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Everything posted by Marcus

  1. Social existence consists of more than the "simple social pleasures" we derive from others, but our very cognitive functioning. When we are away from others it is impaired. Numerous isolation experiments have been conducted and people have reported hallucinations, suicidal thoughts, and other psychological problems. Humans have evolved to survive in groups. We have entire areas of the brain devoted to social functions. We we are alone for extended periods of time (I mean really alone and isolated from civilization), we basically will go crazy. Aristotle once declared that men who are way from society are either "beasts or gods". Solitary confinement, for example, is said to be worse than death. The fact remains our survival and mental health is hugely impacted by living in a society (or not). As much as Objectivism fantasizes about the "desert island" scenario, being as it is theoretically possible for humans to live alone, it's not recommended and you will likely go to an early grave. It would also represent a great psychological struggle to live on such terms and you would be dealing with feelings of a loss of purpose, passage of time issues, sexual and emotional companionship issues, extreme loneliness etc. Rand said (in one of her moments of clarity and admission) herself man is somewhere between a "lone wolf" and a social animal, settling on the "contractual animal". Not fully either extreme. She is basically correct. We are both social and solitary animals. Probably leaning more towards social, given the difficulty with which it is to survive and function mentally in complete isolation.
  2. A bit off topic: Is'nt an "anarcho-objectivist" an oxymoron?
  3. But "class" is inevitably what occurs in a capitalist society. People differ by achievements, drive, intelligence etc. The result is a ranking of individuals (this is wired into the human brain, all primates including humans have social hierarchies whether Objectivism will fully admit this or not). This "ranking" system in my take is not a bad thing per se. It is how we reward the high achievers among us. In a way it is a form of justice. I don't think Rand had a problem with this. I think she did'nt like the baseless, second-handed "status" that is often given to undeserving, corrupt or incompetent individuals.
  4. But notice men of lower "social standing" never become romantically involved with her female protoganists . Howard Roark, for example, you could argue that he is not really of low standing, as he is actually looked at as important and respected atleast implicitly for his work and the religious intensity of his dedication. Entire industries talk about him (Wynands newspaper). I believe Rands point was that "prime movers" like Roark ultimately become a social focal point. Despite his seemingly low social status, Roark is a powerful man and capable of antagonizing the whole of society. Women probably ultimately, find power the most sexually attractive (this goes back to our evolutionary history). Perhaps "social status" is a second-hand way of determining character? Perhaps social status is one of the secondary consequences of good, honest productive work?
  5. According to Objectivism, romantic valuation is unaffected by social status. This flies in the face of countless scientific studies (one good overview here) done on the subject, which show humans (particularly women) do take socio-economic factors into account, and at every stage of the courtship process (from dating to sex to marriage). This effect is most visible on "celebrity" blogs and gossip sites observing who dates who. Notice the higher the status of the man, the more beautiful (and more numerous) his sexual and romantic partners tend to be. Nevermind the other health and social benefits indirectly related social status not related to romance, that people of high status enjoy in human societies. Objectivism ignores this altoghether as well. Ayn Rand herself seems to contradict herself at various times, at one point saying romance is a "response to (character) values" and at another point saying women desire to "look up to" a man (which could be an indirect reference to social status). In any case, it is unclear what she actually means by her words. In her novels, the most accomplished, socially desirable men (Wynand, Galt, Rearden etc) are often the sole romantic focus of the female protogonists. Lesser men (i.e. less money and status), such as Eddie Willers, are not even a consideration. This is one of the most intriguing features of her fiction. So my question is, is Objectivism simply wrong or just unclear about the nature of social status and romantic connection?
  6. You need good arguments. This is the domain of the (seemingly forgotten) science of persuasion, i.e. rhetoric. Objectivism, is full of good ideas, but as we have seen (in todays' culture), they are largely ineffective, on their own, left to their own devices. Like a stillborn child who could not grow into a full and healthy adult. Every (successful) company knows this. It's simply not enough to have a good idea for a business, you need a sales and marketing strategy and you need sales people. It's common sense. Even charities understand this basic tenet of human societies. Religions like Christianity have practically enshrined it in it's moral code. No small wonder why it is the worlds largest religion with over a billion followers. Yet philosophies, including the proponents of Objectivism, think they are somehow exempt? I ask, by what premise? That ideas will somehow take upon a life of their own? Social osmosis? Objectivism's rhetorical record has always been dismal. Objectivism today is negatively characterized as stale, dry, contemptuous, and overly intellectual. The (predictable) result is the increasing prominence of (often bad) ideas which have successfully outsold and outmanuevered Objectivist ones or at the very least reasonable, capitalist ideas. We have today a culture which still more or less accepts altruism as the default moral standard, engages in systematic and systemwide destruction of wealth and property, debases and mocks proper law and justice, and enshrines mediocrity. Ancient Greece and it's culture was saved, sometimes singlehandedly (on many occasions), by successful, bold rhetoriticians. Arguably they will play the same, crucial role in the coming years in today's western culture. The question is, will Objectivism be up to the task of creating them?
  7. Continuing somewhat on my earlier theme in another thread, I made one interesting connection. Charisma and (the virtue) visibility often spring from and re-inforce one another. Referencing wikipedia it seems like it does'nt have much to offer in the way of formal, valid definition of charisma other than a mystical one (or a vague secular one offered by a long dead sociologist). The implication is that people are not exactly sure and can't pinpoint exactly what charisma actually is. A fuller discussion and description of visibility specifically, is available here. After thinking about it, I've come up with a "provisional" definition that fits my observations reasonably: "The ability to confer a feeling of happiness upon others by their presence or speech". By this definition, when we think about the most charming individuals in our society, immediately the some of the most socially visible individuals come to the front of our minds, i.e. politicians, actors, fortune 500 ceo's, famous writers etc. But the (interesting) question is, did their visibility come first or their charm? Do they "become" more charming as a result of being more visible (i.e. by "perception")? I may bring up more/ongoing questions as they come. Thoughts?
  8. Unfortunately in the process, they are probably making the city less interesting and colorful. Tech workers are well known for their insularity, obliviousness and social awkwardness. They are replacing the very thing they came to the city to experience in the first place. Why come to a new city, only to make it the place that you left? I am from this area, and SF is one of the most unique places in the US, if not the world. It's the people who live there who make it that way. Take out the people and you get dullness.
  9. Forgive me if I'm wrong, this is what you said: In other words, to qualify as a randian (objectivist) hero one has to put "production" first. The issue is that some heroes "produce" justice, not businesses or industries or markets. That was my point. I have an idea what you mean by this, but would be curious if you expanded upon it.
  10. Peikoff on comics. Somebody else has noticed my observation apparently.
  11. Or another way of putting it is their productive purpose *is* to fight crime. This means their businesses merely serve as a means to that end. Is this inconsistent with Objectivism? Probably not. Howard Roark for example, lived a minimalist lifestyle and made money only to enable himself to build, the point being he was still a fully Objectivist hero. I don't really see much of the difference. Sure they protect society (as justice is their goal) but they are also often shunned and feared, despite all that they do for it. A classic hero's dilemma. Objectivist heroes are more radical egoists than rebels. They more or less ignore society and focus on work and ideas. I don't see how that is inconsistent with the fundamental work that Batman does, for example, ignoring the law and fighting crime on his own terms and for his own reasons. Often there is enormous 'collateral damage' as a result of their actions (or actions of villains fighting them) too, which they ignore (buildings being destroyed, fires, villain bomb threats etc). This tells you Batmans goal is not to 'protect society' but the promotion of an ideal of justice (even at the cost of incidental property loss). Correct, but there is no fundamental contradiction here. Their purpose has simply been switched from that of production to that of justice. Iron man and Batman already have all the money they want. Their goals have changed. Thanks for the links (and the introduction) by the way.
  12. There are quite a few examples of this throughout comic books. Bruce Wayne (Batman) is one example. Tony stark (Iron Man) the billionaire industrialist/inventor is another. Often times their extraorindinary money/ability ties into their over-arching goal of fighting crime (aka justice).
  13. Also, consider the fact that Japanese comic art (manga) and American comic art are worlds apart stylistically. Japanese artists often forsake realism for overt sillliness and exaggeration. Heroes are stylistic caricatures (big hair, oversized weapons etc), cause and effect is often ignored (in favor of plot devices). There are a few Japanese manga comics that have strong realistic/romantic elements, but they are the exception and not the rule. It's clear that not all comic cultures are the same, art always reflects the underlying society (which in turn reflects their philosophy). So this appears to be a uniquely American phenomenon.
  14. Assuming you are serious, ask yourself this question: would Aristotle's philosophy be susceptible to a comic book rendition? If not, why not? Would the Stoic philosophy be likewise susceptible? [Full disclosure: I find comic books asinine, and always have]. I am 100% serious. My point is not that the entire philosophy can be condensed and explained in a comic, but that it is in a broad sense, the only form of art today that even vaguely represents Objectivist ideals (leaving aside AR's works obviously). No other art form comes close.
  15. I would argue that the comic book format, as it is envisioned and presented in western culture, is both historically and contemporarily some of the most consistently Objectivist art available. Most comics have a clear theme, a clear demarcation of good and evil, a respect and reverence for the human body in the form of it's beautiful, strong and physically fit heroes, most comics punish evil and uphold good as triumphant, a respect for science and identity (atleast within the artist's own metaphysical constants) etc,. Some comics are appraised and worth thousands to millions of dollars because people still value them. I find it interesting no other form of art in western society has consistently upheld herioc themes or hero worship except comics. Is the the last refuge of classic Greek/pure objectivist ideals in our society? Thoughts?
  16. By "leader" I did not mean a "leader" of the movement, but that the average Objectivist should represent the highest and best that humanity has to offer. This includes qualities such as agreeableness, charisma, kindness, humor etc,. (when appropriate). What I meant is that the "average" Objectivist should actually be "above average" in comparison to a non-objectivist and that this would readily show itself, to the point where Objectivists would begin to gain a reputation as great people. Contary to popular belief, Howard Roark, if you examine the Fountainhead carefully, was a kind, gentle, relaxed and respectful man. He was completely capable and comfortable with social interaction. He was highly respected (implicitly atleast, even when he was being denounced). He did not denounce. He did not moralize. He simply and consistently followed through on his personal goals and held his work in high esteem. Others were not his primary concern, but he did'nt exclude them entirely either. On the issue of Objectivism's need of "religion", Brant, that is another post. But I agree and Rand touched upon this in the preface in the Fountainhead. The problem is religious emotions have it been abrograted by religions for nearly all of human history.
  17. Well it seems like you have worse than no comment. It probably would have been better had you not made the comment. You are contributing effectively nothing intellectual to this thread. Just more drive-by, incoherent, Ayn Rand bot-like, copy-and-paste derailments. We could do without that thank you. What exactly is your point/stance/anything? If you could atleast clarify that it would be a step in the right direction.
  18. I really hope that was some sort of satire. Is it really "rational" to condemn as "evil" an otherwise honest and decent religious person? You have to take things on a case-by-case basis and excercise common sense.Telling orphans to "take care of themselves" wtf? You've basically brought up the two worst possible scenarios and used them as examples to make your point. I agree with the second paragraph of your post, but jeez lets not talk about killing kittens and clubbing baby seals can we? Objectivism, as I have said before, has a PR problem. You have examples (as posted above) all around you. Folks this is a not about changing your fundamental ideas, but presenting them in such a way in that they inspire minds as opposed to turning them off. You want a more rational society to live in? That takes tact and persuasiveness. You have to *sell* ideas like anything else. It takes for lack of a better way to put it: Charisma and charm.
  19. That is exactly my point. The result (if everyone is truly "brushing up" on their social skills) *is* a movement. It is the type of movement most people would like to be a part of. Most people want to to be around charismatic, interesting people. It's natural. They would then ask ok "why is this person so interesting or friendly or happy etc" and that would then lead them to investigate Objectivist ideas. It's win-win. Let me clarify that I'm not advocating directly "promoting" the philosophy. Only following through on selfish interests. And It is in the interests of Objectivists to live in a more rational society. Charisma is first and foremost, a selfish trait. Good. But where are the real world, observable, results of this? Sorry to burst your bubble but this is exactly what Ayn Rand was. It is not so much what I've seen, it is what I "haven't" seen. And that is, personable, persuasive, prominent and openly Objectivist individuals in our modern Western society. They are more or less non-existent. This *is* real life we are talking about. Not an abstraction, but real people that are highly visible and noticeable. In theory, the best (Objectivists) rise to the top of society. Where are they? Like Fermi's Paradox. Ayn Rand was one of the most famous people in America, not from her movies but her books. Alan Greenspan was Federal Reserve chairman. Nathaniel Branden was highly respected in the field of psychology and a pioneer in self-esteem studies, more or less coining the modern usage of the term. But that was then, in the 1960's, 70's and 80's. Another generation. This is now.
  20. The reasoning is simple. Social skills (aka charm or charisma) enhance survival, happiness and well being. And survival is selfish and good. Therefore "should" is appropriately applied in this context. Objectivists *should* by and large be among the most charismatic, interesting, independant thinking and visible members of our society. A bit like today's movie stars. Exemplars, not cast outs. This was exactly was Ayn Rand and her inner circle was. Even though her ideas were often denounced by every corner of the establishment, the public was still fascinated. This is simply not the case today. My question is why? Again, the issue is not "putting others first" but gaining selfish values from others through trade. Social relations (when not begging, exploiting or stealing) are a form of trade. If it is in your your interest both from a material and psychological point of view, why not? Again this goes back to the failure of Objectivism to properly clarify and communicate its ideas. It is not a "popular" philosophy but that is its biggest downfall. It will never gain the critical mass needed to change a culture. It will be perceived as forever a philosophy for nerds, misfits and socially mal-adjusted people, regardless of how right its ideas are. Nobody will believe it leads to a happy, fulfilled life. Only a bitter, isolated one. Of course there are some who are for whatever reason (maybe genes) not good at social interaction and relations. People with Aspergers syndrome for example or Autism or some similar condition. For them it is not an issue of morality or choice. But for most normal functioning adults, I believe it is. If their goal is happiness that is.
  21. (Disclaimer: I am a student of Objectivism, not a critic, and these are simply my observations and opinions) The classic "dichotomy" between the popular, charismatic social climber and the lone, goal-driven, productive genius is the central theme of the Fountainhead, arguably one of Ayn Rands most fascinating works. Yet, it doesn't need to be a dichotomy. In fact, it's a false dichotomy. The issue need not be an "either or" proposition. There is no fundamental reason, from a rational standpoint, why Objectivism shouldn't endorse and support the cultivation of social skills and charm.This aspect of the human experience has been largely and needlessly neglected within Objectivism - and I believe, the key iusses within it, are still unidentified. The selfish, survival benefits are obvious, as are the psychological benefits of a successful, healthy social orientation and friendly disposition. "Social disposition" does not mean the disposition of a beggar or exploiter. As with all human values and relations, the issue here is trade. But social values are a trade that does not involve money. If Objectivism represents the cultivation of the best within humanity, it stands to reason that Objectivists should be the primary exemplars within our (Western) society, yet this is not what I observe. If asked to "point out" an Objectivist on the street randomly, most people wouldn't be able to distinguish a practicing "Objectivist" from a "regular person". Worse, most people could probably pick out Mormons, Muslims or even evangelical Christians out of a crowd pretty easily. Hell, I could probably pick out practicing Epicureans or Hedonists sooner than I could followers of Objectivist philosophy. The result is a serious lack of public acknowledgement and a failure to properly present and communicate Objectivist ideas in theory AND in practice. The result is a society that takes hardcore, fundamentalist religions more seriously than secular, rational philosophies. By showing others "by example" (i.e. living ones life in the highest possible way), gaining visibility and successfully relating to others, outside of proselytization of your personal beliefs you are effectively showing people the superiority of your philosophy in action. Objectivism is effectively defaulting on its own accord in the public sphere. There was, however, a time when Objectivists were often the most prominent, visible and accomplished (in their respective fields) in our society. Members of Ayn Rands inner circle such as Alan Greenspan or Nathaniel Branden come to mind, besides Rand herself. Alan Greenspan served as chairman of the Federal Reserve for many years one of the highest offices in the land. Her books were selling by the hundreds of thousands every year, and she was getting regular radio and TV interviews. Rand herself was described as "charming" even a "cult leader" at one point. Where are our comtemporary examples of charming, personable, Objectivist leaders in their fields? Why does the average Objectivist come off as dull, moralistic and dry as opposed to charming, persuasive and interesting? Does it really *need* to be this way? I don't think it does.