Recommended Posts

shortcut.jpg

The purpose of your life is to enjoy it! Whenever I say that, someone always asks, "how do you know that is the purpose of your life?"

Here's the deal. This article is about achieving success as a human being. The statement is not a profound philosophical explanation of, "the meaning of life," or anything like that. It simply means that the purpose of life cannot be to suffer and die.

I know there are some people who really believe life is meant to be endured, almost as a kind of punishment. For those with such ascetic views I have nothing to say. If one's ideal is suffering, no instructions are required. Suffering, failure, and regret require no special effort. If you don't do anything to make your life a success, suffering and failure will certainly be yours.

Most people do not want to suffer, they want to enjoy their lives, to succeed and be as happy as they possibly can. This article is for them.

No Short Cuts

No one wants to be unhappy. People want to enjoy a life that is both fulfilled and successful; they want to be the best person they can be. That's what they want but few know how to achieve it.

The truth is, that kind of life is available to anyone, but it is not an easy life. One's own success and happiness is the most valuable thing one can possibly achieve, but it is also the most difficult thing one will ever do. Though most people want a life of success and happiness most are unwilling to pay the price to have it. Instead they are led astray from the true pursuit of success and happiness, seeking an easier way.

But there is no easier way.

On the path to success and happiness there are no shortcuts. On the contrary, every promised quick answer, easy solution, and "secret" method to what you desire is a detour that will take you off the road to success, in some cases, permanently. This article will help you identify the kind deceptions meant to lure you off your course.

Secret Keys, Instant Solutions, And Life Transforming Miracles

Success and happiness are possible to anyone willing to do what is required to achieve that kind of life, but it takes a lifetime of effort and dedication to the most important thing in life, making one's life the best it can possibly be.

That kind of life is not easy, however, and most people are willing to believe anything that promises them an easier way to the kind of life they desire and whole industries have grown up to provide those kinds of promises.

One of the most successful of those industries with no other purpose than to sell people "products" promising them everything they believe they want is called the motivational-training and personal-development industry.

I call it the short-cut-to-success-and-happiness industry, which consists of everything from books, to personal counselors and trainers, to classes, programs, and seminars that promise everything from instant success to total transformation—and every one of them is scam.

[NOTE: All the links that follow are provided only to verify that I have not made up or exaggerated the kind of promises and claims made by those in these kinds of industry. The example of books and companies are not meant to denigrate them. Obviously many individuals believe they find value in such things and the publishers and producers of these products are often sincere. Nevertheless, the true value of such things must be determined by each individual. It is doubtful that a moral individual will find these products of any real value.]

Short-Cut Promises

There are thousands of books, hundreds of blogs and personal-development sites, individuals, and companies promising short cuts to almost every kind of success. There are some books, sites and individuals who do provide some practical information and principles, especially in very specific fields that might be useful to some, but most of these individuals and organizations make outrageous claims and impossible promises.

There is an old saying, if something seems too good to be true, it is. If you look at the claims made by those who promise short-cuts to success, they are all too good to be true.

Please notice what the books making these promises have in common:

They are all gimmicks—collections of "easy to learn" and "easy to implement" methods or tricks that guarantee success, happiness, wealth, love, or anything else one might want. Just learn these secrets, discover these pillars of wisdom, develop these habits, or implement these keys and everything you've ever wanted, or wanted to be, is yours.

Some of these books probably have some practical ideas of possible value, but the implied promises are just not true. There is no trick, gimmick, or secret to a successful life. What one needs to know and the things one must do to achieve any of the things these books promise take a great deal of time and effort both to learn and implement. If you expect the kind of success or happiness these books promise by the simple route they promise you will not only be disappointed, you will have wasted time and effort and emotional investment that you could have used in an honest pursuit that which is worth living for.

There are people who are enormously successful in every area of success promised by these books. You can be certain non of those who are successful in any of those fields read a book of secrets on one weekend and became fabulously successful the next.

Big Business

The motivational-training and personal-development industry is big business, lucrative and influential.

The products of these business is a kind of snake-oil. The snake-oil salesman's products of the past promised to cure everything but actually accomplished nothing except to line the pockets of the salesmen. The promises of the motivational-training and personal-development hawkers also promise to cure every problem and provide instant success in every aspect of life but actually solve no problems and provide lots of empty and useless methods and strategies which are often very dangerous. Here is a principle, whenever something as presented as the answer or solution to everything, it is always the answer or solution to nothing.

Here are some modern snake-oil companies:

 

  • Ziglar "Let Ziglar change your life!" is the promise with their "Life Changing Program," and you will, "Be happier, healthier, more prosperous, more secure, and ... have more friends, better family relationships, peace of mind, and hope in the future."

     

  • Optimal Thinking Provides, "Motivational Seminars & Professional Development Workshops," that promise: Peak Performance, Leadership Skills, Optimize Time Management, Communication Skills, Optimal Supervisor Skills, Critical Thinking, and Innovation." None of these can be learned in seminar and some of them are seriously questionable concepts, like 'leadership," and, "Critical Thinking."

     

  • Core Excellence provides training in everything related to business personnel. It's primary promise is, "to help our clients achieve Organization Excellence through hr training and development, good governance & training management." Let them train your personnel and your company will be "excellent," and succeed.

     

  • 2017 Top Leadership Training Companies lists 20 companies providing training to business that promises to turn every employee into powerful, innovative, charismatic leaders. You can examine them for yourself. (No one seems to wonder, if they're all leaders, who are the followers.)

     

  • PSI provides seminars that teach you to "Attract and Achieve The Wealth, Peace of Mind, Relationships, Spiritual Connection and Health You Desire!" The seminars are only $795 and either four days or five days (three days and an evening or four days and an evening). That one can be made into a total success in only four days and less than $800 is truly miraculous.)

     

  • Landmark Worldwide promises to teach you how to, "Live an Extraordinary Life," and to, "Redefine What's Possible."

    "The Landmark Forum is designed to bring about positive, permanent shifts in the quality of your life—in just three days. These shifts are the direct cause for a new and unique kind of freedom and power—the freedom to be at ease and the power to be effective in the areas that matter most to you: the quality of your relationships, the confidence with which you live your life, your personal productivity, your experience of the difference you make, your enjoyment of life."

    The three-day forums are only $625 to $795, depending on location, and your whole life will be changed.

    [NOTE: Life transforming events are possible, but they are seldom positive changes. An accident that causes permanent physical injury or a tragedy that causes extreme loss of property or loss of a loved one for example. But positive changes also occur rarely when some traumatic event makes one realize the course of their life is wrong. These are extreme exceptions and cannot be achieved in a three-day seminar.]

    The older article, "The Secret Key To Everything," discusses some of the wrong things Landmark Worldwide promotes.

     

  • Franklin Covey is not only the author of, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, but the founder of a huge personal development company. In 2011 I wrote "The Covey Coven." which exposes the very bad things taught and promoted by the Covey enterprises.

     

  • Edward de Bono, whose home page says, "Learn more about the life of Dr. de Bono, his books, his ideas and the courses that can improve the way you think by training your brain for success," has been promoting his disastrous views of the mind and thinking since the 1960s. He has been fabulously successful in spite of the fact what he teaches is totally without basis and frequently contradicts basic science and technology. I wrote the article, "The de Bono Brothers," in 2011 exposing the entire scam.

     

Other Short Cuts

There are other forms of supposed short cuts to success and happiness.

One is based on the ideas that every individual is born with a certain type of personality and to be successful in life one must learn what kind of personality they have and conform their life to that kind of personality. One of the most ancient forms of this superstitions are horoscopes, a superstition that persists to this day.

Perhaps the most famous is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) organization. The two essential problems with the whole false, "personality type," hypothesis is that it denies the volitional nature of every human being and the fact that every individual is a unique human being—every human being is a unique type and the only one of that type.

The article, "Myers-Briggs Type Indicator," discusses everything that is wrong with the whole personality type delusion.

Most religions are also forms of the short-cut method to success and happiness, a theme covered in the satiric article, "Religion."

Discernment

One should be cautious of any promise of anything that seems exceptionally good, easy, or cheap, or powerful. There are certain characteristics of things that seem too-good-to-be-true. The following is a list of such characteristics and what to look for.

 

  • Secret or insider information that is only available to a select or limited number of insiders or specially initiated individuals is called esoteric knowledge. When knowledge is described that way it is either useless (unless you are member of some secret lodge or club) or phony. Real knowledge is difficult, but it is not hidden or secret. Anyone can learn it and it is available everywhere.

    Some knowledge is extremely difficult to learn and understand and takes huge amounts of dedication and effort to master. Such knowledge is not, esoteric, it is recondite (which simply mean very difficult and only capable of being mastered by a willing few).

     

  • Secret or hidden or unrevealed information or knowledge is another deceptive promise. The only secret about this kind of information is that the seller of it makes money from all the suckers who buy it. Nothing is a "secret," if it's available to anyone who will pay for it.

     

  • Exclusively from an authority, expert, or guru and available from no other source is how much success-snake-oil is advertised. Real knowledge does not require an expert, an authority, or guru to explain it. It can help sometimes if a subject is very complex, like the Calculus or organic chemistry, if there is someone who knows the subject well to help explain the more difficult aspects of the subject, but there is never just one such informed teacher. If there is only one teacher, what is being taught is surely made-up nonsense.

     

  • The answer to everything is a certain sign that whatever is being offered is either much less than advertised or worthless. Nothing is the answer to everything—a cure for every disease or an answer to every problem, a sure method to wealth, popularity, creativity, success, happiness or anything else. There is only one way to anything of real value in this world and it is called productive effort.

     

  • Infallible and cannot fail, just follow these six easy steps, do these four exercises every day, hold these secret thoughts in your head, listen to the CDs or watch the videos, and whatever you desire will come to you without fail. Sure! There is even a money-back guarantee.

     

  • Quick, easy, simple, effortless. Learn a language in three days, become an expert on anything (just name it) by taking this course, or seminar, or using our training CDs. Nothing of real permanent value is easy, nothing worth accomplishing can be done quickly, no real knowledge is simple, and absolutely nothing worthwhile can be done effortlessly. The worst things in life are free: poverty, disease, and ignorance are easy and effortless. Everything of value requires learning, planning, time, and effort.

     

  • Huge rewards for tiny investment, like having a transformed life or total success from reading one book, attending a three-hour, three-day, or three-week seminar. No real knowledge can be learned in a few hours, or days, or even weeks. Any subject worth knowing requires many hours and often years to master. Huge rewards are possible, but only to those who make a huge investment.

     

  • You, or anybody, can do it. It is true you can do anything that is right to do and physically possible that you truly want and choose to do. In that sense you can achieve anything and be whatever you choose to be. What you cannot do is achieve what you have no ability to achieve or be anything that defies your own nature. You cannot be a four foot eleven star basketball player and you will not be a famous composer if you are tone deaf. (Though considering modern "music," perhaps the last is not true.)

     

Who Can You Trust?

The truth is no one else can tell you how to achieve success and happiness. The primary reason that is true is because no one else can know you as well as you do and since everyone is different everyone ultimately must discover for themselves how to live their life.

I can tell you about some things that, if you or anyone else chooses them in their thinking or their behavior, will definitely make success and happiness impossible. I can also tell you some of the principles you must understand and incorporate in your thinking and choices if you want to live successfully and happily. Even if you understand all the principles and attempt to implement them, however, there is no guarantee success and happiness will follow automatically.

Ultimately, how you choose to live your life is entirely up to you. Whether or not your life will be successful will be determined by one thing, the nature of reality. If how you choose to live your life conforms to the requirements of the real world in which you live, and conforms to the requirements of your own nature as a human being, your life will be successful and happy. Within those limits, there is almost nothing you must or must not do and you are free to live however you choose, only you must choose it.

There is only one authority you can trust, the authority of your own mind. If you cannot trust your own mind to learn all you need to learn and to make right choices, how could you trust you own mind to know which other authority to trust?

[Originally published on The Moral Individual]

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 55
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

36 minutes ago, KorbenDallas said:

So The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem is a gimmick?  What are your reasons?

I think so. I said in the article, "There are some books, sites and individuals who do provide some practical information and principles, ... might be useful to some, but most of these individuals and organizations make outrageous claims and impossible promises."

I do not believe anyone who is not already an individual of character and integrity (the only kind of individuals who have something to esteem about themselves) is suddenly going to become a decent wholesome productive individual by reading The Six Pillars or any other of that type book.

Branden wrote some things that are true in the book. All the true things were from Rand. The original ideas, I thought, were dangerous or incorrect. Self-esteem, after all, is not something one pursues directly, it is the consequence of living a life that has real substance and value to esteem. It is the recognition of achievement, not the cause of it.

Self-esteem itself is not necessarily a good thing. People like Harvey Weinstein and Hillary Clinton are positively dripping with self-esteem.

But, as I said at the end of the article, "The truth is no one else can tell you how to achieve success and happiness. The primary reason that is true is because no one else can know you as well as you do and since everyone is different everyone ultimately must discover for themselves how to live their life," and that includes what you will or will not find value in.

Randy

Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Is this Branden bashing going to continue?

Michael, you know I wasn't bashing anyone. I was asked about a book and about the ideas in it. It doesn't matter who wrote it, except that I think the ideas from one source were good, and the ideas from another were not so good.

If I said anything about anyone's personality please let me know. I'm only talking about Ideas I disagree with, I don't care who the ideas came from.

What should I have said? "I'm sorry I cannot answer your question less it be misconstrued as bashing someone?"

Lot's of people admire some of the other individuals mentioned in the article, like Covey and the de Bono's (and I do quite frankly think they are evil) but believe Covey, Branden and others were sincere. I just don't agree with them.

No, Michael, there will be no more, "bashing." The subject  just won't come up again.

Randy

Link to post
Share on other sites

btw - I am into self-help. It's one of the best cures against elitists and elitism.

Rather than having one of those elitist folks tell you how inferior you are to them, many individuals use self-help materials to organize their emotions and inspire themselves to go out and become great at something. They strive to be happy. Live a fulfilled life. Things like that.

And this is laughable?

Bah...

Self-help materials almost always hammer home the message of self-responsibility. You can own the fruits of your efforts, but you are the one who has to commit and do the hard work. That is the subtext of just about every self-help book I have read. As side issues, they talk about providing value to others in order to receive value, eliminating negativity as it sucks the hell out of morale and keeps you from achieving, and things like that.

As to the 7 this and 4 that, if someone said a human had 2 legs, 2 arms and one head, would anyone laugh at that? No. And if you need to put a business plan on a timeline with 7 major phases, would anyone laugh at that? No. So why do they laugh at self-help people who boil things down to a small number of actionable principles and steps for improvement? This is beyond me. Are people supposed to consult a crystal ball and do everything at once to achieve a goal without knowing what to do?

Do you want to know why the principles are generally 3 to 7? It's a reflection of the short-term memory limitations of the prefrontal neocortex. And epistemologically, a self-help principle is nothing more than a mental anchor for a much wider concept and process. That's why a concept like how to deal with procrastination is expressed by different principles from different authors. If you look, each author arrives at the same place, he just uses a different anchor.

And, according to the way the brain is made, learning it one thing and developing a skill is another. Most automation for developing a skill happens in the cerebellum. Self-help, through exercises and focused repetitions an individual does by himself or herself, targets this automation part. 

(I once did a study of self-help to see if it was BS or valid as a field, including going through the works of harsh critics like Steve Salerno, Jason Jones (Salty Droid), etc. I actually have an essay outlined on this, including how to get the best use out of self-help materials, but have been waiting for my Internet marketing project to congeal to put it out. (For those interested, I am doing a social media platform project right now, and, although it is in the infancy stage, it takes up a lot of time, so my Internet marketing project got put on the back burner for the time being.)

Notice that people who make the big bucks and change the world for real who love Ayn Rand ALL use her works as self-help, not as formal philosophy, social movement, dissing others, template for aping moral condemnation, or any of that stuff. I speak of the people around Joe Polish and Dean Jackson--top entrepreneurs like Richard Branson and that bunch, but there are others like Mark Cuban, Clint Eastwood, etc.  Even President Trump.

They couldn't give a hoot about dictating what others need to think in the name of Rand or anything of the other petty stuff we often find within O-Land communities. They are high-end achievers, selling their products on the open market, innovating and changing the world, and they look to Ayn Rand for spiritual self-help goodness. She inspires them. And that's all they want from her.

What's more, I can supply quotes, etc. from many of these folks. In fact, I have already done so right here on OL a few times.

Granted, there are some charlatans in the self-help industry, but there are way too many others with way too many high-end achiever customers and followers to call that a coincidence. And what field, pray tell, has no charlatans in it?

Basically, it boils down to this. Some people talk about doing great things. Others do them. In my experience, people who do them are rarely ashamed when they get inspiration from the self-help world.

Michael

Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

many individuals use self-help materials to organize their emotions and inspire themselves to go out and become great at something

Who's opposed to that?

I'm only pointing out the pitfalls of believing that there are quick and easy methods to succcess and happiness. The one's who "go out and become great at something," don't do it overnight, or without the sweat and effort all real achievement requires. It's promises to the contrary that I was identifying.

By the way, neither the idea of "self-help" or the phrase is used even once in the article. If you read the article carefully you would know it is self-help, or self-initiation I advocate. It's real self-help I mean, because no one else can do your learning, thinking, chosing, or work for you.

Randy

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, regi said:

Branden wrote some things that are true in the book. All the true things were from Rand.

For the reader, it's OK to disagree with any or all of NB's ideas. But notice the bash above. There are no ideas cited. Just a silly statement that anyone opening NB's book can disprove with a ton of quotes that are true and did not come from Rand.

I was loathe to mention this because when the discussion is on this level, I prefer not to participate.

But I don't want readers and OL members to be intimidated. You can disagree with the Brandens. But please mention the ideas you are disagreeing with and why. Cheap shots (meaning generalized insults without substance) are not arguments.

Michael

Link to post
Share on other sites
42 minutes ago, regi said:

... it is self-help, or self-initiation I advocate. It's real self-help I mean, because no one else can do your learning, thinking, chosing, or work for you.

Randy,

I agree with this. Where I disagree with you is in your assumption that the marketing of these works is the same as their messages. Self-help authors tend to make bold promises in their marketing to get people started. Why they do this is an essay in itself, but it's generally not sleaze (although there are exceptions). Of course, hope sells. But on a technical level, these exaggerated generalities have more to do with getting attention and bonding so the hard work of the process, which comes later, will not be abandoned.

I would even extend this to affirmations.

Just to give an example, a classic one instead of one from the works you mentioned because I have no intention of defending the authors you dislike (I admire most all of them), let's take Coué's affirmation, "Every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better."

It's easy to gotcha this and claim it is incorrect, especially if you are getting older and older and your body is starting to fall apart. :) Some people, those who dislike the self-help field in general, do gotchas like this constantly with all kinds of works.

However, if you understand the way neural pathways (or, to be more exact, networks) are created and myelinated, if you know anything about skill development, you realize that you need this repetition to achieve it.

But, there's something more that most people don't realize, neither practitioners nor critics. This affirmation will not be the only trigger to excite this pathway. Many things trigger the pathway because many things make it up. This can be other words or phrases, smells, images, sounds, metaphorical associations, etc. So anything else that triggers this pathway will also get the affirmation message embedded as a kind of subliminal cheerleader, thus it will release some dopamine and serotonin. This makes people feel good and keeps them chugging right along and positive enough to complete their projects and goals.

I can't think of a single person who uses Coué's affirmation and believes that the decay that comes from aging will be reversed by it. So the gotcha is beside the point. They know the affirmation is not literally true for all times and places. They use it for an emotional, not cognitive, purpose. They use it for setting a mood,  not for establishing proof.

I prefer it when emotion and cognition work hand in hand, but that does not mean I can dismiss examples like this one as proof of the silliness or charlatanism of self-help literature. It is only proof of such for people who don't like the self-help approach. For everyone else, a positive affirmation process--even Coué's affirmation--works at helping them (within the limits affirmations can) to the extent they do the reps.

Michael

Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, regi said:

Branden wrote some things that are true in the book. All the true things were from Rand. The original ideas, I thought, were dangerous or incorrect. Self-esteem, after all, is not something one pursues directly, it is the consequence of living a life that has real substance and value to esteem.  It is the recognition of achievement, not the cause of it.

Branden does not say that self-esteem is something one pursues directly, in the copy I have of the 6 Pillars he says on page 65 that self-esteem is a consequence (italics are not mine):

Since self-esteem is a consequence, a product of internally generated practices, we cannot work on self-esteem directly, neither our own nor anyone else's.

You seem to be saying above that self-esteem is the recognition of achievement, is this your definition for self-esteem?  This is actually similar to what Branden defines as psychological pride in the 6 Pillars.  From page 41:

Pride is the emotional reward of achievement.  It is not a vice to be overcome but a value to be attained.

So have I identified a specific point of disagreement between you and Branden of what self-esteem is?  Here is Branden's definition of self-esteem from page 27:

Self-esteem is the disposition to experience oneself as competent to cope with the basic challenges of life and as worthy of happiness.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, KorbenDallas said:

Self-esteem is the disposition to experience oneself as competent to cope with the basic challenges of life and as worthy of happiness

I can almost agree with that, except that until one has actually coped with the challenges of life and achieved and produced something of value, one's belief that they are competent is only self-assurance, which is also a virtue, but without performance is only hubris.

I think, "pride is the emotional reward of achievement," is correct in intent, but I do not think pride is a feeling but a self-recognition of one's achievement which may or may not be accompanied by some feeling. It is in fact the emphasis on feelings and emotions that I think is wrong.

In spite of my disagreements with Rand, I am in total agreement with her hard-nosed insistence that feelings, emotions, and sentiments have no cognitive content and only ruthless objective reason is the way to determine what is true, false, right, or wrong.

I'm reluctant to disagree with you, because I like your objective way of presenting your points, which are alway relevant and meaningful. I'm only explaining what I beleive are our differences, which I do not think are terribly significant, especially in this case.

Randy

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, regi said:

In spite of my disagreements with Rand, I am in total agreement with her hard-nosed insistence that feelings, emotions, and sentiments have no cognitive content and only ruthless objective reason is the way to determine what is true, false, right, or wrong.

If there's any difference between feelings and emotions it is highly nuanced. Regardless, they and sentiments are end products so do you figure them out or just wallow in them? Emotions can subsume a great deal of information, but to get at it you have to mine if not also refine it. Sometimes our alligator brain takes over in fight or flight scenarios. Your mind and body combo can lead you astray. That's countered by training. My flight training consisted of looking out the window and then the instruments then out the window and back to the instruments. Then my instructor took me illegally into a bank of clouds--our only danger was another instructor doing to same thing for there was no IFR at that location and altitude--and told me to fly the plane by instruments. My body was fighting my mind and my mind couldn't use the info from the instruments. I put the plane into a climbing turn that cut the airspeed and would have resulted in a spin if the instructor hadn't taken over from me. We did it again and the second time the mind over-ruled my body and the body adjusted to the mind being in control. Sometimes the body is right and sometimes wrong. Feelings are of the body via the mind's consciousness. Rand had so much brain power she ran over her body. It's common amongst brainiacs. My Father was like that. So was William Shockley, whom my Dad knew in the late 1930s. (I have a picture of him in a canoe paddling my sister and his daughter around Lake George, NY. I think he did some climbing in the Adirondacks.) It's usually best to avoid such people save through their work.

--Brant

JFK jr flying out of an airport I once used--Caldwell--likely died because his mind couldn't properly use his instruments

Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

If there's any difference between feelings and emotions it is highly nuanced. Regardless, they and sentiments are end products so do you figure them out or just wallow in them? Emotions can subsume a great deal of information, but to get at it you have to mine if not also refine it. Sometimes our alligator brain takes over in fight or flight scenarios. Your mind and body combo can lead you astray. That's countered by training. My flight training consisted of looking out the window and then the instruments then out the window and back to the instruments. Then my instructor took me illegally into a bank of clouds--our only danger was another instructor doing to same thing for there was no IFR at that location and altitude--and told me to fly the plane by instruments. My body was fighting my mind and my mind couldn't use the info from the instruments. I put the plane into a climbing turn that cut the airspeed and would have resulted in a spin if the instructor hadn't taken over from me. We did it again and the second time the mind over-ruled my body and the body adjusted to the mind being in control. Sometimes the body is right and sometimes wrong. Feelings are of the body via the mind's consciousness. Rand had so much brain power she ran over her body. It's common amongst brainiacs. My Father was like that. So was William Shockley, whom my Dad knew in the late 1930s. (I have a picture of him in a canoe paddling my sister and his daughter around Lake George, NY. I think he did some climbing in the Adirondacks.) It's usually best to avoid such people save through their work.

--Brant

JFK jr flying out of an airport I once used--Caldwell--likely died because his mind couldn't properly use his instruments

Here is an epistemological problem with "mining" the emotions  --- there is no independent witness, hence no corroboration that you have done it right.  That is why physical science works as well as it does and why just about everything works as poorly as it does.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

If there's any difference between feelings and emotions it is highly nuanced. Regardless, they and sentiments are end products so do you figure them out or just wallow in them? Emotions can subsume a great deal of information, but to get at it you have to mine if not also refine it.

Hi Brant,

The emotions and feelings are, in a sense, end products, but they do not subsume any information. They are reactions to information.

The whole subject of emotions has been terribly confused by both philosophers and psychologists. Please see my article, "Feelings," which describes exactly what feelings and emotions are. It's not long.

[The article makes reference to another article, "Desires," which is one of a pair of longer more technical articles on emotions and desires from 2004.]

Randy

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/16/2017 at 9:55 PM, regi said:

I think, "pride is the emotional reward of achievement," is correct in intent, but I do not think pride is a feeling but a self-recognition of one's achievement which may or may not be accompanied by some feeling. It is in fact the emphasis on feelings and emotions that I think is wrong.

Branden does cite a philosophical/moral definition for pride in the 6 Pillars, it is the sentence that follows the definition for psychological pride.  He says pride in the philosophical/moral sense is moral ambitiousness.  He definitely speaks of a primacy of reason over emotion.  I didn't mean to mislead by only quoting the psychological pride definition.

On 10/16/2017 at 9:55 PM, regi said:

In spite of my disagreements with Rand, I am in total agreement with her hard-nosed insistence that feelings, emotions, and sentiments have no cognitive content and only ruthless objective reason is the way to determine what is true, false, right, or wrong.

How does this apply to musicians?  Some of the best performances are driven by a person's emotions, though I don't agree that emotion alone can do it.  A person needs an excellent epistemological/values foundation to allow their emotions to drive a performance without being a mess.  "Playing a wrong note is insignificant, playing without passion is inexcusable" - Beethoven

Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, regi said:

Hi Brant,

The emotions and feelings are, in a sense, end products, but they do not subsume any information. They are reactions to information.

The whole subject of emotions has been terribly confused by both philosophers and psychologists. Please see my article, "Feelings," which describes exactly what feelings and emotions are. It's not long.

[The article makes reference to another article, "Desires," which is one of a pair of longer more technical articles on emotions and desires from 2004.]

Randy

The trick is to find out what information is being reacted to to understand what is going on within and without.

--Brant

Link to post
Share on other sites
21 hours ago, BaalChatzaf said:

Here is an epistemological problem with "mining" the emotions  --- there is no independent witness, hence no corroboration that you have done it right.  That is why physical science works as well as it does and why just about everything works as poorly as it does.

You are mixing up irreducible categories. One does not refute the other. In each one does as best as one can. And you of all people speak from necessary ignorance about "'mining' the emotions."

--Brant

Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, KorbenDallas said:

I didn't mean to mislead by only quoting the psychological pride definition.

You didn't, Korben.

15 hours ago, KorbenDallas said:

How does this apply to musicians?

It is what is true, false, right, or wrong that objective reason is the only path too. To the extent performance, a musician's or anyone else's, depends on what is true or right, reason is the only method of knowing it. The rest of performance depends on whatever that kind of performance requires. In the case of the best musicians it is gruelling practice and learning music and their instruments for example.

In an actual performance a musician's love for the music and joy of being able to produce it are important, but even then he must observe some basic principles. I once was invited to play (clarinet) at a certain organization and was promised a piano accompaniment. I practiced the music I was given. When it was time to play, and I heard the piano introduction I knew we were in trouble. The music I had been given was the right key for the piano (C) but wrong for the clarinet, (B flat). If we had continued we would have been playing in different keys, and it would have been horrible (but probably entertaining).

I asked the piano player if she could transpose to the right key on the fly and she had not a clue, so I transposed my part. I was only in the seventh grade at the time. It passed as well as possible without practice, but you can see without a little ability to reason and some knowledge of music the performance would have been impossible.

Randy

Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

The trick is to find out what information is being reacted to to understand what is going on within and without.

That is true. In most cases just paying attention to what one is thinking when they have certain feelings and perhaps looking for whatever assumptions the thoughts are based on will reveal the source of our feelings as well as what beliefs we have that contribute to those feeling so we can make corrections. But in some cases, beliefs are so ingrained and patterns of thinking (or not thinking) so habitualized, it is difficult to discover exactly what the source of some feelings are.

Even in the most difficult cases, however, since it is our own beliefs and thoughts that are the cause of our feelings, careful honest introspection will reveal the source of our feelings.

There are only two cases I know of when that is not true. The first is schizophrenia and the second are certain hormonal imbalances such as those experienced by women during menopause and those on high doses of steroids like prednisone. I do not consider feelings resulting from physiological causes as psychological. That also excludes feelings resulting from recreational drug use.

Randy

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, regi said:

You didn't, Korben.

It is what is true, false, right, or wrong that objective reason is the only path too. To the extent performance, a musician's or anyone else's, depends on what is true or right, reason is the only method of knowing it. The rest of performance depends on whatever that kind of performance requires. In the case of the best musicians it is gruelling practice and learning music and their instruments for example.

In an actual performance a musician's love for the music and joy of being able to produce it are important, but even then he must observe some basic principles. I once was invited to play (clarinet) at a certain organization and was promised a piano accompaniment. I practiced the music I was given. When it was time to play, and I heard the piano introduction I knew we were in trouble. The music I had been given was the right key for the piano (C) but wrong for the clarinet, (B flat). If we had continued we would have been playing in different keys, and it would have been horrible (but probably entertaining).

I asked the piano player if she could transpose to the right key on the fly and she had not a clue, so I transposed my part. I was only in the seventh grade at the time. It passed as well as possible without practice, but you can see without a little ability to reason and some knowledge of music the performance would have been impossible.

Randy

And what of the role of emotion in performance?

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, KorbenDallas said:

And what of the role of emotion in performance?

The role of emotion in performance is what it always is. If you read the article, "Feelings," you know I described that role:

"Our emotions, as automatic reactions to our immediate consciousness, is the way our human consciousness enables us to directly enjoy or "physically" experience both direct perception and our conceptual identification and evaluation of the things we perceive simultaneously.

The emotions are our nature's way of converting the abstract elements of conceptual consciousness, our concepts, values, and thoughts, into "physical" experiences. The emotions make our minds, as well as our bodies, sensuous."

The performer's emotional experience is the result of all he is conscious of during the performance, especially his own competence and accomplishment in creating the music, the realization that he is creating something beautiful that only he could create, and that he is being exactly what he wants to be. I'm not sure what you want, but I'm sure it is what the performer is conscious of doing that produces the emotion and not vice versa.

The performer himself may not be aware of that relationship, as I'm sure many are not. Their confusion about the nature of their own feelings is not at all unusual, but it is not a basis for understanding the true nature of the emotions.

Randy

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

9 hours ago, regi said:

That is true. In most cases just paying attention to what one is thinking when they have certain feelings and perhaps looking for whatever assumptions the thoughts are based on will reveal the source of our feelings as well as what beliefs we have that contribute to those feeling so we can make corrections. But in some cases, beliefs are so ingrained and patterns of thinking (or not thinking) so habitualized, it is difficult to discover exactly what the source of some feelings are.

Even in the most difficult cases, however, since it is our own beliefs and thoughts that are the cause of our feelings, careful honest introspection will reveal the source of our feelings.

There are only two cases I know of when that is not true. The first is schizophrenia and the second are certain hormonal imbalances such as those experienced by women during menopause and those on high doses of steroids like prednisone. I do not consider feelings resulting from physiological causes as psychological. That also excludes feelings resulting from recreational drug use.

Randy

I find you too much the expert publicly unleavened by data and personal experience and any sense of wonder. Have you ended your search for completeness? I started out as complete and in that sense have been disintegrating ever since. The older I get the less I know I know.

--Brant

but knowledge does deserve the anchor of some serious certainty

Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, regi said:

The role of emotion in performance is what it always is. If you read the article, "Feelings," you know I described that role:

"Our emotions, as automatic reactions to our immediate consciousness, is the way our human consciousness enables us to directly enjoy or "physically" experience both direct perception and our conceptual identification and evaluation of the things we perceive simultaneously.

The emotions are our nature's way of converting the abstract elements of conceptual consciousness, our concepts, values, and thoughts, into "physical" experiences. The emotions make our minds, as well as our bodies, sensuous."

The performer's emotional experience is the result of all he is conscious of during the performance, especially his own competence and accomplishment in creating the music, the realization that he is creating something beautiful that only he could create, and that he is being exactly what he wants to be. I'm not sure what you want, but I'm sure it is what the performer is conscious of doing that produces the emotion and not vice versa.

The performer himself may not be aware of that relationship, as I'm sure many are not. Their confusion about the nature of their own feelings is not at all unusual, but it is not a basis for understanding the true nature of the emotions.

Randy

I hold more of a Branden view of the importance of emotions in life, he places more of an emphasis on them than Rand does.  I cannot reconcile Rand's view of emotions in the context with my own personal experience when playing music for performance, or practicing it.  You said upthread that you agree with Rand's "hard-nosed insistence that feelings, emotions, and sentiments have no cognitive content and only ruthless objective reason is the way to determine what is true, false, right, or wrong."  That's not what I personally experience when playing performance music, and upthread I stated my conclusion about this experience (and also from researching the subject) is that emotions can drive a performance, and some of the best performances are done this way.  Does this contradict Rand's view of emotion?  It seems to.  But what is strange is how Rand indicates in the Romantic Manifesto she doesn't quite understand how music affects the emotion of the perceiver---so how would she understand how the performer creates?  I don't have the answers to that, but I know one must have an epistemological/values foundation or it would be a mess.

I think I see what your view on feelings are, and also how it integrates with music performance.  I'm not sure if I agree with it exactly.  But I think there is agreement that emotions are not a shortcut in life, or in musical performance.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now