My main philosophical concern is that [Rand's] views on sexuality seem to go hand in hand with her ignorance of evolutionary biology and lead to a rationalistic view of man as an (animate) reasoner rather than a (rational) animal. But that is quite a bit to get into here.
Ted, that is a very interesting, provocative comment. Could you please explain how seeing man as an "(animate) reasoner" is rationalistic?
I can see one way this might be so. "Animal" is the genus and "rational" is the differentia, making "rational animal" the species. So, treating "reasoner" as the genus, i.e., as more general than "animate", really is conceptually non- (even anti-) hierarchical.
"Reasoner" is a dead-end genus, and "animate reasoner" is the sole species under it. Now, if that is not exactly a floating abstraction, it sure comes close. So, yes, I see at least a sense in which "(animate) reasoner" is rationalistic.
But what are your thoughts on this? Thanks in advance....reb
You have hit on my objection in essence. The scholastics viewed man, angels (and demons) and god as rational beings. Man was differentiated from the others as being animate/corporeal. I don't think Rand came anywhere near holding this view explicitly or consciously. But her view of man as essentially rational led to tensions. The relevant way here is that values are portrayed as resulting from beliefs and premises. This is problematic when one asks why babies value sweetness. Babies don't go through a process of thought and determine that since sugar is a necessary nutrient, and since sweetness indicates the presence of sugar, sweet foods should be sought out. [We don't choose to make sweetness taste good because we value the calories in sugar intellectually.] Humans simply like certain sensations becuase of their biological nature. If this were not true, dieting should be so simple that we would not even have a concept for it - we wouldn't try to avoid fattening foods, we would simply do it.
Sexuality, like taste in food, is in part learned, but it is prompted by one's biological/genetic nature and is also part of a bottom up process. People like sweet foods because they have sugar, rich foods because they have fat, tart foods because they have vitamin C, and so forth. They come to enjoy things such as spicy thai chicken because through experienece they learn that such foods are very satisfying of those basic cravings. A young child will not like spicy food, since he has not yet had the experience to learn such an acquired taste. Likewise, we are born enjoying the soft touch of another. As we mature we come to appreciate certain curves of bodies, certain smells. This is analogous to our desire for sweet food. We come to integrate our desire for certain touches, certain smells, and so forth, and find that we really like physical contact with certain individuals - and that our genitalia responds in a spontaneous way to such stimulus. Biological experiments have shown the genetic/chemical nature of our attraction to certain body odors. This is not the result of a person saying that because he is a woman worshipper he likes the way a woman smells. It is, in a sense, the other way around.
Rand is supposed to have said that NB should have worshipped her even if she were confined to a wheelchair - this comment shows exactly the attitude that I find wrong in her theory of sex. One does indeed form the best and highest relationship with those with whom one shares the highest values. Rotten (e. g., Bill Clinton?) people do find tawdry affairs easier than noble relationships. But that one finds a certain type of person physically attractive is a bottom up phenomenon. The trick is to find someone whom one finds both physically and spiritually attractive. Love at first sight is a physical attraction - infatuation - that becomes a spiritual attraction - romance. I have fallen for men and woman physically, only to find that their spirits don't live up to their bodies. But I have also been lucky enough to find a few men and women whose souls have lived up to their bodies. I am in such a relationship now for 14 years.