Nerian

Arbitrary desires and pursuing pleasure

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43 minutes ago, anthony said:

I think one has to adjust the heroic aspect of man with a mental shift from its traditional and ancient meaning, of looking for and looking up, in admiration, at a sterling man(woman) -- for all the inspirational affirmation that does bring. It becomes all very Platonist, removed from reality, maybe tending to the second-handed. It's 'an image' of man (in fact, or fiction and art) one needs to know exists and can exist, but is not the purpose of the 'heroic' in Objectivism. Of highest priority is to make and see the hero in your own self, an 'ordinary' individual doing the 'ordinary' things of living - which are anything but ordinary, imitative and conventional - taking in reality, thinking, making the choices, following through with the actions and keeping to your principles.

I admire all that in a statue which is the dynamic rendered static. Real people shape shift for the dynamic stays dynamic. Of course many people are admirable for their integrity and competence and the heroic things they do, but don't latch onto them for the more you do the less you are you. Rand kept throwing people out with their bath water not appreciating the gesture in return. As for the hero in your own self--okay. Why would you think of it except as a falling short point of reference so you know to gin it up?

--Brant

gotta go out and gin--back in 12 hours

 

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8 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

I admire all that in a statue which is the dynamic rendered static. Real people shape shift for the dynamic stays dynamic. Of course many people are admirable for their integrity and competence and the heroic things they do, but don't latch onto them for the more you do the less you are you. Rand kept throwing people out with their bath water not appreciating the gesture in return. As for the hero in your own self--okay. Why would you think of it except as a falling short point of reference so you know to gin it up?

--Brant

gotta go out and gin--back in 12 hours

 

True, "the image" art gives us is mighty important. To what or to whose purpose? Yours.

"Falling short" and "ginning up", I tentatively agree with. "A man's reach..." - and all that. How far short - however?

Not originally mine of course, but Rand's view: to confirm the hero in men. I am simply arguing to do so, means mentally 'closing the gap' between heroism - captured forever in a statue, say ("the dynamic rendered static", nice) - and the reality of who and what actually exists around us (and in oneself) and which is eminently *possible*. Otherwise, I think heroism in real life and in art becomes seen as a perfect, intrinsic ideal, unattainable (or intimidating) to we ordinary men; or more popularly, heroism in a publicized act of sheer courage by some individual, that most of us won't even get an opportunity to carry out: As consequence, some will give up in disappointment for falling too short. The hero in oneself don't come easy and automatically. That's the other side of the gap, the mental effort and integrity one all alone has to make and have. In others too, one also must recognise there are countless heroic struggles and small victories quietly going on within the consciousness of "ordinary men" unseen by the rest of us. Results are all we see, and it is too easy to take these lightly and for granted, lost in the mass of results and more visible, dramatic instances .

Not new to anybody but worth repeating, is that the Galt and Dagny and Roark representations of heroic individuals are the method by which a novelist could personify her concepts in action, and 'show' ideas rather than 'tell' them - final analysis, it's their portrayed character virtues - in concepts - one most needs to take away. Their literary concretization just makes it easier to fix and hold for recall and inspiration. E.g.: Could I or anyone 'live up to' Roark's "image" (not to mention Galt!) - and do I want to? No ... and also yes - in my own way, I can. As can/have you and many others, not only Objectivists.

It's seemed to me that literalization of those fictional images is one source of rationalism - (and sometimes frustration or disillusion?).

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13 hours ago, anthony said:

True, "the image" art gives us is mighty important. To what or to whose purpose? Yours.

"Falling short" and "ginning up", I tentatively agree with. "A man's reach..." - and all that. How far short - however?

Not originally mine of course, but Rand's view: to confirm the hero in men. I am simply arguing to do so, means mentally 'closing the gap' between heroism - captured forever in a statue, say ("the dynamic rendered static", nice) - and the reality of who and what actually exists around us (and in oneself) and which is eminently *possible*. Otherwise, I think heroism in real life and in art becomes seen as a perfect, intrinsic ideal, unattainable (or intimidating) to we ordinary men; or more popularly, heroism in a publicized act of sheer courage by some individual, that most of us won't even get an opportunity to carry out: As consequence, some will give up in disappointment for falling too short. The hero in oneself don't come easy and automatically. That's the other side of the gap, the mental effort and integrity one all alone has to make and have. In others too, one also must recognise there are countless heroic struggles and small victories quietly going on within the consciousness of "ordinary men" unseen by the rest of us. Results are all we see, and it is too easy to take these lightly and for granted, lost in the mass of results and more visible, dramatic instances .

Not new to anybody but worth repeating, is that the Galt and Dagny and Roark representations of heroic individuals are the method by which a novelist could personify her concepts in action, and 'show' ideas rather than 'tell' them - final analysis, it's their portrayed character virtues - in concepts - one most needs to take away. Their literary concretization just makes it easier to fix and hold for recall and inspiration. E.g.: Could I or anyone 'live up to' Roark's "image" (not to mention Galt!) - and do I want to? No ... and also yes - in my own way, I can. As can/have you and many others, not only Objectivists.

It's seemed to me that literalization of those fictional images is one source of rationalism - (and sometimes frustration or disillusion?).

Hero is as hero does. And in matters large and small. It all adds up.

--Brant

I see it every day

you have to be ready--but I long for the quiet heart

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On 2017/01/25 at 0:25 AM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Tony,

Wise words.

Pleasure without some kind of view where you fit in within existence and life in general (a conviction, a belief, or at least an opinion about the meaning of life) does lead to bad places over time--the biggest is boredom. Existential boredom. Sometimes suicide.

There are suicide stats in a book I just read on "meaning." People devoted mostly to pleasure have a far higher rate of suicide than people who live within core stories (philosophies or religions) where they--as individuals--can play a heroic role and matter to those around them.

The four pillars of meaning, according to this book, are:
1. Belonging
2. Purpose
3. Storytelling
4. Transcendence

For people who follow Objectivism, they get a sense of belonging to something bigger by being part of an enlightened elite (although they bicker like cats in heat about who controls the group and what the criteria for belonging are--especially the fundies :) ), their purpose is to live their lives according to reason in a manner to attain maximum moral potential (Rand called this striving for "moral perfection") and, also, improve the lot of other humans (after all, they produce to sell to whom on the market if not other people? :) -- in O-Land this improvement of others is through practicing laissez-faire capitalism), they are heroes in the stories of their lives and their overall core story (Rand even said "man is an heroic being"), and they seek transcendence in using Rand's heroes or other similar people as role models to imitate and guide them to become better versions of themselves (Rand called this a "command to rise").

I speak from not only looking at Rand's words for a long time, but also from observing how O-Land people act online from my position of relatively small prominence.

Pleasure to folks following Objectivism fall under this, not above it. They are not guided by hedonic pleasure alone. To pretend otherwise is to misidentify what people are doing. They seek meaning, not just pleasure (or even happiness). All one has to do to see this is just look at them.

It's that old mental process I refer to over and over. If one doesn't identify something correctly, one can't evaluate it correctly. And the best way to evaluate what happens in the Objectivist world is to look at the words in the philosophy, but also at what people do (how they behave and what they say) who claim to adopt these ideas. If one doesn't look, one can't see, so to speak.

btw - The book I refer to is The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life That Matters by Emily Esfahani Smith written and published just recently (2017). She extols serving others as an end in itself waaaaaaay too much for my taste, but it's easy to step around it like I just did above. (Happiness and meaning are not either-or. We need both, although for some damn reason, people--especially pro-altruist people--keep trying to frame this as either-or and talk about self-abnegation and crap like that.) There is a lot of empirical evidence on the psychological benefits of feeling like one matters to others, though. She produces a good discussion of modern research on meaning in positive psychology and some neuroscience.

In short, trying to put pleasure in the place of meaning is like trying to make the heart work like the liver. Without both, you don't fare too well in life. :) 

Michael

Good thoughts.

I wonder if 'we' - in an odd turnabout - don't always give Rand enough credit. I admit I didn't always. ;) Simply, taking her work for granted? Become a little bored by repetition?

I've come to think now, the right way to have approached her philosophy was to initially accept she knew what she was talking about. That is, give her her just dues. Not to take her blindly at every word, of course, but to assess that here was a mind which could see a lot more from her mountain top about existence, the mind and the human condition than one's own experience and mind (that far) might have revealed. When later, one's experience, observations and thinking begin to catch up a bit (due to her help) one might even see the folly in doubting her word. (Perhaps this was just me). There is a huge dichotomy between blind faith and doubting rejection.

Right, one does not try to fit life and living to the philosophy - that's all wrong. One must first learn (by trial and error, by its continuous usage and integration) to discover if Objectivism fits life, bottom up. It's clear now that in a two-way flow, practice accelerates learning the theory and theory enhances the practice. Notwithstanding their invaluable explorations, O'ism is more than an arms-length, arm chair philosophy for academics or for erudite debate - it's a tool which demands to be ~applied~, to be appreciated and understood. And when sometimes fact and theory don't correspond, one has to stop and go back to basics to find the contradiction. For me much of the time, and I notice in others, the trouble lay in misinterpretation of the philosophy, sometimes in poor identification of the facts, some times over hasty evaluation and 'moralizing'..

You've made some connections between Randian and others' thinking which you show, if considered properly, quite correspond with Objectivism and don't contradict it in theory or consequences. I think while coming from other angles they have merit on some hierarchical level, as is often the case with reading many honestly searching thinkers. And maybe when wrong in conclusion or method, it gives one something further to usefully integrate or compare.

I fully agree with your thrust, we can and will (and in context, ought to) contribute to others' lives at no sacrifice, often just for the pleasure of the action and appreciation and interest in the other's existence and betterment. It is how men are supposed to be ... until it was distorted into a 'morality' and became pressured upon us without individually-perceived value and independent choice in the matter. The compulsion to do this has naturally withered people's minds and estranged people from other people. As we can see.

It's not only in Capitalism and its honest clarity of value-trade with others that one can find selfish, mutual benefit.

We know there is "spiritual trade" (mind for mind) within that and outside, but I think if fully considered outside of idea/material exchange, properly egoistic, spiritual trade will seldom be an equal "trade". In the moment and with some person an 'even' exchange is hardly possible in reality, and shouldn't be expected. It is oneself one brings to every party, and you are rationally selfish not for direct reciprocal gain from someone, but for your sake. The long run has to be kept in mind: What or whom doesn't bring one 'down' - exhausting one's time and energy, or emotionally, materially, intellectually - by increments and quite imperceptibly builds one ~and others around one~ up. While those who are drains on one's personal resources have to be identified and avoided for self-preservation.

Yep, one can find meaning and pursue one's happiness simultaneously. Meaning and purpose are man's prerequisite for happiness, above all, and if that's not Objectivism, what is?

I see I went on somewhat, unusually. Heh.

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