is not happy. It has one state. You can call that, arbitrarly, happiness. Galt seems as happy as a computer does.

4. I didn't say ANYTHING about "original sin". Don't try to put things in my mouth. The same with mind-body dichotomy.

5. I am IMPERFECT emotionally. I am PERFECT morally. Overall, I am better than Galt, since my existence has "texture".

6. I think that men CAN be happy, as long as they DON'T try to emulate Galt.

7. I think that Hank Rearden is a MUCH better charater. His growth is real, his existence has texture, his strugle is heroic and his eventual happiness is a much better example.

Also, your post shows another common Objectivist faliure: You want to/tend to identify old arguments in things people say, and then dismiss them using old arguments made by Ayn Rand or dr. Peikoff.

I am NOT, and NEVER was a Christian, not even in my childhood, yet you say that my thinking is "contaminated" by original sin, when my point was about emotional perfection, not moral one. You completly avoid the issue.

When I say that I don't see any mandatory link between sexual behaviour and romance, you start again rehashing the mind-body split without going further than making the reference, despite me saying clearly that my view is different. Man IS integrated, but sex and romance are 2 different issues. How is that a split? Sex is BOTH mental and physical, Romance is BOTH mental and physical.

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I will only address the primary principle you present, because without it, the rest of your objections have no foundation. They simply fall apart.

"[sensations] ARE reality"

This is essentially correct (though I would have likely worded the idea differently). They are man's data about reality.

"Sensations are NOT man-made, because they are automatic responses, just like emotions."

A sensation is indeed not man-made. No one claimed otherwise. A sight...a sound...a touch...a taste...a scent - these are all metaphysical givens. However, HOW a man RESPONDS to any of these metaphysical givens is NOT a metaphysical given itself - ie it IS open to change. That makes THOSE responses man-made. And such responses include one's EMOTIONAL responses.

Emotions are the automatized summary of all of man's consciously and subconsciously accepted premises about all of reality. In other words, emotions are the automatic responses man has programmed into himself.

Now, if a man's premises are valid, then his emotional responses will be valid as well. One can properly say those emotional responses are objective. On the other hand, if a man's premises are invalid, then his emotional responses will be invalid also. This means those emotional responses are NOT objective.

You present BOTH agreement and disagreement with this principle. In other words, you present a contradiction.

First you smear Ayn Rand for claiming emotions may be changed by focusing one's mind. You state such a claim demonstrates a poor grasp of psychology and a failure to integrate "advances" in the field.

Then you turn around and explicitly state that emotions can indeed be changed by focusing one's mind. So either your smear is wrong, or you ALSO do not grasp psychology and fail to integrate "advances" in the field.

Additionally, you say:

"It is true that conscious examination of emotions are reality can have SOME effects on your emotional functioning, but saying that emotions can be changed by simply re-examining your stance is like claiming that you can order your intestine to stop working if you think about it."

This claim is nonsense - because it is ALSO a contradiction. In one breath you claim that emotions CAN be changed by thinking about them, but that they can't be changed by thinking about it. In other words, you seem to have a problem grasping the identity of emotions because you express a contradiction when describing them.

Now, you indicate emotions may indeed be changed. That means the only question open to you is HOW. Either emotions are changed through a process of thought or through some other means. You provide no other means BUT thought. If you believe they may be changed by some other means - NAME it.

As it stands, your argument IS that one can change the emotions. You say:

"Emotional change is achievable, mainly thru different forms of therapy. Most therapies ARE reason-based, and the therapist's role is to challenge the patient's irrationalities."

While I would disagree that emotional change requires therapy, such therapy is simply a form of introspection (guided introspection). In other words, it is an assisted seach for and an examination of the premises you have consciously or subconsciously accepted.

The rest of your argument is one which was already REFUTED in the previous thread. You are essentially saying that change isn't easy. That correcting one's errors can take a lot of time and effort.

That is completely correct. What of it? NO ONE claimed change was easy. Only that change is necessary if one wants to live in ACCORD with reality.

Of course that is PRECISELY what you seek to AVOID. Instead, you seek to JUSTIFY living in accord with WHATEVER premises your mind has accepted and automatized.

As we have all indicated previously, that is PURE subjectivism. It is a REJECTION of reality - of existence, of identity, of reason, and of logic - in favor of random WHIM. In other words, it is the deification of your mind OVER existence. And THAT, as I have already stated, is CLASSIC Primacy of Consciousness.

THAT is the premise YOU need to check. :)

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"I regard emotions as being under partial conscious control"

According to this sentence, you believe there is either some metaphysical difference between certain emotions - OR - that each emotion is a compound of something that is volitional and something that is not. So:

What emotions do you believe are volitional and what emotions do you believe are not?

Or

What does this compound consist of and why is one part volitional while the other is not?

(As a side note, if an emotion is NOT controlable - NOT volitional - then it is deterministic - which is exactly the concept Ash was referencing: Original Sin. It is simply an example of the old mind/body dichotomy: man's mind in metaphysical conflict with the rest of reality. In other words, more rejection of the Law of Identity as well as logic.)

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I regard emotions as being under partial conscious control, meaning that there's a limit to what we can do.

Much of the mind's functionality is automated, just like a stomach, therefore simply focusing on it won't make us change. Focus alone is not the answer to all mental problems.

Here you are equivocating on the word "automated." The stomach is biologically automated. The automatized content (and even some functions) of the mind are volitionally put in place.

Regarding psychologists, YES, I do think that the Freudian, neo-Freudian, Existentialist and Behaviourist schools of thought all made valuable additions to our understand of man's mind, which is clearly proven by the factual record of cured patients.

Sure, some of them may have made a few isolated additions, but they do not provide an integrated understanding of the mind...therefore, when they do manage to "cure" a patient based on one of these additions, it is basically luck.

On the other hand, I'm very skeptical about the idea that Ayn Rand's view of the mind can truly be helpful, or true for that matter.

I love how you separate the "helpful" and the "true" like this. Pure pragmatism.

I personally would like to see a complete reexamination of the Objectivism view of psychology (if there is one, anyway).

Objectivism is a philosophy. Psychology is a specialized science. Objectivism, as such, has no view of psychology (although it can certainly provide the proper philosophical foundation upon which any valid psychological theory must be based).

Regarding Freud, I think that although he sometimes expresses himself in a manner somewhat alien to Objectivist thinkers, he does share many ideas with Ayn Rand, and that his work is a real breakthrough. (for instance, he agrees on Metaphysics and Epistemology, namely that the universe is absolute and that reason is the key to understanding it... this is at *least* implied in his writtings).

I think that one could find contradictory premises also implied in his writings.

Perhaps you are not comfortable with the Oedipian Complex, but as someone who saw it gone wrong (observing group therapy), I can testity it is real, and that this life-view can do great damage to the adult. It is an emotional issue. It is part of the infant psychology.

The same goes for the death instinct. It might not fit your view of "value pursuitment" vs. "disvalue avoidance", but, again, it works. It makes people better. It cured patients.

Did I ever state (or imply) that my problem was simply (or at all) with the "Oedipian Complex"? No. My problems with Freud go much deeper (try, his whole view of the mind). Also, I love how you are still focused entirely on "what works," apparently apart from the causal connections that explain why it works (if it indeed does).

Using reason, focusing, implies a cost. I do not think that we posses the energy needed to focus on everything. Therefore, I claim that we must decide to focus/reason on important issues, related to survival and prosperity, and accept the innevitability of automated functiong in other areas ("automated" doesn't mandatorly mean irrational).

Here you claim that emotions are "inevitable" (and therefore not necessarily irrational), when previously you have said that emotions can be changed by rational processes (such as rationally-based therapy). This is a blatant contradiction. Also, even if some of the processes of man's mind are performed automatically, that certainly doesn't mean that they are unrelated to survival and prosperity, as you directly imply here.

Regarding John Galt:

1. Yes, Ayn Rand considered herself to be a realist. In this case, I don't think she was.

2. Moral perfection is not the same with emotional perfection. Galt lacked any emotions except those 2 or 3 sanctioned by Objectivism.

You don't seem to have read the book very carefully. Galt was, in fact, a very emotionally complex character.

3. Happiness is meaningless without the experience of unhappiness. You need a way to compare it. A being without fear, guilt or regret, is not happy. It has one state. You can call that, arbitrarly, happiness. Galt seems as happy as a computer does.

This is false. It's a very common view, but so far no evidence has been provided in its favor. Happiness has a definite identity in its own right, not simply as it is related to other emotional states. If all emotional states can be defined only in relation to one another, then there is no ultimate grounding of their identity. In other words, your claim is the one that is arbitrary. (And I, personally, have never seen a computer as happy as Galt.)

4. I didn't say ANYTHING about "original sin". Don't try to put things in my mouth. The same with mind-body dichotomy.

I didn't say you said anything about original sin. I apologize if I implied that that notion was the premise upon which your view was directly based. What I meant was to say that your view is based on some similar premise. Which I stand by. The same goes for mind-body dichotomy. Of course you don't believe that you hold such a dichotomy consciously--if you did, you would (presumably) reject it. But it is nevertheless implied by your position.

5. I am IMPERFECT emotionally. I am PERFECT morally. Overall, I am better than Galt, since my existence has "texture".

So, you're better than Galt, because you experience fear and guilt and pain? That's a good one.

6. I think that men CAN be happy, as long as they DON'T try to emulate Galt.

Why? Because you think that they would then be setting themselves an unachievable goal, and would therefore be doomed to failure, frustration, and disappointment?

Well, that all depends on the choices you make.

7. I think that Hank Rearden is a MUCH better charater. His growth is real, his existence has texture, his strugle is heroic and his eventual happiness is a much better example.

I also enjoy Hank Rearden's character. But whether or not he is a good character has nothing to do with the present discussion.

Also, your post shows another common Objectivist faliure: You want to/tend to identify old arguments in things people say, and then dismiss them using old arguments made by Ayn Rand or dr. Peikoff.

Funny, I don't think that I've done that once. Could you give me an example?

I am NOT, and NEVER was a Christian, not even in my childhood, yet you say that my thinking is "contaminated" by original sin, when my point was about emotional perfection, not moral one. You completly avoid the issue.

You're the one who's avoiding the issue. Try resolving some of the contradictions in your posts that have been pointed out. I never intended to bring Christianity into it, I simply made a comparison in your thinking to one flawed premise commonly held by Christians. Also, I don't think that you can completely separate "emotional perfection" from moral perfection. Perfection implies a value with no flaw. Since value is a concept entirely from the moral realm, so to speak, you are smuggling morality into the realm of emotions by even talking about "emotional perfection" (although I'm sure you will deny it). Otherwise, what do you even mean by "perfection" in that context? Perfect by what standard?

When I say that I don't see any mandatory link between sexual behaviour and romance, you start again rehashing the mind-body split without going further than making the reference, despite me saying clearly that my view is different. Man IS integrated, but sex and romance are 2 different issues. How is that a split? Sex is BOTH mental and physical, Romance is BOTH mental and physical.

Actually, before, you said that there was a mandatory link between sexual behaviour and romance, you just claimed (for some reason) that that link only applied one way: romance implies sex, but sex does not imply romance. But if you can separate them in the one case, then why not in the other? And if you understand why you can't separate them in the one case, then why do you think that you should in the other?

Please feel free to correct my objections again.

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Here you are equivocating on the word "automated." The stomach is biologically automated. The automatized content (and even some functions) of the mind are volitionally put in place.
So, you mean to say that boredom is volitional?

I love how you separate the "helpful" and the "true" like this. Pure pragmatism.

That was uncalled for. My main point was that it isn't helpful, nor is it true. Some things can be true without being of any help.

Objectivism is a philosophy. Psychology is a specialized science. Objectivism, as such, has no view of psychology (although it can certainly provide the proper philosophical foundation upon which any valid psychological theory must be based).
If you have a philosophy which is based on man's nature, then you'd better have a pretty darn good understanding of it.

I think that psychology is part of metaphysics... it discusses what exists. It is dependant on logic and non-contradiction, but I think than man's nature is extremly important, and a philosophical issue.

Here you claim that emotions are "inevitable" (and therefore not necessarily irrational), when previously you have said that emotions can be changed by rational processes (such as rationally-based therapy). This is a blatant contradiction. Also, even if some of the processes of man's mind are performed automatically, that certainly doesn't mean that they are unrelated to survival and prosperity, as you directly imply here.

Emotions can be influenced by consciously focusing on the issue at hand, but not completly. Reason is not powerless, but not omnipotent when it comes to man's mind. You cannot simply reason-away fear, or shame or whatever unpleasant emotion you might have, or make something feel pleasurable when it makes you want to puke.

The other factors influencing emotions are of biological nature, and contextual (previous experiences). Yes, there is a certain degree of determinism in emotions.

In my view, man walks a fine line between determinism and free will. His mind is free, but not free from the limitations of the body. (the mind is "implemented" in the brain, which has certain limitations, mentally speaking).

This is false. It's a very common view, but so far no evidence has been provided in its favor. Happiness has a definite identity in its own right, not simply as it is related to other emotional states. If all emotional states can be defined only in relation to one another, then there is no ultimate grounding of their identity. In other words, your claim is the one that is arbitrary. (And I, personally, have never seen a computer as happy as Galt.)
If you feel nothing else but happiness, your mind gets accustomed with it, and then you tolerate it.

It's the same with keeping your air conditioning very high, but after a while you get used to it.

Happiness/Unhappiness is an axis containing all states between absolute bliss and the darkest depression. Staying still in one place tends to make that place have the value "0"... it becomes the standard, the normal.

Come one! This is basic stimuli theory!

The only people that are completly happy, all the time, are those dosed up to their eye balls in medication. They're like zombies. They have no modulation and no texture to their life.

This is true if we're talking about the emotional state of happiness. If we're talking about a feeling of fullfilment, professionally and romantically, then that's more sustainable, but I wouldn't call that happiness... it's more like "contentment", or "actualization".

So, you're better than Galt, because you experience fear and guilt and pain? That's a good one.

I am better because I am not by default happy. I can experience something else, and when I DO feel happy, it's not "business as usual", but it is a true achievement.

Galt, seems to me, to be a zombie-like individual, with a pattetic and sad life, following a few principles blindly. His stance on politics and ethics is great, but since he is unable to feel anything but happines and achievement (a contradiction it itself), then he risks nothing.

Otherwise, what do you even me by "perfection" in that context? Perfect by what standard?
I meant to say that "moral perfection" is different from "optimal emotions" (emotions matching reality). By "perfection" I understand "optimal".

When I said that I am "morally perfect" I meant to say that if dr. Peikoff, for example, was to watch my life, without ever talking to me, he'd say I'm a great example of Objectivist life. (except perhaps sex for sex's sake, but that's like once very 2-3 years :)

Even though I am a exemplary capitalism an a dedicated professional, with much respect for life and self-interest, my emotions do not always match my intellect, therefore they are un-optimal, thus, imperfect.

Again, people don't get to choose what they feel. They feel something, and it's up to them to responde, and try to analyse it, and try to fix it. Do they always succede? No. Is it enough just to focus? Depends.

Childhood experiences can be especially traumatic, and the use of drugs such as Praxil, Seroxat or Prozac can help the individual reach a state in which he's more capable of intellectually controlling himself.

And if you understand why you can't separate them in the one case, then why do you think that you should in the other?

The "need for romance" is actually the need to responde to your lover's value. Therefore, you need to act out your love and evaluation. The "stimulus" for this need is exterior... the loved one.

The "need for sex" is the need to satisfy the impulses of the animal. That is, when you perceive an object of desire, let's say a sensual woman, your brain's reptilian areas are activated and arousal is triggered. You don't even know this person, but her attractive body puts your engine into motion.

But, since man is integrated, you also tend to rationalize and project an image on her, just to deny the reality... which is that you've been aroused by her forms, not by her, as an entity.

I'll need to go into my view of the brain. It's evolutionary:

Layer 1 is the reptilian brain. I do not know how to call it in English. It's that small "root" of the brain. Its functions are the same as those in reptiles: control of organs functioning (heart beat, stomach, etc), and the feedback from those in the form of urges (hunger, thirst, horny-ness). At this level, there are no concepts, or entities. It's all about stimuli and feedback. At this level, there are boobs, and asses and whatnot, but not the entire person.

Layer 2 is the mamal brain. Animals with this formation have the reptilian base (urges) plus emotions. Dogs, monkeys, etc. have the capacity for emotions because they have a better grasp of reality. They have a very primitive form of perceiving entities.

For example, a dog will enjoy more playing with his master than with another man, because he somehow knows, and loves, his master. (love is a strong word, but it's something simillar... affection, attachment)

Layer 3 is the cortex, and only humans have it. It is the the engine of our abstract thinking: reason, focus, logic, etc.

Of course, things are complicated by the fact that the brain evolved harmoniously, it didn't just poped up into existence, for did it add a layer in a generation.

A sexual urge created in the reptilian trunk of the brain will make us feel in a certain way (it will have a projection in the mamal layer), and it will also make us recall our ideology related to sexual urges (abstract concepts related to sexuality receive focus).

Another case is that in which you might fall in love with a woman, emotionally, without ever knowing her. You just see her, and she triggers a strong emotions.

I need to discuss the nature of emotions. I do not agree with the Objectivist view that they are value judgement. They are that too, but not mainly that. They are simple associations between previous experience and a stimuli. They are not result of abstract thinking, but of experience.

If a child grows up in a disfunctional familly, his emotions will also be disfunctional, no matter if he's a grade A student in school, and a good intellectual. He might not agree, rationally with his emotions, but his emotions are the result of his experience. His reason can only influence emotions so far. After that, he must have correcting experiences to "retrain" his emotions to the right path.

To conclude, my view is this:

Emotions are the result of experiences, associations made between an entity and the effects it caused previously (was it good or was it bad). By reasoning we can decrease the intensity of the emotions, or put that entity in another perspective.

To fully correct an psychotic emotion (not corresponding to reality), you need proper experiences to overweight the previous ones.

Experiences from childhood tend to be much more powerful than adult experiences, thus the difficulties of some adults of letting go of traumatic childhood, even if their adult life is sane.

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I'm not going to respond to your entire post right now, like I did the last one, but I do want to clarify a few points:

So, you mean to say that boredom is volitional?

Reread what I wrote again very carefully. This is not what I said. Although, in a certain sense, boredom is volitional (though not directly). I will state again that one's emotions are based on one's automatized value-judgments (meaning value-judgments that, through repitition, have been integrated on the sub-conscious level and no longer require explicit, conscious, conceptual awareness). One's value-judgments are based on one's reason. For example: I am bored by a lecture, because I find the material uninteresting. This is because I find little personal value in the material. This is because I see no reason to value it, which is ultimately a conscious, volitional issue.

I think that psychology is part of metaphysics... it discusses what exists. It is dependant on logic and non-contradiction...
This could be a description of any specialized science. They all (at least the legitimate ones) discuss what exists. That doesn't mean that physics, or biology, or chemistry is part of metaphysics (at least not in the sense you mean).

If you feel nothing else but happiness, your mind gets accustomed with it, and then you tolerate it.

It's the same with keeping your air conditioning very high, but after a while you get used to it.

Happiness/Unhappiness is an axis containing all states between absolute bliss and the darkest depression. Staying still in one place tends to make that place have the value "0"... it becomes the standard, the normal.

Come one! This is basic stimuli theory!

On this view, then, the "happiest," best people (with the most "texture") are manic-depressives. Since they're in the deepest pits of despair a good deal of the time, they can better appreciate happiness when they've got it!

Even the happiest people, even Rand's depiction of John Galt, have some variation in their emotional states, so it's not like they're zombies. It's not that they don't feel emotional pain, but rather that "the pain only goes down to a certain point."

I need to discuss the nature of emotions. I do not agree with the Objectivist view that they are value judgement. They are that too, but not mainly that. They are simple associations between previous experience and a stimuli. They are not result of abstract thinking, but of experience.

If a child grows up in a disfunctional familly, his emotions will also be disfunctional, no matter if he's a grade A student in school, and a good intellectual. He might not agree, rationally with his emotions, but his emotions are the result of his experience. His reason can only influence emotions so far. After that, he must have correcting experiences to "retrain" his emotions to the right path.

I can tell you from personal experience that your beliefs here are false. So much for your psychologists.

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First, I would like to correct your view on man's emotions. The following is a quote from Nathaniel Branden, written in the Virtue of Selfishness I believe:

"...man is a being of volitional consciousness, he has no innate ideas, no automatic or infallible knowldege of what his survival depends on. He must choose the values that are to guide his actions and set his goals. His emotional mechanism will work according to the kind of values he chooses. It is his values that determine what a man feels to be for him or against him; it is his values that determine what a man seeks for pleasure. If a man makes an error in his choice of values, his emotional mechanism will not correct him: it has no will of its own. If a man's values are such that he desires things which, in fact and in reality, lead to his destruction, his emotional mechanism will not save him, but will, instead, urge him on toward destruction: he will have set it in reverse, against himself and against the facts of reality, against his own life. Man's emotional mechanism is like an electronic computer: man has the power to program it, but no power to change its nature- so that if it sets the wrong programming, he will not be able to escape the fact that the most self-destructive desires will have, for him, the emotional intensity and urgency of livesaving actions. He has, of course, the power to change the programming-but only by changing his values.

Emotions are NOT the same as direct perceptions of reality, they do not receive primacy in anyway. Emotions are automated responses, but they are derived from our CHOSEN value judgments.

This issue with emotions demonstrates your flawed view of man's mind. According to Objectivism, a human mind is born tabula rasa (blank slate). He is not born with any innate emotional responses.

You however, seem to imply that a human being is either born with certain emotional responses/ or is determined to develop such emotional responses based on their environment. Your error in this regard is the failure to recognize the fact that emotions are not metaphysical primaries, but rather the result of one's own value judgments.

I believe that your attack on Objectivism's view on changing one's emotions is a straw man. According to your straw man, since a person can not alter their emotions at WHIM, one's emotions are "somewhat" outside the ability for reason to alter.

I do not believe that you have a proper understanding of what reason is. Reason is the process by which reality is identified, NOT merely thinking something inside your head such as: I want my emotional response to be happiness.

Much of the mind's functionality is automated, just like a stomach, therefore simply focusing on it won't make us change. Focus alone is not the answer to all mental problems.
This is correct, merely thinking about one's emotional responses will not change them. This I call a primacy of consciousness straw man. Man's consciousness is unable to do what it wants at whim, therefore, a human being is "somewhat" impotent to alter his own emotional responses.

Objectivism does not claim that one can alter any physical existent by whim. However, Objectivism DOES claim that one can alter a physical existent by altering the causes of that physical existent which ARE within the control of man's consciousness (his value judgments).

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I believe that the vast majority of the errors which you are making are the result of a terrible understanding of the nature of man's mind.

First, I would like to give a quote from The Ominous Parallels by Leonard Peikoff about the psychology of Sigmund Freud.

According to this theory, the prime mover in human nature is an unperceivable entity with a will and purpose of its own, the unconscious—which is basically an "id," i.e., a contradictory, amoral "it" seething with innate, bestial, primevally inherited, imperiously insistent cravings or "instincts." In deadly combat with this element is man's conscience or "superego," which consists essentially, not of reasoned moral convictions, but of primitive, illogical, largely unconscious taboos or categorical imperatives, representing the mores of the child's parents (and ultimately of society), whose random injunctions every individual unquestioningly "introjects" and cowers before. Caught in the middle between these forces—between a psychopathic hippie screaming: satisfaction now! and a jungle chieftain intoning: tribal obedience!—sentenced by nature to ineradicable conflict, guilt, anxiety, and neurosis is man, i.e., man's mind, his reason or "ego," the faculty which is able to grasp reality, and which exists primarily to mediate between the clashing demands of the psyche's two irrational masters.

As this theory makes eloquently clear, Freud's view of reason is fundamentally Kantian. Both men hold that human thought is ultimately governed, not by a man's awareness of external fact, but by inner mental elements independent of such fact. Both see the basic task of the mind not as perception, but as creation, the creation of a subjective world in compliance with the requirements of innate (or "introjected") mental structures. Whereas Kant, however, draws on the concepts of eighteenth-century Enlightenment philosophy to define his "categories" (and strives to defend them as inherent in "pure reason"), Freud derives his key structures from nineteenth-century romanticist philosophy (and flaunts their antirational character). The theory of the "id" is the voluntarist insistence on the primacy of "will." The theory of the "superego" is the Hegelian insistence that the individual, including his moral ideas, is a mere fragment of the group.

n regard to method, the basic novelty of this psychological variant of the Kantian viewpoint lies in the Freudians' claim that their theories are a product, not of a priori philosophizing, but of scientific investigation based on clinical data. Judging by their methodological practice, scientific investigation for the Freudians consists in leaping from random observations to sweeping constructs devoid of evidential justification, rational or empirical; and then in declaring that these constructs are compatible with any factual data of any kind, and are therefore irrefutable. (For example, if one finds no sign of an Oedipus complex, it has, one is told, been "repressed"; if one finds evidence contradicting it, there has been a "reaction formation"; etc.)

This unprecedented approach to scientific inquiry is a corollary of the basic Freudian theory: if man's mind, as Freud says, is ruled by forces indifferent to facts, forces which are "unmoved by logical rebuttal, and unaffected though reality refutes them,"(12) then science in the nineteenth-century sense—science as the rigorous, logical pursuit of objective knowledge—is impossible. The "new science"—like the new philosophy, the new theology, the new art—becomes instead a vehicle of the willful, the arbitrary, the subjective.

Kant had made the attack on the self the essence of virtue. Here, too, Freud is a follower.

If you do not understand how ridiculously incompatible Freud's theory of the mind and human nature is with Objectivism, you really have no clue what Objectivism is all about.

Gabriel, you need to do some SERIOUS study regarding the nature of man's mind.

Man's mind is born tabula rasa, without any innate depravities, and it is not "conditioned" by one's physical environment, meaning, that one is not a victim to fate, DNA, one's social environment, upbringing, etc.

Your theory of man's mind however, is FILLED with innate depravities and environmental conditioning.

Please check your premises.

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While not answering me directly, Gabriel did provide somewhat of a summary of his view of emotions.

Previously he said:

"I regard emotions as being under partial conscious control"

Now he states:

"I do not agree with the Objectivist view that they are value judgement. They are that too, but not mainly that. They are simple associations between previous experience and a stimuli. They are not result of abstract thinking, but of experience."

First off, as RE notes, Objectivism does not regard emotions as value judgements. This is an error on your part and demonstrates a lack of knowledge about FUNDAMENTAL Objectivist principles related to this topic. As such, your claim your claim to understand and rationally reject the Objectivist view cannot be considered valid.

Now, I will make one correction to what RE stated. He said emotions are "derived from our CHOSEN value judgments." This is not a complete statement of the Objectivist view. When it comes to the mind, its cognitive functioning is not automatic. A man's "values, like all his premises, are the product either of his thinking OR his evasions: man chooses his values by a conscious process of thought - or accepts them by default, by subconscious associations, on faith, on someone's authority, by some form of social osmosis, or blind imitation. Emotions are produced by man's premises, held consciously or subconsciously, explicitly or implicitly." In other words, the Objectivist view is that emotions are *derived* from our value judgements, no matter how those judgements are made (be they accepted explicitly or implicitly).

All Gabriel has done is raised blind acceptance of random value judgements ("simple associations" as he calls them) to the level of the metaphysically given. He feels something and assigns that feeling primacy - it is a metaphysical "fact" not to be challenged or changed.

As I have said multiple times now, that is mere subjectivism.

All the rest of his arguments about sex, psychology etc stood upon this false foundation. With it gone, those arguments are merely floating abstractions and may be dismissed, with no further debate, as invalid.

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RadCap, when I stated that one's emotions are based on one's chosen value judgments I used the word choice to denote the choice to focus one's mind towards determining values as well as choosing to evade. Perhaps I was not as clear about that as I should have been, so thank you for the clarification.

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NP. In the context, saying "chosen value judgments" did indicate a consciously accepted judgment as opposed to one which might simply have been accepted without any thought at all. I didn't want Gabriel to try to seize on that as an opening for argument - so I just made sure it was closed. :)

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1. I'd be very interested to hear an Objectivist view on how the minds of animals and small children work.

2. The mind cannot be tabula rasa, since the infant is born with several distinct behaviours (suckling, etc.)

We are also both with our own particularities in matters of intensity. Someone might have to diet 2 weeks to get off the same pounds someone else would need 3 months for. Metabolism, eye-sight, childhood affection or lack thereof, are all important facts which take part in the shaping of one's mind.

3. Some mental ilnesses are hereditary. The "borderline" syndrome (paranoid-hyseteria) is quite known for its hereditary transmission.

4. In Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSS), the individual is completly overwhelmed by panic, anxiety and violent behaviour each time a stimuli, like a car backfireing, reminds him of the stressful event.

Take Vietnam veterans with PTSS for example. It's not that they cannot focus on the traumatic events. They cannot focus on anything else!

The fear was so intense, that it completly modified their mental functioning. Currently, no succesful treatment is availalbe.

5. Leonard Peikoff's quote on Freud is wrong. He mearly makes statements that only show is lack of understand of Freud's most basic theories.

6. Nathaniel Branden quote is not supported by any kind of proof. It is is personal oppinion, as far as I can see.

Man can change his conscious values, but not his unconstious/emotional values. The latter are harder to change, and the exact process is unknown. Simple wanting them to change is not enough.

7. Don't give me that "primacy of consciousness" standard texts!

I clearly stated that reality is absolute, and exterior.

Id-like structure develop in early childhood, in parallel with the consciousness. Indeed, I do see the mind as as strugle between opposing interests, but these interests aren't opposite by default (the more harmonious people are those whose id and superego are alligned).

8. The superego is the mental projection of morality. In Freud's time, 99.999% of people had a Christian morality, therefore his focus.

Objectivist morality, assuming someone is brought up is such an environment, would become the superego.

9. I understand why some people claim that Objectivism is Nihilism. In a sense, it is. Objectivism, especially the fundamentalist branch, denies the existence of anything but the consciousness and the enternal world.

This is a very empoverished view of the internal worlds, and one that cannot be used for any real purpose, in either treatment of research.

This is perhaps the most evil legacy of Ayn Rand... the utter denial of the unconscious and the stages before consciousness. She was grudgely forced by Nathaniel Branden to accept the term of subconscious, but I think that she was in total denial when it came to herself.

Whe she deal with the exterior, she's great... When it comes to man's nature, ultimately, her nature, she's a mess. I can see that now clearly.

As far as "my philosophy is better because it's 100% integrated and 100% based on the axioms of existence" routine goes, I'd like to reffer you to Nathaniel Branden's essay (http://www.nathanielbranden.net/ayn/ayn03.html ) in which he tell is how much of Objectivism is unproven.

Let me remind you that he was Ayn Rand's first choice for her intellectual heir, and he has the best understanding of Objectivism ever. His objections are much like mine. He didn't went far enough, if you ask me, but he holds a better view of man.

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Branden said it best:

I have already mentioned that there is one great missing element in the objectivist system, namely, a theory of psychology, or, more precisely, an understanding of psychology. Rand held the view that human beings can be understood exclusively in terms of their premises, that is, in terms of their basic philosophical beliefs, along with their free will choices. This view is grossly inadequate to the complexity of the actual facts. It is, further, a view that flies totally in the face of so much that we know today about how the mind operates.

Many factors contribute to who we become as human beings: our genes, our maturation, our unique biological potentials and limitations, our life experiences and the conclusions we draw from them, the knowledge and information available to us, and, of course, our premises or philosophical beliefs, and the thinking we choose to do or not to do. And even this list is an oversimplification. The truth, is we are far from understanding everything that goes into shaping the persons we become, and it is arrogant and stupid to imagine that we do.

Among the many unfortunate consequences of believing that we are the product only of our premises and that our premises are chiefly the product of the thinking we have done or failed to do is a powerful inclination, on the one hand, to regard as immoral anyone who arrives at conclusions different from our own, and, on the other hand, an inclination to believe that people who voice the same beliefs as we do are people with whom we naturally have a lot in common. I remember, at Nathaniel Branden Institute, seeing people marry on the grounds of believing that a shared enthusiasm for objectivism was enough to make them compatible; I also remember the unhappiness that followed. Professing the same philosophical convictions is hardly enough to guarantee the success of a marriage and not even enough to guarantee the success of a friendship: Many other psychological factors are necessary.

Our souls are more than our philosophies — and certainly more than our conscious philosophies. Just as we need to know more than a human being's philosophical beliefs in order to understand that human being; so, we need to know more than a society's or culture's philosophical beliefs to understand the events of a given historical period. Of course, the philosophical ideas of a society or a culture play a powerful role in determining the flow of events. Other factors, however, are always involved, which one would never guess from reading Ayn Rand. One factor that many thinkers beside Ayn Rand tend to ignore in their studies of history are the psychologies or personalities of the political and military leaders. Different people, with different psychologies or personalities, at the same moment in history might act differently — with profoundly different historical consequences. There is no time here to explore this theme in detail, beyond saying that the objectivist method of historical interpretation is guilty of the same gross oversimplification that is manifest at the level of explaining individual behavior.

One of the unfortunate consequences of this over simplification is that most students of objectivism are pathetically helpless when faced with the task of carrying their ideas into the real world and seeking to implement them. They do not know what to do, most of the time. Objectivism has not prepared them. There is too much about the real world, about social and political institutions, and about human psychology, of which they have no knowledge.

... and what I was reffering to in my other post ...

The true believers might respond by saying, "How can you call it dogmatic religion when we can prove every one of Ayn Rand's propositions?!" My answer to that is, "The hell you can!" Prior to our break, Ayn Rand credited me with understanding her philosophy better than any other person alive — and not merely better, but far better. I know what we were in a position to prove, I know where the gaps are. And so can anyone else — by careful, critical reading. It's not all that difficult or complicated.
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2. The mind cannot be tabula rasa, since the infant is born with several distinct behaviours (suckling, etc.).
The statement the mind is born tabula rasa does not mean that the mind just magically appears from nothing and has no physical component to it as well. An infant is born with a limited amount of physical instincts, but a human being is not born with any innate ideas, meaning, the infant can not conceptually identify that the behavior they are doing is SOMETHING.

We are also both with our own particularities in matters of intensity. Someone might have to diet 2 weeks to get off the same pounds someone else would need 3 months for. Metabolism, eye-sight, childhood affection or lack thereof, are all important facts which take part in the shaping of one's mind

This has nothing to do with the content of a human being's mind. The fact that a human being is born with certain physical characteristics does not mean that the human being's mind is not tabula rasa. The physical characteristics of one's body DO eventually "shape" the content of a human being's mind, as does the rest of physical reality.

Tabula rasa does NOT mean that one's physical body is devoid of any characteristics. It does mean that in the human being's mind, there are no innate concepts/ideas.

3. Some mental ilnesses are hereditary. The "borderline" syndrome (paranoid-hyseteria) is quite known for its hereditary transmission.

4. In Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSS), the individual is completly overwhelmed by panic, anxiety and violent behaviour each time a stimuli, like a car backfireing, reminds him of the stressful event.

Take Vietnam veterans with PTSS for example. It's not that they cannot focus on the traumatic events. They cannot focus on anything else!

The fear was so intense, that it completly modified their mental functioning. Currently, no succesful treatment is availalbe.

Another straw man. The human mind is NOT a floating consciousness which has no relation to physical reality, but rather the human being is an integration of mind and body (I do not think you understandstand what this means). This means that if something irregular happens to the body, such as "incorrect wiring" in the case of hereditary mental illness or in something like PTSS, the mind will aversely be affected (because the mind and the body are integrated).

5. Leonard Peikoff's quote on Freud is wrong. He mearly makes statements that only show is lack of understand of Freud's most basic theories.

Disagreement is not an argument. Provide reasons why Peikoff's understanding of Freud's theories is incorrect, or else that statement of yours will remain utter nonsense.

7. Don't give me that "primacy of consciousness" standard texts!

I clearly stated that reality is absolute, and exterior.

Id-like structure develop in early childhood, in parallel with the consciousness. Indeed, I do see the mind as as strugle between opposing interests, but these interests aren't opposite by default (the more harmonious people are those whose id and superego are alligned).

You can state whatever the hell you want but it doesn't change the fact that you set up straw man after straw man. Secondly, what proof do you have for the existence of an Id? The methods by which Freud's id, ego, superego, and all of his other terms, were developed, are one of the most absurdly illogical and contradictory nonsense which I have ever learned in my life. Demonstrate to me the proof that a human being is a depraved being of inner conflict between the id, the ego, and the superego. Otherwise, it is NONSENSE.

9. I understand why some people claim that Objectivism is Nihilism. In a sense, it is. Objectivism, especially the fundamentalist branch, denies the existence of anything but the consciousness and the enternal world.

This is the most ridiculous thing yet!!! Nihilism is the philosophy in which destruction is sought for the sake of desruction. Objectivism attempts to create the philosophy which accurately identifies and integrates reality, which means, the destruction of other philosophies which are nonsense (those which are based on pure irrationality, mysticism, etc.) The destruction of these philosophies IS NOT DONE FOR THE SAKE OF DESTRUCTION ITSELF, but rather because if one is attempting to determine the correct identification of reality, it is right to reject those philosophies which explicity reject reality!

Finally, your excerpt (or was it the whole thing?) of Nathaniel Branden's essay carries absolutely no weight whatsoever. In that excerpt, he simply states, Ayn Rand is wrong, I am right, without providing a shred of logical proof to demonstrate why this is so.

As to the notion that Objectivism is lacking in psychology, I will agree. I agree not because of any flaw of Objectvism, but rather because determining the physical composition of the human mind is NOT the task of philosophy, but rather, psychology, neuroscience, and physics. Psychology is a specialized science which (when originally established) was meant to focus on the human mind. In modern times however, most of modern psychology has completely forgotten the concept of a human mind or consciousness and has instead turned to an explicit rejection of consciousness (see Behavioralism).

I can not possibly attempt to rid you of all of the many, many contradictions you hold and straw men you present, however, there is one phrase I would like for you to remember: Consciousness IS Volitional.

Finally, as a personal favor, NEVER refer to yourself as an Objectivist or a student of Objectivism, because you are FAR from it.

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A few further observations:

When Gabriel insists that one's context or experiences are at least partially the cause of emotions, he is simply saying that one's emotions have content, or an object. This is true enough, and no one here would disagree with that (and as such, is another straw man).

Of course, it does not follow from this that emotions are in any way deterministic. If it did, then by the same reasoning man would not have free will at all, as long as his mind had any connection to reality.

Regarding Freud, I have no introspective evidence of three opposed parts of my mind (and if one does, that could simply be evidence of a problem in their own mind, and as such cannot be generalized out to say that it is the basic constitution of all human minds). And Gabriel has failed to provide any other evidence of a Freudian id or superego, other than that "it works" (presumably). If not even a rudimentary explanation can be given for why it works (beyond the hypothesis itself, of course), then the conclusion that it's true based on a few instances of its having worked is pure pragmatism.

Perhaps your country is a little behind in the field of psychology, but I was under the impression that Freudian psychoanalysis was going out of style--precisely because it has turned out that his theories don't work as much as was once presumed.

Regarding "tabula rasa"--this means simply that the mind is without conceptual content at its onset. No valid evidence to the contrary has ever been given, and as such, theories positing "innate ideas" (or "innate grammatical structures" or whatever) are entirely arbitrary. The fact that infants are born with a few reflexive behaviors no more proves that conceptual content exists in their minds, than does the fact that animals exhibit goal-directed behaviors prove that their consciousness operates on the conceptual level.

I'm beginning to think that Gabriel has little to no real understanding of Objectivism--or of philosophy in general, particularly in light of his nihilism comment. Either that, or he is at this point simply trying to piss people off, which would make him a troll.

Anyone agree?

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Sorry for the delay in the reply... I've been busy with work and everything... Let's see...

Perhaps your country is a little behind in the field of psychology, but I was under the impression that Freudian psychoanalysis was going out of style--precisely because it has turned out that his theories don't work as much as was once presumed.
To be honest, I have no idea what kind of therapy is popular here, of if it's different from what goes on in the the US.

Regarding the id, ego and super-ego, and your comment about introspecting on them, it implies that you can introspect on everything that goes on in your mind. I do not think that that is a sustainable premise.

The id, ego and super-ego way of explaining the mind is a more specific way of expressing the fact that man is faced with the inner struggle between the internalized exterior forces that shape his world: the requirements of survival, and the requirements leisure.

Man "internalizes" the requirements on his surroundings (including the quirks of society) because he identifies them as required by his survival. One must work, must abstain from violence, must confrom to the rules of civilized behaviour.

Although in the case of intellectuals, this commitment can be, and sometimes is, conscious, in most individuals, it is mechanic and unconscious.

This internalized view of the world is represented by the super-ego, and is sometimes reffered as morality... not the counsciously cultivated morality of Objectivism, but that emotional mechanism that rewards or punished your actions.

Regarding the id, it is the symbolic expression of one's desire for pleasure, leasure, erotic fullfilment or simpler needs such as sleep or hunger.

The ego's role is that of an arbiter... I, personally, consider the ego to be the consciousness.

Faced with 2 conflicting desires, such as the id-originated desire for sleep, and the super-ego-originated desire for professional achievement, I'll apply my conscious ideology and choose one or the other.

While the decision IS the product of my conscioussness, the desires are their intensity are not. The desire for sleep is deterministic, as it is the result of my nature, even if I have not integrated intellectualy my nature.

Regarding my need for professional achievement, in my case, it is a rational self-induced value, but in other people, it is the result of parental indoctrination.

The id/ego/super-ego way of looking at the mind and its decision-making system is somewhat like the early models of the atom. Overall, it works, but we might not have nailed down all the details. As knowledge expands, we'll have a continously clearer picture.

What proof I have for the existence of an Id?

The id is defined as a symbolic projection of one's physiological needs in the mental plane. A such, it exists if you have physiological needs, and you acknoledge their role in the mind.

Next time you feel hunger, there's the Id. "Introspect" on it!

Next time you feel repulsed by Christianity or worried about work, that's the result of your view of reality and its rules, symbolically called the super-ego.

Emotionally speaking, the mind won't identify any difference between physical reality and society. That error is the cause of many of childhood's problems. Children have a particular stage in their intellectual development in which they cannot distinct between the rules of authority figures and the rules of physics.

The associations and experiences we pick up in that stage can be a source of great touble later on.

Some of my remarks, in retrospective, are linked to the fact that it seems to me that the Objectivism movement is implicitly denying the importance of pleasure in man's mind.

I'm not a supporter of a full blown Pleasure Principle, as in Freud's theories, but I do think that pleasure and pain, current and future, play a major role in one's unconscious and conscious decisions.

Regarding tabula rasa, it is my fault. Upon searching it in the dictonary, you are correct to claim that it reffers only to concepts. As such, I also dissagree with the idea that there are innate ideas.

That being said, my initial point was about the fact that we must not ignore the roles of "growing" and "exprience" in the mind's formations.

Ayn Rand clearly claims than a man is in NO way the product of his childhood's environment. She though of herself as a good example of that. She did not regarded herself as a jewish-russian emigrant.

I agree with her that such circumstances cannot give one identity, and that only reason provides identity. I also agree with the idea that man is capable of changing all of his consciously-held ideas.

I do think that she was mistaken when is, again, denied the importance, or even the existance, of unconscious "scars".

A person with a love-less childhood will emotionally attribute more importance to love in his adult live, meaning that he will feel greater emotional rewards that someone with an average childhood.

Someone raised in a strict Catholic environment will derive greater pleasure from refuting Catholic dogma than someone who cassually debated it one day.

Emotional intensity is proportional with the threat or pleasure experience vis-a-vis of the object in questions, and much less about one's intellectual assesment of that object.

If there is something that I have learned over the years is that accepting that you have a negative/irrational emotion/desire and dealing with it is beter that rationalizing it away and saying that either it doesn't exist, of that you have total control over it.

I certainly didn't wanted to claim that one ought to systematically act out destructive desires. All I said is that, in certain circumstances, acting out emotional quirks, or activelly trying to handle them in therapy, is more effective that raising a barricade around yourself, mentally.

I'm beginning to think that Gabriel has little to no real understanding of Objectivism--or of philosophy in general, particularly in light of his nihilism comment. Either that, or he is at this point simply trying to piss people off, which would make him a troll.

How could I be a nihilist since I claimed that Objectivism is right, execept its view of man's mind, which I claimed to be extremly reduced, and ignorant of some of man's nature. I presented an extension of Objectivism, not a denial of it.

It's really funny... In the span of 2 threads I've been called a subjectivist, a nihilist and Christian... what's next? You're going to claim that I'm a closet Kantian? :-)

If you are going to demonize someone, to avoid actually debating their points, at least you could go through the trouble of doing it creatively and not just using the refular demons of Objectivism.

I can not possibly attempt to rid you of all of the many, many contradictions you hold and straw men you present, however, there is one phrase I would like for you to remember: Consciousness IS Volitional.
Fine. I agree all along. But what about the unconscious and its role in emotions?

Finally, as a personal favor, NEVER refer to yourself as an Objectivist or a student of Objectivism, because you are FAR from it.

I have no interest in calling myself the student of *this* or *that*. I consider myself beyond the stage characterised by the compulsive desire for authority figures.

I call myself a student of reality.

As to the notion that Objectivism is lacking in psychology, I will agree. I agree not because of any flaw of Objectvism, but rather because determining the physical composition of the human mind is NOT the task of philosophy, but rather, psychology, neuroscience, and physics. Psychology is a specialized science which (when originally established) was meant to focus on the human mind. In modern times however, most of modern psychology has completely forgotten the concept of a human mind or consciousness and has instead turned to an explicit rejection of consciousness (see Behavioralism).

Psychology is the study of man's mind. I don't see why you reduce it to the study of the mind's "physical composition".

Objectivism makes many claims about the nature of man's mind, claims that come in conflict with experimental evidence. Objectivism should address that.

Behaviourism's point is that consciousness is not (yet) experienceable exteriorly, therefore, you cannot point at something and say "that is consciousness!".

They attempt to study men as an animal... reflexes, associations, neural pathways.

Their error is symetrical of that of Objectivism. Objectivism reduces man's mind to its consicousness, Behaviourism reduces it to its unconscious. Both approaches produces interesting results and some practical applications.

An integration of the 2 would produce better results.

In conclusion, I will restate my point:

Man's consciousness is not 100% self-generated. It does not will itself into existence, therefore it has starting parameters outside the scope of reason. Only by sincerly examining these subjective childhood associations and experience we can truly free our consciousness.

Denying the existence or the importance of the unconscious and the irrational is dangereous.

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Gabriel's falsehoods and mischaracterizations of Objectivism have been addressed and refuted. These refutations are ignored. The falsehoods and mischaracterizations are repeated. Once again, they are refuted. The cycle continues ad nauseum.

This form of debate is not rational. As such, why is it continuing?

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Yes, this is getting old. I probably wouldn't even read Gabriel's posts anymore if I weren't a moderator. But since I have there are a couple of points that I would like to clarify:

From a couple posts ago, your claim concerning Objectivism's "gaps" (which you've apparently merely accepted on Branden's alleged authority). While it is true that Objectivism, as stated by Ayn Rand, was not an entirely complete philosophical system, that fact has been taken completely out of context. Yes, there were a few problems that even Rand didn't solve, such as the problem of induction--but who has?...and besides, Objectivist scholars today are providing better answers on such topics than anyone else has ever offered before. The basic philosophic framework provided by Rand was not only truer, but more complete than any other previous philosophy. The fact that it wasn't 100% complete (i.e., that Rand was not omniscient) doesn't change that fact. And regarding the "gap" represented by psychology, it has already been addressed that psychology is not properly a part of strict philosophy anyway (and if you still insists that it is, you clearly have no understanding of the distinction between philosophy as such and the specialized sciences).

Now, on to your most recent post:

Regarding the id, ego and super-ego, and your comment about introspecting on them, it implies that you can introspect on everything that goes on in your mind. I do not think that that is a sustainable premise.

The id, ego and super-ego way of explaining the mind is a more specific way of expressing the fact that man is faced with the inner struggle between the internalized exterior forces that shape his world: the requirements of survival, and the requirements leisure.

I didn't say merely that I could not directly introspect the id and superego; you're correct that such an argument would not really address the issue at all, since it would ignore the supposed identity of those aspects of the mind. I said that I had no introspective evidence of such a phenomenon in my mind. I cannot directly introspect my subconscious mind, but I have introspective evidence that there is a subconscious aspect to it. Since there is no such evidence (at least for me) of the subconscious struggle that you posit, I asked for some other evidence of it. You still have not provided it.

Your main problem here is that you have completely divorced pleasure from survival (and more, claim that they are somehow in opposition to each other). I do not think that that is a sustainable premise. If the biological pleasure/pain mechanism were set up such that it led organisms to seek stimuli that were harmful to them, those organisms would clearly not survive. The same goes for the emotional pleasure/pain mechanism; the only difference is that since emotions are under man's volitional control (at least indirectly), that mechanism can be set in reverse and promote the man's destruction. Your argument amounts to saying that this is inevitable, and a man whose emotional mechanism is thus set should simply accept it. That is not an objective conclusion to reach.

I am not going to bother responding to most of the rest of your huge post this time, but one further thing I'd like to clarify is this:

How could I be a nihilist since I claimed that Objectivism is right, execept its view of man's mind, which I claimed to be extremly reduced, and ignorant of some of man's nature...It's really funny... In the span of 2 threads I've been called a subjectivist, a nihilist and Christian... what's next? You're going to claim that I'm a closet Kantian? :-)

I didn't call you a nihilist. I was referring to your comment in which you described Objectivism as fundamentally similar to nihilism in some respects. But since you then claim that (your version of) Objectivism is right, and that it is in some ways similar to nihilism, then I guess you are calling yourself a nihilist in some regard.

Nor did I call you a Christian. I said that your claim that man cannot achieve an ideal is similar to the idea of Original Sin. If man is a being of self-made soul, that is, if he has free will, then it follows that it is possible for him to make rational choices. If one accepts than man, having free will, can make rational choices in some cases, then to deny that he can make any combination of rational choices is a contradiction. As such, the claim that John Galt represents an unattainable ideal amounts to a denial of free will. Either we can make rational choices, or we can't. Your claim is the latter. This is also a denial that man is a being of self-made soul, which is the same as the doctrine of Original Sin. But I didn't call you a Christian, I merely pointed out a similarity in your premises to theirs.

The claim that you're a subjectivist stands (as you have not bothered responding to the many contradictions pointed out in your position, and have simply repeated your position as though that somehow wipes out the contradictions in it).

It has been suggested to me that you should be banned outright, Gabriel. I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt that you might not be aware of how objectionable your behavior has been. So, I'm going to give you a warning, and leave the choice up to you.

The way I see it, you now have three options:

1) Stop making ridiculously huge posts like that in which you simply state that Objectivism is wrong, state an opposing point of view, and then ignore other people's answers; then, you can remain at the board and get whatever value you still can out of it.

2) Leave willingly, if you don't think this forum can provide you with any further value on those conditions.

3) Continue to make those kinds of posts, and be banned as a troll.

Clearly the last of those options is irrational. I hope that will not be your decision.

Consider this your only warning.

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I'm affraid that there's been a lot of missuderstanding.

The main reason that I didn't comment on your refutations of my comments is that, as far as I can see, you didn't understand my point. Perhaps I was not all that clear.

Things were not helped by your insistence to refure "the usual suspects", such as subjectivism and determinism, not my comments in themselves.

To be blunt and non-intellectual about it, I meant to say that I think that there's only so much you can do to yourself, using reason, more precisely, that your're not under your absolute complete control, and that this is also true for emotions.

This is what I wanted to discuss. The limitations of self-engineering.

I also regret being up-front about my oppinion on Ayn Rand's approch to the mind (her own, and man's in general). I certainly didn't intent to mud her name as a whole. I do take issue with certain claims she's made.

You should not take as an attack my statements in which I claim that Ayn Rand was in denial, or repressing, important areas of her life.

Regarding me leaving, I will do as you wish. It seems to me that the downside of being certain is that you try to avoid having to explore issues that might destroy that certainly.

Perhaps my approach wasn't best, but my doubts remain (on several issues, regarding the amount of free will).

You should not be affraid to question even Ayn Rand or ARI.

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