I think I will put this into an old, new thread. More about Rand never accepting the Presidency, sex, etc. I wonder if Dennis is talking about President Trump in the first letter? And, wow Ghs is in top form. BB responds as well as Nathaniel Brandon. Peter
From: "Dennis May" To: atlantis Subject: ATL: Re: Act like you have a pair! Date: Mon, 22 Oct 2001 17:43:52 -0500. I wrote: "...I understand it is disheartening to speak of big visions when the Objectivist/Libertarian movement cannot seem to roll a drunk much less a government, but what are some of the "Big Visions" some of the rest of you have out there. I've hear Monart Pon express some concerning "The High Frontier" but little else. What are some of your visions for the future?"
Michael Sikorski wrote: >My vision for the future is the mass communication of the virtues of capitalism: reaching out to John and Jane Voter, reminding them of the capitalist "Big Vision" to which Dennis refers.
Individual leadership combined with a well thought out advertising campaign would seem to be what Michael is talking about. The individual(s) would necessarily need to be a successful capitalist himself. If this were combined with a specific goal or related to actual job recruitment the message would go much further than generalized comments. Military recruitment ads talk about a way of life and a job paying money. Socialists talk about victimization or bad luck and by the way you are going to get the money. Lottery programs are all about getting the money and getting ahead regardless of your lifestyle.
I would see such a capitalist campaign most effective in say generating revenue for a private space adventure "where we are building the future of humanity", starting a new small private nation where "you can be your own man", or creating a new kind of corporation where only the best and brightest need apply. The message must be as big as the capitalism which goes with it. As Napoleon said: "Small Plans Do Not Inflame the Hearts of Men”.
I don't think the value of personal leadership in this case can be overemphasized. I have heard many accounts of how the personal leadership of George Washington saved the American Revolution from turning in on itself even after the British had been driven out. The Air Force often spoke of Washington in relation to his leadership and straight forward honest nature and resolve. Whoever the messenger is, all the slings and arrows of the media will barbeque his hide eternal. It will take [to steal a phrase from the movie "Dragnet"] someone with balls as big as church bells. There is little doubt why few have even attempted to step up to the plate. A job this big will take a big man [or woman]. Dennis May
From: Ellen Moore To: Atlantis Subject: ATL: Rand's Position on Femininity Date: Tue, 23 Oct 2001 22:28:55 -0500 George, et al, I have been having difficulty in understanding exactly what George's problem is in not understanding Rand's essay on A Woman President. His post today gave me the first clues. His disagreement does not appear to be the fact that Rand had and expressed her own personal sexual psychology, it is that he thinks she intended on imposing her sexual psychology on all women as a tenet of Objectivism. I am certain George is wrong. My view is that she succeeded in presenting a valid generalization for 'woman qua woman'. And that's what a woman philosopher should do.
The questions are: Must all women have the same sexual psychology in order to be Objectivists? Do all men? Is psychology in general, and sexual psychology in particular, something that philosophical principles can decree? Do differences in individual psychology, and sexual preferences, disallow one from being an Objectivist? What about the validity of generalizations for sexuality, or femininity and masculinity?
Well, I cannot think of any subject that is more prone to individual differences than is sexuality for each individual self. Yet, I think that Rand is right when she formed this sexual generalization about femininity, but it does not have to apply in the same way and in the same respect in different individual contexts for all human beings, male or female.
Obviously it is a truism that everyone's psychology is a product created by a volitional, developmental psycho-epistemological process in the individual context of personality maturation. Therefore, one's psychology was being formed early in life, and its causes and experiences are complex and derivative. Even if one's sexual psychological premises are mixed, but are not explicitly irrational and immoral, I am open to the idea that many individuals could agree with and apply the essential philosophical principles that could be viewed as those of Objectivists. The key is, does one's sexual psychology contradict fundamental rational principles? Since I have not thought deeply about this application, it could be an interesting topic for discussion.
Rand made it very clear that she was talking about the essence of femininity being an abstraction, a *metaphysical* abstraction of "hero worship", of admiration for a man's "masculinity" - of being able to look up to a man. In fact, if the distinction between femininity and masculinity did not exist in general, then sexual attraction would mean nothing more than momentary physical, sexual satisfaction. To many, it is no more than scratching an itch. And to others, it is so much more than that. Is there anyone who disagrees that there are individual differences in sexuality?
Rand wrote, "woman qua woman". "qua" means "in virtue of being". In Rand's terms that would mean "by a woman's feminine identity" in her sexual relation to a man and his sexual masculinity. Rand also made it clear that a woman's femininity, her hero worship, would be and should be toward the man she loves, and definitely not to every man she meets. Such admiration and hero worship is a proper emotion only for those men she greatly admires, or deeply loves within an intimate relationship.
There may be many women who never rise to that level of metaphysical abstraction conceptually, and they would never experience or understand any great admiration or hero worship, or grand passion for any man. At best, such a woman would be able to be a friend or a pal, or a sex object. At worst, such a woman would simply seek to manipulate, control and use men sexually to further her own self-serving goals. But these kind of women [and it is also clear that Rand wrote about different types of women in her novels] are not what Rand was talking about in this essay. She was talking about "woman qua woman" and femininity - the man worshipper.
What does that mean? Rand often said, "Man qua Man", and she meant " by their nature, men and women, not as they are, but as they could be and should be". In this context of femininity, when Rand says "woman qua woman", she means the femininity of woman, not as she is, but as she could be and should be -- only *if* she lives up to her highest potential. And that to Rand means [I think] a rational woman who rises to the highest level of intelligent womanhood possible to her. If a woman does that she is feminine, and rationally speaking she is moral. Then, and only then, would she desire a man with the highest essence of metaphysical masculinity and moral character she could and should admire.
I have presented at least part of my case for agreeing with her ideas in her essay. And also, I agree with Morganis that ~if~ George disagrees with Rand it is George's responsibility to prove her reasoning and generalizing is false. All he has done is call her view of femininity "silly". I think he is way off the mark on this one.
Today, by noting her statement of "woman qua woman", George writes, that Rand "was not merely referring to her own sexual identity and personal preferences. Rather, she was making universal judgments about female psychology *in general*. The 'essence of femininity' that Rand discusses does not merely refer to *her* personal preferences, but to *all other women* as well."
These are the clues to George's mistakes. His claim is that he has known many individual women and their sexual psychology. What he has not understood is Rand's sexual psychology, her ideals of femininity and masculinity, and her generalizations reached on the basis of her conceptual integration. Also he does not understand that one could be an Objectivist without reaching the ideals of femininity and masculinity that Rand wrote about in this essay. She wrote of the idealization of sexual psychology, "The man worshipers [who] are those who see man's highest potential and strive to actualize it. ... those dedicated to the *exaltation* of man's self-esteem and the *sacredness* of his happiness on earth." This means women, too.
George, look at the men in the world, are there many who strive and reach this ideal? Are there many women who are capable of being man-worshippers? I, personally, think there is only a small percent of women or men who are man worshippers in the sense that Rand meant. Do you really think that Rand was generalizing about all women's sexual psychology? I do not. I think she was telling her readers what is possible for humans to feel sexually, i.e., the best of femininity and masculinity, and about what humans could feel and should feel if they rose to the best, highest level of what a rational "human being" means.
There is one other idea Rand expressed in this context [but not in this essay with which I really disagree. Barbara has reminded me of this. Rand believed that a man is defined by his fundamental relationship to reality, while a woman is defined by her fundamental relationship to man. Rand, in her context, may have wanted to know that there was a man of such grand stature that he could and would stand in for her reality, especially that he would be more important to her than any other value in her life. I doubt if she ever found such a man, so I think that she, as man worshipper, created him in the character of John Galt, "a man of supreme masculinity and a philosopher who is a man of action."
Personally, I do not believe that any man stands before my own value of self, or between my own mind's evaluation of reality. I too would worship the values of a man who could be a philosopher and a man of action - that's my idealism. But he would always come second to my own views about reality and my love for him. This is why I think that, if the best in a woman is her femininity and hero worship, then the very best in man is his masculinity, and in being a heroine worshipper. Neither is valid without the other, not even in abstraction or in fiction - it's mutual and reciprocal. Ellen Moore
From: "George H. Smith" To: "*Atlantis" <atlantis Subject: ATL: Re: Rand's Position on Femininity Date: Wed, 24 Oct 2001 19:28:03 -0500 Ellen Moore wrote: "I have been having difficulty in understanding exactly what George's problem is in not understanding Rand's essay on A Woman President. His post today gave me the first clues. His disagreement does not appear to be the fact that Rand had and expressed her own personal sexual psychology, it is that he thinks she intended on imposing her sexual psychology on all women as a tenet of Objectivism. I am certain George is wrong. My view is that she succeeded in presenting a valid generalization for 'woman qua woman'. And that's what a woman philosopher should do."
Whether Rand considered her views on sexual psychology to be "a tenet of Objectivism" is of little interest to me, and I don't know what it means to say that I supposedly believe Rand "intended on imposing her sexual psychology on all women." (I don't know what "imposing" would mean in this context.)
The point is this: On the one hand, Ellen claims that "Rand had and expressed her own personal sexual psychology." Fine, no problem, as I have said before. But, as I also argued before, Rand did not *intend* her argument against a woman president *merely* to express her personal preferences; rather, she universalized her personal views so as to apply to *all* woman. I thought Ellen disagreed with this, but she now says: "My view is that she succeeded in presenting a valid generalization for 'woman qua woman'. And that's what a woman philosopher should do." So which is it? Is Rand's argument *merely* an expression of her personal preference, or is "a valid generalization for 'woman qua woman'"? I wish Ellen would make up her mind. (Actually she apparently has, as I indicate below.)
Consider this passage from Rand's article which Ellen quoted in a previous post: "For a woman to seek or desire the presidency is, in fact, so terrible a prospect of spiritual self-immolation that the woman who would seek it is psychologically unworthy of the job."
This is clearly a blanket critique of ALL women who would seriously *want* to be president (at least when qualified males are available). Rand is *not* saying, in effect: "Given my personal sexual psychology, I am personally disposed to view a woman who desires to be president in this way, but this is a subjective preference with which others may rationally disagree."
It would be absurd to suppose this is Rand's argument. On the contrary, she is using her *theory* of feminine sexuality to psychoanalyze, in effect, other woman who do not share her views.
To be more precise, Rand's argument is a variation of a common Objectivist tactic, a polemical dance that I call the "Psycho-Epistemological Twist." E.g., when a critic asks an inappropriate question, an Objectivist might reply: "The mere fact you *asked* that questions reveals such-and-such about your psycho-epistemology" -- and the "such-and-such" is always something negative, a supposed flaw in the question-asker's manner of thinking. (Anyone who has been around Objectivist circles will doubtless have seen this tactic, of which there are several variations, used many times.)
Similarly, Rand maintains that any woman who would seriously want to be president (again, when no qualified men are available) has such a warped psychology that the implications of this *desire* alone would render her "psychologically unworthy of the job."
The is the Psycho-Epistemological Twist with a vengeance, and to suggest that this merely expresses a personal preference of Rand's part, one based on her own unique sexual psychology, is absurd on its face – at least, that is, if we claim this is what Rand *intended* to say.
I agree that Rand is doing nothing more than expressing a personal preference; indeed, it is because this *subjective* preference was used to make supposedly *objective* judgments about the psychology *other* women that I called Rand's argument "silly." This would be like a woman arguing, "I prefer the missionary position in sex; it is my favorite, and any woman who might prefer to be on top instead clearly has psychological problems."
The remainder of Ellen's post clearly indicates that she *now* believes Rand's article is based on her views of "woman qua woman" and not merely on her personal preferences. And thus has Ellen shifted 180 degrees from her original position.
This, of course, raises a different set of questions. But at least Ellen has conceded my point (to the effect that Rand intended her argument to be based on an *objective* assessment of female psychology), so I shall take up her new assertions at a later time. Ghs
From: Ellen Moore To: Atlantis Subject: ATL: Re: Rand's position on femininity – George Date: Sun, 28 Oct 2001 15:41:35 -0600 George, No matter what you say, my position on Rand's view of femininity has not changed. Your techniques of sophistry may attempt to call white black (whenever you feel like it), but that does not make you "intelligent", it just makes you "tricky dicky Georgie".
There is nothing in your post that is new or effective in your railing about Rand's sense of femininity. The only relief I can take out of all your verbiage is that you did not call me "religious" or "cultist". On the rest of this issue, your views express clearly what you have not understood about Rand and about Objectivism. This is your unresolved issue.
Rand's assessment of femininity re *woman qua woman* is objective. There is nothing "subjective" about her personal sexual psychology, or about her universal generalizations - but you evidently have never grasped what *woman qua woman* means. Never mind, I am sure that there are not many women who have grasped what this sexual "sense of life" would, could, or should mean to them either. You evidently cannot even dream of what it would be like to have a relationship with a woman who *does* understand what an objective idealization of "woman" is. Or maybe, they just cannot penetrate this "sense" into your skull.
I am also very sure that there are many women who *would want* to be president in the same way that many men do. The root of that "want" is power, pure and simple and direct. Not only that, but such women would *want* it even if there were a thousand men who might be more power-hungry - if indeed there is any such man. There is no difference between the capacity for power-lust among men and women. There is quite enough irrationality and subjectivity to go around in the population of humanity.
The thing is: you see Rand and her ability for objective integration and generalization as leading to a philosophy that "intends" to make all humans obey philosophical rules she set out. You are wrong. I see only rational principles for Unique Individualism. Go ahead, make my day! Ellen M.
From: "George H. Smith" Reply-To: "*Atlantis" <atlantis Subject: ATL: Re: Rand's position on femininity – Morganis Date: Tue, 30 Oct 2001 20:47:22 -0600 Ellen Moore wrote (to Morganis): "Previously you asked me to show why George's claim that what Rand wrote about femininity did not also apply to masculinity re: wanting to be President. I was explaining here that I see no reason to think that she thought any different about a man president. If she did, I don't know that she wrote it in a public presentation, did she? The question remains -- if men and women are equally capable, why would either a rational man or a rational woman "want to be president".
Am I understanding this correctly? Is Ellen Moore seriously contending that Rand *intended*her argument against a woman president to apply equally to any *male* who would also *want* to be president?
Although I happen to agree with Ellen's anarchistic argument against the need for any president whatsoever, this clearly was not Rand's view. In fact, one of my biggest complaints about Rand's article is that it vastly overestimates the importance of the American presidency when compared, say, to the importance of thinkers, inventors, and captains of industry.
I will have more to say about this when I manage to recover from the worst bout of flu that I have had in many years. But for now I just want to be sure that my fever has not caused me totally to misunderstand Ellen's point. Is she attributing her own views about the presidency to Rand as well? Is she saying that, according to *Rand,* any male who would seriously desire to be president would thereby be psychologically unfit for the job?
Ellen wrote: "George hasn't yet offered any good argument to show that Rand's article was "silly". So, his forever repeating a non-argument does not lend it any more credence."
My charge of silliness was predicated on the fact that nowhere does Rand offer any serious argument for her views about the sexual persona of "woman qua woman." And neither does Ellen. Even Ellen's longest posts on this subject are bereft of any genuine argument; rather, they consist of a series of arbitrary assertions, with polemics and grandiose generalizations substituting for evidence. And that fits my definition of "silly."
But even Ellen outdid herself when she wrote: "As for the psychology of masculinity, I think we require a masculine philosopher to explain what that would and should be."
This statement goes far beyond silly; it is just plain dumb. For one thing, how would Ellen even recognize a "masculine" philosopher unless she first understood the meaning of "masculinity"? And Rand had a theory of masculinity, did she not? Does Ellen therefore dismiss Rand's theory of masculinity *solely* on the basis that she was a woman?
Given Ellen's Sherman-tank style of writing, it's possible that I have misunderstood her points. I sincerely hope so. If not, this exchange promises to become extremely bizarre, even by Mooreian standards. Ghs
From: "George H. Smith To: "*Atlantis" <atlantis Subject: ATL: Re: Rand's Position on Femininity Date: Thu, 1 Nov 2001 07:56:22 -0600
Ellen Moore has repeatedly challenged me to support my charge that her views about feminine sexuality, which she attributes to Ayn Rand, are "silly," because (I claim) they are unjustified and therefore arbitrary. Okay, the following is a brief review of Ellen's post of 10/23/01, which (to my knowledge) is her most extensive treatment of this subject to date.
EM: "Well, I cannot think of any subject that is more prone to individual differences than is sexuality for each individual self."
If what Ellen means to say is that individuals differ dramatically in their sexual tastes and preferences, then I entirely agree.
EM: "Obviously it is a truism that everyone's psychology is a product created by a volitional, developmental psycho-epistemological process in the individual context of personality maturation."
What Ellen appears to be saying here, albeit in a convoluted fashion, is that one's present psychology is the product of one's past psychological development. This is certainly a truism. But Ellen also appears to be saying that each and every aspect of one's present personality was (at some time) a product of volitional choice. If so, this is anything but a truism; in fact, it is clearly false.
EM: "Therefore, one's psychology was being formed early in life, and its causes and experiences are complex and derivative."
What does Ellen mean by "one's psychology"? One's character? Personality? And what does it mean to speak of "causes and experiences" that are "derivative"?
EM: "Even if one's sexual psychological premises are mixed, but are not explicitly irrational and immoral, I am open to the idea that many individuals could agree with and apply the essential philosophical principles that could be viewed as those of Objectivists."
What is a "sexual psychological premise?" It would help immensely if Ellen would put less energy into verbiage and more into defining her terms.
EM: "The key is, does one's sexual psychology contradict fundamental rational principles? Since I have not thought deeply about this application, it could be an interesting topic for discussion."
Only a proposition can "contradict" another proposition (or "principle"). A "sexual psychology" -- and whether Ellen is here referring to preferences, feelings, dispositions, habits, or something else, I have no idea -- cannot "contradict" anything.
EM: "Rand made it very clear that she was talking about the essence of femininity being an abstraction, a *metaphysical* abstraction of "hero worship", of admiration for a man's "masculinity" - of being able to look up to a man."
Okay, so this is an "abstraction," and possibly even a "metaphysical abstraction." Where does this get us? The pertinent question is whether or not Rand's generalizations about feminine sexuality are *justified.* Where is the evidence and/or arguments to support the claim that "hero worship," however defined, is the "essence of femininity"?
EM: "In fact, if the distinction between femininity and masculinity did not exist in general, then sexual attraction would mean nothing more than momentary physical, sexual satisfaction."
This is plainly false, at least if by "the distinction between femininity and masculinity," Ellen is referring to *Rand's* distinction. And what precisely is wrong with "momentary physical, sexual satisfaction"? Why should we denigrate physical pleasure pursued for its own sake?
EM: "Rand wrote, "woman qua woman". "qua" means "in virtue of being". In Rand's terms that would mean "by a woman's feminine identity" in her sexual relation to a man and his sexual masculinity."
In other words, "femininity" is a relational concept, one that must be defined with reference to "masculinity." Okay, but where does this get us?
EM: "Rand also made it clear that a woman's femininity, her hero worship, would be and should be toward the man she loves, and definitely not to every man she meets. Such admiration and hero worship is a proper emotion only for those men she greatly admires, or deeply loves within an intimate relationship."
This is another case where assertion replaces argument. Again, why should "hero worship" even be accepted as the "essence of femininity" in the first place? Why cannot a man look up to and admire a woman – and thereby engage in "hero worship" -- in a precisely reciprocal manner? Is the possession of a penis a point of metaphysical privilege?
And what does it mean to say that a woman "should" engage in "hero worship" of this sort? Is this a moral prescription, i.e., is a woman "immoral" if she doesn't agree with Rand's theory? Or is this perhaps a prescription for psychological health, i.e., is a dissenting woman somehow psychologically immature if she dares to disagree with Ellen's assertions?
EM: "There may be many women who never rise to that level of metaphysical abstraction conceptually, and they would never experience or understand any great admiration or hero worship, or grand passion for any man. At best, such a woman would be able to be a friend or a pal, or a sex object. At worst, such a woman would simply seek to manipulate, control and use men sexually to further her own self-serving goals. But these kind of women [and it is also clear that Rand wrote about different types of women in her novels] are not what Rand was talking about in this essay. She was talking about "woman qua woman" and femininity - the man worshipper."
Again, there is no argument given to support the assertion that "grand passion for any man" must necessarily involve "hero worship" in Rand's sense. Ellen has simply reformulated her original arbitrary assertion in different words.
EM: "Rand often said, "Man qua Man", and she meant " by their nature, men and women, not as they are, but as they could be and should be". In this context of femininity, when Rand says "woman qua woman", she means the femininity of woman, not as she is, but as she could be and should be -- only *if* she lives up to her highest potential. And that to Rand means [I think] a rational woman who rises to the highest level of intelligent womanhood possible to her. If a woman does that she is feminine, and rationally speaking she is moral. Then, and only then, would she desire a man with the highest essence of metaphysical masculinity and moral character she could and should admire."
Again, we have a simple repetition of the same unproven generalizations, with a bit of silly moralizing thrown in to spice up the same warmed-over dish.
EM: "I have presented at least part of my case for agreeing with her ideas in her essay. And also, I agree with Morganis that ~if~ George disagrees with Rand it is George's responsibility to prove her reasoning and generalizing is false. All he has done is call her view of femininity "silly". I think he is way off the mark on this one."
When and if Ellen is willing to present arguments instead of repeating the same tired assertions about the "essence of femininity," etc., then I will be happy to respond to those arguments.
EM: "[George's] claim is that he has known many individual women and their sexual psychology. What he has not understood is Rand's sexual psychology, her ideals of femininity and masculinity, and her generalizations reached on the basis of her conceptual integration."
Precisely *what* abstractions did Rand integrate to reach her conclusions about the "essence of femininity"? Ellen often uses phrases like "conceptual integration" without bothering to mention what concepts are being integrated. She then accuses her opponents of failing to understand such "integration." Ellen should explain what she is talking about.
EM: "George, look at the men in the world, are there many who strive and reach this ideal? Are there many women who are capable of being man-worshippers?"
Why should anyone care about such matters? Again, where is the argument?
I'll stop here, since I am now the one who has become repetitive. All of Ellen's "arguments" are of the same type as discussed above. She continuously substitutes verbiage for argument, as if lofty phrases like "metaphysical abstraction," "woman qua woman," and "conceptual integration" -- not to mention her incessant moralizing about sexuality -- should somehow convince other people.
This is why I regard her views as "silly." They remind me somewhat of Freud's contention that a sexually mature woman should ideally experience vaginal rather than clitoral orgasms. At least Freud offered some arguments to support this claim, specious though they were. But his claim was "silly" nonetheless, and one needn't go into the details of Freudianism to reject his claim outright. The person who makes this kind of sweeping sexual generalization, be it Sigmund Freud or Ellen Moore, has the burden of proof, and without such proof such assertions are utterly arbitrary and need not be taken seriously. In thus rejecting Ellen's arbitrary assertions about feminine sexuality, I am simply behaving like a good Objectivist.
Ellen can claim all she wants that I fail to "understand" her (or Rand). This is even true in one sense. Specifically, I fail to understand why Ellen refuses to present any arguments to substantiate her assertions. Is she unable to distinguish arguments from assertions? Ghs
From: Ellen Moore To: Atlantis Subject: ATL: Re: Rand's Position on Femininity – George Date: Thu, 01 Nov 2001 13:22:09 -0600
George wrote, "Is she [me] unable to distinguish arguments for assertions."
Are you unable to distinguish between conceptual abstractions and perceptual concretes? Are you unable to distinguish between conceptual explanations versus posing endless answered questions? Are you unable to distinguish verbiage from conceptual arguments? The techniques of sophistry you use to ask questions till hell freezes over is actually your inadequacy *IF* you absolutely refuse to understand any conceptual explanations. [Rand's or mine]
I know by the methods you are using that you try to put all the responsibility onto me to answer, over and over, all your questions when you failed to grasp what was written. You offer nothing but silly questions caused by your refusal, or inability, to deal with the ideas presented. Even if you cannot understand what Rand wrote, or what I understand, the very least you could do is admit that you do not understand how a rational woman feels about her own sense of femininity. I suppose all you know is those women who do not understand it either, and when they tell you it's "stupid" that is all the "facts" you need to know. I understand female sexual psychology much better than you ever will because I have explored the entire process – from concrete to conceptual to romantic idealism.
For example, did I say anywhere that momentary sexual satisfaction is "wrong" , or an immoral experience? No! If physical orgasm is the momentary best one experiences, then that is all one can achieve and understand. I explained that it is not the kind or level of sexual satisfaction one achieves with the highest conceptual idealism about one's own femininity. I call this Romantic Love, and that is what Rand called it. If you don't know what I mean by that, then I cannot force that conceptual knowledge into your mind - no matter what I write. [No one else on ATL is demanding or opposing this as you are, and there's a lot of highly sexy and conceptual members here, I think.]
Here's the point: If you do not understand what Rand meant in her essay, you must show why and how she is wrong. Where is your argument? Saying her article was "silly" *is* an arbitrary assertion unless you can *explain" that she was wrong in every statement. All you've done so far is deny, question, and demand answers, then you deny, question, and demand more answers. That is not an example of intellectual responsibility nor is it rational argumentation.
Tuesday you wrote what must have been flu-caused muddling. You did not even distinguish what I, Ellen M., was saying - as differentiated from what Rand had written. I asked, has Rand ever written an essay explaining her theory of *masculinity*? If so, I have not seen it. Yet, you now maintain she had a theory about it? Tell us, what is her theory of masculinity, as interpreted by you, George?
If you cannot offer ATL your own interpretation of Rand's theory of masculinity, could you offer your own theory of masculinity? No? Why don't you put your money where your mouth is?
If you had any idea that I am going to offer any theory of masculinity, you are wrong. All I could say, conceptually, in abstraction, is that I do understand that the essence of femininity is hero worship, and therefore I think, reciprocally, that the essence of masculinity is heroine worship. I can say this because I understand my own feminine sexual psychology, and I see no reason to think that males are significantly different than females when it comes to conceptual abstraction.
But, I can also say that I have no understanding of masculine sexual psychology other than the experiences I have known personally. Also, I have no personal understanding of homosexuality, or bisexuality, or cross-dressing, or masochism or sadism. O'yeah, I have read and heard about all sexual behaviors, but what I really understand deep down conceptually is my own specific experiences. Beyond individual contextual experience, all knowledge is volitional and conceptual. And that, George, is the basic cause of all the differences between your views and mine. [Months ago, I read all your posted argumentation disagreeing with Bill Dwyer about volition vs soft determinism, but nowhere in your prose did I get any impression that you understood the Objectivist theory of volition.]
So, let's hear you, George Smith, explain femininity and masculinity on the basis of your psycho-epistemology. Then, maybe we could all understand exactly why and how your views differ from Rand's or mine.
One last point: You accused Rand of "universalizing" and making false generalizations. This indicates to me that you also do not understand Rand's view of "objective" and "objectivity". I spent several hours one evening in '75, debating against Joan and Allan Blumenthal who, after 25 years in Rand's inner circle, still argued that objectivity required "universalizability". They did not agree with my arguments, but Peikoff did assure me the next day that I was right in stating that objectivity is individual and contextual -- and it is epistemological. Rand never offered such a Kantian premise as "universalizability", and she objected strongly to the idea of "collective subjectivity". According to Objectivism, objectivity is contextual and individual, as is every aspect of rational cognition. In conclusion, there is no valid context such as "universalizing" a psychological sense of femininity. Yet, I think there are other women besides me who understand conceptually what Rand wrote - in spite of all our individual contextual differences.
p.s., I never offered any "anarchistic argument" about male presidents. Yes, I do say that one's psychology, and one's psycho-epistemology, is caused by one's volitional actions of consciousness - it's true. Ellen Moore
From: "George H. Smith" To: "*Atlantis" <atlantis Subject: ATL: Re: Rand's Position on Femininity - George Date: Thu, 1 Nov 2001 14:07:10 -0600
Ellen Moore's last post was par for the course. For example, she wrote: "You offer nothing but silly questions caused by your refusal, or inability, to deal with the ideas presented."
Since when is it silly to demand that assertions be backed up with arguments? Have you ever heard of the burden of proof, Ellen? And if, by chance, you have actually presented an argument in the past, please cut and paste it so all of us can see it.
Ellen wrote: "Here's the point: If you do not understand what Rand meant in her essay, you must show why and how she is wrong. Where is your argument? Saying her article was "silly" *is* an arbitrary assertion unless you can *explain" that she was wrong in every statement."
This is an absolutely incredible statement, especially coming from someone who professes to understand Objectivist epistemology. Are you a Marxist, Ellen? Or do you regard Marxism as fallacious? If the latter is the case, then, given your own standards, you must read every page of Marx's *Capital* (all three thick volumes) and then explain where Marx was "wrong in every statement." After all, Marx presented a lot of arguments, so, according to your twisted logic, the burden is clearly upon *you* to show where Marx was "wrong in every detail." If you cannot do this -- and I will give you a week or so to pen your decisive, line-by-line refutation -- then you must obviously embrace Marxism.
Or don't you apply the same standards to yourself that you demand of others?
I was simply asking for an argument to substantiate the claim that *either* you *or* Rand made about the "essence of femininity." You have consistently refused to provide one -- unless we regard as an "argument" your statement to the effect that, as a female, you someone have a mystical insight into all this. I think my point about silliness has been made -- or, rather, you have made if for me. Thank you for being so utterly predictable. Ghs
From: "George H. Smith" The Philosophy of Sex (was Rand's Position on Femininity) Date: Thu, 1 Nov 2001 14:38:42 -0600 Ellen Lewit wrote: "This is a reply to Ellen Moore's earlier reply to George Smith's reply .... She has written since but that one seems more a personal squabble with George (he was baiting her, too)."
You are very wise for a woman who has (presumably) lived but one lifetime. 8-)
Your points were also very interesting. Once I'm feeling a bit better, and able to do something more than swatting at flies (uh oh, more bait), I would like to get into this a bit more. I think the "philosophy of sex" -- which is what this discussion is *supposed* to be about -- is a problematic area, given the highly individualized nature of sexual attitudes, beliefs, and preferences.
A good place to begin would be to inquire whether a true "philosophy" of sex is even possible -- and, if so, what *method* could be used to substantiate claims in this field. I call this the *philosophy* of sex, rather than the *psychology* of sex, because the former attempts to establish prescriptive norms whereby some sexual attitudes, preferences, and dispositions can be judged "better" or "worse" than others. This is the kind of thing Rand undertakes in her article about a woman president. Ghs
From: "George H. Smith" Reply- To: "*Atlantis" <atlantis Subject: ATL: Re: Rand's Position on Femininity – George Date: Thu, 1 Nov 2001 15:35:07 -0600 I want to comment on the following from Ellen Moore: "If you cannot offer ATL your own interpretation of Rand's theory of masculinity, could you offer your own theory of masculinity? No? Why don't you put your money where your mouth is?"
Although, to my knowledge, Rand never wrote an essay devoted to the subject of "masculinity" per se, she clearly had some opinions about this matter. For one thing, as Ellen herself has conceded, "femininity" is a relational concept for Rand, one that is defined as an attitude of "hero worship" towards a man. This would suggest that "masculinity" has to do with possessing those qualities that are worthy of the "hero worship" that Rand speaks of.
As for my own views about "masculinity," they are the same as my views about "femininity." I don't think there is an objectively ascertainable "essence" for either.
I think the words "masculine" and "feminine" customarily mean nothing more than what an individual happens to find appealing in the opposite sex. In other words, these terms merely express subjective preferences (unless they are linked to physical characteristics, such as sex organs).
In many cases, one's culture can play a significant role in influencing how people view masculinity and femininity. For example, some girls, bombarded with ads that feature quasi-anorexic models, might associate femininity with extreme thinness -- whereas in some cultures and some ages the pleasingly plump female might be viewed as the exemplar of femininity. Or the essence of "woman qua woman" might be viewed as the ability to bear and raise children. To pretend that even the most rational person it totally immune to cultural influences is extremely naive.
Again, I seriously doubt whether there are any objective standards by which we can gauge the *psychological* characteristics of masculinity and femininity. Two men can have a fulfilling romantic relationship, as can two women -- and in neither case does it follow that one partner is necessarily playing the masculine or feminine role, however these may be defined.
In short, our definitions of masculinity and femininity, psychologically considered, depend on our personal preferences, and such preferences may stem from a variety of causes. Some of these may be within our volitional control, but many are not.
I therefore have no problem with Ellen Moore (or anyone else) saying, "This is my personal ideal of femininity." But this is akin to saying, "This is my personal ideal of a perfect dinner" -- in other words, this is what I happen to *like,* for whatever reason.
The problem arises when we extrapolate from our personal preferences and apply them universally to other people. And we enter the realm of silliness when we claim that how I personally view such things is how others *should* view them as well. I happen to like a lobster dinner, but I don't uphold this as an "ideal" dinner for others. And I certainly wouldn't engage in a silly argument about the essence of a "good dinner qua good dinner" with people who happen to dislike lobster. Ghs
From: Ellen Moore To: Atlantis Subject: ATL: Re: Rand's position on femininity - Ellen L Date: Thu, 01 Nov 2001 15:44:55 -0600
Ellen L., Aren't you just a little bit flattered about George calling you "a very wise woman who has lived but one lifetime. 8-)" Now, wait for the other shoe to fall --- because I have read your post twice, and I agree with everything you have stated therein - even your first point about mens' and womens' relation to reality.
I did explain that I view the sexuality of femininity and masculinity as vital to a romantic sexual relationship, i.e., otherwise it loses the value and idealism of romantic love. I think that is what you mean, too.
You write, "What you haven't addressed is why a woman would not want to be president? Yes I did, I said that a rational woman would not want to have power over all men - I mean, not over even one man. And beyond that, I wrote that I did not think a rational man would want to have any dictatorial power over any people at all. I also said that I see no purpose for a president in a free country. And that is not an anarchist view. And I'm glad that you just agreed with me. I do not think that power over others has anything to do with objective sexuality, either. Of course, one can give up power to another person or group, but I think that is quite the opposite of self-interest in sexuality, or elsewhere.
What I have been saying does not apply to all women, either intellectually, psychologically, or sexually. I have made the point that sexual objectivity is not universalizable, it is individual and contextual, and *this point alone* wipes out all of George's opposing arguments against Rand's essay. Please note, that he never answers such points - he just adds more sophistry and obfuscation.
Despite the posturing of George Smith against Rand's essay, it appears he is going to discuss his own ideas about the "Philosophy of Sex". Now, wouldn't that pose an interesting conundrum if we all agreed with him? But, as he has shown once again, he has offered no valid criticism against Rand's view of femininity, or her essay. Ellen M.
From: "George H. Smith" To: "*Atlantis" <atlantis Subject: ATL: Re: Rand's position on femininity - Ellen L Date: Thu, 1 Nov 2001 17:24:47 -0600
Ellen Moore wrote (to Ellen Lewit): "What I have been saying does not apply to all women, either intellectually, psychologically, or sexually. I have made the point that sexual objectivity is not universalizable, it is individual and contextual, and *this point alone* wipes out all of George's opposing arguments against Rand's essay. Please note, that he never answers such points - he just adds more sophistry and obfuscation."
This admission does indeed eliminate my objection to *Ellen's* assertions, which she now freely concedes are merely expressions of her personal preferences and therefore don't apply to other women at all.
I thought Ellen had been making claims, not just about her personal psychology, but about the "essence of femininity" as it pertains to "woman qua woman." My mistake. As I have said before, no counter-argument is even relevant when it comes to Ellen's personal tastes in this area, any more than it would make sense to argue against her taste in food. If she personally likes to engage in some kind of "hero worship," then that is certainly her prerogative, and more power to her. She can even wear a cape if she likes -- whatever rings her bell. I'm glad that Ellen finally cleared this up. This now leaves us with Rand's position, which clearly differs from that taken by Ellen. Ghs
From: "George H. Smith" To: "*Atlantis" <atlantis Subject: ATL: AR's "About a Woman President" Date: Thu, 1 Nov 2001 20:14:49 -0600 [I typed the following very quickly, so it probably contains more than my usual quota of typos]
Now that Ellen Moore has candidly withdrawn her personal views about femininity from the realm of generalizations, or arguments about "woman qua woman," let us now take a look at Ayn Rand's different views on the same subject.
Rand's article, "About A Woman President" (written in January, 1969), appears in the anthology, *The Voice of Reason,* pp. 267-270. (Btw, isn't this a somewhat more diplomatic revision of the original title which, as I recall, was something like, "Why I Wouldn't Vote for a Woman President"? Or am I wrong about this?)
Rand begins by referring to an "article/interview" (published in McCall's in 1968) wherein she was asked, "What would I do if I were president of the United States." Here answer was as follows: "I would not want to be president and would not vote for a woman president. A woman cannot reasonably want to be commander-in-chief. I prefer to answer the question by outlining what a rational man would do if *he* were president."
Two points are relevant here: (1) Rand's argument pertains to women in general -- or, more specifically (as she later makes clear) to "rational" women. This is not *merely* an expression of a personal preference on Rand's part. She is not merely asserting that she would never have any desire to be president; rather, she is claiming that *no* rational woman -- not just herself -- would ever *want" to be president. 2) Rand explicitly states that her argument does not apply to men. It is perfectly understandable, from her perspective, why a rational man would desire to be president. This is clearly in conflict with the view expressed by Ellen Moore -- which I think has merit, btw -- that no rational woman OR man would want to be president, owing to the implications of power lust, etc.
Rand next observes that she received many letters about her comments, "asking me the reasons of that particular paragraph." She replies that she more or less expected her readers already to understand the reasons -- and she refers to the "illustrative examples" of her fictional heroines, especially Dagny Taggart -- but she does concede that the "issue is not self-evident." This, then, was presumably her motive for writing this short article, namely, to explain her reasons.
Rand begins: "I do not think that a rational woman can want to be president. Observe that I did not say she would be unable to do the job; I said that she could not *want* it. It is not a matter of her ability, but of her *values.*
This is the "psycho-epistemological twist" that I referred to in an earlier post. The mere fact that a woman might *want* to be president means that she does not have rational values, whatever her abilities may be.
Rand freely concedes that a woman president could do an excellent job and that her performance might be "good for the country" (and I pass over her reasons here, since they have never been a point of controversy in the current debate), but the relevant question, for Rand is, "*what would it do to her?*"
This is where Rand launches into her discussion of "a woman's fundamental view of life" and "the essence of femininity" as "hero worship, the desire to look up to a man."
Rand elaborates on this idea, such as by asserting that a rational woman's "worship is an abstract emotion for the *metaphysical* concept of masculinity as such...." She then turns to an analysis of the presidency.. The president is "the *highest authority*; he is the 'chief executive,' the 'commander-in-chief'" -- and as such he does "not deal with equals, but only with inferiors...in respect to the hierarchy of their positions." Rand continues with this key passage:
"*This,* for a rational woman [again, not just for Rand personally, but for rational women in general] would be an unbearable situation. (And if she is *not* rational, she is unfit for the presidency, anyway.) To act as the superior, the leader, virtually the *ruler* of all men she deals with, would be an excruciating psychological torture. It would require a total depersonalization, an utter selflessness, and an incommunicable loneliness; she would have to suppress (or repress) every personal aspect of her own character and attitude; she could not be herself, i.e., a woman; she would have to function only as a *mind,* not as a *person,* i.e., as a thinker devoid of personal values -- a dangerously artificial dichotomy which no one could sustain for long. By the nature of her duties and daily activities, she would become the most unfeminine, sexless, metaphysically inappropriate, and rationally revolting figure of all: *a matriarch.*" [Presumably Rand has no problem with the figure of a patriarch.]
Rand then goes on to explain why the same argument would not apply, say, to a woman who "heads a business concern." This is an extraordinarily weak argument, if for no other reason than the president is not the "superior" of everyone he deals with, even in some "hierarchical sense." He has no authority over Supreme Court Justices, for example, and his "power" over legislators is largely limited to his veto power. Rand's view of the presidency is quite bizarre, for the president is supreme in the executive branch only, and there is division of sovereign powers among the other branches of government. And the president certainly has no sovereign authority over private citizens, such as businesspersons. Rand seems to view an American president as if he were some kind of absolutist Russian Czar.
With the exception of a final qualification (which Ellen has already discussed, and which no one has objected to), that's about it.
So, once again, WHERE is the argument that justifies Rand's generalization about how *every* rational women *should* feel about the presidency? Granted, Rand may have personally viewed the prospect of serving as president as the kind of psychological torture she describes -- but where is the justification for assuming that OTHER "rational" women must necessarily feel the same way?
Will someone please point to the ARGUMENT that justifies this universalization of a personal preference? Search as I may, I am unable to find it. Perhaps it is buried among Rand's many assertions and sweeping generalizations about what a "rational woman" should and should not desire, and how she should and should not feel. This article is quite brief, so any such argument should be easy to find and quote. Ghs
From: Ellen Moore To: Atlantis Subject: ATL: Re: AR's About a Woman President Date: Sat, 03 Nov 2001 17:25:53 -0600 I think George is losing it!!
First, he wrote. "Now that Ellen Moore has candidly withdrawn her personal views about femininity from the realm of generalizations, or arguments about "woman qua woman", ...
Does George really think he can state a damned lie like this, and that there is any member here who is dumb enough to think that I have "candidly withdrawn her [my] personal views about femininity from the realm of generalization." ??? Just in case, No, I have not. George is just shooting off his wayward missiles.
My views on femininity, as I have been explaining, are much the same as Rand explained, i.e., that "no rational woman would want to be president". I stand by that.
I also stand by my own view that no rational man would "want" to be president. I think that men or women who *want* to be president must want to hold power over others, and I do not think that desire is rational.
Rand's quote was obviously intended as "outlining what a rational man would do if *he* were president." She did not say he *would or should want* to be president!! She merely intended to outline in the original article (which I have never read) what she thought a "rational man would do *IF* he were president." The point is, both articles were Rand's own presentation of *her* views! Her second article in The Objectivist does not apply at all to men, rational or otherwise.
Of course, Rand expected her informed readers to understand her reasons even if the reasons are not so self-evident - all she meant by "self-evident" is that they are derived by reason and are not metaphysically axiomatic, i.e., not everyone knows it implicitly or explicitly.
True, Rand thought that a woman with rational sexual values would *not want* to be president. This is not a "psycho-epistemological twist" as George calls it. This *is* her view as clearly as she stated it. It is a generalization about "rational women with rational sexual values of femininity". Perhaps George cannot grasp "rational values" in this or any context.
Rand thought the figure of a matriarch revolting, so George adds. "[Presumably Rand has no problem with the figure of a patriarch.]" So, now George can read her mind?? I doubt if Rand thought a patriarch was a heroic figure. I think of either a matriarch and a patriarch as the figure of a mini-dictator.
There is a strong likelihood that Rand had a very different view of the powers of the presidency than George has expressed here. Other than that, of course, Rand expressed a totally opposing view of the essence of sexuality in femininity than George has expressed. Her philosophy of life is based on rational principles of objectivity - while George's view of sexual values are concrete and subjective.
This is the last time on this topic that I will respond to George's views. He is so far removed from Objectivist premises that any further effort of argument is wasted.
That does not mean that the subjects of femininity and masculinity have been understood by the rest of the members. You all seem to be unusually silent about the essence of your personal sexual philosophy and psychology. Never mind, I respect the privacy of your views – no matter how conceptually generalized they are.
George has given us the facts. 'When any man tells you what he is, believe him.'
George wrote, "I don't think there is an objectively ascertainable "essence" for either." [i.e., masculinity or femininity] "I think the words 'masculine' and 'feminine' customarily mean nothing more than what an individual happens to find appealing in the opposite sex. In other words, these terms merely express subjective preferences (unless they are linked to physical characteristics. such as sex organs.)"
He offers sexuality as "cultural preferences", and homosexual male and lesbian preferences. He offers "personal preferences" for definitions about masculinity and femininity. He says, "...such preferences may stem from a variety of causes. Some of these may be within our volitional control, but many are not."
Clearly, George says, "__ in other words, this is what I happen to *like*, for whatever reason." And George adds his analogy, "I happen to like a lobster dinner, but I don't uphold this as an 'ideal' for others."
This is the best George has to offer. His "preferences" explanation for masculinity and femininity is totally concrete bound and subjective. He rejects the idea that there can be epistemological essences. He rejects the idea that there are ethical parameters to human sexuality. He rejects the idea that there are psycho- epistemological essences. He rejects the entire scope of rational sexual values and objective value structures He rejects the idea that objective idealism is possible within human sexuality. He rejects the idea of validly posed essences of woman qua woman, or man qua man. He rejects the idea that conceptual reasoning allows for objective human understanding. He rejects the idea of rational, objective romantic love.
All our daily individual preferences and choices may be unique and personal, but that does not invalidate the full range of a conceptual philosophy, nor does it destroy thinking and understanding that is individual, contextual, conceptual, and objective. It does not prohibit valid generalizations and rational principles.
If all sexuality is subjective concrete experiences, then George is actually denying reason, rationality, and objectivity in favor of physical subjectivity.
George may like a lobster dinner, but he cannot grasp the generality that most humans like a lobster dinner just as well, if not better, than his own preferred tastes will permit.
George's sexuality in a nutshell is: sex is concrete and subjective. His sexual preference for a woman? "She's just a piece of meat I happen to like."
George told us that he is not an Objectivist. Now we know what he admits his philosophical orientation really is: Empiricism and Subjectivism.
Dave questions my meaning.
Yes, what I have been expressing is only about the values of *rational* women. When I speak of rational values, I mean to include metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and psycho-epistemology. One's sexual values entail all of those fundamentals, plus all that one has conceptualized, i.e., rationally identified and evaluated, about one's awareness of sexuality. And that also entails both one's values toward femininity and masculinity. In other words, I mean that the very issue of femininity and masculinity are inter-related into one's view of romantic love.
I am definitely saying that anyone who would seek power over others *is irrational*. The reason is that man is a being of volitional consciousness, and any infringement of that is a rejection and denial of human identity. I apply this principle to children and adults. I am definitely not talking about any sexuality that is "attraction to a piece of meat." Ellen Moore
From: "George H. Smith To: "*Atlantis" Subject: ATL: Re: AR's About a Woman President Date: Sun, 4 Nov 2001 08:41:46 -0600 I wrote: "Now that Ellen Moore has candidly withdrawn her personal views about femininity from the realm of generalizations, or arguments about "woman qua woman", ...
And Ellen Moore replied: "Does George really think he can state a damned lie like this, and that there is any member here who is dumb enough to think that I have "candidly withdrawn her [my] personal views about femininity from the realm of generalization."??? Just in case, No, I have not. George is just shooting off his wayward missiles."
"My views on femininity, as I have been explaining, are much the same as Rand explained, i.e., that "no rational woman would want to be president". I stand by that."
But here is what Ellen wrote previously: "What I have been saying DOES NOT APPLY to ALL women, either intellectually, psychologically, or sexually. I have made the point that sexual objectivity is NOT UNIVERSALIZABLE, it is individual and contextual, and *this point alone* wipes out all of George's opposing arguments against Rand's essay." (My emphasis.)
If, as seems apparent, Ellen believes that consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, then she has an expansive mind indeed.
Ellen wrote: "Rand's quote was obviously intended as "outlining what a rational man would do if *he* were president." She did not say he *would or should want* to be president!! She merely intended to outline in the original article (which I have never read) what she thought a "rational man would do *IF* he were president." The point is, both articles were Rand's own presentation of *her* views! Her second article in The Objectivist does not apply at all to men, rational or otherwise."
(1) Ellen is suggesting, as nutty as it sounds, that Rand would agree with her position that neither rational women or MEN would ever desire to be president. This is the most tortured rationalization one is ever likely to encounter. Mortimer Adler once wrote a book titled, *How to Read a Book.* Perhaps he should have written a follow-up, *How to Read a Page,* and dedicated it to Ellen Moore.
(2) Ellen has repeatedly emphasized that Rand was expressing "*her* views." Yes, of course she was, just as we all express our views when we write an article, post, email, book, or whatever. So what does this have to do with anything? It certainly doesn't absolve one of the responsibility to substantiate one's views with arguments and/or evidence.
Ellen wrote: "Rand expressed a totally opposing view of the essence of sexuality in femininity than George has expressed."
Yes, of course she did, and I was asking for arguments that supported Rand's sweeping generalizations about feminine sexuality. Ellen previously accused me of not dealing with the particulars of Rand's article --so I did so, while again requesting that someone show me where the arguments are.
Ellen has simply ignored this request (for obvious reasons). She now writes: "This is the last time on this topic that I will respond to George's views. He is so far removed from Objectivist premises that any further effort of argument is wasted."
In other words, if a person disagrees with Rand, then it is useless to present arguments or evidence for her views, since any such dissenter is already beyond the pale. How convenient.
Ellen's mind is an unchartered wilderness of confusion. I suspect that if you were to put a rat in the middle of her brain, it would never be able find its way out. Ghs
From: Ellen Moore To: Atlantis Subject: ATL: Re: A Female President Date: Mon, 05 Nov 2001 14:21:58 -0600
Bill, Again, I think Rand's presentation is justified and important because not only women but men also understand what she meant. Whatever I wrote, you do not appear to disagree with my effort to explain what I think she meant. That's fair! And you appear to understand her meaning which is the real point of this discussion
As for a woman CEO, I am in agreement that a woman might feel uncomfortable working directly with a lover if she must have the hierarchical status to supervise and countermand his business responsibilities. That could, more than likely, affect their romantic relationship if she frequently has to "cut him down to size" because of his inadequacy on the job.
On the other hand, many husbands and wives are partners in business, and they succeed very well as a team that does not adversely affect their romantic relationship. They each have responsibilities that do not demand either one's "dominance' over each other, so decisions are reached rationally and amicably. I doubt if there is any couple who does not fight over the small stuff -- the main issue is that they agree on their principles and their highest values. In other words, they can be equals in business as long as the hero/heroine worship and romance goes both ways.
I think that both you and Ellen S. are correct - as you say, "I think her [Rand's] reasoning has broader implications for female sexual psychology than are generally recognized."
I think that applies to her views on male sexual psychology just as significantly. Some people can identify and empathize with the sexuality presented in her novels; others cannot for obvious reasons. Again, the key to understanding Rand, overall, is rationality and objectivity.
Nick Bruijn wrote, "What is the point of trying to convince others?"
Why else would I write my views in any discussion - just to read myself in print? Basically, I want to be understood when I write. Generally, I take up an issue that is important to me, especially when my deepest values are being opposed or attacked by others on list.
Also, it takes some time for me to conclude that any person is unapproachable and no longer open to reason on any specific topic. Intellectuals can fool anyone some of the time by sounding so rational on some topics, and then one discovers that they have completely irrational ideas and values on other issues.
So my attitude is - I will do my best to explain what I think, and defend what I value. After that I listen for reasonableness -- if that is not soon evident, I might try again. But when I'm treated with abusive disagreement and insults, then the opposition is no longer worth my time.
Anyway, Nick, I appreciate your understanding and your agreement on the sexuality thing. It's a real man who grasps the essence of masculinity and femininity, and I do so appreciate real men.
I understand all your examples, and I really liked your reference to, "the famous 'Rape Scene' that was not rape but rapture." I've never heard that scene described in terms of "rapture" before [is it an original from you?], but I know that concept describes the essence of the sexuality in that context presented by Rand. Good on 'ya, Nick. Ellen M.
From: BBfromM To: atlantis Subject: Re: ATL: Re: AR's About a Woman President Date: Mon, 5 Nov 2001 16:29:17 EST
Ellen Moore wrote: < I also stand by my own view that no rational man would "want" to be president. I think that men or women who *want* to be president must want to hold power over others, and I do not think that desire is rational.>>
It depends. Yes, some men (or women) who want to be president may desire the power that goes with it today. But George Washington was not a power-luster, and, in fact, in those days the president had little power; certainly not the power a president has today. Like Washington, one simply may wish to serve one's country.
Even in today's context, there are legitimate reasons for the desire to be president. One may believe that it still is possible to turn back the tide of collectivism, and, as president, that one will be able to make a substantial difference in that regard. We all are fortunate that Ronald Reagan *wanted* to be president, and that Margaret Thatcher *wanted* to be premier; had they not, we still would be facing the threat of an armed and dangerous communism.
(I only hope that one day we can say we are fortunate that George Bush wanted to be president; that had he not, we still would be facing the threat of armed and dangerous terrorists.)
In a word, there is not simply one psychological premise responsible for the desire to be president. Before judging, one must understand something of the particular psychology involved. Barbara
From: RogerEBissell To: atlantis Subject: Re: ATL: Re: A Female President Date: Wed, 7 Nov 2001 12:06:59 EST
Bill Dwyer wrote: >Nick Bruijn agrees; he says that Dagny would never want to be the country's President and assert her authority over John. If that's true, then I wonder if she would ever want to be the CEO of a company in which John were one of her subordinates. Probably not, if I understand Rand's views on this issue
Nick Bruijn replied: >She was Bill, she was ! Remember Taggart Transcontinental, The vice president and the track-worker? (true, it was only the Operations division)
Yes, but bear in mind that she was not ~knowingly~ Galt's boss. I think that if and when she was aware of his ability and intelligence, she would never have allowed him to continue as a track-worker. She would have promoted him as high as she possibly could or, more likely, fired him. Also, bear in mind that Dagny ~deliberately~ worked as Galt's housekeeper for a month. She ~knowingly~ subordinated herself to ~him~ (surely his was not the only house in need of a maid and ~reveled~ in the act of submission. Galt, by contrast, was reveling only in the ~masquerade~ of being ~no one in particular~ working at his menial position. I think that Rand's asymmetrical view of man-woman relationships was presented and preserved quite well by the relationship between Galt and Dagny. And I think that Bill is right in his surmising about Dagny's (probable) unwillingness to be Galt's superior. All 4 now, Roger
From: Ellen Moore To: Atlantis Subject: ATL: Re:AR as man the rational animal Date: Thu, 08 Nov 2001 11:41:46 -0600
Roger, The points you are ignoring is that twice you stated falsely that I am claiming the Rand would agree with my position, 1. "Ellen is suggesting, as nutty as it sounds, that Rand would agree with her [my] position that neither rational women or men would ever desire to be president". 2. that I claimed that, "Rand's ~real~ definition of man is 'volitional being' rather than 'rational animal', but also that man ~isn't even an animal~!! This latter claim, which I find is particularly 'nutty'...."
The first is false since I never claimed that Rand would agree with my position. The second is false since I never ever denied that the definition Rand used was "rational animal'.
All you and George can wriggle around with is that he never called Rand "silly", and you never called ME "nutty". He called Rand's article "silly", and you call my own claims "nutty". In both cases, you and George are making false statements, about Rand's article, and you about my claims. George sees "silly" where there is Rand's rational explanation. You see "nutty" based on your false claims. That *is* distortion.
Keep in mind that both of you have called me and my ideas by extremely derogatory and vile names continuously throughout the years on Atlantis. You have to live with the consequences. I am neither "religious, cultist, or nutty". Rand and her ideas were neither "silly' - nor "stupid or nonsense" as Kathleen and Mona claim.
I think it is past time that you grasped the essence of contextuality - the judgments you make are yours, you own them, even when you are wrong, and you deserved to be judged according to what you think, say, and do. I see no value in trying to pose the idea that a person and their ideas are split, cut off from the source and the context. Mistaken ideas are the self-made product of a mistaken mind; rational ideas are products of rational minds. The ideas and actions observed are the only valid evidence for judging a person's character. The ideas and actions you express on Atlantis are clear indications of your mind and character, i.e., this is your identity.
Now you apologize for calling my ideas "nutty" because you want to engage me and others in substantive discussions about Rand's definition of man. That discussion is over before it begins. Rand used the definition of man as "rational animal" - no argument.
What you really want is to engage *me* in a discussion of why I have taken up with Rand's ideas because you can see - maybe - that I am using Rand's criteria for changing a definition of man to a new context that corresponds to the new knowledge Rand offered philosophically in "Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology". She put the locus of volition in the metaphysical identity of human consciousness. And based on that, she offered many new ideas about reason and rationality.
Since I am the only one [I know of] who is advancing new ideas about volition and reason, you want to oppose my ideas - and me - OK, take your best shots. But if you want me to discuss my ideas with you, you'd better begin by showing some respect for me, the idea maker.
I quite willingly admit that I am "pushing the envelope" of Objectivism into new contextual identifications that Rand made evident, and she surely did lay out all the philosophical structure and framework for progress to follow. Ellen Moore
From: "George H. Smith" To: "*Atlantis" Subject: ATL: Re: AR - man as rational animal Date: Sat, 10 Nov 2001 16:53:49 -0600
Ellen Moore wrote: "So often, people who call Ayn Rand's ideas "silly", or "stupid" or "nonsense" are actually mistaken because they never really understood what her ideas meant. Theirs is a lack of understanding, a mistake - but then they resort to verbal abuse and ridicule rather than admit Rand was expressing ideas they do not understand. They just don't *feel* she is right because they do not understand or share her ideas. Other people read the same ideas and they do understand what she meant."
I understand perfectly well what Rand was getting at in her argument against a woman president. But, throughout this futile debate, I have objected that Rand nowhere (to my knowledge) attempts to *justify* her statements about femininity (in the same way, say, that she attempts to justify her egoistic moral theory). Thus I repeatedly asked Ellen either (1) to refer me to where Rand attempts such a justification, or (b) to provide such a justification herself.
Of course, Ellen has done neither; she hasn't even tried. Instead she keeps repeating the mantra that anyone who disagrees with Rand in this area has obviously failed to understand her. This is eerily similar to the fundamentalist argument that only those who first accept Jesus as their personal savior can possibly understand Christianity.
So where's the argument, Ellen? Where is the justification for the blanket assertion that the essence of femininity is (or should be) "hero worship? I'm waiting, but I won't hold my breath. Ghs
From: Ellen Moore To: Atlantis Subject: ATL: Re: AR - man as rational animal Date: Sun, 11 Nov 2001 15:07:12 -0600
George, There is no need to hold your breath - there is "justification galore" for Rand's view that the essence of femininity is hero-worship. And the fact is that you have not understood or shared her sexual values – if you did, you would know it and celebrate it.
I am going to try to show you where to find Rand's "justifications". This may be understood from all her writing that speaks of Romantic Love, about the relationship between femininity and masculinity, about the romantic sexual emotions between a man and a woman of self-esteem, i.e., between rational humans.
For my own justification, I understood at once that she was presenting her view of romantic love in "Anthem, in We The Living, in The Fountainhead, in Atlas Shrugged". Then I understood that she presented it in several descriptive passages in her essays and articles. In this sense, I never misunderstood her view of romantic sexuality. I knew that her view was an expression of my own sense of sexual femininity in relation to masculinity, i.e., I identified with her characterizations of these romantic relationships.
[I admit it took me some thinking and interpretation to understand Dominique's malevolence, and her twisted psychology that drove her to attempt to destroy Roark whom she loved and hero-worshipped. But she did learn that the world could not destroy a man with his self-esteem and strength of character.]
It has always been evident to me that not all persons respond to Rand's novels and ideals as I do. E.g., I could never think of sexual rapture [I'm using Nick Bruijn's term for the emotion I feel] as anything like a "good meal" -- it is *so much more*. It is rapture for body and soul. It is the highest sharing of values to be sexually celebrated, and nothing else in life comes even close to that emotion.
When it comes to Rand's article About a Woman President, I think she justified her position there about femininity. It began on the second page with "The issue is primarily psychological ... and follows through these two paragraphs. To me, this is sufficient justification.
But you obviously need more explanations. So I suggest that you read all her novels by paying specific attention to the details of the best man-woman romantic sexual relationships. That should give you quite a few clues. Then you may go to The Ayn Rand Lexicon. Under "femininity" you will find those two paragraphs quoted. And then go to the headings, "Love" which includes her justifications from "the Objectivist Ethics, Of Living Death, Philosophy and Sense of Life, Playboy's Interview with AR, Galt's speech in AS, The conflicts of Men's Interests [VOS], and ITOE. And under "Sex" you'll find another justification by Rand in The Meaning of Sex [FNI].
And if all that fails to mean anything to you, just recall that there is an entire genre of fiction writing, Romance, novels that both men and women enjoy. The best writers present femininity and masculinity in romantic sexual relationships that are frequently and explicitly similar to Rand's portrayals.
My question really is, how could anyone read Rand's works and NOT understand what her justification is? Were they not paying attention, or did they never experience or share the values we know and the response of sexual rapture?
George, I know whereof I speak; my husband and I will celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary on November 24th. We intend to drink a champagne toast in honor of Romantic Rapture.
"Here's to those that we love, and here's to those that love us, and here's to all those that love those that love us."
From: Nathaniel Branden To: atlantis Subject: ATL: one more Date: Tue, 27 Nov 2001 13:27:05 -0800
Oh, yes, one more. Anyone who thinks AR provided rational grounds for her assertion that no rational woman would want to be President of the U.S.--doesn't understand Objectivist epistemology. Nathaniel Branden
From: BBfromM To: atlantis Subject: ATL: Man-woman relationships Date: Sun, 2 Dec 2001 19:11:10 EST
I once read something that still has me laughing helplessly whenever I think of it. It was a book written by a raging feminist, and nowhere was there a hint of the possibility that any woman might react differently than she did -- except once. One turned a page to see another page that was blank except for one bold-faced line: EVERY WOMAN LOVES A FASCIST. There was no explanation and no reference to the line in the rest of the book.
I thought it hysterically funny, and I knew exactly what she meant. Barbara
From: Ellen Moore To: Atlantis Subject: ATL: Re: "All women love a fascist." Date: Thu, 06 Dec 2001 16:09:24 -0600
Barbara, It is interesting to see that we both know the joke is hilarious but we both come to that conclusion in different ways and with different understanding. This explains that our minds work in different ways and we can still reach the same conclusion whether over the issue of a joke or over the serious question of Israel's right to exist. I note that we also think differently about the nature of evil - about which I intend to post.
In my view, you come at things so often from a psychological perspective while I come at the same things from a philosophical perspective. Take our different reactions to the joke ...
The situation of that line on a blank page in the middle of a book without explanation IS a joke in the author's mind. I think we both got that first point.
Your explanation was expressed by saying, "My quote refers to the supposed fact that while women say they seek only gentleness and kindness in a man, some unacknowledged part of them wants a man to be domineering."
I could not disagree more. I really hate domineering men, especially if they try to dominate me or any other women. I will not tolerate it quietly. I truly hate the domineering treatment of women under male dictatorships, and I have a large degree of contempt for woman in freer countries who submit to male dominance of any kind.
So here is why I think the joke is hilarious.
I read it to Mel and said out loud "What the hell does that mean?" He said "I dunno." So, then I said "Well, what does fascism mean here" I quickly paraphrased what fascism means to me, saying, "Well, fascism means that the means of production is privately owned, but the state controls the use and distribution of private property."
We looked at each other and laughed at the joke. What a perfect description of male-female sexual psychology in action.
Do I have to explain any further for those who still don't get it? I know explanations spoil the spontaneity of any joke, so I won't explain unless someone wants me to explain it privately in e-mail.
But you can see how our approach differs, and our explanation differs, but we both found the joke funny from different perspectives. Yes? Ellen M.
From: "Gayle Dean" To: "Atlantis" Subject: ATL: Whole philosophy of life Date: Thu, 6 Dec 2001 21:13:57 -0500
Ellen Moore said: “Rand said something like, show me the woman a man sleeps with and I'll tell you his whole philosophy of life."
I assume that Ellen agrees with Rand's statement that she quotes. And I assume Rand meant that her principle would hold for women as well as men? In other words, "show Rand the "man" a woman sleeps with and she could tell you the woman's whole philosophy of life."
But if so, then what would Rand's own "philosophy of life" be, considering that she slept with a man --Nathaniel--that both she and Ellen considered to be a liar and a scoundrel. Now, I suppose Ellen could try to argue that Rand simply made a mistake when she chose to sleep with Nathaniel, but "an error of knowledge" was never mentioned by Rand as a mitigating factor in her claim. Gayle
From: Nick Glover To: atlantis Subject: Re: ATL: Re: The Objectivist Revolution ... Date: Thu, 06 Dec 2001 23:33:51 -0500
I meant to send this to the list. I apologize to Ellen that she will receive this twice.
Ellen Moore wrote: "Victor, this falls in lesson 101 in Objectivism. If reasonable people disagree, then one, some, or all of them are wrong. In this case, some of them are wrong, mistaken, about rationality and femininity. The answer was explained by Rand, more than once. The answer has been explained by me many times in every way I can express the issues. There are men and women who have no understanding of what is being explained, nor do they understand the personal psychology that is present in rationality and femininity. Why do they not understand what Rand explained? -- because they do not feel psychologically as she did. They do not understand me either."
If you are going to call Rand's sexual psychology *rational*, you are implying that there is a *rational* argument for it. All I believe others have been asking is for you to present this argument. Obviously, many of the members of this list consider what Rand has said on sexual psychology to be just assertions without argument, so please do not keep referring us to Rand. If you are going to claim that we cannot understand this psychology unless we already "feel psychologically" as you and Rand, then you are implying there is no argument for it that we can understand. If this is the case, then it may be your sexual psychology and Rand's, but it is not *rational*. The very idea of a *rational* position is one for which you can present an objective, valid argument to other people. This reminds me of black women claiming that white men cannot make moral judgments about them because they are not black women. Nick Glover
From: Ellen Moore To: Atlantis Subject: ATL: Re: Sexual psychology Date: Sat, 08 Dec 2001 14:38:22 -0600
Morganis, et al As far as I recall [which is far from total] from my earlier posts, I have never called those who do not understand Rand's theory of rational femininity either "stupid" or "ignorant", nor have I thought of them as "ignoramusi" or "dummies". And I have always said that sexuality is a uniquely personal emotional response.
There is nothing mystical about sexual psychology. It is based on perceptual experience, conceptual understanding, introspection, and it is volitional and self-created. It's up to the individual to understand him or herself.
I heard Ayn Rand say to a woman questioner/arguer after a lecture in Boston, and I will describe it in my words -- Rand answered her in a patient and kindly manner that she had explained the issue thoroughly in her essay, and she proceeded to explain it again there and then, and the woman still continued to argue with her, so Rand's final statement to the woman was -- If you cannot understand what I am explaining, "then I feel sorry for you". [that last part's a direct quote I do recall.]
I have on occasion given the same answer to others. It is not because I think the other person is stupid or ignorant -- and I am ~NOT~ being condescending -- it is simply a fact that they have not understood the same experience that I have, or that Rand did. I suspect that they have not personally experienced any similar emotional sexual response, or grasped the idealism of a supremely romantic sexual relationship. In fact, ~I cannot know~ *what* they do experience sexually. All I can see is that, based on what they admit, they do NOT share or grasp the experience of supreme joy that I have known, and that Rand described and explained in her novels and her comments on sexual psychology.
Tell me Morganis, how can one ~explain~ something, anything, to another person if they have no experience or idea of what you are talking about? How can one explain the color red to a blind man? As my husband said, "How can you describe or point to femininity or masculinity. It's a personal evaluation. Actually, I do not really expect men to understand "femininity" as some women know it intimately. Sure, I can explain what I feel or know intellectually to my husband, but he does not "feel" or "know" femininity as I do.
I do feel sorry for anyone who thinks that a sexual encounter is an equivalent pleasure to eating a meal, hamburger or filet mignon. To me there is no other life affirming joy like it. And Rand's view of good sex is "a celebration of life", and that love is the exchange of one's highest values and ideals.
As for you or anyone voting for a woman President, it depends on your individual judgment of the context. If she is better than anyone else available for the job, then more power over the citizens is what you give her. I had great respect for Margaret Thatcher, and it appears that she had a nice relationship with her husband, but we cannot know what their sexual relationship is - whether it is supremely romantic joy or merely comfortable, humdrum, and practical. Rand *idealized* the best of romantic sexual relationships, and so do I.
I've said many times that sexual psychology is a uniquely personal experience and attitude. I mean no disrespect when I say, based on what others say about themselves, that they do not understand what Rand was explaining, or what I have tried to explain.
You should know, I think, that the 'explainer' who offers an "explanation" is only responsible for presenting as clear a case as one can -- all the rest of understanding is the responsibility of the 'explainee', or not, based on that person's experience, knowledge, and ability to understand. If they don't reach understanding of each other, it is caused by a failure to reach a "meeting of the minds". The real issue then, is personal context, context, context.
Here's my theory that explains [as best as I can] this phenomena about "rational sexuality". I think that one has to learn what reason IS. Then one has to learn to be rational, and learn what "objectivity" means. And learn to BE objective. Then one has to experience sex as good, as a supremely romantic ideal experienced as rational [non-conflicted] joy. Then one has to introspect and understand one's own sexuality intimately, and be able to differentiate one's ideal femininity as distinct from what one understands about masculinity – and then acknowledge, accept, and appreciate the difference. This is no easy task; it requires volitional effort, personal insight, and honesty and integrity.
This is not about comparing the opposing views of ancient or modern Psychologists. This is about one's own intimate view of oneself and one's own psychology. If one is satisfied that sex is like eating hamburger or lobster, then that is IT for oneself, but if one understands that sex is the highest value and celebration of life then that is IT. Considering all the different contexts, and all the different individuals with all their different individual psychology, this issue covers the breadth of human behavior.
This is the best explanation and theory I can give you after all that has been said, over and over again, on the issue of sexual psychology. What more do you need from me? Ellen M.
From: "Gayle Dean" To: "Atlantis" Subject: ATL: Re: Re: Sexual psychology Date: Sat, 8 Dec 2001 16:33:58 -0500
Ellen Moore continues to try and avoid the problems inherent in Rand's view of female sexuality by misrepresenting Rand's view as a personal, subjective view. Moore insists: "This is about one's own intimate view of oneself and one's own psychology." But, clearly, Rand did not consider her view of female sexuality to be a subjective issue at all. Rand did not say (per Moore) that some women might rationally want to be president depending on their own "intimate view of themselves and their own psychology." Quite the contrary: Rand said that NO rational woman would want to be president. That point seems very clear.
Rand considered her view (albeit controversially) to be an objective, philosophical theory. Now Moore can either disagree with Rand's theory (as many of us do) and offer us her own subjective theory (as she has done repeatedly in the past) or she can accept Rand's view as stated by Rand. But, it is a gross misrepresentation for Moore to claim that Rand's view was subjective or to try and claim that Rand's view corresponds with Moore's view, because it doesn't.
Nathaniel Branden says that he discussed Rand’s view about female sexuality with her many times, because he did not feel "fully comfortable" with her point of view. He said Rand would "smile at his bafflement" over this issue. He told her "I wouldn't try to defend my position philosophically." Rand replied, "I would." [Feminists Interpretations of Ayn Rand"- page 228-229]. Rand considered her sexual view (as with ALL of her views) to be philosophical --not personal and certainly not subjective. Gayle Dean
From: Ellen Moore To: Atlantis Subject: ATL: Re: objective Date: Sun, 09 Dec 2001 16:51:40 -0600
Victor, I said nothing that "idealizes a man overpowering a woman."
I have not read any other posting on Atlantis offering an objective theory of sexual psychology.
My confidence in my knowledge stands firm. It is my trust in honesty on Atlantis that has been shaken ~because~ this is the *third episode of three members' dishonesty* I have witnessed. They have now made me wary of trickery. And so should everyone be wary. Ellen M.