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> Has it really not occurred to you yet that if the guard had stepped out of the way to let Dagny pass, that she would have had to kill him anyway?

You've repeated this three times in your last post as your only point I didn't demolish. First, there may be options to tie him or gag him...he doesn't know and neither do we. Second, he is outside the inner sanctum, and we don't know if in a quick invasion he can be heard...plus as soon as they enter people will know they've invaded so a disarmed guard outside is irrelevant. Third, sometimes the gun holder will club someone and knock them out. Better than death.

Fourth, and most important he knows -for sure- he is likely to be killed if he doesn't get out of the way. But he doesn't know for sure he will be killed if he complies He doesn't know how many confederates Dagny has and what resources they have for captured prisoners. He could be taken away or tied up or shoved into a closet...or any number of other possibilities.

Got it straight now? Or want to continue to argue for the sake of arguing?

Edited by Philip Coates

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> Has it really not occurred to you yet that if the guard had stepped out of the way to let Dagny pass, that she would have had to kill him anyway?

You've repeated this three times in your last post as your only point I didn't demolish. First, there may be options to tie him or gag him...he doesn't know and neither do we. Second, he is outside the inner sanctum, and we don't know if in a quick invasion he can be heard...plus as soon as they enter people will know they've invaded so a disarmed guard outside is irrelevant. Third, sometimes the gun holder will club someone and knock them out. Better than death.

Fourth, and most important he knows -for sure- he is likely to be killed if he doesn't get out of the way. But he doesn't know for sure he will be killed if he complies He doesn't know how many confederates Dagny has and what resources they have for captured prisoners. He could be taken away or tied up or shoved into a closet...or any number of other possibilities.

Got it straight now? Or want to continue to argue for the sake of arguing?

No, the guard wouldn't have been killed "anyway"--not in the world of Atlas Shrugged. The other three heroes would have appeared and bound and gagged him.

--Brant

U.S. fleet to the Japanese fleet (1944): move aside or we'll blow you up! "We have to contact Tokyo!" "Sorry, that's not a choice available to you: "Open fire, Gridley!"

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I think there's some crazy literalism emerging in this argument: "What would Dagny do?"

"She'd shoot the guard."(tax-collector, traffic cop, etc etc) "Oh. OK." BANG! :P

But seriously, there looks to be a sub-text running through this, that it might help to make explicit.

I recall one debater at least who has openly asserted that Rand lacked empathy with people in her novels as well as her life, so she's narcissist, sociopathic, blah blah. This is the real topic isn't it?

For openers, Rand apparently had little sympathy for Joe Public and his society, as it exists, and always has.

Well, surprise, surprise.

If there is one theme that arcs through all her fiction, that is it.

From "Little Street" to Atlas Shrugged:

Anthem, We the Living, The Fountainhead, in all these she portrayed the individual (and of course the capitalist) as stand-alone heroic victim combatting the grey mass of his persecutor, society

In her life,too, Rand demonstrated little 'feeling' for the broad and faceless mass of people,- who can have? - but instead gave intense attention to one person at a time, as we know. (Personally, I relate to all that).But, this doesn't make her sociopathic.

And is her philosophy of egoism and reason, superior, and therefore, *elitist*? (Gasp!) Or, are some judging her from their own socially tamed precondition?

I think she created this guard scenario as both shock value to her readers' delicate sensibilities, and also as a metaphysical/ethical warning to all of us - "Think for yourself, buddy, or die!". Artifice and message all in one.

Too extreme for some - but it got your attention, right?

Tony

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> Has it really not occurred to you yet that if the guard had stepped out of the way to let Dagny pass, that she would have had to kill him anyway?

You've repeated this three times in your last post as your only point I didn't demolish.

Heh. Which of my points do you imagine that you've "demolished," Phil? You appear not to have understood any of them.

First, there may be options to tie him or gag him...he doesn't know and neither do we...

The point is that the behavior of the characters suggests certain motivations and thought processes. The guard's behavior -- his terror, immobility and unwillingness to choose from the two options that Dagny limits him to -- suggests that he believes Dagny is going to kill him no matter he does. See, Rand makes it very clear that his character is motivated by wanting to avoid being blamed for anything by his superiors. So, if he believed that there was a chance that Dagny was going to knock him out and/or tie him up rather than kill him, he would have jumped at that option because he could have used it to excuse himself from blame: being found with a welt on his head, and with a gag in his mouth, and his wrists and ankles tied, he could have concocted quite a story about how he had heroically fought but was overwhelmed by a group of selfish, anti-brotherhood, pro-greed, corporate exploiters.

In real life, people don't behave the way the guard did unless they think they have no chance either way. His actions are those of a man who believes that he will be killed no matter what he does.

So, I think the scene is poorly written. It's kind of like a cheesy movie in which a victim is running away from a person driving a car, but instead of veering off to areas where the car can't go, such as between buildings or trees, the victim just keeps running down the middle of the road and doing similar things which makes everyone in the audience (well, perhaps everyone but Phil) groan, "Oh my God, that is so fucking stupid, no one would do that!"

I think the problem is that Rand wanted to pound her philosophical point home regardless of whether or not it messed with the logic of the scene. Such artless heavy-handedness is the type of thing that can turn a novel into propaganda rather than art.

This might be a relevant question: Phil, what do you think of the art/science of criminal profiling? Do you think that it has any merit, or do you think that it's nothing but gobbledygook "psychologizing"?

J

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I recall one debater at least who has openly asserted that Rand lacked empathy with people in her novels as well as her life, so she's narcissist, sociopathic, blah blah. This is the real topic isn't it?

Tony

Nathaniel Branden stated that Rand was capable of great empathy in a one on one situation--that she projected a great sense of your being psychologically visible to her.

--Brant

the woman was quite complex

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In real life, people don't behave the way the guard did unless they think they have no chance either way. His actions are those of a man who believes that he will be killed no matter what he does.

quote]

In real life the guard would know there is a good chance he won't be killed because he hasn't yet been killed. He's terrified of taking responsibility, not Dagny's gun. I agree the scene is poorly written. AS has a lot of poor writing. I think the meeting between Hank and Ragnar was very badly done. Incidentally, Hank was going to shoot the cop? More bad.

--Brant

Edited by Brant Gaede

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I recall one debater at least who has openly asserted that Rand lacked empathy with people in her novels as well as her life, so she's narcissist, sociopathic, blah blah. This is the real topic isn't it?

Tony

Nathaniel Branden stated that Rand was capable of great empathy in a one on one situation--that she projected a great sense of your being psychologically visible to her.

--Brant

the woman was quite complex

Thank you, Brant; Good to know. I had not heard this before, though it's plain to see it in Rand, if one chooses to see.

Considering that my "one debater at least" is often quoting Nathaniel's Benefits and Hazards essay - coming from Branden himself, this may, just may, give that "one debater at least" pause for thought on Rand's empathy, or lack of. <_<

Tony

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He's terrified of taking responsibility, not Dagny's gun.

I agree, and as I said in my last post, a guard who is terrified of taking responsibility -- and blame -- and who is thinking that he would probably be knocked out and/or tied up if he chose to step out of Dagny's way would very quickly choose to step aside and be knocked out/tied up because doing so would be the easiest way to be absolved of responsibility and blame.

I agree the scene is poorly written. AS has a lot of poor writing. I think the meeting between Hank and Ragnar was very badly done. Incidentally, Hank was going to shoot the cop? More bad.

I think Rand was a great writer, but she definitely created some less-than-great moments in her novels. Howard Roark's committing the fraud of passing off his work as someone else's, then claiming that society had demanded something of him which it hadn't and then refused to pay him what was owed is one such moment, as is Frisco's not telling Dagny everything about the amazing new friends he had met at college, and his not doing everything possible to bring her into the circle and involve her (the love of his life) in the stopping of the motor of the world. That's pure Frisco running down the middle of the road being chased by a car. Actually, it's even worse than that -- it's more like Frisco trying to avoid being run over by a train by running down the middle of the track.

J

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He's terrified of taking responsibility, not Dagny's gun.

I agree, and as I said in my last post, a guard who is terrified of taking responsibility -- and blame -- and who is thinking that he would probably be knocked out and/or tied up if he chose to step out of Dagny's way would very quickly choose to step aside and be knocked out/tied up because doing so would be the easiest way to be absolved of responsibility and blame.

I agree the scene is poorly written. AS has a lot of poor writing. I think the meeting between Hank and Ragnar was very badly done. Incidentally, Hank was going to shoot the cop? More bad.

I think Rand was a great writer, but she definitely created some less-than-great moments in her novels. Howard Roark's committing the fraud of passing off his work as someone else's, then claiming that society had demanded something of him which it hadn't and then refused to pay him what was owed is one such moment, as is Frisco's not telling Dagny everything about the amazing new friends he had met at college, and his not doing everything possible to bring her into the circle and involve her (the love of his life) in the stopping of the motor of the world. That's pure Frisco running down the middle of the road being chased by a car. Actually, it's even worse than that -- it's more like Frisco trying to avoid being run over by a train by running down the middle of the track.

J

But without Frisco not telling Slug what was going on, AS would not have a plot set up to get the novel going. Every time you throw reality at AS it breaks down except for using it as a springboard for thinking not so much about the novel but the great issues of our day and lots of other stuff. First the novel must be taken as a work of art. Then as a work of philosophy. Then as a work of psychology. As we go down this list it becomes weaker then much weaker, but there it is still as a point of reference for serious thinking for all these things all the while the reader introspects, implicitly or explicitly, about who he or she is as a human being and as a human being in this society we are actually living in. And then there is Ayn Rand herself to think about respecting both her life and her art. Even when you don't understand her at all but think you do you are using her that way. This is all for the intellectually active, honest person. There is a whole culture, both left and right, that instinctively recoils from her and engages in gross misrepresentation and denigration and social metaphysical ridicule aimed at keeping her admirers' lips zipped and the uninitiated away altogether. The last has continually backfired for there is the good thing of human curiosity asserting itself.

--Brant

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So here's a clearer idea of what I meant. I believe Dagny acquired the capacity to feel profound indifference to another human being unless certain conditions were met. In other words, I don't believe she considered the guard she shot as human at all, not on a fundamental level, whereas earlier in the story she would have considered him as having some measure of intrinsic value, at least enough not to shoot him. Shooting him and shooting a wild animal were the same to her emotionally by the time she did it.

This was my impression as well.

Sometimes in her fiction Rand blurs the distinction between poetic justice and actual moral justice. An example would be the narrator’s interesting remarks on some of the passengers who are killed in the accident in the Taggart Tunnel.

Is there a difference beweeen "poetic justice" and fictional wish-fulfillment?

As you would expect, I’m delighted Rand wrote the scene as she did. Readers of Atlas know the connection of individual consciousness and human life in the philosophy being presented in that novel. For readers interested in Rand’s development of her philosophy, I should mention that the phrase “responsibility of consciousness” had also been used in Fountainhead.

Imo the problematic in this argumentation lies in that it can be transferred to all kinds of ideologies because the term "responsibility of consciousness" can be filled with the values of differring systems. To a Marxist for example, the responsibility of consciousness (they would call it "class-consciousness") would imply freeing the "proletarian masses" from the oppressive ruling class.

Let us, in a mental exercise, change the scene to a Marxist setting and put, instead of Galt, Lenin in there as the one held captive, and exchange Dagny and her friends for communist comrades wanting to free their leader.

Then imagine the communist woman having this dialogue with the guard asking him about his responsiblity of consciousness (the 'proper' class-consciousness according to the Marxist ideal) and then pulling the trigger ...

Edited by Xray

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So here's a clearer idea of what I meant. I believe Dagny acquired the capacity to feel profound indifference to another human being unless certain conditions were met. In other words, I don't believe she considered the guard she shot as human at all, not on a fundamental level, whereas earlier in the story she would have considered him as having some measure of intrinsic value, at least enough not to shoot him. Shooting him and shooting a wild animal were the same to her emotionally by the time she did it.

This was my impression as well.

Sometimes in her fiction Rand blurs the distinction between poetic justice and actual moral justice. An example would be the narrator’s interesting remarks on some of the passengers who are killed in the accident in the Taggart Tunnel.

Is there a difference beweeen "poetic justice" and fictional wish-fulfillment?

As you would expect, I’m delighted Rand wrote the scene as she did. Readers of Atlas know the connection of individual consciousness and human life in the philosophy being presented in that novel. For readers interested in Rand’s development of her philosophy, I should mention that the phrase “responsibility of consciousness” had also been used in Fountainhead.

Imo the problematic in this argumentation lies in that it can be transferred to all kinds of ideologies because the term "responsibility of consciousness" can be filled with the values of differring systems. To a Marxist for example, the responsibility of consciousness (they would call it "class- consciousness") would imply freeing the "proletarian masses" from the oppressive ruling class.

Let us, in a mental exercise, change the scene to a Marxist setting and put, instead of Galt, Lenin in there as the one held captive, and exchange Dagny and her friends for communist comrades wanting to free their leader.

Then imagine the communist woman having this dialogue with the guard asking him about his responsiblity of consciousness (the 'proper' class-consciousness according to the Marxist ideal) and then pulling the trigger ...

Women want original, provoking thought on perennially fascinating subjects.

Thanks X, Michael. Stephen et al for providing it here.

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Women want original, provoking thought on perennially fascinating subjects

.

Absolutely! :)

Edited by Xray

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> Women want original, provoking thought on perennially fascinating subjects. [Daunce]

> Absolutely! [Xray]

Damn, I'd forgotten what this thread was about.

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If anyone is interested in writing fiction and emulating Ayn Rand, I do hope this keep these kinds of scenes in mind.

The speeches in her fiction were merely one part, but that's the part I keep seeing newbies attempt. They need to learn how to tell basic stories first, then worry about doing complicated stuff.

Speeches are the weakest of all storytelling elements (things like plot, characterization, suspense, etc. are much stronger), so they need a lot of preparation to pull them off within the context of a story.

Scenes like Dagny shooting the guard might be poor in terms of linear speech-thinking (which is why I believe they always get a lot of traction in discussions), but they are great in terms of making an impact, sticking to your memory, exciting your emotions and so on. You can call a scene like that anything you want, but you can't call it boring.

And if a story is not boring, it's a good story right off the bat.

Michael

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Nathaniel Branden stated that Rand was capable of great empathy in a one on one situation--that she projected a great sense of your being psychologically visible to her.

--Brant

the woman was quite complex

Thank you, Brant; Good to know. I had not heard this before, though it's plain to see it in Rand, if one chooses to see.

Considering that my "one debater at least" is often quoting Nathaniel's Benefits and Hazards essay - coming from Branden himself, this may, just may, give that "one debater at least" pause for thought on Rand's empathy, or lack of. <_<

I always try to study the original source, so if Brant could give me link, TIA.

I scanned NB's 'Benefits and Hazards' article but could not find it there (I may have overlooked it).

If I recall correctly, Barbara Branden mentions a similar scenario in her book where she says that Rand could be very "empathetic" (I'm not sure if BB used this term) in certain situations with her disciples.

But the picture that forms in my mind when I imagine those situations is a bit different. I think it has less to do with empathy than with deeply exploring another person's mind and soul for both epistemological and metaphysical reasons, with Rand conveying to the disciple, also non-verbally, by an intense, warm, sympathetic look maybe (for she was not with an opponent of her philosophy, but with a follower), "I know why you feel as you do".

I think what NB call "psychologcally visible" is the feeling of personal appreciation a follower has when the admired philosopher finds him/her worthy of her "philosophical attention", so to speak.

When I put myself in a young follower's shoes and imagine me sitting on the couch next to Ayn Rand, with her charismatic, intense-looking eyes conveying to me she has reached right into the core of my very mind and soul - who would not feel elated and appreciated in this situation?

I believe what NB called "empathy" here was more a case of sympathy, of two minds being completely in sync over a common goal: establishing moral values they regard as "proper" to man, with Rand, being in the position of the philosophical mentor, giving the discicple the secure feeling that she has already discovered those values.

Aslo, it is fairly easy to feel empathetic (or better: "sympathetic") toward someone sharing one's own set of values. In dealing with dissent and disagreement, it is far more difficult to show empathy for the opponent's viewpoint. It looks like Ayn Rand had difficulty in dealing with disagreement, criticism and dissenting opinions, even when they came from her own followers.

To me, what indicates that Rand had problems with feeling empathy is for example the way she handled the affair between her and NB. I'm 100 % convinced that she really did not know that the arrangement made would hurt Barbara and Frank. For in her mind, it was a "rational" decision all parties had agreed on. And since per Objectvism's premises, rational decisions cannot have the effect of rational people psychologically suffering over them (in case people suffered, it would mean they are irrational), it shut the door, in Rand's mind, to thinking that BB and Frank could suffer.

The philosophical premises won over psychological insight here.

Edited by Xray

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I believe what NB called "empathy" here was more a case of sympathy, of two minds being completely in sync over a common goal: establishing moral values they regard as "proper" to man, with Rand, being in the position of the philosophical mentor, giving the discicple the secure feeling that she has already discovered those values.

Aslo, it is fairly easy to feel empathetic (or better: "sympathetic") toward someone sharing one's own set of values. In dealing with dissent and disagreement, it is far more difficult to show empathy for the opponent's viewpoint. It looks like Ayn Rand had difficulty in dealing with disagreement, criticism and dissenting opinions, even when they came from her own followers.

To me, what indicates that Rand had problems with feeling empathy is for example the way she handled the affair between her and NB. I'm 100 % convinced that she really did not know that the arrangement made would hurt Barbara and Frank. For in her mind, it was a "rational" decision all parties had agreed on. And since per Objectvism's premises, rational decisions cannot have the effect of rational people psychologically suffering over them (in case people suffered, it would mean they are irrational), it shut the door, in Rand's mind, to thinking that BB and Frank could suffer.

The philosophical premises won over psychological insight here.

Xray,

What can one say? :o

Presented with facts, you want to check their source (rightly), and you question the vocabulary of two *fairly* erudite writers who obviously can't tell the difference between 'empathy' and 'sympathy' and who also knew Rand *fairly* intimately.

Is there nothing you won't do to make your point: that Xray does not approve of Rand?

That Rand wasn't perfect is accepted by most here; the stretch to make her 'dragon lady', AND an unremarkable philosopher, is beyond anybody's ability.

You have a problem, that's clear. Are you on a Crusade to save Objectivists from themselves? Or do you, like many liberals and ex-religious, having given up on God, condemn high respect and admiration shown for another deserving HUMAN being?

We must all be forced to the same level - is that it?

Give it up, dear.

Tony

Edited by whYNOT

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Tony,

Have you read Barbara Branden's book The Passion of Ayn Rand and Nathaniel Branden's article "The Benefits and Hazards of the philosophy of Ayn Rand"?

Edited by Xray

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Tony,

Have you read Barbara Branden's book The Passion of Ayn Rand and Nathaniel Branden's article "The Benefits and Hazards of the philosophy of Ayn Rand"?

No. Yes.

I also read my tea-leaves this morning, and the future is plain:

I am going to be embroiled in a fruitless argument with someone from a cold, Northern clime where all is grey.

This person has a rigidly made-up mind, lacks any honorable intention, and argues sneakily and selectively.

Boredom and irritation will follow.

(Damn, I should consult my tea-leaves more often!)

Tony

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I also read my tea-leaves this morning, and the future is plain:

I am going to be embroiled in a fruitless argument with someone from a cold, Northern climate where all is grey.

This rules me out of course since I'm from a moderate climate zone where not all is grey. ;)

Tony,

Have you read Barbara Branden's book The Passion of Ayn Rand and Nathaniel Branden's article "The Benefits and Hazards of the philosophy of Ayn Rand"?

No. Yes.

Barbara's biography of Ayn Rand is a fascinating read, Tony, full of psychological insight.

Or do you, like many liberals and ex-religious, having given up on God, condemn high respect and admiration shown for another deserving HUMAN being?

We must all be forced to the same level - is that it?

The concept idea of everyone being forced to the same level seems to me the very opposite of liberal ideals. (?)

I'm neither pro-capitalist nor pro-communist btw. Nor am I associated to any specific philosphical school. I prefer practicing patchwork philosophy instead.

Edited by Xray

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Nathaniel Branden stated that Rand was capable of great empathy in a one on one situation--that she projected a great sense of your being psychologically visible to her.

--Brant

the woman was quite complex

Thank you, Brant; Good to know. I had not heard this before, though it's plain to see it in Rand, if one chooses to see.

Considering that my "one debater at least" is often quoting Nathaniel's Benefits and Hazards essay - coming from Branden himself, this may, just may, give that "one debater at least" pause for thought on Rand's empathy, or lack of. dry.gif

I always try to study the original source, so if Brant could give me link, TIA.

I scanned NB's 'Benefits and Hazards' article but could not find it there (I may have overlooked it).

If I recall correctly, Barbara Branden mentions a similar scenario in her book where she says that Rand could be very "empathetic" (I'm not sure if BB used this term) in certain situations with her disciples.

But the picture that forms in my mind when I imagine those situations is a bit different. I think it has less to do with empathy than with deeply exploring another person's mind and soul for both epistemological and metaphysical reasons, with Rand conveying to the disciple, also non-verbally, by an intense, warm, sympathetic look maybe (for she was not with an opponent of her philosophy, but with a follower), "I know why you feel as you do".

I think what NB call "psychologcally visible" is the feeling of personal appreciation a follower has when the admired philosopher finds him/her worthy of her "philosophical attention", so to speak.

When I put myself in a young follower's shoes and imagine me sitting on the couch next to Ayn Rand, with her charismatic, intense-looking eyes conveying to me she has reached right into the core of my very mind and soul - who would not feel elated and appreciated in this situation?

I believe what NB called "empathy" here was more a case of sympathy, of two minds being completely in sync over a common goal: establishing moral values they regard as "proper" to man, with Rand, being in the position of the philosophical mentor, giving the discicple the secure feeling that she has already discovered those values.

Aslo, it is fairly easy to feel empathetic (or better: "sympathetic") toward someone sharing one's own set of values. In dealing with dissent and disagreement, it is far more difficult to show empathy for the opponent's viewpoint. It looks like Ayn Rand had difficulty in dealing with disagreement, criticism and dissenting opinions, even when they came from her own followers.

To me, what indicates that Rand had problems with feeling empathy is for example the way she handled the affair between her and NB. I'm 100 % convinced that she really did not know that the arrangement made would hurt Barbara and Frank. For in her mind, it was a "rational" decision all parties had agreed on. And since per Objectvism's premises, rational decisions cannot have the effect of rational people psychologically suffering over them (in case people suffered, it would mean they are irrational), it shut the door, in Rand's mind, to thinking that BB and Frank could suffer.

The philosophical premises won over psychological insight here.

Sorry; I can't provide the reference. It might be in his memoirs.

--Brant

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From what I know, the vast majority of libertarians and especially Objectivists are male.

It could be due to women internalizing the usual "women are meant to be emotional and sensitive, how DARE women be rational!" conditioning they get as kids. Feminism to SOME extent has lessened this, but then some feminists went crazy and started advocating that women should reject reason because reason is 'male' and 'linear' (and hence 'phallic'). So there's still quite a lot of "being rational is being a traitor to your femininity" conditioning going on these days.

From what I've read, that kind of conditioning gave Rand herself a case of gender issues and she developed her bodice-ripper-sex fetish as a way of reclaiming femininity for herself.

I don't think its fair to say "women hate freedom" - after all the modern libertarian movement is essentially the product of three women (Lane, Rand and Paterson).

Crazy-psycho-misandrist feminist Carol Gilligan argues that men are driven by an ethic of "rights and justice" and women are driven by an ethic of "care" (i.e. collectivism, emotionalism and other assorted crap). However, besides the fact that's empirically false, it doesn't explain why so many collectivist philosophers have been men. So I think the Gilligan hypothesis can be safely thrown out as a plausible explanation.

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studiodekadent,

That's a good overview.

I'd be interested to see you tie this (female 'conditioning', the reason/caring false dichotomy, misandry) into your previous thoughts and essay on Alienation.

Should be plenty of material for you to enlarge upon here...

Tony

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Xray! Girlfriend, did you see the latest Forbes magazine? There is a coded message in there for us - your shrewd identification of McDuck - it all fits. We have been discouraged, we have been downhearted, but I feel we have now been told we are on the right path. The Secret Billionaire is among us. It could be Jimmy Wales, or maybe Glenn Beck while he's between jobs, or maybe even George H. Smith in his brilliant disguise of poor but honest scholar. We must re-perk our antennae and take at the flood that which leads on to fortune.

Yours in mutual selfishness,

Carol

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> The Secret Billionaire is among us.

There is no secret billionaire among us. That's a ruse of MSK to spark flagging site interest and keep traffic and speculation flowing. (We do, however, have the cream of the objectivistmovement who are staying one step ahead of the law and bankruptcy court and trailer repossession.)

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Actually, I think the secret billionaire thing is Carol's invention, not MSK or me... but if there is indeed a secret billionaire here on OL, kindly push the donate button at the bottom of the page and show us some love!

Kat

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