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  1. The Psychology of Mysticism: A Contribution In Galt's speech, Rand presented a theory about the psychological reasons for the rejection of reason. Like George Orwell before her, she identified mysticism (of either the spiritualist/religionist or naturalist/determinist variety) as being born of a refusal to come to terms with objective reality. In short, a mystic is someone that rejects reason because reason relies on the objectivity of reality, and it is this objectivity they refuse to acknowlege. Instead, mystics desire a world of metaphysical subjectivism; where consciousness creates (rather than perceives) existence. According to Rand's theory, the mystics of spirit 'externalize' their desire for metaphysical subjectivism onto a god they have crafted in their own image. The mystics of muscle, on the other hand, are even more neurotic, in that they satisfy this desire by attempting to control consciousness (i.e. control others thoughts), believing that by controlling others beliefs that reality will shift to correspond to those beliefs. i.e. the mystics of muscle believe in a form of social metaphysics, where collective consciousness controls reality, and by manipulating that collective consciousness, reality will in turn be manipulated. As such, society is their replacement for god. It should be noted that, certainly in most mystics, these premises are very much subconscious, if not nonexistent. The theory only applies to fully-consistent mystics. I wish to dispute some elements of this theory. I reject Rand's claim that the mystics of muscle are using 'society' as a detour to god. The proof of this is in the essay that follows. I wish to show it is not the mystics of muscle that collapse into the mystics of spirit, but rather the mystics of spirit collapsing into mystics of muscle. Mystics Of Muscle A "Mystic of Muscle" is a person who rejects reason in favor of a naturalistic factor. The classic example is Marxism, which rejects reason in favor of dialectical materialism (technically speaking, it says people are controlled by dialectical materialism, with reason being reserved for the small class of Marxist intellectuals). Other examples include Nazism, which replaces reason with a form of sociological conditioning based upon race, Skinnerism in psychology, which treats human beings as merely stimulus-response meat-machines controlled by operant conditioning, and neurological physiological reductionism, which denies humans have reason and free will and reduces their consciousness to brain chemicals (note how Objectivism considers the issues of free will and reason to be inseperable). These doctrines serve as (more or less) a rationale for imposing controls over society. Manifestly, the attitude is one of power-lust, with the advocates of these ideas universally reserving truth for themselves, declaring everyone else stupid, and demanding the crown of philosopher-king. But why this lust for power over other people? Are not mystics meant to fundamentally want power over reality? Rand's answer; that the mystics believe controlling beliefs is controlling reality, is what I reject. I propose that mystics aren't interested in external reality at all. To quote Orwell's 1984, "'The second thing for you to realize is that power is power over human beings. Over the body - but above all over the mind. Power over matter - external reality, as you would call it, is not important...... reality is inside the skull" (O'Brien, the villain, speaking, p228). The reason I reject Rand's thesis is that metaphysical subjectivism of any kind is impossible to achieve. As such, no mystic can gain it. Therefore, they substitute this ideal for the next best thing; control of consciousness. At least at some level, they must realize (consciously or subconsciously) that they are failing to achieve their desire. This of course enhances feelings of impotence and weakness and failing, driving them more strongly to retreat from reality. Instead, they focus their efforts on control of others, denying the importance or existence of external reality in an attempt to avoid facing their own patheticness. Hence the self-aggrandizement, cult of personality, worship of the leader: its salve for the leader's psychological self-hate. The mystic hence derives his psychological satisfaction (and pseudo-self) from control of others. But the ultimate control of others is not control of their body but their mind. The mind, the most private part of the self, the ultimate control. If you can control that, you come the closest you possibly can to controlling reality. "Mind Control" is essentially "Diet Metaphysical Subjectivism," and since they cannot get the real thing, they get their contentment from the substitute. Of course, the feelings of impotence, insecurity, etc will never be fully extinguished in the mystic. After all, a substitute is not the real thing. So the mind control is almost destined to get stronger, the leader demanding more dramatic shows of popular submission and popular agreement to reassert his control over 'their reality.' You can almost feel pity for such a sad, pathetic creature. Mystics of Spirit The Mystics of Spirit are those that subordinate reason to faith, divine revelation, or something else of the supernatural ilk. Religion, which subordinates reason to faith, is the most obvious example. The basic claim they make is that there is a superior reality, the 'real reality,' which reason is powerless to apprehend (and as such, reason cannot grasp 'true' knowlege). Thus, we must accept divine revelation as the source of knowlege. This worldview (among its consistent adherents) promotes the idea that spirits, or a spirit, can re-shape reality at will. In short, that certain entities possess metaphysical subjectivism. It is upon this external personality, or personalities (all of them crafted in the image of human traits, such as "love" for the Christian interpretation of Jehovah, adulterousness for Zeus, sexiness for Venus, etc) that the internal desire for metaphysical subjectivism (usually a subconscious desire) is projected. As such, at least at the beginning of the syndrome, external reality does interest these mystics. However, their avatar of metaphysical subjectivism, their god, does not exist. As such, they will be confronted by a similar situation of doubt (or "crisis of faith") to a mystic of muscle. As such, it can be seen that wheras the mystic of muscle wishes, first and foremost, to control the consciousness (given that they quickly are discouraged from 'true' metaphysical subjectivism), the mystic of spirit wishes much more earnestly for primacy of conciousness. Ultimately speaking, the mystics of spirit run into a similar problem to the mystics of muscle: its not working! They expect a megaphone from the sky, and get nothing of the sort. This crisis of faith makes them desperate to find true believers like them, to make them more convinced of their righteousness (hence collective congregations). In addition, they are driven mad by the 'sin' they see around them, since they believe if their god exists, the vice-ridden should be wiped off the face of the earth. Since San Francisco is still standing, their faith in God's justice is shaken (see the current state of conservative "god hates fags"ism for more details). As such, they demand their 'values' legislated into law. In addition, owing to their need of collective group-reinforcement of their delusion, they try to spread their faith, by force if needed (see the Conquistadors, and current evangelical preaching-politics for additional details). As such, they lose interest in external reality, caring only about what others think. They descend into the same mind-control mentality as the mystics of muscle, not as a means to attain their metaphysical subjectivism, but as substitute. The next best thing. Possible Problems This theory I have proposed may have several problems. For example, like the Rand theory, it probably does not describe actual beliefs. It describes the psychological consequences of perfectly consistent and internalized practice of the theory, assuming that Rand's basic psychological premise (cognitivism, or that feelings follow thoughts) is correct. I agree with cognitivism, however I can see that perfectly consistent mystics are extremely rare. Second, following from above, not every mystic philosophy is explicitly metaphysically subjectivist. By this, I mean not all philosophies that require metaphysical subjectivism due to their premises actually advocate metaphysical subjectivism. For example, Marxism's subjectivity is based on a derivative of Kantian skepticism (the belief that the mind of the subject is conditioned (hence rendered irrational and incapable of perceiving things as they are) by their material factors). It is because this theory is false that the only other way it could be true is if polylogism were true. Since logic depends on metaphysical axioms, the only way to support polylogism is to support multiple socially-subjective realities (one for each economic caste). Also, it is important to look at skepticism as a whole. Skepticism is the claim that we cannot reach objective knowlege. However this does not mean that reality is not real, it simply means we are incapable of knowing it. Yes, this is a self-contradicting idea, but the fact remains that it demonstrates that one can reject reason without rejecting reality (except by philosophical implication, however I am talking about the beliefs of a person). This problem applies also to Rand's original theory. Third, there are a number of reasons people turn to mysticism. Many adopt religion not because they want to be free from reality, but because they want to be free from something unpleasant in their lives and think religion offers a way out. Some of the mystics of muscle may have power lust driven not by desire to control reality, but by some other motive (revenge, sadism, lots of other fun reasons!). Finally, there may be an intriguing possibility regarding my theory. A long-standing interpretation of philosophical history is that it is a debate between Platonists (those that believe in a superior reality) and Aristotelians (those that believe this reality is the only one). In the modern ages, the Aristotelians won the debate on metaphysics. However, the debate then changed from metaphysics to epistemology, with the debate focussing not on this world versus the next, but the world we perceive versus the world as it is. The former, the modern Platonists, say that the world that we see is not the world as it is, denying us the possibility of objective truth. The latter, the modern Aristotelians, say that the world we perceive is not shockingly distorted by our senses and as such objective truth can still be reached. The modern Platonists are best represented by Kant (or at least the skeptical interpretation of Kant) and his intellectual offspring; the German Idealists. The modern Aristotelians, however, have few representatives. I would allege that John Locke and the British Empiricists, as well as Karl Popper (who strangely enough had a remarkably similar theory of universals to Rand), are the only representatives whose work is frequently analyzed by academia. However, the number of modern Platonists is many times larger, as is their output (even though their output is often trash). Rand is obviously a modern Aristotelian. Most importantly, however, is that her argument for direct realism (which has been significantly extended and defended by David Kelley in "The Evidence of the Senses") demolishes the Kantian noumena-phenomena split, and her empirically-based solution to the problem of universals demolishes Kant's partial apriorism (his "categories of experience"). Rand could provide the basis for the counterattack to Kant that the modern Aristotelians need. However, in this context (of the 'battle of epistemology' as the sequel to the 'battle of metaphysics'), it may shed some light on mystic psychology. The mystics of spirit follow belief systems that have survived from Platonic-Aristotelian times, or even longer. And as stated in my theory, they are the ones more interested in pure metaphysical subjectivism. Could it be that the psychological mindset of the mystics of spirit is still fundamentally locked in that era of metaphysical debate? Certainly, that explains their (relatively) greater interest in pure metaphysical subjectivism, and is compatible with the age of religious systems. Also, could the mystics of muscle be based in the modern debate over epistemology? For one, the two philosophers who were most influential to Marxism and Fascism (being Hegel and Fichte respectively) were both German Idealists and hence intellectual descendants of Kant. In addition, it certainly would explain the relatively minor interest in pure metaphysical subjectivism (i.e. they dont persist in defeat as long as a mystic of spirit). Conclusion What I am certain of, regarding the psychology of mystics, is that even though it may be philosophically a revolt against the objectivity of reality (at least by implication), in most cases the mystic is not actually someone with a psychological grudge against existence, let alone an elaborate scheme to enslave other people to have them change reality to meet said mystics whim. However, I am convinced Rand's theory as well as my own (which is based on Rand's) pick up on at least some truth. First, it seems obvious that power lust is a factor, at least in the case of the mystics of muscle. The philosopher-king attitudes of many statist academics demonstrate this beyond refute. Further, I am convinced by both Rand and Orwell, as well as by the 'battle in epistemology' argument, that the mystics of muscle obviously have a very large interest in thought control of sorts. As an example, political correctness, which controls language to control thought (and, like Newspeak in 1984, is based on the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis). In regards to the mystics of spirit, I believe that they truly require their god delusion to be maintained with the 'collective delusion' means, and that this can easily collapse into mind control and thought policing and sodomy laws (admittedly, to this writer at least, sodomy is not a particularly appealing practice, however that under no circumstances means it should be a matter of public policy!). I believe this general tendency explains how certain religious people are fond of the idea of federally enforcing their values as well as religion's general history of persecution. As such, I think more research has to be done on these points. While Ayn Rand's theory of mystic psychology is valid for purely consistent mystics, and picks up on some very important points (for example, the idea that the 'virus' begins with taking the judgement of others over ones own (I am not sure if this is universally correct, but certainly many people do display taking the judgement of others above their own and it certainly is a terribly evil, suicidal practice), it does not seem particularly likely to explain many real mystics. My innovations to Rand's theory, while I contend they may be more accurate, are certainly not immune from the problem either. I hope that Objectivists will look into this area more. It is often said, for example by the Brandens, that Objectivist psychological theory makes very strong generalizations and assumptions about how someone will be if they practice certain philosophies. Whilst I do think the cognitivist basis of Objectivist psychology is correct, I also believe that Rand's pronouncements on the psychological effects of the three 'psycho-philosophical archetypes' (Mystic of Muscle-Attilla-Materialist-Disintegrated/Mystic of Spirit-Witch Doctor-Spiritualist-Misintegrated/Integrated-Objectivist-Hero) were, to say the least, very simplified. I hope that this can be fixed and I hope my speculations above can contribute.
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  2. Since the muscle mystics are coming into dominance, this is a good place for a refresher: William, thanks for the thread revival. "Mystics of Spirit and of Muscle" As products of the split between man’s soul and body, there are two kinds of teachers of the Morality of Death: the mystics of spirit and the mystics of muscle, whom you call the spiritualists and the materialists, those who believe in consciousness without existence and those who believe in existence without consciousness. Both demand the surrender of your mind, one to their revelations, the other to their reflexes. No matter how loudly they posture in the roles of irreconcilable antagonists, their moral codes are alike, and so are their aims: in matter—the enslavement of man’s body, in spirit—the destruction of his mind. The good, say the mystics of spirit, is God, a being whose only definition is that he is beyond man’s power to conceive—a definition that invalidates man’s consciousness and nullifies his concepts of existence. The good, say the mystics of muscle, is Society—a thing which they define as an organism that possesses no physical form, a super-being embodied in no one in particular and everyone in general except yourself. Man’s mind, say the mystics of spirit, must be subordinated to the will of God. Man’s mind, say the mystics of muscle, must be subordinated to the will of Society. Man’s standard of value, say the mystics of spirit, is the pleasure of God, whose standards are beyond man’s power of comprehension and must be accepted on faith. Man’s standard of value, say the mystics of muscle, is the pleasure of Society, whose standards are beyond man’s right of judgment and must be obeyed as a primary absolute. The purpose of man’s life, say both, is to become an abject zombie who serves a purpose he does not know, for reasons he is not to question. His reward, say the mystics of spirit, will be given to him beyond the grave. His reward, say the mystics of muscle, will be given on earth—to his great-grandchildren. Selfishness—say both—is man’s evil. Man’s good—say both—is to give up his personal desires, to deny himself, renounce himself, surrender; man’s good is to negate the life he lives. Sacrifice—cry both—is the essence of morality, the highest virtue within man’s reach. Galt’s Speech, For the New Intellectual
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  3. This analysis makes a lot of sense and I find it, well, pretty logical. Michael's following response, to my mind does not, and is not. Just for the record, I am not the person I have loved most in the world, and I have certainly hated myself for some things I have done which I will always regret, but this self hating thing is just imaginary. Michael evinces hate towards others which he justifies by citing their evil. I can understand and feel that too, but hate is a small part of my life and I try to waste as little of it on myself as possible. Righteous anger is too heady a brew to live on.
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