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Branden defines self-esteem as:

“a disposition [grounded in reality], to experience oneself as being competent to cope with the basic challenges of life, and naturally worthy of happiness, fulfillment, success and achievement [as opposed to] fantasies of superiority and exaggerated notions of one’s accomplishments.”

The “success and achievement” that Branden associates with self-esteem is not “grounded” in some objective “reality”, as he implies, but simply grounded in the social consensus one happens to live in or subscribe to i.e. in culturally relative and invented social reality. The self-esteem gotten from putting a spear through a fish’s head would be, according to Branden, more “grounded in reality” in a Tribal African culture than in say, American culture, where putting a rubber ball through a hoop would provide a self-esteem more “grounded in reality”. If I invent a game of speed counting blades of grass in various geometric patterns, I should, according to Branden, only “realistically” value my achievements in the game once the game has gained some popularity. If no one wants to play the game, then I can’t gain any self-esteem from it. It is only if others decide to value the game, and if I can then prove my proficiency in the game, that I can “realistically” gain self-esteem. Using this example, “false” self-esteem, according to Branden, would mean thinking that I was better (or worse) at the game than I really was.

We have over 30 years of evidence coming from Terror Management Theory to show that when Homo sapiens gained self-awareness, s/he also gained an end-of self awareness: an awareness of his/her animal insignificance and finitude. This led to a crippling anxiety that in turn led to the creation of culture as we know it: to beliefs and activities that would provide individuals with the illusion of being persons of value in a world of meaning - usually by inflating the significance and meaning of tiny slivers of invented reality, so that we wouldn’t have to face the insignificance and meaninglessness of our place in the big scheme of things.

The cultures that provided the best belief systems to counter our fear of animal insignificance and death were prehistoric, because they embraced an animistic spirituality that granted cosmic significance to each and every individual in the tribe.
With the shift to civilization, we entered an era of materialism that increasingly relied on an (unequally distributed) earthly (as opposed to cosmic) self-esteem. Since the illusion of earthly significance is smaller than the illusion of cosmic significance, most individuals in civilization came to exist in a chronically deprived state of self-esteem. To quote Ernest Becker in 1973:

“Our own everyday rituals today seem shallow pre­cisely because they lack the cosmic connection. Instead of only using one's fellow man as a mirror to make one's face shine, the primitive used the whole cosmos. We can really only get inside primitive societies by seeing them as religious priesthoods with each person having a role to play in the generative rituals. We don't know what it means to contribute a dance, a chant, or a spell in a community dramatization of the forces of nature-unless we belong to an ac­tive religious community. Nor can we feel the immense sense of achievement that follows from such a ritual contribution: the ritual­ist has done nothing less than enable life to continue; he has contributed to sustaining and renewing the universe. If rituals generate and redistribute life power, then each person is a generator of life. That is how important a person could feel, within the ritual­ist view of nature, by occupying a ritual place in a community. Even the humblest person was a cosmic creator. The primitive feels the effect of his ability to generate life, he is ennobled by it, even though it may be an illusion. Primitive man set up his society as a stage, surrounded himself with actors to play different roles, invented gods to address the performance to, and then ran off one ritual drama after the other, raising himself to the stars and bringing the stars down into the affairs of men. He staged the dance of life, with himself at the center.”

From this light, we can see that Branden’s emphasis on mindfulness, self-acceptance, assertiveness, responsibility, purpose, discipline, integrity etc are all basically attempts to make the best out of a bad situation; attempts to squeeze the maximum juice out of various impoverished social consensus schemes that lack the capacity to (in his words) “honor” the self-esteem that humans truly “want and need”.

(As a small side note, I may add that Branden had a preference for libertarian capitalism that influenced his ideas of how to best achieve this goal.)

So when Branden insists that we see ourselves as being deserving of love, or for example, recommends as an exercise that we state “I have a right to exist”, we have to realize how, in comparison to primitives who felt they had a right to “raise themselves to the stars”; this sounds more like a shy “I have a right to keep my neck above the water”.
In fact the very existence of the book bespeaks a social lack - the impoverished self-esteem granting capacity of our culture.

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Brant Gaede    1

Uh, huh. Another newbie with an agenda. He doesn't even introduce himself. Un-referenced quotes--the whole nine yards.

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Good Lord!

:)

This sounds like a hodgepodge of that snooty postmodern and deconstructionist academic crap they imported to American Universities from France. (Those dudes made light of and deconstructed everything except their own salaries and tenure. They were pretty serious and reality-grounded about that part. :) )

Don't worry, reader. If you didn't understand the above reasoning too much, it didn't refute anything. That's just the pose.

But, like the work of our dear tenured French poseurs who are hellbent on wrecking the reasoning capacity of the American youth, it scratched the vanity of the author.

Burp...

(pssst... Don't tell no one, but he's supposed to be superior to the rest of us. Don't believe me? Just ask him... :) )

Michael 

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Marcus    0
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We have over 30 years of evidence coming from Terror Management Theory to show that when Homo sapiens gained self-awareness, s/he also gained an end-of self awareness: an awareness of his/her animal insignificance and finitude. This led to a crippling anxiety that in turn led to the creation of culture as we know it: to beliefs and activities that would provide individuals with the illusion of being persons of value in a world of meaning - usually by inflating the significance and meaning of tiny slivers of invented reality, so that we wouldn’t have to face the insignificance and meaninglessness of our place in the big scheme of things.

The bolded above is the source of your wrong-headed reasoning. 

Primitives invented "rituals" and religious models of the universe because they could not make sense of it otherwise or the resultant anxiety they felt (being unable to understand or control it) not because of "self-awareness". Religion and ritual served as an "anxiety alleviation" device to better cope with their ineptitude and ignorance. It was a pre-rational invention.

What Nathanel Branden (and Rand) said is that self-esteem results from basic competence and self-respect (i.e. dealing with reality). You are essentially arguing against reason itself. You have only look at the world around you to see where reason has led us and continues to do so exponentially. We are much better off than the primitives by orders of magnitude and reason is quite obviously superior to ritual.

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I think Terror Management Theory has provided some of the best evidence on self-esteem and on the source of our anxiety. Hundreds of tests, double blind experiments etc have been conducted. Many studies and papers published https://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=terror+management+theory&hl=en&as_sdt=0&as_vis=1&oi=scholart&sa=X&sqi=2&ved=0ahUKEwjlsZeIp7PNAhUJ8mMKHcYIAAQQgQMIGjAA

I'd be interested in knowing how you all think it relates to objectivism.

Sheldon Solomon provides a brief explanation here 

As for seeing the aforementioned shift from primitive society to materialist civilization as some gradual advance toward reason, the evidence in TMT indicates otherwise: It was about the acquisition of earthly heroism, as opposed to cosmic heroism i.e. the pursuit of a different (less satisfying and evenly distributed) form of self-esteem. In the words of Ernest Becker:

“The real world is simply too terrible to admit. it tells man that he is a small trembling animal who will someday decay and die. Culture changes all of this, makes man seem important, vital to the universe,
immortal in some ways. 'Civilized' society is a hopeful belief and protest that science, money, art and goods make man count for more than any other animal. In this sense everything that man does is religious and heroic, and yet in danger of being fictitious and fallible. The fact is that this is what society is and always has been: a symbolic action system, a structure of statuses and roles, customs and rules for behavior, designed to serve as a vehicle for earthly heroism. Each script is somewhat unique, each culture has a different hero system. What the anthropologists call "cultural relativity" is thus really the relativity of hero-systems the world over. But each cultural system is a dramatization of earthly heroics; each system cuts out roles for performances of various degrees of heroism: from the "high" heroism of a Churchill, a Mao, or a Buddha, to the "low" heroism of the coal miner, the peasant, the simple priest; the plain, everyday, earthy heroism wrought by gnarled working hands guiding a family through hunger and disease. It doesn't matter whether the cultural hero-system is frankly magical, religious, and primitive or secular, scientific, and civilized. It is still a mythical hero-system in which people serve in order to earn a feeling of primary value, or cosmic specialness, or ultimate usefulness to creation, of unshakable meaning."

Also, a reasonable case can be made that the ecocide resulting from materialist civilization is morally abhorrent, and that the long term prospects of human survival have diminished due to ecological degradation. TMT has provided evidence that the ideology of progress is based on delusion. http://www.academia.edu/534931/Things_will_get_better_The_anxiety-buffering_qualities_of_progressive_hope_2009_

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Terror management theory, on first blush, looks like a perfect example of trying to deduce reality from an assumption. (I mean as a theory. I don't know enough about it to know the practical applications.)

The way it works is that you make a proposition that can be essentially true, i.e., we are all going to die, we are aware of it, and we don't like it, then use that as the premise of all kinds of other assumptions, even those that have no relation to it. For example, awareness of death and self-esteem are not fundamentally related except for the fact that they are both processed by a human brain, but they can be jiggered together to have self-esteem arise out of terror if you do a lot of fudging.

In terms of the theories of former concentration camp survivors (like Ernest Becker), for now I'll stick with Viktor Frankl. His idea of personal choice of how you perceive your existence, even under the harshest circumstances, works perfectly with Branden. (btw - As most of my own readers know, I reference NB less than other modern psychiatrists and psychologists because the ones I prefer incorporate more neuroscience than he did. But his stuff is good since it is practical and works. It's just not the whole shebang.

Michael

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2 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

awareness of death and self-esteem are not fundamentally related except for the fact that they are both processed by a human brain, but they can be jiggered together to have self-esteem arise out of terror if you do a lot of fudging.

I think you are unaware of the aforementioned hundreds of studies and double blind experiments confirming TMT. They certainly don't qualify as "fudging" https://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=terror+management+theory&hl=en&as_sdt=0&as_vis=1&oi=scholart&sa=X&sqi=2&ved=0ahUKEwjlsZeIp7PNAhUJ8mMKHcYIAAQQgQMIGjAA

A few of them are presented here, in this film from about 10 years ago 

 

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Brant Gaede    1

Double blind experiments are for aspects of physical reality. Such is science. They do not work for blah, blah, blab Liberal Arts (sans science).

The basic way to deal with "terror management" is loving each other and making children and other things while succeeding in the "pursuit of happiness."

Love. All you need is love. (And stay away from the professors who have too much time on their brains.)

--Brant

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2 minutes ago, Brant Gaede said:

Double blind experiments are for aspects of physical reality. Such is science. They do not work for blah, blah, blab Liberal Arts (sans science).

The basic way to deal with "terror management" is loving each other and making children and other things while succeeding in the "pursuit of happiness."

Love. All you need is love. (And stay away from the professors who have too much time on their brains.)

--Brant

Terror Management theory also has a view on love that addresses your point

 

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19 minutes ago, Lightyearsaway said:

I think you are unaware of the aforementioned hundreds of studies and double blind experiments confirming TMT.

L,

How on earth could I be unaware of this if I am reading this thread and, as you say, you just mentioned it?

That would make me get two for the price of one when they were handing out stupid. :) 

The fact is, I'm not impressed or intimidated just because a person says double blind experiments prove people are afraid to die. Thus that disproves everything except some conclusions under a jargon name.

To be fair, I'll look at a few...

But I know of a crapload of scientific experiments that are used by sundry scientism preachers to claim manmade global warming is going to finish the planet post haste. (I would agree that those poor souls need some "terror management" if it were not the sheer numbers of dollars in the hog's trough of government funding. :) )

What I'm trying to say is I'll look at it (as I am sure others around here will), but I am not eternal and science experiments are not only eternal, they are boring. And most of them only prove their design, not the conclusions of their designers.

If you really believe in this terror management stuff with zeal more suited to a religion, which you are coming off as having, I suggest you start your own site about it. 

Michael

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39 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

If you really believe in this terror management stuff with zeal more suited to a religion, which you are coming off as having, I suggest you start your own site about it. 

Michael

I haven't bothered to write books on the subject or start a website, which shows that Nathaniel Branden had far more "zeal suited to religion" but with far less evidence on his side. 

Quote

 I'm not impressed or intimidated just because a person says double blind experiments prove people are afraid to die.

That is not what these "double blind experiments prove"

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Brant Gaede    1
7 hours ago, Lightyearsaway said:

Terror Management theory also has a view on love that addresses your point

 

The gentleman is hysterical and projects his own essentially religious attitude right at you as if his certainty was knowledge.

What you get from love is 1 plus 1 = 3 or the synergy from being with that special other. Basically it's a biological setup for procreation and then raising children or there simply wouldn't be nearly 7 billion people on earth, maybe not any. Men and women are made for each other. When the penis penetrates the vagina or the vagina envelopes the penis and two become one ejaculatory being that's basic social individualism. It's also why cops fear domestic violence calls because they have been called in to break apart a couple and one of the pair might turn on them.

--Brant

OL is not a religious site, btw, and you are a proselytizer in secular clothing--it's a neat trick to grandstand on Branden as if you've cut off his head with the sword of TM--the validity of self esteem is a legitimate subject for discussion except you want to present us with its TM replacement only--really

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9 hours ago, Lightyearsaway said:
Quote

I'm not impressed or intimidated just because a person says double blind experiments prove people are afraid to die.

That is not what these "double blind experiments prove"

Can you give an example of one of the 'double blind' experiments you have in mind? Most folks here are -- I believe -- unaware of and indifferent to TMT. By giving an example of a rigorous experiment, you can add heft to the warrants for your position. Giving a link to Google Scholar is not sufficient -- few will have the time or inclination to wade and sort through bloated citations from the literature. I think a better idea is to give examples of the best research. If the research is fundamentally sound and sufficient and convincing, there will be seminal experiments you can share.

Another thing you can do is explain to readers here salient criticism of TMT. As far as we know the 'theory' may be held only by parties under the 'psychoanalytic' tradition' wing in sociology.  You may be an adherent of the theory, but you no doubt are familiar with those who are not, and their intellectual output.

Finally, how can such a theory be said to 'prove' anything about the culture of prehistoric humanity -- let alone that posited hunter-gatherer societies had the 'best religion'?  What evidence merits such certainty? I expect you can understand a skeptical stance. If you show good faith here, you will find a good faith response. 

(interested readers can sample Lightyearsaway's opinion on a tranche of subjects -- via his Disqus profile.)

Edited by william.scherk

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36 minutes ago, william.scherk said:

As far as we know the 'theory' may be held only by parties under the 'psychoanalytic' tradition' wing in sociology.  

Incorrect

36 minutes ago, william.scherk said:

 I think a better idea is to give examples of the best research.

The videos I posted (from a 2003 documentary called "Flight From Death") already show a few easy to digest studies. If people are not motivated to even go that far to delve into studies and investigate empirical reality, thats their problem.

Quote

Finally, how can such a theory be said to 'prove' anything about the culture of prehistoric humanity -- let alone that posited hunter-gatherer societies had the 'best religion'?  What evidence merits such certainty?

There's extensive literature on hunter-gatherer religions. It shows that they were were deeply religious people, and had a very cosmic sense of self-importance. Today, our sense of self-importance/esteem is proportionally more "earthly" than "cosmic".

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Marcus    0
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I think Terror Management Theory has provided some of the best evidence on self-esteem and on the source of our anxiety.

People (i.e. primitives) who have no basic understanding of the world, natures laws, etc will invent religious explanations, gods, cosmic rituals, etc in order to make sense of the world around them and reduce their anxiety? You need "double blind" studies to confirm this?

Well...duh.

This is not a refutation of Nathaniel Branden but actually a reaffirmation of his point. A point you fail to see. This is exactly Nathaniel's point in his work. It's called "motivation by fear". It is a sense of overwhelming anxiety i.e. helplessness. The "self-esteem" of TMT is not real self esteem but a device, a mental trick humans devise when they have no other way to deal with the world around them.

But we know humans are not helpless ciphers pulled this way and that by random currents. Rationality is the tool by which we make sense of our world, grasp it's workings, and survive and thrive.

Since 1800 the "march of progress" that you apparently deny has been indisputable and overwhelming. Life expectancy has risen dramatically, increased wealth, income, living standards and medical technologies have eliminated or reduced the previously incurable. In your worldview this is "delusion" but cave shamanism is "real".

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There's extensive literature on hunter-gatherer religions. It shows that they were were deeply religious people, and had a very cosmic sense of self-importance.

ISIS are also deeply religious. Self-important (by cosmic proportions) too. Allah sends them 70 virgins to await their glorious exit.

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I highlight my Theory of fear of adequate citation.

2 hours ago, william.scherk said:

Can you give an example of one of the 'double blind' experiments you have in mind? [...] If the research is fundamentally sound and sufficient and convincing, there will be seminal experiments you can share.

So far, no cogent answer.

Quote

Another thing you can do is explain to readers here salient criticism of TMT.

-- I restate this to focus the mind -- what are the salient criticisms of TMT? Where are they published?

Quote

Finally, how can such a theory be said to 'prove' anything about the culture of prehistoric humanity -- let alone that posited hunter-gatherer societies had the 'best religion'?

-- to add weight to what I want to know:  how can one be certain about any aspect of spiritual culture in prehistory?  My assumption is that the further back in time we go in human anthropology/archaeology, the less that can be known. We can speculate about the ochre left at a Neandertal 'grave' site, but we cannot reconstruct a Neandertal belief structure.   

My questions and interjections reflect some basic criticisms of evolutionary psychology:  the Just-So-Story, with which Jonathan here is quite likely familiar.

Now, back in context, Jonathan's initial response.

1 hour ago, Lightyearsaway said:

 

Quote

Finally, how can such a theory be said to 'prove' anything about the culture of prehistoric humanity -- let alone that posited hunter-gatherer societies had the 'best religion'?  What evidence merits such certainty?

There's extensive literature on hunter-gatherer religions. It shows that they were were deeply religious people, and had a very cosmic sense of self-importance.

This is not responsive.  Can a theory of prehistoric religious culture be validated?  If yes, how can one test it or 'proof' it?  Videos are the worst form of validation.  Cite the actual literature you allude to, please.

What I am getting at is to put the onus on  claimants.  If a strong claim is made, and the claimant cannot come up with cogent warrants and specific references to support his claim, then the onus does not move to the questioner.  The onus to  provide warrants remains on the claimant.

My advice to a TMT enthusiast is to engage the theory where it appears and is already discussed with rigour -- in the literature. Engage with informed people who care about and are knowledgeable in the theory.  

Dropping in to OL as a kind of Masked Avenger for Terror Management Theory -- slagging Nathaniel Branden's theories**, and stiffing the traders who ask for warrants in return for their engagement  -- what might this signify?

To me, it signifies an unhealthy attachment to an idea, rendering it dogma. It signifies a doctrinaire approach to discussion. It signifies hostility to epistemological inquiry.  

What is the benefit of engaging with your argument if you won't engage with critical questions?  

Quote
2 hours ago, william.scherk said:

 I think a better idea is to give examples of the best research.

The videos I posted (from a 2003 documentary called "Flight From Death") already show a few easy to digest studies. If people are not motivated to even go that far to delve into studies and investigate empirical reality, thats their problem.

Nope.  The problem of 'providing detailed warrants' for a claim ... rest upon your strong young shoulders.  To make that clearer-- consider reversing the situation. I claim that 'the literature' proves that TMT is vastly over-inflated, and nowhere near the status of 'theory' in the hard scientific sense.   I am making that claim to you, see, in this scenario.  If I said that it was up to you to wade through twenty years of pay-walled Google Scholar list items to find support for my claims, you would laugh at me, and well you should.

I asked for actual citations to particular items of research that support your specific contentions. If you can't provide that, and if you can't engage without being sniffy, your account goes in the Cultist Interloper (suspected) file.  The equivalent to an OL 'can't fly' list.

Before I push the button that flushes all your commentary into a holding tank, I will briefly put on my Hood of Charity.

-- there is an interesting kernel of 'sense' inside the bloated monster of TMT studies. It is the cognitive existence of a 'awareness of death' ... or to use the TMT jargon, salience of mortality.  It can be intuitively satisfying to base study on this essential motif -- does awareness of mortality 'operate' in this circumstance and that? That is interesting, and likely to intrigue Objectivish folk, if rendered respectfully.

Charity Hood still on, I will suggest that you engage with Objectivish notions by asking, not declaring. For example, "does Branden's work on self-esteem deal with human mortality? Does Ayn Rand's corpus contain meditations on human sense of mortality, and implicate that sense of life/death in the genesis and maintenance of culture?"

Hood off, a simple request:  If you aren't just a drop in bomber, a one-trick-pony, a one-subject bore, use your OL profile to sketch in a full personality. Sadly, there is prejudice against newcomers here, insofar as the newcomers come in guns blazing, pretending to perfect knowledge, insofar as the newcomer seems over-invested in some 'theory' or another.

________________________

** I personally am not enthralled with Branden's notions surrounding self-esteem. 

Edited by william.scherk
Added note.

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Brant Gaede    1

You can't come in here with guns a blazing bs and get away with it. The only one who ever got away with it is George H. Smith and it wasn't bs, it was personal apropos another party who's never posted here. For a brain like his you get all the slack you'd ever want. And we already knew George; we don't know this fellow.

--Brant

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Lightyearsaway,

It seems your argument for TMT rests that man is, by nature, anxieteous, and that his self-esteem is derived from others.

Objectivism says it is in man's nature to be happy (not anxieteous), and he can achieve happiness.  In Barbara Branden's lecture series, Principles of Efficient Thinking, she provides a psychological definition of self-esteem: "A judgement of moral approval which man passes unto himself."  This is compatible with Nathaniel Branden's, and doesn't leave room for obtaining self-esteem from other people.  In The Psychology of Self-Esteem, Nathaniel talks about the psychological visibility principle:

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Yet a man's most important creation and highest value--his character, his soul, his psychological self-- ... can never exist apart from his own consciousness; it can never be perceived by him as part of the "out there."  But man desires a form of objective self-awareness and, in fact, needs this experience.
Since man is the motor of his own actions, since his concept of himself, of the person he has created, plays a cardinal role in his motivation--he desires and needs the fullest possible experience of the reality and objectivity of that person, of his self.

He goes on to say that there are no psychological mirrors like a physical mirror, that this requires another consciousness.  More:

Quote

This, then, is the root of man's desire for companionship and love: the desire to perceive himself as an entity in reality--to experience the perspective of objectivity--through and by means of the reactions and responses of other human beings.
The principle involved [later labeled as the psychological visibility principle] may be summarized as follows: Man desires and needs the experience of self-awareness that results from perceiving his self as an objective existent--and he is able to achieve this experience through interaction with the consciousness of other living entities.

Later:

Quote

A psychologically healthy man does not depend on others for his self-esteem; he expects others to perceive his value, not to create it.

Also, contextually in the book he indicates psychological visibility is not validation of the self, that this is done by oneself and goes back to the Barbara Branden quote earlier.

Concluding with my own thoughts: psychological visibility is each time someone perceiving that you exist, that you are alive--and answers that ontological question for yourself.. that you exist.. by your own purpose, from the use of your own mind----that you belong here.

 

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There is some fine poetic swanning about in this thread.

21 hours ago, Lightyearsaway said:

inflating the significance and meaning of tiny slivers of invented reality

Exaltaton of the primitive? Emphases added.

21 hours ago, Lightyearsaway said:

The cultures that provided the best belief systems to counter our fear of animal insignificance and death were prehistoric, because they embraced an animistic spirituality that granted cosmic significance to each and every individual in the tribe.

And it sounds like The Perfect Mental Diet. Studies Confirm!

18 hours ago, Lightyearsaway said:

hundreds of studies and double blind experiments confirming TMT

Whoo. Hoo. But.

8 hours ago, william.scherk said:

Finally, how can such a theory be said to 'prove' anything about the culture of prehistoric humanity -- let alone that posited hunter-gatherer societies had the 'best religion'?

That was my entry into wondering where the beef was.  See below.

7 hours ago, Lightyearsaway said:
8 hours ago, william.scherk said:

As far as we know the 'theory' may be held only by parties under the 'psychoanalytic' tradition' wing in sociology.  

Incorrect

But the go-to guy in the video remarks upon "the essence of Freud" at 9:40 -- as a buttress to the salience-of-mortality hypothesis.

Let me say that the video is interesting, but also say that it does not support your narrow claims above and below that TMT has proven the best religion is animism. Ya know?

Some of the highlights of the video are the notion that "Reminders of Death" can alter attitudes and behaviour.  The strongest claim made is that Reminders of Death lead to Hot Sauce. Just kidding. But.  In other words, Reminders of Death can serve to engender more 'aggressive' behaviour than those who do not receive reminders during the otherwise exactly similar psychology studies.

So, there is indeed 'neat stuff' in the video, although one would have to spend hours tracking down the actual literature referred to in passing. 

Furthermore, with charity, the hypothesis that Reminders of Death can alter attitudes and behaviour is useful.  It may help to assess and predict aggressive or destructive behaviour, perhaps.  I imagine you could turn the Reminders of Death into sets of predictions about the current US election, even. Using contemporary situations and personalities, the predictions could be put to a test, or if that is too much mental work, one could analyze  Trump success by recourse to the 'wisdom of TMT' ...  what existential terror has Mr Trump exploited, what intent to harm has he raised up by raising Fear of Death (death of America the Great)?

In alternate example, is there really such a thing as 'social death' (invisibility, powerlessness, poverty, loss of status)? If so, how would we expect a person (or aggregate of individuals) to react when he feels at risk of relative annihilation? Is this kind of death as disturbing and terrifying, as salient as envisioning one's own physical death?

Perhaps the most intriguing (for the Objectivish) is the notion that defence of one's individual culture/world-view (in-group, philosophical ID, rank, etc) is intensified under threat/fear  -- that such ego-defence will lead to deepening cleavages and so-called Otherizing (devaluing via group membership), and even to greater propensity to 'lash out' with aggression, with intent to harm, intent to hobble, degrade or destroy that which threatens.

So, fun stuff for wild psychological speculation and what-ifs? Perhaps even some evidence down the road.   But again, a long leap and a hike and a portage between these hypotheses and speculative notions and "superiority of animist" religion among the primitives of the Just-So past. Ya know?

That is about the limit of my ability to be tedious today.   Sundays are the slowest days of the week on this porch.  

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With the shift to civilization, we entered an era of materialism that increasingly relied on an (unequally distributed) earthly (as opposed to cosmic) self-esteem. Since the illusion of earthly significance is smaller than the illusion of cosmic significance, most individuals in civilization came to exist in a chronically deprived state of self-esteem

Maybe. Maybe that is you, clinging desperately and defensively to the perfect Cult of TMT. Maybe your aggression and Otherizing is a function of the wet, sucking vacancy in your soul where emptiness and worthlessness swirls! 

Probably not. When one is young and in love, one scoffs at Death. Certainly Ayn Rand scoffed at Death, if not the Death Wish. Insert smiley emoticon here.

Edited by william.scherk
Spelking, grrrammar.

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In Barbara Branden's lecture series, Principles of Efficient Thinking, she provides a psychological definition of self-esteem: "A judgement of moral approval by a man unto himself."  This is compatible with Nathaniel Branden's, and doesn't leave room for obtaining self-esteem from other people...A psychologically healthy man does not depend on others for his self-esteem; he expects others to perceive his value, not to create it.

Self-esteem comes from social validation. By definition. It entails seeing oneself as a person of value in a world of meaning. A person comes to this world and finds various pre-created meaning structures (cultures) that s/he inevitably adapts to, chooses from, relies on and even helps build upon
Becker used the term "heroism" more than self-esteem

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBbrswEpFTQ

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is there really such a thing as 'social death' (invisibility, powerlessness, poverty, loss of status)? If so, how would we expect a person (or aggregate of individuals) to react when he feels at risk of relative annihilation?


No need to speculate here. We have many examples of how people behave when faced with "social death"

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Is this kind of death as disturbing and terrifying, as salient as envisioning one's own physical death?


Let me ask you, for example, what would scare you more, losing everything you have and becoming a homeless person that everyone (including former family and friends) thinks stinks, acts in sexually inappropriate ways and has lost his mind, or being a highly accomplished, socially admired, respected family-loved person who receives a nobel prize and then dies in a car accident?
Ernest Becker made a famous statement that “What we fear is not so much extinction, but extinction with insignificance"

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Perhaps the most intriguing (for the Objectivish) is the notion that defence of one's individual culture/world-view (in-group, philosophical ID, rank, etc) is intensified under threat/fear  -- that such ego-defence will lead to deepening cleavages and so-called Otherizing (devaluing via group membership), and even to greater propensity to 'lash out' with aggression, with intent to harm, intent to hobble, degrade or destroy that which threatens.

 


Yes, this has been extensively tested.
 

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when one is young and in love, one scoffs at Death.

Im sure you agree that that involves a certain amount of self-delusion. We find it much easier to scoff at death when we come armed with a "symbolic shield" like romanticized notions of love, country, God, Allah etc

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Since 1800 the "march of progress" that you apparently deny has been indisputable and overwhelming. Life expectancy has risen dramatically, increased wealth, income, living standards and medical technologies have eliminated or reduced the previously incurable. In your worldview this is "delusion" but cave shamanism is "real".

You're putting words in my mouth. I said that with civilization, there was a gradual shift from cosmic to earthly notions of self-importance. My contention was that they are both delusional - both used to deny our animal insignificance and death. I also mentioned that "the march of progress" since 1800 has caused overpopulation and massively increased ecological footprint, leading to ecocide and compromising the long term survival prospects of humanity due to environmental degradation. This obvious regress must be taken into account, as well as some TMT studies like these that show how our belief in progress has many of the same irrational properties as religion
http://www.academia.edu/534931/Things_will_get_better_The_anxiety-buffering_qualities_of_progressive_hope_2009_
There were also some advantages to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle that we no longer have.

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ISIS are also deeply religious. Self-important (by cosmic proportions) too. Allah sends them 70 virgins to await their glorious exit.


By our standards, yes they are, but not by hunter-gatherer standards. The 70 virgins await in a different delusional realm, whereas hunter-gatherers already exist in that realm. All the major religions of civilization, from Sun worship, to Christianity and Islam, came to co-exist with the forms of earthly self-esteem/heroism brought about by the materialism of agriculture and surplus (tyrannical monarchies, nations, money, jobs, progress etc).
The former (primitive) cosmic dimensions of self-importance were diminished.

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1 hour ago, Lightyearsaway said:

Self-esteem comes from social validation.

Lightyearsaway,

Not sure if you're aware of the glaring contradiction in this statement...

 

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