Two Points of View

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12 minutes ago, Dglgmut said:

What does this even mean? You say we don't choose to be human, then we must choose to be human.


This is sophism. You are facing a blatant contradiction and you are deliberately obfuscating the problem. Is your nature in your control or outside of it? Are "you" your nature or are you not? We don't choose to be human, okay. If we then later choose to be human, even though we already are, then there is no dichotomy because we've covered our tracks? This is nonsense.

You are human by circumstance. You are "man" by choice; your ignorance of basic Objectivism shows. Read the The Objectivist Ethics again and get back to me.

"Man has to be man by choice". Some think it just comes naturally and infallibly (like emotions...)

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From "the particular" (this trade, today's sunrise, this water, etc.etc). to "the general" (all trades, all sunrises, all oceans) IS induction. And it requires cognitive effort to avoid drawing f

Top down and bottom up are not either-or. They are mental frames for perceiving and mentally processing reality. You need both to get a clear picture. Choosing one over the other is linear t

You might also want to check out Harlow's monkeys: Ellen

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15 minutes ago, Jon Letendre said:

I don't think it is deliberate in Tony's case. I think he does not follow the points you make, at all. And he doesn't try to understand, first. He tries to refute, first. And he doesn't understand the points he makes, either, so he contradicts them with ease and unknowingly.

Dg has one point and it is materialism and compromise with that. And you are now on board?

Then you must now point out my "contradictions" .

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3 hours ago, anthony said:

Reduced to basics, there is either a discerning consciousness behind an emotion, or there is not. If not, your emotions have nothing to do with "you".

Other's emotions have nothing to do with "them". Nobody can be held accountable for their emotional reactions, or even "known" (as much or as little as others and their personalities, character, convictions - and values - can be known, by outward emotional signs).

Our emotions then are just a melange of deterministic, chemically-caused responses.

Here it is again. If your emotions have something to do with "you" - that even a child knows - then you have to acknowledge your discerning mind and its perceptions of reality was involved. 

One actually has to acknowledge "a self".

You can't have it both ways: "human" individual -OR- chemical automaton. What's it to be? Nobody wants to admit it is the combination, mind and body. And mind first.

I have to conclude nobody likes his/her mind's involvement in emotional expressions. Emotions are too ¬pure ¬ or something like that...

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50 minutes ago, anthony said:

Dg has one point and it is materialism and compromise with that. And you are now on board?

Then you must now point out my "contradictions" .

I don't know if it is a contradiction per se, but you think that a wine bottle or a funnel will roll straight and with no slippage of neck or base on their surfaces if the neck is given an elevated surface to roll upon -- thinking as you do that the neck being lower than the base, and only the neck being lower than the base, makes a wine bottle or funnel roll sideways instead of rolling straight.

Jon: "Roll a funnel. Why doesn’t it go straight?"

Tony: "I covered that, and you missed it. I said "One higher than the other to finely adjust for the differing diameters".

So, being more precise than I was above, you think that the differing diameters of the ends of a funnel are what make it roll sideways (correct) and that elevating the smaller end will eliminate the effect that differing diameters has and the funnel will now roll straight and without slippage at either end (TonyCognition.)



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38 minutes ago, Jon Letendre said:

I don't know if it is a contradiction per se, but you think that a wine bottle or a funnel will roll straight and with no slippage of neck or base on their surfaces if the neck is given an elevated surface to roll upon -- thinking as you do that the neck being lower than the base, and only the neck being lower than the base, makes a wine bottle or funnel roll sideways instead of rolling straight.

The Wheel, ah. Another case of over-education and under-observation. The problem is not a problem, an outer wheel must turn further than an inner. That's it.

Then there was the never-needed "Fix". Providing an inner surface for the inner wheel. Trouble is, 1). if there is slippage, then the inner surface has no purchase by definition and you're back to square one. As with no inner surface. Or, 2. if there is some grip, no slippage, the total wheel combination must come to a halt. Due to drag and different turn speeds of the wheels, and evidenced by 2 cogs on the same axle. The Fix didn't work. Enough? I'm bored already.

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10 minutes ago, Jon Letendre said:

So you now understand that the funnel will still either roll sideways or slip at one end if the other has traction, even if we elevate the small end to the same height as the large?

Ha, the real nit-picker. Tony was wrong then, so Tony is wrong now. (there's a logical fallacy, I can't recall which). But Tony was right, in the conclusions I also repeated ad nauseum. I can make an error in the experiment and correct, you know.

The final outcome I stand by, I repeated above.

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I am glad that you recognize that error, now. Then, you were committed to the notion that raising the smaller end was going to change something about how a funnel rolls and you never corrected yourself in that thread.

Incidentally, you also made hundreds more basic errors in that thread.

It's a logical fallacy, Tony? Thank you so much for that, I never would have guessed. Except that I am not saying that your being so wrong then makes you wrong about any other new thing. Just comically wrong about wheels and generally incapable of spatial/mechanical thought.

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4 hours ago, anthony said:

Reduced to basics, there is either a discerning consciousness behind an emotion, or there is not. If not, your emotions have nothing to do with "you".

I'll quote this again because you say there is no dichotomy in your thinking. This is a clear dichotomy. Can you at least admit this? Consciousness must be behind everything that is "you," and anything that consciousness is not behind is "not you." Can we agree that this is what you are saying?


Now, can we both agree that consciousness is not behind your humanity, and that the humanity comes first? At the most you could say that consciousness has equal weight to our humanity, and you could argue that without consciousness we are not human. I would let you have that, if that's how you want to look at it. But we should at least agree that we do not cause our humanity consciously, and therefore it is in the "not you," category. You can use the word "man" to mean "rational" if you want, but keep in mind that you are being figurative and not literal, and it's not helpful in this particular discussion.


If you say that humanity is, in fact, part of "you," then why/how? It is not the product of your consciousness. If you agree that a head injury could change "you," then why/how? It would not be the product of your consciousness.


My stance is that there is not a dichotomy and there is no clear definition of the self. The line between "you" and "not you" is not clear at all. There are examples where things that are definitely "not you" can affect your consciousness, and if you accept that, you have to scrap this idea that everything "you" must be the product of your consciousness.

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1 hour ago, Dglgmut said:

I'll quote this again because you say there is no dichotomy in your thinking. This is a clear dichotomy. Can you at least admit this? Consciousness must be behind everything that is "you," and anything that consciousness is not behind is "not you." Can we agree that this is what you are saying?


Now, can we both agree that consciousness is not behind your humanity, and that the humanity comes first? At the most you could say that consciousness has equal weight to our humanity, and you could argue that without consciousness we are not human. I

I've gone on and on about primacy of existence, that man is the animal who is rational. Nobody questioned that. But respondents here choose to think that emotions are the exception - contrary to consciousness - when they *clearly* emanate from consciousness aware of reality.

All along there's been that mind-emotion, mind-body dichotomy implied and stated by some. I see no dichotomy, others do (and if they'd be honest enough they would admit it). You raise your arm, is this not an act of consciousness and an act of biology? If agreed, now take the thought further.

Must I state that again? : Consciousness which is aware of reality. "That which exists". The human mind too is natural and has a "nature".

Existence exists—and the act of grasping that statement implies two corollary axioms: that something exists which one perceives and that one exists possessing consciousness, consciousness being the faculty of perceiving that which exists.

If nothing exists, there can be no consciousness: a consciousness with nothing to be conscious of is a contradiction in terms. A consciousness conscious of nothing but itself is a contradiction in terms: before it could identify itself as consciousness, it had to be conscious of something. If that which you claim to perceive does not exist, what you possess is not consciousness.

Whatever the degree of your knowledge, these two—existence and consciousness—are axioms you cannot escape, these two are the irreducible primaries implied in any action you undertake, in any part of your knowledge and in its sum, from the first ray of light you perceive at the start of your life to the widest erudition you might acquire at its end. Whether you know the shape of a pebble or the structure of a solar system, the axioms remain the same: that it exists and that you know it . . . Existence is Identity, Consciousness is Identification.



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1 hour ago, Jon Letendre said:

It's a logical fallacy, Tony? Thank you so much for that, I never would have guessed. Except that I am not saying that your being so wrong then makes you wrong about any other new thing. Just comically wrong about wheels and generally incapable of spatial/mechanical thought.

But you have the right to dig up a thread disconnected from this, and pose it as an example? Hey, don't fool yourself, that's saying I'm wrong there and now. You don't fool me. And I identified the wheel well enough to make all those games superfluous. No, you all had to "fix" the unfixable. And that didn't work.

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1 minute ago, anthony said:

... and pose it as an example?

Yes, of your thinker not being all that good. That's all I wanted to point out. I stepped in to defend you as another was attributing your cognitive switheroos to deliberate moves on your part. But I don't think that's true about you, rather your switheroos are due to your own confusions and incapacity to follow long-chain reasoning.

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Let's cut to the chase. How about a show of hands.

Who here thinks that emotions are independent of consciousness?

Perhaps this should be first: who thinks there is consciousness?

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7 minutes ago, anthony said:

Who here thinks that emotions are independent of consciousness?

That's the wrong way round... Is consciousness independent of emotions? No.


Now, can you answer my question: How does one decide to be rational?

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1 hour ago, anthony said:

Apply your mind to reality. I think we went at length into induction.

The question remains, and the right way round.

No, emotions don't exist independent of consciousness... but that doesn't mean that consciousness comes first. So where are you going with the question? I know where I'm going with mine. All you have to do is answer it.

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8 hours ago, anthony said:

I've gone on and on about primacy of existence, that man is the animal who is rational. Nobody questioned that. But respondents here choose to think that emotions are the exception - contrary to consciousness - when they *clearly* emanate from consciousness aware of reality.

Bravo, Tony! What came first; the chicken, the egg, emotions, or consciousness? Here is some of what I learned Grasshopper,f rom Mahatma Guru, Roger Bissell. 39 years ago!  

From Roger Bissell's article, "Thoughts on Abortion and Child Support," that appeared in the September 1981 issue of Reason Magazine: "Much earlier than previously suspected, according to recent findings, Neurophysiologists have made EEG measurements of developing fetuses and prematurely born babies and discovered that the patterns of electrical brain activity prior to the 28th week of development are radically and fundamentally different from those occurring *after* the 28th week. end quote

In, "The Conscious Brain," Steven Rose, a British neurophysiologist, observes that ‘before 28 weeks the patterns are very simple and lacking in any of the characteristic forms which go to make up the adult EEG pattern.' Then, between the 28th and 32nd weeks, the theta, delta, and alpha waves of the adult make their appearance - at first only periodically, ‘occurring in brief, spasmodic bursts; but after 32 weeks the pattern of waves becomes more continuous, and characteristic differences begin to appear into the EEG pattern of the waking and sleeping infant.' end quote

American neuroscientist Dominick P. Purpura concurs with Rose. In a recent interview, Purpura defined ‘brain life' as ‘the capacity of the cerebral cortex, or the thinking portion of the brain, to begin to develop consciousness, self-awareness and other genetically recognized cerebral functions as a consequence of the formation of nerve cell circuits.' Brain Life, said Purpura, begins between the 28th and 32nd weeks of pregnancy." end quote

Back to me. This new person has an identity that will remain the same throughout its life. The baby is thinking as evidenced by the brain wave patterns alpha, delta and theta that are also found in thinking adults.

A good measure of Aristotle’s and Rand’s law of identity is one that is based on the facts of reality as we observe them. After consciousness a fetus becomes a *person*. There are things in the universe that a person in the womb cannot know because it is not yet aware of them. For millennia humans did not know about the dark side of the moon. That does not affect Mr. Bissell’s argument. Omniscience is not required of a *person*.

How do we know a person’s identity persists? And how do we re-identify ourselves in the morning after reawakening?  How do we identify a person if we have not seen them since last month or in 20 years? Well, human beings have the least trouble re-identifying themselves or someone else, so you answer a different question. How do you know someone on the NET is the same person you talked to last week?

If it looks like a baby human, and thinks like a baby human, it is a baby human. If it can be demonstrated that many of the modes of thinking are present at the age of 28 weeks of gestation, that are also present in a mature, conceptually thinking adult, then it obviously is a human person at a younger age. To reiterate: fMRI’s show that a conscious fetus, sleeps, dreams and can redirect its attention. The fact of personal identity is primary: it is self-evident to you that you exist. You are conscious. You remember. Outside of Science Fiction, personal identity in yourself or others can be demonstrated, through brain wave patterns and physical presence.

Sound is present in the womb and the baby pays attention to the sounds it hears, and remembers them. When my daughter Sarah was born a tray was dropped by a nurse, over to baby Sarah’s left. She instantly turned her head left . . . to look at the source of the sound. The nurse assured me that was normal unless a baby was lethargic from pain shots given to the Mother.  

The persistence of consciousness from its inception onwards, is self-evident. It exists at some point and does not cease to exist until death (which could also be complete and irreversible mental loss, though the body lives on.) A conscious baby in the womb is the same conscious baby out of the womb, and it will grow into the same conscious adult: this embodies the Law of Identity.

Oh, if WE on OL could speak to Ayn Rand today! SHE WOULD AGREE WITH SCIENCE AND OBSERVATIONS FROM THE LAST 40 OR SO YEARS. What a wondrous time it would be if Ayn revisited all of her works and within TODAY’S context she could make her writings *justified* and *true*. The sequence is: consciousness, observations, then emotions. And so to bed. Peter Taylor

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I got to thinking about what parts of her philosophy Rand would change if she were alive today (and a non smoker) and though not on target here is an old article about Rand and Isabel Paterson.


Submitted by James S. Valliant on Fri, 2007-06-01 18:21 Professor Stephen Cox has done liberty lovers – and the world – a great service with his biography, 'The Woman and the Dynamo: Isabel Paterson and the Idea of America' (2004, Transaction).

This is one of those projects where the classic hyperbole is no hyperbole: this is a work of great importance. It would have been a tragedy had its subject, Isabel Paterson, gone without the biographical attention she so richly merits. Without a doubt, she was one of the most important political writers of the Twentieth Century. Among the many measures of this importance is the fact that Paterson probably had a greater influence on Ayn Rand than any of her other contemporaries. Together, these two women were the major inspiration for contemporary “radical” capitalist thought.

The book is thoroughly researched in most cases, and full of fascinating, new material. And, yet, for an intellectual biography, it is engagingly written – rich with all of the color of the amazing life and personality of a truly great woman – a real page-turner as such books go.

For all its virtues, however, there remain significant problems in its treatment of the relationship between those two godmothers of the American individualist movement, Isabel Paterson and Ayn Rand.

Therefore, what follows should not be read as an overall review, for this is a book with many outstanding qualities, but, rather, an analysis of its treatment of the relationship between these two important writers.

Among its many virtues, 'The Woman and the Dynamo' observes an error made by Rand's less-then-credible biographer, Barbara Branden, who wrote that both Paterson and Rose Wilder Lane had been "introduced" to Rand by the writer Channing Pollock in 1940. ('The Passion of Ayn Rand,' p.163) Cox observes that Paterson never seems to have even known Pollock personally. (Cox, p. 390, n49) The truth is that Rand took the initiative and called Paterson at her office – after the latter had ~ declined ~ the invitation to meet with Rand and Pollack "for the cause" in 1940 – and although they had briefly met several years previously – it was this later meeting which commenced their famous relationship. (Cox, pp. 218-220) One can also add to Cox's corrections of Ms. Branden here by observing that Rand did not meet Rose Wilder Lane through Pollock, either. Rand wrote to Lane on November 30, 1945, that she was still unhappy that the two had yet to meet in person. ('Letters of Ayn Rand,' p. 238) Finally, a letter from Rand to Lane dated December 13, 1947, opens with the following: "I was very happy that I had a chance to meet you at last after all these years." ('Letters of Ayn Rand,' p. 383)

Rand actively pursued intellectual alliances, especially during this period of her life, she did not passively wait for them to show up. It is a wonderful circumstance, but to some extent no accident, that the most lucid political writers of the Twentieth Century, Ayn Rand, Henry Hazlitt, and Isabel Paterson all knew one another.

One of the charming anecdotes in the book is the fun Pat had with the Russian-born novelist's occasional gaffes with English during their (often energetic) discussions. Rand once asked Paterson, "Will you write my autobiography? I can't do myself justice."

Paterson was amused, but Cox suggests that Rand, later famous for her “candidly exalted” opinion of herself, “might have meant a number of things by that..." (Cox, p. 221) It is well known that certain libertarians have long believed that Rand created a “self-mythology” – something their research, however, has consistently failed to demonstrate. Cox probably should have spelled out what he is suggesting here.

As for “exalted” self-estimates, get this one: in a letter to Rand, Paterson wrote, "It almost seems as if nobody, dead or alive, ever did know or does know how Capitalism really works, except Me." ('Letters of Ayn Rand,' p. 211) Now, years earlier, Rand had said something very similar as a compliment to Paterson herself, in praise of her classic book 'The God of the Machine,' but here we see Pat matching any boast for which we can credit Rand.

On a related topic, Cox claims that Rand brooked no literary criticism of any sort, and he asserts, without evidence, that Paterson was a great exception for Rand in this regard, "enduring [Paterson's] literary critiques." (Cox, p. 305)

However, at least during this period of her life, Rand's letters actually demonstrate that she welcomed such criticism – and that Rand incorporated into her work suggestions from more than one source, the outstanding example (apart from her husband) being Archie Ogden. Another interesting example is Rose Wilder Lane. ('Letters of Ayn Rand,' p. 307) In my experience, professional writers are a sensitive lot, and any suggestion is often taken as deep criticism. Rand does not seem to have been this way at all.

It is true that her previous approach may have changed with the writing 'Atlas Shrugged,' when Rand's confidence in her literary judgment, and her reputation in the publishing world, permitted her to get an "up front" agreement from her publisher that there would be no changes made to her text – period.

Cox also commits a more serious error. He writes: "Rand regarded virtually all charity as a culpable form of altruism, but Paterson thought there was nothing wrong with charity so long as it remained intelligent and uncoerced." (Cox, p. 308) Cox can direct us to no evidence that this was ever Rand's position since, of course, there is lots of evidence that this was not Rand's position at all. The views he ascribes to Paterson, by way of contrast, are, in fact, a decent summary of Rand's own views. The evidence for this is so copious that Cox should definitely have known better in this instance.

As Rand told 'Playboy' magazine in the March, 1964 edition, "My views on charity are very simple. I do not consider it a major virtue and, above all, I do not consider it a moral duty. There is nothing wrong with helping people, if and when they are worthy of the help and you can afford to help them, I regard charity as a marginal issue. What I am fighting is the idea that charity is a moral duty and primary virtue." ('The Playboy Interview,' vol. II, p. 21)

Paterson wrote some things with which Rand definitely did take issue, and charity may have been among these. For example, Rand would not have agreed with Pat's praise for those from religious orders who devote themselves exclusively to charitable work. ('The God of the Machine,' p. 239) However, the two writers’ views on this subject are more alike than Cox seems to recognize.

More subtly, but still more importantly, Cox errs in suggesting that Paterson had a significant influence on the development of Rand's philosophy, Objectivism.

According to witnesses, Rand was seen literally sitting at Paterson’s feet, asking the questions which Paterson would patiently answer. Paterson was enormously well read and well informed, and she was obviously an important source for Rand on many aspects of American history and government. Rand herself acknowledged that she had “learned many important ideas” from Paterson, in a letter dated May 8, 1948. These “ideas” seem to have been factual and historical in nature, but Cox writes:

"There is evidence, indeed, that Rand's ideas were shifting significantly during the period of their first acquaintance. 'We the Living' is an anticommunist novel, but its treatment of alternatives to communism, of political ideas in general, is sketchy to say the least. It is a novel of psychological individualism. In succeeding years, Rand worked her way from a continental version of individualism influenced by Nietzsche to an American individualism grounded in a political theory of natural and equal rights." (Cox. p. 221)

Cox indicates that by 1942, when Rand was wrapping up writing on 'The Fountainhead,' she would, finally, give "her original quasi-Nietzschean ideas a classical liberal form." Cox continues, "If there was a crucial, external influence on Rand's political development, Paterson was that influence." (Ibid)

While he concedes that "the precise extent of her influence" would require overhearing their all-nighters for oneself, (Ibid) and although he is not as clear as one would like, Cox seems to be suggesting that Paterson had a significant influence on the politics of Objectivism, and, indeed, on Rand's "American" and "classical liberal" orientation itself.

It is true that Rand – in her early 20s – must be classified as a “quasi-Nietzschean,” if she can be classified at all. Her notes for the quickly abandoned project, "The Little Street," are the evidence for this. At least some traces of the distinctively “Nietzschean” can be seen in many of Rand's private philosophical journal entries throughout much of the 1930s, and, of course, in the first edition of 'We the Living.'

Nevertheless, Rand's important differences with Nietzsche, even in her twenties, were already portentous. In Rand's very first notes of a philosophical nature, dated from April through May of 1934, when she was still just twenty-nine – and before the publication of the first edition of 'We the Living' – she clearly states her un-Nietzschean belief that men can "use logical reasoning to govern their lives" – without recourse to either "faith" or emotion. Rand asks herself a question, and one suspects she already has at least an inkling as to her own answer: "Are instincts and emotions necessarily beyond the control of plain thinking?" ('Journals of Ayn Rand,' p. 68)

Also in these notes, Rand argues for free will, and, even more importantly, she comes out in favor of what Nietzsche contemptuously called the "Aristotelianism of morals," i.e., an ethics based squarely on logic and "generalization." ('Beyond Good and Evil' 198) Rand simultaneously and explicitly rejected any need for what she called a "history of ethics" – and what Nietzsche called his "genealogy of morals" – only a very Aristotelian "system of ethics" which would "stand or fall on its own merits." ('Journals of Ayn Rand,' pp. 68-70)

Even in the original edition of 'We the Living,' Rand's heroine first gives voice to John Galt's "A is A,” Rand's intended tribute to Aristotle in 'Atlas Shrugged,' by saying, "Steel is steel. Numbers are numbers." (See, Valliant, 'The Passion of Ayn Rand’s Critics,' pp. 44-48) There is thus no reason to doubt Rand’s own reports of admiring both Aristotle’s logic and Nietzsche’s “heroic” sensibility as early as her teens.

Now, Rand did not become "acquainted" with many "prominent conservatives" until the Wilkie campaign of 1940, nor had she yet met Paterson, Lane, Albert Jay Nock, Henry Hazlitt, Ludwig von Mises, or even Channing Pollock, when she wrote those notes. But Rand had already rejected some of the most fundamental aspects of Nietzsche’s philosophy.

Cox leaves the impression that Rand was "politically" no more than a "continental Nietzschean" prior to the influence of Paterson, who may have been responsible for Rand's later, more "libertarian" political viewpoint. Cox strongly implies that Rand's political thinking as such, at least prior to meeting Paterson, was "sketchy to say the least," and that Paterson was crucial to the development of Rand's belief in "natural and equal rights."

There is good reason to believe otherwise. Even before the original edition of 'We the Living' had been published, Rand was already a liberal political idealist – opposed to anything like Nazism – as is evident from her journal entry from December 4, 1935 (not too long after Hitler had came to power): "If a man who is not a Nazi pretends to be one and goes on pretending to the end of his days in order to have a soft job, money and food – is he to be called an egotist? Or isn't the true egotist the one who starves in exile for the right to believe what he believes?" ('Journals of Ayn Rand,' p. 79)

No, Nietzsche was no proto-Nazi, but here we see Rand in sympathy with civil liberties in a way unknown to that philosopher’s writings. In a letter dated August 12, 1936, some four years before meeting Paterson, a thirty-one year old Rand wrote the following to a reader who argued for the idea of "umpired individualism":

"I believe more firmly than in any Ten Commandments that the State exists only and exclusively to serve the individual. I see no conceivable logical or ethical excuse for the opposite belief, nor any possible compromise between the two. If the role of the state as a servant, not a master, is taken as a basic immutable Constitution – then 'umpiring' is safe and desirable; provided the 'umpiring' is done precisely to protect individuals, not society as a whole or the state as a whole; provided that each act of the 'umpires' is definitely motivated by and does not clash with the above sort of Constitution." ('Letters of Ayn Rand,' p. 35)

Five months later, on January 30, 1937, Rand wrote to the same correspondent, "I am glad to know that there still are people and a mode of thinking that can be opposed to Communism in a true, sensible democratic spirit. I have met so many people who declared bluntly that anyone criticizing Soviet Russia is automatically a fascist and a capitalistic exploiter. And it was gratifying to read a voice in refutation of that preposterous nonsense." ('Letters of Ayn Rand,' p. 40)

Less than a month later, on February 22, 1937, Rand would write in her private journals that "p to the twentieth century and Soviet Russia, the world [had offered some degree] of recognition for individual achievement... [T]he trend of ‘liberalism’ and the idea of ‘freedom' was freedom for ‘a man’ and the fight for the individual rights of ‘a man.’” She wrote positively of how, with the Industrial Revolution, humanity had “achieved that freedom... or came as near to freedom and general equality before the law as it had ever come…” ('Journals of Ayn Rand,' p.105)

That is to say, well before meeting Paterson, Rand was an advocate of a rather anti-Nietzschean form of "Constitutional democracy," one that included the concept of equal, but decidedly individual rights before the law, and this commitment had an historical perspective.

Moreover, Rand's comments suggest that she may not even have been familiar yet with writers who might have agreed with her position – or writers who might have influenced her in that direction – reporting in the above-quoted letter that she was “glad to know” that such people even existed anymore.

In fact, there is no reason to doubt Rand when she reported that such a commitment to the American political system went back to her teens – and that her sympathy for political “liberalism” had already started in Russia (her father's politics, is seems, also leaned in this direction). After all, Rand did "choose to be an American," as she retorted to hecklers, at the tender age of twenty-one.

While it is certainly true that Rand does not explore the "alternatives" to Communism in 'We the Living,' even in her earliest notes for the novel, Rand does explicitly express her intention to cover the "economic conditions,” such as the "terrific poverty" and its causes, the "Unemployment" and its effects, as well as the "Hunger. Cold. No living space. Terrible transportation. Disease. Lice. Dirt." ('Journals of Ayn Rand,' pp. 56-57) Rand’s descriptions in the novel vividly bear this intention out, and the author must be credited with something more than merely a "psychological" critique of communism.

Rand had still not met Paterson – or those who would become her other "political" friends – and, yet, she can only be identified as an advocate of both economic and personal liberties, a supporter of what she called “equality before the law,” “individual rights,” and “a sensible democratic spirit.” No, her political theory is not developed yet, but her sympathies – her basic values – are already clear.

It is, of course, entirely possible that Rand was already being influenced by Paterson’s column – or the writings of others – but it is difficult to see how Rand's desire for "sensible democratic spirit," at least, could have been influenced by Paterson's writings, since Pat was no fan of "democracy."

In any event, it is simply not possible that Rand’s personal interaction with Paterson was responsible for guiding the famous novelist into becoming an “American” individualist or a supporter of natural rights.

Cox also calls Rand's commitment to atheism a "dogma," and refers to "the thinness of Rand's cosmos." On the other hand, Paterson's tales of "reincarnation" – including her own – to Rand are but instances of Paterson's "candidness" for Cox. (Cox, p. 305-306) She was indeed being "candid" with Rand, but some readers will likely prefer the "dogma" of sticking to reality – however "thin" the cosmos with which we left.

Cox's efforts do seem like rationalization, at times, especially in his description of the two individualists’ falling out.

Certainly one of their arguments concerned Rand’s belief that Pat was recanting the credit she had once given Rand for her philosophical insights. In 1946, Rand reported to their mutual friend, Leonard Read, that Pat had once actually said that Rand's was "the greatest ethical discovery since Christianity." ('Letters of Ayn Rand,' p. 275) There can be no doubt that Paterson thought Rand brilliant, and if this did not involve creative contributions, such exalted opinions are hard to understand. In one of Rand's letters to Paterson, she also reminded the columnist that she had once had credited Rand with correcting her own thinking on the subject of altruism. Paterson, in reply, denied ever admitting to any such contribution from Rand. This is a classic case of she said/she said, impossible to resolve short of being a witness. Rand's contemporary boldness in asserting this to Pat, and her well-known sharp memory, however, are good reasons to believe her assertion.

While Cox demonstrates that Pat's writings do not reveal a significant influence from Rand, the famous egoist believed that her ideas had shown up in 'The God of the Machine' in some form, and that Pat was "back-tracking" on the credit she once gave to Rand. Especially in light of Cox's apparent misunderstanding of Rand's views on charity, his analysis does not satisfy as a proof that Rand had no impact whatever.

But the truth is that the fundamental philosophies of neither of these women seem to have been influenced by the other – no matter how profoundly impressed they were with one another.

In any event, their dispute over "credit" cannot be said to have caused their break. In 1946, Rand was already disturbed by Pat's "incredibly offensive manner toward people" ('Letters of Ayn Rand,' p.275), and it seems that this was the real culprit.

In May of 1948 – at Rand's invitation and expense – Paterson came out to California to meet with Rand and her friends in order to discuss creating a magazine to promote the ideas Rand and Paterson shared. ('Letters of Ayn Rand,' p. 275) Cox admits that Paterson's mood was foul even before she embarked for the West Coast, and he claims that Rand was "unhappy," too, although Rand's letter (dated May 17, 1948) to Paterson was nothing less than enthusiastic:

"I am so delighted about your coming here that I consider it conclusive proof of a totally benevolent universe, and I almost feel benevolence toward the Catholic philosophers... Is it very unphilosophical of me that I don't want to discuss philosophy right now, but only think about your visit? We [Rand's husband and herself] are so excited about it that we are running around in circles. Yesterday, I had my director, King Vidor and his wife here for dinner, and also our neighbors, Adrian and Janet Gaynor, and I was telling them at great length about your coming. They are all excited and waiting for you... so now this is the big event in Chatsworth – the personal appearance of a star from New York." ('Letters of Ayn Rand,' p.215-216)

During that meeting, Paterson was simply rude to Rand's famous guests. After meeting Gershwin’s collaborator and Rand’s friend Morrie Ryskind, Paterson told Rand (when they were alone), "I don't like Jewish intellectuals." Cox sufficiently demonstrates that Paterson was not a racist, and he thinks that Rand's umbrage stemmed from not getting an intended joke.

Cox, admits that Paterson's remark was "tasteless," but he also claims that Rand was "notorious for not understanding other people's jokes." (Cox, p. 313) Such a claim, of course, requires specific examples – or sources with examples – but none are provided. There is a big difference between not "getting jokes" and not telling them very often or not liking certain jokes. The “notoriety” Cox requires here is unknown to the author 'The Passion of Ayn Rand’s Critics.' In any event, even the Gentile among his readers might appreciate Cox explaining this "joke.”

Paterson's mood in California did not improve. Meeting with one of Rand's business friends, William Mullendore, Paterson went on about how businessmen did nothing to help capitalism and left everything for her alone to do, etc., her typical gripe – to the face of a businessman who was then offering to help (!) Cox admits that Paterson was "dead wrong," in this instance.

Still worse, it seems that Paterson would brook no criticism of her behavior when her embarrassed hostess complained. The two ladies argued, and then (apart from one last meeting some years later) parted for good.

It is true that Rand would later become famous for her "breaks" with other associates – but the case of Paterson is hardly an example of Rand being "intolerant," "moralistic," or "excommunicating" anyone – as Rand's critics will inevitably claim. Paterson's behavior was simply nasty and rude. She also refused to deal with what seems to have been appropriate criticism of it. Cox concedes that Rand's departing line to Paterson in 1948 was insightful: "I hope you'll be happier than you are." (Cox, p. 314)

Whatever their previous arguments, none of them seem to have been sufficient to dampen Rand’s continued enthusiasm for Paterson’s last visit to California. No matter how Cox slices it, neither the argument over "credit," nor their arguments over religion (some of which clearly came at Paterson’s instigation) seemed to have caused the split. And, yet, for Cox, it was about these things – and about Rand not getting some kind of a "tasteless joke." Unfortunately, the facts, even as Cox reports them, do not support this claim.

The mere observation of Rand's many later “breaks” signifies little in this situation – Paterson, too, was famous for her “breaks.” Her own break with Rose Wilder Lane appears more senseless than any of Rand's – according to Cox, the two had simply “grown very, very tired of each another.” (Cox, p. 335) Rose Wilder Lane could lose her temper, too, as Max Eastman found out. The correspondence of all three of these “furies” bears witness to such events.

Paterson and Rand agreed about a great many things political – but when it came to the art of fiction, they seem to have agreed about very little. Paterson did not like the writing in 'The Fountainhead,' and Rand had a similar view of Pat's "literary judgment." ('Letters of Ayn Rand,' p. 276)

This did not stop the two women from promoting each other's work. Cox notes the eight mentions of 'The Fountainhead' in Paterson's column “in 1943 alone,” and there can certainly be no doubt that Rand's recommendations and public praise for Paterson’s work had a tremendous impact on the (eventual) success of 'The God of the Machine.'

Whatever Paterson thought of Rand’s fiction, much to her credit, she did later come to Rand’s defense when 'The National Review' did its legendary hatchet job on Rand’s novel 'Atlas Shrugged.' Paterson called the review by Whittaker Chambers “the dirtiest job imaginable… If I ever see Mr. Chambers again I won’t speak to him.” (Cox, p. 351)

As Rand’s continued recommendation of Paterson’s work also shows, it is safe to say that these two never really lost a deep and abiding mutual respect.

This continued admiration – even after their falling out – suggests the importance each placed on the other’s work – and the importance of Cox’s subject. If we have dwelt on details, it is because details matter and because the focus here has been highly selective. However, the subject is too engaging and the material too fascinating to miss this biography, whatever its problems.

The kind of sympathy for his subject that Cox displays is probably necessary for the motivation to complete such a biography. Such sympathy is probably important even to a biographer’s objectivity – as it is certainly necessary for a biographer to attempt to “walk in the shoes” of his subject – and so it is something that we must appreciate, despite some resulting errors.

However, it is a sympathy that Ayn Rand has yet to experience from an in-depth biographer.

[Thanks are owed to Professor Stephen Cox, Casey Fahy, and Aaron Haspel for reading and commenting on an earlier draft of this. This, of course, does not imply any agreement on their parts, but they were all very helpful.]

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9 hours ago, Peter said:

How do we know a person’s identity persists? And how do we re-identify ourselves in the morning after reawakening?

This is another examples of awareness of consciousness. We don't only remember the experience, we also remember that we were experiencing.


This is the truth that contradicts determinism. If there was an observer that only had the illusion that it could interact with this world, there would never be any evidence of that observer. Therefore there is no distinction between the observer and the actor.


Further, to say we are determined by external forces, rather than self-determined, requires another distinction that is nonsense when you take it to it's logical conclusion. That being the same dichotomy Tony sets up: "self" and "not self." Is anything self-determined? If not, where does that external cause come from? You've just ruled out everything in the Universe.

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2 hours ago, Dglgmut said:

That being the same dichotomy Tony sets up: "self" and "not self." Is anything self-determined? If not, where does that external cause come from? You've just ruled out everything in the Universe.

Would Rand change some of her views if she were alive today?  I think she would, as more knowledge is discovered, but of course her core would still be the same. I haven’t located her Playboy interview yet. Some views from the past about Ayn Rand changing her mind, from Jimbo ­(Wikipedia founder, Jimmy Wales). Ellen Moore taught seminars and classes on Objectivism. REB. Merjet. Bill Dwyer, Reidy.

From: "Peter Reidy" To: Subject: Re: ATL: Rand's Politics Date: Mon, 11 Mar 2002 21:16:24/ Concerning Hardesty's assertions, here are some facts as best I know them: - "In 1964 Rand backed Barry Goldwater for President and stated in a March, 1964 interview with Playboy, that the US had a 'right' to invade Cuba, the USSR or any other 'slave pen'."

She backed Goldwater with reservations, and the quotes are accurate. She deals at greater length with the right to invade in "Collectivized Rights".

- "Rand was vehemently opposed to the 1963 Partial Nuclear Test Ban Act which prohibited atmospheric nuclear testing and which has saved countless lives, just here in the US of people who would otherwise be poisoned by radiation, from above ground nuclear tests."

She opposed it in passing (not "vehemently") in the Playboy interview and referred readers to Teller's testimony.  The rest is an early example of the junk science that has become so much more prevalent lately.

- "Rand thought it morally okay to bomb villages in Vietnam and that it was just tough that noncombatants were killed, an attitude that ARI extends to the whole Arab World today."

I think she would have agreed, though I don't know of any place where she actually said so. The part about ARI is true.

- "Rand was against any form of social welfare, she favored a free hand for the FBI & CIA to combat 'spies'".

Correct about social welfare.  "Free hand" is too vague to judge, and the scare quotes bespeak a serious ignorance of twentieth-century American history.

- "She was strongly for Nixon's appointment of William Rehnquist to the Supreme Court, whom Reagan later elevated to Chief Justice, [sic] he is a hardcore rightwing ideologue."

Questionable.  She condemned the double standard of the Rehnquist opposition and said, at most, that his record was cause for guarded optimism.  ("The Disenfranchisement of the Right", I think.  In "Censorship, Local and Express", she explicitly repudiated him, years before he became Chief Justice.  "Hardcore rightwing ideologue" is, once more, impermissibly vague.

- "Rand was for the death penalty in principle."

Correct, though Nathaniel Branden actually authored the statement, in "The Objectivist Newsletter".

- "Rand was opposed to the 1964 Civil Rights Act".

True.  See her essay "Racism".

- "According to the late Roy M. Cohn, Rand thought Joe McCarthy was too soft on communism!"

Don't know Cohn actually said this or, if he did, whether his report was accurate.  Her only published mention of McCarthy is in "Extremism, or The Art of Smearing".  She said that she was not an admirer, but not for the same reasons as most people.  She wouldn't have liked his irresponsibility and his anti-intellectualism.  As far as I know, she never said what Hardesty says Cohn said she said.

 - "Rand's political mentor was Isabel Paterson, an arch-conservative and anti-Semite, according to Barbara Branden's biography".

Correct, though Barbara Branden says that they eventually broke with each other and that Paterson's penchant for nutzoid hostility was the main reason.

What do you mean by "the McCarthy trials"?  Strictly speaking, he held hearings, not trials.  I suspect you are conflating them with the HUAC movie hearings, where Rand was a witness.  These were quite separate events, and she had no personal involvement in the former.

Did you and Hardesty ever agree on what "rightwing" means?  It strikes me as an example of what she called an anti-concept (see "Extremism"). Peter

From: Ellen Moore To: Atlantis Subject: ATL: Re: Definitions ... Date: Thu, 10 Apr 2003 12:51:03 -0500 Roger and Dan, It does not matter how often you make claims about me that are false - you are wasting your time, not mine. I do not think that Rand was wrong to use the definition of man as "the rational animal".  It is a perfectly true definition of man it its historical context.  And it does not contradict any other valid definition of man.

 The contextual question is, which definition is the one that describes man's most primary, most fundamental characteristic that also explains the greatest number of his other characteristics.

Rand accepted the idea that reason is the fundamental epistemological characteristic of man, and also the idea that reason is a volitional faculty that one may use virtuously or evade [immorally] its usage.

Actually, Rand stated her own original, fundamental, objective definition, and that is her primary metaphysical definition, ** "Man is a being of volitional consciousness" **.   And not one of us can't get any more primary or fundamental than that characteristic because it refers to the metaphysical axiom of human consciousness.  [I have never hid the fact that this is the best contextual definition I accept because it is based on Rand's philosophy of Objectivism.]

This is why I view, "Man is a being of volitional consciousness", is the most recent contextual identification that is the most primary metaphysical definition of man in the context of Objectivist philosophy.  It's not yet widely accepted by non-Objectivists, but it IS a valid contextual definition.

I offer NO deviation from Rand's usage.  This IS her statement, her definition, her application, and her usage in the context of all her discussions about man, i.e., that human consciousness IS volitional, and that reason IS volitional.  The Objectivist epistemology, morality, politics and art IS based on the premise that human  consciousness IS volitional.  If anyone does not understand this premise, then one does not understand how the philosophy of Objectivism integrates and applies contextually to human life.

Rand also drew distinctions between all different kinds of consciousness’s. And she differentiated man from animal from plant from sub-microscopic entities according to their conscious automatic and/or volitional abilities.  My statements do not differ from these classes of differentiation in Rand's discussions except that Rand thought only a few higher animals and man possess consciousness -- yet that is not definitive because she also wrote of differing levels of consciousness in VOS in reference to three levels, sensation, perception and conception (in her time) -- more may be identified scientifically in future.

I never reject the idea that man is volitionally able to acquire a faculty of reason and able to learn the skill of using it.  I also see ample evidence that humans evade acquiring the faculty of reason and refuse to learn the higher skills of using it.  In fact, human possession of volitional consciousness IS the primary explanation for rationality and morality, and IS the primary explanation of evasion leading to irrationality and immorality.

What were Roger and Dan thinking when they read Rand?  Perhaps, just breathing? Ellen

From: Jimmy Wales To: atlantis Subject: Re: ATL: Re: Definitions ... Date: Fri, 11 Apr 2003 05:27:39 -0700 wrote: Ellen Moore writes: I do not think that Rand was wrong to use the definition of man as "the rational animal".  It is a perfectly true definition of man it its historical context.  And it does not contradict any other valid definition of man.  >  > How can EM say this? She has repeatedly stated that "I disagree that man is an animal." Rand held that man ~is~ an animal. EM says man ~is not~ an animal. Is EM saying that her context is different (probably superior) from Rand's, and that in Rand's context of knowledge man ~is~ an animal, while in EM's context, man ~is not~ an animal?

Perhaps there's a more charitable interpretation possible here?

Perhaps when Ellen wrote "I disagree that man is an animal," in the context of a discussion of definitions, it would have been more clear if she had written something like "I disagree that the definition of man should have 'animal' for the genus." With her focus on historical context, it seems likely to me that Ellen is just saying that although _with an older context of knowledge_, "man is a rational animal" was a valid definition.  And while it is still _true_ as a statement, it is no longer a valid definition, as it has been realized that there is a better definition. Of course, if Ellen really literally and simply meant "I disagree that man is an animal," then I don't agree.  But it seems unlikely to me that she really meant _that_. --Jimbo

P.S. Another alternative reading of Ellen occurred to me as I was about to send this, but I haven't thought it through carefully so I just tack it on here in case it might trigger something useful for someone.  Perhaps when Ellen wrote "I disagree that man is an animal" she meant "I disagree that man is a _mere_ animal."

In common non-biological usage, there is a concept of 'animal' which, if expressed precisely, is 'mere animal': "We went to the zoo to see the animals."  "You're behaving like an animal!  Stop it!" wrote: She has had 4 years to clarify this point, and she continues to make the bald statement that man is not an animal. If she intends something along the lines of your suggestion, she has only to say so,

Perhaps she will explain it to me, as I've not been involved in this particular discussion for 4 years.

 >From, here's a couple of definitions:

See: # A multicellular organism of the kingdom Animalia, differing from plants in certain typical characteristics such as capacity for locomotion, non-photosynthetic metabolism, pronounced response to stimuli, restricted growth, and fixed bodily structure.


 ># An animal organism other than a human, especially a mammal. These are clearly definitions of different concepts.  The first concept is biological, and I suppose Ellen would agree that the concept is valid, and that man is an animal in that sense.

The second concept, not from biology and as far as I can tell, a more 'casual' use of the word, specifically excludes man.  This is the sense of the word we're using when we say things like "Don't act like an animal!"

 > Ellen has stated that man ~is~ always volitional, while he ~isn't~ always rational, so rational is not a correct differentia, while volitional is.

I guess that's a different issue than the animal thing, though.  "Man is a rational animal" versus "Man is the volitional animal".  Either way, still an animal.

 > > Of course, if Ellen really literally and simply meant "I disagree that man is an animal," then I don't agree.  But it seems unlikely to me  that she really meant _that_. Why don't we let ~her~ say, once and for all, whether she meant simply what she said? Good idea!  Ellen? --Jimbo

From: Ellen Moore To: Atlantis Subject: ATL: Re: Definitions of Man Date: Sat, 12 Apr 2003 11:51:44 -0500 For Jimmy, Georges, Roger, Dan, and any member interested: Opposing reports are incorrect; I do not reject the definition of man that Rand used; "man is the rational animal" is an historically correct, commonplace, definition based on the contextual knowledge of that time. Today, I am an integrated Objectivist, and I rely on contextual definitions that I know are correct based on Objectivist principles and applications in my time.

Roger is correct.  I do not agree, in my current context of knowledge, that Man is to be defined as the 'rational animal'.  I do agree that that definition was contextually correct within human knowledge in earlier historical times.  But today, I have integrated the philosophy of Objectivism which is, indeed, revolutionary, and I have learned advanced and objectively valid philosophical knowledge to consider and integrate the definition of man as "a being of volitional consciousness,-- and so do others if they understand and integrate Objectivism.

Dan claims that Rand's statement, "Man is a being of volitional consciousness" is not a definition.  Why not?  It offers metaphysical genus and differentia.  We know that Rand did change the wording in what is commonly called by others her "definition" of reason.  I really don't care if anyone calls her definitive statements "descriptions" or "definitions", but my point is that "man is a being of volitional consciousness" fills all criteria Rand set out for Definitions. i.e., it states genus, differentia, and offers the most primary metaphysical characteristic, volitional consciousness, which explains fundamentally the widest number of all other essential characteristics of man and his actions.

You want to know why I know man is not an animal. Here's the known facts and the theory, "Why I think man is not an animal." My basic premise is Existence-Identity. Each existent possesses a distinctly different identity than all other existents. We humans may conceptually classify, and cross classify, existents according to their _similarities_, but no one characteristic is _identical_ to those in any others; none possess the *same* or *identical* identity.

The only basis for thinking or classifying that men are animals is their similar biological organic nature and some similar bodily functions. Even modern DNA science, if I understand it, claims that no two individual's DNA are _identical_.  This means that men and animals may be classified as having similar biological traits, but they are not identical in any specific material characteristics.

Animals versus humans:

1. they do not share the same bodily structure;

2. nor share the same automatic sensory perceptual abilities;

3. nor share the same personalities and psychological traits;

4. nor share the same morality since animals do not recognize morality;

5. nor share the same independence of life styles;

6. nor share the volitional ability for conceptualization and rationality;

7. nor can animals adapt or change their environment to their needs, but their automatic perceptual nature must adjust to the rigors of nature or to the care of humans;

8. nor can animals share ideas and values in politics or esthetics.

9. animals cannot share the human values of hero worship, and the exultation of romantic love.

I could include many more impressive differences. Conclusion:  animals and humans are significantly and totally different living beings who share only some physical _similarities_ among biological characteristics.  What separates man from animal is human volitional consciousness, and that causes the greatest number of distinguishing human characteristics and growth of conceptual knowledge, divergence of behavior and productivity.  It causes and promotes the inspiration of "Qua Man" - "what he could be and should be".

The only way that one can speak of men as animals is to ignore, or evade by dropping the context, their complete differences among their distinguishing characteristics.  Animals do not possess volitional consciousness; men do.  Since we now know about volitional consciousness in the present context of knowledge, that's what anyone has to avoid when calling men "animals" --  to avoid the acknowledgment of this primary definitional characteristic of human conceptual consciousness that distinguishes man from animals and all other species.  That means one is necessarily ignoring the _primary fundamental, crucial  differences_ between animal versus human _minds_.   How can anyone think of the essential nature of Man - this integration of matter and volitional consciousness in human beings - by ignoring the identity of human  _minds_, volitional consciousness, and all the conceptual workings of human  minds - as well as all the evidence showing that productive human lives are necessarily distinguished from animal lives? [Just how much knowledge is one capable of ignoring?]

Ignoring the differences can only be carried on here by Atlanteans by never learning and integrating, the metaphysical axioms, premises, principles and applications of Objectivism.  I am granting, perhaps too benevolently, that most people are here, no matter what degree of their knowledge, because they are somewhat interested in discussing and applying the axioms, principles, and applications of Objectivism. So, you are responsible for learning and applying them properly, rationally, and contextually.

Rand's primary metaphysical premise statement of Identity about man is: "Man's particular distinction from all other living species is the fact that *his* consciousness is *volitional*."  [VOS, p. 20]

This means that no animal or plant or sub-microscopic entities' Consciousness is *volitional*.

Rand wrote about different forms or levels of consciousness – automatic sensation and perception, and human volitional conceptual levels – and the latter distinguishes man from all other species because man is the ONLY living being possessing a volitional and potentially conceptual consciousness.  By the latter, I mean that forming, integrating and applying concepts is strictly a volitional choice - one may do it well, or in error, or not at all.

This conclusion is clear and concise, and there is no conclusive philosophical or scientific evidence proving that Rand is wrong.  Either one accepts man's volitional conceptual consciousness OR one rejects Objectivism - that's the primary, fundamental Identity characteristic about man in this philosophy that distinguishes humans from all other species.

Continuing to call man "the rational animal" is not a contradiction of Rand's more advanced metaphysical definition, "man is a being of volitional consciousness". If it was true yesterday, it is true today. I grant the advanced definition is revolutionary, but it is consistent with Rand's other revolutionary philosophical statements.  I know this to be true, not only of man, but of Objectivism.  The fact that Rand explicitly wrote about the commonplace definition of "rational animal" is because we all know she was writing for common, ordinary individuals in her time.  Yet she stated the more advanced metaphysical definition because she knew it to be true within the system of Objectivism, and I expect it is to be understood and integrated by any of those "new intellectuals" she sought to reach and influence.

The biological similarities of man and animal remain true.  These distinguishing characteristics, which set man apart from and different from all other species are volitional consciousness and conceptualization and logic, remain true.  No one can deny the reality that man is volitional and conceptual, and is able to make value choices among options.  Man is not programmed automatically by his biology as animals are.  But, one can legitimately state at any time that man is NOT necessarily or automatically a rational being. A look at the evidence of human realities proves that to be true. 

The Objectivist premise of volitional consciousness explains the primary metaphysical and epistemological causes of all of the rational [as well as all the irrational and immoral] thinking, actions, morality, psychology, politics, and esthetics of different human beings.  It explains the causes of human errors in epistemology and mistakes in learning about all the other branches of Objectivist philosophy.  I understood this primary metaphysical premise of volitional consciousness very clearly at hearing my first lectures on Objectivism.  I have been integrating its applications more deeply and thoroughly in my thoughts, psycho-epistemology, and moral actions ever since, and I will continue doing so as long as I am able.

Students of Objectivists should understand and apply the principles of Objectivism in their own thinking and actions, or they'll never achieve contextual certainty about reality or earn the happiness of living as an Objectivist in their own lifetime.

Now answer; why is man not an animal? -- that's just one key premise to question and to know the answer as an Objectivist. Ellen

From: Jimmy Wales To: atlantis Subject: Re: ATL: Re: Definitions of Man (Reply to EM) Date: Tue, 15 Apr 2003 06:37:00 -0700 merjet wrote: It is obvious that the degree to which a human can consciously control its actions and thoughts increases with age in the first few years. And it seems reasonable to assume there was no such control at some time.  When was that? Before birth or after birth? By observing a newborn and comparing their behavior to older humans, who obviously have such conscious controls, one can infer what the newborn lacks.

I agree that such an investigation is valuable and interesting, I'm just saying that I'm not sure what the results tell us. For example, we know that babies as young as 3 months have often formed the concept "dog".  We know this from studies in which infants are shown different pictures and an adult (who can't see the picture) looks for a change in attention level.  There are lots of details that we could get into like this. But what does it tell us?  Is the formation of a concept evidence of volition?

>Which of it's actions or thoughts does it _not_ consciously initiate?   Sucking. Excretion. Reflex actions. ...

And for adults: hiccuping, jumping when startled, digestion.

When Kira was in the hospital after birth, she was temporarily on a respirator due to some complications.  She didn't like this, presumably because it was uncomfortable.  I overheard the respiratory technician warn the NICU nurses: "Keep an eye on this one, she's purposeful.  She wants to pull out the respirator tube."

So, does this count?  Or not?  And why? I can see how someone a priori committed to a "no volition in infants" could plausibly say: no, that's not volitional.  And I can see how someone a priori committed to a "volition in infants" could plausibly say: yes, that suggests volition. I don't see how we can really say without first refining our understanding of what various bits of evidence would imply for volition. And we should keep in mind (for reference, if nothing else!) that determinists could claim that _no_ human behavior is evidence for volition. --Jimbo

From: Ellen Moore To: Atlantis Subject: ATL: Re: Definitions of Man Date: Tue, 15 Apr 2003 11:50:38 -0500 Bill, you quoted Rand, "Just as a concept becomes a unit when integrated with others into a wider concept, so a genus becomes a single unit, a _species_, when integrated with others into a wider genus.  For instance, 'table' is a species of the genus 'furniture', which is a species of the genus 'household goods,' which is a species of the genus 'man-made objects'. 'Man' is a species of the genus 'animal', which is a species of the genus 'organism', which is a species of the genus 'entity'."

Your conclusion is, "It is for this reason that Rand did not define man is a 'rational organism or a 'rational being.'"  i.e., Your point is you think "being" is too wide a "species" that, in itself, does not make it wrong.  You could be right about that being why Rand did not make it her definition of man.  But I think she could have without being wrong.  She went so far as to identify a species as "entity", but that concept implies both animate and inanimate objects.  I consider the concept "being" commonly implies only "living beings" as differentiated from the meaning merely "existents" or entities.

Understand, I am not claiming that my preference was Rand's preference in definitions. -- just as you are claiming she could have preferred "rational mammal", as you do.  And I agree it is narrower as "species".

You wrote, "I also think Rand would reject your differentia, "volitional consciousness, as violating the "rule of fundamentality," -- i.e., as not explaining the greatest number of man's other characteristics."

"It is true that, according to her, you cannot reason unless you initiate the process volitionally, but the concept of "volitional consciousness" pertains only to the initiation of a rational thought process, not to its nature or to the character of its results.  I think Rand would say that it is the concept of rationality itself that explains the greatest number of man's other distinguishing characteristics."

I disagree that volitional consciousness "pertains only to the initiation of a rational thought process, not to its nature or to the character of its results." I claim that volitional consciousness is the initiator of both rational and irrational thought processes, and that initiates and directs and regulates the nature and character of the person.  My claim is that volitional consciousness clearly is the root metaphysical Key to fundamentality about human beings, their nature and character; in fact, everything is regulated by volition.  And it is clear to me that volition explains the obviously prevalent, and greatest number of characteristics of man by his irrationality and immorality.

 My own view as to why Rand did not present 'volitional consciousness' as a defining characteristic about man is that this metaphysical premise was not common knowledge in her time.  It isn't common knowledge in our time, as you know.

Thanks for the comments,


Thanks for the congrats on my weight loss, too. I have committed only to my own tastes and life style. I don't restrict anything I like, but in moderation.  I am sedentary except for using my treadmill.  I have oatmeal porridge with butter, brown sugar and a little milk for breakfast.  I have a balanced lunch in mid-afternoon and a balanced dinner, usually but not always, with desert.  After that I drink only water till the next breakfast.  It's worked for weight loss and I feel fine.  Cholesterol and BP are normal, and I take an aspirin a day to prevent strokes.  Thanks for your share of input.

 Jimmy, et al, It's always interesting to see concrete evidence of volitional consciousness, but there is also the vital importance of rational philosophical validation.  For example, a one day old infant can lift and turn his head toward a stimulus, and look, or not, and lift/turn, or not.  That's a volitional choice because there is nothing automatic about these actions i.e., he could simply lay there while perceiving the stimulus without looking or lifting and turning his head [many neonates do].

 The main rational/logical validation of volitional consciousness is this.  No one denies that a normal newborn possesses consciousness. Within Objectivism, philosophically, metaphysically, the principle is axiomatic that man IS a being of volitional consciousness.  There are those who deny and reject this axiomatic principle "to date".  But for those who understand and accept this axiomatic principle, Volitional Consciousness as being metaphysically axiomatic, it is present when a living human entity is conscious.  To possess consciousness is to be something in particular, to possess Identity, to perceive that which exists, thus human identity IS to possess volitional consciousness.

It's commonly accepted science to date that the later stage of a fetus in utero is conscious and perceiving.  So herein I've presented the argument providing both evidence and axiomatic principle that a volitional consciousness is possessed by fetus and neonate identity. Ellen

From: PaleoObjectivist To: atlantis Subject: Re: ATL: Re: Definitions of Man (Reply to EM) Date: Tue, 15 Apr 2003 12:40:25 EDT

Merlin Jetton wrote: If you want to expand "volition" to include attention, that's okay.

Jimbo Wales replied: Well that's not necessarily what I meant.  I meant that I think that they _choose_ to pay more attention to familiar voices.  That they _focus_ (in the Objectivist sense of primary volitional control over one's own consciousness) on some things, as manifested by their paying attention.

In trying to figure out whether babies have volition, we have to not only determine whether their purposeful actions are essentially ~similar to~ the purposeful actions of older (and presumably volitional) ~human beings~, but ~also~ whether their purposeful actions are essentially ~different from~ the purposeful actions of ~other animals~.

Animals pay attention. Animals recognize familiar people and objects. Animals purposefully act to achieve certain ends. Does any this mean that animals have "primary volitional control" over their consciousness? If so, then volition is not unique to human beings. (However, ~rationality~ under volitional control ~is~ unique to human beings, since only humans are rational.)

But if ~not~, then how can we prove a claim that ~babies~ paying attention is a sign that they have "primary volitional control" over their consciousness? They are not rational at birth (i.e., not forming concepts, etc.), they are just being perceptually aware of their environment and engaging in certain actions guided by that perceptual awareness – JUST LIKE OTHER ANIMALS. In what distinctive way are newborn babies ~different~ from animals in their awareness and action? None that I can tell. Nor can you (Jimbo) or Ellen Moore. 🙂

To repeat: at least until concept-formation comes into play, there is ~no~ human action or conscious process that is essentially different from those of the other animals. And there is no evidence for any claim that there is such a difference. Roger E. Bissell, musician-writer

From: "William Dwyer" To: <atlantis Subject: RE: ATL: RE: Strange Bedfellows Date: Wed, 16 Apr 2003 10:48:10 -0700 I wrote (to Ellen Moore): "You believe that 'being' is the proper genus of 'man', whereas Rand believed that 'animal' is.  As she explained in ITOE, 'being' is too broad.  So who is correct?  You or she?  Wouldn't you say that you are correct, and that she is incorrect?"

Jimbo replied, "I haven't yet made sense of Ellen's position, but I am studying the matter.  Can you help me find this passage in ITOE, where Rand explains that 'being' is too broad?"

Sure, on page 41, Rand states, “The rules of correct definition are derived from the process of concept-formation.  The units of a concept were differentiated – by means of a distinguishing characteristic(s) -- from other existents possessing a commensurable characteristic, a 'Conceptual Common Denominator.'  A definition follows the same principle: it specifies the distinguishing characteristic(s) of the units, and indicates the category of existents from which they were differentiated. The distinguishing characteristic(s) of the units becomes the _differentia_ of the concept's definition; the existents possessing a 'Conceptual Common Denominator' become the _genus_."

In other words, according to Rand, the other existents (possessing a commensurable characteristic) from which the units of the concept 'man' were differentiated in the process of concept formation are _animals_, not living organisms, entities or beings.  The latter would be too broad to serve as the conceptual common denominator.

Rand explains, "For instance, in the definition of table ("An item of furniture, consisting of a flat, level surface and supports, intended to support other, small objects"), the specified shape is the differentia, which distinguishes tables from the other entities belonging to the same genus: furniture."

Observe that, according to Rand, the conceptual common denominator – or genus -- of tables is _furniture_, not household goods or man-made objects, which, again, would be too broad. Applying her definitional criteria to man, she then states:  "In the definition of man ("A rational animal"), "rational" is the differentia, "animal" is the genus." (p. 42)

Thus, according to the manner in which concepts are formed and from which the rules of definition are derived, the conceptual common denominator, or genus, of men (or of humans) is _animals_, not living organisms, entities or beings. -- Bill

From: PaleoObjectivist To: atlantisSubject: ATL: Ellen's unvalidated CCD for man (was Re: ATL: RE: StrangeBedfellows) Date: Wed, 16 Apr 2003 14:00:52 EDT

Bill Dwyer wrote: You're right, it's not, for you believe that 'being' is the proper genus of 'man', whereas Rand believed that 'animal' is. As she explained in ITOE, 'being' is too broad.  So who is correct?  You or she? Wouldn't you say that you are correct, and that she is incorrect?

Jimmy Wales commented: I haven't yet made sense of Ellen's position, but I am studying the matter.  Can you help me find this passage in ITOE, where Rand explains that "being" is too broad?

Daniel Ust commented: >I don't recall the exact passage here, but it's probably in the chapter on definitions.  (I don't have my copies of ITOE handy while I'm away from my library.:) > > Be that as it may, doesn't it just make sense that "being" is too broad?  Would one define "whale" as the "swimming, air breathing, conscious being"? Would one define "tree" as "the leaf and trunk having being"?  How about automobile?  "The self power being"? Using "being" as a genus almost never helps in defining anything.  The point behind definitions is to clearly separate and categorize concepts -- at least in the way Rand and most Objectivists use definition.  Using overbroad genuses (genii?) go against that. In fact, I don't recall a single definition where Rand uses "being" as a genus.

First of all, I think that there is a misunderstanding of what Ellen Moore is referring to by "being." As did Rand in her statement "Man is a being of volitional consciousness," EM intends "being" as shorthand for "living being", just as Rand uses "organism" as shorthand for "living organism." (ITOE, p. 42)

The ~problem~ with using (living) "being" as the genus for "man" is ~not~ equivalent to the error of using "entity" as man's genus. (Living) "being" is ~narrower~ than "entity," but still too broad for man's genus.

In selecting a genus, as Rand notes (ITOE, p. 41), you need a Conceptual Common Denominator. You need to identify the common characteristic possessed by ~all~ the members of the wider group man belongs to, then you ~differentiate~ man from the rest of the group by identifying a certain ~range~ of measurements for that common characteristic.

Rand says man's differentia is ~rational~ (i.e., possessing a rational faculty). This is a range of measurements within the broader category of ~conscious~ (i.e., possessing the faculty of consciousness). So, with this differentia, the genus ~must~ include all and only those living beings that are conscious.

So, the dispute about what is/is not too broad a genus for "man" reduces to the dispute over whether ~all~ living beings have consciousness (as Ellen Moore claims) or just animals.

If bacteria and plants have consciousness, then "living being" is ~not~ too broad a genus for "man." Having volitional consciousness or rational consciousness is a range of measurements within the category of having consciousness, which EM claims ~all~ living beings have.

However, she (and the New Agers and mystics) are (to my knowledge) the only people who claim that plants and bacteria are conscious. Aristotle, Rand, and scientists and people of common sense all recognize that animals (including man) are conscious and bacteria and plants are not. If Aristotle, Rand, et al are correct -- as Bill D., George S., and I (among others) have been insisting -- then "living being" ~is~ too broad for the genus of "man." It violates Rand's principle that the Conceptual Common Denominator must relate to the distinguishing characteristic. Viz., having rational or volitional consciousness is a range of measurements within the category of ~being conscious~, which non-animals (i.e., plants and bacteria) are not.

To put it another way, being rational or volitional is ~not~ a differentia for the characteristic "being alive." Within the CCD of "being alive," the differentia Aristotle and Rand identify for "animal" is "locomotion and consciousness." It is not an accident that "volitional life" sounds odd and incongruent, while "conscious life" and "volitionally conscious" sound perfectly coherent and natural.

One final note: EM is not to be faulted for using the term "being" as shorthand for "living being," and should

be properly understood as intending to referring to living organisms, not entities in general. The problem is in her using "being" as the ~genus~ for "man," which depends upon her unproven, unsupported claim that ~all living beings~ are conscious. In short, EM has not established that ~being alive~ (and thus conscious) is the Conceptual Common Denominator for ~volitionally conscious~. She has not validated (living) "being" as the genus for "man." And it's not for lack of trying. 🙂 Best 2 all, REB Roger E. Bissell, musician-writer

From: "Peter Taylor" To: atlantis Subject: ATL: Re: Definitions of Man Date: Fri, 18 Apr 2003 00:10:21 +0000

Frank Perrizo, Jr. wrote: “I guess what I am asking is "What happened between 1966 and 2003?"

 Ellen Moore happened 🐵

She has been saying the same thing from different perspectives for the two years I have known her, but I think she has finally put it together, by starting with a redefinition, that would have been done by Rand sooner or later. (And may have been done sooner, by Rand, then redefined later, in a more [or less] precise way according to Frank Perrizo and Roger Bissell.)

I remember when Anthropologists said the defining characteristics of humans were: opposable thumb, upright locomotion, bigger brains, rational faculties, a soul, and lately, killer brains :o).

Roger wrote: “Ellen's inability to grasp and retain the basic knowledge of living beings possessed by the human race since the time of Aristotle is nothing short of breathtaking.”

I think a correct formulation of Roger’s sentence would be: “Ellen's *ability* to grasp and retain the basic knowledge of living beings possessed by the human race since the time of Aristotle is nothing short of breathtaking.” And Roger can substitute Rand for Ellen if he wishes. One word is worth a thousand pictures.

I think a definition should be concise and not be a list of attributes. Obviously, people have backbones, are animals with bipedal locomotion, and we are mammals. We are primates, have memories and *some* men are rational. In fact, I would go so far as to say that “most humans” are rational some of the time.  Ellen’s definition is breathtaking because she has seen the truth in one of Rand’s earlier formulations: ** "Man is a being of volitional consciousness." **

The fact that he has attributes shared with animals is not relevant, except for a listing of attributes. The word, “Man” in Rand and Ellen’s definition can contain the usual phylum’s, etc.  I am comfortable with the scientific, hierarchical ending terms of genus and species, or for humans, “homo sapiens, sapiens,” but in a philosophical sense we need a “more refined” definition.

Are all humans rational? No. Yet even non rational humans have the potential to think rationally. What does a human NOT share with animals? Volition. Do all normal humans think volitionally? Yes they do. The proof is certainly found in the crib. Unfortunately, some humans tune out thinking and evade, but this ability to raise and lower the level of operations within a Human’s Consciousness is the key element to being a human. Ellen will work out the details. The only problem I have with Ellen’s definition is that if we don’t insist that the terms *Man* or *Human* include all the animal attributes of humans, then aliens or robots could be called “Beings of Volitional Consciousness.” Shades of StarTrek, Ellen’s definition could be incorporated into The Prime Directive! Say, maybe that’s not a bad idea. Dennis, did you hear what Ellen said? Semper cogitans fidele, Peter Taylor

From: "merjet" To: "'atlantis'" Subject: ATL: Re: Definitions of Man Date: Fri, 18 Apr 2003 06:44:29 -0500

Peter Taylor wrote: > What does a human NOT share with animals? Volition.

I strongly disagree and suspect Rand would have, too. On ITOE 150 she writes about a pre-conceptual child's "minimal, primitive form of volition over the function of its senses".  The most plausible interpretation of this is perceptual attention, e.g. the ability to control what one looks at or listens to. Are you denying that other animals have this kind of volition? If yes, that flies in the face of evolution and the strong similarities between the perceptual systems of humans and other higher animals. How is it that such animal's perceptual control is so radically different than a human's despite the strong similarity?

If no, then humans share *some* kind of volition with other animals, and your simplistic answer to your question is unsound. Humans have *more* volitional control than other animals, but if you wish to distinguish between humans and other animals on the basis of volition, then you need to say exactly what that difference is. I suspect that the best answer you could give is that ability to control thought, i.e. reason, is the distinguishing characteristic between humans and other animals. And that is basically the answer that Rand gives immediately following the piece about primitive volition. Best regards, Merlin

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Why would Ayn Rand not make a great President of the United States, though she was born in Russia? I can visualize her with a Maga hat. Peter

From: Ellen Moore To: Atlantis Subject: ATL: About A Woman President Date: Mon, 22 Oct 2001 17:32:01 -0500

In response to Phoebe Morrison's questions, I would never think that a question like Phoebe's was mean-spirited, I am not mean-spirited, and I never thought Ayn Rand was mean-spirited; in fact just the opposite.  I think Rand was a woman who lived with grand passions, and I think that was absolutely clear from all of her writings, and from the choices we know she made during her life.

Phoebe asked, "Did you think that Margaret Thatcher was 'psychologically unworthy of the job' of Prime Minister?"

I'd answer that I have no knowledge of Mrs. Thatcher's psychology, but I do think that she was worthy of the job of Prime Minister in her context of the time.  I think she has been the most admirable statesman (or stateswoman if you prefer) of recent history.  She was strong, straight talking, proud, gracious, and formidable in times of crisis, ready for any challenge she faced -- and she was poised in political defeat.  She really was a tower of strength to the members of parliament when she was at the helm.  Remember her saying, "This is no time to go wobbly, George."

I also think that this view I express here is perfectly consistent with Rand's essay on A Woman President.  Rand never said that a woman could not do the job as well, if not better, than any man.  Rand did not cite any rule that decreed one must never vote for a woman as President.  So, that is definitely not the issue of her essay.  I hope you have it handy to reread; it's always advisable for anyone to know the content of what one is discussing, criticizing, accepting or rejecting.

Introduction: I will make some general comments first about this topic.  Sexuality is a highly emotional and individual experience.  It is a unique experience for each individual, yet the more self-analysis and introspection one has learned to do, and the more one has knowledge of human sexuality in individual cases, one may be able to recognize certain similarities between oneself and others.   One may know others from one's personal experience with them, and one may understand the terms they describe their experiences and feelings to be.  One can never know firsthand, or even have much understanding of what another person's experiences or feelings are.  This is a common occurrence in people who fail to understand the sexuality of others because they have never shared similar experiences and emotions.  In my view, if one does understand deeply, it is because one knows personally what that passion is like, or they may make the effort and have the ability to conceptually grasp what they have not experienced personally.

I think much of this kind of misunderstanding we have heard on Atlantis about Rand's essay is caused by the fact that some participants are not knowledgeable about the basis of Objectivism. And they have not shared similar experiences or emotions. I am thinking specifically about the relation between reason and emotion, and about her conceptual epistemology and morality.

Re: reason and emotion.  Objectivism defines our terms of identity and relations. i.e.,  "Man is a being of volitional consciousness."  "Reason is the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by man's senses."  "Emotion is an automatic response to value judgments." In my own words, emotions are actually "psycho-epistemological" because emotion results from an integration of one's epistemology and psychology.

When we experience an emotion it is the result of a seemingly instantaneous evaluation that is a subconscious appraisal.  We identify the experience, we evaluate it according to whether it is pleasurable or painful (whether it is "for me or against me"), we make a judgment about it, and then our emotional response is automatic.  For instance, when someone insults you, you need not go slowly through each step, you automatically feel an angry emotion immediately.  Therefore, if one's premises are reasonable, one's emotions will follow automatically.  But if one's premises are unreasonable, or mixed, then one's emotions will still automatically follow.  As Rand said, "Emotions are not tools of cognition", so one's knowledge must be valid knowledge of reality (i.e., known by means of reason) in order for one's emotions to respond according to reality. Otherwise, emotional responses may indicate unresolved issues, and irrationalities in our epistemology and psychology.  Such emotions will lead automatically into further conflicts, and if unresolved finally leads into neurotic emotional states.

Now to the essay about A Woman President, Rand offered her idea of what femininity means in this essay -  and she explained Man worship in the Introduction to The Fountainhead, written in January, 1969.

"The issue is primarily psychological.  It involves a woman's fundamental view of life, of herself and of her basic values.  For a woman qua woman, the essence of femininity is hero worship - the desire to look up to a man.  "To look up: does not mean dependence, obedience, or anything implying inferiority.  It means an intense kind of admiration; and admiration is an emotion that can be experienced only by a person of strong character and independent value judgments. ... Hero worship is a demanding virtue; a woman has to be worthy of it and of the hero she worships.  Intellectually and morally, i.e., as a human being, she has to be his equal; then the object of her worship is specifically his ~masculinity~, not any human virtue she might lack."

...  "Her worship is an abstract emotion for the ~metaphysical~ concept of masculinity as such - which she experiences fully and concretely only for the man she loves, but which colors her attitude toward all men  ...  the higher her view of masculinity, the more severely demanding her standards.  It means she never loses the awareness of her own sexual identity and theirs.  It means that a properly feminine woman does not treat men as if she were their pal, sister, mother - or ~leader~."

In Rand's Introduction to The Fountainhead, written in 1969, she wrote about man worship, "It is the entire emotional realm of man's dedication to a moral ideal. ..."   "The man-worshipers, in my sense of the term, are those who see man's highest potential and strive to actualize it ... [Man-worshipers are] those dedicated to the ~exaltation~ of man's self-esteem and the ~sacredness~ of his happiness on earth."  [Note that in this passage she is referring to Man in general, Man in abstraction, but it may also be applied to a specific man or woman in a particular case.]

The president, in all his professional relationships is the "highest authority", the 'chief executive", and the "commander-in-chief".  In his professional hierarchy, the president deals only with his inferiors (not as persons) in respect to their work and their responsibilities.  Rand's view of femininity would make this post intolerable for a rational woman who could not want to be the ruler of ~all men~ she deals with.   It would be necessary to deny her own sense of femininity, and it would be impossible to view those men she ~rules~  without, as Rand wrote, having to "suppress every personal aspect of her own character and attitude," i.e., to the abstract ideal as she hero worships and looks up to as ~masculinity~.  Unless she was another "Clinton", she would have to feel that her femininity was inappropriate, and she'd have to act as if it was absent in her professional life.  As Rand wrote, a woman president would be somewhat like the figure of "a matriarch" in firm control over her living progeny.  This essential denial and suppression of one's sexual femininity is what I think Rand meant by "spiritual self-immolation" while a woman does her professional job as President. Rand thinks that any woman who would want to be in this position would be "unworthy of the job."  I agree.

Now there is nothing written here to indicate that a woman could not do the job, and there is nothing to indicate that a woman is lesser than a man, or subservient to a man or men -- and there is nothing to indicate that it would be wrong for anyone to vote for a woman president in the proper circumstances. Those views as expressed are silly distortions and false implications of what Rand wrote.   I agree with Rand that a woman 

who understands her own femininity, as Rand does, could not ~reasonably want~ to be commander-in-chief.


My Understanding: Ayn Rand was not just an average thinker.  She was a most intelligent woman capable of dealing with a broad range of highly abstract generalizations and integration.  In this essay she was not referring to a casual roll in the hay, or even about a satisfactory sexual relationship between lovers.  This was not written about the ~physical~, the concrete, it was about the metaphysical and the idealistic.  Rand was fully able to articulate her own thinking about the broadest abstract ~metaphysical~ meaning of femininity, of a woman's hero worship, of rational self-esteem, of the ~sacredness~ of woman's happiness on earth, of a rational woman's sexual ~sense of self~.

All this is evidence shows that she was presenting her own highest abstract ideals - that is the truism her readers alone are responsible to understand.  I think that the issue may be understood by any idealistic person able to grasp abstract conceptual ideas as presented by her. She wrote, "that this issue is not self-evident and that it is not easy to conceptualize."  I would not have been able to articulate this idealism of femininity as she did, but I did understand her meaning when I read it.  And each time I read it I understand more, and more deeply.

I also see that without this idealistic sexual attraction between femininity and masculinity, there would not be any grand passion such as Romantic Love.  The best level at which many people experience their sexuality is pallid in comparison, and at worst it is depraved.

Because humans are volitional their personal sexual psychology is a developmental process beginning at birth and formed over a lifetime according to their experiences and their conceptual evaluations – to whatever extent they learn to achieve and use the ability to reason. Needless to say any mixed premises, inconsistencies, and unresolved conflicts will undercut their ability to understand and maintain the idealism they may have subconsciously felt in youth as merely an exciting promise for future life.  A life lived in a conflicted mental muddle will not be the same as a life lived by reasoned mental integration.  So, obviously, individuals will differ in their sexual psychology and their understanding of femininity and masculinity.

The essence of Rand's integration was to distinguish between the conceptual meaning of femininity and masculinity.  Since men and women may become equally intelligent, rational, independent, strong, moral, etc., they will desire a mate who can share their values and ideals, one who can be trusted and with whom one feels secure in their moral character.  I call this "wanting a strong home place of security" when "the world is too much with us".  I think that if the essence of femininity is "hero worship", then the essence of masculinity is heroine worship.  It requires two different sides of the same idealism – a coming together of an understood grand passion for mutual benefit.

Did Ayn Rand write this piece for irrational minds or irrational psychologies?  No, she wrote it because she thought her rational readers would, perhaps, understand what she knew and had conceptually integrated.  And if they thought about her meaning they would see how right she was.  In essence, Rand always wrote for rational minds.

Personally, it is my firm belief as an Objectivist that any form of power lusting is not a value and not an ideal.  In fact, I view it as a neurosis.  I cannot conceive of any rational person who would want to take a position of power over others.  That is not the proper role of a rational leader.  A leader is any person who has the strength of intelligence and character able to influence other independent individuals to rise to the order of right actions at the right time. Therefore, any such woman or man may be that kind of leader.

But that is not the case in the realm of Politics and the Presidency as it exists today.  I do not approve of this political party system of government -- it so often brings the worst to the top, and it only occasionally brings out the best in men and women who seek professional politics.  Most of them want power over others, want to impose their own views and values onto others who fundamentally disagree.  It's bad enough to see an irrational man claw his way to the top position, but for an irrational woman "feminist" to want to have power over a population of men, women and children, to me, is an obscenity.

I could never want to be President.  For a rational woman, it would be the loneliest place in which she would have to deny her own sense of femininity - alone at the top of a world she never wanted to live in.

Yet, in the present context, I am convinced that a rational woman ~could~ do the job as well as any man.  I just do not understand or agree why she would ~want to be there~ to do it.  When the context is such that wielding power is absolutely necessary for self-defense, then all brave men and women should be able to rise to the challenge. Otherwise, the President is much like the Queen in England, all pomp and protocol, with no power.

I think it was Jason Alexander who said, "Politics is dead. Ayn Rand killed it."  I agree.  With Objectivism, we can conceive of better than this system.  Dictators and Authoritarians will have no place and no power in a rational society.  A rational femininity and masculinity have no need for power over others. Ayn Rand was right. Ellen Moore

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19 hours ago, Dglgmut said:

No, emotions don't exist independent of consciousness... but that doesn't mean that consciousness comes first. So where are you going with the question? I know where I'm going with mine. All you have to do is answer it.

I think you should study and let sink in the above quote by Rand. In brief a consciousness has to be conscious of some 'thing' or is self-contradictory, and that goes with emotions. Keeping its correct relationship to reality/existence. One is emotional about some 'thing'; BY the judgments one has already made, ultimately, BY the value placed in one's existence.

You want, it's appeared, to put emotions ahead of a mind. Emotions responding, without anything to be consciously emotional about and without a standard of value are an impossibility, to repeat; perhaps you didn't know you went through that process, usually since it was subconsciously, when not consciously done. You'd like emotions elevated - by the reverse process, in importance and in chronological order - before and above the mind. But as soon as one tries to by-pass identification and evaluation, one inevitably reverts to primacy of consciousness, the 'subcategory', "primacy of emotions". There's where emotions go haywire, random, controlling, changeable, meaningless, unpredictable - e.g. now, elated, for no presentable reason, and next, anxious for no detectable cause.

That's more psychological, but anything goes when emotions have not been founded in original conscious reality- identification-value (nor been occasionally revisited in introspection). "I am" has here been given a base, first and foremost in one's feelings, when they are properly the consequence. "I feel therefore I am", describes that. What I've known of some people (who hasn't?)is how they get quite a kick from taking their self-identity from emotions and being perceived this way by others, despite how erratic their minds and feelings become, and how their self-esteem suffers.

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Do non-human animals feel emotions?

Rand said non-human animals couldn't exercise volition, that they were prewired for everything they did. She didn't use terms like "prewired," but the way it's used here represents the same idea she was talking about.


(I'm just being naughty. 🙂 )


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