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Objectivism and Stoicism

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Interesting also - the screenwriters were blacklistees who could not be credited, the scorer composer Malcolm Arnold was a conchie who nevertheless volunteered for combat after his brother got killed, then shot himself in the foot to avoid it. The director wanted Charles Laughton for the Guinness role, but CL decided his health would not stand the heat of Sri Lanka . Lean also was reported to say "I hate British actors" and way preferred directing William Holden.

Typical recipe for a classic work of cinematic art.

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Adam, re #17,

I have some remarks on the Stanford entry for Rand here.

Angela, re #20,

Yes, the passion of Rand’s Atlas protagonists and the integration of their feelings with their reason and rational convictions are signature with Rand. But so is her stress in that work and beyond that emotions are not tools of cognition and that defiance of that circumstance is dangerous. This doctrine brings to mind Plato (just as Roark brings to mind Republic*), but also Spinoza. In her 1959 edit of We the Living, Rand takes Kant quotes out of Leo's repertoire and replaces them with Spinoza quotes. In some essay, she praised Spinoza’s dedication to the pursuit of truth.* Spinoza was an egoist, and though his differs from Rand’s, she could warm to that in his philosophy. Besides the rule of reason over the passions, another doctrine Spinoza shared with the Stoics was very distinctive of them: determinism. That doctrine is a glaring difference between Rand on the one hand and the Stoics and Spinoza on the other.

On Spinoza and the Stoics, see here. There is also the collection Hellenistic and Early Modern Philosophy (2003), which includes much on Spinoza and the Stoics.

On the empirical epistemology of Stoicism, contra skepticism, and on Stoic philosophy more generally, see pages 5–14, 37–39, of David Potts’ essay in Objectivity here.

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Adam, re #17,

I have some remarks on the Stanford entry for Rand here.

Angela, re #20,

Yes, the passion of Rand’s Atlas protagonists and the integration of their feelings with their reason and rational convictions are signature with Rand. But so is her stress in that work and beyond that emotions are not tools of cognition and that defiance of that circumstance is dangerous. This doctrine brings to mind Plato (just as Roark brings to mind Republic*), but also Spinoza. In her 1959 edit of We the Living, Rand takes Kant quotes out of Leo's repertoire and replaces them with Spinoza quotes. In some essay, she praised Spinoza’s dedication to the pursuit of truth.* Spinoza was an egoist, and though his differs from Rand’s, she could warm to that in his philosophy. Besides the rule of reason over the passions, another doctrine Spinoza shared with the Stoics was very distinctive of them: determinism. That doctrine is a glaring difference between Rand on the one hand and the Stoics and Spinoza on the other.

On Spinoza and the Stoics, see here. There is also the collection Hellenistic and Early Modern Philosophy (2003), which includes much on Spinoza and the Stoics.

On the empirical epistemology of Stoicism, contra skepticism, and on Stoic philosophy more generally, see pages 5–14, 37–39, of David Potts’ essay in Objectivity here.

I have given some of these articles a spin and must confess that I find Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus far more interesting than the academic experts who discuss Stoicism. Just like Rand is more interesting than Peikoff, I suppose.

So, with due regard for the fact that I am punching out of my weight class right now, I would recommend that an Objectivish-type interested in the Stoics go directly to the sources, so to speak.

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So, with due regard for the fact that I am punching out of my weight class right now, I would recommend that an Objectivish-type interested in the Stoics go directly to the sources, so to speak.

Look unto the Rock from which you were hewn.

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So, with due regard for the fact that I am punching out of my weight class right now, I would recommend that an Objectivish-type interested in the Stoics go directly to the sources, so to speak.

Look unto the Rock from which you were hewn.

In my case, some would say better to look under that Rock. :laugh:

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I would like to start a discussion of this topic.

I have been reading a number of Stoic classics of late, and even labored through Wolfe's A Man in Full, which is enough to make anybody indifferent about death, or at least willing to contemplate suicide. :laugh:

I suspect some of OL's posters would find a lot to agree with when it comes to Stoicism. Any thoughts?

But a major characteristic of Rand was her passion. She was passionate about her ideals, passionate in her persoal relationships. Her own passion is also reflected in her fictional heroes and heroines - they too are very passionate.

As for the stoic attitude toward passion: isn't it very different from Ayn Rand's philosophy?

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Passion seems to be a major area of divergence. Epictetus, at least, considered passion, including erotic passion, an impediment to true happiness and reason, as it "distorted virtue". Rand reconciled passion with reason as an expression of an individual's highest virtues (with mixed results as we know).

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Jmpo, but John Galt's flaming speech in AS, with its damning indictment of all those who don't have the 'proper' values sounds anything but stoic to me.

I read a bit of Marcus Aurelius meditations in my teenage years, and what sticks in my mind was an attitude of forgiveness, of generousness toward the weaknesses of his fellow men.

Imo Rand was more a person who attacked these weaknesses. AS is about fighting against those who have the wrong ideology and evil character, and human weakness is not to be forgiven either. Weakness in any way, shape or form is what the AS heroes fight against, it is the flaw that many of their enemies have, another root of all evil, so to speak .

Marcus Aurelius fulfilled all his duties as a Roman emperor, like fighting wars to protect the frontier of the Empire, and at night, he often he sat there, in the various camps, writing his meditations ...

As for Ayn Rand, who never considered anything she did as her duty, she too sat there at night, driven by a strong fighting spirit, creating Atlas Shrugged, the book which was to become her magnum opus.

Both Marcus Aurelius Meditations and Ayn Rand Atlas Shrugged are still widely read today. Each opus reflects the author's highest values, but the as for values themselves, imo they differ a lot from each other.

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The Meditations by Marcus Aurelius is a wonderful work to browse for nuggets of wisdom. When I lived Stateside and taught high school history and philosophy, I had a great quote of his attached off to the side of my desk, something I read every morning before students arrived. (I have temporarily misplaced my copy here, so I won’t try reciting it from my aged memory; maybe later.) The quote had to do with living with dignity, effectiveness, and benevolent tolerance as a true “man”/human amongst others who may vex us and try our patience (surely of importance to a teacher of many public school rapscallions!). It gave me a rational perspective on myself, my students, and our common connections as learners all. I also incorporated Aurelius into my philosophy course. He is an intellectual hero, a treasure of the Western heritage, as well as of the entire human heritage.

An important connection between Stoicism and Objectivism and libertarianism is the tradition of natural law/ natural rights. Some roots of these concepts seem to trace directly back to the Stoics. Stoicism came directly after an immense Western world shake-up – i.e., the conquest by Alexander of the entire Persian Empire, which conquest then connected the old “Hellenic” Greek culture with new exotic cultures to the East in direct trade of both goods and ideas.

This new mix of cultures inspired some Greeks to discontinue the old practice of calling all non-Greeks “barbarians,” who cannot be understood. They saw some common (“universal”) traits among all people in this newly connected Hellenistic world mix. I.e., we may all speak different languages, dress differently, observe different religious or philosophical pathways, etc., but we are very much the same in so many fundamental ways as humans.

I strongly suspect that the newly opened commercial trade with these foreigners helped create a concept of basic human equality, since trading value for value is the essence of civilized and human interaction. The Stoics conceived of this newly expanded world as a “cosmopolis” (a “universal city of man,” with a related concept of the "universal brotherhood of man"). It follows that if we are all basically so similar, able to trade and interact as equals, we should all be treated with equal dignity and equal freedom, and we should be tolerated as long as we treat each other with equal tolerance.

We can trace these ideas through such later ancients as the very influential Roman Stoic, Cicero, who was on the recommended shortlists of many of America’s Founding Fathers as required reading for the understanding of Liberty by future American generations. Natural Law and Natural Rights: squarely in the Objectivist tradition, with a noble history.

More recent research may supersede my above suggestions, but this is my sense of it at this point.

-Ross Barlow.

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It's a good topic to rediscover. I haven't hardly read any of Aurelius or much on stoicism as philosophy. It's just that what I perceive as 'psychological stoicism' seems to me implied all through Rand's writings, as well as her life. What of value is gained without self-disciplined effort? Or, quite often, without taking an unpopular stance which earns one the majority's hostility or mockery? And so on. Implicitly, we understand living requires a stoical mindset.

I think a previous post #33 is off target. If accurate, it defines one aspect of a stoic as having "...generousness to the weaknesses of his fellow men" -- as contrasted with Rand's uncompromising condemnations of 'evil' (in AS). But what, above all, was Rand defending, if not all life, and the good?

The good doesn't survive without the strong. Or principles, without firmness. Or values without virtue. One's nobler emotions are protected and sustained by his rational and judging mind, in the individual. So, I think, with society. If it's not attained in oneself, it must involve escaping and loading the responsibility on a relatively few known, or anonymous others. And those who insist on this as an obligation from the 'stronger' members, take it as given, that the strong shall protect the weak. Perhaps then, some may even reward those individuals with vocal admiration for their "stoicism" ... i.e. their self-sacrifice.

Here, this rendition of stoicism -- in tolerating or taking the "weaknesses of fellow men" upon one's own shoulders (with the eventual outcome of such a person resenting or loathing one's fellow men) runs exactly counter to Objectivism. This isn't benevolence: such stoicism kills the possibility of benevolence.

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Speaking of what is a man, I just watched Bridge on the River Kwai for only the second time, although I had the impression I had seen it many times over. It is that kind of movie I guess. It came out in 1957, I know Ayn Rand was pretty busy that year but I wonder if she saw it and what she thought of it.

In The Imitation Game thread I mention Bridge on the River Kwai as an example of a movie that is historically inaccurate but great nonetheless. It would be hard to imagine Rand not having seen Bridge, as she named Alec Guinness her favorite film actor.

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Speaking of what is a man, I just watched Bridge on the River Kwai for only the second time, although I had the impression I had seen it many times over. It is that kind of movie I guess. It came out in 1957, I know Ayn Rand was pretty busy that year but I wonder if she saw it and what she thought of it.

In The Imitation Game thread I mention Bridge on the River Kwai as an example of a movie that is historically inaccurate but great nonetheless. It would be hard to imagine Rand not having seen Bridge, as she named Alec Guinness her favorite film actor.

The Atlas Society's Top Hundred has it listed under Great Moral Conflicts:

Great Moral Conflicts

The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

http://www.atlassociety.org/100-film-classics

Great Moral Conflicts

The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

Not surprising that they do not have a listing of comedies.

It attests to the lack of a sense of humor that runs, hell it practically gallops, in Objectivist circles.

A...

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So true. Truth, justice and th Randian Way have not historically conduced to comedy, although that is what life is to the Man Who Thinks, as the sage said. I haven,t read The Man Who Laughs. I am however

a big Fan of La Vache qui Rit.

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Ayn Rand's favorite comedian was Prof. Irwin Corey. That being as it may, I am creating a new thread…

As for Stoicism: Yes,much of Stoicism prefigures Objectivism, but so does much else in Greek philosophy. Ayn Rand had harsh words for Parmenides, but he began with "whatever is, is." In its time, Stoicism was opposed to Epicureanism. However, that, too, prefigures Objectivist truths. Note, of course, that Epicureanism does not mean our simplistic and modern pursuit of good food. My favorite among the ancients were the Cyreniacs, especially Aristippos the Elder.

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Ayn Rand's favorite comedian was Prof. Irwin Corey. That being as it may, I am creating a new thread…

As for Stoicism: Yes,much of Stoicism prefigures Objectivism, but so does much else in Greek philosophy. Ayn Rand had harsh words for Parmenides, but he began with "whatever is, is." In its time, Stoicism was opposed to Epicureanism. However, that, too, prefigures Objectivist truths. Note, of course, that Epicureanism does not mean our simplistic and modern pursuit of good food. My favorite among the ancients were the Cyreniacs, especially Aristippos the Elder.

MEM:

I agree with you re the Epicureans. In fact, having just read a couple of books related to them (The Swerve and Nature's God (the latter is highly recommended, btw)) I would dare say the Epicureans have more Objectivist things to say to us than the Stoics.

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