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#1 Cheri

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 06:07 PM

Hello!

My name is Cheri, I am a 43-year-old single mom of teenage and college-aged kids, and I live in Phoenix, AZ.

I don't know if I would consider myself an Objectivist or not; I certainly wouldn't go so far as to label or identify myself as one at this point. I've simply been looking for a forum where I can learn more about Objectivism and have an opportunity to discuss certain aspects with people who are more knowledgeable in this area than I currently am. I'm hoping I have found such a place here.

I have read small pieces of Ayn Rand's work here and there over the years, I read The Fountainhead two or three years ago, and I've read just a few chapters of Atlas Shrugged (to be honest, it just didn't hold my interest, but I do intend to finish reading it). Until recently my viewpoint on Objectivism was simply that I had never read anything by Ayn Rand that I disagreed with per se, nothing that really seemed to conflict with the views I already held personally, but I'd harbored some degree of questioning about how some of the principles she espoused would be applied in day-to-day family life and personal relationships. However, other than occasional reading out of mild curiosity, I never gave it a great deal of thought.

Within the past year, though, a conflict within my personal life has landed me in a position where I feel as though it's more necessary than it had been previously to define and articulate my own "world view", my own opinions and my own reasoning for the way I live my life - all in light of and within the context of Objectivism. In a nutshell, there is a person in my life who now fancies himself an Objectivist (a philosophy, ironically enough, that I personally introduced him to as I thought he might be interested) and has decided to club me over the metaphorical head with it and deem my lifestyle and personal views to be inconsistent with his (no, this is not a boyfriend or a romantic relationship). Being presented with this assertion, I set out to clarify for myself exactly what I believe and why; whether or not this person ultimately agrees with me is not the issue, but when I'm defending my personal choices in my own mind I would, naturally, like to have a proverbial leg to stand on. In other words, putting it simply, this relationship conflict has brought the matter to the forefront, but I have my own reasons - as we all should, I think - for wanting to solidify my beliefs and the bases for them.

So, over the past year I've done a little reading as I've had the time, but I've often found myself wishing I knew an Objectivist I could talk to (the aforementioned person isn't speaking to me because he claims we're "incompatible", which isn't the case but that relationship is a whole 'nother story). I'm hoping this forum will be a place where I can find some people willing to let me bounce some thoughts and questions off of them.

I suspect I'm going to find that I agree with a lot of Objectivist thinking. I also suspect that I'm going to run into areas where I need to think through things and ponder them a bit more than I have in the past, and that pondering is what I hope you all will help walk me through.

Also, I really, really hate to end a sentence with a preposition, but that last one just didn't seem to come out smoothly any other way. ;)

#2 Reidy

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 07:08 PM

Welcome to OL. I have two pieces of advice:

1. Nathaniel Branden's writings are good on how to make Objectivist virtues work out in practice. You'd have to come to them with some acquaintance with Objectivism in order to recognize that that's what he's doing.

2. Be glad you're rid of this guy.

#3 Brant Gaede

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 07:49 PM

Hi. Human beings are compatible with OL.

--Brant
exceptions may be made for chimps and people in Phoenix who don't live down here in Tucson

Rational Individualist, Rational self-interest, Individual Rights--limited government libertarian heavily influenced by Objectivism


#4 Selene

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 08:26 PM

Cheri:

Welcome to OL.

This place has a wide variety of folks who you will find quite helpful. Some are definitely Objectivists, some are "objectivists" and some are just good to great thinkers who understand the writings of Objectivism, Rand and those she influenced.

Out of curiosity, this "individual" that you introduced to Ayn's Objectivism believed that they 1) understood the entire philosophy; 2) chose to employ that philosophy to "...club me[you] over the metaphorical head with it and deem my[your] lifestyle and personal views to be inconsistent with his; and 3) somehow feels justified in intruding into your individuality?

Hmmm, sounds like a reformed leftist!

Again, out of curiosity, what are your top three (3) questions about Objectivism that you are mulling about in your mind?

Adam
"Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice..and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."

#5 Michael Stuart Kelly

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 10:21 PM

Cheri,

Welcome to OL.

I know you're not seeking indoctrination, but I wonder if the person in your life is one of your kids. If it is, contact with Objectivist indoctrinators would be helpful so you could understand your kid better--but, boy, did you come to the wrong place for that!

:smile:

We're all mavericks here (to use a colorful phrase from George Smith). I even once entertained saying this site is devoted to renegade Objectivism--but I like the thinking for yourself idea so much more.

I believe each mind is precious and each person needs to find his or her path to the best way to use it. Granted, almost all of the regulars here start from an Objectivist basis since Ayn Rand had a strong impact on them in one manner or another. But Objectivism is a starting point, not an end point. It is the port of departure, not necessarily the destination. So each one takes off in the direction most suited to his or her values.

But we tend to have a hell of a good time crossing routes.

There are a lot of knowledgeable people here. Good people. Helpful people. So you will get good information and directions of where to look for your questions on Rand, Objectivism and the Objectivist subculture (with a good dose of libertarianism thrown in for good measure). Just be advised that this sometimes comes with some other stuff, depending on who is speaking.

You sound quite intelligent, so I am sure you will sort it out.

Most folks around here (including me) dislike a lot of the behavior of fundamentalist Objectivists. And fundamentalism sounds like the orientation of the person who now finds you incompatible. So I suspect he (or she) would not like us very much and might even chide you for seeking information among the savages. :smile:

Incidentally, I have been doing some study on cults recently and came across the work of Steven Hassan. He (and a few others like Robert Lifton and Philip Zimbardi) really opened my mind on how destructive groups can suck people into them. (Ironically, intelligent people are the most vulnerable.) Google his name and see some videos if you are interested (or go to the link I gave). If your situation is what I suspect it is, this will be quite helpful. Just look at the title of one of his books: Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves.

I'm not saying the fundamentalist brand of Objectivm is a cult, but there are certain aspects that are strongly cult-like. I won't go into this right now because I don't know if it is your actual problem, but in the case of the person you mentioned, cutting ties with someone over ideological differences is certainly a strong warning sign.

As for the rest, you will find some new friends around here if you wish. That's the way it always happens. They are a bit ragged around the edges, but hell, you only live once. :smile:

Glad to meet you.

Michael

Know thyself...


#6 Cheri

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 10:57 PM

Hello again and thank you for the welcomes.

Reidy -

To respond to your advice, I should tell you first that I was never necessarily looking for a way to "make" Objectivist views work out in practice - mostly because I'm perfectly happy with the way I live my life, but of course I'm always open to learning and changing something if I think it requires changing. When I said that I "harbored some degree of questioning about how some of the principles she espoused would be applied in day-to-day family life and personal relationships" I meant it in the sense that you might look at someone and say, "Hmmm... How's that workin' for ya?" In other words, I'd always raised a bit of an eyebrow at it. So, while I'm not looking to change anything necessarily, I may read Branden's stuff at some point (although, like you said, I'll probably need to be more familiar with Objectivism first) just to A) see whether there's anything I decide I should change for my own benefit, or B) see if there's anything I disagree with and think through why I disagree (always good to think through it).

As far as your second piece of advice, well, this guy (remember I said it was not a romantic relationship) was my foster son, now grown and in his early twenties. I love him very much, so I'm not glad to be rid of him, but I have to let him live his life and make his own choices. It's unfortunate when some of those choices are based on misinformation or misinterpretations, but he's not in a place right now where he wants to listen to me, so it won't be up to me to convince him of anything.

Brant -

Howdy from Phoenix. We're practically neighbors. ;)

Selene/Adam -

To answer your "out of curiosity" questions:

1) He's a Philosophy major who is one semester from graduation, he's read a lot of Rand's writings (I bought him a couple of the books myself as birthday gifts), and as far as I know he is or has been involved in some Objectivist discussion groups, so I'm fairly sure he understands the philosophy. However, I'm also quite sure he has his own personal and psychological reasons for wanting to "understand" it in a way that suits him. In that sense, I can't say how "clear" his understanding is. If that makes sense.

2) I'm not sure I understand your second question. Are you asking me if he intentionally chose this philosophy to "club me over the head"? If that's the question... No, I don't think so. I think he finds it "handy" to attribute to me some beliefs that I don't really hold and then declare those already-mis-attributed beliefs to be inconsistent with his own Objectivist views so that he can justify not speaking to me. The truth about why he doesn't want to speak to me is, of course, much more complicated than that. He's just using Objectivism as an excuse to cover up some real reasons that he doesn't want to admit. However, it has bothered me that he's chosen to believe things about me that are false, and that is, obviously, part of my reason for wanting to more concretely articulate my actual beliefs. In other words, if it comes up again in my life - either with him or with someone else - I want to be able to more solidly back up what I believe.

Perhaps if I described what I mean by my "lifestyle" this would make more sense. I am running out of time in the short break I had here to type this out, so I'll do that in another post a little later. But in a nutshell: I've been labeled that most terrible of all things, an "altruist". Now, in layman's terminology, in the sense that I do things with my life for which I ask no payment in return, this would be true. But to say I'm an "altruist" in actual philosophical terms or particularly as it's defined by Rand... That would be absolutely false. I am no such thing.

On to your third question:

3) He certainly wouldn't say he feels justified intruding into my individuality. He claims, rather, that he understands my nature and that, while he would never expect me to change, I am someone with whom he does not wish to associate. The problem is that, as I've said, this is really all just a cover for some deeper reasons he has for what he wants to do (cut me out of his life). And it's not up to me to fix any of it, as much as I might wish I could.

You asked me to give you my top three questions about Objectivisim. I'm short on time now, like I said, so I will come back later and put those also in another post.

Thank you all, again, for the welcomes and the conversation.

#7 Cheri

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 10:58 PM

Hello Michael -

Just saw that you and I must have been typing at the same time. Yes, it's one of my kids. I'm going to read the rest of what you wrote now, and then I will be back here a little later. ;)

#8 Brant Gaede

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 12:34 AM

Your foster son. Early twenties. Time is on both your sides. Just leave the light on, your door open and a bowl of porridge on the kitchen table.

--Brant
I've seen this before

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#9 Brant Gaede

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 01:29 AM

This situation is one of three basic orientations: The cult (of Leonard Peikoff), the semi-cult (of Ayn Rand), the no-cult. Your son is going to have to find his own way out of the sticky situation he's put himself into to true personal freedom and individuation and growth as a human being. The more you try to help him do this, the more you will fail. It's time for Mom to become a friend, not a Mom, but Mom has to wait and let that new context come to her from him. The more oblivious you seem to his growing pains, the quicker he'll finish growing up. Generally speaking, no one is more important to any man's life than his mother, at least until he gets married and has kids. The coin of a close relationship has two sides: acceptance and rejection. The commonality, however, is not hate but love. I know it's love because he called you an "altruist." That's a superficial intellectualization. It's not that you beat him with a stick when he was five, I trust, and denigrated him one way or another in his adolescence. He's neither saying nor intimidating any of that, at least by what you've said here. In another sense, you're both victims of middle-class American economic surplus. He can afford what he's doing so he's doing it. It's a luxury. Back in the hunter-gatherer days of our ancient ancestors nobody ran away from home and banishment meant death.

--Brant

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#10 Cheri

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 02:46 AM

Hi Brant -

You're not wrong about any of what you've said, but the situation is a little more complex than what little I've told you here. And I don't want to make this conversation too much about my situation with him, not because it isn't worth talking about and not because it isn't an interesting story (it is, actually), but because I'm really not trying to "fix" anything with him right now (I can't, anyway, because we don't have contact) and because my time to post here is kind of limited, so if I spend too much time on that story I'll never get my questions out.

Just to clarify, though: No, I didn't beat him when he was five (I only met him at sixteen) and I didn't denigrate him in his adolescence. I mean, obviously you don't think those things anyway, but I just want to be clear that the things he's angry with me about aren't issues of mistreatment. As a matter of fact, quite the opposite. I was very, very good to him and put a tremendous amount of work into helping him evolve from a cocaine-addicted street thug, car thief, home-invasion burglar and gang member who wore his pants sagging under his butt and spoke only street slang to a college-educated intellectual who speaks in words that have more syllables than your social security number has digits, plays classical Spanish guitar and knows how to order all the right wines. And that is why, ironically enough, he claims to be at odds with me. When my daughter saw him at a party last November he said to her, "Of course I don't have any respect for you or your mom. What kind of people would take in someone like me?"

But enough about him, at least for now.

I said I'd come back and explain what it is about my "lifestyle" that's pegged me with the oh-so-dreaded "altruist" label. It's this: I take in stray kids. I've been doing it for years. And I don't get paid for it, nor do I receive any child support for my biological kids, so everything I do is out of my own pocket. I didn't receive any monies for the care of the aforementioned foster son, either, because I refused to apply for the foster care funds after I fought for custody of him (like I've indicated, it's a complicated story).

But here's the thing, before all the Objectivist radar starts frantically beeping... I do what I do because it's a talent I have and I enjoy using that talent. You can't ask a painter not to paint, you can't ask a singer not to sing, and you can't ask me not to mother. The only reason I don't get paid for it - don't get me wrong, I'd love to get paid for it - is because I've never managed to find a way to get paid for it without having some outside party, be it the government or an absent ex-husband or some kid's abusive biological parent, getting involved in how I do things. I do things my own way, live my life my own way, and always have. I don't want to have to answer to anyone else about how I parent, so I don't involve anyone else, and that means I don't make any money at it. As a matter of fact, it costs me a great deal and I have to work very hard at my job in order to keep doing what I do with my life. But it also costs money for most people to do the things they enjoy, so I don't see this as any different.

I still have to respond to the "top three questions about Objectivism" that I was asked about, but I'm out of time for the moment. Be back later. ;)



#11 Cheri

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 02:47 AM

I wonder why all my paragraph spacing went away in that post... ???

#12 Brant Gaede

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 03:16 AM

Hi Brant -

You're not wrong about any of what you've said, but the situation is a little more complex than what little I've told you here. And I don't want to make this conversation too much about my situation with him, not because it isn't worth talking about and not because it isn't an interesting story (it is, actually), but because I'm really not trying to "fix" anything with him right now (I can't, anyway, because we don't have contact) and because my time to post here is kind of limited, so if I spend too much time on that story I'll never get my questions out.

Just to clarify, though: No, I didn't beat him when he was five (I only met him at sixteen) and I didn't denigrate him in his adolescence. I mean, obviously you don't think those things anyway, but I just want to be clear that the things he's angry with me about aren't issues of mistreatment. As a matter of fact, quite the opposite. I was very, very good to him and put a tremendous amount of work into helping him evolve from a cocaine-addicted street thug, car thief, home-invasion burglar and gang member who wore his pants sagging under his butt and spoke only street slang to a college-educated intellectual who speaks in words that have more syllables than your social security number has digits, plays classical Spanish guitar and knows how to order all the right wines. And that is why, ironically enough, he claims to be at odds with me. When my daughter saw him at a party last November he said to her, "Of course I don't have any respect for you or your mom. What kind of people would take in someone like me?"

But enough about him, at least for now.

I said I'd come back and explain what it is about my "lifestyle" that's pegged me with the oh-so-dreaded "altruist" label. It's this: I take in stray kids. I've been doing it for years. And I don't get paid for it, nor do I receive any child support for my biological kids, so everything I do is out of my own pocket. I didn't receive any monies for the care of the aforementioned foster son, either, because I refused to apply for the foster care funds after I fought for custody of him (like I've indicated, it's a complicated story).

But here's the thing, before all the Objectivist radar starts frantically beeping... I do what I do because it's a talent I have and I enjoy using that talent. You can't ask a painter not to paint, you can't ask a singer not to sing, and you can't ask me not to mother. The only reason I don't get paid for it - don't get me wrong, I'd love to get paid for it - is because I've never managed to find a way to get paid for it without having some outside party, be it the government or an absent ex-husband or some kid's abusive biological parent, getting involved in how I do things. I do things my own way, live my life my own way, and always have. I don't want to have to answer to anyone else about how I parent, so I don't involve anyone else, and that means I don't make any money at it. As a matter of fact, it costs me a great deal and I have to work very hard at my job in order to keep doing what I do with my life. But it also costs money for most people to do the things they enjoy, so I don't see this as any different.

I still have to respond to the "top three questions about Objectivism" that I was asked about, but I'm out of time for the moment. Be back later. ;)


So, what is he doing now? Is he better or worse than he was at 16? Can you accept that after all you did for him that the transcending element might be sociopathy, even if it's now sublimated to merely bad mouthing and dissing you? The type of work you do respecting whom you take in can be dangerous. It is certainly ego food. Even Mother Teresa was feeding her massive ego and she knew it. This is a natural enough thing. Normally people feed their egos. Soldiers even go to war for that. I did. Of course, if there's no war they do something else. You are simply a female American warrior. If you aren't dead, then you're the winner. The strength your foster son seems now to be displaying--where did he get that? Any of it from you?

--Brant

Rational Individualist, Rational self-interest, Individual Rights--limited government libertarian heavily influenced by Objectivism


#13 whYNOT

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 03:24 AM

Don't Arizonans ever sleep??

Cheri, welcome!

Tony
"To know that we know what we know, and to know that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge". Nicolaus Copernicus (An original objectivist) 1473-1543 ***No man may be smaller than his philosophy...***

#14 Cheri

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 03:34 AM

Hi Brant -

Just stepped in here for a minute and saw your post, so I'll answer very quickly.

Right now he's finishing up school and working as a bus boy, as far as I know. As far as being better or worse than at 16... Well, it can get complicated to define "better or worse", can't it? He is physically healthy. He is educated. He isn't involved in any criminal activity that I'm aware of, nor that I suspect. In those ways, he's better. But he's utterly incapable of managing personal relationships, and behavior that I have observed (briefly) and heard about (a little more extensively) toward his current girlfriend is downright abusive. Whether there is physical abuse between the two of them or not I don't know, but it wouldn't surprise me based on the verbal abuse and intense fighting of which I am aware. And they both drink a great deal. In those ways, I don't think he is better. By the way, all of that behavior started when he moved out of our home a year ago; I never observed any such behavior when he lived with us. Never.

Yes, what I do can be dangerous. I'm careful. This foster son is the only person of his - shall we say "street caliber"? - that I've ever kept in my home, and when I took him in I had reason to believe it would be okay. And it was. He never presented a danger to us.

Yes, I've considered sociopathy as a possibility.

Yes, I understand that what I do is "ego food", as you said it. I think - and this is me just speaking without benefit of any philosophical or psychological education here - that whenever we use our talents and enjoy seeing the results, our ego is fed. And I'm fine with that.

As far as the "strength" he is displaying, I don't know that it's really strength. Unless you mean that he's conquered certain past "demons" and continues to go to school and better himself in that way. If so, then I suppose that's strength, but I can't say that he got it from me necessarily. He was always a strong person in the sense that once he's determined to do something he can follow through.

#15 Cheri

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 03:35 AM

Hi Tony - No, I never sleep. Ha ha. And apparently this maybe common in AZ. ;)

#16 Cheri

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 04:03 AM

Okay, regarding my "top three questions", which Adam asked me about earlier...

I don't know that I have a "top three", as there isn't any issue in particular that weighs on my mind any more than another issue; it's more that things just "come up" now and then. So, I will just give you the first three questions I could think of that regularly come to mind for me.

#1 Do Objectivists love their children unconditionally?

#2 It has seemed to me, and I'll grant this may just be an impression I've gotten rather than something I've specifically read, that Objetivists typically place less importance on any kind of work that is geared toward helping other people than they place on work that "produces" something tangible. For instance, someone who invents better mousetraps or someone who writes books is regarded as creative and productive, especially if they make lots and lots of money at it, but someone who, say, cares for the elderly because they really enjoy helping people and find it rewarding in other ways than monetarily (because obviously this sort of job doesn't make anyone financially rich) is deemed less productive or even sneered at. (Ugh, again with the ending of a sentence with a preposition.) My question is whether this is actually an accurate perception of Objectivists, or whether it's something I've probably just picked up because of whomever I've happened to encounter.

#3 What reason does an Objectivist have to care about something that does not directly impact him/her? For example, why should an Objectivist care if the waste from a factory they own is destroying all the land in the area, especially if the Objectivist in question is getting older and will most certainly not live to see the damage? In such a scenario, the damage being done will in no way impact the life of the person benefiting from the factory, so does he or she have any reason to care about it?

I apologize if my wording is getting less... coherent. It's getting late, even for me. ;)

#17 whYNOT

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 05:18 AM

Cheri,
Penetrating questions. I believe each Objectivist has had to look deep to find
the answers - without rationalizing to him-her self.
Quickest honest response I have involves reality, life, values and independence.
Your values are your own - beyond 'productiveness', rationality and self-esteem,
Rand never specified what those are, or should be.
She only pointed the way and the means.
As you indicate, Objectivism is seen by some to be heartless and lacking in humanity.
Unless...one realises further, that the philosophy is *exactly* the means to be fully human:
How to experience the complete human condition, cognitively and emotionally.
How to be 'real' - for one's own sake, and how to live at peace with others, for all our sakes.
Underneath, and above it all, I think Rand really cared.

Finally, I have to say it is a quite overwhelming philosophy for the immature. That we usually discover it when youthful,can be difficult.
"To know that we know what we know, and to know that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge". Nicolaus Copernicus (An original objectivist) 1473-1543 ***No man may be smaller than his philosophy...***

#18 Kat

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 07:30 AM

Hi Cheri, welcome to Objectivist Living. It is nice to see other single moms here. I hope you enjoy our little online home here.

You have an interesting story to tell and I'm sure it will all work out ok. You have a young Randroid on your hands just full of piss and vinegar and trying to become a man. He is trying to find himself and discovered Rand and is using the philosophy for the wrong reasons such as alienating people who love him. Hopefully, this will be a short phase. I have a daughter about the same age away at college and drifting a bit left, but not too far. She still loves her mama. They always come back.

Taking in foster kids is an admirable thing to do IMHO and doing it without taking gov't money and having to answer to idiot bureaucrats is awesome. I don't see why he has a problem with that, I certainly don't. Maybe some people would call me an altruist too, but I don't care. I strongly believe in helping others one on one or through supporting non-profits. In my world being selffish means paying yourself and your family first and if there is extra make a difference to someone or a cause that is meaningful. It feels good to share and try to make a difference. I have an autistic teenager at home and I raise money for autism research. If I had the means, I would probably take in other autistic kids. This is my selffishness. I want my kid to have a better chance at life and I want to see this epidemic cured during my lifetime.

OK, I'll take a stab at the 3 question challenge...

1. Do Objectivists love their kids unconditionally?
Ayn Rand was never a parent and so could never truly speak to that so I will speak for myself and say YES. There are, of course, times when the kids will anger and disappoint us, but the love is always there, no matter what. It is hard not to love your kids. The only example I can think of is if your kid was a serial killer or killed your spouse or other family members... then it would be hard.

2. Productive work
Be ambitious and productive doing what you love and are good at. Money and recognition are icing on the cake. We can't all be millionaire industrialists, but one should never feel guilty for making money from honest work. Trade value for value. Money is good but it should not be obtained via force or fraud.

3. Does an objectivist care about things that don't impact them directly?
Does anyone? it is true most of us are not out to save the whales or are joining greenpeace because for the most part we think that humans are superior to animals, but I'm sure there are O'ists out there who volunteer at animal shelters, too. It is all very individual. The closer you are to a cause, the more you care. I think that goes for most everyone and not just Objectivists, but we tend to have a closer connection to what we promote because we know it reflects our values. Some people just pick up causes to be with people they think are cool. I like to think we are a bit more indpendent than that. As Objectivists, I think we look inside a bit more and choose our own values. Reading Atlas Shrugged for the first time brought me clarity that I never knew I had. We have choices. If you feel passionately about something who cares what anyone else thinks.

Kat

#19 George H. Smith

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 03:27 PM

When my daughter saw him at a party last November he said to her, "Of course I don't have any respect for you or your mom. What kind of people would take in someone like me?"



That sounds like an unfunny version of the famous line by Groucho Marx, "I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members."

I hate to pack too many cliches into one post, but your foster son, however he may have advanced in some areas, appears to be operating at the emotional level of a child, and he has some growing up to do. In my experience, an immersion in O'ist ideas can actually retard progress in this area, unfortunately, because O'ism can mislead a young person into thinking that he knows a lot more about people and life than he actually does.

I began reading Rand in 1966, at age 17. I read all of her nonfiction first, and I didn't read her novels until over two years after that. The emotional ambience of her characters never appealed to me much, and even her philosophical explanations of emotions never struck me as very credible. Over the years I saw a number of friends become emotionally stunted, so to speak, from taking Rand too seriously in the realm of feelings.

I know this possibility has already occurred to you, but I seriously doubt if there is anything you can do about this situation. Your foster son will either mature or he won't. From your description of him before age 16, he probably has a lot of emotional baggage from before you took him in, and I suspect you are serving as a convenient scapegoat for things you had nothing to do with.

Ghs

#20 Cheri

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 04:32 PM

Kat -

Thank you for your responses to my questions.

As to question #1: The reason I asked is because the concept of unconditional love seems contrary to what I've heard or read about Objectivist philosophy. However, I've long believed that this is because, as you said, Rand never had children and therefore couldn't really speak to the issue. Of course, I am implying here - and intentionally - that our children fall into an unusual category of people in our lives to whom the concept of unconditional love in its most basic form can really apply.

That being said, I still believe in "unconditional" love as being the most genuine kind of love, and I know a lot of Objectivists take issue with that idea. However, I've often suspected that's because I am defining "unconditional love" a bit differently than they are (many times with Objectivists and myself I find this to be true - that ultimately we aren't in disagreement, only defining words or concepts differently). To me, "unconditional love" simply means that I love you for who you are and not for whether you happen to be making me happy at the moment. It means there are things I value in you that are a part of you to the core, and the only circumstance I can imagine where that love would be abandoned would be one where you changed so deeply and so utterly that you were not the person I knew and loved. And I can imagine situations where that could be an issue worthy of debate - such as my grandmother with Alzheimer's Disease - but they are such unusual situations in life that I've never considered them worthy of a lot of sleep lost in pondering them.

As to question #2: I'm not sure you entirely understood my question. I was seeking input as to whether my perception (that Objectivist views tend to place more importance on the creation of the tangible than on work that provides care and support for fellow humans) was accurate or not.

And as for question #3: Perhaps I should have worded that one better (it was late). What I wanted to know is whether an Objectivist has any reason to care about damage he/she may be doing to the world around them, or other people, etc., when that damage will not impact his/her own life directly. In other words, if I own a factory and that factory is disposing of waste in a way that will damage the land permanently or at least long-term, thus negatively impacting others in the future but not myself, do I have any moral obligation to give a damn?

I've sometimes pondered whether an elderly Objectivist wouldn't be a potentially dangerous person if they didn't have their own personal reasons not to do certain things. It seems like if I have only a short time to live, I have very little reason to care one way or the other what damage I leave behind and therefore I could feel justified in being very inconsiderate, if not downright nasty in the extent of my selfishness. I know it sounds almost comical, but I have actually wondered from time to time about this!




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